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2 Triples For Happiness

Photo on 03-03-2018 at 12.03

2 Triples For Happiness

Anicca – Dukka – Anatta

Today wisdom and happiness comes in 2 triples, the first is Anicca, Dukka, and Anatta, the triple gem of existence.

We all know this, but much of our suffering comes from not accepting it. Everything rises and falls without cease, therefore we need to be able to fully engage, to love, enjoy and then at the right time let go. To be able to do this we need to remind ourselves in daily meditation that all things will pass and just knowing this will broaden our perspective enough to give a deep happiness.

Suffering is borne from desire and aversion. When we have an unnatural attraction to have or an aversion to not have, we will suffer. Accepting what cannot be changed and is inevitable is important to be able to get on with life and change that which can be changed to contribute to the world in a positive way.

Not Self
We are not born into this world, we’re born out of it. Our DNA goes back to the big bang, we have always been here in one form or another. Our meditation connects us to the source and we understand that what we think is the ‘self’ is in fact just a wave riding on and fully connected to the ‘sea’ of the source of all things. We are much, much, more than the thinking mind, when that ceases in meditation, all is revealed.

Buddha – Dharma – Sangha

The second triple gem is the 3 essentials of enlightenment.

To Be Awake
To have a mind that is fully aware, focused, sensitive and has the right kind of intensity. Once this mind is developed we are not subject to the mental enemies of apathy and distraction that make many people into living zombies. Others are unable to manipulate us as we can see through the deceptions with clarity and are able to thin k and judge for ourselves.

The Pursuit Of Truth
Truth just is. It is our personal journey, we have to discover for ourselves. Wisdom and truth reside in and arise from the wordless mind in meditation. It’s intrinsic and often cannot be defined. There is a difference between knowing about something and actually knowing and fully realising it. We all know academics that know everything about martial arts but can’t actually do it. A big difference!

The Right Circle Of Friends
A ‘Dojo’ is ‘a place to find the way’ and like a church is not a building but a group of like minded individuals. Part of the pursuit of truth is solitary but the other part needs other people for mutual support and exchange. A ‘Sensei’ is ‘one who has made the journey’ and is able to guide you in following the path. He/she can’t do it for you but can certainly help with a map of how to get there.

So there you have it. Understanding impermanence, suffering and the truth of the self and how to be awake, discover truth and mix with the right people. 2 triples that really can be life changing!

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Making Sense Of The Universe With Kata/Form


“As Above – So Below”

In ritual magic you affect the macrocosm by understanding and changing the microcosm.

If you want to really understand kata/form and what was in the mind of the originators and you have enough knowledge – try inventing your own.

Why would you invent one?
It would have to improve the understanding and standard of the practitioner.
Do you want to categorise an entire training system into one form?
Maybe there are specific ideas and principles that you want to put together and train in one sequence?

Very quickly you will begin to understand the problems the originators had and how they had to overcome them. You realise that some are an entire training system compressed into one form, that you have to look beyond the technique to see the ideas and principles that are being trained, because there’s no point in endless repetition of the same idea with different techniques, then some are focusing on body skills like the internal system, core manipulation or power sourcing. It’s only when you try to do this and walk in the shoes of the ancestors that the doors of understanding open to you.

You can’t communicate on a broken phone….

On a deeper level, by widening your perspective, you realise that the basic ideas behind all martial training is align the body, breath and mind ( ‘Sanchin’ the resolution of the conflict of mind, body and breath) that brings about a harmony where the wordless language of your body and the rest of universe can be perceived, felt and heard. When the mechanism of your universal communicator is fixed, an entirely new perspective is found.

This gives you the opportunity to understand the universe around you, how do you do that?

By using your newly found skills to ask the questions.

Why would you invent a universe?
It may be the result of one mind or an evolutionary process by accident, or most probably something well beyond the mind of mankind, but the result is the same.
Does the universe have a purpose?
If it does what could it be?
Why does it have to be a world of opposites?
How is everything joined up?
How does it communicate?
Who am ‘I’ and what is my place in it and how do I fit in with harmony?

You realise that you’ve taken the first steps by fixing the communicator, that the universe was talking to you all the time but your communicator was broken.

Now you can receive as well as transmit more fruitfully.

The meditative conversation begins…..

“When you speak it is silent, when you are silent it speaks…”

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Find Your Own Martial Art

Photo on 23-10-2017 at 17.52 #3 copy

Been training for a while and feel dissatisfied? Feel like you’re not learning the right things? The martial arts not meeting your expectations?

Meditate – ask yourself what you really want from your training, I don’t mean all the usual blanket answers but what do YOU want? What are YOUR individual expectations? This can lead to quite a few surprises because you’ve probably been taking on other people’s expectations without realising it and that’s why you have to go deep to discover what it is you REALLY need from your efforts.

Look at what you’re doing – having realised fully why you’re training, is your current path going to get you there? Look at the end result of what you’re training for and start to plot a path towards each bit. You will probably find that you will have take up separate aspects to get them to converge at the right point. I had to study philosophy, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, and my own culture of Wicca and paganism, the healing arts of reiki and massage and the softer and more internal side of traditional Tai Chi to match the Kickboxing, Karate, Ju Jitsu, Judo along with the Chinese and Japanese weapons arts of Iaido, Jodo, Broadsword, Double Edge sword and Spear to reach the standard that I wanted and had to learn from the top Coaches in each field of study.

Be yourself – Everyone wants you to become what they want. Masters want soldiers and blind followers, students and family want you become what suits them. They will put their expectations on you. DON’T LET THEM! Be yourself! Don’t let anyone else put you in a box you are an individual and to be who you really are – and unlike them you have worked it out and plotted a path!

Be discerning – Can these people do what they say? How many top level practitioners and coaches have they produced? people lie, they exaggerate, they don’t put in the work themselves, they try and hide their lack of skill with mystique, secrecy and lineages – don’t fall for it!

Find balance – work at a pace that you can sustain. Become emotionally intelligent. Any path is only as strong as it’s weakest point, so know what your strong and weak points are – discover them for yourself, don’t wait for others to tell you! Other people always have an agenda know yourself inside out and find that essential level of balance.

Stick to your guns – have resolve, determination, courage, patience, tolerance, kindness and compassion and simply don’t give up. This is a lifelong quest! Fall down 7 times and get up 8. That’s the rule of thumb for life. That 1 step forwards through all the trials and tribulations is worth it’s weight in gold – it’s the winning step, it’s what sorts out the winners from the losers.

Do it – do it now – don’t put it off. Get your arse in that chair or on that cushion NOW, sit straight, breathe deep, calm your mind down and focus your attention – then ask yourself “what do I REALLY want?”



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Why ‘Positive Thinking’ Doesn’t Work…

steve profile booksWhy ‘positive thinking’ doesn’t work.

That happy mask, the fixed inane grin, the stupid idea that ‘anything’s possible’ if you think positive hard enough, usually comes from someone desperately unhappy or someone with their hand in your pocket.

Let me be honest. At least 50% of life is shit. It ranges from dissatisfaction to ‘please kill me now’ suffering. If you learn to deal with with it by becoming durable, it ‘enobles’ you. It means you’ve been hurt so bad for so long, nothing or no one can hurt you as much as you’ve been hurt already. It gives you depth and the ability to deal with life and help others from direct experience.

It means you REALLY appreciate the other 50% of life, when you have no pain life is incredibly beautiful. You appreciate all the beauty in the universe because it’s only beautiful because of it’s fragility, you know it will inevitably wither and die.

So deep happiness and sustainable success comes from wisdom and experience viewed from the right perspective. Life is about BALANCE understanding the way the universe creates it’s own form of harmony. In hindsight, what is hard and painful teaches you how to cope with life and appreciate that other 50%.

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The Dark Side Of Pain

steve pray


Pain eats your soul.
You want to move but you can’t.
Life is out there waiting,
Calling you to come out and play,
People to see, places to be,
Exciting, active and fun…
The spirit is willing, but the body is tired,
Every move jars the soul,
Pain screams around the joints,
They give way and are unstable,
Medication has a price that is just as bad.

Everybody assumes you will fully repair,
That is the confidence of youth.
You end up joining the pretence,
Because it’s easier than trying to explain.
In the end life can only get worse,
It comes sooner to some than others,
But why tell them that?

Bed becomes your torture chamber,
No position has rest,
No sleep, no respite.
The dark quiet hours make you think,
You feel the reaper in the shadows.
Death is a warm painless blanket,
Where sleep finally awaits.

No seat is comfortable,
No shoes or clothes fit without discomfort,
Everything comes with a problem,
Can’t stand, walk, sit or lay without pain,
Every bit of furniture has to be examined,
So you don’t get stuck and embarrassed.

Your painful gait gets in everyone’s way,
Too slow, with that painful limp.
No disabled parking means going home,
Having to fully open your car door,
Means traffic slows with impatient horns.

Paralympians put you to shame,
But they’re disabled not sick.
Others can’t tell the difference,
And if your sickness isn’t visible enough,
People think you’re lazy.

Many are worse off than you.
Their struggle makes your problems seem small.
It’s all a matter of perspective,
But you can only speak from your own.
Why bother to write?
Because that old man/lady hobbling in your way,
Created the world you now inhabit,
And could probably save you from many mistakes.

By Steve Rowe

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Cognitive Dissonance In The Martial Arts

face claw

I posted recently on Facebook about Firemen who rescued some piglets from a fire and how the grateful farmer then slaughtered them and rewarded the firemen with sausages made from their carcasses. As a meditation I suggested that if that made the readers uncomfortable it might be because they were experiencing ‘cognitive dissonance’ because they might hold two opposing views about the piglets, one because they are cute and cuddly and the other because they like them as food.

This then made me think that it might be a good idea to draw some of my teachings together under this label to explain the difference between blind assumptions that create the condition and using it as a tool in our martial arts and in stressful times.

Let me explain.

In the book ‘The Prehistory Of The Mind’ Steven Mithen explains the development of the human mind as like ‘a Swiss army penknife’ with utilities like the need for survival, the need for love and affection, the need to procreate, the need to communicate and recognising what we need to eat and so on that develop faster than all other parts of the mind. These utilities are separate from each other and this explains why we can see baby pigs as cute and cuddly one moment and then be eating them later; as it utilises different parts of the mind.

Steven then relates how as humankind developed, some people have developed channels between these utilities and can start to relate one to the other, bringing about in some the need to reconcile the apparent dissonance between the two.

So in our meditation and self study we need to recognise the ‘blind assumptions’ about everything that our culture and upbringing has given us as a set of views and values and then apply our own critical thinking to them to decide if we really do think that way and to find what our views really are. This process dramatically changed me as a person as I realised that I had previously just adopted the views and values of my family and culture without challenging them!  I had been wearing a mask all this time and not known it, my deep rooted fears and anxieties were borne out of cognitive dissonance because the views I thought I held weren’t really me and deep down I felt uncomfortable with them.

Good meditation took me through this process of self examination to find out who I really was and to find my own resonance.  It was a huge relief to eventually discover who I was and the views that really resonated with me.

Then as martial artists we can train this dissonance as a tool when life serves up it’s usual unpalatable fayre. If we have to defend ourselves or someone else, or fight to keep the peace and we don’t like hurting anyone or anything, we need the skill to be able to disassociate our connection to another person to see them purely as a target to hurt them enough to stop them and this is where a trained ‘cognitive dissonance’ can work for good.

When I’ve had to take a loved pet to the vet to have them put down, when someone close to me is dying painfully, when all I want to do is to collapse in a sea of emotion but someone has to take action to get things done, that necessary separation, if well trained, can come to the fore.

If you are an empathic person and naturally link into someone else’s anger, pain, suffering or depression you end up taking on their emotions and life can be really hard! The person might feel better after an hour but you can still be walking about with their depression for weeks if you’re not careful! Again training for that separation, so you can deal with their emotions positively, you create that ‘cognitive dissonance’ until you can bring the resonance between you back is a real skill.

The ability to be able to ‘wake up’ using mindfulness, to examine our mind and opinions, to discover who we really are what we really think, to understand and connect the different parts of our mind and draw on that embedded ‘utilitarian’ part as a skillset takes regular daily training can be truly life changing – and it helps to develop the necessary toolbox to make us more emotionally intelligent.

That has got to be worth the effort!



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Direct Knowledge Is Different

steve profile books


I used to get my knowledge and wisdom from others at lectures, in books and lecture tapes.  I would meditate for ages on the wisdom of the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Ajhan’s Chah and Sumedho, Alan Watts, Kahil Gibran and many others, I studied Buddhism, Zen, Chan, Taoism, Wicca, Paganism, Ritual Magik, Spiritualism and all their associated arts, but when the breakthrough occurred, I stopped.

No longer did I need to refer to others, because I was able to look inside and find my own ‘wisdom mind’. When I sat or stood still, I could access the part of me that I never could before and I found the true purpose of meditation.

Before, I knew a lot about these subjects and could quote a host of others and what they thought about them, but I didn’t really know what I was talking about because I didn’t have the direct experience. I thought I had because I had the knowledge, but it hadn’t changed me as a person. A big difference!

When a Buddhist monk lectured, they would sit quietly first and when they spoke it was like something spoke through them, they could answer questions with frightening honesty and humility but I never quite got what they were doing until it happened to me. In the Martial Arts I would see true mastery when a teacher could just respond with whatever someone threw at them with ease and never have to bully to impress. Eventually I realised that when you had absorbed the knowledge properly with the right kind of mind – you became it.

Meditation became my study instead of reading, instead of acting the part I became it.  My martial arts training became a meditation. Whenever I needed help or advice, instead of going to a book, I sat still, when I had a problem, in that stillness I always found the answer.

I could teach and lecture without notes, all I had to do was go to that place in my mind and everything came out in a well structured approach sensitive to the audience and students needs.

I had found the difference between knowing about something and actually knowing it.

There are many that know ‘about’ various subjects and can quote just about everyone, but those that really ‘know’ directly and are it, live it every day.

And they truly are like diamonds on a beach of pebbles.