Archive for Master

We’ll See …

Posted in All, Humor, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by marushiadark
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift – that is why it is called ‘the present.’ ” ~ Kung Fu Panda

Here’s a parable about the nature of time for you to consider as we begin a new year:

There once was a small village in which there lived a Zen master.  One day, a farmer accidentally left his pen gate open and his prize horse ran out into the wilderness.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  The next day, the horse returned and had brought two wild horses with it.  The farmer tamed the horses and gave one to his son as a gift.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

One day, the little boy was riding the horse and he fell off, breaking his leg in the process.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  A few days later, some messengers had come from the government, saying that the emperor had ordered conscripts to go and fight.  However, the little boy was unable to go because he had broken his leg.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

While the men were out fighting, a small band of warriors came to the village, where they killed many people in the town, including the little boy.  The soldiers looted what they could and then left.  The people of the said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  Some days later, news of this attack reached the emperor, who was moved by the plight of his people.  So the emperor sent troops to ensure that the village would not be attacked again.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

Some time passed and the emperor sent messengers out to all the villagers ordering that the taxes be increased to pay for the war.  The people of the village were still recovering from their loss and had no money to pay the tax, so the soldiers imposed tighter restrictions on the people of the village.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how terrible,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”  Eventually, a man returned to the village from fighting in the war.  He saw what was being done to his people and rallied forces together to oust the soldiers from the village.  The people of the village said, “Oh, how wonderful,” but the Zen Master simply said, “We’ll see.”

Those of you who have seen the movie Charlie Wilson’s War may remember this story and may have noticed that I added a fair bit to it.  Really and truly, I could have continued on in this way for all eternity just by adding more and more events.  But hopefully that was enough for you to get the general gist of it.

Everything in life has a higher purpose.  As these bad things happen to you, turn your gaze inward and look for the deeper meaning.  What lesson are you meant to learn from this?  How did your own actions contribute to the negativity of the situation?  What action can you take to try and improve the situation, while still being mindful of any potential backlash that may result?

We cannot know the future; and what may appear to be a good or bad thing today may prove to be just the opposite in time.  The Zen Master lives in the moment every day, recognizing that all events are neutral and that there is no good or bad but what we apply to a situation.  Something to consider strongly as we enter this new year of 2011.  I sense a great escalation of events in the near future.  Many of those events will seem bad, but we must always find a silver lining in any situation, while remaining aware of the consequences of our actions.

C is for Chi

Posted in All, Health, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by marushiadark

“You guys can do all this awesome Bending stuff … I’m just the guy in the group who’s regular.” ~ Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender

When I was young, around nine-years old, my dad decided to enroll me and my younger siblings in martial arts.  My father was a black belt.  The sensei of the school he enrolled us in studied under the same master as him.  From time to time, my dad would show us techniques well in advance of what most of the other students were learning.  I don’t really consider my father to be the best of teachers.  I feel he lacks the patience to go through things in a step-by-step, kinesthetic, ground-up manner.  When I first learned to drive, he started me on my mom’s SUV, which to this day I still get nervous driving.  However, regardless of how I may feel about him, there’s one thing I owe him my gratitude for and that’s introducing me to the concept of chi.

I don’t remember exactly how I old I was at the time, maybe somewhere around fourteen years of age.  But I remember my father sitting me down in the living room.  He didn’t really go into too much detail; he just explained that there was a sort of energy inside us and that we could learn to use it with practice.  He told me to hold out my hand, which I did.  Then he held his own up around mine without touching it and asked what I felt.  I remember feeling a sort of warm energy when he did this.  That’s chi, he said.

So ended the lesson.  It wasn’t much of anything, really.  All I had to go by was that experience, that feeling, and a vague idea that it had something to do with breathing.  But fortunately, that was enough to get me started.

It’s truly a revelatory experience your first time.  I remember my eyes went wide when I first felt it.  Over the years, I had to figure a lot of stuff out for myself and my progress was very slow.  Having someone there to guide you through your exploration of internal energy is a very beneficial thing.  Joining a Tai Chi or Chi Kung or Yoga class, or even just working with a partner who knows something about it, is a lot better than trying to figure it all out all on your own.

“To train the mind, one must first train the body.” ~ Izumi Curtis, Full Metal Alchemist

In my house, we have a lot of old Shaw Brothers kung fu films.  The first one I ever saw was The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.  It’s the story of a young man named San Te who enters Shaolin Temple and learns kung fu.  At first, San Te’s eager to the point of foolishness and wants to start with the highest art, so he’s taken to the 35th Chamber where a bunch of old and senior monks are reciting Buddhist sutras.  The master of the chamber tells the San Te to leave because San Te clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing.  When he refuses, the master raises his arms and the man falls back on his ass.

The monk never touched him, but was sitting at least ten feet away.  You can imagine the look on San Te’s face and how afraid and confused he was.  That was his first experience with chi.

While that may have been a movie, the idea of chi has basis in reality.  The other day, I was watching Stan Lee’s Superhumans, which is a documentary series about real life superhuman abilities.  Among the ones I saw in the episode was a Shaolin monk named Shi Yan Ming who used chi in martial arts.  The premise of the show is to try and determine the scientific basis of such superhuman feats.  A collision scientist was brought in with equipment that revealed results unlike anything the woman had ever seen before.  Shi Yan Ming’s punches delivered damage greater than that of a 30 MPH car crash.  That was just one of several feats performed that would appear impossible given his size and muscular build, so clearly chi has an affect here.

Many martial artists have spent years developing their chi power through training of the body and getting a feel for their own energy.  Unfortunately, few of them spend as much time studying the nature of reality, science, healing, philosophy, and metaphysics, so their ability to use chi is limited mostly to its connection with their physical bodies.

“Teacher, what is this?  This isn’t kung fu!”

“That’s the highest form you’ll ever see, the final form.  You don’t understand.” ~ 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

So what exactly is chi?

In its most basic sense, chi is a type of energy that exists within your body.  It originates from your soul and is the essential life force that powers your mind and body like electricity flowing through your computer.

Your body has many different systems of organs, such as the nervous system, the circulatory system, the skeletal system, the digestive system, etc.  There is also an energy system.  You may have seen diagrams of energy meridians which map out the locations of this system for use in acupuncture, reiki, and other healing arts.  If the meridians are the blood vessels, the chi is the blood that flows through them.

Through mental training and practice, you can learn how to use and manipulate your own chi for a variety of purposes.  If you’ve never worked with it before, it’s essential that you experience it for yourself.  I can’t think of a better way to start you off than to say find someone who knows about it and get them to show you, just like how my dad first showed me.  It will jump start your awareness.

The nearest I can describe it in words is that it’s like an electromagnetic effect.  If you were to hold two magnets of the same polarity in your hands and try to bring them together, you’ll feel a well of magnetism between your hands as if there were an invisible ball there.  That’s basically the same effect that you are creating here.

It’s likely that chi is electromagnetic energy, but I us the word “chi” out of tradition and because it just sounds cooler.  Recall that everything in the universe is made of energy, most of which, if not all of which, is electromagnetic in nature.

The human body is indeed capable of generating electrical charge, which creates magnetism.  The effect of putting your hands out acts like two opposing capacitor plates.  Through focus, you can turn the current on or off and control the flow of electromagnetism between your hands.  I’ve heard of people that can actually shoot sparks across their fingertips like a van de graaff generator.  That’s probably what allows the Sith and Firebenders to manipulate lightning, at least in theory.

Over the years, I’ve been able to do a lot of things with my chi.  I can generate it, manipulate it into different shapes, alter its “mass,” and use it for healing purposes.  I haven’t been able to use it for telekinesis yet, bu

Realistically, I’ve found that, for the amount of time and focus you’d need to gather the energy necessary to flip off a light switch from across the room, it’d be a hell of a lot easier to just summon the discipline and energy to get up and turn it off manually.  So that scene with Anakin Skywalker feeding Padme with the Force … not likely to happen.

Persistence of Memory

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2010 by marushiadark

“God is Santa Claus for grown-ups.” ~ Unknown

People of faith often believe that, when we die, if we are good, we’ll get eternal happiness, and if we’re bad, we’ll get eternal punishment.  But does that sound fair to you?  Does that sound like the invention of an all-knowing, compassionate being?  Or does that sound more like a bedtime story you’d tell to kids?

Hey, kids, you know, if you’re really good, Santa Claus will bring you lots of presents, but if you’re bad, he’ll bring you an icky lump of coal instead.  And he can see when you are sleeping and knows when you’re awake.  In fact, he won’t even come until after you’re in bed.

You know, there’s a reason they call it eternal rest and sleeping like the dead.

It doesn’t seem right to me that God should give you an eternity of something based on the actions of a fraction of a fraction of that time.  Given all the hype about God, I think he would have more sense than that.  I mean, even our own limited and fallible human institutions know that people change over time and that reward and punishment must be in accordance with a person’s recent behavior.  For some, it may takes moments to change, for others decades, for some maybe even a few hundred years, but that’s still nothing compared to eternity.

Based on the laws of karma, I do believe that you receive some sort of reward or punishment after you die, but I hardly think it’s eternal.

“Death is rest for the soul.  Who was it that said that?  If the body did not die, and the fears borne in the mind just continued to pile up, the world would be nothing more than an eternal prison.” ~ Ziggy, Xenosaga Episode II

The law of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, only transferred.  Even a cynical empiricist who worships the scientific method must admit that if consciousness is energy, then it retains some form even after the body has died.  It might not be in exactly the same state, but it still continues to exist in one state or another.  And what does that sound like from a spiritual perspective?  Reincarnation, perhaps?

Reincarnation is simply the conservation of consciousness between one lifetime and the next.  Many religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and even Christianity teach that this is what happens to you when you die.  The body decays and the carbon, water, and other components go back into the environment.  The mind goes offline and reawakens in some other body, like transferring documents from one computer to the next.  And the soul just remains as it’s always been, in the position of the observer.

The concept of reincarnation can be scientifically verified.  In fact, some people have already tried.  Maybe you’ve heard stories and news reports about young children being taken to certain places and having knowledge of those places and certain events relating to them that no one has mentioned to the child and which the child can’t possibly know otherwise, except through some sort of metaphysical transfer of information.  That would be a way of proving reincarnation to someone else, but there are other ways of proving it to yourself.

“‘How can I tell,’ said the man, ‘that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?'” ~ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Ever since I was young, I’d always gotten along a lot better with adults than I did people my own age.  I think a number of people can probably say they feel the same way.  Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve conversed with people much older than myself and have come to realize that there are people ten, twenty, even thirty years older than me that act like children.  I don’t really count myself particularly privileged, at least no more-so than those individuals.  So what accounts for this?

When I was in college, I took an introductory course on Psychology and learned about the various stages of development that the human mind goes through.  Among them was the concept of Generativity vs. Stagnation, more commonly known as the mid-life crisis, in which a person looks back on their life and feels that they’ve done nothing but waste time and miss opportunities.  I was only about twenty at the time, but I felt as though I’d already had several mid-life crises over the course of my lifetime.

Some months later, I began to do a great deal of soul searching and starting to become aware of the fact that this wasn’t the first time I’d been here on this planet.  All in all, I’d been here at least five or six times that I can recall (possibly even more than that), which would mean that I’m a fairly old soul.

People often ask me how I know all this, how I came to realize that I’d had past lives and that they took on the particular characteristics that I claim they did.  Well, let me put it to you like this.

I know that there is a lot of New Age emphasis on the Power of Now, as made famous by Eckhart Tolle and others, and that along with this comes the realization that there is no past or future.  But for sake of argument, let’s assume that there is a past.  Most people would think it reasonable to say there is a past.  But how do you know?  How do you know that you weren’t literally born yesterday?  How do you even know that there was a yesterday?  How do you know that, when you woke up this morning, it wasn’t the beginning of time and you simply discovered you had all these thoughts in your head from the very beginning?

When you play a video game, it’s all a programmed illusion that begins as soon as you turn the game on.  That is year zero.  Yet when you turn the game on, you are immersed into a world and a body that has history, or so it believes.  In rare cases, such as Assassin’s Creed II, you get to know the character from the time of their birth; but usually you just wake up one day to find that you are now in a situation and that you have thoughts and ideas in your head about who you are, where you are, what you do, and who your friends are.  Time began at that moment, so all the so-called past is really just an illusion.

Do you think it’s reasonable to suggest that the same could be true for us as well?  That time could just be an illusion and the past merely accounting for discrepancies between our present condition and our memories?

But let us suppose that the opposite is true.  Supposing there really is a past.  So there’s a yesterday and a last year.  Why would your birth, then, be the beginning of your consciousness?  Genetic memory and the 100th Monkey Effect can explain where behavioral instincts come from, but not memories and wisdom of things that neither you nor your ancestors experienced.  For that, you’d need reincarnation.

So how do I know that I lived a past life?  Simple.  I remember something about it, the same as I remember something that happened yesterday or last year.  How do I know it’s memory and not imagination?  Well, how does anyone know that what they experienced yesterday or last year was real and not simply made up?  You feel it in your gut that this is true and accurate and what really happened to you.  That’s how.

“Now if you’re thinking, just now, ‘Why me, oh God?’  The answer is, God has nothing to do with it.  In fact, God is never in France this time of year.” Dorleac, Count of Monte Cristo

Reincarnation is tied with karma.  What you do in the past effects your future.  Even if you get away with something in this lifetime, there are higher forces at work that will see to it that you make up for it next time.  Just like in playing a video game, if you fuck up and die, you retain the memory of what happened and that can effect future outcomes.

That’s probably also what Déjà Vu is, too.  If you feel like you’ve experienced something before, it’s probably because you have.  You just hit the restart button and decided to play over from your last checkpoint.  Like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day, when he keeps trying to find the right words to say to his coworker.

So if you find yourself thinking, “Why me, oh God?” the answer is, it’s always been on you.  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people and to young children?  It’s probably to teach you a lesson for something you did in a past life.  For instance, in one of my past lives, I was a really shitty parent.  So God decided to grace me with a bad father.  Not as bad as I had been, but enough that I could understand what it was like from the receiving end.

In another past life, I was a cruel Templar master.  So God decided to set me in a time and place where the Templars ruled as the sort of cruel masters that I had been.  He set me on a path to learn about the New World Order from the perspective of one of their slaves.  If I am truly the observer and the creator of my universe, then it stands to reason that such things as The Da Vinci Code and Assassin’s Creed were also created by me as tools for my benefit.  The entire history of the world has been constructed and uploaded into my mind to serve as context while I progress through the game of life towards my objectives.  It’s only logical.

It’s a lot like Alice dreaming of the Red King, who’s dreaming of Alice, who’s dreaming of the Red King … From your perspective, I’m the illusion and the whole world is created for your benefit and lesson.  So life becomes a dream, a shared dream (like in Inception), in which we all create and grow and experience together.  And when we die, we simply wake up somewhere else, with only the memory remaining.

Two Parables

Posted in All, Economics, Humor, Politics, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2010 by marushiadark

“Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven, and hell a fable.” ~ Charles Colton, cleric

When I was in grammar school, because I went to a Catholic school, we had to take religion as a class.  My eighth grade teacher was incredibly strict, but I learned a great deal thanks to her.  Among other things, she taught us this parable about the nature of heaven and hell that I retain and use to this day.

Imagine that you are in a great hall filled with all the people that you’ve ever encountered in your life.  In this hall, you are all seated at an enormous table.  Before you is a banquet of any and all the types of food that you and all the other guests could ever want to eat, and this food continues to replenish whenever more is needed.  Truly, it is a feast unlike any other.  However, there is a catch.  Instead of hands, every guest at the banquet has six-foot long chopsticks attached to their arms.  No one is capable of eating any of this food because no one can reach their mouths due to the chopsticks.  So the food just sits there, tormenting the guests, until both it and the guests waste away to nothing.  In this hall, everyone is greedy and self-serving and gets nothing but misery and pain as a result.

Now imagine that you have an identical hall with the exact same set-up, only in this hall, everyone works to feed each other instead of their own selves.  Everyone gets what they want and there is more than enough to go around.  Everyone is both a giver and a receiver, satisfying their own needs and the needs of those around them.  All the guests receive nourishment from the food and the enjoyment from the company.  There is no pain or suffering, but instead genuine love and happiness.

I don’t think I need to explain that the first hall represents hell, while the second one represents heaven.

Such a metaphor is so simple that even a naive child can understand.  I should know, since I was a naive child when I first learned it, myself.

Now imagine if the whole world acted that way.  If everyone was selfless enough to contribute to the benefit of others, while still occasionally taking time out to let others return the favor.  Each person doing what they can for a person within their range of ability to help until everyone is eventually satisfied.  From each according to his means, to each according to his needs, until everyone has everything that they want and need.

Because of the complex nature of life, it’s impossible for anyone to ever be completely self-sufficient.  We all need other people, whether for emotional support, or to make or do something that we can’t in order to improve our quality of life.  When we consider the potential gains to ourselves and others from what amounts to a modicum of service, the world becomes a much better place.

“Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.” ~ Thomas Paine

Another parable, this time of my own making, along the same lines is as follows.

A Zen Master had two young sons that would not stop fighting with one another.  So one day, he called the boys together and the three of them sat down at their father’s table.  The Zen Master set a box of building blocks on the table.  To the first son, he gave seven blocks and to the second, he gave five.  He then commanded his sons to construct the tallest tower they possibly could with what they had been given.

The two brothers took their blocks and each built a tower out of the blocks he had in front of him, stacking them one atop the other.  The second son noticed that the first son’s tower was much larger.

“No fair,” he said, “He got more blocks than me.”  And in a fit of jealousy, he knocked the first son’s tower down.  “Now my tower’s bigger,” he said.  Out of anger, the first son retaliated and knocked over the second son’s tower.  Now neither of them had a tower and the two sons began to argue and fight over what had happened.

The Zen Master then separated the two boys and stopped their fighting.  “Look at the mess you two have made,” he said, “I commanded you to build the biggest tower you could, but instead you have created nothing but ruin and hatred between yourselves.”

“But he knocked down my tower,” said the first.

“But you gave him more blocks,” said the second.

The Zen Master shook his head in disappointment.  “I said build the biggest tower you could with the blocks you had.  You chose to hoard your lots and build separate towers, when you could have come together to build a tower twice as tall as what either of you could have built alone.”

The two brothers then felt ashamed for misunderstanding their father’s commandment after realizing what they had done.  The Zen Master then poured the rest of the building blocks out of the box.  “Now, let the three of us together build an enormous tower that stretches towards the ceiling.”  And so the Zen Master and his two sons worked together and used up all the blocks in building an enormous block tower.  Between the three of them, there were enough blocks to build out laterally as well so that the tower was better supported and able to rise that much higher.

The two sons were so proud of their accomplishment that they went and told their mother and their sisters and their friends and brought them all to see the magnificent tower that had been built and everyone was in awe at what they had done.

Yet another story that even a child can understand.  The moral of which is that we all are given different gifts, different skills, different resources, different connections in our lives, and different experiences.  We all have our own paths unique to us.  But rather than keeping these all to ourselves, we can accomplish much greater things if we shared all that with others in cooperative union.  To build each other up instead of tearing each other down.  To see ourselves as partners, rather than rivals or enemies.  In a world where we see nothing but lines of division and differences and separation, there is no rule that says we cannot come together to make the world a better place for all.  The world is fundamentally an interconnected system, and what affects one affects the whole.  So why not work with each other, rather than at cross purposes in pursuit of what is common to us all?