First let me just say I am blown away by the fact that this week is our 20th weekly post! Amazing! I know I say it all the time but I am so happy I happy to be a part of this community. Hagsaeng Naebu has become such a comfortable, welcomed, addition to my life!
As I mentioned last week I have been re-reading a book that I haven’t read since I was in high school, Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart, written by the Dalai Lama. Essentially the book is a theological text, in which “His Holiness” outlines many of the major teachings of Tibettan Buddhism. It has been interesting for me to revisit his writing and to read his words though the lens of my own traditions, especially since now my knowledge of such things is far more developed then it was at age 14. It has really been a fun exercise!
Towards the end of the book, the Dalai Lama writes something which I feel is indisputable, no matter what tradition, if any you come from or adhere to. He writes…
“The awakening mind is the most supremely positive thought. It is worth employing every means and method to generate it. Even in our ordinary everyday life, kindness and good-heartedness are highly valued. That is obvious even in relation to animals like dogs and cats. Kinder, more peaceful dogs attract a better response than those that are aggressive. The same applies in human society. We all like to be around kind people. Their peaceful and relaxed nature is soothing and joyful.” (page 100). On the one hand this is a very simple, almost obvious component of social thought and it has been reiterated thousands of times throughout history from Walsh’s Law of Attraction which he so often writes about to whoever first uttered the phrase “you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar” (which, incidentally, really makes no sense but, you get the idea!)
But this teaching also applies quite readily to martial arts. The behavior one displays, which as the Dalai Lama explains, is simply a manifestation of his mind, will attract similar behavior. It’s no surprise that militaristic instructors often attract students who are themselves quite aggressive whereas an instructor who is the paradigm of peacefulness can create this sort of atmosphere within his school. Someone once recently posted on the topic of emulating the elements in terms of fighting style. The Dalai Lama goes on to say that such positive thought as expressed by the awakening mind can influence and change the thoughts and behaviors of others. For instance, using his example, if the head of a family is kind and broadminded then the family itself will enjoy peace of mind. When disputes and arguments do occur, they will be dealt with on the principle of forgiving and forgetting. Now this is very interesting. Recently someone posted on emulating the elements in terms of fighting style. I would imagine that this has to be a whole-hearted embrace of the particular element. In other words, if you want to fight like water you must completely emulate water, in both mind and body. Going back to the Dalai Lama’s teaching then, namely that whatever one manifests with his mind will not only attract similar manifestations but also has the potential to change the manifestations of those around him, it might stand to reason that one who fights like water, if he really manifests this with his mind, might successfully be able to change the style of his opponent to be like his own. How much simpler for him to be victorious if he knows exactly what he’s dealing with.
Whether in practical martial arts application or just a good rule of thumb for getting a long in society, the Dalai Lama’s teaching is an intriguing one. It is an incredibly powerful and liberating notion that we can change our reality and the way others interact with us simply by changing our mindset. Perhaps this is why the Dalai Lama concludes his chapter by writing, “Therefore, realizing the value of the awakening mind, we should make it the central theme of our practice.”