In this modern life, there is no limitation on the number of different activities we can choose to do. In fact, most of these acts are equal.
For example, other than the pleasure I gain from it, there is little impact on who I am as a person by choosing to do surfing over skydiving. Certainly, my choice to do either of these is not going to have any impact on the spectrum of human kind right now. Most certainly, it will do nothing to affect human kind from a historical perspective.
While pleasurable, it is meaningless. While I can learn from it, it is meaningless. While I could grow as an individual, it is meaningless.
By that, I mean that the sum total of the person is not changed.
If my name were Frank, others could say, “Frank went surfing. Frank went skydiving. Frank did gymnastics. Frank played basketball.” These would be cool to have done, but would fade quickly. They would be better than definite negatives like “Frank does heroin. Frank pimps. Frank stabbed a man for liquor money. Frank dodges child support.” A null is better than a negative.
There is a little recognized thought in America, still very prevalent in modern Asian culture, once a dominant feature of the Greeks and Romans, and even dating to the earliest human civilizations of the Sumerian.
We should be concerned about doing nothing to elevate ourselves. Maybe we should be concerned about not elevating humanity. Maybe we should be concerned about impacting history.
You see some things we do, do have those impacts. They speak to the nobility of the species and raise it. They are about an individual in struggle, with him or herself, and with the world. The story written by such acts lifts us. Most times the act lifts just the individual. Sometimes the act lifts this modern time. Sometimes the nobility of humans throughout history is raised.
To engage in such an act, whether simple or exalted, is what is called a path with heart. A path that speaks to the nobility of the human species.
People often wonder why I teach kung fu. I do after all have other options. The reason is very simple, kung fu, taught correctly, is a path with heart.
Master Mikel Steenrod
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