VBT – Meditation 64.3

The Basic Training

In Japan, they train their warriors for alertness. The basic training is for alertness, and everything else is secondary: swordsmanship, archery, everything is secondary. It is known, it is said about the great Zen master Rinzai that he never succeeded – never succeeded in his archery – to get to the right point, to the right aim. His arrow always missed; it never reached the right point. And he is known as one of the greatest archers, so it is asked, “How is Rinzai known as the greatest archer when he never succeeded in any aim and the point was always missed? His arrow never reached the right point, so how is he known as one of the greatest archers?”

The followers of Rinzai say, “It is not the end, it is the beginning. We are not concerned with the arrow reaching to the end, we are concerned with when the arrow starts its journey. We are concerned with Rinzai. When the arrow leaves the bow, he is alert; that is all. It is not the result, that is irrelevant.”

One man was a disciple of Rinzai. He was a great archer himself, he never missed his aim, and then he came to Rinzai to learn, so someone said, “To whom are you going to learn? He is not a master; he is not even a disciple. He is a failure, and you are a great master and you are going to Rinzai to learn?”

So that archer said, “Yes, because I have succeeded technically. But as far as my consciousness is concerned, I am a failure. He is technically a failure, but as far as his consciousness is concerned he is the archer and the master – because when the arrow leaves he is alert, and that is the point.”

This archer who was a master technically had to learn, for years under Rinzai, and every day he was one hundred percent accurate in his aiming. Rinzai would say, “No, you are a failure. Technically the arrow leaves correctly. But you are not there, you are not alert. You lose it in your sleep.”

In Japan they have been training their warriors to be alert first, and everything else is secondary. A warrior is a brave man if he can be alert. And it was felt in the Second World War that you cannot match Japan’s warriors; their bravery is incomparable. Where does it come from? Physically they are not so strong, but in consciousness, in alertness, fear cannot enter. They are not afraid, and whenever fear comes they will try Zen methods.

This sutra says, “DURING FRIGHT, IN ANXIETY…” When you feel anxious, much anxiety-ridden, try it. What is one to do? What do you ordinarily do when anxiety is there? What do you do? You try to solve it. You try alternatives, and you get more and more into it. You will create a bigger mess because anxiety cannot be solved through thinking. It cannot be dissolved through thinking because thinking itself is a sort of anxiety. So you help it to grow more. Through thinking, you cannot come out of it; you will go deeper into it. This technique says don’t do anything with anxiety. Just be alert.

Just be alert!


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