DREAMS IN THE WARRIORS WAKE
©1997 Dennis Leri
The Warrior Dreams vulnerability. The average person waits in long lines, with the mass of like others, for a vision of invulnerability. John Wayne & Rambo & Rocky & Bruce Lee triumph again and again. Again, a gain, a dominance, the idea of strength triumphing over weakness, of good over evil, of effort over ease, no pain without gain, again. For the Warrior, to be vulnerable is to be able to deploy strength or weakness, weakness in strength, strength in weakness. The very idea...
Person angry with Moshe snidely asking, "How can I be a genius like you?" Moshe responding to the need and not the anger, "Find your true weakness and surrender to it. Therein lies the path to genius. Most people spend their lives using their strengths to overcome or cover up their weaknesses. Those few who use their strengths to incorporate their weaknesses, who don't divide themselves, those people are very rare. In any generation there are a few and they lead their generation."
The warrior dreams a dynamic stability, an active passivity, a creative insecurity. What do you do when you don't know what to do? How do you act when you don't know how to act? To whom do you turn when there is no one to turn to? You gotta love the questions.
Zen Priest: You are going into the bath tub, stark naked without a stitch of clothes on. Now a hundred enemies in armor, with bows and spears, appear all around you. How will you meet them? Will you crawl before them and beg for mercy? Will you show your warrior birth by dying in combat before them? or does a Man of the Way get some special holy grace?
Samurai: Let me win without surrendering and without fighting.
Test: Caught in the midst of the hundred enemies. how will you manage to win without surrendering and without fighting?
The Warrior dreams of the cessation of conflict. Chih Ke, to stop the fighting. S/he gives everything over to being on the Path, to the beingness of becoming. Things that stop the average voyager are nothing to the Warrior. "Gate, gate, parasamgate, hum swaha." Sanskrit Buddhist saying meaning "Gone, gone, completely gone, praise be," but translated by the practical Chinese and Japanese as, "Going on, going on, always going on, praise the journey!" A moving target is hard to hit. Rolling stones gather no moss.
Wing Chun, a formidable Southern Chinese Kung-fu style developed by a Buddhist nun, was Bruce Lee's first and most favored style. Another man, much more adept than Lee, had finally completed all the levels of training. He was having dinner with the Grandmaster and after dinner the Grandmaster asked him about his many exploits and bouts. After some polite discussion the Grandmaster said, "Change into your workout clothes for now you must learn the ultimate level of our art: to flight like a woman."
The Warrior dreams of the movement within movement within movement. The average person dreams of war and peace. War and peace. Soldiers and armies, refugees and emigrants. People on the move to flee, to defend, to attack across boundaries -- national, political, religious, racial. Territory. Territory won or lost. "Win a few, lose 'em all." Boundaries are nightmares to the Warrior. War and Peace speak of containment, of hindrance, of hesitation, of the turning away from the unknown and spilling blood over the known. A drag. A bloody drag.
Kung-Fu means skill derived through hard work and discipline over time. It does not denote solely the martial arts or a particular martial art. It means time well spent. It means dedication to craft. One can look at a master-crafted table and say that it has Kung-Fu. One Chinese youth may say to the other, "Do you have Kung-fu?" meaning do you have some quality time to spend. In the Chinese martial arts all the high-level Kung- Fu men and women have a, so to speak, crafted naturalness that exhibits no strengths and no weaknesses, or rather strength within weakness and weakness within strength. They permit themselves to be possessed by an ability to change in an instant: to go from a quiet repose to moving as if one's clothes are on fire and back to a quiet repose. Such an ability to change indicates a subjective liberation from conventional, restrictive, death denying ways of thinking and acting. Stillness in stillness in the Warrior instilled in action.
The Warrior dreams death. The average person puts death out of their mind. The Warrior asks not, "If I were to die tomorrow what would I do today?" or thinks, "Death being ever present, I must notice it." No. The Warrior asks, "What if I had died last week, and by some unknown happenstance, nothing had changed except that death, now instead of being in front of me, is behind me? The question arises "How shall I act?" since there is no need to fear death.
Moshe sat opposite me in his brother's house. It was another late night of talking and story telling. As always he was either taking about choice or demonstrating it. He held his hands up in front of him and in the distance between us. He said calmly, "See these hands. These hands can kill, and they must be able to kill, and that rather than denying that, rather than shrinking from that possibility, I become human in choosing not to kill. Those who pretend that they would not or could not kill are just not fully human and they are a scourge to this earth." A handy thing to know, I thought at the time.
The Warrior dreams of a hopeless world. The average person hopes all along that things will change. They hope and pray endlessly for the coming to pass of what they know or what others have known. Their faces are turned away from the Openness, away from space, away from the unknown. Hope blinds and condemns the hopeful to existential mediocrity, at best. Hope is at war with perception, with action, with the means whereby one can actually wrest with their own hands their own destiny. Chih Ke. In the fullness of acting, the fullness of knowing.
In the last few days of the third year of training in San Francisco: After a beautiful talk at the end of the day, when most are ready to go home, someone asks, "In Carlos Casteneda's books he talks about stopping the internal dialogue, what does that mean to you?" Moshe puts his jacket down and sitting on the edge of his chair says, "Internal dialogue, thinking or whatever you want to call it is a holding back from action. It is the rehearsal of an act or action. When there is complete commitment to an action, no matter how small and subtle or how large and violent, if it is complete and there is no holding back, then there will be no internal dialogue and no thinking."
I showed Moshe the book of another 'teacher' and related how a practitioner had made light of it. Moshe thought that while it was not exceptionally well written, it was nevertheless interesting. "You know," he said, "Some people think that Feldenkrais Work is the only thing in the world, and I'm Feldenkrais and I don't believe that."