Humility is a tough concept for me.

Even when I get what some others may call "Humiliated" I still manage to
puff my chest up and either make excuses or say I'll do better next time.

For example, two days ago while participating in some Marine Corps Martial
Arts Program training I had the opportunity to grapple with a Black Belt
Instructor Trainer. Of course he balled me up and I found myself in the
position of being unable to do anything about it. For me being a guy who is
used to being in a position of authority this was pretty humiliating.

Naturally I immediately went to making excuses mode in my head, the ego
defending itself, after all, I am a desk jockey, and this guy trains the
guys who train the guys to be baddasses. My limited techniques were useless
against him...

Now of course this sounds reasonable and it is. But it is not real

The kind of humility I experienced this morning, sitting on my round cushion
alone in the living room. The sinking of the chest. The other things in my
brain housing unit reminding me of my other shortcomings, as a father, as a
teacher, as a mentor. Failure. Knowing my very best effort is going in the
wrong direction. Pushing others in the wrong direction. Don't get me wrong,
this is not a self pity party, I am not thoroughly depressed, and I am
taking the experience as a much needed insight. But yes, it sure does suck.

I take a little heart, because I know this is a good thing. But I have a
lot of thinking to do now.

What direction isn't wrong?

Or How do I apply what I know to not do wrong?

Where is the "everything just flows" that I hear comes with enlightenment?

Maybe this is not a public case.

All the evil Karma, born of my words, body, and mind since of old,
On account of greed, anger, and delusion which has no beginning,
I now openly avow.


Barry said...

I've read that Shunryu Suzuki Roshi frequently repeated the traditional Japanese phrase, "Shoshaku jushaku" - which I've read means "mistake after mistake."

This humble acknowledgment of one's life as a mistake, followed by another mistake, continues to baffle and inspire me.

The samurai and Zen student, Suzuki Shosan, once said, "I don't know the value of the Buddha Way but when it comes to my faults, I know them all too well...you'll have to be prepared to hear over and over about my regret...I know of nothing else of value. You may think that I'm just being humble, but I'm actually sinking into the lowest pit of hell." (Thanks to "Sweep the dust, Push the dirt" for this quote.)

I suspect that most of us are sinking into the lowest pit of hell in each moment. But we're too blind and/or proud to acknowledge it.

That's why we're in hell.

SlowZen said...

Thanks Barry.

Yamakoa said...

Hello Jordan,

Thank you for your post. This is especially poignant for me. Martial Arts and especially grappling have really taught me many lessons. I would like to say that after 25 years of practice, I have learned them well, but truth be told, I have not. I thought I had, but with every passing season I become more aware of "these self limiting tendencies."

My perspective on your encounter with the grappling black belt is a little different. I have "rolled" (grappled) with the best of the best, In all my defeats I felt a sense of awe and inspiration. Where my raging ego comes into play is when I am grappling with a lower belt, or someone who just happens to be a really strong and good athlete (i.e., football player) with little grappling background. I feel an immense pressure to submit these opponents. Failure to do so results in a very distorted negative self view. The pressure to succeed where I am supposed to and/or to keep the inflated view that "I am good" from the other dojo members has been a difficult "case" for me to solve.

As for your rhetorical question, "What direction is not the wrong way?" I don't know, but maybe, just maybe if we can ascertain any morsel of insight along these directions, then maybe they are not so wrong.

Take care Jordan

Uku said...

What an honest post. Respect, Jordan. Sometimes it's so good to receive some shit against one's face.

Be well, man!

Ted Biringer said...

Becoming attached to or fixated on the blissful conditions of oneness, or pure awareness is a disease that causes practice and enlightenment to stagnate and become foul. The profound wisdom and skillful techniques of the buddhas and Zen ancestors are beyond the reach of practitioners that stop here. Failing to awaken to the wisdom beyond emptiness and equality, they remain powerless to help others in any truly meaningful way.

~The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

SlowZen said...

Yamakoa, thanks,

Uku, Thanks.

Ted, thanks, I think I've read that somewhere before...

Kyle said...

I like what Barry said, Suzuki's quote really does fit well here.

I like to think, each time our humanity opens itself, its just one more chance for us to see our ego for what it is. I believe Suzuki called these mind weeds.

BTW Jordon, I added ya to my blog roll on reformed.

Thanks dude!

SlowZen said...

Me too Kyle, Thanks!

Raymond said...


I love those check boxes where you can click off with which poisonous mind you read your post.

For me it was a little delusion and a little greed. I want to be in a position of authority, darn it!

Enjoy your evening,


SlowZen said...

Hey Raymond,
Thanks for your comment.

One thing about those poisons to keep in mind is that they are also their opposite. Or so I hear.

So you may have some quality of equanimity and generous qualities about you! Good on ya!

Thanks for looking!