We are moviNg into a new age. I think that after the Age of Reason, the Industrial Revolution, the Atomic Age, and the Information Revolution which resulted in the Electronic Village and world markets, we are ready for an Age of Creativity that will be and is already becoming an age of technomagic. The break-up of the Soviet Union lowers the danger of world war and may be the beginning of a Pax Capitalista that will result in the sharing of ideas and periods of growth that will indeed create a new world order. If nothing else it indicates the real paucity of thought from political scientists or the prediction capability of political economists.
Times are changing. A universal shift of consciousness is in progress. A global mind change will also be shadowed by a fevered retrenching of ultra-conservatives, but it must be remembered that change through action or atrophy, growth or dissolution, is the natural arena of the creative artist and leader. One does not lead to the past.
In The Book of Five Rings, Musashi gives nine basic rules or strategies for living well in war-torn medieval Japan that still work today. If you haven't read the IChing or Book of Changes, you should. I have a friend who made a considerable fortune as a futurist using that book as a guide to policy decisions for some major corporations. There are also computer applications of the book that are quite useful such as "Synchronicity." There are people who actually consider me wise instead of foolish and asked me how I would improve on Musashi's list, so I consulted the I Ching and it said "Increase," "Arousal," and "The Creative." Given this acceptance by the divining spirits, here are my words of wisdom.
1. Never allow the concept that you have learned all there is to know about anything gain a foothold in your mind regardless of your achievements or recognition. Always regard yourself as a beginner and approach new challenges as an exploring child.
2. Passionately care for others and show your care by treating them with interest, respect, and love. Always be willing to make the first caring move. Love your enemy.
3. Be willing to learn from anyone or anything. Do not put your trust in secondary sources in any matter that directly affects you. Knowing without doing is not knowing.
4. In problem-solving always involve those closest to the problem in the building of a solution. Get to the "we," as acceptance is necessary to quality. Always take time to discover the probable downstream effects of implementation. To quote Richard Weaver, an admirable rhetorician, "Ideas have consequences." Continuous improvement leads to better changes than embracing a past that does not exist.
5. Both the best and worst of people yearn to love and be loved and if given the opportunity would make a positive difference in the world. Be helpful and kind.
6. Study yourself as well as others and why you and they feel and care about the goals you (and they) pursue to develop staying power as well as trust. Do not waste your essence in a relationship where there is no caring. Learn to trust your gut, which isn't too far from following your bliss and helps you avoid the bitter taste of defeat.
7. Continually expand your awareness of your connectedness to others. Everything in the natural and material world is con nected in never-ceasing, ever-changing interactions and interdependences. Be part of that, as the disconnections are illusions. Take every opportunity to become more open, aware, and challenged.
8. Understand that when you move, you move as a whole and are contributing to change by how you act and think. Put meaning, purpose, and passion into everything that you do. Be willing to sacrifice, to take risks, or to humble yourself to achieve a clear, concrete result. Modesty is the greatest of virtues. Censure yourself, never another. Have fun but don't harm. Internalize the Shaolin Dictums.
9. If you follow your bliss, allowing time for peaceful contemplation, and remember the ancient dictum that "defense is moral and offense often leads to disgrace," the Way of the Warrior/Artist/Sage will in the end be seen as profitable as any other form of sincere scholarship. Sincere scholarship seldom pays well until all other avenues have reported failure. The sweet taste of fortune is both spiritual and physical when the emphasis is on learned taste and the fortune is earned. The Zen Buddha of the Ten Pictures rides the ox to the marketplace.
I have had a great deal of fun studying strategy or combatic martial arts and have through these studies met very interesting people. There is an old Special Forces recruiting joke that goes, "Join Special Forces; Travel to Faraway Lands; Study Exotic Cultures; Learn New Languages; Meet Exciting and Interesting People (all at government expense) and Kill Them." Sun Tzu says, "It is only when you are a thousand miles from home that you will find the value of your most basic skills." Your most basic skills as a human being are to learn and to build relationships. We are ascended from social animals. An adventurer in the realms of strangers must be able to be perceived as valuable on some other basis than language, technical skills, or formal knowledge.
Sun Tzu's Divine Web of the adventurer and reincarnation has implications for vengeance and reciprocity as well as forgiveness. I sometimes find it difficult to maintain gentility when training with my friends in the martial arts. Those who need a healing spiritual practice the most seem to be running hardest in the direction of fear and power. I suspect they have unwittingly selected the "school sent by the nine demon gods." Some need a vision of Hell to appreciate Heaven's Way.
The world is changing and it appears that the environment requires some heroic consideration. I have found myself regarding the farming methods of the Amish with much greater respect of late. There seems to be a different cycle of reincarnation that favors greater understanding between Kipling's severed East and West. On the darker side, the decimation of Third World populations and the urban ignorant by poverty, drugs, HIV, and other smart viruses to come will increasingly tax the medical systems of the elite as well as confound the dreams of the careless and unlucky. The urge to religion is universal and healthy in terms cf lower associated medical symptoms, even though the correlation between IQ and strong religious belief is significantly negative. The relation to health, however, is positive when compared to controls. My own experience of linking religious types to various neuroses may derive from a limited sample that has been taught to fear God and sexuality and see their religion as exclusive. There is certainly much better esoteric information available today than in any previous age. The scholarship and research published in the last ten years are astonishing. The books I recommend in the Bibliography for Inner Adventurers also have some of my brighter students' heartfelt approval, Even the charlatans are having to learn that the ignorant have been exposed to the scientific method and would like to see some replication of quality results before buying the product.
As more scientific seekers publish their own experiences rather than point at the wisdom of the elders for direction, we seem to be experiencing a "hundred monkeys effect" but it may well be information reformation and regression to the norm. People seem to be finally recognizing that human commonalities are far more important than the differences. Hatsumi, after he met me for the first time sent me a watercolor of Da Mo, the Bodhidharma and the founder of Zen who is credited with revolutionizing the martial arts as taught at the Shaolin Temple. The inscription was translated for me by a young Japanese exchange student who interpreted what he had written as "Constants Don't Surprise" for the symbol of ninjutsu, which is the kanji for sword over the kanji for heart, which also can be translated as endurance or following the way even when under duress. The rest of the poetic inscription was "The bear's treasure is joy and pleasure."
The above little list is my strategy for enjoying the newest age, as nine directed by a unique perspective leads to zero. There is nothing in this list that is not supported by scientific research in psychology, anthropology, and sociology. William James, the famous American psychologist, posited that we feel before we think, and there is considerable evidence to support that hypothesis. The subconscious is the seat of feelings, and if you follow the directions in chapter five you will learn how to link the emotions to the mind through meditation. The ancients called this practice Heaven's Way, and it results in the dissolution of fear, which enhances all other activities in life. It must be remembered that you shape the world you live in by your regard, and by opening yourself to complete experience you may find many surprising things that most other people will miss. This process will change you. It will change how you regard the world and others; it may even put a little magic and passion into your life if you follow the clues concerning weird science.
We all change, as does our environment and society. Humans are unique in that we can control and create those changes. Real change is seldom an act of instant conversion. A changed mind that is not followed by behavior has not reached into the true self. We can all work on ourselves and each other to make our lives more enjoyable and better, or we can be swept along by fads, worn down by indifference, and live in ignorance. The choice is always yours, but to paraphrase a wise and ancient Greek, "The unexamined life is not worth living. Know thyself!"
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