“I went to a business guru meeting over the weekend, it was really motivating!” Dan was telling the other black belts as they sat on the floor stretching, waiting for the Instructors class to start….
“How to win friends and influence people eh?” It appears that Geoff was not so impressed.
“And get rich quick!” Francis decided to join in the fun.
“No, no, no,” said Dan, “that’s all very 1960’s!”
“Not if you read the martial arts magazines and my spam emails it ain’t” said Geoff.
“Seriously,” said Dan, “these people have grown since the early days, it’s all about living a balanced life nowadays, how to find success not just in business, but in health, family and life in general, how to be happy.”
“Talking about Buddhism?” Sensei had entered the Dojo, they all laughed.
“No, said Geoff, Dan’s been to one of those motivational speakers that the martial arts business people are always recommending….
“Ah…. ‘Disguised Buddhism’ you mean” answered Sensei.
“There’s no religion in it” laughed Dan.
“Or in Buddhism”, said Sensei.
“That’s daft,” said Dan, “Buddhism is classed as a religion everywhere.
“It’s sometimes called the religion of the atheist, other cultures have included it into their indigenous religions and cultures, but actually its simple logic. If the Buddha were alive today, he might be a ‘motivational speaker’ the cultivated speakers today are preaching what the Buddha taught in a reconstituted fashion. I prefer the original thing.”
“But you are an atheist Sensei!” Dan looked surprised.
“Exactly,” replied Sensei. “The Buddha provided the perfect toolbox for us to work with our mind, emotions and body and find a sustainable route through our martial arts without any unnecessary suffering.”
Dan laughed – “The Buddha wasn’t a martial artist!”
“Actually….. he was one of the most prominent martial artists of his time and excelled at them, winning many tournaments when he was a Prince, he was quite a large man for his culture and trained by the best masters of his time” replied Sensei.
“So how would the Buddha be able to help us?” asked Geoff now beginning to get interested.
“He gave an excellent set of principles for us to live by that ‘ennobles’ us and means that we will be able to sustain the road of progression that we’re on. He was wise enough to realise that we needed to discover truth for ourselves through self examination and contemplation and not to ‘believe’ the doctrine of others, but to examine and challenge until we actually ‘know’ for real.” Sensei looked intensely at the three listeners.
“That sounds like a martial artist – give us an example” asked Dan.
“He gave us the 4 Noble Truths, explaining that we have to understand what suffering actually is, what causes it, to realise that it can cease – and the route to making that happen,” ventured Sensei.
“Don’t understand,” said Dan.
“All modern medical diagnosis is based on the same logic” replied Sensei. “When you go to the doctor he will first see what’s wrong with you, find the cause, see whether it can be cured and if it can, give you the route to the cure…. If you’re not progressing with your training, we’ll examine what the cause is, find the cure and then map out the route to make it happen…. If your business is suffering…”
“I get the idea,” said Dan, “what was the route that the Buddha offered 2500 years ago?”
“The fourth noble truth is the eightfold path and is as relevant today as it’s ever been,” answered Sensei. “The Buddha broke the path down into 3 sections, the first section is about wisdom, he advised us to have a correct understanding of everything around us and to have the right aspirations for the future. The second section was about ethical conduct, he advised us to have right speech, right action and right livelihood, you can’t be enlightened of suffering if you hurt others. The third section was about mental development and advised right effort – too much effort and you fail, too little and you’ll never get there – and to keep an aware and focused mind.
As you can see there’s nothing religious in it – it’s pure logic.”
“You’re right,” mused Dan, “that is essentially the message that the speaker was giving, re-inventing the wheel eh?”
“And you’re paying heavily for it eh?” said Sensei mimicking Dan…
“Tell us more…” pleaded Geoff.
“Without turning it into a lecture of my own, I’ll mention two trilogies’ that are of interest to you, the first is the three characteristics of existence, all existence is always changing, trying to grasp at it is unsatisfactory and its qualities are illusory.”
“That’s true,” said Dan, “I can relate to that, all my suffering in life has been around wanting to keep things the same. I’ve had a terrible time coming to terms with sickness and the death of people in my family and recovery from my own injuries.”
“Also,” said Sensei, “to succeed on your journey it’s very helpful to be seeking to be ‘awake’ to wisdom, to be seeking the truth and to have people around you on the same path, this is the purpose of the Dojo – the place of ‘seeking the way’..”
“Maybe I should have been studying my own art and related wisdom instead of looking elsewhere,” mused Dan.
“Sometimes looking elsewhere helps you to validate your own journey,” said Sensei, “there just tends to be nothing new if you’re studying a tried and tested system, but you must always keep your eyes open and sometimes looking outside helps you to better understand what’s right under your nose.”