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Consciously Martial Arts

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of November 6, 2006






Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2


This Week's Questions


[posed by Ed D'U.]
  • Is there actually such a thing as a "conscious warrior?"
  • If Tai Chi teaches personal consciousness, is it truly a "martial" art?
  • Is a "master" a person who no longer goes into shock in combat?

Do you know?



[Question 1] How can Martial Arts and Emergence blend to create conscious warriors? Are there common wounds that people who study Martial Arts share? How many students who study martial arts have been wounded by fighting and violence? How will one's knowledge of wounds and states of being affect the process of learning a martial art, such as Tai Chi?
[Answer] These are some deep questions, Ed. Let's start with the first one.

[1] How can martial arts and Emergence blend to create conscious warriors? The answer? I'm not sure war is a conscious act. Thus, I'm not sure warriors can be said to be truly conscious. Then again, perhaps I am wrong and my picture of war is just too narrow. I see war as the collectively unconscious acts of a group of Outer Layered people, including the desk jockey heads with feet who initiate these things.

Know that I also see the possibility that individual warriors can fight consciously. This would occur when two warriors commit to the to use physical and psychospiritual struggles to create a conscious connect to each other. If wars were like this, then perhaps there would be conscious warriors. And conscious wars. If not, then perhaps there is a better word for what the consciousness seeking "warrior" would do? Heal, perhaps, like the legendary warrior - monks?

[2] Are there common wounds that people who study Martial Arts share?
Interesting question and quite thought provoking. My initial response? I would think there must be, at least at some very coarse level of the onion. Examples, though? None come to mind, other than to remember that we relive injuries on the stages on which they first occur. Thus some scene in which someone is being physically attacked must be a part of this desire.

[3] How many students who study martial arts have been wounded by fighting and violence? My guess? All of them. Why do I think this? Because as I mentioned in my previous answer, we all have wounds, and we all get magnetically attracted back to the stages on which these wounds occurred. Students of martial arts, then, would be naturally drawn back to stages on which they were startled in the process of physically competing to survive, or physically trying to protect someone, or physically trying to revenge something. Not there is is no spiritual component in play here. It's just that the physical component is easier to generalize.

[4] How will one's knowledge of wounds and states of being affect the process of learning a martial art, such as Tai Chi? The obvious answer? There is no answer. You see, your question is a paradox. In essence, you have asked me, "How will peoples' states of consciousness affect their developing more consciousness?"

There is, however, a simple answer. Practicing a martial art can be the instrument of healing much of one's consciousness, regardless of how wounded the person is. In theory, this is true anyway. In practice? There are some folks who use martial arts as an excuse to hurt people. Or themselves. In these cases, having a very consciously loving teacher can be the most important variable to consider.

[Question 2] Is a "master" a person who no longer goes into shock while in combat? And is the true path of the conscious warrior the path from naive consciousness, to wounded consciousness, to tempered consciousness? Is the common belief that it takes 30 years of hard work and practice merely a description for walking the path blindly, wherein learning happens accidentally, as opposed to Emergence guided teaching, wherein learning happens deliberately?
[Answer] Is a "master" a person who no longer goes into shock while in combat? Ed, I'm not sure there is a way to hurt another person without going into shock. To be honest, I believe there is not. This implies that a "Master" is one who is capable of entering and exiting shock very rapidly. Perhaps this is why I find so much value in having this skill in myself as a therapist and teacher.

As for the other two questions, "Is the true path of the conscious warrior the path from naive consciousness, to wounded consciousness, to tempered consciousness?" Here, my answer is, yes. In fact, this is the outline of what I've said in previous answers; that wounds do attract people to study martial arts.

As for the commonly spoken belief that it takes 30 years of hard work and practice to become a master being a description for walking the path blindly, here again, I think you are right. At the same time, because any and all learning is, in theory, infinitely deep, conscious students can study for thirty years and still be learning. This means even a master using emergence to learn will still have reasons to study for twenty years.

[Question 3] Tai Chi practices the principles of "Ting" which means, "to listen with one's entire body." Is "Ting" just another word for staying connected? I have read in the Tai Chi literature that when one achieves a high degree of mastery, that you can almost "read the mind" of your opponent and by doing so, neutralize your opponent's attacks before they even move. This sounds very similar to the experience of being connected. What would happen to the course of mastery if, "connecting to overcome" was taught from the very beginning? There is a famous poem by Bruce Lee that says "victory goes to the one who has no thought of himself." Having said that, is any thought to do some particular thing a sign of being disconnected? And does it leave the practitioner vulnerable to attack?
[Answer] You ask if "Ting" is just another word for staying connected? Not being personally familiar with "ting," I will have to guess. As you describe it though, yes, it does seem to be simply another words for a state in which you are connected, in this case, to your body. Which means the rest of what you've asked is probably true as well.

To put it into a few words though, thinking of "things" and not of where you are is an unconscious act, whereas being one of many things all connected within a web of life, as Capra would say, is the truly conscious state of being. And yes, being less than fully conscious will leave one vulnerable to attack.

[Question 4] Is there actually such a thing as a "conscious warrior?" If so, would a conscious warrior seek only to wound his enemy (e.g. do damage control)? If so, would he or she feel no guilt for doing this? Is this topic what the Bhagavad Gita is discussing?
[Answer]
Is there actually such a thing as a "conscious warrior?" Not while the warrior is at war. However, warriors are only really at war, even during a battle, for only brief instants of time. In between, even during a battle, they may very well be conscious. And may feel very guilty.

My reference experience for what I've just said came years ago, during my ten years of sitting meditation on the little mountain near my home. On August, I met two young warriors on that mountain, two young men about to graduate from West Point Military Academy.

How did they come to be there? Being as my little mountain is just outside the Southeast corner of the West Point Military Preserve, each summer, I would witness cadets participating in mock war games. That summer, these two about to graduate cadets climbed to the top of my little mountain so as to better observe and direct that year's war games.

I, being unable to rise above the sounds of war I was hearing, climbed up to the summit to where these two cadets were standing. Then after an initial awkwardness, I began to ask them things, questions which were about to change my sense of warriors forever.

Of these questions, one stands out as still being amazing to me. I asked these cadets if they felt anything during these games? One of them then amazed me, when he told me that even though he knew the war games were only mocked up, that when he had to call for a strike, it pained his heart.

Imagine that. A warrior whose heart felt pain even in a fake call to hurt others.

So was he a conscious warrior? I'm not sure there is such a thing. But he certainly was a conscious man in between his being a warrior.

[Question 5] Speaking of the Bhagavad Gita, is what it implies correct? Is "war" necessary and normal? If so, is there such a thing as declaring war consciously? Does this imply that ending a war before the conflict is resolved is an unconscious act?
[Answer]
One of the deepest lessons in the Bhagavad Gita is that conflict is an essential part of the nature of life. In a way then, we could contrast this with the Buddhist beliefs about suffering.

What I'm saying is, Buddhism says that suffering is the nature of life, while the Bhagavad Gita says that war is the nature of life.

In a way, these ideas may appear not too dissimilar from each other. And yet they are hugely different. So much so, in fact, that one might almost see how Buddhism evolved out of Hinduism just from observing this one difference.

On the other hand, the Bhagavad Gita focuses it's life questions on a war between members of the same family, while Buddhism focuses it's suffering on the entire nature of life. In this way, we could say that the Bhagavad Gita may, for some folks, be felt more personally, while Buddhism may be felt more philosophically.

So is there a way to declare war consciously? Ed, I don't know. However, I also know that to deny the need for war is an unconscious act as well.

As for ending a war before the conflict is resolved being an unconscious act, there is no end to conflict. And as I see it, ending a war is always a sane act. Of course, it also depends on whether this "end" is genuine or not. Permanently genuine? No. But genuine at that particular moment in time? Here, I believe, is where we might find a possible answer. No surprise it is the essence of the Tao Te Ching, which says that the essence of life is "change."

Perhaps, here, too, is where we should be looking then; in the synthesis of these three great truths. One says the essence of life is war, especially within families. One says the essence of life is suffering, both within families and without. And one says the essence of all life is change.

Each of these three ideas is a great truth in and of itself. This makes them all meta-questions.

At the same time, they all focus on very different aspects of life. Which, if we try to synthesize them into some sort of an answer here, we might say that, "War" is normal, "Peace" is normal, and "Change" between the two states (suffering) is normal.

Not exactly poetry, but pretty succinct just the same.

[Question 6] If Tai Chi teaches personal consciousness, is it truly a "martial art?" Doesn't hurting others; in effect, going to war against someone, imply that the warrior must employ some degree of personal unconsciousness?
[Answer]
Ed, this is one of the more profound questions a martial artist could ever face. In effect, the question asks, does hurting your enemy mean failure? My answer? Read the Bhagavad Gita. About ten thousand times. Then get back to me and teach me the answer.

What I'm saying is, I have tried to find an answer to this question many, many times. And at almost sixty years old, I still have no satisfying answers. Only more questions. And a profound respect for the authors of the Bhagavad Gita.


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