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The Secret of the Way of the Karatedō (2 / 3): What Philosophers Say


Today karateka, I ask you this question: do we find the Way of Karatedō in other philosophies of life? In fact, we know of other disciplines that shared values ​​very similar to the Way. How do these disciplines interpret what Karate calls the Way? What connection can we make between Karate and Marcus Aurelius ? Descartes ? the Bible ? the Boudhisme? A small clue: find the Unit.

The School of Athens of Raphael

Find the Unit

I was already describing in the first article on the Way what is the Karatedō Unity. I described this as preventing the outer elements from splitting your being, to allow you to become one:

« The Way of the Karatedō is to find your interior, your Life - your primitive life. Since your mind was created for Survival, it can not reach Life - where Peace resides. To reach the consciousness of Life, it is necessary to act on another level: it is the aim of the Way in Karate. »

I will still quote you a passage of Roland Habersetzer - 9ème in Karate - which summarizes very well this Unit of Karatedō by replacing the historical sources:

« This psychological aspect touches deeply on everything oriental. Karate, like all Japanese martial arts, has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism; the result is a particular concept that the mind of man must return as simple as that of a child, which the Zen devotees express by saying that only the "void" is a source of efficiency. [1]

Let us see together how we find very often the search for Unity as the basis of philosophical and religious disciplines. It is also often a question of avoiding torment or Duality [2].

The Way in other disciplines

The Bible : the Tree of Life

The Bible

Unit - In the Genesis of the Bible, God offers the first men - Adam and Eve - the Garden of Eden, in which a peaceful life is granted to them. There are all kinds of trees from which they can draw to live, including "the tree of life in the middle of the garden". These trees allow them to draw Life, a simple and natural life, representative of the Unity.

Torment - In this garden, there is also "the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree represents the life of the mind - as described inprevious article. It represents the Duality to flee:

« And the LORD God commanded the man, and you shall eat all the trees of the garden; but you will not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because the day you eat it, you will certainly die. - (Gn 2, 17)

Roman Philosophy : the Fortress of the Spirit

Sculpture of the bust of Marcus Aurelius

Unit - One of the central concepts of Marcus Aurelius' stoic philosophy [3] is detachment. One practices the detachment thanks to a return on oneself because according to him:

« You can, at the time that you want, to withdraw in yourself. No retreat is more tranquil or less troubled for man than that which he finds in his soul. »

It is possible then that we become one with our soul, entering our own "Fortress of the spirit". We are then in Unity.

Torment - This "Fortress of the soul" allows us to detach ourselves from the futile things of life: from the Duality of troubles and pleasure. For Marcus Aurelius, all pleasures are also a source of misfortune. For example, all addictions begin with pleasure - a pleasure that is repeated too often and becomes an addiction, and therefore a misfortune.

Boudhisme : the bodhi

Statue of the Buddha

Unit - We can consider Bodhi (बोधि) as Unity in Buddhism, and Saṃsāra (संसार) as Duality. Bodhi is the state of enlightenment, enlightenment that Buddhists seek to attain.

Torment - The Unit aims to flee the Saṃsāra (संसार), which is the reverse cycle of successive lives. It is governed by Karma and its back and forth between causes and consequences. [4] In this case, we can never achieve peace. We will always be subject to the results of our actions, without any rest.

Descartes : the idea of ​​God

Portrait of Descartes

Unit - Descartes, a French philosopher of the Renaissance, was a Jesuit. He therefore considers that God exists. He expresses it by unifying all humans under the idea that God himself inscribed his existence in each of us:

« it would not be possible for me to have the idea of ​​a God, if God did not really exist [5]

For him, since we are imperfect, we should not be able to conceive the idea of ​​perfection, like that of God. For an imperfect being can not conceive perfection. He thinks that we are all united under the same divine idea that directs us.

Torment- Descartes does not think Duality is bad. He thinks she is useless. So you have to look for something else:

« I have often remarked, when it was a question of making choices between virtues and vices, that they did not bring me less to evil than to good; that is why I have no subject to follow them either in regard to the true and the false. »

Psychology : blade

Carl Gustav Jung

Unit - For the psychoanalyst Jung, life resides in the soul, within each living being. She is a unit of life:

« A souled being is a living being. The soul is the living in man, who lives for himself, what causes life; [6]

Torment - For him, it is the outside world that makes us detach ourselves from ourselves and lose sight of our initial, primitive life. Although he does not use the term Duality, his words echo the idea of ​​a mental life wavering between torments and the serenity :

« Our psychic processes are, in large part, reflections, doubts, experiences - all phenomena that the unconscious instinctive soul of the primitive knows so to speak. We owe the existence of these problems to the widening of consciousness: these are the fatal gifts of civilization. "

Personal development : Infinite Intelligence

Napoleon Hill

Unit - Napoleon Hill, one of the greatest writers of Western personal development, believes that unity is an attitude. In this case, the attitude of forming only one with oneself, Its desires and his environment. We then reach what he called Infinite Intelligence. Our unconsciousour aware and our environment form only one great cohesion. It allows us to reach a goal. The obstacles no longer really exist. They are temporary and everything fits according to what we want. Our will is theother-self :

« "The other self" followed no established pattern, recognized no limits, and always found a way to accomplish the desired ends. He could encounter some temporary defeats, but never of permanent failure. I'm sure of what I'm saying I'm writing these lines. [7]

Torment - The duality for Napoleon corresponds to the drift. We drift from one point to another, we are never in harmony. We are moving towards lures that are pleasures, then sink into addictions and therefore into misfortunes. We are caught by thehabit of drifting. This habit pushes us to drift into the duality of these two poles. Napoleon Hill once again describes this habit through the idea that we must be able to detach ourselves from our environment:

« After birth, as a means of control, I use what you call "the environment". This is where the principle of habits comes in. The mind is nothing more than the sum total of the habits of its owner. I establish these habits one by one and I insinuate myself by the little door, which leads me later to the absolute domination of this spirit. "

Conclude on the nature of the Way

All these disciplines we see allow us to highlight the Karatedō to better understand it. Innumerable disciplines seek to seek Unity and to flee torments or Duality, such as the Way of the Karatedō. From the Bible [8] to personal development, all start from very similar pedestal ideas. We can say this: we interpret our environment in many different ways, but we always keep a similar structure overall, or even the same [9]. Many therefore attain the objectives of the Karatedō Way through other disciplines.

We are very soon karateka, for the next and last article on the Way. He makes us take the road now to reach the Way! We need to be able to unify our mind, our technique and our body through Shin Gi Tai and start to master the Kime. This is what we will try to explain together.

Do not forget to give your opinion in the comments below! Or develop an idea, if you are inspired 🙂

See you soon,

[1] Practical karate: From beginner to black belt, Roland Habersetzer
[2] Duality is often defined as Good and Evil, it is also often interpreted as Hot and Cold, Masculine and Feminine, Shadow and Light, Strong and Weak, God and Man etc.
[3] Emperor and Roman philosopher of the second century of our era.
[4] I developed the importance of fleeing Duality in Buddhism in parallel with Karate in another article on the MasterFight martial arts website.
[5] Metaphysical meditations, René Descartes
[6] Soul and Life, Carl Gustav Jung
[7] More evil than the devil, Napoleon Hill
[8] The Old Testament dating from the era before ours.
[9] What Carl Jung called the archetypes.

Prologue (a Hindu anecdote)

Krishna: avatar of the god Vishnu

For this prologue, I would like to draw your attention to a Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita (भगवद्गीता). This text tells the story of Krishna, one of the avatars of the god Vishnu. In this text, there is a replica of Master Funakoshi's general vision of the values ​​of the Karatedō Way. It puts forward values ​​such as self-control, simplicity, modesty and courage. Summarizing quite well the values ​​of Karatedō, reading it can be beneficial to the understanding of our discipline.

Krishna addresses Arjuna - son of the god Indra - as to the noble behavior to adopt in the face of decay:

"Intrepidity, inner purification, firmness to acquire science, liberality, self-control, the realization of sacrifice, sacred study, austerity, simplicity; Ahimsâ ["universal non-violence"], truthfulness, patience, renunciation, calm, sincerity, compassion towards all creatures (dayā bhūteṣu), selflessness, tenderness, modesty, quiet determination ; (3.) Strength, endurance, will, purity, indulgence, modesty, such are, O Bharata, the traits of who is qualified for a divine destiny. - Bhagavad Gita, XVI

These values ​​do not represent the Way in itself, but rather the consequences sought in the behavior of the individual through the Way. In this case, they allow the protection of life. Their opposite is therefore to threaten life, or even to destroy it.

Strangely, we find this dimension of the destruction of life in a situation that concerns not only Krishna but also Master Funakoshi. This opposite of the values ​​of the Way allows us to highlight its values ​​by confronting them with their opposite extreme.

Oppenheimer, the "father of the atomic bomb"

We find this antipode in a replica of Robert Oppenheimer - the "father of the atomic bomb" - after testing the very first nuclear bomb. Master Funakoshi refers a lot in his biography to the horrors of the wars undergone by his country, and in particular to the atomic bomb from which Japan made the expense in 1945.

I let you discover how this replica is facing the philosophy of Karatedō, in what it represents the antipode of the conservation of Life: the destruction of life. Rober Oppenheimer, about the atomic bomb:

"We knew the world would not be the same. Some smiled, others cried. But most remained silent. I remember the replica of the Hindu text of the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu tries to convince the prince that he must do his duty and, to impress him, take his form with multiple arms [Krishna], and say, "Here, from now on I am Death. The Destroyer of the Worlds. I guess we all thought about that. In one way or another. - J.Robert Oppenheimer on the atomic bomb

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