Ever since I was a kid, I was told that martial arts were a path to enlightenment. I have read the stories about the monks of the Shaolin Temple, and how they used kung fu to attain higher states of consciousness. I wanted some of that enlightenment for myself; and, I thought if I learned to kick butt in the process all the better.
I’ve tried – and I’m trying to give a complete inventory here – Judo, Shotokan Karate, Jiu Jitsu and Taekwondo. They all had tenants posted on the walls to remind the students that their brand of martial arts was more than a mere fighting technique, they would all meditate before a training session and so on. Each time, it didn’t take me long to figure out, however, that these places were just as void of spirituality as an out of business church turned into a dance club. When I pressed the instructors for answers, they would only provide canned responses that only convinced me that they were just as clueless as I was.
Normally, that would lead a person to conclude that martial arts as vehicle for enlightenment was just a gimmick. Not me. It was definitely plausible, I thought, that to the people teaching it and charging money for it, the spiritual aspects remained ever elusive; but, that martial arts WERE an excellent tool for spiritual evolution. As a matter of fact, the fighting arts weren’t the only thing that seemed to suffer from this unfortunate fate. There is also yoga, reading scripture, making love and so on. What could these things have in common that if done right could elevate a human being?
After many years, I have concluded that if you hone your skills to perfection in a certain field, you are bound to reach beyond the mere physical realm. You tap into something beyond the physical skills that transcend the intellect, the five senses, etc. But by that token, anything you might you choose to do in life can become a vehicle, if you do it well enough. As a matter of fact, I remember a story from Hindu mythology, where some guy ended up carving a piece of wood for hundreds of years and attained enlightenment that way.
You might ask: if it is true that you can use anything as a means to enlightenment, why isn’t this common knowledge? I think the answer might be that most of us don’t ever do anything well enough to have the experience.