The Ideas of Peace, Purpose and Pursuit

Alright. I know I had a pretty visual and violent post. Two (or was it three) people have liked it, and right now, I feel terrible. At peace, but terrible.

I have an on and off interest with Chinese and Japanese martial arts, specifically Wing Chun and Aikido. I love their principles of “When you can, do not fight” as well as Aikido’s focus on pure use of your opponent’s strength without any attacks whatsoever. I have only practice the first stance of Wing Chun, called Sim Lim Dao or Siu Lim Dao, which means Little Idea (from most of my learning of a Shifu in Canada). It is basically the first fundamental form that is easy to remember but difficult to master. This reference, however, interprets it as “a way to minimize thought” from siu (little), lim/nim (idea) and dao/tao (thought), which is pretty interesting too.

I’m also fascinated by the life of the Samurai, held up by loyalty, honor, integrity, justice and peace. I’m also fascinated by the life of the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) of my religion, Islam. I’m ashamed to say I know very little but may the Creator aid me in my pursuit of learning as much as I can about it, in the way that the Prophet himself taught his Companions.

Yesterday, I had a lunch appointment with my family. My mum had told me to be there at 2p.m. the day before and I called again today just to check. She said make it 2.45p.m. since my youngest brother had to attend his weekly religious class. Knowing that, I had estimated that she would arrive at between 3 to 3.15. So when I arrived at 3.15, no one was there. She wanted me to order the food first because apparently, the restaurant had a reputation of a long waiting time. Regardless, in my mind, I thought it would be proper and good etiquette to have my fellow companions with me upon ordering a meal rather than to go in alone and order 4 other dishes. And so, I was fuming and tried to calm myself down. I went to the nearby hawker center to have Paratha and a cup of hot milk tea to calm my nerves.

But that story is not about my mother. It was about me. Why was I angry? I was upset and frustrated at her habit of being late. But there are some things we absolutely cannot control.

In Islam, I have learnt to accept that good and bad things happen in life because God wants to test me. With the good, He wants to test if I am grateful. With the bad, He wants to test me if I am patient with the predestination that He has Planned for me. Yes, we believe that God intends good for us. It is often quoted to us the story of a father who had two sons; one loyal and pious, the other rebellious. The father loves both sons and want them to learn to be better people. Thus the one who is good will be tested with tests of graciousness while the rebellious one will be tested with difficult trials. Regardless, the father intends good for both. But in the case of the Creator, He knows our future more and so he intends good, even though we may look at something being bad.

In Aikido, there is a concept of Budo, which means the “the martial way” or “the way of war”. (Update 11/12/14. Watching an anime, The Wandering Kenshin (Ruruoni Kenshin) I also came across the concept of Budo as being the way upon perseverance. Very interesting when you apply it to the concept of war being something relentless). The meaning is strangely opposite to the principles and techniques taught in its classes (Update 11/12/14. Now I understand. It’s not opposite. In war, you have got to find calmness in persevering till the end of the war. Practicing your Aikido to find this balance of your Ki relentless will eventually allow you to discover Budo.). But if you read and learn about how Aikido was created by O-Sensei Ueishiba, it was during the end of World War 2 where Japan was in chaos after the bombing. He sought a way to end the chaos and the confusion through the art of Aikido. A National Geographic documentary aptly calls it “The Martial Art of Love”. When two Aikido practitioners practice, the attacker is voluntarily providing his or her body for the defender to practice on. The respect between the two is humbling, in my opinion. I also saw a video of Yamada sensei, who is the first ambassador to North America from Japan, where he explained that there is a balance that some forces wish to disrupt, and Aikido brings this balance back. With every assault and force your opponent brings to you, you do not injure him; you only hold him down so that he may relax and become as calm as you.

The ancient Samurai, who practiced the art of Aikido and other Budo arts like tea-making and sword-making, always thought of death.

In Wing Chun, the motto is “Do not fight”. It may seem counter-intuitive but Wing Chun is a martial art created by a woman to quickly take down a man who did not stop pursuing her. Its moves are swift and attack crucial parts of the human body: the eyes, jaw, neck, trachea, throat, center of chest and knee. It is said that when fight begins in Wing Chun, it should end in death. To me, Wing Chun teaches me that when one wields a dangerous weapon, there is great responsibility not to use it unless it is in a situation of life and death. It is the pursuit of knowledge to be used only in times of need.

I learn from my religion that my purpose is to worship my Creator. I learn that Death is certain and that this Life is but a journey of worship with trials and tribulations that my Creator will present me with, and that I am to be grateful and patient because He knows what I do not.

The key idea in Islam is “Peace through Submission”. One of the honorable scholars in Islam, Sheikh Rabee’, said, “Contentment in the Decree is the Highest level of Patience”. But this does not mean that we do not take action nor put in effort because our health, intellect and wisdom are privileges that will be questioned.

So, what’s the point of all this? It is basically my reflection of why I had been so angry. I realized that I had been listening to old songs when I was an angsty and rebellious teenager and that allowed old emotions and negative feelings to be drawn out from within. I realized I had never ever said something so violent before.

I realized that through listening to that music, it had made me more impulsive and angry at relatively meaningless events.

There is a certain calmness, a quiet happiness of being at peace when you are calm. It is said that students of knowledge would sleep around 3 – 4 hours a day, and you would think that they would be tired, but their minds would be more focused. Their meals are not too lavish and they eat moderately.

My pursuit is to be the best person I can be, filled with goodness, patience and perseverance. To be able to be like water. Fluid to adapt, yet enduring and persistent enough to break rocks and split mountains. Be calm when necessary, yet forceful in a destructive instant when the need arises.

1) Do not fight.

2) Respect and honor your assailant; he also has life.

3) Death is for certain. Cherish the life.

4) Contentment leads to peace. Acceptance leads to patience. (Update 11/12/14. Submission to Fate leads to servitude to God.)

5) Be calm and fluid, but react swiftly and accurately when extremely necessary.

One response to “The Ideas of Peace, Purpose and Pursuit

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