Friday, November 30, 2012


A wall blocks your path?
No way over or around?
Bodhidharma sat.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Is The Point?

A nice life lesson from Hara: The Vital Center of Man, by Karlfried Graf Durckheim.

I take up my position. The master stands before me. As custom demands I bow low first to him and then, turning left, to the target, face the master again and calmly carry out the first movements.

Each movement must flow smoothly from the previous one. I place the bow on my left knee, take up one of the arrows resting against my right leg, place it on the string; the left hand holds arrow and bow firmly together—and then the right is slowly raised, only to be lowered again while the breath flows out completely. The hand grasps the string and then—slowly breathing in—the bow is gradually drawn while being raised. This is the decisive movement which must be carried out as calmly and steadily as the moon rises in the evening sky. Before I have even reached the point where the arrow must touch the ear and cheek, and the whole bow is stretched to its fullest capacity, the deep voice of the master cuts right through me, "Stop!"

Surprised and a little irritated because of this interruption at the moment of utmost concentration, I lower the bow. The master takes it from my hands, winds the string once round the end of the bow and hands it back to me smiling. "Once again, please,"

Unsuspecting, I begin again to go through the same series of motions. But when it comes to drawing the bow my strength fails me. The bow has now twice the tension it had before and my strength is insufficient. My arms begin to tremble, I sway unsteadily to and fro, the posture so painstakingly won is lost. The master, however, begins to laugh. Desperately I try again, but it is hopeless. Nothing but a pitiful failure.

I must have looked rather vexed for the master asks, "What are you so annoyed about?"

"What? You can ask me that? For weeks and weeks I have practiced and now, at the vital moment, you interrupt me before I have even drawn."

Once again the master laughs cheerfully, then suddenly serious, he says something like this, "What exactly do you want? That you had accomplished the task I had given you I could see from the way you took up your bow. But the point is this—when a man, perhaps after a long struggle, has achieved a certain form in himself, in his life, in his work, only one misfortune can then befall him—that fate should allow him to stand still in that achievement. If fate means well by him it knocks his success out of his hands before it sets and hardens. To do just this during practice is the task of a good teacher. For what is the point of all this? Not the hitting of the target. For what ultimately matters, in learning archery or any other art, is not what comes out of it but what goes into it. Into, that is into the person. The self-practice in the service of an outward accomplishment serves, beyond it, the development of the inner man. And what endangers this inner development more than anything else? Standing still in his achievement. A man must go on increasing, endlessly increasing."

This is such a nice followup to something i posted on my Facebook page the other day:

"[A] man of inner strength
whose senses experience objects
without attraction or hatred,
in self-control, finds serenity.

In serenity, all his sorrows dissolve;
his reason becomes serene,
his understanding sure.

Without discipline,
he has no understanding or inner power;
without inner power, he has no peace;
and without peace where is joy?"

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2

Even though this life seems destined for the failure column, i'll go to my ash urn believing these two points:

• Standing still in your achievement kills any chance of further development. We must continuously, relentlessly, march forward — growing, endlessly growing.

• Without discipline there is no understanding, hence, no peace and no joy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Japanese Diapers

It's amazing how rapidly Japan's population is aging. According to this article at, "Unicharm Corp.’s sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies for the first time last year."