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© 2011 David Lumsden
Regardless of your pursuit, your greatest enemy is your own ego. The inner fear that binds you to complacency and limits your pursuits will always strangle your personal growth. This is true with any endeavor, great or small. Certain tasks may require greater sacrifice and perhaps even greater risk. With the sacrifice and risk comes potential failure. Even worse, perhaps we will experience self-embarrassment. Thus, our defense mechanism is our own ego.
Surely you have heard the statement, "Swallow your pride." Quite simply, this is when we tell our ego to "shut up." We then contain that inner fear that manifests itself as a controlled but misguided rationalization. When we control this inner voice we allow the child in us to emerge. This is the playful student, inquisitive and yearning for knowledge...knowledge of any kind. This is the child who does not yet know the fear of heights, who doesn't realize that the "water is too cold to swim," or who has not yet been taught about the "boogie man" behind the dark door. This is the child who hasn't been tainted by the misperception of race or religion and just sees people for who they really are...just people like me! Most importantly, this is the child who views learning as a most precious form of simple and pure FUN. This is also man devoid of all preconceived notions and misconceptions about himself, his abilities and his assessment of others. This is the man who "empties his cup of tea so he can taste someone else's tea." He is not the expert or teacher; he is not grandmaster or king of the mountain. A man without ego is the man at the bottom of the mountain who yearns to climb and conquer the mountain, even it exists only in the hidden shallowness of his soul. A man without ego is a simple student. He is the white belt in a room of black belts. He is the novice in a world of professionals. He is the omnipotent one who bows before the lowly and speaks humbly and compassionately with respect, honor and dignity. He learns from the student.
The martial artist with ego is a most dangerous individual. Not so because of any ability or lack thereof, but because he is closed to growth. This is the individual who stops learning because he is arbitrarily convinced of some master status. The martial arts ego is one that says, "I am a black belt," yet this same person has never really fought or tested his supposed skills in real combat. A true martial artist will test himself in this situation and not be embarrassed by the outcome. The battle is an or lose it is an avenue towards mastery and further growth. Suddenly everything you do becomes play. As Sijo Bruce Lee says, "I do not respond, it responds all by itself." In so doing it as if the child emerges once again...learning to throw the ball for the first time, or ride the bike without training wheels, or swim in the deep end. Remember that feeling! Remember how magical that experience was, how magical it can be. Put your ego away!
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