HARNESSING THE POWER OF CHANGE
December 21st 2012. We’ve all heard the predictions, read the articles, seen the movie, debated the outcome and marked it in our calendar as a must-have day off work. Furthermore, some of us have had our chakras re-aligned, meditated for spiritual clarity and bought a book entitled ‘Preparing for Spiritual Ascension during the Age of Aquarius’. Then there are those of us who have sharpened hunting knives, stockpiled enough food to last a millennium, and booby-trapped our bomb shelters with a plethora of nasty tetanus-riddled devices.
Clearly, a great deal of fuss and anticipation has gathered over this hotly debated and somewhat fabled event. As catastrophic natu-ral incidences poignantly unfold against the backdrop of a planet embroiled in war, injustice, politi-cal upheaval, ignorance, hedonistic craving and needless suffering, we can be almost certain this bustle of activity will continue to escalate, especially considering the ‘big event’ is now just months away. The pos-sibility of a rapidly forthcoming ‘time of reckoning’ –whether you are of the ‘spiritual evolution’ faction, the ‘doomsday’ faction or the ‘sitting comfortably on the fence waiting to see what happens’ faction – has shone a penetrating light into those habitually unexplored corners of our collective psyche. Social concerns and spiritual aspirations are among a variety of topics thrust into the spot-light, forcing us to consider some of life’s more confronting questions.
What is happening to our world?
Is Mother Nature trying to de-stroy us, or are we destroying her? What is happening to our species;
are we descending into an irrevers-ible state of societal degeneracy and irresponsibility? What type of world will our children inherit? What if they awaken to find a world completely devoid of humanitarian rights; and if we believe this is a possibility, are we making enough effort to effect the changes we would all like to see? Or are we expecting the world to evolve around us without firstly evolving ourselves as individuals?
Do you think you could survive in a world that has regressed into a state of totalitarian violence and instability? Do you think you could survive a natural disaster? How do you prepare for adversity when you have absolutely no idea what may or may not occur? Then, after all prob-abilities have been considered, you may ask yourself:
Am I capable of adapting to change?
Conundrums such as these are most pertinent to our current situation and should be pondered accordingly, but perhaps we should also ask ourselves: Why aren’t we this introspective all the time? Why do we wait until tragedy looms over us like an intimidating ogre before we con-sider evaluating what is really impor-tant in life? Why do we wait until it is almost too late before we actually do anything to save ourselves?
Ludicrous though it may seem this scenario is not unusual. As Sir Charles Darwin illustrated within his revolutionary volume The Origin of the Species, the single most critical and motivating factor that causes a species to evolve is adversity brought about by change. Darwin points his conjecture conclusively to the ‘eat or be eaten, adapt or die’ real world hypothesis. Thus we may conclude, that remaining oblivious to our weaknesses and shortcomings until calamity is crashing down upon us is not entirely inexcusable, although one must wonder if this is the most effective strategy? The meticulous work of Darwin also illustrates the fact that it is only the most versatile and resourceful minority, gifted with the chosen physical or intellectual tendency suitable for adaptation within the new and particular circumstance, that gains favour in selection to its peers. All other less pliant species or individuals affected by such challenges inevitably result in nothing more than either organic compost or lunch.
We cannot foretell with any concrete certainty what will, if any-thing, transpire upon the portentous date of December 21st 2012. Nev-ertheless, we can clearly ascertain from studying either history or the natural world that the only universal constant is change. In fact, recent studies within the world of quantum physics are consistently confirming that change is not simply an inher-ent aspect of creation, it IS creation. Seemingly isolated or static situa-tions and entities are nothing more than temporal culminations of tran-sient energy within an inter-connect-ed matrix of vibrational tendencies.
To ignore the occurrence of unforeseen change is to live in a constant state of denial and ill pre-pare. Our civilisation is volatile and precarious to say the least, our exist-ence on this planet nothing short of miraculous, not to mention unimagi-nably fragile.
With these innate facts held firmly in mind, it is obvious that prudent action must be em-ployed to protect ourselves against unanticipated mis-fortune. Many self assured individuals, lured through
misdirected introspection have already begun to secure themselves against foreboding circumstance by employing measures such as building bomb shelters, stockpiling food or having their chakras re-aligned. Ef-fectively, it is without doubt that none of these measures would shield us completely from the surging tides of change. To think that they could would be to indulge in an imaginary world; a world full of gummy bears and daffodils, where nuclear power is a truly safe form of energy and the Global Elite deploys flying pigs to drop large bundles of money on poverty-stricken communities.
All good intentions aside, none of these measures are reflective of an accepting attitude toward change; they fundamentally resist change and are thus doomed to eventual failure. While one must agree that it is better to do something rather than nothing, it is regrettable that so much planning and expenditure may come to little or no avail. Even many of us who are attempting to develop ourselves in a spiritual sense are pro-spectively still seeking to placate our anxieties and egos with reassuring
and ultimately pointless ventures.
No matter what considerations are stanchioned against potential circumstance, an infinite number of
alternative possibilities will always exist. No matter what preventatives are employed, if we do not fortify the ‘one thing’ that can assist us in any given scenario, we will always be prone to impotence and vulnerability in the face of adversity and change.
To some small degree, we cannot be held solely responsible for having developed a psychological resistance to that which we find unfamiliar or disconcerting. Our modern lives are bombarded with a relentless babble of insidiously persuasive commercial advertising, urging us to choose the ‘easy’ road, the ‘comfortable’ road or the ‘safe’ road. Common revela-tions to many of life’s predicaments
can be observed daily, drivelling into our living rooms in an endless streaming platitude of television advertisements, attesting to validate statements such as:
“Are you troubled by your health? Worried about your future? Well we have the solution for you... Buy health insurance today!”
Such exclamations only reconfirm the belief that suggests a wholesome diet, regular exercise and a healthy attitude towards life is too difficult a pursuit to even contemplate and somehow health insurance alone will assure the individual a slim waistline and a further three decades of hap-piness and vitality.
If we are to assume that neither you or I fall into the category of those individuals who are content with the ‘easy’ road (a phenomenon that in my humble opinion does not exist), and that none of us find the pros-pect of becoming compost or worm food particularly appealing, then we may ask: How can we as individuals learn to facilitate ourselves to accept change? Do you think it could be pos- sible to abstain from the comfort of our lounge chairs, the convenience of take away dinners and the joy of our flat screen televisions; to escape the restraints of our sedentary, ever-wid-ening waistlines? Would you consider it a possibility to exploit nature’s tried and tested methods of evolution and harness the power of change?
As you may expect, questions such as these have not escaped the attention of intellectual minds count-less times before over the duration of our existence upon this bountiful earth. Maybe we can discover the answers to many of our own ques-tions by studying the solutions and methods of those individuals whose footsteps have marked this very av-enue of enquiry for hundreds, even
thousands of years.
Imagine if you will an environ-ment of austere elegance – functional yet attractive, furnished yet spartan, antiquated yet timeless. A small number of individuals are cloaked in attire and demeanour evocative of the past; an era ordinarily long since consigned to the romanticised pages of history. Few words are spoken and few are needed, for each and every participant is acutely aware of why they are present and what they need to do in order to achieve their com-mon aspiration. They work together
with sober enthusiasm, a restrained and dignified composure veiling the fervent intent that simmers below. Rapid flurries of activity, the subtle intricacies of which remain discernible only to the educated eye, are punctu-ated with moments of animated still-ness. Each individual is alert, attentive
and unmistakably engaged with the entirety of their being in the task at hand – the immediate and competent adaption to adversity and change. They must be unerring in their ef-forts, for serious physical danger, perhaps even their own death, lingers intimately with each passing moment.
The Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō Ryū is Japan’s oldest warrior tradi-tion – wellspring to a plethora of legendary military minds and ori-gin of the prototypical framework inherent within all Japanese combat systems. Members of Katori Shintō Ryū were, and still are renowned for their superb talents with an arsenal of medieval battlefield weaponry, for their outstanding tactical skills and for their ability to proficiently and instantaneously adapt to almost any situation or challenge.
Today, little has changed within the Katori training hall from the perilous days of Japanese medi-eval warriors. Seasoned hardwood training weapons thud with merci-less precision and purpose towards
targets of soft tissue, a course of action disengaged only at the last possible moment before devastat-ing contact. The solitary practitioner wields a blade of unparalleled sharp-ness, voracious cutting edge sliding just millimetres away from tender flesh, as it appears instantaneously from the scabbard at speeds almost inconceivable to the naked eye.
Aside from the unpredictable environmental pressures one may encounter during the course of one’s
life, such as illness or natural calamity, the threat of physical injury or death at the hands of each other is human-kind’s most significant concern. When applied in the correct manner, this threat of bodily peril has the potential to facilitate one of our greatest op-portunities for learning and evolution.
This rationale leads Katori participants to defy their instinctive desires for safety and willingly place themselves in a position of physical danger and emotional distress during each mo-ment of training.
The immense mental and emo-tional pressures associated within these markedly hazardous and
stressful situations elevate the physi-cal demands of what is already an unyieldingly precise and dynamic art form, culminating to represent a true crisis condition. The objective of this recreated crisis scenario is to furnish the initiate with a systemised and controlled opportunity to overcome the abundance of limitations and misconceptions we habitually place upon ourselves.
As the sincere and dedicated Katori adherent progresses along his or her path of learning, the il-lusions of ignorance are stripped away, allowing them to become more capable in discerning the truth of reality; free from mental and emotional distortion, free from self-centred motivation, and free from the fallacious assumption that we are separate individuals living separate, disconnected lives. These revelations eventually give rise to a profound and compassionate attitude toward humanity and all forms of creation.
To summarise, one may say that Katori students learn over time and perseverance to become comfortable within situations of acute physical jeopardy. An ability to adapt and per-form within situations that would ren-der the average individual debilitated, infuses exponents of this art form with the ability to draw a tremendous sense of strength and durability.
With regards to the ‘one thing’ that can assist in any given scenario, let us consider for a moment: The mind of a warrior can be considered their most powerful weapon and consequentially their most effec-tive form of defence. A mind that cannot be clouded or defeated has the power to liberate an individual from the impediments of almost any disastrous or stressful circumstance, commanding might and conviction in situations well beyond the scope of normal expectation.
The vociferous echo of medi-eval Japanese battlefields may be a sound far removed from the ma-
jority of our daily realities, but the opportunity still exists for each of us to harness the power of change. Voluntarily exposing one’s self to mortal danger in order to acceler-ate personal evolution might sound a little extreme and is undoubtedly not everyone’s cup of tea, but just asa Katori student learns to fortify the mind through adapting to their sur-roundings, we too have the capac-ity to embrace that which we find disconcerting or challenging.
We cannot expect to evolve if we do not train ourselves to adapt, and we cannot expect to adapt if we refuse to come out of our comfort zones. In order to ensure against our own individual demise within uncer-tain times, we must strive with every inch of our being during every wak-ing moment to exemplify the values and practices needed to maintain an assertive existence.
When adversity presents itself – whether in the form of sickness, financial hardship, injury, injustice,
the loss of a loved one or any other conceivable guise – we must try to perceive it as an opportunity. An opportunity that has the potential to make us more compassionate and resilient human beings; human beings who are not afraid to confront the inevitabilities of existence, who rec-ognise and cherish the fragility and preciousness of life, who understand that complacency will be the death of
us all, and are committed to personal evolution for the betterment of our species and ultimately, our world.
December 21st 2012 is just a stone’s throw away. What does or does not come to pass upon this long-awaited date is essentially irrel-evant to those who already live life as if every moment is their last.
*kezIAH zAVAeL is a student of the Noda-ha lineage of the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō Ryū. Since her early teens she has been fas-cinated by all areas of the Occult, alternative history and life’s myriad of mysteries, but has now comfortably found her niche within the enthralling world of Ancient Japanese Esotericism and Martial Lore.