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THE ZEN MIRROR

Life & The Scenery of Life

By Jeff Brooks

Imagine yourself five hundred years ago. The Emperor has handed you a message. It is urgent. You need to deliver it across the empire, half a world away. If you succeed, he tells you, you will receive a great treasure. If you fail you will die.

In this case you will take your mission seriously. Under this circumstance you will do whatever it takes to succeed. You set out. Along the way you will encounter all sorts of terrain. There will be lush regions. You will be tempted to stay, to enjoy the comforts there, to delay.

You will have to cross hostile terrain. You will come upon difficult, dangerous regions that are inhospitable to life. You will be tempted to give up. To turn back.

If your comfort is foremost in your mind, you will never complete your mission. All will be lost, and you will die. If, however, you never lose sight of your ultimate goal, if the urgency of your mission is always clear in your mind, no matter what your outward circumstances, you will never be distracted by the changing scenery around you. You will notice your environment, of course. It will matter. You will have to adjust to accommodate its demands. But the immediate conditions will never be as important as fulfilling your mission.

Our lives as practitioners are like this. There will be attractions along our way that may distract us, and tempt us to wander from our path. There will be times when our practice will feel barren and arid, not satisfying, not delightful, not even interesting. We will be tempted to delay or to give up.

If we recognize the ultimate purpose of our training – the purpose our practice serves us daily, and the ultimate reward that it offers us, the complete fulfillment of our potential and our mission as human beings – we will never be distracted by the shifting scenery of our lives.

Free from those conditional distractions, we can traverse the paths of life freely, energetically, firm in our conviction that what we are doing is right, and utterly essential.

We wish all practitioners complete fulfillment of their goal.


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About The Author:

Jeffrey M. Brooks holds a Go Dan Fifth Degree Black Belt in Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu, training in Okinawa, Japan and the USA with Shoshin Nagamine, the founder of the style, Takayoshi Nagamine, his successor, as well as numerous others in the Matsubayashi Ryu lineage and related Chinese traditions. His Buddhist study and practice is with Rev. Issho Fujita, resident director of Valley Zendo and Geshe Michael Roach of the Asian Classics Institute. He has an M.F.A. from NYU Film School and works as a speechwriter for public figures. He is founder and director of Northampton Karate and Northampton Zendo in Northampton, Massachusetts, offering classes daily for adults and children since 1988. Brooks’ column, “Zen Mirror”, and other articles regularly appear on FightingArts.com.


New!

FightingArts.com is pleased to announce its first book: “Rhinoceros Zen –Zen Martial Arts and the Path to Freedom,” by Jeffrey Brooks, a work that portrays the dual paths and interplay between Zen and Karate-do. Fast paced and easy to read, it is full of insight and wisdom. It is a rewarding read for any martial artist.


(Softcover, 300 pages, illustrated)

FAS-B-001



To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Zen, concentration,Zen and the martial arts, mental focus


Read more articles by Jeff Brooks

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