Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Power of Clarity

The able-bodied among us walk effortlessly, without conscious thought.

Place these same people in a dark, unfamiliar space, and ask them to take a step forward. How does it compare?

Give the stranger in the dark, unfamiliar space your verbal assurance that all will be well. "Trust me." Now ask him to take that step.

Have some "peers" limping on crutches or holding icepacks in the waiting area. "He told me it would be alright, but..."

Offer another person a new technique from the Ministry of Silly Walks and tell him that, so long as he walks just like this when he enters the dark room, he'll be fine.

How about telling a final candidate that the experiment starts on the other side of the room, which unfortunately just blew an electrical circuit, knocking out the lights. No problem--just a straight shot across and we can get started.

In each case--except perhaps for the last--direct attention was brought to our innate ability to walk, each time with varying results. These other steps were rooted in thought, doubt, distrust, and maybe even false confidence, and each showed a physical result. If I tell you you will stumble, or even if I tell you that you will not, I direct you to doubt your ability--and it likely will show. If I tell you there are fresh cookies on the other side of the room, though, it's likely you will not take one conscious step along the way. This is clarity: Your body knows what to do to get to the cookies and it will adapt to the situation as necessary.

* * *

I met a salesman who was not confident in his presentation. He knew the product had public perception problems. He studied the material to assure me--and perhaps himself--that the perception problems were unfounded. In the end, as I listened, all I heard was his doubt. Worse, all of this was doubt that he brought with him, since I offered neither resistance nor challenge of my own. Maybe he was rooted in false confidence in someone else's proven process, maybe not. It doesn't matter: He was clearly struggling with himself.

Maybe with practice these skills will integrate like walking, on call to achieve his intention. Perhaps that comes with experiencing a sequence of successes, like a child taking those first shaky steps. In truth, though, situations such as this might not require long periods of practice and sacrifice to master responses for each and every situation; instead, mastering taking one step from the top of our 100-foot pole should be sufficient to defeat your one, true enemy.

Masakatsu Agatsu Katsuhayabi!
True Victory is Victory over Oneself in this Instant!

Acting with clarity does not guarantee any particular kind of success... However, given that you are already dead--as the samurai might say--why not step boldly? Why would you defeat yourself before ever facing the enemy? Why would you offer him the means to kill you?

The Sword Mountain practices are designed to help you recognize and then shatter the barriers you place before you on your path to freedom in every situation. If you see yourself in any of the above, do contact us sooner rather than later so we can help you rediscover your footing. 

That is our purpose.

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