How To: It's How You Play The Game

It's How You Play The Game

"Life is difficult." That's how Scott Peck's best-selling book, "The Road Less Travelled", begins. That life is difficult is not news. Over two-thousand years ago the Buddha said it too: Life is suffering. The sanskrit word the Buddha used for suffering is dukkhaDukkha doesn't refer to physical pain, necessarily. It refers to something more akin to our English word 'dissatisfaction'. Adages abound in our language which attest to the universality of dissatisfaction in our daily lives. "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" puts it very clearly. "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till its gone" is another variation on the theme.

The presence of dissatisfaction drives us to find its "cure." We seek remedies for dissatisfaction in our relentless pursuit of entertainment, for example. Television, radio, books, the internet, concerts and sporting events all serve, on one level, to distract us from the gnawing sense that life is somehow not quite enough as it is. To be sure, these media also provide information that serves us in our passage through life. But too often we use the media as a compass for rather than a footnote to our experiences.

What draws many people to the practice of budo is a desire to connect with our deepest selves. Budo, which rightly encompasses the "life-giving" along with the "life-taking" poles of behavior, offers us the means to fully embrace life, if even for a moment, without the nagging sense of ambivalance or dissatisfaction the Buddha spoke of. With this ambivalence neutralized, we can connect with our integrity, our whole-hearted embrace of life as it is. The mechanism budo uses to acheive such neutrality (non-attachment) is the mindful practice of waza, or technique.

The challenge of waza practice is profound. Like everything else, the practice can become "objectified." We start to critique and compare and find fault with what we do. By doing so, we become dissatisfied once again. There is a way, however, to short-circuit our dissatisfaction withwaza. Whole-hearted commitment to our practice in the dojo eliminates ambivalence. True, there is always room for improvement and dissatisfaction will dog our practice over the months and years. But during class, for that brief time we devote to training, we can fully commit to doing our best, leaving our misgivings and ambivalence at the door of the dojo. By practicing this way, we train not only the muscles of our body, but the "muscles" of our spirit as well. We inbue ourselves with the feeling of commitment. We can then transfer that feeling to other areas of our lives. We can bring to life the truth in the saying "Its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."

Train! Commit! Believe! Gambatte kudasai! See you in the dojo. Osu!

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