Posts Tagged ‘buddhism’


Philosophy Tuesday

April 11, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

There’s a distinction that Sifu has brought up a few times in our training I call the “Olympic Distinction”.

Which is to say that at the Olympics, things are decided by the 1/1000 of a second.  That little extra oomph of training and effort often makes all the difference.

In that way it’s not an unfamiliar distinction, and one propagated on countless motivational posters. BUT!  In a very Niels Bohr-ian way, there’s an even more powerful distinction here, especially for those, like me, who can or readily do fall prey to streaks of perfectionism:

“1/1000 only applies at the Olympics.” *

There are many times in life when we can get caught in our own mental traps that drive us to over polished—and ultimately unproductive—excess. We push and prod and try to make perfect and fret and expend time and effort and sweat and oomph and get nervous and distraught and stressed and all riled up and lose sleep and then… either…

never finish the darn thing,

have to cut it short to finish on time thus parts are left ironically underdone,

have to make changes and the extra effort is lost,

or all that extra effort didn’t make a difference in the final result or even in quality.

It’s hard thing to grasp sometimes.  It’s even hard for me to type it out.  It sounds so much like “be sloppy” or “don’t try your hardest” or “everyone else is a fool they won’t notice anyway”, or “cut corners”  or “never improve” or…

But it’s not really that.  It’s a reminder that good enough is still pretty frikken good.  That perfection can be an illusion.  That not everything we participate in is the Olympics.  And above all to be simply present to the cost that comes with perfectionism.

Sometimes that cost is that we don’t even start.  We see the amount of work it would take to reach that level of perfection and we think, “I’m never going to be able to get to an Olympic level to do that, so why bother, it’s not worth even starting.”  And so we abandon all the joy we’d have in the learning, the doing, and losing ourselves deeply in that activity.

We can get trapped on both ends, never starting or never finishing.  We can hinder our enjoyment of the task, and we can hinder our time to enjoy other things as we burn it all into this moment of perfectionism.  And, in the most counterintuitive way possible, it can even hinder the work.

Finding that middle path, and walking it, is where we, and our work, can shine.  We can play full out and avoid the Perils of Perfect(ion).**

And turn out some quite frikken good stuff.


* In many ways, this sentiment is also captured in the more common phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good” (or the more original phrase by Voltaire, “Le  mieux est l’ennemi du bien” – “The best is the enemy of good.”)

** Hmmm… Beware the PoP?


Philosophy Tuesday

January 24, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.


It does not mean to be in a place

where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of those things

and still be calm in your heart.


Philosophy Tuesday

October 18, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Heard this on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me this past weekend:

“Over and Next.  We don’t pay enough attention to them.  When something is over, it is OVER, and we are on to NEXT.  And if there was a hammock in the middle, between over and next, that would be what is meant by living in the moment. ”

— Norman Lear

Wow.  What a nice and succinct phrase that captures a a whole bunch within.  There’s so much I like in there, beginning with the notion of attachments and of letting go.  A reminder to not drag the past into our future, a reminder to let what’s so be what’s so, and to let what happened be what happened.  An invitation to transformation.    And then, onto creation.   A look forward, towards what’s up and coming, towards possibility.  In the middle, the glorious middle, is the right now, the glorious moment by moment by moment of our everyday.  A call to be present, a call to practice mindfulness, and a call to live our lives with intention.

And that image of being present as being a hammock is great.  A place to hang out and be at ease and relaxed and listen and feel and experience.


I gotta read/remind/listen/etc to this quote every now and again.  Well said and moving, and one to realign me into what’s possible.  Alright!  Let’s go.


Philosophy Tuesday

June 14, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.


“At the bottom of things,most people want to be understood and appreciated.”

  – Gautama Buddha

It can be hard to come together.

It can be hard to turn on our empathy.

It can be hard to understand the other.

It’s so easy to create an “other”.

It’s so easy to create a “them”.

And yet,

At the same time,

We are humans, infused with capacities beyond measure.

We have it in us.

We were all born loving.

True, we can get hurt by loving.

Just as we can get hurt by falling down the stairs.

But we still take the stairs.

It really can be just as equally easy to listen.

It really can be just as equally easy to be with another.

We can come together.

We can engage with empathy.

We can be ready to look deep,

To recognize that everything is part of a chain.

That bogeymen don’t really jump out of closets.

We can engage.

We can listen and work to understand,

To be with one another as human beings.

Sharing all our foibles,

And follies,

Our divergent views,

And ideas,

Our common needs,

And desires,

Our loves,

And our passions.

The more we work to understand each other,

The more exceptional each one of us will be.

Paths can be changed.


Philosophy Tuesday

May 17, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.


Mindfulness is the first practice for many philosophical traditions.

Even a Jedi begins by cultivating mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?   What does it mean to be mindful?

Here’s what I’ve gotten for myself.

Mindfulness is  a state of mind, a state of active, open attention to the present.

That is why it is also sometimes called, simply, “being present.”

It is a way of viewing and experiencing the world.

Mindfulness is living in the moment, moment-to-moment.

Mindfulness is being aware of what’s so, in reality, before you.

Mindfulness is awakening to experience.

Mindfulness is being aware of your current body sensations.

Mindfulness is being aware of and observing your thoughts and feelings and emotions and mental states without judging them, and without becoming them.

Mindfulness is distinguishing between these internal states, and what’s so.

Mindfulness is awakening to your true, authentic, voice.

Mindfulness is distinguishing your true, authentic voice from your automatic actions and reactions and thoughts and views and truths.

Mindfulness is about choice.

Mindfulness is about being available.

Mindfulness takes practice.

Mindfulness is wonderful.


Philosophy Tuesday

December 29, 2015

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

The idea of Attachment is a powerful one in ontological inquiries.

Buddhism even regards Attachment as the root of all dis-ease.

Attachment is when a desire or commitment goes beyond being just a desire or commitment and instead become a necessity. It becomes the way things unequivocally should or have to be.

It becomes a truth.

“Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” professed Obi-Wan in Return of the Jedi.

Ben’s use of cling is perfect there. Because when we become Attached to something, we are clinging, desperately, to that something. We are clinging, desperately, to a particular view of the world, of ourselves, and/or of others.

And that clinging usually doesn’t bring out the best in us.

It also doesn’t let us see things all that clearly.

In those moments, we have no freedom. Our course is set, and it is set determinately towards trying to keep the attachment alive/real.

When we learn to recognize the symptoms of clinging – that visceral charge and the emotions that arise when our Attachment is “threatened” – we gain access to something.

We can let go of our Attachment and return ourselves to the realm of our commitments and of our desires. We become present to what’s actually happening. We become present to those around us and the wonderful fabric in which we live. Vitality returns. Peace of mind arises. Clarity develops. Perhaps counterintuitively, we actually gain a greater chance of fulfilling our commitments and our desires.

Ultimately, when we release our grip and live in the world of commitments and desires rather than of being Attached, we gain freedom – freedom to choose the path that honours who we truly want to be, and to honour those and the world around us.


Philosophy Tuesday

October 13, 2015

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

That we call philosophical traditions “practices” is not, I surmise, an accident.   Moreover, I would go further and say that it is a beauty that we do call it that.

Because with a practice, there is no end point.

In the same way we call the plying of medicine, law, architecture, etc, all practices: “She practices law.” In the same way my kung fu practice is a practice. In the same way even top performing athletes and musicians and actors and actresses all do tonnes of practice. Every day.

There is no having “gotten there” and “done”.

There is no idea of perfection or knowing it all.

There are stumbles and oopses and missed shots along the way. And there is getting back up and doing the work and going at it again.

There are coaches along the way to help guide us and help us find what we’re looking for.

And above all, simply and grounded…

There is just the everyday, ongoing, on the court, in the moment, ever increasing game to achieve greatly.


There is just the everyday, ongoing, off the court, reflective, ever increasing game to grow and learn greatly.