Saturday, March 8, 2014

You Jistsu

My friend showed me a hilarious video from the YouTube Channel, EnterTheDojoShow. It's a martial arts satire, like The Office for karate. In the episode below, Master Ken, the crazy host and Ameri-Do-Te instructor, challenges his students to outsmart themselves in a mirror, since "the only thing dangerous to an Ameri-Do-Te student is himself."

From a Zen point of view, Master Ken captures the human condition perfectly--our perennial tendency to divide ourselves and get in our own way. We resist the present moment because we wish that things were different. When we're packing for the vacation, we tell ourselves that we'll be relaxed once we're at the airport; but of course once we arrive in the terminal, we tell ourselves that we'll relax on the plane. When on the plane, on the beach. On the beach, when we get home.

We are constantly deferring the present moment in search of some imaginary, elusive perfect moment in the not-too-distant (or perhaps distant, I don't know) future. Or maybe we're looking to the past "when things were great."

At the risk of sounding trite, all we have to do is accept--no, embrace--the present. Stop picking and choosing how we think the world ought to be and instead accept what actually is.

Quit squaring off with ourselves in the mirror and accept the fact that when we raise our hand, the mirror image follows. As in a hall of mirrors, there can be countless representations of us, but Zen practice is a constant returning to our original wholeness, unsullied by the division of expectations and self-judgment.

Just this, right here, right now. The sound of traffic outside, the hunger in our bellies, the smell of cooking breakfast. There is no life for us but this one.

As always is the case in life, we do have a choice--we can continue to divide ourselves (as is the human habit) or quit sabotaging ourselves. For inevitably, when we divide ourselves, we are only setting ourselves up for a slap in the back of the head. Just ask Master Ken.

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