2012-06-25T18:31:25+01:00

Zen in the Martial Arts

My notes from book Zen in the Martial Arts written by Joe Hyams

  • p2 The martial arts began to develop this emphasis on personal spiritual growth in the sixteenth century, when the need for fighting skills in the Orient diminished. The martial arts were transformed from a practical means of combat-to-the death to spiritual educational training that emphasized the personal development of the participant.
  • p6 In more than twenty years of studying the martial arts I have not retired to a Zen monastery nor retired from the pressures of working and living in a competitive society. But I have found that when I attain the spiritual goals of the martial arts, the quality of my life has been dramatically altered - enriching my relationships with people, as well as keeping me in closer touch with my self. I have come to see that enlightenment simply means recognizing the inherent harmony of ordinary life.
  • p7 Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.
  • p11 "Like this cup," the master said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
  • p16 To be patient is to have the capacity of calm endurance. To give yourself time is to actively work toward a goal without setting a limit on how long you will work.
  • p17 For the uncontrolled there is no wisdom, nor for the uncontrolled is there the power of concentration; and for him without concentration there is no peace. And for the unpeaceful, how can there be happiness?
  • p19 By living in the present you are in full contact with yourself and your environment, your energy is not dissipated and is always available. In the present there are no regrets as there are in the past. By thinking od the future, you dilute the present. The time to live is now.
  • p23 "It leads to this," he said. "Those who are patient in the trivial things in life and control themselves will one day have the same mastery in great and important things."
  • p28 I protested. "But the fact still remains that my real competition is the advancing years." "Stop comparing yourself at forty-five with the man you were at twenty of thirty," Bruce answered. "The past is an illusion. You must learn to live in the present and accept yourself for what you are now. What you lack in flexibility and agility you must make up with knowledge and constant practice."
  • p32 Only by exposing myself to someone better than I have I been able to improve. It is inspiring to know that even the masters have masters, and that we are all learners.
  • p36 It is always better to improve and strengthen your own line of knowledge than to try and cut your opponent's line.
  • p39 "To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner," he said. "We are spending it during lessons just as we are spending it now in conversation. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever." "It's the most precious commodity we have," agreed Sterling. "I always view my time as divided into infinite moments or transactions or contacts. Anyone who steals my time is stealing my life because they are taking my existence from me. As I get older, I realize that time is the only thing I have left. So when someone comes to me with a project, I estimate the time it will take me to do it and then I ask myself, 'Do I want to spend weeks or months of what little time I have on this project? Is it worth it or am I just wasting my time?' If I consider the project time-worthy I do it. I apply the same yardstick to social relations. I will not permit people to steal my time. I have limited my friends to those people with whom time passes happily. There are moments in my life - necessary moment - when I don't do anything but what is my choice. The choice of how I spend my time is mine, and it is not dictated by social convention."
  • p44 The masters of good phrasing, like good martial artists, are men who pay much attention to pause and silence (nonaction) as to action.
  • p45 I had discovered that doing nothing can sometimes be more important than doing something.
  • p50 "Now you have seen the power of controlled patience on the mat," he said. "The same thing applies to problems in life. When a problem arise, don't fight with it or try to deny it. Accept and acknowledge it. Be patient in seeking a solution or opening, and then fully commit yourself to the resolution you think advisable."
  • p55 "The center for ki is the 'one point' or tai-ten," she said, pointing to a spot about an inch and a half below her navel. "This is about where the center of gravity for human body is. Ki is defined as an energy or inner strength that can be directed from the 'one point' through visualization to places outside the body. It can be combined with gravity to produce dead weight and extreme heaviness within the body, as in the case of the child who does not want to be lifted. Aikidoists, as well as most martial artists and Zen practitioners, believe that all of the ki, or energy, of the universe flows through them at this 'one point,' traveling forever in all directions. No matter where you are, you are always the center of the universe. By holding you 'one point' and remaining centered, you feel one with the universe and, at the same time, totally aware of your bodily relationship to the universe."
  • p66 "When someone hits you, he is extending his ki toward you and it starts to flow when he thinks he will hit you - even before his body moves. His action is directed by his mind. You don't need to deal with his body at all if you can redirect his mind and the flow of his ki. That's the secret; lead his mind away from you and the body will follow."
  • p69 It's not bad to have aggressive or hostile thoughts and feelings towards others. When you acknowledge these feelings you no longer have to pretend to be that which you are not. You can learn to accept these moods. What is bad, however, is letting them dictate your nature. When you unleash your aggression or hostility on another person, it inspires aggression and hostility in return. The result then is conflict, which all true martial artists try to avoid. Anger doesn't demand action. When you act in anger, you lose self-control. How can you expect to control someone else if you cannot control yourself?
  • p71 Control your emotion or it will control you.
  • p75 I can defeat you physically with or without a reason. But I can only defeat your mind with a reason. --Jim Lau
  • p81 It' killed him, not me.
  • p82 It' is the state of mind the Japanese refer to as mushin, which literally means 'no-mind.' According to the Zen masters, mushin is operating when the actor is separate from the act and no thoughts interfere with action because the unconscious act is the most free and uninhibited. When mushin functions, the mind moves from one activity to another, flowing like a stream of water and filling every space.
  • p87 "How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?" the boy asked. "The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."
  • p91 In order to achieve victory you must place yourself in your opponent's skin. If you don't understand yourself, you will lose one hundred percent of the time. If you understand your self, you will win fifty percent of the time. If you understand yourself and your opponent, you will win one hundred percent of the time. --Tsutomu Oshima
  • p94 "Regulate your breathing, fix your eyes and mind on something else - perhaps a rock or a spot on the floor or ceiling. Concentrate on that object, savor it, taste it, give it color and smell the dimension. Let it absorb all your thoughts and concentration and the pain will diminish.
  • p97 "Relax," he said. "Stop straining. The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be."
  • p98 It is the caring or desire which stands in the way of effortless effort.
  • p101 The mind of a perfect man is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects nothing. It reflects but does not hold. Therefore, the perfect man can act without effort.
  • p105 Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. But I am no longer afraid because they are familiar to me. In the heat of combat I am calm, which is as it should be because I have discovered that fear is shadow, no substance.
  • p107 One of the first lessons one learns in the dojo is that the mind is a powerful factor in everything you do, including those exercises that seem to require a maximum of physical strength.
  • p108 The mind is like a fertile garden, it will grow anything you wish to plant - beautiful flowers or weeds. And so it is with successful, healthy thoughts or with negative ones that will, like weeds, strangle and crowd the others. Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are the weeds that strangle confidence. ... When such a thought enters my mind, I visualize it as being written on a piece of paper. Then I visualize myself wadding the paper up into a tight ball. Then I mentally light it on fire and visualize it burning to a crisp. The negative thought is destroyed, never to enter my mind again.
  • p117 Zen koans - questions that cannot be resolved by rational thought
  • p119 How does one achieve "a mind like still water?" One learns to go with the flow of life, the current of existence. When an untoward event occurs in your life, react to it without haste or passion. Realize that in almost every instance you probably have more alternatives than you think you have. Hold still a moment before acting or reacting and consider the alternatives. Then, having decided upon a course of action, proceed calmly.
  • p122 I believe one can learn much about Zen from any activity one is engaged in by remaining aware of one's inner reactions. The key is a constant exercise of awareness, vigilance of the mind, and relaxation of the body. Applying the principles of Zen frees an individual from concern, tension, and anxiety about winning or losing.
  • p122 My attitude toward my work has also changed. Years ago I thought too much about what I ahd to do, labored too long over it, put off difficult chores, waited for the mood to be right of the creative juices to flow. Now I just do it without conscious effort. If flows because the work and I are one, and not in conflict with each other.
  • p129 Today I am a wiser man than I was yesterday. I'm a human being and a human being is a vulnerable creature, who cannot possibly be perfect. After he dies, he returns to the elements - to the earth, to water, to fire, to wind, to air. Matter is void. All is vanity. We are like blades of grass or trees of the forest, creations of the universe, of the siprit of the universe, and the spirit of the universe has neither life not death. Vanity is the only obstacle to life.
  • p132 The only reason men fight is because they are insecure; one man needs to prove that he is better or stronger than another. The man who is secure within himself has no need to prove anything with force, so he can walk away from a fight with dignity and pride. He is the true martial artist - a man so strong inside that he has no need to demonstrate his power.
  • p133 The Chinese word for this kind of confidence is sai, which can also be defined as "presence." It is a byproduct of self-confidence and is instantly recognizable in any situation. Martial artists who are certain of their ability have it when confronted with certain situations, just as any person who is expert in his field projects it.
  • p134 One day it was announced by Master Joshu that the young monk Kyogen had reached an enlightened state. Much impressed by this news, several of his peers went to speak to him. "We have heard that you are enlightened. Is this true?" his fellow students inquired. "It is," Kyogen answered. "Tell us," said a friend, "how do you feel?" "As miserable as ever," replied the enlightened Kyogen.
  • p134 To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill. --Sun Tzu

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