My teacher, Daniel Hickman, tells a story about being at a conference with a Zen Monk.
Apparently the monk called Daniel on stage for a demonstration. Daniel explains that he walked up on stage, was given a movement sequence to perform and at about a third of the way through the Zen teacher smacks him across the back of his head tells him he is wrong and sends him off the stage.
This story made me very angry. To me, getting hit in the head is the highest form of disrespect.
The ultimate expression of
"You Ain't Shit"
I went to military school my first semester of High School. A lot of the kids I knew went to the school, even some kids I'd known since kindergarten.
This one kid named Rudy used to pick on me. In the beginning this always surprised me because he once invited me over to his house when we were younger and there had been no incident to change our relationship since.
I mostly ignored Rudy, but one afternoon when the two of us were the only freshmen on the third floor, he walked up behind me and slapped me in the back of the head.
In a flash I snapped. I grabbed Rudy, slammed him against the wall, then the locker and finally wrapped my arms around his throat and squeezed.
"Don't hit me again." I screamed
Needless to say Daniel's story caught that old edge and I commented that hitting someone is unacceptable and I probably would have hit him back.
Basically I stated that there are certain times when I feel it's ok for me to be violent.
Now I've mentioned edges before and how meditation has soften those edges. How meditation has helped me recognize when I'm getting close to an edge and deploying certain tools to keep from going over.
Well getting hit in the head has no warning track. It's immediate. Hit to the head and I'm over the edge.
I've relived that moment with Rudy and imagined ripping his head clean off. The satisfaction of having him pay for bullying me was enjoyable to think.
Fast forward to last Thursday night. I was guest speaker in a University of California class called, Beyond, War and Peace.
Talking about my experience with Iraq and war in general, I attempted to impart on these students the idea that I think much of what happens between countries is an extension of what that countries populous finds acceptable. In other words, war is simply an intensified version of daily life. Consequently if you wanna understand war understand your own edges and look at war from your own thresholds. You have experienced emotion, maybe not as intense as in war but you know the emotion. If you know it and see it you can start to recognize your edges and when called upon by your nation to step up and deliver as a soldier or statesmen, you'll be better prepared. Emotions are ubiquitous only their cause and intensity vary.
It wasn't until this week that all this stuff came together. Knowing your edges, to go beyond war and peace is fine and good, but aren't there exceptions? September 11th was an exception, right?
Like an out of nowhere slap to the back of the head.
What if the slap by the Zen monk was the creation of that threshold. A teaching tool that was designed to put Daniel past his edge in an instant. What if that Zen monk created in that moment, an opportunity for Daniel to go beyond his understanding and into a place of pure emotion. A place that always exists with violence. Slapping Daniel created justification for Daniel to be angry, to hit back, to want to hit back, to feel justified in hitting back.
That piece of crap, Rudy stopped bullying me for a while after I choked him.
Two weeks later however, at a basketball game he flipped my hat off my head. My hat fell under the bleachers. I remember not being too upset about it. I didn't fight him back. I just walked under the bleachers and got my hat back. That's my last memory of Rudy.
I don't ever think about what happened to him.