Health and Athletics
It is fun to be outside; it's good to move your body and there is just a joy in sports and athletics.
As you gain more discipline over your body, you will find that a corollary discipline will develop in the mind because the two really go together.
In order to succeed on the athletic field, it is necessary to succeed in daily life. Your spirit and your life must be perfectly trimmed for the chi to flow properly.
Physical perfection, working out, adds to your spiritual perfection if that is your intent.
Sports and athletics can be a path in Zen, in concordance with daily practice of zazen meditation. You need to move with your spirit, not just with your body.
In Zen we strive to bring both the mind and the body into perfect combination, so that there is no intrinsic difference between them.
It is easier to develop the mind through meditation than it is just through athletic practice. If you put the two together, it will be unbelievable.
I recommend for everyone the study of some type of sports or athletics, particularly martial arts. Always check with your doctor first, naturally.
All success in sports and athletics, from the Zen point of view, comes from the mind. No matter what kind of shape your body is in, there is disharmony in the being.
There are lots of people who work out and aren't at all powerful in terms of their mind or their spirits.
If your intent is that athletics and sports are tools or devices to reach higher levels of mind, then your workout sessions become meditation.
In the Zen of sports and athletics, we seek to bring discipline and control into our physical movements, but at the same time to eliminate the self that gets in the way of perfect play.
In the West, we think of sports and athletics as individual achievement, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat; it all revolves around the ego. This has nothing to do with the Zen of sports and athletics.
If someone else runs faster than you or makes more money than you or is more adept at anything, that doesn't mean you have lost. You are measuring yourself only against yourself and your tendencies not to do all that you are capable of doing.
Winning has to do with gaining personal power through the practice of meditation and mindfulness; not draining your energy on ridiculous things and people.
Be a perfect flow of energy in whatever you chose to do. This is perfect action.
Before beginning an activity always first empty yourself of thoughts regarding what you are about to do.
To do something perfectly, you must not think about what you are doing at all ... Your thoughts are what create imperfections in your actions. They alienate you from the true reality of any action you perform.
When your spirit is free and your body is well developed, magic occurs. You are able to let go and become the play.
Allow the inherent emptiness within what you are about to do direct you.
Instead of your ego directing you and making countless mistakes, allow yourself to be guided by the invisible principles of the universe within your action.
When you can become completely impassive in play, then you become fluid and completely unpredictable. No one knows, including yourself, what you will do next. You couldn't even explain it.
If I have led my life totally deliberately, then when I come to the end of the diving board, I can just fall off the diving board and it will be perfect. I won't even remember what happened.
You can hit a home run. If you are honest, you'll know when it's perfect because at that critical moment of connection, there was no sense of being there. That is perfect play. There is no self involved.
If all the members of a team have synchronized their energy and they have all subordinated their egos to success of the team, then we have a functioning unit. If we have a lot of hotshots who want attention, you won't really play that well.
Teamwork - everything is one. You can connect with the emptiness of all things. All things are empty.
If you are serious about sports and athletics then you need to begin the discipline of mind. With the power of mind, almost anything can be accomplished.
The emptiness of play is when there is no self present. There is no one playing -- there is only play itself taking place, perfect fluid motion.
If you have the sense of participation in sports or athletics, of being a player, then you are not really into the Zen mind. In Zen mind there is no sense of self in the play.
Before beginning an activity always first empty yourself of thoughts regarding what you are about to do. Then allow the inherent emptiness within what you are about to do to direct you.
Unlock the power of the will. Learn balance and gain the knowledge and wisdom necessary to guide those powers, to succeed in sports and athletics.
Any good athletic is always in a state of perpetual training, as is the Zen student.
Thought control is the ability to direct mind and attention anywhere. Your ability to win is dependent upon the power of your concentration. Winning is a state of mind.
The Frisbee is a round disk. That's the somethingness. But it has another side; it has a nothingness which you cannot perceive with your physical mind or your senses.
In the game of Frisbee you throw the disk to someone else. The point of Frisbee is perfect communication. The person at the other end of the field is receiving an impression, a vibration from you.
The more perfectly you can refine the process of Frisbee, the tighter your energy is and the more you become one with the nothingness of the Frisbee, the nothingness of the play.
Your ego interferes, your sense of self. When you let go of the mind, the Frisbee will take its own path.
When you unite the nothingness of your mind with the nothingness of the Frisbee, then the Frisbee is not a Frisbee, and you are not you.
You are trying to pierce the veil, to break through the Frisbee so that it doesn't exist, to break through the football so it doesn't exist, and to break through your opponent so they don't exist.
Transform yourself. It is not the opponent that will change, or the Frisbee. They will change in relation to your change. You must change.
Zen and Buddhism have produced martial arts, because of the Buddhist injunction against weapons.
Most martial arts have to do with the mind, ultimately. The ability to be unafraid, to walk away from a fight without fear - that is control.
People who use the mind and aggressive energy to blow their opponent away can be figured out. Anybody you can figure out you can defeat.
If you are afraid of other people take a martial arts class. The best way to overcome fear is learn to be proficient in martial arts.
The best martial artist doesn't win fights, but avoids fights. Martial arts is a way of gaining basic self-mastery of your mind, body and emotions. It can also be very useful in combat situations.
Use the practice of mind and body; in order to make those moves perfectly, you have to pull your mind out of its mundane thoughts and awarenesses and bring it into the body movement.
The very advanced practitioners of martial arts never had to raise a hand. They could knock an opponent down without physically touching them, just with chi, pure power. We don't see too many of them anymore.
The samurais lived with death constantly. They wore a short dagger to take their own life if need be. At any moment they might have to do that, it was a part of their code.
The samurais were very interested in Zen because they admired the tremendous precision that the Zen Masters had, their lack of fear and pain and their absolute lack of fear of death.
The chi is the central energy or power that we use in physical expression. When the chi is flowing properly in our lives, we can be very adept athletically.
If the chi is being wasted by useless activities, emotions and associations that drain us, then we don't have enough power when it comes time to perform.
It is quite possible to speed up the healing process to the part of the body that is injured. This all has to do with the release of chi.
I think the very best thing you can do is observe what makes you stronger and what makes you weaker.
Linus Pauling would have us believe and perhaps correctly, that enough vitamin C will have us live another 20 or 30 years, I think the strongest power in the world is not vitamin C but the power of our own thoughts.
The most powerful force to maintaining a good immune system is the power of positive thinking and not allowing yourself to be unnecessarily drained emotionally by worries and fears.
In the Orient we have known for thousands of years that the most powerful tonic for ill health is a happy and clear mind.
When you're happy, your immune system is at its strongest point. And when you think negatively, or when you hate, or allow yourself to grow emotionally out of control, you are weakening your immune system.
Several very good friends of mine have died of AIDS. I spent a great deal of time with them when they went through that process.
One or two of my friends set longevity records for people who had AIDS. What they did, incredibly hard though it was, was to practice meditation, positive thinking and they worked out physically quite a bit.
Diet is highly individual. You have to see what your body wants and what is healthy for it.
Diet is a matter of personal preference, but if you're interested in the advanced states of meditation, eating mammals should be avoided. They have a more evolved consciousness and can affect your attention field greatly.
Eternity becomes more beautiful as we age, if we age well. If we age poorly, then we don't improve our minds; we don't refine all the aspects of our being.
When your spirit is free and your body is well developed, magic occurs.