The mind and body

Posted Oct 19, 2002
Last Updated Oct 30, 2011

There are times when, against the cliché, the mind is not your most powerful resource, when the pen is not mightier than the sword. Were that not so, we would live in a world capable of Utopia; for that it is true, we have found it necessary to fortify ourselves with the wisdom to know that there are critical moments when thought must cease and give way to action.

In a time when a murderer or enemy or predatory beast bears down on you intent on killing you, there is no time for reflection. The moment caught in thought, in indecision, may prove to be the very reason for failure to survive.

This is a truth that the moralist would want to ignore in making the absolute statement that the mind always prevails. Yes, the mind is a wonderfully powerful commodity, but its service is best used in times before a crisis of this specifically critical nature. Thinking before hand to stay out of a bad situation is the place for the mind to save a life, but once in a bad place, the ability to act, as by well trained instinct, is a key to survival.

You will find that the best basketball players, or the best martial artists, are those who have trained so much before a game or fight as to be able to act without thinking during the heat of battle. How many times do you see an excellent shooter score while well defended when he acts instinctively, and how many times does that shooter miss open shots merely because he hesitated and thought about the shot?

By saying that these people do not think at all when they play basketball or fight is not the meaning here: what is meant is that they do not spend time during these battles trying to decide what to do—because they have already trained themselves to know what to do. Thinking still occurs, but it is not in the fashion of trying to figure something out. Here, thinking is a matter of telling your body to do what you already know to do.

Understanding this point is to understand what Bruce Lee meant when he wrote, "To understand the actual requires awareness, an alert and totally free mind.”

Our world has been divided by people who worship the mind over the body. But to do so is to deny the very foundation that sustains the mind. If one thing worthy of repeating from the lips of Plato exists, it is his claim that the best education is composed of athletics and literature. In essence, he said what few people seem to hold dear to their hearts: a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand.

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