Enlightenment, life, and my martial arts training. Three separate questions. – Peter Ralston Newsletter

George Savvides
Strovolos, Cyprus

Hi Peter,
I am listening and reading your work for some time now and I have some questions regarding some things if you could please help me whenever you have free time:
1. Getting enlightened and understanding the higher truths of life necessitates the “opening up” of new brain grooves and making the whole brain alive? Can this happen as well by contemplation or you also work directly with the brain entangling students’ brain with yours and “energetic transmission,” etc.?

2. I am 32 years old now and I feel that I am “missing out” on life because amongst many other things, I cannot live without fear. Fear in my inter-personal relationships, fear of making mistakes that will bind me instead of free me up. Most importantly the fear of not being able to control my mind and having a lot of thoughts that do not let me live my life carefree, stress- free, to the maximum, with a deep knowing of what life is about and “diving as deep” in life as possible making use of every moment of it. What is your recommendation to best solve this?

3. I have been practicing Bujinkan Ninjutsu for 9 years now and while I am a black belt I don’t believe I have the necessary skills, stamina and mind capability to stand up for my ranking. What would you recommend to do?

I know that there is so much more to life than my current experience but I somehow feel that it is very difficult to directly experience that something else that will free me up. I want to live a full life with meaningful and blissful relationships, financial freedom, helping other people get healthier and happier and understanding the Truths of life but I look all around me and I just see people in bondage (me included) and it is a bit depressing.

Thanks for your time.

1. Not at all. Nothing has to happen to the brain. No new grooves need to be worn to become enlightened. Enlightenment is not about anything physiological, psychological, psychic, chemical, philosophical, or any other process or activity. And no, there is no energetic transmission. These have nothing to do with direct consciousness. Enlightenment is becoming conscious of what’s already true. You don’t have to change anything to grasp what’s already true.

I know this can be hard to understand given what we assume has to be true about reality. In the world in which we live, it’s as if our consciousness is completely restricted to cognizance. In other words, we imagine that all we can become conscious of is what we receive in our in perceptive-experience in some way—a thought, a feeling, an image, a sight, a sound, and so on. What’s also true is it’s as if our “cognitive self” lives in one room and everything else lives in other rooms, and the only way we can know of something is through some indirect method—as if looking at a radar screen, or picking up a telephone, seeing someone on Skype, or listening to sounds through the wall, etc.—and connect pieces of indirect information about what’s something is in another room. Imagine that this analogy constitutes our entire reality.

With direct consciousness, or enlightenment, it is more like consciousness isn’t restricted to perceptive-experience or interpreted-cognition, and instead of receiving information about other “rooms” from “your room,” you are in the very same room. What is true is obvious and clear, there is no separation, your consciousness and “it” are as if in the very same place. Of course such a image is based on the way we perceive reality already and so can’t possibly be accurate. It just gives you a springboard to try and make a leap about what I mean by: “direct” has nothing to do with any process or activity.

This is not to say that I don’t spend a lot of time working to untangle students’ brains. But that is working with their minds and their relationship to life, which is a different domain of work having nothing to do with enlightenment. Instead, such work has to do with changing the way one thinks or perceives thing—perhaps to become more effective, or to understand how the world works and is created, or to discover and become free of dysfunctional assumptions, and so on. This all still relates to the relative world that we experience and live within, and is aimed in some way at trying to improve our lot. But as for enlightenment all of that is irrelevant, and the stuff you mention is just fantasy or misinformation.

2. You should take seriously what I say about fear in The Book of Not Knowing (chapter twenty- three). It is true you can stop the fear simply by experiencing what I’ve asserted there and stopping any one of the components—which are all activities you are doing. But you need to really experience what you are doing and that you are doing it. So I’ll leave that to you.
But relative to your specific concern try to really get that living life in fear is not a useful thing to do. You are probably afraid you will make mistakes. Apply your intelligence and common sense, do research if you have to, and learn to make good decisions. Then commit yourself to action and put your attention on making it happen rather than focusing on what could go wrong. You’re likely to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. This is how life works.

Be realistic, don’t pile on the need for utopia, simply live life as it comes. Do what you can now, then tackle the next thing and then the next. Try not to live relating to ideals, fantasy, or hearsay, those just get you into trouble and aren’t grounded or realistic.

3. Regarding your black belt: practice. There are many martial schools that give out black belts for ritual accomplishments and not real skill. Also, most people don’t grasp that in the Japanese invention of rank the black belt wasn’t the zenith or end, it was the beginning of working toward mastery. The Kyus or lower ranks are just learning about the art, collecting the techniques and most of the material that comprise the art. Shodan (first degree black belt) is usually not that skillful, but should be generally knowledgeable of their art. The task at this point is then to work to become skillful and master your art. Usually fifth or sixth dans are the most skillful—that is if there is any real skill in that art or school.

If you want to become really skillful I’d recommend breaking out of the “box” of your particular art and consider what skill is as a human. I’d also recommend studying Cheng Hsin—not just hearing about it—because we work toward real skill, genuine understanding, and experience rather than fantasy or belief systems. I worked to understand what it is to be skillful as a fighter from a global perspective, not restricted to any art. This included studying the role of perception, interpretation, physics, interaction, mind, strategy, force, physiology, psychology, social programing, and matters beyond human conventions. This isn’t common, that is why I recommend delving into what the Cheng Hsin Arts have to offer.



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