Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bodhidharma is the man!

This is Bodhidharma (born in 440 AD or so). He's the fountainhead of Zen Buddhism, which is based on the idea that meditation is all anyone needs to gain wisdom (or enlightenment) and - more importantly - is all you need to learn how to live every moment of your life in accordance with Zen wisdom.

Bodhidharma traveled alone with no weapons for three years to bring Zen to China. He is also credited with bringing tea to China. If that were not enough, as he travelled, he watched how wild animals fought and defended themselves. From this, he created the martial arts. So Zen and the martial arts were (and should be) practiced together.

Bodhidharma always emphasized meditation as the way to know your own mind, be enlightened, and become free. He felt that looking outside yourself to organized religions, gods, preachers, and sacred books is (at best) a waste of time or (at worst) muddies the water and hides true wisdom from you. According to Bodhidharma, everything we need to be happy and gain wisdom is already inside us if we will just take the time to learn. A very wise man and clearly a man of physical as well as mental power.

The First Post - Why Zen Throw Down?

Okay, this is really the second post, but it's the first post where I'm actually writing something. The first post is my poem 'Zen Throw Down' (from 1995 or so), and I picked it because it sort of deals with what I want my blog to convey about me.

I guess I object to blogging because much of it seems so random. I'd like my blog to be about something, to have a plot (even if it's non-linear). I suppose day-to-day entries will seem pretty random but I hope that, looked at over a long period of time, they will document some sort of growth or trajectory for me as a person. That's what life's supposed to be, right?

When I was about thirteen, I started keeping journals with all my thoughts, activities, experiences, etc. It's incredible to go through them sometimes and see what I was doing or worrying about when I was fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, or thirty-five. There's a transformation over the years that I can read, and that makes me glad I kept them. I've stopped keeping journals in recent years, so maybe this blog can take the place of that.

Why Zen Throw Down? I often shy away from telling people I meditate or practice Zen. I feel it makes me seem like some new age wussy playing with rain sticks and listening to Enya while drawing pictures of fairies and dragons, and I'm so not like that. For me, Zen has been about finding the core of myself and learning how to ignore or eliminate everything in my life that is not tied to that. Zen is powerful stuff. For example, it's driving me to get back into martial arts again.

That's kind of what the poem is about. Being enlightened is not about being a narcoleptic om-chanting zombie, and most stuff I've read from ancient Zen Masters seems to confirm that. Enlightenment makes you an invincible bad ass, because there's nothing more powerful than knowing yourself. It gives you the courage and strength to shape the world and your life into what you want them to be and not get side-tracked by foolishness, things, or people that will never make you happy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Zen Throw Down

Yesterday I was alley air,
but today I'm an express bus.

In a world of gutter messiahs
and take-me-to-your-leader drug dealers,
you gotta create your own stride.
Realign your soul
so your manifesto flows
like an open fire hydrant
to a hip hop sound surround soundtrack.

Streetwise and spaced-out
is what I'm all about,
and I nuke all substitutes
cuz ya gotta be a brute
to find serenity.
So I'm a soul that throws down,
like Leroy Brown
I'm the baddest ass in this muthafuckin' town.

Now, let me show you how
to come correct to a Zen Throw Down:
you need the inner peace
of a shaman from the concrete
if you wanna create a collage of life
where each day is a feather
in the wings of an angel
seeking beatitude.

Seeker, you better recognize.