Sunday, April 19, 2009

Being present, aware, & satori

A twitter friend of mine, AlexShalman, posed a question about what motivating self talk people use in order to achieve a goal. I told him, I think if you need self-talk you've already lost. There's only loud quiet and peace as you set your eyes and step towards it!

Twitter is, after all, only expressive within 140 characters. This is a more developed response.

There is a Japanese Buddhist concept spoken of in Bushido: The Way of the Samurai, called Satori. Reading from page 18 [Square One Publishers, 2002]:

[A samurai of satori is one who].. after going through a crisis, makes the most of his experience; he is also the one who can use his forethought to quickly settle problems in case of an emergency. Accordingly, we call samurais of satori those who can come to conclusions before meeting tens of thousands of matters.

Non-satori samurais might be able to come up with a make-shift solution, but this is achieved merely through good luck.

Those who do not scrutinize everything before the events occur may justly be called samurais of non-satori.

Regular people are capable of satori as well, for those non-samurai reading this. Satori is purpose, itself. When you have internalized a purpose and keep it in diligence as your aim you are satori.

There are three direct steps to finding satori.


Why is silence a virtue? There is a dizzying array of life & wisdom around us. To busy your mind speaking out loud or in-loud means those words carry greater weight than all the world present to you, which is often not the case. In silence we can listen & seek. In speaking we present to the world. This is a necessary skill, but you must tangibly have a sense of responsibility for your words, and a sense of satori in their needing to be aired. Otherwise, busy yourself with listening.

Why silence? Because there is an outside. This outside is wise. With enough listening and watching, you'll realize without this outside I cease/am not. This outside is within me and I am within it. I am the outside. Take comfort and meditate here constantly. Strive to know your-outside-self.

Awareness and presence through silence is favored by Eastern philosophies whereas Western philosophies usually do not consider it. [The Essential Crazy Wisdom, by Wes Nisker, 2001]

"Reason is the true self of every man, since it is the supreme and better part." Aristotle
"Stop thinking, and end your problems." Lao-Tzu

Practicing just being present and aware will begin the process of clearing your mind of our many developed neurotic tendencies; it will also begin to give you a better understanding of what in life is essential.

Assessing the 3 Realities

First reality: In the existentialist vein, we each are constantly creating a 'reality,' our reality. Man names a self and learns a self separate from the universe around him. He is the journey-weaver, pit band, and unwitting critic of his own stardom (in his reality). To be separate is to transcend, he thinks.

Second reality: The collective of realities of all different people and wisdom gleaned of consulting other peoples' opinions. Humility, and the search for the

Third reality: The unspeakable; we will be naive of this reality until we are all-knowing. Yet, it is.

In describing the second reality, page 39 of Bushido speaks of consulting others for ideas and learning from their wisdoms on the matter. Often one cannot see a situation so objectively as others standing on the side. A path pursued with these multiple wisdoms, it says, is like a strong rooted tree whereas a path pursued by only your own wisdom is like a rootless tree. There are countless other times Bushido emphasizes learning from others, as well.

To realize the frailty and inadequacy of the first reality, your own, is a good thing. The second reality is a never ending journey of finding, piece-meal, glimpses of the third reality. Constantly being aware of the three realities will also help you to assess what is essential in life.

finding Satori: setting your aim/purpose

Before finding satori, you must find your clan. 'Clan' can take many concurrent meanings. It can stand for the universe itself, all life within it, your family, expert kazooists, and your day job all at the same time. Random selections from pages 5-6, 10-11:

As a retainer to this Nabeshima clan, you must devote yourself toward the studies of your own country... the general drift of clan studies is to trace the history of a particular clan back to its foundation. By following the general drift, we can credit the present prosperity of our household to its founders... Due to their power and authority, our clan has been prosperous and secure, and it has had no equal up to the present time.... Both at the time of plain clothes (peace) and the time of helmets and armor (war), it is sufficient for both high and low to revere the founders and their offspring so we can learn from their examples. Then we (present samurais of the clan) will be able to manage everything without fail... Once you have mastered the practices and habits of our own clan, you may learn other ways as a pastime, for your own amusement. But, when you come to think of it, there is not a problem that cannot be solved with the help of this knowledge (of our own clan). Those who neglect this study of our own country would not be able to give a word of reply to such questions (asked) by members of other clans, as: 'What is the history of the Nabeshima clan?' or, 'How was your clan established?' or, 'You have been reputed to be the best spear-thrusters (warrior-samurais) in Japan; but what are the details of your distinguished military service?'
...Be firmly resolved to offer yourself in your service so that you can make up for the favor (privilege) of being a member of this clan....
... no spirit and no talent is necessary so long as you have the ambition to shoulder the whole clan by yourself, so to speak, to carry the burden alone, if necessary.

When an idea expresses itself to you that would benefit you and your clan, take it up! From page 32,

"It is not because Confucius had tried to master the way, but it is because he had set his heart on learning at the age of fifteen that he became a saint," says the scholar of the clan, Ittei Ishida. In other words, you can have correct satori the moment you have set a definite aim in your life for the first time, as one of the Buddhist scriptures says.

In discerning what is really important in life, and who/what your various clans are, you have already defined many purposes to your life. You need not look further. The final essence of satori is keeping this purpose real, in a manner Bushido clarifies as 'thinking lightly on serious matters,' page 21-2.

Think of serious matters in a light manner... Think of trifles in an earnest and thoughtful way....
There are only a few considerations that are serious for you. You can make your decision about these few serious matters beforehand in ordinary circumstances. Accordingly, you previously think about these serious matters and then you have only to take out the previously arrived at conclusions when you need them. On the other hand, if you are not prepared, then it will be difficult to think lightly of grave matters when you meet with occasions on which you have to make an instant decision. At such a time you will be unable to hit the mark.

Being satori is a constant state of awareness of self and of others, and knowing what purposes you are to follow. In planning ahead of time the proper courses of action you can then simply clench your stomach and move forward with acheiving your aims. Page 21:

Your life is something you build every day. You must convince yourself that you have surpassed yesterday. And tomorrow you must feel that you have surpassed today. In this way there is no end to your mastery.

As with any theoretical mindset, this is all logically sound in theory. Incorporating it piece by piece into your daily life will be problematic and you will stumble, but it will help you in the long term. These principles emphasize strongly making your purposes real with definite, tangible progression.

So, Mr. Shalman, this is what I mean by loud quiet, peace, setting your eyes, and then start walking. I hope you and the only other reader find it meaningful! And I wish I would have put this much enthusiasm into papers I wrote for college! Now, if you will excuse me, my agent's ringing. It seems we are making headway on my plans to be the first Kazooist to play at Carnegie hall.

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