Of sage, sky, and greeting the sun

“Your life is a gift from the Creator. Your gift back to the Creator is what you do with your life.”
-Billy Mills; Lakota, 1964 Olympic 10,000 meter champion

(for something special moment of the eagle )

Recently while running on a snow spotted trail among the sacred canyons of my h(om)eland I was brought to a time in which a great deal of my running experience was shared with my Turtle Island native companions. They were primarily from the tribes of the Southwest; DinĂ© (Navajo), Hopi, and those of the Pueblo’s, Ute, yet also Lakota and others.

To breathe along with these fellow runners was a different experience than with others. It was far more quiet, we moved more like a breeze over the high desert scape of sage and sand; the awareness of sky, of desert cottontail, of raven or hawk in the sky was sharper.

I was often asked to come with them and to this day appreciate those invitations. For I learned much about being not only a runner. I learned about being abundantly alive as well. For these young men, and women, running was not a mere activity they might have been introduced to in school track. It was part of their cultures, their way of being, their spiritual practice. Many of them were introduced to running by their grandfathers as a proper way to be at one with the creator and the earth at their feet. Running was survival. Running was the hallmark of a Brave. Running was and remains ‘sacrament.’

I can tell you this; running with the ‘chi’ is nothing new. It was known, taught, and expressed way before a book came out on it. Indeed the practice, techniques, and other ‘secrets’ have been with these peoples for thousands of years and remain so.
Take a look at the cover of the book INDIAN RUNNING by Peter Nabokov (see amazon.com). Those three young warriors were three of the very same that often took me with them across the sagebrush and pinyon-juniper.

There is no doubt that there exists within the Native American Indian the talent to rival any endurance or long distance running tradition in the world, including the African nations. If we as a society enabled these outstanding talents as we do young kids yearning to be NFL Quarterbacks this would be witnessed. Yet I digress. For now, I in-courage you on your next run to move with open senses, quiet breath, soft feet, and the joy of the earth under your feet…see if you can catch just a little of what our native brothers and sisters have known.

Lastly, here are two links of importance:Wings of Americaand Running Strong for American Indian Youth

In beauty

Warrior’s Creed


(Sensei Sheader training for the Eskrima National Championships)

I have no parents: I make the heavens and earth my parents.
I have no home: I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power: I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means: I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets: I make character my magic secret.
I have no body: I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightning my eyes.
I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs: I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy: I make ‘unshadowed by thought’ my strategy.
I have no designs: I make ‘seizing opportunity by the forelock’ my design.
I have no miracles: I make ‘right action’ my miracles.
I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles:

I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents: I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends: I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy: I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle: I make immovable-mind my castle.
I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword.

-Anonymous Samurai, Fourteenth Century

Discipline = Liberation

Over the years I have found that one of the essential values to living life fully and with gusto is the practice of discipline.

Sadly this term has to many come to conjure up negative associations. For those who have embraced the practice of sloth and mediocrity as a way of being no doubt the term ‘discipline’ will engender a degree of discomfort..as well it ought.

Others who have come to resist the term and practice of discipline are those who have come to imagine that ‘discipline’ is contrary to freedom and independence.

In either case nothing could be further from the truth. Discipline is in fact the means and the experience of freedom, of living fully, of attaining excellence in any worthwhile endeavor. Thus in reality, as well as etymologically, ‘discipline’ and’ liberation’ are closely related, and philosophically essentially the same.

As Frank Herbert, author of the classic book DUNE said “Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.”

I strongly feel that a life without discipline is a life severely disabled from experiencing happiness and authenticity. All of us have dreams; from goals and accomplishments to living a whole life of self actualization, even enlightenment. Do you honestly think and feel that will come about by following the desires of the ego, the mediocrity of the common man, the resignation of those who have nothing better to do than to play another video game, sleep in an extra hour, or take the safe, easy, comfortable way?

Remember, discipline is not the same as flagellation. Discipline is what purifies not punishes. Discipline is embracing the rhythm superior to ones own and in the same enduring direction that both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche refer to.

I in – courage you in the year ahead to find the freedom that only a wholesome discipline can bring. Arise early and meditate as the sun rises, whether you are in the mood or not. Go to the gym and strengthen your sinew and spirit with iron, whether you are in the mood or not. Get out and elevate your pulse in the real air of a cycle ride or run, whether you are in the mood or not. Study your h(om)ework, your Svadhyaya, whether you are in the mood or not. Set down at your piano, go to bed early, forego that dessert, clean your space, show kindness to someone you detest..Whether you are in the mood or not.

Embrace these liberations and experience the practice of living fully, (w)holy, with gusto and joy.

I bow to your efforts.

“He who lives without discipline dies without honor.” -ancient Icelandic Proverb.