When A Dark Knight Rises Will You Be Ready? A work in progress.

March 26, 2012 by  

When I was a child there was nothing more exciting than a Saturday morning action movie. The sounds, the visuals and even our anticipation pumped us up for maximum adrenalin output. When we left the cinema the world was brand new. We were superheroes, or at least, heroes, depending on what picture we were watching. However, beyond the running and jummping we did on the way home, there was no negative fallout. Wwe did not seek to kill or maim anyone on the way home. If fact, we never heard of any of our counterparts taking movie inspiration anywhere near that far. We had a natural sense for the bouondary between real life and fiction. In today's world the line between reality and fiction can be immeasurably thin. For many adults, the joy of going to a midnight preview of a movie is a reminder of what they felt as a child. Add to that the lure of a superhero and they are primed for safe excitement, various thrills galore. So what happens when you are sitting waiting for the Dark Knight to arise when a dark night emerges from within the theater ,itself. Do you understand what is happening? What is real at a midnight showing?

If only for a momoent, if only in our imaginations, movies provide us with a heightened sense of our abilities. We so identify with the characters that we feel we can do as they do. We can overcome insurmountable odds. We can survive great hardships. Just days ago cinema-goers were amazed at the speed and agility of The Amazing Spiderman, as Peter Parker, the perennial victim suddenly demonstrated, grace, strength, accuracy, balance and speed to dispatch his nemesis. Chances are, however, those viewers who were victims when they arrived at the theater were still potentially victims when they left. You can not download powers from a movie screen like the protagonists of The Matrix downloaded their skills. You can only sit back, relax and explore the possibilities with your mind.

These thoughts would not matter so much except for various factors very much in the headlines of today. First, and appropriate to this discussion, a 24 year old man, now identified as James E. Holmes, entered a midnight screening of A Dark Knight Rises featured at the Century 16 multi-plex in Aurora, Colorado. His purpose was not to watch the much anticipated showing. He brought his own plot, a dark and sinister rewrite more macabre than the hues of the featured program. As the wide-eyed audience focused on the screen during the opening minutes of the picture, the some say, costumed loner, moved steadily in the background. Almost as if, being directed, the 24 year old opened fire with real guns as shots were being fired from the in the movie via the sound system. For awhile no one seemed to know that the bullets were real or that the costumed man was not a promotional act. He was a killer. When the literal smoke had dissipated, 12 people were dead and over 50 were wounded. Among those shot were a three-month old baby and a six year old girl. The excitement on the screen gave way to terror in the aisles. There was something else that was also an indication of a disturbed since of balance, an indication of of values gone awry. Witnesses reported that after all the murder and wounding, some people were still sitting in their seats waiting for the movie to restart.

When I saw the CNN report on the tragedy I viewed it from Germany. My initial response was wordless. I simply shed tears for the senselessness of it all, especially that children were wounded. Their parents were unable to protect them. That is another tragedy. Two often in a sudden crisis situation people panic. They are unable to make life-affirming decisions. Others can. One film-goer talked about how he and his wife dropped to the floor and crawled to an emergency exit, after realizing the "pop, pop" sound they were hearing was not in the movie. It is because so many people did not respond appropriately that 12 people died and over 50 were wounded. At some point the primal instinct should have noted that something was amiss but it does not matter if we notice, if we panic. The panicking person becomes a target. So what can be done when all of a sudden the dark night arises, the night of terror? Can anything be done?

Ever since 1975 when Donning and Hirschfeld/Publishers released my poetry book, Kung Fu:The Master:The Book of Kitabu I have been inseparable from Martial arts and its lore. My focus had always been at the Zen level, rooted in its spiritual center. Being forced into that arena where I was challenged at many levels gave me a valuable and provable insight into the dance of life and death, pain and suffering. It is an understanding I shared in subsequent works like Soul Sword:The Way and Mind of a Zen Warrior. Sadly, however, I completed what I expected to be my last contribution to everyday warrior awareness by writing an easy to read trigger that with a little effort would awaken those very instincts one needs when someone jumps out of the alley or a car speeds onto a sidewalk. The Amazing Spiderman is fiction but many of the skills of reflex, speed and timing are not. They grow naturally out of mushin, the Zen experience, and I know this because of my own direct experience. I say, sad;y, I have completed the book because the very people I wrote it for, those who need it most, do not sense it value to them. What else can I do? The Zen master Takuan Ho altered the consciousness of the samurai. What I offer can transform a house-wife or empower a geek. The point is simple. No one has to be a victim ... no one.

After many years Martial artists can become good at exhibions. There is a type of showmanship involved, a certain sureness. One night, however, after the book had been sent to the publisher, I had the opportunity to discover just how deep my understanding was, in the only arena that counts.. I was attacked on an Inner-City street in Norfolk, Virginia by three men who told me they would rob, beat and kill me. They tried with all their might but they failed. One ran off to get his gun but had to come back to help his cohorts, who were still trying to subdue me.. Eventually, all three men suddenly ran. As for me, I felt a terrible force in my body,destructive negative chi. A few days later I saw the face of the leader of the group in the newspaper. He was wanted for murder. I had fought a murderer and his partners and won. It explained the negative chi

The new book, of course, is Under The Sword: Life Lessons for the Zen Warrior in You. It was written to help you through the truly unexpected moments when there is nothing to draw upon but instinctive wisdom. I did not expect to face a murderer and his friends as I stood alone on a dark street. No matter what someone may tell you it is not the same as sparring in a dojo. It was a situation in which the plan was to leave me maimed or dead on the street. It is precisely what happened to the very next victim. I feel strongly about these tragedies. Stopping such assaults became a spiritual mission to me when I was only 9 years old. I asked God to give me the wisdom to protect victims when I heard of the tragic tale of Kitty Genovese who was stabbed 27 times within sight and hearing of her neighbors.

These things should not happen but they do. You do not have to be a great warrior to preserve your life. Let me offer a contrast here. When I returned from Germany last year I was shocked and saddened to learn that a Kung Fu master friend of mine was dead. Out of respect for his illustrious career, I will not mention his name. His death was not the worst news. He was attacked in a home invasion by a half-dozen men. Though he fought valiantly, and I have witnessed his great skills, one of the men hit him from behind on the head with a metal bar. He eventually died from his wounds. I knew him to be an awesome, seemingly unbeatable practitioner. This was on my mind when I was attacked.I was calm but I was aware that I could die that night. I had one thing going for me, however, something that my friend never laid claim to having. I had No-Mind, mushin, at work within me. My responses were spontaneous, fluid and unpredictable, even to me..

It can be so simple to transform your mind to a victorious life-affirming energy but you have to open that gate. No one else can help you unless he has already passed to the other side.The path of the everyday warrior is not about just fighting but if you have to pass through the violent ones to get home, you should be able to shift into that gear and do so. .

When you are under the sword time is measured in seconds. The wise begin their lessons long before the dark night rises.I did not always have extraordinary abilities. I grew up as a victim of nearly every bully in my neighborhood. However, I believed that the weakness in me could be overcome. I believed in the power of transformation, and it came. It is because I did not want to witness a proliferation of victims, fodder for those who would wantonly destroy, that I wrote a series of books that can produce genuine heroes. We don't mind buying an alarm to protect our homes from robbers. We arm them before we leave the house. Consider taking time to arm your mind. Nothing is more incredible than the enhanced sense of life th at will come. When the dark night emerges anywhere bring The Light.


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