(Peace of Mind)
True peace of mind is not a single attribute but a combination of various aspects that together create Heijo Shin. The development of these aspects may take years of effort, success and disappointments before they come together in understanding, patience is one essential ingredient in this process. Peace of mind requires a high degree of mental development, of wisdom (as opposed to intelligence), character, and emotional understanding, all of which must be developed in harmony.
Heijo Shin is very important to martial arts because it can be developed for a lifetime whereas mere physical skills must inevitably wane with age or illness. There is also a limit to a persons physical ability but in all of us our mental development is unlimited (except by ourselves) for there is always more room for more understanding and compassion.
Each of us must achieve Heijo Shin alone and from within ourselves and there is no simple method to attain it except through discipline, effort, sacrifice and commitment. This idea is not popular in our instant everything world and if you attempt it other people will consider you strange. This is the start of your character building etc., because can you be different in this confused and unhappy society, in which despite what is said, generosity is seen as weakness, kindness as stupidity, by many of those people or organisations one may encounter. The strange thing is that these same people do not seem to mind being generous or kind to themselves, which is their weakness. This paradox is there to teach a great lesson, peace of mind cannot be achieved if we only see things in terms of how they effect us.
The path of Heijo Shin is different for each of us due to the differences in circumstance, experiences, and personality. The nature of Heijo Shin is natural or spontaneous and here another paradox arises, how can we practice or train in spontaneity?
If you can remember the story about Musashi a couple of newsletters ago, therein lies a clue. He did not train for Heijo Shin itself, rather he trained in the elements which led to its development, therefore peace of mind is a by product of the training rather than the training itself. The correct attitude and approach to training will lead a student to a deeper understanding of the nature of life and death. It is more than just swinging a sword or thrusting a stick, when we practice with a partner we realise that we are symbolically engaged in a struggle which if were real would lead to one or both of us being killed. Would you end his life without good cause, or your own, he like you has loved ones, friends, hopes, dreams, fears. What will be the true effects of this battle, which may have arisen over some triviality. Understanding the above should help to give you a greater appreciation for your own life and the lives of others.
The realisation of how really tenuous our lives are helps us to confront the inevitability of death and overcome our fear of it. We can then make the choice to live our lives to the fullest and die without regret. Now we have to decide what brings us true and lasting happiness and fulfilment to life. If we only had one month to live what would we change about our lives? Would we sell everything and give it away? Fly around the world? Spend more time with our loved ones? If you had Heijo Shin then nothing would change because you would already be living life to the full, each day as though it was your last.
Peace of mind must be achieved through oneness with the environment but being unaffected by it. This is the lesson Musashi was trying to teach his student about becoming like mount Fuji, do not allow circumstances to control your emotions, nor your emotions to confuse your judgement.
If your happiness and security are based primarily upon your financial status, possessions, job position etc. then you will only be happy when things are going well. When any or all of these things are threatened you will be thrown into confusion and make wrong judgements in order to regain your balance.
If your life is based upon different criteria then you will realise that life is a series of ups and downs, this is the natural way. The sun shines on the good and evil alike, the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous without discrimination, this is life. When you understand that it is what you are that matters rather than what you have you will have the ability to rise above circumstances.
You will also understand that as part of an environment our attitudes and actions must effect it for good or bad and that we have a duty to ourselves and others to act correctly. We are subject to all that happens in our environment and we cannot deny problems or situations exist and try to escape their responsibility. Peace of mind does not cut you off from your feelings but rather it demands that you are far more in contact with them but without being controlled by them. Our actions are not governed by sudden impulses or emotional reactions but rather as a product of a consistent, balanced and focused mind.
In order to experience your emotions but not let them effect our actions it is necessary to develop your understanding and compassion. We must first begin to understand ourselves and why certain things evoke the responses that they do. You must have compassion for yourself by accepting who and what you are. You cannot change who you are at this moment only who you will be in the future. Acceptance of yourself now without denial or blame is the basis of starting to become what you would like to be.
This same understanding must also be cultivated towards others for we are all in the same boat as far as this is concerned. By compassionately accepting others strengths and weaknesses, you can understand the differences between your feelings towards another and your feelings about their behaviour. If we can look beyond your initial feelings we are able to understand why they did or said what they did or said. Our reactions will now be coming from a reaction of understanding rather than anger or resentment.
If we can achieve peace of mind as a natural state our lives must become calmer and happier because we have got off the emotional roller coaster. This attitude will effect our environment for none of us can live in a vacuum. Society is a collection of individuals and the abuses that we see around us are merely a reflection of the combined feelings of those individuals who comprise society. No law can reform society it can only punish individuals. We must reform ourselves first and then reform society. If what we do is governed by our circumstances and emotional needs rather than by strength of character and ideals, then we are part of the disease, if we can rise above this then we can be part of the cure, it is up to us all as individuals.
Reflect wisely upon this:
"There is no law outside of the mind."