for: Latino Pastoral Action Center, Bronx, NY, Nov. 1998
Enterprise of the Spirit
When younger brothers and sisters kill each other in our streets, when they drop out of school to become raw material for a "prison-industrial complex," when they become parents before they become adults, we know that we are in trouble. Bodies, emotions and minds are out of harmony, raging against frustrations and ugliness left, right, front and back. We had better help the young blood to build a better society so that it does not spill into the gutters.
To deal with such anarchy and threat requires mind and body to breathe together in consciousness of purpose, skills to create and execute good plans and the hope, faith and love to make a different world together. The martial arts have proven their ability to train mind and body to breathe together. Conflict resolution techniques have proven their ability to train mind and voice to arrive at common interests. The spiritual disciplines have proven their ability to train beings to be aware of their uniqueness and commonality with all other beings. These are the disciplines our young people need to transform themselves and our world; these are the methods to be taught in a peace dojo.
Who should belong to a peace dojo? Those who are satisfied with their wealth or poverty have forgotten their hunger for a better world. Those whose temporary success has made them arrogant will have no patience for the hard disciplines of transformation. Those who have given up even the hope of hoping are beyond our call. But those who are still suffering and still hoping for hope of a better world will hear it.
The task is to connect with those who come, teach them how to reopen their hearts to hope, then train them, body, mind and spirit, to breath anew. When they breathe well they will feel hope moving more strongly in their hearts. When they hope, they will notice unrecognized strength pooled in the very foundation of their beings. And they will be able to train truly.
The training purpose of the peace dojo is learning how to give love. Its guidelines are affirmation, attention, trust and participation. The last actually is the beginning of the flow of love from the inner pool of being up and out into the world through action and communication. This "love" is the stuff of real power, of transformation, of transforming power through which Being acts in this world. Peace dojo training aims at helping ordinary people to become conduits for transforming power, to become beings through whom Being flows abundantly and in peace.
The teaching methods of a peace dojo are cooperative and evolutionary. The dojo expects its members to support the process of becoming peace-warriors not only in themselves, but also in their training partners, so that the dojo will evolve as a group. The physical body learns to move into threat with composure and full attention. The mental body learns to move into threat with composure and full attention. The learners are of one body-mind practicing the use of word and movement to bring harmony out of threat and order out of anarchy. The postures and breathing of the yoga asanas lead to such inner strength. The inner balance of Tai Chi and aikido leads to such composure and such attention. The music of Mozart, Ellington and the ragas of India all lead to this state. The words of Laotzu, the Prophet, Yeshua ben Nazaret, and Buddha lead to this state. All the methods of the people of peace from all the ages surround and infuse peace dojo learning connecting past with future.
The specific training cycles from breath to center, to perception, to movement, to techniques of attacking (giving) and receiving, to integration of learning in breath, repeating itself again and again.
This project is a dojo, because many of the main learning techniques come from the martial way refined by hundreds of master warriors. It is a peace dojo because the way is that of peace: voice, muscle, emotion, intellect and being. Members learn to use word and movement to discover truth, behold beauty and praise Being.