Sunday, February 10, 2008

Papery thoughts

My new friend Genevieve sent me some wild one-page paper cut outs by Peter Callesen.

They are magical aren’t they? So simple. It’s what isn’t shown that defines the object as the object itself. I was thinking that this is so true of many things. It’s the ultimate irony.

In accounting for example. It can be very creative. Things, like profits, that aren’t even there can appear. Debts, disappear.

In what people say, “Oh I don’t mean to be critical but...” Or worse, “I’m the kind of person who is very direct.” And then they aren’t.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Compassionate Warrior

Yesterday I talked about Aikido the martial art with the main tenet that you “fight so that no one will lose”--this means even your opponent. The founder, Morihei Ueshiba had trained legions of martial forces for decades, but then he had several Visions--the mystical kind which change everything.

In his book, The Art of Peace”, he talks about how these visions caused him to shift his training program so that the primary skill of a warrior became compassion.

Now, “compassionate warrior” is a hard thing to get one’s brain around. I’ve been thinking for years about how that applies in the real world. The Dalai Lama is the best example of this I suppose. When the Chinese were on the offensive, he left Tibet. He could have chosen to fight (and get slaughtered). But he avoided the conflict. And says that the Chinese afford him his best learning opportunity.

When I was in the Edmonton airport one day, I spotted a buddhist monk who was traveling. I asked his permission to pose a question, “How is a warrior compassionate?”

He replied, “Whenever you take up a position, you spend all your energy defending that position. Do not take a position” Think about that for a sec. How often have we wasted energy defending a position that wasn’t worth it? Is it ever worth it?

The obvious answer is “of course” like if someone’s trying to hurt your mother or steal your baby. But maybe it’s in the stolid nature of taking a position that there’s a clue. In Aikido, they talk about being like “silk in the wind” and “breaking an opponent’s sword” so he/she can’t be hurt. This is an interesting Entering into the opponents world. Their world and my world are the same.

Think how different this is from the War on Terror. That’s taking a position and posture. It could have been so different. I felt the world yearning for Bush to take a different position when maybe a choice would have been to be more compassionate. More fluid.

What if Peace was a verb? Not an end state to be fought for then defended. But rather a way of being. A way of living.

Life is less conflict ridden with compassion as its goal. One tough part is becoming compassionate before the others in your world. I mean if a neighbor wants to bash you over the head with a rock and steal your food...or shoot you because he didn’t like the look you gave him or the way you voted...

The Bible includes “the meek shall inherit the earth”, and “the peace makers are the children of God.” Not a bad guide for civil society. How do we get There from Here?