Archive | February 2013

This a Buddhist blog showing a meditational perspective on anger for an alternate point of view.

The Bad Lama's Guide to Meditation

Have you ever been so swept up by an emotion that you did something that you later regretted? Have you ever been so angry that you lashed out at someone, and later felt regret because you’d hurt them? So consumed with desire for something that you paid way too much for it (financially and /or emotionally)?  So full of lust that you entered into a romantic liaison and then wanted to flee the next day? (Hint: If you answered “no” to all of the above, you are a liar.)

We all experience emotions that are so powerful that they seem to compel us into action. When we’re seized by a powerful emotion, our judgment is clouded, and we often make bad choices. There’s a word for this kind of emotion in the traditional language of Buddhism: it’s klesha in Sanskrit (kilesa inPali, nyönmong in Tibetan.) In translations and commentaries, you…

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Boom Boom Mancini, Duk Koo Kim, Iron Men and never backing down

Among other interests, I have a relatively recent love of boxing and a much older love of the musician Warren Zevon (who wrote a song about Boom Boom Mancini).  I have found boxing metaphorically more accessible to modern audiences and a bit more cross cultural than direct references to berserks and gangr.  It allows one to compare the style of a very technical fighter to a more brutal one and this can translate well in analogies.  Additionally, it is far more practical for me to study boxing directly and participate than it would be to be seen swinging an axe. 

This post/observation ties to the story of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, another boxer named Duk Koo Kim, the very old boxing concept of the “Iron Man” and the price of a No Retreat, No Surrender mindset. 

First, some links for Boom Boom Mancini and Duk Koo Kim:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/boom-boom-mancini-life-changed-tragedy-hit-boxing-ring-article-1.258729

http://www.lvrj.com/sports/11232441.html (Also Duk Koo Kim)

Second, on the concept of the Iron Man.  My first encounter of the term is actually from the works of Robert E. Howard, himself an amateur boxer and a great lover of Iron Men.  The core concept is a fighter who wins by “toughing it out” rather than skill.  Here are two links relating to the Iron Man:

http://coxscorner.tripod.com/ironmen.html (It is a bit puffed up with a lot of boxing jargon.)

A link to a copy of Howard’s story: http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Man-Dodo-Press/dp/140657256X#_

The basic concept is of a man who wins less by being a great technical boxer and more by being able to take a tremendous amount of punishment.  That is also the nature of the protagonist in the story.  Howard’s other boxing characters are very similar.  The concept, at least back in the pre-WW2 era, was that an Iron Man was very tough and won by out lasting a better boxer.  As I said above, I feel it is a reasonably more modern metaphor for the berserk, with some variances.

My core point is that, in boxing, like in some other areas of life, there is a focus on fighting spirit, “heart” or “sand”.  You also see this in the Rocky movies, as the main character there is less about technique and more about taking an incredible beating and then rising to still defeat his opponent.  The “tough it out” approach.  This is also a core element to our vision of the berserk, the man who is all attack and never backs down.  It is an appealing image, especially to a certain sort of macho/tough guy stereotype.  I understand why that non compromising stance seems so appealing to us and why we respect it when we see it and idolize it in story.  In some ways, that never back down element is a strong part of the Fire path.  But, it is ALSO what killed Duk Koo Kim.

Remember him?  He was the one Boom Boom Mancini fought in the ring and partially what the song I linked was about.  Duk Koo Kim was a little known but very tough fighter from Korea who won mostly by never giving up.   Kim was a small town boxer and Korean champion who never backed down and ended up, somehow, fighting well above his league.  As mentioned in the second article above, a reporter saw “Live or Die” in Korean on a lamp shade.  Sadly, that was prophetic.

From the New York Daily News article:

Mancini dropped Kim in the 14th, and though he beat the 10 count, Green stopped the fight. While Mancini was celebrating the victory, Kim collapsed in the corner. He was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and rushed to Las Vegas’ Desert Springs Hospital, where he had 2½  hours of surgery on his brain to remove a blood clot and relieve pressure in his skull.

“I thought I could save him,” says neurosurgeon Lonnie Hammagren, who specializes in treating fighters. “I was able to remove the blood clot,  but the pressure was so high that there was no blood flow to his brain.”

Kim had no brain function and lingered in a coma for four days on life support.

Kim fought valiantly, never gave up, took tremendous punishment and it KILLED him.  I use this as an example of the limitations of a pure Fire/Berserk/Tough Guy mindset.  I think it has great value, and there are times such an approach may be needed but remember that our adrenal response is for Fight AND Flight.  There are times to back away and many more times never to fight in the first place.  Much as we may idolize Iron Men and those that never back down or compromise, the metaphor and the example has some severe flaws. 

There are additional elements to the story.  On the positive, it changed boxing significantly with the dropping of 15 round fights, stronger medical supervision and more pressure on referees to stop fights that seem too one sided. (Compare the actions of referees in older fights to newer ones and you will see a difference.) On the negative, the mother Duk Koo Kim and the referee of the fight committed suicide within less than a year and Mancini was haunted by the death for the rest of his career and beyond. 

In earlier posts, I have talked about community and the importance of community to helping someone walk a Fire path.  It is important to have positive Passions that help guide us and give us a Home Base:

https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/love-and-having-a-home-base-part-1/

https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/love-and-having-a-home-base-part-2/

There and elsewhere, I talk about the importance of our community to us.  Remember, none of us stands alone and everything we do touches others.  In our rage, we can forget this.  Work to remember that you are part of something more than you sometimes see.  Our standing and fighting with Passion is very powerful but sometimes it i so powerful that it can incinerate us and burn those around us.

The importance of meditation

This is a good reminder of the importance of meditation.  To be clear, they are talking more about mindfulness, which is not my primary form. I use a regular form of prayer, adoration and breathing mixed periodically with physical movement like walking or boxing but the core effects are similar.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/mindfulness-and-meditation-training-could-ease-ptsd-symptoms-researchers-say/2013/02/16/a296a52a-4ad2-11e2-b709-667035ff9029_story.html

Another concept of possible values for heathens drawn from a Vanatru inspiration.

Volmarr's Modernist Heathenism for Solitary Practitioners

I found these at another site and like them a great deal.:

Beauty
The pursuit of beauty and elegance in thought, form and speech.

Courage/Passion
Zeal, vigor; the strength and courage that comes from a life worth living.

Land-rightness
The recognition of nature and the environment as worthy of respect, care and reverence.

Even-mood
Harmonious and balanced thought and action; tranquility, calm, serenity.

Openness
The quality of being receptive to the world around one, non-judgmental and open.

Wildness/Ecstasy
Music and dance; the nurturing of inner wildness and childlike being, being like the “fey”

Love
The all-encompassing force; love for family, for kin, for humanity, for all beings.

Frith
The peace and goodwill between people bound together; loyalty and the keeping of one’s word.

Faith/Piety
The trust that the Gods exist and are worthy of our worship, and Their ways worth following.

Giving
The binding of two parties into one common…

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Hermod – Part 3

This post will be shorter than the others:

https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/hermod-part-2/

https://facingthefireswithin.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/hermod/

It is more of a practical realization and observation of what Hermod seems to be meaning in my life and how working with Hermod and worshipping has affected me and the “duties” that seem to follow.  I have written poetry and prose to Hermod and am working on prayers and minor adorations but there are two more direct observations.

First, a friend was going into the hospital for major surgery with some concerns that Hel might be around the corner.  I felt a strong pull to Hermod in this case and did a fair amount of praying.  My message was more to my friend than to Hel.  I don’t think the lore shows Hel as very negotiable and would argue that part of Hermod’s story is that it didn’t even work for Balder and you certainly won’t get that for yourself.  No, my message was more about courage and fighting to survive.  I think Hermod is a fine example of courage that is not about combat but the kind of courage we honor in an explorer or someone similar who risks much in merely traveling.  In the end, my friend made it through and things are looking well for him.

The second was only last week and a surprise.  Another friend lost his mother several weeks ago after a long and debilitating illness ending in a stroke where they could not tell if she was even aware.  My friend lived states away and did everything he could to be there for his mother.  He is also a devout Roman Catholic.  He called me that night in tears and broken, feeling a failure and not finding solace in his own faith or even his actions.  It was up to me, the fatalistic heathen, the console the Christian.  Somehow, the lessons of Hermod helped me and by the end we were laughing and joking.  I knew there were no magic answers.  I had to let me friend talk and see that there was no shame in that long, hard ride (all of his efforts to help his mother) and that he could not blame himself for her dying as that was always beyond his control (the ultimate failure of Hermod’s mission due to events of which he was unaware).  It all served me to help me friend and see that, as a grief counselor to my friend, I was fulfilling my own devotion to Hermod.

I have often found that my faith and relationship to deity is more about example and living than mystical experience.  Hermod is yet another example.

Hail Hermod, Hel Rider!  Show us that quiet courage without a blade in hand is often as important as the flashier kinds.