when i was young, i got the shit beat out of me by another youth, who had weight, reach, and some skills at pummeling. It was painful, and damaging to the point that forty-eight years later the scars of that first fight still warp my hands.
At that time, my father, recognizing that i would have a hard life, placed me in the tutelage of Sensei Master Sargent Yamamoto who had been an Olympic judoka (person who practices judo) of merit and was a 5th dan level black belt.
Our first meeting took place on the mats assembled for the judo dojo in the local gymnasium. Sensei Yamamoto conducted a group of classes for soldiers of the Occupying Forces (of Germany right after the war, included Russian, French, British, and American personnel), their dependents, and any German citizen who chose to participate. As the central dojo for the combined Occupying Forces base in southern Germany (near Mannheim), it was both large, and packed.
Sensei Yamamoto had little time to piss around. He sized me up quickly, and delivered the bad news bluntly, as with all communications on the mat. "Kid, you are thin and don't weigh as much as a decent fart. You have a pitta body, and will one day be a good wrestler (what he called all judoka), but you need to grow into it. And your father tells me you have a quick mind, but no control over your mouth (true then, true now, at least the latter part), so you are going to get into fights all your life." With that he bowed to my father, grabbed my new gi by the shoulder as though i was not even in it, and handed the squirming clothing to Sempai (senior student) Gustaf, saying, "for the next year, or until he can do twenty feet, forward or backward, or he gains twenty pounds...nothing but ukemi".
With those mysterious words, universe had sealed my fate.
For the next eleven months (US Army transferred us then), for four evenings a week and for two hours on Saturdays, i did nothing but learn ukemi....which, it turns out, is the 'art of falling'. Also, as it turns out, there is a series of basic verbal instructions, a large group of exercises to strengthen the body to endure the rigors of the learning process, but not a whole lot of book work.
Mostly, to learn to fall, you have people throw you.
First they just throw you straight down. Repeatedly, daily, ad nauseam (factually you may puke a lot if you don't learn to time your meals to your practice), and very boringly the same. Then they start throwing you at angles and for distance. Again though, after a few hundred repetitions, a bit boring to be the ukemi artist. But that was Sensei Yamamoto's point i think. To teach me via a single course of action, to overcome the boredom factor of the plateau's of learning any art, and to seek for the nuance that defines mastery.
i think it succeeded. After 11/eleven months, i could be thrown over 20 feet, forward or backward, and land rolling, and rise to my feet uninjured. Indeed, the experience of ukemi became so intriguing that i developed skills without recognizing it just because the nuance of it all had captured my attention. And, also unknowingly, in the process of being thrown thousands of times, i picked up some idea of the throwing arts. This to the point that i used to stop the first year students in mid throw saying, "no,no, you are supposed to grip me this way..."
Ukemi has repeatedly saved my life....or at least my body, assuming that one understands that death comes to us only that one time, and all pre-cursors are merely to get our attention...in many instances of peril. The gift of ukemi mastery from Sensei Yamamoto was the first in a long line of such gifts that universe has provided...probably for some purpose in the future, as yet unseen, that i won't like that much because it will be too demanding of my lazy nature. But, (sigh) that's the way universe is...it gives us what we need, for its purposes, not ours.
Universe put me on my path, beating me about the head with the enlightenment meme, but of course without even hinting that i had a totally screwed up understanding of the concept. Enlightenment, by the way, is not something to be sought out. It is brutal, humiliating, destroying, degrading, injuring, repairing (its own form of pain), and probably causes baldness. Being on the path of enlightenment is, at some point, unless you are smart and abandon the idea completely, stumbling across the total honesty of expression barrier. Better, easier, to find some other obsession like eating broken glass.
Bruce Li, who went through several forms of hell to reach his achievements, noted more than a few times that 'honesty in your expression of yourself is the hardest work you will ever do'.....and he is absolutely correct. There is no harder work.
Perhaps the most difficult single aspect, is examining all your actions, continuously. First this adherence to ahimsa (do no harm,in thought, word, or deed which i fail at continuously) is a daunting task that brings untold levels of pain (wish the brochure for the 'enlightenment path' would have had a disclaimer section).
Then it becomes merely an excruciating painful continuous experience. At some point it gets better, or you get used to it, or go crazy, i forget which i did, it has been so long now. However, the object of this side trip in the discussion was to bring up the idea of levels of self examination. One of these levels is to be aware of how the expression of your life ripples out through the energies of universe. Not merely content with having you monitor each thought and emotion and behavior, somewhere along the line, universe escalates the level of internal observation such that one becomes aware of their place in the larger scale of historical events. Some people are made egoists by this experience. Others have the shit scared out of them. i fall in the latter category.
But i can tell you that this perspective has brought about its own insight and understanding. Being in the pattern and symbol recognition business, i am able to view the greater historical perspective that includes my own participation in a unique way, even among the woo-woo guys.
The insight that has arisen is troubling.
Which is what brings me to my point, universe provides us with what we need for its purposes, not ours. This includes people. So please note the 'quirky personalities' that universe is providing to you in woo-woo world. A small list includes David Icke, Courtney Brown, Jeff Rense, Sean David Morton, Kerry Cassidy, and others who are now all pissed at me for NOT mentioning them...but there are waaaaay too many, and these include myself. Get that conclusion....universe has been shoveling all these quirky personalities at you via the internet for dozens of years now, and the trend is growing.
So, in examining the meta pattern of personalities who have risen to some level of prominence, by what ever means universe allowed or propelled, i am left pondering the following question:
"given the quirky people resonating globally in the moment, just what is universe preparing us for?".
As of yet, i have no answer, but i have concluded that there is a good likelihood that falling will be involved.
May wish to brush up on your ukemi arts...
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Remember.... ZuangZi says, "when falling, attempt to land on someone soft."