“Nothing is resisted, nothing is sought. Everything is allowed to be as it is.” – Surrendering

A masterpiece by Remy van Gogh at the age of 22 months.  July 2020.

A lady from a meditation group recommended the writings of Joan Tollifson.   The contents of the following article on her website caught my attention:

Joan Tollifson, “True Meditation: What is it?” JoanTollifson.com, 2018.

Her description of meditation expressed in clear terms many aspects that I have experienced and would be hard-pressed to pen.  In particular, I found her following words quite beautiful and relevant:

Nothing is resisted, nothing is sought.  Everything is allowed to be as it is. – Joan Tollifson.

To let go of expectations and surrender to and accept what is.  To return to serenity, spaciousness, calmness and flow.  To see, accept and experience the thoughts which arise – especially those which would otherwise produce tension, stress, anxiety, fear or suffering in “me”.   Rather than identifying with or getting lost in such thoughts or trying to push them away.   To apply energy in life and in kendo more efficiently as described later.

  • These words express similar sentiments:
    • Attachment and resistance are the only things that keep us away from this bliss of awakened consciousness. … Whatever we are attached to is going to prevent us from opening to that, from even having it or even seeing it.  And whatever we are resisting is the same. – Peter Cutler [Cutler Interview] from 1:53:00.
    • (I)t is our perception of it (the present moment) not being the way we want it to be that makes it appear less than perfect.  This is the cause of our sufferings and unhappiness. – Michael L. Fournier [Fournier_Enlightenment, p. 14].
    • Letting go isn’t a doing, it’s a stopping of doing. – Michael J. Taft. [Taft_LetGo]

This mind seems to have a long list of learned responses, beliefs and expectations acquired over the years which can bring about the aforementioned tension and stress in certain situations.  Manifesting itself as an overlay for the way I want things to be or not to be. Versus the way things actually are – be it in decisions, relationships, work, position, grades, health, looks, investments, events, life,…  as also described in [KendoNotes_Attention].  And with the realization and desire for change,  a process of de-construction and letting go.  Becoming more aware of such overlays as they arise versus what is.  And letting “what is” be fine.

Here’s some inspiring stories on surrendering:

  • How a tea master managed to live by surrendering in a duel with a samurai in “The Samurai and the Tea Master” as also cited in [KendoNotes_RightArm]. (Note that there are different versions of the story).
  • The Parable of the Empty Boat [DailyZen_EmptyBoat]
  • The Parable of the Farmer – “Who knows what’s good or bad” [Parable_Farmer].
  • How the friend of someone I know insisted on a bet of who could pick up a particular girl.  The friend tried really hard and the other – not really wanting or caring to “win”.  Guess who the girl picked.
  • How Les Fehmi succeeded in generating alpha brain waves when he finally gave up trying to [KendoNotes_OpenFocus].
  • William Glasser’s book on “Choice Theory” describing the benefits that may arise when we realize that we cannot control others [Glasser_ChoiceTheory].
    • This book helped start a change in me to a better relationship with my wife.
  • A book by Michael A. Singer “The Surrender Experiment” which is apparently a story of his experiment with surrendering to life.

In the context of kendo, I witness examples of resistance, attachment and serenity in keiko.

  • Examples of resistance:
    • Where person A in tsubazeriai pushes the other (B) and where B resists and pushes back.
      • And its absence where B instead lets A push and waste his or her energy as B sidesteps A.
    • Where A applies side pressure to B‘s shinai tip and notices B‘s resistance to the pressure.
      • A can exploit that resistance and create an opening to Strike B by removing the side pressure that B had been resisting such that B‘s shinai moves off center.
    • Where A doesn’t want to lose face by losing or failing.
  • Examples of attachment:
    • Where A wants to strike or perform a particular waza so much that A reveals his or her intention and becomes an easy read for B.
    • Where A wants so much to pass or win that tightness arises in the arms, shoulders and face.
  • Examples of serenity:
    • Where A‘s attention is not narrowly focused on a particular thing such as a technique to execute, B‘s eyes or hands, analysis, self-talk or one of the four sicknesses (四戒-shikai) [KendoInfo_Shikai].  But instead softly focused to see everything – including for example, without effort or looking for it, the subtle rising and falling of B’s shoulders which reveals a natural time to strike at the starting point of inhalation when B becomes vulnerable or facial cue just before B initiates an attack.
    • Again, from a place of calmness, B‘s movement patterns, facial expressions, areas of strengths and areas of weaknesses become apparent as described in more detail in [KendoNotes_ReallySeeing]A becomes completely present to and like a mirror to B [KendoNotes_Mirror].
    • I’ll never forget a qualifying match I once had with Ryo Tamaru sensei (6th dan, Toronto, Canada).  He was smiling throughout the match.

Resistance and attachment – two sides of the same coin according to Peter Cutler.  As opposed to relaxing and letting things be – as they arise in life or in a match.  Like a leaf meandering gently along a river and the stories mentioned earlier.  Shifting more towards surrender, serenity and floating.  And surrendering also the wish for that – which often arises in “this” mind.  Alas, a work in progress 🙂

For More Information on “Surrendering”

  • In addition to the cited articles mentioned earlier by Peter Cutler, Michael Fournier, Michael Taft, I found this article by Zack Bodenweber with some concrete examples very helpful, too [Bodenweber_Non-resistance].


[Bodenweber_Non-resistance] Zack Bodenweber, “Non-resistance: Eliminating Unnecessary Suffering,” TheStillFlame.com

[Cutler_FreedomFromThoughtsSuffering]  Peter Cutler, “From Freedom from Thoughts = Freedom from Suffering,” n-lightenment.com, July 18, 2017.

[Cutler Interview] “BATGAP Interview with Peter Cutler,” March 4, 2017.

[DailyZen_EmptyBoat] “The Empty Boat by Chuang Tzu,” the Daily Zen.

[Fournier_Enlightenment] Michael L. Fournier, “The Enlightenment Training Manual,” 2011.

[Glasser_ChoiceTheory] William Glasser, Choice Theory: A New Psychology Of Personal Freedom, Harper Collins, 1999.

[KendoInfo_Shikai] Geoff Salmon, “The four sicknesses “shikai” – is there a cure?” KendoInfo.Net, April 13, 2015.

[KendoNotes_Attention] “Where is My Attention?”  KendoNotes.com, April 23, 2020.

[KendoNotes_MeditationQuotes] “Quotes on Meditation and Mindfulness – Related to Thoughts and Thinking,” KendoNotes.com, May 31, 2015.

[KendoNotes_Mirror] “The Mirror in the Heart of Master Swordsman (and Jedi Masters),” KendoNotes.com, April 16, 2019.

[KendoNotes_Mushin1] “Quotes on Mushin, Flow and Open-Focus – Part 1,” KendoNotes.com, Oct. 16, 2018.

[KendoNotes_OpenFocus] “Open Focus, Mushin and Kendo,” KendoNotes,com, May 3, 2016.

[KendoNotes_ReallySeeing] “Really Seeing the Opponent and Opportunities to Strike – Part 1: “O” Sensei,” KendoNotes.com, Mar. 3, 2019.

[KendoNotes_RightArm] “Relaxing the Right Arm – Benefits, Tips and Gunslingers,” KendoNotes.com, Sept 28, 2019.

[KendoNotes_SoftEyes] “‘Soft Eyes,’ A Way of Seeing and Being – Quote and Resources,” KendoNotes.com, December 21, 2018.

[Parable_Farmer] David Allen, “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad,” Medium, Sept 1, 2015.

[Taft_LetGo] Michael W. Taft, “Just Let Go — Surrender Everything in Meditation,” DeconsructingYourself.com, April 12, 2020

Copyright 2020 KendoNotes.com

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