Tuesday, February 28, 2012

True learning occurs only when empty the thinking mind

Throughout my journey in learning and acquiring experiences in this life time, I have always been bound by my ego, my own emotion. My parents had been telling me about that ever since I was a child. I never took failures well, and I filled myself with pride and ego. This was something me and my grand mother had in common. Although I was able to see all of the pain and suffering that she brought upon herself until her last days in this world, I couldn't see that I was doing the same thing to myself.

Walking the martial art's journey under the control of my ego was a very long hard road. I was exceptional at doing what I could do, but it wasn't enough according to my ego. I needed to make sure that I was the best among others. I liked to size people up and trying to analyze about who would be a stronger fighter. I was constantly in my head trying to prove my greatness. I was good at doing it because I was faster and more technical. However, I couldn't handle setbacks. I am not talking about losing a match or a sparring fight. I mean I couldn't even handle being hit once or twice in the face. It not only made me look bad, but also made me want to get even. My head would instantly be filled with thoughts and ideas that my opponent was laughing at me, others thought that I sucked after all. When my head was filled with negative emotions, there was no way I could be learning anything. There was simply no space for the learning to occur. A simple practice drill would turn into a brawl because my ego took things too personally. What's worse was that this negativity wasn't over after the practice. My ego would view other people as potential competitions instead of training partners or friends. Not only I wasn't learning when I could've, I was also creating potential competitions and getting rid of potential friends in all of my social interactions. 

The ego doesn't just control one area of my life, but it controls all. I filled my head with the same kind of ego training martial arts as well as my relationship with people at work, with friends and love. 

Being a big fan of Bruce Lee, I admired his martial art skills and his spirits, but I never understood his philosophy. His famous phrase 'Empty your mind!' sounded just like craps I used hear all the time watching Chingese Kung Fu Fantasy movies. Admiring Bruce Lee simply became another way to satisfy my ego. 

I came across it from an old friend who carried such a loving energy around that I just couldn't help wanting to be with him. He was the channel for my venting. Though I wasn't aware of it, I wanted to experience the peace, specially that calmness that came right after I finished my venting. The secret of living such a peaceful life starts with doing meditation, according to him. Ever since then, it has been a big help in my life. By being able to just sit quietly for 30 mins per day, seeing all of the things that have been going on inside my head without getting attached to it has given me a brand new prospective about life that I was completely blind. It has been making me more aware of myself, my inner world. After all, the world that I am experiencing now is merely just a reflection of the world inside of myself. 

One day, the idea of 'Empty your mind' just seemed to make sense all of the sudden. Every moment, every interaction in life is an opportunity for me to learn something. Ego prevents me from doing it because my ego 'knows everything better'. In reality, it only gets in the way.

Now, I approach martial art training with a brand new prospective. Others are no longer the competitions that I had to go through, they are all there to help me learn and get better. That is all. Surprisingly, with the new attitude in mind, I get hit more often, I get choked, submitted more often than before. From time to time, my ego awakens to make me feel terrible. The old desire of wanting to get back on other reappears. Meditation has helped me to watch the emotion and let go. This is how I empty my mind. Be an open book, let go of the identity that I was supposed to be better. Then, magic starts to happen. Not only I enjoy more in my training because the potential setbacks are no longer a problem, I was also having better relationships with others. We start to learn from each other. I was amazed that there are so much more out there that I don't know about but didn't care to know. 

This is the real shift that I have noticed from within myself. I feel more generous, more genuine and more opened. The external world that I am perceiving starts to shift too. Having more friends, more career success, better network of people and more martial art improvement are just some of the byproducts that comes along.

It starts to make sense why traditional Asian martial arts have always incorporate forms of meditation in their training. It is designed to empty the mind, set free from the ego, this is the only way to achieve the true mastery in martial arts and in life as well. 

It is a long journey, but a journey we are all going through. Therefore I quote Bruce Lee once again: "Empty Your Mind! Be Water, My friend!"  
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