"Buddhas are rare. They are so radiant, inspiring, and exemplary that they lead millions of people for thousands of years. The further we follow the path they have walked, the closer we will get to the fruits they have won. But in this lifetime we are likely to lack some strengths and to have many common human frailties . . . In every setback, whenever we are knocked down, there is no better time to activitate what we have developed from [Vipissana mediation]. Every moment is new, and an opportunity from which we can benefit no matter how long a chain of problems we have yet to solve."
Paul R. Fleischman, MD, Karma and Chaos.
For the martial artist, there are some helpful points in this passage by Dr. Fleischman, including the exhortation to get back up when we are knocked down, and to call on the inner resources we develop through training. I don't exactly agree with the assertion that following the path of Buddha will bring us closer to our own enlightenment. Character development is a very personal journey, and blind adherence to a system of thought can lead to mindlessness (in the worst sense of the word). Chuang Tzu would have advocated breaking from tradition. Siddhartha, in Hesse's book, had to leave the religious schools in order to find himself. The established systems are tools - they help to guide us but should not be followed unless they are in accord with one's path.
Nicklaus Suino teaches iaido and other martial arts at seminars throughout North America. Information about his seminars can be found at www.artofjapaneseswordsmanship.com. He teacher iaido, judo, and jujutsu at the Japanese Martial Arts Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan.