…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

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Irony of Goals: Training and Zen

I am struck by the necessity of,  and yet, inherent contradiction, between training goals (or any goals, for that matter), and Zen Practice.

Goals are necessary to Practice due to the peculiar wiring of the human mind and physiology. The will needs a target to focus on.  As in Kyudo, the archer needs a target to focus his bow and arrow on.

Paradoxically, goals are an attachment, and Practice is about detachment.  The Archer aims at the target with his mind, and then releases attachment to striking his aim.

In triathlon, this is particularly tricky, as there are so many goals, targets, variables, and equipment to track and monitor. Additionally, it is a competition, so times and standings are inescapable. The trick is to track these goals, work towards them, but then have no attachment.

This is the trick in life. We need to eat to live. Our bodies and minds will scream for nourishment. How then do we remain detached from food, yet seek nourishment for our bodies? There are many, many more mundane examples.

Warriors in combat have the same quandary. We train. We fight. All with an objective. Yet, to Practice we must also remain detached.

In this way triathlon is good Warrior training because of long and continuous training period, the number of variables, the specificity of success or failure, the concentrated pressure. I find it a great environment to Practice.

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— Jalal

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