Tuesday, April 30, 2013

kung fu and listening

is mastery making fewer mistakes? 
or maximizing the wisdom gained from failures?

How often do I listen to my own questions? Lately, I hope that I am doing so more, but I am still learning. It is hard for me not to believe that patience in inquiry is one of the great secrets of a master, but I have not attained mastery. 

Lately, as I learn more, I want to speak less and listen more. Either way, practice--not preaching--seems to be the more effective path to mastery.

Shi zu shares, in his Reflections, comments that Bruce Lee was murdered. Assassinated. I did some online research about the circumstances of his death, taking in the details but not considering the context. I couldn't understand this.Who would want to kill a harmless hero?

I asked Shi zu this question before a class. He responded passively--not dismissively, but without any contention. It seemed at first like Shi zu was not going to answer, but later (after I continued to read the Reflections) I read his answer. It was already somewhere for me to find; all I had to do was turn a couple more pages in the same book that made me ask the question! If I had held the question for a time, rather than ask it immediately and accept the first (or best-sounding) answer, I would have found the answer for myself. Self-sufficiency is not the point; discovering one’s own abilities are, since such discoveries are the root of personal growth.

Answers are all here to be found, but they begin to look less like nuggets of gold than they do plain stones. People possess gold, but often it ends up possessing them. Plain stones seem unremarkable, but they can be used as stepping-places to get across rivers and streams. 

Impatience causes wasted effort, thwarts discovery—just like training too hard causes injury, while too soft stunts growth. So, I will hold thoughts like stones in my hand, let it help guide me. I won’t cling to it like some rare treasure that I might lose—if it turns out to be true, what value does it have trapped in my hand? If it is false, how can I use it to redirect my efforts? 

I have some ideas how to do this, but let me play with them before I say anything more. 


  1. "training too hard causes injury, training too soft stunts growth." I really like that statement. Thank you very much for sharing.


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