Shades of Grey

Night is black and day is white,
But in between is the hour of twilight.

Neither black nor blue,
the sky is a completely different hue.

In its wake as the people wake,
both light and dark the twilight shall partake.

Neither day nor night,
Can ever win in this fight.

For it is the heavens that have called this truce,
And a different path no one can choose.

In this hour your vision shall blur
But if you close your eyes the view will clear

For in twilight it is to be found
that more than what your eyes see, there’s something beyond

The foggy view of this grey hour that your eyes see
is a fragment of what can be seen, when your mind is free.

Trust only what your eyes see and you shall fall prey
and be devoured whole by the listless grey

Yin and yang circle endlessly around the grey line
For neither can trespass into the region that only they define

When you walk this line you must be aware
Lest you get lost in its endless glare

Expect the unexpected

How many times have we heard this phrase in our daily life? What do people mean when they say this? How can you expect the unexpected? Why would you want to expect the unexpected? Other than the trivial contradiction of how the “unexpected” will remain “unexpected” if it is “expected”, there is also the larger question of what is this “unexpected”.

The normal reaction of most people to this kind of advice is to go and try to enumerate all the possible circumstances (usually the ones with negative outcomes) and try to provide for these contingencies. The time and effort that goes into this may not be justified in the final course of events. When they use this phrase, people, i guess, at some sub concious level are actually telling you to be open to things going differently from your expectations or whatever were your ideal set of circumstances. But instead of being mentally prepared to adapt and deal with different outcomes (which is the way things go with life), we try to pre-empt our future through brute force. Not understanding that it would be impossible to actually list out all possible outcomes of any course of action (forget providing for them), simply because we generally do not have a large enough view of our objective in the context of life in general. So statistically speaking (not that i am a statistically gifted person but i like to use the word once in a while), your absolute probability of being successful by enumerating all outcomes of a set course of action is probably (this is my disclaimer to the use of “statistically”) the same as you just being ready to adapt to new situations in all possible ways.

What i am trying to say is that if you are capable of infinite changes to your own response to the infinite changes to the situation that the universe can throw at you, then there is a kind of chaotic balance and you will be in the middle of the two bright and dark regions and outside the parameters of general life equations.

To those who train, i could have avoided this long post and summarised this as “Naka Ima”, but hey this is also about looking at “Naka Ima” from infinite different perspectives.

See

To see that which is there to be seen seems
such a simple thing and yet I see it not clearly.

My vision is clouded by the smog of experiences, emotions,
triumphs and failures of the past which i hold onto dearly.

They have long since faded into oblivion
but their ghosts still persist.

At long last it seems i have found the strength to face them
and say – cease and desist.

The brief rainbow cast by the mist beckoned me to fly.
But now i see that it was an illusion truly not as beautiful as the clear sky.

For as the birds that soar and reach the clouds that are ever so high,
Say to me – rise above the clouds and you will always see the blue sky.

Kamae – 構え

Kamae (構え) is a Japanese term used in martial arts and traditional theater. It translates approximately to “posture”. The Kanji of this word means “base”.

Kamae is to be differentiated from the word tachi (立ち), used in Japanese martial arts to mean stance. While tachi (pronounced dachi when used in a compound) refers to the position of the body from the waist down, kamae refers to the posture of the entire body, as well as encompassing one’s mental posture (i.e., one’s attitude).

– from wikipedia

Of all the definitions of kamae that I have come across, Posture of the mind or the attitude being exuded are interesting. Does the posture have to convey something or is it just stating something? For long I have thought that kamae is a message to be transmitted. Recently I have felt that it could also be a statement to be asserted. A portrayal of a state that you have attained in mind, body and spirit. A state that is made clear by amplifying its existence through unification of its projection in mind, body and spirit. A state that you attain by bringing your whole self to the position of Naka Ima (Middle of Now). The state is not something to be transmitted but something that exists to be seen by the people who want to see it. It is the difference between transmitting an intention to fight or showing the resilience to not fight and yet a will to survive if a fight is thrust upon you.

Conversely when you want to make a statement, any statement, Kamae is necessary to back the statement and to add clarity and strength to it.

Reflections

What do people see when they stand in front of a mirror? Is it really themselves or what the mirror chooses to show them? The mirror adds its own idiosyncrasies to what it portrays. If the mirror were perfect, then there would be nothing of its own self in the image that is seen.. then it would be a true reflection of the one in front of it.

The mirror that stands in judgement of the beholder, stands in judgement of its own self. If the mind is the mirror that is judging the world around it, then it is judging only itself in the process. What you characterize about others may be more about yourself than about them. Our perceptions are based on our experiences. This adds extra color to the picture that we paint in our minds. Only if our conscience is clear can you paint a truly real picture of the world around us.

Only still water can show clear reflections. Ripples of emotions or feelings will only distort the view. Understanding this aspect of nature is essential to understanding the nature of your own self and the people you are connected to.

Time and thought

“Time” is not something tangible in itself but a parody of changes which by their very sequence indicate that something has elapsed. These changes are not what are seen or heard but rather what are perceived. In this light these are actually thoughts or feelings (changes in your mind) triggered by stimuli both internal and external. So if you look at it differently time is nothing but the number of thoughts going through your head, the more the thoughts, the more the changes and hence the more the “perceived time” that is elapsing.

If you want to slow down time, reduce the number of changes that indicate the passage of time i.e., reduce the number of thoughts in your mind and there will be a slowing down of time. In other words, there will be more time available for you to perceive/transcend.

Time must therefore be a measure of… not the speed of thought, but the acceleration of thought (rate of change of number of thoughts).

Conclusion: When you have no thought, when there is nothing in your mind but a void (ku) or space, time will stop. So time can be converted into… space.

Night and Day

Attacks and defenses are like the stars in the sky. Some are bright and clear while others are subtle and ghostly. Sometimes they are countless, sometimes finite.

Techniques are then Constellations. They dont exist if you really look at the sky, but if you stare long enough at the stars, patterns will seem to emerge. To each person a different pattern will be apparent, driven by his own experiences and cultural beliefs. Patterns are only a reflection of where we stand in space and time.

But real life is the sky itself. Stars may be there, may not be… they may be visible, may not be… they may be few or in billions… but the sky is always there. It is the only constant.

Darkness shows the stars, and daylight hides them. But truly it is the light of the day that actually shows reality by hiding that which is not significant. But while darkness looms, the stars give us company, give us hope, give us direction and so are necessary too. But only to ferry us through the murky depths of the night onto the bright shores lit by the light of dawn.

Night and day follow each other in endless cycles. But if you keep your eyes open, they will look different each time. It is not the night or day that change but your perception of them. If you keep your mind open and clear then maybe a time will come when you can see only the clear sky on a star lit night.

It is not wrong to be wrong

Society teaches us to be right as much as possible and to avoid being wrong as much as possible, the latter being a more painful learning in general. We are so obsessed with not being wrong that sometimes it inhibits the expression of our inherent creativity or feelings. It is almost as if being wrong is just wrong, a crime, a forbidden state to be in.

Being right or wrong is like a switch which has an “on” and an “off”. Suppose there is no indication of which side is which, you can only find out by throwing the switch and seeing its consequences. And what do you do if you are wrong… throw the switch the other way.

So is life in this respect, you have to throw your actions in one direction or the other, whichever you feel is more comfortable. You may be wrong, but be aware enough to know that you are and you can then change. It is not wrong to be wrong, but it is wrong, nay, silly to stay wrong. When you know which way is the right one, you take it. The important thing is to be ready to change, to let go of your ego (which would advise you to try and prove your wrongs as rights coz it looks easier).

Change therefore is the state that should be a constant (if you can call change a state, the more scientifically oriented might argue to the contrary). Nature always flows through change or if you look at it differently, “stays” in a state of “change”. To always try to be right would be an attempt to be imprisoned in a glass maze and see the same things everywhere. If you break through the glass and allow yourself the freedom to see anything and go anywhere, your vision of right and wrong may change or in certain cases vanish.

Keep walking

“I am but a traveler my friends.
I have no home, no place of stay.
I have to keep moving, just keep moving.. on.
When one path ended, more paths emerged.
Where i turned, with me the path turned.
On the wings of the wind is nested my home.
The day takes me by the hand and sits me down here.
The night beckons me over there.
With the morning and the evening is my friendship.”

– Lines translated from a favorite song of mine.