Physical strength as the basis of enlightenment...

Discussion in 'Health, Physical Fitness & Martial Preparation' started by renownedwolf, 7 May 2016.

  1. renownedwolf

    renownedwolf Heroic Member


    “First of all our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards,” said Swami Vivekananda. “Be strong, my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the [Hindu religious text of the Bhagavad] Gita… You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger.”

    We in the West have inherited the Christian image — and I would say, largely a false image — of the spiritual or enlightened man: self-sacrificing, passive, slender, and in a sense anti-physical.

    Where Christianity has declined or disappeared, this image and the assumptions of the religion — equality, a focus on — or a belief in — the poor and the outcast, and strong suspicion of the physical body, especially physical strength — have become the major motifs of politics.

    But the traits we associate with spirituality and intelligence are not necessarily accepted by either non-Western or pre-modern cultures.

    If we look to the East, we find that the Buddha — a prince in his earlier life — was said to be skilled in martial arts; Krishna revealed his teachings on the battlefield, urging his disciple to fight. Then, of course, there are the Shaolin warrior monks, who developed Kung-Fu. So, too, in pre-Christian Europe, the gods prepare for a final cataclysmic batter: Ragnarok.

    “God is not to be reached by the weak,” says Swami Vivekananda. “Never be weak. You have infinite strength within you. How else will you conquer anything? How else will you come to God?”

    If we have infinite strength, physical and mental, isn’t it a blasphemy to cultivate weakness within ourselves? Certainly, it is. Yet, today, across the West, we see not only a loathing of the strong, muscular physical body in regard to men (and feminine beauty in regard to women), but we see college students calling for the banning of ideas with which they disapprove (but have never engaged), the banning of speakers with which they disagree, and even for the establishment of “safe spaces” on campus.

    This is both an anti-intellectual and anti-body environment. Although the figure of the false Jesus-like male invariably turns up here, against both physical and mental strength, it is essentially an anti-spiritual movement.

    It is a movement, or, really, a mob, designed to keep people locked into certain beliefs, but not to understand them. Learning, understanding, awakening, self-development, and character or cultivating inner strength all require the individual to consider ideas different to, and even contrary to, his beliefs. He may or may not change his views. But he should at least understand his own better by doing so.

    True spirituality, as would be understood by Swami Vivekananda, ancient tribes, martial arts lineages, Buddhism in the East (especially Vajrayana Buddhism), Hinduism in India (especially Tantra), and even Freemasonry (with its symbolism of death — the dagger, and so on), requires not safe spaces but dangerous spaces — that is to say, spaces of cultivation through a kind of positive-opposition to the disciple, student, or initiate. Such spaces are not reckless, but designed to push the individual beyond what he believes his limits are (but in fact are not).

    Cultivating physical and mental strength means cultivating inner and outer peace. It is not only an act of self-reliance, it is a real self-sacrifice — sacrificing one’s pettiness through focus, the pain of physical exercise and inner-growth — to one’s society that should benefit from having more men and women who are noble in mind, body, and spirit.

    Today, we have come to mistake the shallow appearance of niceness for the substance of inner peace, attained through strength. This is an enormous trap.

    “Nice guys” are usually not that nice. A man whose body is weak, and who is easily intimidated must avoid violence. Such a man is not peaceful. He is merely forced to be subservient. “Peacefulness” and “enlightenment” and “spirituality” become a pose — excuses not to engage in confrontations. It is not merely a case of avoiding physical violence, but even in expressing his feelings to his girlfriend, for example, if it could lead to a heated discussion. Because he does not do what he believes is good for him, and because he expects others to act as weakly toward him when he wants something from them, inside of the “nice guy” boils resentment that he does not get his way.

    We see this frustration played out in other ways, imposing itself on society.

    In the past, weak-bodied priests talked viciously about God’s “love,” and warned of hell fire for anyone who disagreed, while religious schools often meted out harsh punishments to boys and girls, traumatizing them for life.

    Today, we see a new expression of the same old fear: Large groups of “peaceful protesters” screaming, shouting, threatening, committing acts of vandalism, and even sometimes physically attacking a lone individual who has had the nerve to say something with which they disagree. All of this happens for some alleged ideal — usually some secular variation of Christianity’s universal harmony among mankind — which melts away the moment it becomes an inconvenience. Alone, each member of the mob is utterly without strength.

    As Swami Vivekananda said, “strength is life, weakness is death.” Choose life. Cultivate physical strength. Make it a foundation for authentic inner peace, for cultivating higher qualities, confidence and focus, and make it a shield against the winds of modernity that blow this way then that, ever changing, always howling, always empty.
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  2. Boreas

    Boreas Senior Member Staff Member Sustaining Member

    I most definitely agree with the spirit of this regarding the importance of the physical vehicle's condition regarding life and health of the whole composition known as Man.
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  3. Boreas

    Boreas Senior Member Staff Member Sustaining Member

    Personally I'll be starting a regural strenght training rudimen compined with martial arts twice a weeks. It's good to go back to the Tatami after a break of almost 9 years, when I practiced Kung Fu wushu, ran and lifted at least 5-6 times a week. I have always have had this concern of the condition of the physical vehicle since my late teens at least. I hope I can become stronger and wiser in the future in all possible ways, and the combination of Spirit, Soul, and Body, the trichotomous and tripartite composition of man.
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  4. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    I wish these anti-Christian sorts would pick a side: "Oh, Christianity is weak and unmanly; Pagans, Hindoos, Daoists, - they're strong and virile" / "Oh no, Christians defeated the Germanics and wiped out their faith, resisted the tide of Islam, and went on to subjugate the world, occupying India and China, - those tyrants!" So which is it? Weak embracers of suffering, or strong enough to be conquerors?
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  5. Boreas

    Boreas Senior Member Staff Member Sustaining Member

    Christian nightly spirit combined with the northern ethos 'be more as you appear to be' is enough for me in this time. I always try to reach a personal view of things and think my thoughts out carefully, but if this is something that physical exercise helps alot. Christianity if anything of the ideologues has always honoured the athletic spirit even if they were only metaphors, and when these metaphors reached the Norse, Barbarians etc., it went on to be warrior ethos with a Christian veneer. Never about the subtle nihilism of early Christian beginnings, humbling one's self in spiritual manner before the great Other whom they didn't regard as immanent as well., this strain of thoughts died for millenias after the Gnostics and other so called "Heretics". Keep on the Good Fight!
  6. renownedwolf

    renownedwolf Heroic Member

    By that logic Raisin you should be cheering on the triumph of Liberalism, no? It has been all has all but demolished the Christian Church.
  7. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    Well I've never said Liberalism is weak.
  8. Manu

    Manu Señor Member Sustaining Member
    1. Norden
    2. Knights of the Iron Cross

    I don't like anti-christian sentiments much, anymore, mostly due to it being a destructive pursuit. Traditional christianity is preferable by far to atheism or left hand path type of pursuits.

    It is in that regard an unbalanced critique of christianity itself, but over-all it is true about the rest. Christianity does however contain within it countless cognitive dissonances which stem from:

    1. pre-christian or outright pagan practices which continued after the introduction of the new religion. Often continued on as non-biblical tradition. Such as religious warrior-societies, stemming from earlier hunting brotherhoods like the bear cult, something which pagan Europe had lots of.

    2. Contradictory statements in the bible, if taken literally and not explained away by theologians such as Thomas Aquinas (the "Just War" doctrine in particular). Or the message of peace and love while Jesus at the same time says "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." In Matthew 10:45.

    I essentially view Christianity as confusing and strange. I will not understand it and will not try any more than I have, as I view it as a waste of time. But if it works for someone who has a different nature perhaps more in tune with it, I find not fault. If it makes someone a templar (although I prefer if such alpha warrior male specimens have lots of children rather than go celibate) then go ahead.

    Except for the angry critique on that singular point, I find it rings true. A weak man probably - I am not saying it is entirely impossible, but it comes with criteria - cannot have a balanced point of view, because he will probably be a sniveling dog of a man. Kind of like a chronically poor and starving person will probably be in favor of free handouts, especially infringements upon the private property of others. He cannot hold a balanced attitude, because he is forced to be "nice" because he is inferior, and knows it. A balanced point of view is theoretically only possible if he is completely unaware of his inferiority in relation to others, for example through isolation (hermits, for example). In order to reach enlightenment while remaining worldly, one needs to be strong physically, mentally and spiritually. This is of course not the only way, and this is one purpose of monastic life, but for those who live in this world and intend to do so, it is necessary to be born stronger than average and to cultivate these strengths.

    In fact, I believe that it is kind of silly to separate "mental", "physical" and "spiritual" at all. The way that works in the real world is to grow symmetrically and not to separate the scholar from the warrior - in the words of Thucydides - or either of those two from the priest. A noble man contains within himself all three, as well as the artisan, the musician and many other complementary things. It is not for everyone. But I am of the opinion that it is the case whether one is christian or pagan. Neither would it conflict with Christianity as I know it. It is, however, mostly a pagan idea, from its ancient root. And it was revived, alongside paganism, during the renaissance. I believe everyone here is familiar with the Renaissance Man ideal. This is the path to worldly enlightenment.

    Certain things are gathered and never lost, for example knowledge, if one has a high enough IQ to have a sharp long term memory. Some skills or attributes are hard-gained and do not keep well without practice, such as musical skills, physical strength and body mass, martial arts skills and so forth. Tending to all these things while raising children and being a good husband, working and so forth is a full time job in and of itself. Not everyone will have the discipline to do so. But whoever said anything is easy? Enlightenment while worldly is hard to achieve. I don't think I am there, by the way. Just a fellow traveler. But I know I progress positively, which I hopefully view as a good sign. Perhaps the most important step is what our friend JosephRex often refers to, bhakti. Basically surrendering to God, Spirit, Source or whatever one calls the highest Lord God. Without this, one is lost and without purpose. To be a willing instrument of the Sky Father - as I call Him privately, as our ancestors did - is for me the highest honor and my purpose. I know I am here with a job to do, for the umpteenth time, and I find joy in doing what I am supposed to. Which, for example, is writing this for others to find. Little good works every day clears the Kali Yuga away, eh?
    Last edited: 25 August 2018
  9. Bast

    Bast Member Sustaining Member

    The body is certainly the temple of the spirit. I destroyed my body over 4 yrs ago, in total despondancy. Now life is even busier than in my 20s, while disciplining myself all over again.

    Never let the body go even one day, or bad habits set in and moral fatigue will follow. Our spirits can be broken this way, but maybe in rebuilding the temple, the spirit will return stronger.
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