Archive for Musashi

Show me what is real

Posted in Mysticism, Occult, Philosophy, Religion, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Although there is probably nothing outside of the universe itself, the material/physical universe is not the only game in town. I’m not an athiest or Bright/”Naturalist” since I don’t subscribe to a strict materialistic view of existence.

Science is pretty popular as the methodology to explain unknown phenomena. But it’s just an academic method of recording data and experiments. To me, science does not actually prove anything beyond a cold, stale collection of data; science just accumulates data used to expand upon human lines of reasoning. And what is reason but an argument for one’s desires? Human reason generally seeks to influence people.

As some religious proponents have mentioned (contrary to what it looks like, I am not “religious”) if scientific analysis says something is true or factual and I don’t understand the explanation but am simply told to accept it as fact, this is no different from accepting religious gospel I don’t understand. Believing in things on blind faith is pretty useless. The only truth is direct experience. Transmission is a form of direct experience.

The only truth is experience –> transmissions can only be made in person, in the flesh, as experiences –> ultimately, enlightenment is self-realized, not transmitted

Which makes sense. All the great mystics and saints and demons and wizards have pointed out: reality must be realized by oneself. I can only show you the door, you have to open it, blah blah. Like the Buddha’s “Alone in the universe I am exalted” idea, for if one is alone in the universe, how can one’s perceptions rely on anyone else’s interpretation of life? Why are people so afraid to trust their own perceptions of reality?

Austin Spare wrote about how all desires and realizations must be done and achieved through flesh — that flesh is reality. And Musashi talked of how true understanding of martial arts and violence could only be learned through direct experience and transmission. Buddha said don’t believe something just because someone told you it’s true — try it for yourself. It is all the same idea: live in your body, live out your ideas, experiment with deep philosophies in your actual life, not just as thoughtful meditations. When people sit around and make speculations about things they don’t do, when they don’t actually go out and experience those things for themselves, they become worthless people. A person has to throw themselves into their experiences to understand life in any worthwhile capacity.

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Tengus, Musashi and Joshu

Posted in Asceticism, Buddhism, Fighting, martial arts, Monasticism, Shintoism, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

What are the pinnacles of a martial artist’s path? Endless willpower (the embodiment of faith), natural, animal-like movement and an awareness of one’s place in the universe. Alternatives include trouble with the law, a bohemian lifestyle or a macho complex…

But does this come at a price? A martial artist keeps the peace by intimidating the opposition to a point of no return, by forcing potentially dangerous or malicious people to hide or change. This is admirable, but a martial path is often lonely. It is difficult to befriend people genuinely if one does not perceive themselves as equal. By becoming tough, deadly and virtuous, one is robbed of basic human weaknesses and empathies. Fortunately, a virtuous person is beyond conscious value judgments of character!

An ascetic path would say that basic pleasures and empathies are human weaknesses that cause suffering and the disorder of society. This is true, but at the same time, many people are driven to practice martial arts for very human reasons: for their jobs, to protect their families, for ego boosts (to be tough), or from seeing too many Naruto episodes.

Sometimes, people who take these factors as inspiration are driven to achieve very high levels in the martial arts. But I would not be surprised if the highest levels were achieved by people like Musashi, who had much disdain for society’s records and rules. Part of having a job or a family also involves conforming to society and adjusting to its rules. Here one can argue that this is either a further martial development, or a hindrance to one’s martial development. In other words, Musashi was something of a tengu.

Does a martial artist become so secure in his/her ability to kill or destroy that they care so little about other people to the point of no longer noticing their presence? Is this different from realizing how easy it is to kill or destory people or things to the extent that the existence of such things makes them emanate extraordinary substance and value in the martial artist’s eyes?

It’s like what Leonard Cohen said about his Zen teacher, 100-year-old Joshu Sasaki: “He became someone who really cared about—or deeply didn’t care about who I was. Therefore, who I was began to wither. And the less I was of who I was, the better I felt.”

We don’t know Musashi the man, we don’t know ourselves, but we can certainly understand that people like him, living in seclusion from society, perfecting methods of killing (and some slick painting), with nothing in the world to protect except his deep passion to know the essence of combat, are not normally functioning members of humanity. There’s no human glory in that life, which is one obsessed with violence and so far beyond driven to understand things that it eclipses a normal life. Not saying Musashi had a choice necessarily–he seems like he got dealt an interesting hand to play out in life–but it’s something to consider. Sometimes desire for this stuff can be too strong.

Do you lean towards being a tengu or some noble humanist? Sometimes you’re too far in either direction to change in one lifetime.