BLOG - Grandmaster Gedo Chang
The Olympics are being held in Rio De Janeiro. The Korean women’s archery team has won the gold medal! This is the 8th straight consecutive gold! This is really an unbelievable miracle which has never happened before. So people all over the world are calling the Korean women’s archery team, “The Archers of God”. Of course, up to this point, there must be many reasons why they have succeeded so well.
Not only the Korean society, but the Korean Government has supported the archery team a lot, both financially and spiritually. And of course, there has been incredible effort put in by the archers! But no matter what the circumstances, the archer can maintain the same mind all the time, and that is what is impressive.
I am so interested in their spiritual training! So to speak, how to achieve that level of Mushim? Mushim is the total absorption of what you are doing! Some call it “No Mind”. In Buddhism it is called “Pyung Sung Shim”, which means -- always maintaining the same mind, no matter what is happening around you. In other words, that is the essence of the divine nature within. That I am totally one with whatever I am doing.
How to maintain purity and innocence is the main question? In order to achieve this state, the Korean archers have had their training rooted on meditation and prayer. They are also trained by sleeping in a cemetery. (A Korean cemetery is entirely different from the standard American cemetery that has nice flowers and is well lit, and exists usually in the city! Korean cemeteries are often located deep in the mountains, where there are a lot of wild animals, sometimes vicious, and they are very active at night! And there are many folklore stories about ghosts being active in cemeteries. Koreans traditionally think of cemeteries as very scary places.
The archers also sleep near a snake pit. In this training, they develop guts and the power of concentration. In other words, through this type of training, they do not discriminate! They develop the ability to not discriminate anything!
The mind of discrimination means -- one mind becomes separated into two minds. The idea that I am spending a horrible night in a scary place, or when a snake crawls over my body – an ordinary person would be frightened to death!
They also practice archery in a noisy soccer field or baseball field, filled with hundreds of people making lots of noise!
The archer would be overwhelmed by this circumstance. This is also discrimination, or two minds! In this case, naturally their pulse and heartbeat become irregular, making it hard for them to concentrate on their target. So they practice in this environment until they can attain the ability to perform subconsciously and naturally with only one mind, not two!
Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard a lot about the word “sin” in Christianity. In Hebrew it is called “chatta’ah,” meaning “missing the target” or also interpreted as “error”. In Greek it is called “hamartia,” which was used in Aristotle’s Poetics, meaning “fatal tragedy” or “big error which cannot be reversed” -- “error” or “flaw”.
Then why do we humans commit fatal errors?
Around the 4th Century BC, a Chinese philosopher and Taoist named Zhuang Zhu, explained this type of issue very well in his book named “Zhuang Zhu”.
He wrote: “An expert archer can hit ten targets 100% perfectly. This archer would be okay with a bet on worthless clay pots. However, if someone bet him gold containers that are worth a fortune, then he might miss his target by more than 30%!”
Why is that? To help you understand better, let’s say, pennies are the bet -- then it would not affect the archer. But if you say, $10,000 dollars on each target, then he would miss the target more than 30%. This is because the archer is not only thinking of the target, but he is also thinking of the money. “Two minds,” in other words, he is impure because he has two minds.
There is a maxim in Chinese Taoism: “One is purity; two is impurity”. It is also called “a corrupted mind”. This is sin! So our task is, whomever we may be, “How can we not be affected by external conditions, so we can always maintain purity with one mind!”
At every Daybreak Ki class in the morning, this is the main topic of our class.
Real peace, or the secret of real happiness, comes not from what we do or things we like to do. Rather, it comes from being one with what we are doing right at this moment. Particularly we martial artists must keep this philosophy in mind.
I believe you remember the duel between the Samurai and the Tea Master.
The Tea Master was an expert in controlling his purity without being influenced by circumstances. He had been practicing this through his tea ceremonies. But he was only a white belt in swordsmanship!
During the duel, however, when this Tea Master lifted his sword above his head, the Samurai (who was Black Belt level) became confused with a double mind! He thought to himself, “I thought this Tea Master was very small and weak, but now, based on his posture, he seems so calm and relaxed -- I must be wrong! He must be a real Master of Samurai! I have the wrong opponent.”
He started trembling and he looked at the Tea Master’s blade. The shining glare of sunlight shode red on the Tea Master’s blade. The Samurai thought to himself, “That must be my blood!” So the Samurai could not budge at all and just stood there, sweating. He knelt down and surrendered.
He said, “Master I have committed enough sin to die -- forgive me, please.”
Suppose you have a very special ability -- maybe you can jump high, about 10 feet, flying and smash ten boards. If you depend on physical ability only, you are no different from this Samurai. That Samurai was occupied with two different minds! Impurity! His thought that the red glare on the Tea Master’s blade was his own blood -- such imagination shows that he was double minded, or impure.
Always understand that we should be doing our best to hit the target, always striving to be one with what we are doing.
I want you to always be a good archer!!
Thank you very much.
Master Gedo Chang