While my son was battling through a year of intense chemotherapy I began to explore avenues of self-realization that I had been interested in all my life. I believe the world would be well served to adapt some of the tenets I have discovered.
My search led me to Tai Chi Chuan, which is one of the three so-called “internal” martial arts of China. They are considered internal because the core of the disciplines is to guide the body’s energy with the mind. Meditation is an integral part of these disciplines.
I was already meditating. My wife has obtained certification to teach meditation so it is part of our lives. I felt as if I needed the fighting aspect though. I was psychologically abused by a violent alcoholic as a child. Escaping into the Navy led me into a another violent world of harsh realities.
So I fought. I have fought all my life in one way or another. It’s as if it was an engine by which I was driven. Argument, anger, fists and fright evolved into a personality of aggression that was only tempered by a fierce love of God.
I took Krav Maga, Punching and kicking and wrestling were fun I was like a kid at Christmas. I thought I had found myself. The thing is I began to have injury after injury until finally I blew out and old shoulder that had been surgically repaired a few years back. I had to question my process. Though the fighting seemed to release the germs that confounded me the repercussions were unacceptable and obviously not intelligent for a man in his late fifties.
The slow forms of Tai Chi Chuan and the qi gong that go hand in hand were healing. I dodged the orthopedic surgeon and began to look at options. Tai Chi is sometimes called “moving meditation”. I was steadily drawn deeper into the reflection of yin and yang. In my mind’s eye peace lay resting at the end of a forest trail.
This deep conflict of fighting versus peace had torn me asunder until I surrendered to God yet I continued in many ways to fight. Moving into the martial arts I became aware once again that they are not about fighting. They are about not fighting. To protect and defend means to do what is necessary to neutralize violence. Often the best thing to do is dissolve that violence with reason and love.
As I continue to ponder this issue I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if its leaders could make this core shift of perspective. That is to say, if the primary motivation of all the peoples of the earth were to “do no harm” … where would we be?
You see I have come to realize that it takes no courage to fight back. It is instinctual and motivated by fear. What if one’s goal were simply to protect life and promote justice doing as little harm as possible to the antagonist?
What if we sought to wage peace rather than war?
What if we saw ourselves in the eyes of every person? We are all part and parcel of the same bouncing molecular universe. Our worst enemies are no less than an extension of ourselves. Call it brothers and sisters in Christ, Sangha, community or any of the infinite number of names; we are all from the same seed at some point. We are as leaves on a tree … grains of sand … stars of the eternal prescience that is boundless reality. If we were of sound mind, why would we visit violence upon ourselves?
But that is another matter entirely.