Do you find in your practice (or lack there of) that it is the seemingly ‘little’ habits/addictions that continually derail you or that prevent you from truly progressing and enjoying the path?
Perhaps it turning off the TV or computer to instead get to bed each evening; or spending too long in the shower; or having to salt everything you eat. Perhaps always choosing the path of least resistance, even in your workouts; or letting clutter fill up your desk, your room, your life. It might be more serious… drugs, alcohol, sex, overeating…maybe not enough for anyone else to really notice or make a big deal about yet you know.
These seemingly small mindless habits of which you are attached to, a.k.a. addictions, over time build up so that after a while there is quite a large dike diverting you away from the path of awakening and towards the way of the ego. You know what the ego does? It loves to just squander your life way.
To overcome these habits and break the dike one has to first admit the reality, not blow it off anymore and begin to shift things the other way.
The way to counteract mindless habits is to replace them with mindful ritual. One spiritual practice is known as Renunciation. There are few practices as liberating. You let go of the habit as you engage the ritual. Paying attention to both ‘catch’ yourself and embrace the higher opportunity is key; at that moment consciously replacing the ego way with the way higher. It can be as simple as brushing your teeth with your other hand to making your bed each morning to choosing to do some yoga or play with your dog or reading that book instead of the mindless TV or video game or a chat room.
The consequence is a new found freedom providing joy, strength, and clarity unexpected back in the hours of foggy living.
Renunciation has both sadness and joy in it: sadness because you realize the futility of your old ways, and joy because of the greater vision that begins to unfold when you are able to let go of them. This is no ordinary joy. It is a joy that gives birth to a new and profound strength, a confidence, an abiding inspiration that comes from the realization that you are not condemned to your habits, that you can indeed emerge from them, that you can change, and grow more and more free.
I entreat you to live each day with courage, no matter the finitude you experience, no matter the inner battles over seemingly trivial challenges that seem to follow you each day, no matter what ‘excuses’ you create, no matter how many times you have to rise up and start over. The truth is, in the end you are going to die, yet you don’t have to exit the field defeated. May this rise you a little higher.
The Modern Samurai is not one who goes to war or kills people, but one who is dedicated to the creation of a more vivid peace.
The Modern Samurai honors the traditional samurai virtues: loyalty, integrity, dignity, courtesy, courage, prudence and benevolence.
The Modern Samurai seeks to prevent violence of every type or, should violence occur, to transform it into harmony.
The Modern Samurai takes full responsibility for his or her actions.
The Modern Samurai pursues self-mastery through will, patience and diligent practice.
The Modern Samurai respects and values the human individual and the entire web of life on this planet. To serve others is the highest order of good. To freely give and accept nourishment for the life is the warrior’’s challenge.
The Modern Samurai seeks the inner freedom that comes from the study of art, culture and the wisdom of the ages.
The Modern Samurai reveres the spiritual realm that lies beyond appetites and appearances.
The Modern Samurai aims to achieve control and act with abandon.
The Modern Samurai is willing to take calculated risks to realize his or her potential and further the common good.
The Modern Samurai realizes that being a warrior doesn’t mean winning or even succeeding. It does mean putting your life on the line. It means risking and failing and risking again, as long as you live.
The Modern Samurai cherishes life and this conducts his or her affairs in such a manner as to be prepared at every moment for death.
From The Way of Aikido by George Leonard
above: emblem of Jeet Kune do