The Spiritual Dimensions of the Martial Arts BY ROBERT BURATTI

He who wishes to live in an oriental martial art, rather than to just practice it on a physical level, must so train his consciousness to attain a self-discipline that at last his conscious mind will merge into an identity with the very principle of life itself.

Maurice Zalle

Amongst the usual loud and predictable offerings at the Australian cinema box office last summer, the Hollywood movie The Last Samurai emerged as an interesting alternative for many curious movie-goers. We were presented with a unique perspective on the cultural interaction between East and West. The film deals almost exclusively with the philosophical, spiritual and martial differences between Japan and America, and presents in grand form the figure of the Samurai, and the way his martial practice has a powerful spiritual dimension to which the West cannot relate.

The traditional practice of Martial Arts is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts, and this is largely due to the fact many people are realising the existence of the esoteric spiritual components behind widely known styles. The Arts are no longer considered remnants of old cultures, but valid and effective methods of achieving spiritual growth. The Martial Arts were actually formulated for this purpose all along.

A Spiritual Heritage

n 475, the Indian monk Bodhidharma arrived in Southern China. On his arrival he moved to the Huan province where he spent nine years in meditation, facing the rock wall of a cave. When the monk emerged from his retreat, he stumbled across a small mountain temple approximately one mile away called Shaolin. Bodhidharma was shocked to see the terrible physical condition of the monks of the Shaolin Temple who practiced long-term meditation exercises which, while making them spiritually strong, totally destroyed their physical health.

Bodhidharma created an exercise regime for the monks involving physical techniques that were efficient in strengthening the body, and eventually, could be used to defend oneself from the inevitable travelling thieves and gangs prominent in the area at the time. The latter benefit was a simple side benefit of the practice. The former was the main objective. The primary concern was always maintaining the physical strength of the monks for the purpose of meditation. These physical exercises developed into what we now know as Martial Arts.

Amongst the myriad of contemporary options for developing the spirit, the Martial Arts remains one of the oldest and most universally effective systems for teaching internal ideas which awaken the spiritual dimension in all parts of life.

The Physical Path To Enlightenment

The true value in studying the Martial Arts lies not in the learning of the technique or system itself, but in the acquisition of particular internal qualities that are developed through the learning process. The physical exercises are the concrete examples of abstract philosophical principles. Footwork systems teach the student about the qualities of energy, ebb and flow, and both creative and destructive potential. Handwork patterns teach the student about balance, dynamics and the intuition of natural spirit.

The actions of blocking, deflecting, striking, breaking and throwing all contain concepts that can be applied to the human spirit. Then in combat, we unite these concepts and in the process discover our own nature which is forced to emerge under extreme stress and pressure.

One is never rattled as much as when under attack. In this act, one’s metal is tested and they emerge with a new view of themselves and in many cases, a view of their true self. This is a first step to self realisation.

The legendary Japanese swordsman, Myamoto Musashi, found that the more he looked for proficiency and efficiency in his training, the more he looked for proficiency and efficiency in all things. He began to look for the deeper purpose in everything that he did.

When farming, he took land made useless by yearly floods and turned it into productive land by building his dikes and fields in the shape of the natural water flow. The farmers built a shrine in his honour for his concepts and prayed at that shrine daily. He found that every part of his life effected every other part of his life and he began to look for the spirituality in every part of his life.

Combat places great demands on the capacities of the warrior. Such demands act as powerful learning situations for self-discovery and self-confrontation.

Confronting Death

To defeat a thousand enemies is good, but the Samurai who defeats himself is the greatest of warriors.

Perhaps the first and most important of these is the confrontation with death. Throughout life we are sporadically confronted with death, be it through family, television or literature. In the modern world we are very familiar with death, but rarely if ever are we confronted with the prospect of our personal demise. But when it does arrive it most likely will be a sudden, irrevocable and inconvenient event from which we learn nothing. The martial artist does not ignore or wait for death, but walks right up to it.

In the Martial Arts, death is a constant presence. The whole activity revolves around it. Attack, defense and counter-attack are all performed as if a true life-or-death situation were involved. With proficiency, the vigour of the actions increases and, if one is using weapons, one may employ, for instance, a ‘live’ (naked) sword instead of a bamboo or wooden sword – all of which make the situation genuinely dangerous. The practitioner confronts death and makes peace with it in the knowledge it is inevitable. With this understanding, there exists no more fear, and the martial artist is now truly free.

All spiritual systems set up a confrontation with death, for confronting death is perhaps the most important element of spirituality. The basic preparatory practices of Buddhism involve the recognition one’s life is short and one may die tomorrow. In the Chod rite of Tibet, practitioners visit a graveyard at night (where the corpses are left exposed to the elements and scavengers) and invite the demons to come and take them. Christians and Muslims invite the Almighty to take their souls at any time.

The fear of death is the greatest obstacle for the martial artist. This fear has a quality of rigidity, or paralysis, or of loss of control; one may freeze with terror, or one may panic and react blindly and irrationally. Such reactions, intruding at the crucial moment in combat, will spell death, even for the technically accomplished fighter.

But freedom from this incapacitating fear releases great powers. There is a story of a Master of the Japanese Tea Ceremony from the province of Tasa – a man of no martial skill yet of great meditative and spiritual accomplishment. He accidentally gave offence to a high-ranking Samurai and was challenged to a duel.

He went to the local Zen Master to seek advice. The Zen Master told him frankly that he had little chance of surviving the encounter, but that he could ensure an honourable death by treating the combat as he would the formal ritual of the Tea Ceremony. He should compose his mind, paying no attention to the petty chatterings of thoughts of life and death. He should grasp the sword straightforwardly, as he would the ladle in the Tea Ceremony; and with the same precision and concentration of mind with which he would pour the boiling water onto the tea, he should step forward, with no thought of the consequence, and strike his opponent down in one blow.

The Tea Master prepared himself accordingly, abandoning all fear of death. When the morning of the duel arrived, the Samurai, encountering the total poise and fearlessness of his opponent, was so shaken that he promptly begged forgiveness and called off the fight.

The recognition and mental triumph over death is the martial artist’s greatest power, in that he will focus on the fact he has little time and hence lets his acts flow accordingly. Each act is your last battle on Earth, and only with this philosophy will your acts have their rightful power. Otherwise they will be, for as long as you live, the acts of a timid man.

In the words of a Samurai legend, “being timid is fine if you are to be immortal, but if you are going to die, there is no time for timidity, simply because timidity makes you cling to something that exists only in your thoughts.” It soothes you while everything is at a lull, but then the awesome, mysterious world will open its mouth for you, as it will open for every one of us, and then you will realise your sure ways were not sure at all. Being timid prevents us from examining and exploiting our lot as men.

Mastery of Energy

To the martial artist, Energy manifests within each individual as spirit, spirit manifests in each individual as mind. This Energy or “Chi” as it is known in China, or “Ki” in Japan, permeates everything, and hence is both the martial artist’s strongest connection to his enemy as well as his strongest weapon against his enemy.

The mastery of this energy is a central element of all traditional forms of Martial Arts practice. Two widely recognised expressions of this ideal are the Chinese art of Tai Chi Chuan, and the Japanese art of Aikido.

Tai Chi Chuan integrates many elements of Chinese culture such as philosophy and religion, medicine, and military practice. It draws its inspiration for movement heavily from the philosophy of yin and yang. It incorporates the theory of the Five Elements of cosmology and the principles of the Bagua (“Eight Trigrams”) together with motion, creating a continuous flow of movement that reflect the ideas behind these ideologies.

The Yin-Yang symbol, which is often linked with Tai Chi Chuan, represents the interaction of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are shown in equal amounts, yet the Yin portion of the Yin-Yang contains a small amount of Yang and the Yang portion an equally small amount of Yin.

The ancient Chinese saw the universe as a vast unity with every part of it being related to and dependent on every other part. Within this unity, there is continual change in an endless cycle between two partners, the Yin (feminine, dark, soft, yielding) and the Yang (masculine, hard, aggressive).

The universe is entirely made from these two forms of energy and in order for all things to progress harmoniously, the forces of Yin and yang must constantly interact with each other. While doing so, each must evolve, over a period of time, into its opposite, just as day gradually turns to night. For this reason, everything that seems to be Yin contains some Yang and all that is Yang also contains some Yin, without which change would not be possible. (Chen Lei)

From this view of existence and energy, the style of Tai Chi Chuan was constructed. It is a perfect physical expression of the Yin-Yang philosophy and operates within the same parameters and limitations.

While other martial styles are violently fast and rigid, Tai Chi is slow and controlled, with techniques that flow endlessly into one another. Just as Yin-Yang energy maintains a continual flow, so does the Tai Chi form. There is no rigid stop-start, only a controlled natural mimic of energy. This is why Tai Chi is often seen as one of the most graceful and peaceful Martial Arts. Just as energy is circular in flow, all Tai Chi footwork is circular in direction, and just as energy is a natural phenomenon, the Tai Chi defence postures are always in a natural form, not rigid, boxing-like military stances.

The effective practice of Tai Chi relies on a pure and deep understanding of the Yin-Yang/ Tai Chi view of Chi and the universe. Without this spiritual dimension to the art, the student is not practicing Tai Chi, they are simply performing empty movements of little significance to themselves or the world around them.

Another art dealing with the dynamics of energy was founded by Ueshiba Morihei in 1942. The Japanese art of Aikido was considered a continuation of the Samurai Arts, and borrows much of its spiritual dimension and expression from Bushido (The Way of the Samurai), particularly its use of traditional sword practices. It is a relatively contemporary system and much a continuation of Japanese values and culture as it is a cultivation of philosophy and spirit.

The meaning of Aikido is literally the “artful path of discovery of gathering Ki”. Ki is the Japanese translation of Chi, and shares an identical definition. It is suggested that Ki was “born” at the same instant as the rest of the universe, and that we are all born from the Ki of the universe. All living organisms have equal access to Ki, and it will course through our system if we allow it. Daily Aikido practice is primarily directed at maintaining a balanced state physically and emotionally, and practicing ways to cultivate this energy.

Like Tai Chi, Aikido is a physical expression of this way of seeing the world. As a result, it has no attack form, because attacking an opponent would be like attacking a family member or damaging the flow of Universal Ki energy sustaining the world. Once again, because Ki moves constantly, so does the martial artist, with all of Aikido’s footwork occurring in circular patterns. Aikido also places great attention on the balance aspect of energy, and hence has created an awareness of balance essential to its maneuvers. The main techniques of the style involve particular throwing and wrestling patterns that are precisely dependent on the perfect balance of its practitioner.

In Aikido like all Martial Arts, physical and emotional balance is codependent. Physical balance helps to engender emotional balance. An understanding of the nature of our spirit will help the practitioner create an effective alignment of thought and action. When every aspect of the individual is aligned the individual is better able to adapt and change.

Spirituality and the Samurai

The Way of Zen perpetuates the earliest Buddhist traditions. It signifies the perfect natural state of enlightenment. Zen cannot be rationalised, only experienced, lived and realised. Unattainable through concrete thought and analysis, the Way of Zen is found through meditational practice engaging both mind and body. Zen may be considered a unique expression of the Mahayana Buddhism. It originated in the northern regions of India and later moved to China and then Japan where it became a strong influence from around 1190 CE onwards. It exerted such an influence that up until a few years ago, it would have been difficult to find a person of noble Japanese origins who had not been exposed to Zen philosophy.

Zen offers an interesting perspective in the world of Martial Arts and spirituality, because it becomes hard to see where the spiritual philosophy ends and the martial practice begins. While most Martial Art philosophies are a building process supplying us with tools and understanding, the experience of Zen is a destructive process, in the strict sense that it removes things from our lives that keep us from enlightenment. Zen’s liberation comes in absolute autonomy. There are no gods, no denominations, and no higher authority. It is necessary to abandon all crutches and proceed forward with no assistance.

The role of Zen in the Samurai society is amazingly complex. It sustained the warrior spirit in two ways: Morally, because Zen is a system which teaches the individual not to look back once the course is decided; and philosophically, because Zen treats life and death indifferently.

The classic text, Hagakure or “Hidden by Leaves” attributed to the Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo, states that, “The Way of the Samurai is found in death” and goes on to say that the Samurai is powerful because his mind is no longer attached to life and death. The Samurai will “conquer immortality by dying without hesitations.” Great deeds are accomplished when one attains the Zen state of “no-mind-ness.”

It is through this Zen state of “no-mind” that swordplay becomes not an act of killing but an instrument of spiritual self-discipline. The individual, the sword and the target become one. The blade moves by itself under the influence of the target without any individual decision, always finding a perfect blow. The acknowledgement of mastery in the sword is also the acknowledgement of a higher degree of Zen spirituality. The “no-mind” is one of the most influential Zen concepts to mix with the Samurai psyche.

A mind unconscious of itself is a mind that is not at all disturbed by affects of any kind. It is the original mind and not the delusive one that is chock-full of affects. It is always flowing; it never halts; nor does it turn solid. It fills the whole body, pervading every part of the body. It is never like a stone or a piece of wood. If it should find a resting place anywhere, it is not a mind-of-no-mind. A no-mind will keep nothing in it. It is thus called mushin. (G.R. Parulski)

This “empty-minded-ness” applies to all creative activities, such as dancing and swordplay. The mind flows freely from one object to another stopping at no single concern. In this process the mind is free and fulfills every function required of it. When the mind stops at a single thought, it loses its freedom. It cannot hear, it cannot see, even when sound enters the ears or light flashes before the eyes. Every mind has the nature of Buddha and every person is already liberated beyond birth and death. They must only realise this fact. Zen seeks to promote this realisation, the gradual process of which is referred to as Satori. The consequence of Satori is a completely new way of seeing the world and one’s place within it. According to Zen, liberation should not be looked for in the next world, for this is the next world and is already liberated. We are already at our goal, yet we cannot realise it.

Zen does not require involvement in speculation, sacred texts or writings, and every theory is valid only as an indication toward the Way. Originally a secret doctrine, passed on by the Buddha to his disciple Mahakassapa, Zen itself arose as a reaction against the fantastic and shallow rituals of traditional Hinduism, and while seeming quite loose in form, it actually operates on a base of severe self-discipline which appealed to the Samurai. Far removed from the harsh ascetic practices of its contemporary systems, the discipline of Zen involves a more subtle and inward form operating on four levels.

The first is the mastery of external objects, in particular the reactions which emanate from them. The student must understand that every time a yearning leads him toward something, he is not in control of the external object, but rather the object is in control of him. “He who loves a liquor, deceived himself in thinking that he is drinking the liquor; the truth is, the liquor is drinking him.” (Hagakure)

The second stage sees the student master the physical body. Often at this level, martial training accompanies spiritual growth as an initiatory counterpart. It is here that legends grew of superhuman Samurai and masters who could withstand the extremes of heat and cold, and break trees and stone with their bare hands. The Samurai exerts dominion over his body and mastery of his own mental functioning.

Imagine your own body as something other than yourselves. If it cries, quiet it right away, as a strict mother does with her own child. If it is capricious, control it as a rider does his own horse, through the bridle. If it is sick, administer medicines to it, just as a doctor does with a patient. If it disobeys you, punish it, as a teacher does with a pupil. (Hagakure)

The third stage involves controlling personal emotion, and establishing an inner equilibrium. Through meditational practices the student confronts every fear and excitement in an effort to “bring the heart under control.”

The fourth stage is the rejection of the Ego, and the most difficult. The heart of the philosophy promotes a higher form of spontaneity, freedom and calmness in action. Traditional arts have originated in the East as a response and execution of this mental state. Many of these arts were developed as a means of achieving Zen awareness. While the majority are martial in nature, the Zen element extends to the art of drama, the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and painting. Mastery in any of these arts cannot be achieved without the inner enlightenment and transformative power of Zen.

Generally Zen does not promote the hermit like existence found in legend, but rather asks that the practitioner lives in the world with a Zen state of consciousness which should be permanent and permeate every experience and activity. The student will labour with his mind and body until they have reached the extreme limit of all natural faculties, and eventually achieve Satori. The student is only supposed to spend the training period in Zen monasteries, and once they have achieved Satori, the student returns to the world, choosing a way of life that fits their needs.

Martial Arts systems are all united in the fact they demand the practitioner to readjust their lifestyle. Aside from being an intellectual and physical pursuit, true practice arises in the expression of the Art throughout one’s daily life and thought. Attending a Martial Arts class once a week will not release the enormous transformative potential of this avenue, but it will start you on an ancient path that has affected lives for centuries. Like all spiritual endeavours it requires commitment and patience.

Source: New Dawn Magazine

Consciousness and the Martial Arts

JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. Our topic today is “Consciousness and the Martial Arts,” and my guest, George Leonard, is an Aikido teacher. In addition he is a former senior editor of Look magazine, a consulting editor to Esquire magazine, and the author of numerous books including The Transformation, The Silent Pulse, Education and Ecstasy, and The Ultimate Athlete. Welcome, George.

GEORGE LEONARD: Great to be here.

MISHLOVE: It’s a pleasure to have you here. In your work with Aikido, you pay a lot of attention to the notion of energy, and being sensitive to the energy field around the human body. Could you talk a little bit about that? It’s a notion I think a lot of people in the West particularly are not too familiar with.

LEONARD: Well, I don’t think there’s any question that there is an energy field around the body. First of all, there’s a heat field that can be seen on infrared film. You can measure the heartbeat electromagnetic field a great distance from the body. There’s an electrostatic field around the body.

We are surrounded by an olfactory bubble — we can smell each other; that’s another field. And then of course there are those putative fields of the Eastern religions, the various soul sheaths and auras and so forth. But I think that as Alan Watts once said, we are not skin-encapsulated egos.

In fact the skin is one of the lesser boundaries between the self and the universe. Close your eyes and then you can become one with the universe. Now, many of the martial arts, as you perhaps know, have had claims of the paranormal. You’ve heard the story of the ki-ai, the great shout by which a martial arts master can bring a sparrow down from a tree — “Ha!” like that. Or put your hands like that and then against the wall; you see the sizzling fingerprints and handprint against the wall.

MISHLOVE: Of course it seems that it’s always the oldest, frailest masters who are the most powerful.

LEONARD: That’s right. And actually —

MISHLOVE: At least in the movies.

LEONARD: It’s true, though. It’s really true. Aikido
— it’s probably the most recent and the most sophisticated and, according to Scientific American, the most difficult to master of the modern martial arts, of all the martial arts really. It was created, shall we say evolved, out of other martial arts, in the mid-1920s by a remarkable Japanese warrior named Morihei Ueshiba. We call him O Sensei, meaning great teacher, and others refer to him as Osensai, that’s much easier. But Aikido is a radical attempt — it really goes back to the samurai. The moves in aikido are the moves of samurai swordsmanship, basically, and jujitsu. But O Sensei, when he was a very powerful young man — and that’s when he would still use his muscle force —

MISHLOVE: It has a lot to do with balance, doesn’t it?

LEONARD: Oh yes, balance and centeredness. But he was engaged in a duel with an admiral with swords, and the admiral was injured. This was way back in the 1920s in Japan. O Sensei was filled with remorse, went on a one year’s retreat, and then in the typical enlightenment story, he was seeking some mode of martial art that would create not discord in the world but harmony.

MISHLOVE: This was before he developed Aikido.

LEONARD: Yes, he was in the process of developing it. The great moment is about to come now. You know, it’s just like the movies, really, just like the television series. He was in his back garden, and suddenly the whole world turned golden. The persimmon tree beneath which he was sitting, the well, everything turned golden, and he was enlightened. And what he found was a martial art that was really based on harmony. The word Ai in Japanese is a character, that goes like this, rather than like this. And Jeffrey, you know that most of our culture is built on this — push, push back.

MISHLOVE: You mean like a game of chess, or a football field — two teams lining up against each other pushing at each other like that.

LEONARD: I’ve given workshops to forty thousand people in the discipline I’ve developed out of Aikido, and I always ask this question: “What do you do when somebody pushes you?” The first answer invariably has been — this is forty thousand people — “Push back.” And it’s really a very stupid thing to do. Aikido is going with the flow — this is all going to make some sense about consciousness in just a minute, stay with me —

MISHLOVE: I’m with you.

LEONARD: It is really understanding — and deeper than understanding, intuiting — becoming one with the energy and intention, the intentionality of the attacker. You literally have to understand that fully as an attack comes in to you. Whatever kind of attack it is — it could be a psychological attack, a physical attack, a blow this way, a blow that way.

MISHLOVE: I heard that when I was a child about jujitsu. The idea is that you use the force of your opponent against them.

LEONARD: That’s right. But see, you still — watch your language — against them. So Aikido is more radical than that. Judo is you push, I pull; you pull, I push. Aikido is not that. You push, I blend; I become one with you. If we weren’t locked to these chairs, I’d jump up and show you. You’d come towards me, I’d make kind of a sweeping spiral-like move and come around and end up looking at the world from your viewpoint. In other words, to say it more clearly, looking at the world from the attacker’s viewpoint — “Oh, that’s how you see it.” And so from that vantage point you then have your options multiplied tremendously.

MISHLOVE: It’s almost like telepathy in a sense, then.

LEONARD: Yeah, we’re getting there. Push, push back, there are three possible outcomes. If I push you and you push back, I can win, I can lose, or there can be a stalemate. We’ve got the cerebral cortex, the most complex entity in the known universe, and we’ve come up with a basic way of dealing with problems, out of which there are three possible outcomes, all of which are no good. Once you have blended with somebody, you retain those outcomes, but you have about ten thousand more, physically. And the same thing is true psychologically, socially, sexually, whatever.

MISHLOVE: In other words, you’re dealing with a concept of unity.

LEONARD: Exactly. Literally, in Aikido if I attacked you, you would intuit, you would tune into, sense, understand, almost an extraordinary sensing, what my intentions are. You would make a move to blend with me, join with me like two rivers coming together and joining, look at the world from my viewpoint, and then you can deal with me any number of ways. You have a whole spectrum of responses, from controlling you with a wrist lock to embracing you, to going home and leaving the fight. Wonderful solution, real black belt solution, to get out of the fight.

MISHLOVE: But it almost sounds a little too perfect, George. I mean, we’re fallible human beings.

LEONARD: It’s very hard to do; that’s why Aikido is so difficult. You don’t always blend, you know. You try to blend. But it is quite remarkable. Now, since in Aikido it’s not just simply chess — it’s not you punching me, I counter that punch, I punch you back — I have to be more sensitive than usual in order to see what you really have in mind, so I have to blend with you. I think because of that Aikido masters — I do not include myself in that category

MISHLOVE: You call yourself a teacher of Aikido.

LEONARD: Yes, I hold a third-degree black belt, but that’s still — we always say, people think, “Oh, black belt, that’s something marvelous.” I consider a black belt in martial arts a license to learn. That’s when you really start learning. So a real Aikido master literally can sense things from a distance, can feel things.

And what has happened out of Aikido is that from the very practice itself, without any conscious intention to do this, it’s almost inevitable that you will start having kinds of sensing which would be called paranormal, extraordinary, whatever. Now, you see that in our world we call that quite normal. So with that in mind, I and some other teachers of Aikido have developed practices called energy awareness, and in my case we call it Leonard Energy Training, LET.

MISHLOVE: LET?

LEONARD: L-E-T, LET, that’s pretty nice. And with this training we teach alternative ways of dealing with daily life situations — stress, conflict. Some of these are quite practical, ordinary things. We use simple movement exercises with two people, sometimes more than two people. And these are things which come out of a very powerful martial art which can be performed by ordinary people who haven’t had the training, don’t know how to fall, don’t know the very complicated coordination and so forth.

MISHLOVE: You seem to be saying, in effect, that the same skill that one might use in a martial art is really the basic skill that one might use for lovemaking.

LEONARD: Exactly. Or anything. Or dealing with somebody who’s a hostile driver. You use all the same things. So I and some other people have been going around teaching this kind of thing. This is the forty thousand people I told you about. Those are not Aikidoists. We have a school in Mill Valley, Aikido of Tamalpais. But you have about a hundred students at the most at any one time. But forty thousand people —

MISHLOVE: That’s a lot.

LEONARD: That’s a lot, for an Aikido school. But now, as we started working on this, just normally, out of the very flow of things — in other words, Jeff, we couldn’t help ourselves — we start doing very extraordinary things. For example, we start finding that we can close our eyes, and by standing like this, by becoming centered and scanning like this, we can find people anywhere in the room, and we can pick out one person from another person.

MISHLOVE: In other words, from a distance of many, many feet you can —

LEONARD: It doesn’t matter the distance. The distance seems to be irrelevant.

MISHLOVE: Like a dowser searching for oil underground, or a remote viewer.

LEONARD: Exactly.

MISHLOVE: You use your body.

LEONARD: We use the body. I often say that the hands are just induction devices. Actually, you don’t even need to use your hands, but it’s nicer to have a hand up there. In other words, my basic theory that I put forth in The Silent Pulse, which probably goes along with your thinking too, is we are all connected. You’ve talked about that with Michael Scriven and others. We’re connected. We don’t need to have a carrier wave. I think so much of the objections to psychic phenomena have to do with the inability to locate or identify, isolate a carrier wave. This conception that I have is more like the quantum physics conception or holonomy — like a hologram.

MISHLOVE: We’re already part of whatever it is we’re seeking.

LEONARD: It’s structure. I mean, I can find that other person because that’s part of my basic structure.

MISHLOVE: So if I can digress for a second, some people use a dowsing rod, some people use Tarot cards, some people use a crystal ball, some people use astrology, some people use herbs or tea leaves or the I Ching. What you’re suggesting is that these are all devices to help us get back to the essential, underlying reality of it all.

LEONARD: Exactly.

MISHLOVE: And martial arts is one such device, which I suppose has the added advantage of allowing a person to really become familiar with their body, which is the basic instrument.

LEONARD: Right. I call all of these induction devices — induction, to lead into. They lead us into what we already know, as Plato said. The most that any teacher can help to do is to remind you of what you already know. So I do think the body is a good one, though. It’s a wonderful antenna, it’s fully instrumented, has thousands of feedback circuits. The feedback is instantaneous. You do not have to wait for a computer printout, it’s right there. You don’t have to carry instructions around, they’re right in your body. But we can locate people at a distance. Another thing — I also have a training in which we certify other trainers and teachers of LET, Leonard Energy Training. All of those have to be able to blindfolded on a cloudy day, outside, have to be able to find magnetic north. And they have to find it not approximately.

They’ll do like this, and I’ll take the compass, just to give them one of these so-called reality checks — we believe compasses. What I do, I say, “Now, which finger shall I put the compass on?” They’ll say, “The middle finger.” I put it on. It has to be right to the degree. Now, what I found out is that this does not take an Aikido master to do this. We can all do this.

MISHLOVE: Find magnetic north. Through the magnetic sensitivity.

LEONARD: We can find magnetic north. Or you could say it’s part of the basic structure of our culture and our environment, our world, our planet. It’s there.

MISHLOVE: Our bodies are like magnets, actually, so there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be conscious of that. But finding another person — that must be something a bit different.

LEONARD: Yeah, well — didn’t you come to our Aikido school?

MISHLOVE: I sure did.

LEONARD: And I think we did that experiment.

MISHLOVE: Absolutely.

LEONARD: In which we go through a lot of induction. We make an energy ball between us, we talk about this representing the inner pulse, the particular pulse, and then trying to create a new energy field that is the sum of and greater than the sum of the two energy fields. We read aloud together.

MISHLOVE: You led us into it step by step.

LEONARD: Read aloud together. Your breathing is synchronized. Your subtle movements, micromovements, become synchronized, and perhaps your brain waves become synchronized. Your heartbeat does become synchronized. And then we have everybody wander around at random with the eyes soft, just looking at nothing in particular, soft eyes. I clap my hands, everybody turns and finds their partner.

OK, then we walk around with our eyes closed so you can only see people’s feet, and I clap my hands — find the partner. Then we walk around with our eyes really almost closed, where you can just barely see, and when I clap my hands you close your eyes totally, swing around as much as you want to until you find your partner.

Now, the amazing thing about that is that everybody doesn’t always get it, but when I ask afterwards — this is not scientific, because obviously it’s subjective. We don’t call it a scientific experiment, we call it an experience in connectedness. So we ask, and generally ninety-five percent at least have made a direct contact one out of three times. I normally have them do it with their eyes totally closed three times.

MISHLOVE: That would be statistically significant.

LEONARD: Well, impossible, in terms of — I mean, to be really clicked right in. One time out of three. About half of them do it two times out of three, and maybe ten percent do it three times out of three.

MISHLOVE: In your world view this is normal. This is not considered paranormal at all.

LEONARD: Right. And then we have our own way of replicating the remote viewing experiments of Puthoff and Targ at SRI, and what I add to this is I add a lot of induction, and people getting to know each other through what we call the energy dimension. You know, Jeffrey, it might simply be that nothing mysterious is going on except that we are simply reducing their disbelief.

MISHLOVE: So you don’t really have a concept of the paranormal.

LEONARD: No. It’s all normal. In other words, obviously other cultures have reinforced for that. We reinforce against this kind of sensing, because it is very frightening.

As I wrote in The Silent Pulse, I would not like to have metal bending be a very common capacity of human beings, because until we’ve all learned to be a little better people — shall I say that? — a little more centered, more balanced, less ego-driven people — you know, think of the crazies out there with guns, using metal to kill people.

MISHLOVE: And there are research reports from the Soviet Union, for example, using psychokinesis to stop the heartbeat of small animals.

LEONARD: Right.

MISHLOVE: Obviously this might lead to other things. But surely the martial arts traditions have cultivated these things and discovered them long ago.

LEONARD: Right, a long time ago. And the legends. And it is true that O Sensei, the founder of Aikido, lived to the age of eighty-six. He died in 1969, in April. And the last five years of his life, many films were taken of him, and videotapes and so forth that are on tape now, and you yourself can look at the film.

They’re not just legends. He does some absolutely incredible things, and of course the legends are even more incredible. This is back when he was a young man, he actually dodged bullets. He said that a very small blue light comes out of the barrel of the gun just as the person holding the gun has the intention of firing. So when he sees the blue ball come out, he dodges. And there are witnesses to it.

I just don’t like to get into those kind of arguments and discussions, but I do know that he performed feats that have been witnessed, there are reliable witnesses, in historic time, and film. And those are truly remarkable. So I’m no longer so gaga about the whole business of paranormal. If you’ll accept it, it can become part of your life.

MISHLOVE: Well, it seems to me that one of the issues is this issue of acceptance, because in our culture, where we have two forces going at each other, it almost seems to me that people don’t want to deal with the paranormal, because if one of your enemies has it, they can read your mind, they can predict where you’re going to be, they could stop your heartbeat.

So we’ve almost entered into a kind of conspiracy, given the larger premises of this push-push culture, that we’d better all forget that we have these abilities.

LEONARD: We’d better not have them; that’s exactly what I say. I once played a game with about six people. We all got together and I said, “Now, let’s just imagine that in this room we’re just doing something, and we chance upon that particular formula, that strategic positioning of elements, that incantation or chant or whatever, by which we gain zero gravity.

Now, how do we handle it?” And we did a scenario on what happens. Of course, if we, right in this room, the two of us, if we figured out on this show how to use zero gravity — better not do it on this show.

MISHLOVE: Just sit about three feet above the chairs.

LEONARD: What it basically means is that we would have almost infinite power, because we could get great, huge pistons and just have them go up and down, and we would have absolutely entropy-free energy. In other words, anybody who owned that could rule the world.

MISHLOVE: Well, they’d be well on their way.

LEONARD: They’d have the power. I mean, you could levitate the Pentagon, anything you want to do. But what would you do with it? And so then we spent our time saying, “This group right here; so how do we proceed?” Very interesting, because these were very nice people, but within the next two hours people were in rancorous discussion, they were very angry.

MISHLOVE: It brought out the vicious side of them somehow.

LEONARD: Well, the confused side. In other words, what would you do with infinite power? It’s a terrifying question. And what would you do just with a little bit of power, which so-called psychic phenomena have? Like being able to bend metal. You know, there’s a worm gear that puts out the flaps on planes. If you just bent that the slightest bit it would not work, and maybe one flap would extend, the other would not, the plane would go into an uncontrollable spin and go into the earth. Now, I don’t want that to be, so maybe the real —

MISHLOVE: So maybe you’re using your power to keep other people from developing theirs, or somehow collectively this is what we are doing with our power.

LEONARD: Yes, but the distinction I make is, all of those powers — and don’t forget the word power came from a French and Latin root meaning to be able. It doesn’t mean power over others. I like to think of it as our ableness to achieve our potential. The kinds of powers which I call benign are basically what you would call the passive rather than active — that is, being able to find magnetic north, to sense other people at a distance, to be more sensitive to other human beings’ feelings.

One of the exercises I have in The Silent Pulse is to try to get in touch with, if you have the courage for it, someone who’s starving in Africa, and then through that kind of empathy, then to give you the energy to go ahead and create some kind of social justice — that the real challenge today is not developing extraordinary powers, but using those powers we have to create social justice.

MISHLOVE: I think it was the Buddhists who felt that empathy was really the highest of the powers or the spiritual gifts.

LEONARD: And actually, as I say, these things, which come out of the martial arts, out of Aikido, these gifts, whatever, these special siddhi or powers, are not nearly so important as the learning which has to do with balance and centeredness.

MISHLOVE: Well, it’s interesting that the martial arts did develop in the Orient and came out of the very spiritual cultures — the Buddhist traditions, and the Taoist traditions, so that they’ve always had a different attitude, really, I suppose even before Aikido, a different attitude than we would have had in the West.

LEONARD: That’s right, and there’s a very basic idea which I think is terribly needed in our culture. That is the idea of practice, of a way, a do, a tao — do in Japanese, tao in Chinese. It means —

MISHLOVE: Like in dojo?

LEONARD: Yeah, place of the way, that’s what that means. It means literally a path or road. Now, this is the path which you trod in your life. Your practice is your path. People say, “Yes, George, but what are you practicing for?” Now, in that very question lies the confusion in the West. Yes, on my path I do find a lot of marvelous things. I get conditioning, I get more confidence, I make friends, I have a social group. But those are all incidental.

The important thing is simply the practice itself. O Sensei of Aikido said, “Where there is no Buddha, where there is no way, the nations perish.” And I think in this culture, where anybody who’s thirty-five years and younger has been brought up in a media world which shows us a view of reality in which there are nothing but a series of climactic moments —

MISHLOVE: It’s a cacophony of different competing pluralistic impulses, unrelated to each other.

LEONARD: But there’s one very related, one very coherent idea, and that is that reality consists of a series of climactic moments.

MISHLOVE: Climactic moments.

LEONARD: Look at your commercials next time you go. Every one of them is a little epiphany, little climax, almost all of them. Just check how many of them do. A half-hour show — at the end something happens, always something. Then we’re told that winning is what counts. It doesn’t matter how you get across the goal. Just get across the goal; I don’t want to know what happened in between. Don’t tell me how you sold that ad, just sell it.

MISHLOVE: Winning isn’t the only thing, it’s everything, right?

LEONARD: So the truth of the matter is that the winning and the little spurts upward in your practice, they’re incidental. Mainly you’re on a plateau. Now, this is a very difficult concept for our culture to grasp, to get its mind around.

MISHLOVE: I’m having a little trouble with it myself.

LEONARD: You know what the learning curve is like?

MISHLOVE: Yes.

LEONARD: The learning curve goes like this, then you have a little apparent growth in learning, a spurt upward. And then it levels off and goes down slightly, and you have another plateau, just like that. What we seem to want in our culture is an endless series of upward spurts. That’s just not possible.

MISHLOVE: Onward and upward.

LEONARD: That’s not possible. Most of life is on a plateau. Because while you’re on the plateau, the essential, delightful, wonderful learning is taking place. It just doesn’t show. At the end there’s a little spurt of apparent learning, when what you have learned takes effect and that stage is over and then it’s released —

MISHLOVE: So staying on the path for you involves being with that process, rather than looking for the next thrill so that you can move onward and upward quickly.

LEONARD: Exactly. And what would be the only way that people could apparently for a while stay on that series of climactic moments? What would it be?

MISHLOVE: By jumping around from one thing to another.

LEONARD: That’s one. The dabbler goes from one thing to another.

MISHLOVE: I mean sexually, for example, it’s the thrill of a new romance always.

LEONARD: But there’s one way, especially for people in the ghetto, people who don’t have too many advantages — drugs. Things like cocaine or speed, anything like that. You can have the illusion of being on a quick high, another quick high, and of course pretty soon you crash.

But this all really applies to these extraordinary powers, because I think that before we start really trying to develop those, make that our primary national or international priority, the important thing is to learn how to live on a path, to live without those illusory climaxes and thrills, just to really stay on the path, to be balanced, to be centered, to strive for social justice, to develop empathy and greater sensitivity to other people. Those things are really so much more important than developing special powers.

MISHLOVE: It’s sort of a holistic sense of things, or the warnings that we’ve always had from the Oriental traditions, that you get lost in these powers. If they become an end unto themselves, you’re missing out on something.

LEONARD: The Hindu saying, “Moksha before siddhi,” meaning awakening before powers. We don’t want to totally renounce the power; they’re a lot of fun too. But the really important thing is balance, center, empathy and feeling for others, and the ongoing struggle for justice in the world. Now how the hell did we get on that?

MISHLOVE: I don’t know, but it sounds beautiful in all of that. It’s really a marvelous thing to be able to integrate all of that into one’s lifetime, and it’s not easy. Not everybody can be a martial artist.

LEONARD: No, but you don’t have to be a martial artist. You see, I think in a sense we’re all warriors. We can take the warrior ideal — I mean, not the kind of warrior who goes to war, but Castaneda’s warrior.

MISHLOVE: What is that, briefly? We’re running out of time.

LEONARD: Well, it’s briefly someone who lives for service. The idea of service is really right there. Someone who lives intensely in the moment, and often it’s someone who lives in full awareness of his own death.

MISHLOVE: Full awareness of his own death.

LEONARD: Because with that awareness you really don’t have time to be sullen, or to be depressed, or to go around preening your ego. To live clearly and cleanly in the moment, to develop your powers fully and your potential, and to achieve your bestowed mission on this planet.

MISHLOVE: Well, George, I think in some way you’re able to demonstrate that to me just in speaking. It’s such a pleasure to be here with you. We’ve really been able to cover a lot of ground, ranging from the paranormal to really the philosophical underpinnings of this work that you’re doing, George. Thank you for being with me.

LEONARD: Thank you.

Our Spiritual Athletic Journey: 7 Powerful Messages to Help You Take Your Game to The Highest Level by Rodney Scharboneau (Author)

Our Spiritual Athletic Journey introduces many powerful ideas for making the most of our athletic experience. Our mission as the coaches and parents of young athletes has always been aligned with and deeply rooted in spirituality. Applying the spiritual principles in this book will lead any coach, parent, or athlete to a peaceful and fulfilling place that has much less to do with win-loss records and championships and has everything to do with accessing divine direction.

Discover seven impactful messages that will give you practical tools for replacing cutthroat competitive ways with creative methods for building self-esteem which are one with true spirit. Find out what wonderful things happen-like success and victory-when we decide to create instead of compete, to tap in to the true source energy of our teams, to replace fear with love, and to faithfully look forward to the next play.

From the Inside Flap
As coaches and parents of athletes, we gain peace, joy, and confidence when we allow ourselves to align with spirit as we support our children in their athletic endeavors. And when we gain inner peace and confidence in this way, we quietly give ourselves permission to love our opponents.

Love them so much that you’ll outwork them in practice and show them something amazing in the game. Make it your mission to bring unmatched energy, skill, and drive to each and every contest. After all, it is the highest form of respect you can show your opponent, the universe, and the game.

When we coach, parent, or play from a place of true spirit, we put ourselves in a special light to serve the most important roles. Thus, when we win, we will find it so much more natural to offer encouragement to the team that just lost, and when we lose, our congratulations will be heartfelt and we will feel gratitude for the opportunity to learn and improve.

Spirituality in our youth is the ultimate incorporation of our brothers and sisters into a community. Our best nature elevates their nature, and together we experience an extraordinary divine energy which would be impossible to achieve alone.

The divine energy is in everyone. We tap into it and harness it when our actions come from a place of love as opposed to one of fear. What kind of energy are you bringing to your team as a coach? What kind of energy are you bringing, as a parent, to your child’s athletic experience?

When we embrace sport and competition in a spiritual way, we are operating from the highest possible place. We are in touch with our divine nature, and we are doing all we can to be like God.

Rodney Scharboneau is a highly respected high school basketball coach, basketball skill-set trainer, and mentor from Trenton, Michigan. He has been married to the beautiful Melanie Monaghan for twenty-three years. Together, they have a wonderful son, Matthew, and a terrific daughter, Hannah.

Take a look inside here

The Art of Communicating ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Released Date: August 13, 2013
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, bestselling author of Peace is Every Step and one of the most respected and celebrated religious leaders in the world, delivers a powerful path to happiness through mastering life’s most important skill.

How do we say what we mean in a way that the other person can really hear?

How can we listen with compassion and understanding?

Communication fuels the ties that bind, whether in relationships, business, or everyday interactions. Most of us, however, have never been taught the fundamental skills of communication—or how to best represent our true selves. Effective communication is as important to our well-being and happiness as the food we put into our bodies. It can be either healthy (and nourishing) or toxic (and destructive).

In this precise and practical guide, Zen master and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how to listen mindfully and express your fullest and most authentic self. With examples from his work with couples, families, and international conflicts, The Art of Communicating helps us move beyond the perils and frustrations of misrepresentation and misunderstanding to learn the listening and speaking skills that will forever change how we experience and impact the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the author of many books, including the classics Peace Is Every Step and The Art of Power. Hanh lives in Plum Village, his meditation center in France, and leads retreats worldwide on the art of mindful living.

Oprah Winfrey talks with Thich Nhat Hanh Excerpt – Powerful


Published on May 12, 2013

Truly insightful, deep and powerful. Oprah Winfrey via her incredible OWN network, talks to Thich Nhat Hanh about becoming a monk, meeting Martin Luther King Jr; The powers of mindfulness, insight, concentration and compassion, How to transform warring parties and how to deeply transform relationships.

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh


Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh at the State of the World forum, September 1995

Confucius | Motion Picture In Full HD [updated June 01, 2013]

The life story of the highly-influential Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

Confucius chinese name is Kung Tze and he should be known as Kung Tze from now on. The man himself is a truly gifted intellectual in the art of governing a state. He taught the Emperors in ancient China how to nurture and develope a country resources for the betterment of the citizens and the emperors. Anyone who’s interested to learn the teachings of Kung Tze is welcome to write to on24pa@gmail.com asap. You may be selected to fly into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with full local sponsorship to embrace it. Many thanks.

Why Sport is Actually a Spiritual Pursuit ~ Sadhguru

Being a sport means you are willing to play. Willing to play means you are involved or alive to the situation in which you exist, and that is the essence of life. If there is anything that is truly close to a spiritual process, in the normal course of life, that is sports. Swami Vivekananda went to the extent of saying, “In kicking a ball or playing a game, you are much closer to the Divine than you will ever be in prayer.” You can pray without involvement, but you cannot play sports without involvement, and involvement is the essence of life.

But when people involve themselves in what they do, they often get entangled. Anything that you associate with, you tend to get identified with. The moment you get identified with something that is not you, you have invested in a system of hallucination that will look and feel real. Once you have invested in a hallucinatory process, your mind will be one continuous mental disorder, as a hallucinatory process can be kept up only with unceasing activity of the mind, and hence, one ends up turning a miracle into madness. The mind is a fabulous miracle; you could hold the universe in it, but generally it ends up as a source of all human misery and the basis of madness and suffering.

When people get entangled, they feel ugly within themselves and they will make sure everybody else has a taste of this ugliness. So the fundamental of any sport or game takes care of this; that is, if you want to play a game, you must have the fire of wanting to win but also the balance to see that if you lose, it is okay with you. You never play a game to lose, you always play a game to win, but if you lose, it is all right with you. If you maintain this fundamental with every aspect of life, you are a sport. And that is all the world expects from you, that you are a sport. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whatever kind of situation you are in, you are still a sport.

The sacredness of a sporting event is that individuals rise beyond their limitations, achieving a state of abandon that is usually known only at the peak of spirituality.Thus, we have always included sports in our yoga programs. All of our programs have an element of play — as to play is to live, and to live is to play.