MMA, sandbags and Faith.
FREEWILL vs. OPEN MIND
I was interviewed by the Sacramento Bee last week for some sort of feature on our little sanctuary. The dialog continued this week when i received an email with this question:
You’ve talked (and written) about the Tao, some Krishna teachings, Emerson (Transcendental Christianity) and some atheism/humanism thrown in there. I’m curious: What is your faith, if anything?
This is the extended dance mix version of my answer:
I subscribe to a personal philosophy that most faith-based systems, no matter how distorted they might have become through time, have the same basic tenets (or so i can naively hope). Do good, be good. If anyone is on any path of self actualization, be it through religion, scholastic or intellectual pursuits, all the paths try to lead to the same proverbial top of the mountain (which I envision as being covered in ice cream), and they may criss-cross on the way up. What’s sad, and disillusioning people so much that even 42 years ago Time Magazine asked if God is dead, is the belief that righteousness equals the denial of possibilities.
Being ‘faithful’ so often appears to mean putting gobs of volume and effort into being ‘right’ (with the desired double entendre), and that, without the education and dialectic skills to back it up, simply means being a prick. Or vehemently supporting someone being a prick.
Free will, therefore, is my drug of choice. Hiking up several different paths to get the the top of the mountain, even coming back down once in a while to start over (grab a bigger spoon), seems like a good time, allowing me to utilize our ‘god-given’ (or maybe not) birth right of free will.
BUUUT, let’s not mistake free will with an ‘open mind.’ There needs to be the ability to discern useful from useless, and this is an individual quest. The root of any movement, be it religious, philosophical, political or cultural (including the ‘physical’ variety), is an idea that seems to work for one person. Free will has to admit that there is a good chance that, no matter how well it worked for that one person, it might not be right for us. If an institution really is the lengthened shadow of one person, then why aren’t we all making our own shadows?
Simple: it’s hard. As I’ve quoted Jello before, freedom scares you, because it means responsibility.
So an open mind is not necessarily one that has the ability or desire to think for itself, to utilize its free will. It simply is open to suggestions. Without judgement, education and responsibility it is an open mind that is susceptible to ideas that aren’t it’s own.
It is an open mind that is looking for a leader
it is an open mind that will join a movement or cult.
It is an open mind that falls under oppression, suppression, repression.
It is an open mind that gives up it’s free will.
But don’t worry, there are a lot of folks utilizing their free will to have very closed minds as well. Perhaps stupidity is the act of being too lazy or too much of a dildo to find the balance between the two.
Another question from the same email:
One of the gymgoers today mentioned you don’t drink alcohol? How long have you given up alcohol and, I presume, drugs, as well? And was it a philosophical decision or just a physical one?
Again, the lack of drugs and drinking in my life has been based on the concept of free will. I did some stuff when I was MUCH younger, like early high school, but soon i realized that i didn’t like handing over the already unstable ability of my noggin to a chemical substance. 23 years later, I still don’t understand the need. I have mind altering experiences sans pharmaceutical assistance, and I make less of an ass out of myself in the process. Frankly the worst, most destructive, fucked up behavior I see in my neighborhood and within our community (heck, anywhere I’ve been, actually), is under the influence of something, most often alcohol. Since the one prejudice i have is against insipidness, and alcohol promotes that exponentially, then the conclusion can be made that I’m not a fan of alcohol.
Which brings up a big beef i had with our last second Saturday artwalk, and a new breed of MMA fighters. Up until the previous Second Saturday art walk, most martial artists I’ve met have been not just decent people, but pretty exceptional people. The training and conditioning it takes to get involved in competitive fighting these days will humble most folks out pretty quick, making a breed of competitor that is usually mild natured and of compassionate disposition. Great examples of this are my friends in the Bay, including (especially) Cody, or our sponsored fighters at Devastation Company, all inspirational members of my extended tribe.
But MMA, as any trend, has grown to the point where the assholes have decided to play. Combine that with a little alcohol and we’ve got a problem. A half shirtless, bloodied and very drunk MMA competitor, who had decided to visit our humble little art show after getting into a fight at the beer garden next door (beer garden?!? C’mon!), made me aware of who wants to fight now. Without going into detail, let’s just say not a single woman in this place felt safe, and I felt like a bouncer. AT AN ART SHOW!
Great. When our community calls for the help of a drunken dumbass who slobbers on women after getting into public fights, I now know who to call. Meanwhile, if any of you know someone thinking of getting into competitive fighting but they’re, you know, THAT GUY… intervene. Break their knee caps or chain them to a pipe in your basement.
But after all that crap, let’s lighten up. This is the newest in a series of videos by Matt Harding that remind us about us. I first saw one of his videos a couple of years ago and almost wept at the beauty of it’s simplicity. This most recent one broke me down completely. When i first wrote that i take my silliness far to seriously to be bothered by your silly seriousness, this is what i meant: