Monday, September 20, 2010

Tul-Wisdom (Patterned Wisdom)

I worry about the future. This has always been a problem I've struggled and battled with. I worry about my financial stability (or instability), about my family's health, my kids' schooling, my wife's business, my job, my friends, my relationships, my well-being. And when I allow that rogue beast, Worry, to roam free, it does nothing but further feed and breed Fear.

Too often I fall into the trap of living in the Past. Analyzing whether this or that choice or decision could have changed where I find myself today. When I open the memories and doorways to the past I run the risk of flooding myself with regret for what might-have-been. (Those saddest words of tongue or pen...)

When I spend my energy worrying about Tomorrow and regretful for Yesterday, I do nothing but destroy my Today.
Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is. The future
has not yet come. Looking deeply at life
as it is in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells in
stability and freedom.

Bhaddekaratta Sutta
The illusion is that our Today – our Now – is a tiny hairline separating Yesterday from Tomorrow. The truth of the matter is that there is no future and there is no past but only an eternally endless Now.

“Alan Watts likened the practice of living from our center to marital arts, where we are encouraged to “stay always in the center position, and stay always here”. He says, “If you expect something to come in a certain way, you position yourself to get ready for it. If it comes another way, by the time you reposition your energy, it is too late. So stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction.” When living from your center, in the now, he adds, “you stand a much better chance of being able to deal with the unforeseen than if you keep worrying about it” Candance B. Pert, The Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine (New York: Touchstone, 1997), 27

I have found practicing the Tuls (patterns) in Taekwon-do extremely “centering” and nearly a form of Meditation. The concentration and focus clears the mind, forcing one to 'forget' everything but the Now, returning the balance.

I do not miss the point of every pattern (at least to my limited knowledge) begins in one position and returns to this same position. A centering. A balance point. A Zen of Now.

I can't help but wonder if General Choi (the founder of ITF) deliberately encouraged this “symbolism” of centering; reining in our runaway imaginations – not dwelling on the past and not worrying about the future, but always returning to this state of centeredness.

I believe the trick is to borrow this learned wisdom as we practice it in our patterns and apply it to our lives on a daily, on an hourly level. It can only make us better and stronger.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Zen of Contemplating God

I've been told that most Buddhists have happily and willingly moved away from Theistic religion. I've also been told that Buddhists do not contemplate what cannot be known – and God cannot be known.
I can't help but wonder this on a few levels. Firstly, I need to ask what does 'moving away from Theistic religion' really mean? I had always believed there are not only two positions. It doesn't have to be a question of either Theism or Atheism. I believe there is also Non-Theism.

I've also read that students of Zen concentrate for years on koans as a method attaining enlightenment. I wonder if Buddhists spend time focusing on koans too?

If so, I've come to wonder whether contemplating God could in itself act as a koan?

Personally, attempting to 'find' God, attempting to define God is a practice that has no solution. Attempting to understand the incomprehensible would seem to be a fruitless endeavor, but only if we are searching for a definitive answer. If we practice to understand the incomprehensible as a journey, it can become a koan of sorts.

Admittedly, I've never really looked at it from this point of view, but I think I've practiced it for years. A summation of my experiences could be to say witnessing the repeated death and rebirth of “God” - continually. Repeatedly shattering my images and concepts of God.

To-understand-the-incomprehensible is my koan.

The Zen of Contemplating God.

Interesting thoughts...