the allegory of “training” is astounding.
the Sufi’s created “study groups”, groups of individuals assembled for a
purpose, and with the big picture in mind. individuals with traits necessary
to the group. individuals chosen, assigned, to bring an element to the
group. to create a space and momentum in a direction. to correct imbalances.
to encourage certain behavior, and at times to serve as examples (in either
there are also many stories of disciples being assigned work. weaving,
tin-smithing, enameling, etc. these physical tasks were never openly linked
to their spiritual teachings, but were used as allegorical tools. to help
prepare the student for the next part of the teaching. to show real world
consequences. to show, say, how bringing certain traits to the front and others
behind at specific and critical points, when viewed from close seems erratic
and nonsensical, but viewed from afar will create the images woven into a
carving is the removal of what is unnecessary to expose the artists will.
one learns about stages of reduction, working within constraints, and
adaptation to unexpected irregularities of material. there are many tools,
and they function differently in different mediums…
tin-smithing – as we shape a relatively soft metal, bend it to our will, it
hardens. if we go too fast, it will crack. it must be tempered, softened
with heat and time before it can be moved farther. artistry brings the
proper shape and hardness together at the appropriate time.
at each moment we are making choices. weighing options. these choices all
have consequences. long term and short. not recognizing an action as a
willful choice, or dismissing an obviously harmful option as no option at
all only robs us of the responsibility. of that choice. of owning up to it,
and hopefully learning something.
by accepting the weight of our conditioning. by recognizing that all the
little choices we make -like the threads of the weaver- will eventually make
a picture, we are – hopefully – taking some measure of control, acting
mindfully. acting with purpose.
the gym is adaptation to stressors.
the gym is an expression of discipline.
the gym is mindfulness of our selves.
the gym is our relationship to our surroundings.
strength, endurance, flexibility, speed, capacity, durability,
the gym is where all of these words can be measured, at least in some small
part of their definition.
these traits are addressed throughout the scope of their definition. while I
am not trying to equate gym training, the relatively mild discomfort we put
ourselves through, to the deepest ends of those terms, I believe – if we let
it – it can send a ripple that way.
better men than i have said: the gym is only preparation for the real thing. it is a
step on a path. a station. a crucible. a method of converting raw materials
into a tool to complete a task. the best tools may give us an advantage, but
only if we put in the time and effort to use them.
a hammer doesn’t build a house.
perhaps more accuratley, a hammer is not a house…
time is finite. and most of us got a late start. layering these lessons is
the only way I see to absorb them enough to allow them to be
expressed in our personality.
constant awareness. objective tests. (healthy) community support.
these encourage our efficiency. these drive us. force our expectations
I feel that is the function of a training center. with the time we spend, we
might as well work these lessons on as many levels as we can…