“So…. what’s the meaning of life Sensei?” We had all just sat down for a short break in between classes.
“What do you think it is?” The question had really been rhetorical and the questioner hadn’t really expected an answer – or the question to be answered with a question.
“He’d be happy with a nymphomaniac that owned a pub!” chimed in a helpful friend and fellow student….
“With a friend!” helped another….
“So you think happiness is the meaning of life?”
“Yeah!” they all chorused… “As long as you’re happy, that’s the main thing…”
“But surely, the nature of life is the passing between happiness and unhappiness, you can’t know one without knowing it’s opposite….” They all looked thoughtful. “So if you just search for happiness, then you’ll fail.”
“To be healthy… ?”
“You will hopefully grow old……. But then get sick and die…” said Sensei.
“As long as we can train… then I’m happy!”
“But, is that the MEANING of life?” queried Sensei.
“Is there a meaning to life or is it all just an accident?” asked our resident cynical philosopher.
“Does it matter?” asked Sensei.
“Where are we going with this?” asked the original questioner.
“You asked me what the meaning of life is, to answer properly I have to see what’s in your minds first. There is a philosophy underlying the Art that we practise. We seek wisdom as a strategy for life.
When we’re happy or unhappy – our wisdom mind tells us that we’ll be it’s opposite later. We get to understand the transience of our entire existence. We naturally search for meaning in what we do and therefore how we live our life. It’s a serious question!”
“Yeah but I didn’t mean it in that way!”
“I know that…. But I take the opportunity to give a lesson…” Sensei gave a smile.
When we train we go through a range of emotions, if we don’t develop the wise part of our mind, we’ll give up as soon as it becomes difficult. If we are wise enough, we’ll persist, developing the quality of determination and as a result become more content as we improve.”
“So we ARE seeking happiness!
Sensei laughed. “It’s a by product of our development, we gain a deeper contentment with wisdom.
IS there a meaning to life? What we have discovered is that if we are wise enough to know that we are in a permanent state of impermanence and can accept that, if we work WITH the energies of life and not against them, situations tend to work out better, so our strategy for life and training is important.
When we die… what can we take with us…? If we can take anything – it must be the sum total of all our experiences, therefore gaining them and dealing with them in the best way will give us our strategy and meaning for life.
Martial Arts are the microcosm to the macrocosm of life itself. We experience life in a “condensed” version and under the guidance of people with more experience, we learn how to deal with the problems that arise in the Dojo and are then better prepared to deal with similar problems for life.
It’s not religious – it’s common sense. In the Martial Arts we have the capacity to prove everything that we teach on a physical plane, it either works, or it doesn’t. If someone teaches mumbo jumbo that cannot be proven or disproved, then we can ignore it, because it makes no difference to our training or everyday life and is therefore not Martial Arts.
What IS important is our character development. It’s essential to survive, good manners and treating others properly means that we don’t deliberately bring harm to others or ourselves. Learning how to learn, working with others and helping them, skill development, patience, tolerance and compassion are essential qualities both in and out of the Dojo.”
“So what is the meaning of life Sensei?”
“I don’t know, the lesson I’m giving is that Martial Arts teaches you HOW to live, it prepares you for life itself. Practised properly, you learn to overcome your fears and develop your character. Through inner strength you can keep the peace inside of yourself and outside within your environment. You are able to use strategy before physical skill. This way you will become wise and live in harmony.
As for the MEANING of life………….. God knows!