Archive for August, 2009

A Humbled Pos(t)er

Posted in Cults, Fighting, martial arts, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , on August 30, 2009 by wizardsmoke

As a martial artist, I’m nothing special (err… probably not as a wizard either, come to think of it). This is something I think about in a sober frame of mind. I consciously think of my limitations — not obsessively, as some self-esteem issue, but so that I am aware of what I am capable of and where I can develop and grow as a person. This thought process is why I like effective self-deprecating humor because, when done effectively, it actually reveals the person’s self-awareness and comfort within that awareness. A person aware of — and comfortable with, their own limitations is socially attractive.

Now, in society, a lot of people think martial arts means something other than it does. To describe them objectively, martial arts are mostly an aerobic method of maximizing body efficiency in movement, balance and physical contact (not violence). This kind of training leaves out a lot of emotional, environmental and sociological variables that are involved in real conflict and violence. Controlled sparring, even at fairly high levels of physical contact and danger of injury, is still radically different than sudden violence in any other situation. Most of us should be wise to this by now; it’s Animal MacYoung 101!

To use an analogy: sparring is like jamming on guitar with your friend, whereas real conflict/combat is playing a live concert. You can certainly get really good at jamming with your friend and gain high levels of ability, but when playing a concert there are so many variables that could mess up your show and mess with your confidence and performance: the electronic equipment, the crowd, the venue, the way your bandmates perform, your physical or mental health, your actual preparedness with the material being performed, and so on. And because of all those variables, each concert is different in it’s own way. The stuff you practiced with your friend is only a sized portion of the concert, but it is the part over which you have the most immediate or consistent control.

When around people who are more learned on a conversational subject, it is courteous to defer a temporary conversational authority to that person. But in certain situations, such as people who are irresponsibly physically violent or sexually manipulative, it’s better to abandon the situation or confront it. These are people who are seeking to establish complete control over the situation at hand — it’s a bullying control mechanism.

I know people who are violent criminals who, out of their own insecurities, need to blatantly establish their imposing physical dominance over every social environment they are in. They will not become involved in a social environment unless they feel they are the supreme physical dominant (not to mention such people feel it necessary to receive a vocal affirmation from others). These people are dangerous, because inevitably their irresponsibility and narcissism will lead to a situation in which their fragile psychological needs will engage in violent activity and override the group’s safety. For instance, such a person would be an ineffective bodyguard or soldier because their personal issues mean they would engage in violence at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons.

One important thing to learn in life is humility. Religions and martial arts groups parrot on about how important humility is, but don’t give a full explanation of the subject, while also ironically expecting an inappropriate amount of subservience from the individual. Humility is simply being subservient to those who deserve your respect and walking away from those who do not (this in lieu of confrontation). Subservience is feigning much personal responsibility, whereas arrogance often creates the exact kind of violent criminal I mention above. This approach includes dealing with your own teacher(s) sometimes. If someone insists on being “right” or dominant in a situation, you have three choices: you walk away, you confront them, or you submit to their authority. Teachers are certainly to be socially deferred to within the realm of their expertise, but as soon as someone seeks to dominate your position outside of the area you have agreed to allow them authority — it’s time to confront it or walk away.

Everybody wants their cake

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Exercise, Happiness, health, New Age Baloney, Reality Bites, Religion, tai chi, taijiquan, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Been reading a lot about Jodo Shu/Pure Land Buddhism lately. It sounds a lot like Christianity to me: everybody goes to paradise as long as they can faithfully recite Amida Buddha’s name out. Even the negative actions of a sinner cannot stop a true believer in Amida’s Pure Land from going there. Amida’s Pure Land is also locate in the west. Why the west? I couldn’t tell ya. Well, I do have my own speculations on the matter, but they’re worthless even to me, much less to you, lolz!

I gotta say, though, this whole deal of thinking heaven and paradise are somewhere else and you get to go there miraculously for being a good little lamb — I don’t believe it. Not because I don’t believe in paradise, but because I don’t think you’ll have to wait around to go there once you see it. When it happens, it happens, kapicz?

In fact, the whole problem of getting to paradise is a lot like the whole problem of learning to relax and issue power in Taijiquan. The only way we can issue power is by focusing on relaxation, so the only way we can go to paradise is to focus on… …. ….

Okay, I don’t really have much of a point here, but think about this! For some reason, everybody (and I’m not just generalizing) builds up chronic muscle tension in their back, hips and shoulders over time. This eventually leads to back problems and serious back pain, joint pain, etc. which further builds up depression, listlessness, and so on. But instead of getting up every morning and going through some half-hour routine to deal with this inevitable physical pain that accompanies existence, most people complain about it or want some easy solution later in life when it builds up and finally hits them. Which, again has some kind of analogy to yearning for paradise, though again I am slow and not quite getting to the …

Oh well. Paradise actually doesn’t exist, because if we conceptualize it in advance, it’s not paradise.

Powermonger

Posted in love, New Age Baloney, Relationships, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , on August 27, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Today I took the time to muse about power! In my mind, power indicates a kind of social separation — perhaps social isolation. To attain power, one has to focus the mind one-pointedly on that goal to the exclusion of other things. I’m being deliberately vague by using the term “power” because it can refer to lots of different kinds of power: financial/political/social power, physical/sexual power, intellectual/mental power, etc.

Power indicates the ability to force other things against their will, to temporarily go against the laws of nature. Certain religious philosophies try to affect the individual by reprogramming the mind to go against the impulsive avenues the human ego uses to try and sustain itself in life — grasping for a tangible immediate control over one’s surroundings. But power does not last anyway — power fades and abandons the user in time, because power is a temporary flux of momentum.

But who loves weakness? Nobody finds that attractive, except bullies. Our artistic and cultural feedback often isolates (romantic) love instead as the experience closest to giving existence a tangible meaning, and perhaps in some way, love is complete abdication of power — beyond weakness, even. Love is the switch that bypasses the ego’s need to assert itself. Sexual desire is often conflated with love, for love is the term to indicate this experience that is so foreign to some that it only appears in their sexual proclivities.

Power has no healthy place in society — and love is the abdication of power. The more shallow the drive for power, the more blatant and anti-social it becomes.

Astral Adams

Posted in God(s), Magick, meditation, Mysticism, New Age Baloney, Occult, Paganism, Religion, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , on August 23, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I am as sick as you are of hearing “present moment awareness” paraded around as some tepid mantra. But the reason is that maintaining “present-moment awareness” leads to something deeper, where you’re perceiving the present moment before it physically happens — before it is reflected in the mind. Like, deep present awareness dissolves the sensory and physical boundaries of time-space perception.

The place where demons and other astral beings dwell is often in those gaps between our present-moment awareness. Every time we have a distraction or are manipulated by something, we become prey to outside entities or influences. When we project our own illusions or desires somewhere else, outside of the present moment, external forces can work their way through our actions and willpower. And many religions identify external beings and individuals which surround our sphere of existence.

But it seems when you achieve some sort of awareness and dissolution of the self, there is not that concrete division between oneself and others. However, “others” can still think there is such a thing, even though this unaware other is another reflection of the interconnected cosmic self. These kinds of avenues of perception can be of benefit in regards to knowing how things work in the astral (simply that deeper awareness is able to evade the chaotic attentions of malicious beings).

The big mystery to me, is how there are cosmic beings of all kinds (real or imaginary — it doesn’t matter what you think) but they’re all just the same material. They’re all another manifestation of the self. So even if your god of choice is real, it’s just another manifestation of the cosmic self that you are. Which makes me consider the veneration of divinities within a different light than mere subservience. We’re just praying to ourselves, no matter what (and yeah, I know monotheistic religions are supposed to bypass that, but I don’t buy it).

‘Smoke signals…

Posted in Buddhism, God(s), Mysticism, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions on August 19, 2009 by wizardsmoke

This blog is all over the place! And if anything, that’s what makes it kind of “emo” and hard to maintain when I’m focusing on more specific projects. But whatever, on with the show. I know you care, right? Haha!

I used to sit down at my computer and just roll with the ideas that flowed out of my jazzy fingertips. But nowadays, I think of something to write and I consider it to be stupid and pointless. Because there is no overarching “point” to it. Blogs should have a theme, a purpose, a reason to follow them. Not just meandering internal chatter.

What’s my novelty? Ah — wizardry! Of course. Everyone hitting up this blogspace is looking for magical discussion (or fake marijuana — seriously, google it). And magic is interesting to everyone. In fact, everyone wants to learn magic but won’t admit it or agree to a general definition of it. But everyone wants a leg up on other people — everyone wants X-ray goggles, eye-lasers, levitation, invisibility, etc. Or they want inner peace, to heal people, to be enlightened, and so on.

Thing is, magic isn’t physically tangible to people who have a pre-conceived notion of what they think it should be. Skeptics, athiests, or whatever — they have preconceived notions or definitions. But magic is about the pregnancy of ideas, and those who straight-up refuse to consider mind-manipulation of the various spheres of existence are in fact, ripe for manipulation (UNLIKE PEOPLE WHO BLINDLY BELIEVE IN THE EXISTENCE OF OTHERWORLDLY PHENOMENA, AMIRITE?).

All goals and objectives in life make us miserable when we consider their totality, because there’s no actual point to existence. But believing in a purpose to life, a reasoning or burning drive that makes us “correct” in contrast to others — it functions under the premise that there is a tangible point to life by reaching for — or creating, one. And why not? It’s more fun to play the game, to run the gambit or the spiral towards “meaning”. Even though meaning or purpose is like the eye of the spiral, whirlpool and black-hole. It’s mesmerizing, but ultimately you are destroyed by it (there is nothing on the other side — wah!!!).

I was talking to a neurotic friend, who mentioned that the “point” of life is basically like “rigpa” in Tibetan Buddhism — attaining and maintaining “the state”. Although it sounds really cheesy and dumb, I basically do agree with this — there is no point beyond maintaining a “pure” state of awareness where we don’t really identify with positive or negative definitions or illusions of purpose. And it’s not that we don’t care about the consequences of events; it’s just that everything from the cosmic egg ebbs and flows and never permanently settles, so why should we attach our karmic fate to things which are not spiritually permanent investments (including expressions of self)?

Anyway, this mental state is the only thing that does not bring eventual suffering, dissatisfaction, ordukkha. So any talking about it just complicates the issue more; it’s like the traditional Chan/Zen idea that you cannot tell by interacting with a person whether they are enlightened or not, because they know not to attach much romance to ambitious spiritual ideas — they just do the work. So enlightened people just look like any person interested in the random stuff they happen to be doing at the moment; the day’s work, and so on, except their “mind” or spirit or whatever is not emotionally attaching to it.

So no matter if this world was hand-crafted by God or Satan, or self-manifested by idiots or angelic spirits, or whatever you think happened that put it together — from the ultimate perspective our suffering is sort of unaccounted for in the equation, because it’s a subtle choice (yes, obviously physical pain is a little different, but it’s like getting confronted with a gun: try to avoid it before it happens). But when activated, suffering actually spurs people to expel energy and intent into the world without control.  Presumably, if you maintain “the state” then existence is a beautiful pearl, not an endless trail of tears, because you aren’t identifying with it. But that’s just sick, sick, sick!

Fangsong 4eva

Posted in Exercise, Fighting, health, martial arts, meditation, New Age Baloney, Qi, tai chi, taijiquan with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I’ve been busy and haven’t had much I care to write about lately. Society has had its way with me. But I have been practicing a lot of Taijiquan (TJQ). That’s the only thing in life that doesn’t seem like a complete waste of time — it levels up the soul as well as the physical body all at once.

The principle you hear superior TJQ bloggers talk about these days is maximum use of relaxation, specifically the Chinese term fang-song. The principle of using the waist efficiently in movements (“waist is the commander”) is the core of most martial arts; pretty much every martial art does that at advanced levels. But in TJQ and “internal” martial arts, the key unique principle or secret above all else, is total softness and the ability to relax muscle while fighting.

But even if you don’t practice TJQ or any other macho head-games, fang-song is a beautiful concept to work with. It literally means a combination of “relax” and “unclench the muscles”. It’s pretty much the idea that all meditation teachers are trying to point to, but don’t usually have the vocabulary or practice methods to elucidate. Whenever I am sitting somewhere with nothing to do, or lying in bed drifting off to sleep, I just fang-song my whole body. Sure, sure, you could sit and “be mindful of the breath,” but a lot of people do that without taking heed of their levels of tension. Fang-song is a lot like meditation-class body-scanning-for-tension, but it’s a method that was developed to also function when confronting extreme violence or threats to one’s life.

Most tension starts when the back isn’t straight, and immediately ripples to the shoulders and hips. When the shoulders and hip joints are tense, there is a parallel effect on the elbows and knees respectively. The other big issue is the verticality of the spine, which is a whole additional TJQ principle in of itself (all the principles are co-dependent upon one another). Ideally, one wants to tuck the coccyx until the whole spine, from the bottom (or top of the ass), up to the neck, is one straight line (as when viewed from the side).

It’s also very important to unclench jaw and facial muscles. The reason to wear sunglasses in on bright days is to keep your face from scrunching up and becoming incredibly tense. Excess jaw and facial tension can lead to migraines, headaches and other kinds of annoying pains. Shoulder tension can do this too, and practicing TJQ-related fang-song is practically a miracle cure for chronic back pain, myofascial muscle issues, etc.

As far as qi and issuing energy goes — without total relaxation, the amount of qi a person can circulate and issue in strikes is pretty minimal. I’m not entirely sure what the energy programming instructions are in external, muscular styles like Karate, Shaolin, Silat and so on, but in TJQ and internal styles, it’s the total relaxation which gives you the qi explosion. A lot of beginners are always interested in qi circulation and bringing it out in striking energy, but once you get somewhere in practice, you realize the qi naturally appears and soaks into everything when you relax really deeply.

Anyway, I have a feeling that Taijiquan will get super big in a martial way soon, right before the world implodes. Considering that there are a large number of MA teachers pitching TJQ efficiently now, I don’t see how it could go any other way. Especially since TJQ is the best.

But what difference does it make if TJQ becomes commercially popular in a martial way? Is that really better than the current trend of it being popular as a New Age healing tonic? I guess I don’t care either way.