I had planned on talking about forgiveness in this newsletter, but I’m finding it to be an increasingly difficult topic to navigate these days. I’m not going to tell you to forgive anybody, nor will I attempt to tell you what is right or wrong for you to do.
I don’t believe that martial arts comes with any set moral code; rather, our practice should help us better understand our own beliefs. Perhaps more importantly, our practice should enable us to act in accordance with our beliefs even (and especially) when it is most difficult to do so.
We use meditation to clear our minds and breathing exercises to cultivate calm energy. We practice Tai Chi and Kung Fu as moving meditations so that we may take that mindfulness into our everyday lives. What we do with that awareness of ourselves and the world is up to us as individuals.
Masters of our actions
We work to become masters of our actions rather than prisoners of our reactions. If we are not able to choose our actions, we may as well be in a physical prison. Choice is not a given. Often our emotional state causes us to do things we wouldn’t do if we took the time to think. We practice taking a deep breath while we asses the situation. This allows us to respond well. There is hardly ever a “perfect” way to respond; instead, we respond in the best way we can from the best state of mind.
This may mean walking or running away. This may mean standing and fighting. This may mean talking. This certainly means different things in different situations. But it always means knowing ourselves and the situation before acting.
We must not only be weary of acting too quickly and rashly, but also of delaying. A samurai maxim states that any decision should be made within the span of seven breaths. While we may look at what is going on in the world today and see plenty of things that are happening because people haven’t taken the time to think or communicate, we may see just as much that is a result of inaction and delay. As soon as we know the right course of action, we must not delay. Act with intention and power without second-guessing.
I implore you all to stay safe and act in a way that you will be proud of looking back. Take at least one breath but no more than seven before taking action.