Dienstag, 11. November 2014

Living at death’s door

Merciful father,
I have squandered my days with plans of many things.
This was not among them.
But at this moment,
I beg only to live the next minutes well.
For all we ought to have thought, and have not thought;
All we ought to have said, and have not said;
All we ought to have done, and have not done;
I pray the God for forgiveness.

So prays Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan in The 13th Warrior at death’s door.
He accompanies – as only Arab ambassador and non-warrior – a throng of 12 warriors of the North men to fight against a beast.
But it turned out that with this venture - and with becoming a warrior in general - it is not only the question of the beast as an external threat that has to be combated, but that on this way even wait some inner beasts that have to be faced.

It may look cool to be a warrior, but actually that’s not the point.
Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the founder of modern Karate, wrote in his book Karate-Dô Nyûmon:

Karate-Dô is a noble art and those who are proud to crack boards or to smash bricks, or to boast with achieving extraordinary deeds like ripping flesh into stripes or extricating ribs, as a matter of fact understand nothing about Karate. They fiddle about in the leaves and branches of a big tree without having a clue of the trunk.

The tree stands for the whole way of the warrior, and the trunk for his education – it takes long till the tree developed a sturdy trunk which can carry a big crown, and all the same is the way of the warrior, the way of discipline and of the struggle against oneself, a long one.
In the most martial arts it is not only a question of learning special techniques for the hand-to-hand-fight, but even of the completion of the character. Early on they realised that warriors who own dangerous weapons and master fatally techniques are without a code of behaviour a real peril.
Particularly in Karate the etiquette plays an important part. With respect everything begins and everything ends. The education of the spirit has priority over the physical skills – even if the latter taken by itself is yet a big challenge. Nevertheless both have to accord with each other, the accomplished warrior is that one who masters both – and however the perfection never is completely achieved, it stays still the greatest target. The way of the warrior is a journey through life.

Everybody who takes his martial art serious has sooner or later to deal with the two sides of the same coin:

Ikken hisatsu.  – To kill at a stroke.

The technique has to have sunk in as best, has to be as precise that it can kill at a stroke, because in an emergency you perhaps won’t have the opportunity for a second stroke.
That implies: If I do my technique precisely it could be deathful, somebody could lose one’s life because of my doing.
And: If my opponent does his techniques precisely it could kill me.
That means living at death’s door: Every technique, even if it is done in training, can in the most unfavourable case end the days of somebody.
Who is fully aware to the possibility of death lives more consciously, even breathes more consciously.

And that implies, too: You have to make a decision.
You cannot be a warrior for a bit. An a-bit-warrior is beheaded at the next combat.

To decide what has to be decided.
To say what has to be said.
To do what has to be done.

Consciously lived is it a good life.
And then you can good follow another advice of Gichin Funakoshi:

Hatsuun jindô. – Let the clouds pass, go your way.

Don’t run after the ways of the others, because they made their decisions which aren’t yours, even if they sometimes may seem similar.
Each way is as individual as the person who follows it.
Decisions which are to make are partings of the ways, sometimes watersheds, too.
If we don’t decide, that don’t means that we extend our lifespan or that we don’t have to say goodbye.
If we don’t decide that confuses our way, we go here and there and perhaps even run the risk to lose our golden thread.

Our way has a goal.
Our way has a goal, even if that isn’t always clearly recognisable for us.
And we are here for a certain reason, we have a task.

The clearer our way lies in front of us, the better we can comprehend how the North men say in The 13th Warrior at death’s door:

Lo there do I see my father,
Lo there do I see my mother, my sisters and my brothers.
Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call to me,
They bid me to take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla,
Where the brave may live forever.

When my way ends here I’ll meet there my ancestors and they who were close to me in some form or another.
At that otherworldly place our ways will cross again, and we will have the occasion to say what is unsaid and to heal what is unhealed.

But now I am here and for today I make the decision for a life in conscious presence and fullness.

Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL1acYvpR_E#t=52

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