Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is the Meaning of This!?

On the heels of completing my second writing assignment from Sensei Norman Beck of Zen Bu Kai Martial Arts comes this blog version of my essay.

In this assignment, we were given two quotes to absorb and interpret.  The actual task at hand is to explain the meaning of each of these quotes in our own words; delving deeply into the thoughts and emotions that each of them elicit from our own experiences.  There is no correct answer so long as an honest answer is given.

Quote #1:

"Humans have always irritated me. My best students have always become less than Human or become more than Human."  --Sensei Norman Beck

Thesis #1:

Many martial arts teach balance in all things; body, mind, and soul.  But a true warrior finds balance by knowing the exact moments to either devolve into his or her pure animalistic self or evolve into a state of mindful enlightenment.  The animal state being bound to pure expression of self through raw instinct and unfiltered physical power.  While the enlightened state moves beyond the physical world to expand itself by expression of great wisdom and understanding of abstract concepts.

True balance does not come from the avoidance of, but from the acceptance of these two extremes to harness their gifts.  Students of the martial arts may begin their training as normal, average humans.  Though, through the course of intense training and focus, the extremes of both animal instinct and abstract enlightenment will be achieved by those that are able to find their perfect balance.  Polar opposites; one cannot exist without the other.  The lacking of both is nothing, but the fullness of both can be everything.

Quote #2:

"What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  --Zen Koan

Thesis #2:

The sound of one hand clapping... how do I even begin to answer this?  Is it acceptable to answer a question with another question?  There's no correct answer, right?

What is sound? Sound is a vibration that propagates as a typically audible mechanical wave of pressure and displacement. Sound moves through the air, through water, and even through solid objects. Sound can go places that even light cannot go, but cannot go in some places that light can go. Sound is both boundless and finite at the same time.

Two hands can clap.  Clapping is the action of two open hands contacting each other to generate waves of energy in all directions from the point of impact.  Two hands can clap.  However, one hand cannot clap.  One hand, alone, cannot generate waves of energy as a result of force and impact.  Then again, energy is everywhere.  It is all around us like the air we breathe.  A hand simply moving through the air generates waves of energy, but not sound.  Or does it?  Based on the definition above, sound is "typically audible" but that doesn't mean that it's always audible, or always audible to humans.  Maybe one hand can, indeed, clap.  Maybe the sound of that clap is there even though we, as humans, cannot perceive it.

The truth lies not within perceiving the sound but in the active contemplation of it's creation and existence.