THE ZEN MIRROR
Life & The Scenery of Life
By Jeff Brooks
Imagine yourself five hundred years ago. The Emperor has handed you
a message. It is urgent. You need to deliver it across the empire, half
a world away. If you succeed, he tells you, you will receive a great
treasure. If you fail you will die.
In this case you will take your mission seriously. Under this circumstance
you will do whatever it takes to succeed. You set out. Along the way
you will encounter all sorts of terrain. There will be lush regions.
You will be tempted to stay, to enjoy the comforts there, to delay.
You will have to cross hostile terrain. You will come upon difficult,
dangerous regions that are inhospitable to life. You will be tempted
to give up. To turn back.
If your comfort is foremost in your mind, you will never complete your
mission. All will be lost, and you will die. If, however, you never lose
sight of your ultimate goal, if the urgency of your mission is always
clear in your mind, no matter what your outward circumstances, you will
never be distracted by the changing scenery around you. You will notice
your environment, of course. It will matter. You will have to adjust
to accommodate its demands. But the immediate conditions will never be
as important as fulfilling your mission.
Our lives as practitioners are like this. There will be attractions
along our way that may distract us, and tempt us to wander from our path.
There will be times when our practice will feel barren and arid, not
satisfying, not delightful, not even interesting. We will be tempted
to delay or to give up.
If we recognize the ultimate purpose of our training – the purpose
our practice serves us daily, and the ultimate reward that it offers
us, the complete fulfillment of our potential and our mission as human
beings – we will never be distracted by the shifting scenery of
Free from those conditional distractions, we can traverse the paths
of life freely, energetically, firm in our conviction that what we are
doing is right, and utterly essential.
We wish all practitioners complete fulfillment of their goal.
About The Author:
Jeffrey M. Brooks holds a Go Dan Fifth Degree Black Belt
in Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu, training in Okinawa, Japan and the USA with
the founder of the style, Takayoshi Nagamine, his successor, as well
as numerous others in the Matsubayashi Ryu lineage and related Chinese
traditions. His Buddhist study and practice is with Rev. Issho Fujita,
resident director of Valley Zendo and Geshe Michael Roach of the Asian
Classics Institute. He has an M.F.A. from NYU Film School and works as
a speechwriter for public figures. He is founder and director of Northampton
Karate and Northampton Zendo in Northampton, Massachusetts, offering
classes daily for adults and children since 1988. Brooks’ column, “Zen
Mirror”, and other articles regularly appear on FightingArts.com.
FightingArts.com is pleased to announce its first
book: “Rhinoceros Zen –Zen
Martial Arts and the Path to Freedom,” by Jeffrey Brooks, a work
that portrays the dual paths and interplay between Zen and Karate-do.
and easy to read, it is full of insight and wisdom. It is a rewarding
read for any martial artist.
(Softcover, 300 pages, illustrated)