Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/11/2021

BJJ and a Crushing Defeat

I was finally about to return to the gym I joined last week for my first session of Gi BJJ and it was an eye opener in many ways, although likely not in the way you might assume. You see, I knew I was going to get my butt handed to me. I knew I was going to get choked out at some point. What I didn’t expect was that I would gas out at some point.

The biggest surprise of the evening was when I made the decision to give up and sit out. I felt nauseous and shaky and I threw in the towel. So, it was a big learning lesson and it has taught me that I can’t ever trust myself. Perhaps I’m so used to the specific abuse of striking in boxing, kickboxing and TKD that I just assumed I would be fine. But, sadly, I was wrong.

So, I tasted the only defeat that matters tonight: surrender. May I never taste it again in this life.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/11/2021

Infinite Progress

I am trying out something a little different. For some reason, I have gotten it stuck in my head that any deviation from constant, all out striving and hardcore hammering is weak. I realize I have fallen prey to an insidious ideology: the myth of infinite progress. Fortunately for me I do have a foothold in the Dhamma and realize that, despite my best efforts, this body will go its own way and eventually fall completely apart on its own.

So, does that mean I should abandon this project of conditioning and development? I wouldn’t quite say that, no. What it does mean is that I need to make time for restorative practice and to cultivate a friendly familiarity with the body instead of solely thrashing it into submission.

So, for that reason, I decided that I would do all of the tasks and exercises except for the cardio portion which would’ve equaled 108 Active Zone Minutes. Instead, on off days I will be taking up Tai Chi again as a way of achieving this.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/09/2021

A List of Things That Never Happen

As alluded to in the title, plans are often a list of things that never happen. I had planned my day to make the evening Muay Thai classes near work but my wife and kids called me in a panic because of an errant cockroach.

Interestingly enough, I have been flooded both with feelings of resentment and failure because I am conflicted about my resolve. I feel that I could have fought more to resist the request that I get home quickly and allowed them to take care of it. To add insult to injury, my son called me after I had left work to inform me that he had taken care of it.

Too late to make it to class, I am now waiting on a platform to go home. I know I will still need to do 15 Minutes of kicking drills now to make up for the loss of the classes but the worst thing is the resentment. That’s why it’s good to remember why I’m doing all of this stuff in the first place.

Yes, it sucks to waste money on a membership in not using. Yes, it sucks not to train when I had made arrangements to do so. But what would suck even more is if I allowed it to ruin my equanimity. If I allowed these circumstances to determine my mood.

May I put in a redoubled effort tonight and practice well.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/09/2021

Outlines of a 108 Day Triple Cultivation Challenge

I recently finished the #75Hard challenge which involved a lot of working out (physically) as well as some other things (like reading a set amount and drinking obscene amounts of water). Overall it was a great experience and I’m considering creating my own 108 Day Challenge to be able to focus on those things which I feel will bring the most benefit to me.

I envision the challenge to consist of activities that fall under three main fields: spiritual, intellectual and physical. As of today, I will have completed everything on the list except for the 1 Minute Cold Shower which I intend to do after I finish.

Physical Cultivation

  • 1 Minute Cold Shower
  • 108 Active Zone Minutes
  • 50 Push-Ups
  • 50 Squats
  • 50 Lunges
  • 5 Pull-Ups
  • 2 x 45 Minute Workouts
    • 15 Minutes Hand or Elbow Striking Technique Practice
    • 15 Minutes Leg or Knee Striking Technique Practice
    • 15 Minute BJJ Conditioning
    • 15 Minutes Static Stretching
    • 15 Minute Dynamic Leg Stretching Routine
    • 15 Minutes Strength Training

Intellectual Cultivation

  • Study a Language (Irish)
  • Read 15 Pages of Non-Fiction
  • Journal or Blog Post

Spiritual Cultivation

  • 108 Prostrations
  • 108 Mantra Recitations (Itipiso)
  • 30 Minutes Breath Meditation (Bud-dho)
  • 30 Minutes Loving-Kindness Meditation
Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/06/2021

Raindrops and Right Hooks

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure: A code to the way of samurai

Thanks to my boxing coach Maurepaz Auguste who imparted this piece of wisdom to me after I freaked out because I was worried about getting hit. If you’re in a fight you’re going to get hit so may as well relax and accept it. And, whether it’s rain drops or right hooks, rest assured that this lesson does apply to everything in life.

Once again, I’m shocked by how much wisdom there is in the martial traditions. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising then that Lord Buddha was a member of the Khattiya or warrior class. It seems like I’ll need to do some more digging into the life of the Lord Buddha and the way in which his society was organized.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/04/2021

Train Like Your Life Depends on It

…because it does.

One of the things I appreciate most about training for the martial arts is the fact that it gives you endless opportunities to explore dukkha. While you think you’re simply learning how to deal with posting and exhaustion you realize, at some point, that these qualities of determination, energy, effort and sacrifice are needed to follow the path.

But, hasn’t this been said a hundred times before? Sure, and I’m certain I’ve been responsible for pairing this sentiment a dozen or so times myself. What is novel to my ears, however, is that all of these little battles we fight against our unwilling flesh, sinew and bone give us the opportunity to build up confidence in our ability to overcome adversity. This training can make the real task of defeating our kilesas and overcoming Mara seem more achievable.

So, as I push myself to log that extra mile despite a bruised rib and burning leg muscles, let me remember that my true enemies are infinitely more determined and clever.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/26/2021

A Slave to Body and Mind

A friend commented on this quote earlier today and said something to the effect that she at least hadn’t yet committed suicide. I think the implication was that, despite being a slave to her body, she has not yet debased herself enough to make that a possibility. Honestly, I’m not sure why it was said.

However, in need of a response, I replied that the corollary to Seneca’s pronouncement should be that we are equally unfree if we are slaves to our minds. In other words, if we unquestionably follow every thought and sentiment without first considering it’s goal and usefulness.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/22/2021

Limited and Tied Up

The Lord Buddha has said that the household life is limited and tied up with suffering and, the longer I live, the more I believe this to be true. One is necessarily engaged in a struggle of desires and wills at all times and rarely does it work out well. For a long time I tried the approach of sublimating my own preferences but I began to feel that exchanging my desires for those of my wife’s want entirely correct either. Perhaps I’m simply not patient and loving enough but I have decided that I will give equal time to our equally arbitrary preferences so that I will only go along with her desires half the time.

Today was one of those days and, predictably, it has gone poorly. She has basically started a fight with each of us separately and has now left the house. To make matters worse, she is preoccupied with a health condition that she thinks may actually be quite serious (we have no reason to believe that at present but you never know). This means she’s acting out of even deeper suffering and she’s not responding to my entreaties to come back home.

In situations like this I have to take stock of my actions and words to get my bearings because she is obviously inclined to blame me for the entire situation. I didn’t lie, speak harshly or abusively. I didn’t try to make her suffer, I simply expressed my desire not to go to the beach today. I didn’t tell her I didn’t want to spend time with her or the kids. As far as I can tell I didn’t do much that one would normally consider abusive but I have to admit that I have begun to question myself after hearing it repeated day in and day out.

Having put it all to paper, I find I’m in no better position and have no greater understanding. What I do know is that I would like her not to suffer but I don’t believe I have that in my power. Were I too do everything she wanted at all times then it might be possible to placate her but what kind of life is that? Sadly, I believe in the possibility of fixing relationships as much as I do in the possibility of a perfect society or political system: these things aren’t possible in samsāra. So, I will do my best to cultivate kindness and sympathy where’s appropriate and, when all else is lost, equanimity.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/22/2021

What Is My Reason?

I keep asking myself why I have become so obsessed with learning martial arts at this point in my life. I don’t want to hurt people so that’s not it as far as I can tell. I do feel more confident that I can meet challenges simply because I have learned to push through pain as a result of the last two years of training but, if anything, I feel less certain about he ring into a physical altercation with anyone than I ever did before simply because anyone can be a martial artist. In a way, it’s similar to that Mahayana teaching that states everyone I’ve you meet is possibly a Buddha so you need to be careful how you treat them.

I feel that I’ll be coming back to this theme repeatedly as I try to navigate this skillfully. I also feel that it is important to come back to a regular practice of reflection through this blog to help center my thoughts and keep me in course. Too much externally focused activity seems to unbalanced the mind and God knows I need balance.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/03/2021

Demanding Much

I hadn’t heard of Christopher Lasch before I stumbled across the quote above but his work seems to speak to the particular stage of devolution which we’re currently living through. When I step back and consider it, it seems awfully strange to have grown up believing that I was entitled to everything my heart desired without even having to work for it.

It may very well be that this is the nature of all unenlightened beings: to desire without limits or reason. But, I would imagine that past cultures and civilizations did a better job of disabusing their children of these dangerous delusions than we do today. Still, it is bound to get worse before it gets better so there’s no use in lamenting.

So, what is the point of this? I’m not quite sure, really. Given the narcissistic tendencies of all of us and the fact that our contemporary society propagates and sustain itself by feeding into these impulses I have no hope that things will improve in the short term. People are too selfish and self-concerned to act overlong for the benefit of another. Hell, we can’t even convince people to wear a mask on the off chance that you may not sicken a stranger. And yet, for all of my talk I realize that I’m infected by the same defilements.

During my morning run I saw, time and again, that I immediately judged everyone upon whom I laid my eyes. This one is fast. He’s stupid. He’s slow. She’s got a nice butt. It was truly disturbing but, rather than trying to push these things away, I wanted to watch as they came up, linger and then were replaced by the next impression. I know that it takes years, lifetimes of devoted practice to eventually see through one’s latent defilements but the speed and strength of the torrent is awesome and terrifying.

How can I expect better of others when I am struggling to simply keep my head above the flood waters? At best, I can see where my mind of going wrong and sell not to act on these impulses but it is a struggle against the currents.

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