Holy Communion #3

In this video we discuss the idea of “the Kingdom.”  What is the Kingdom of God and/or the Kingdom of Heaven?

“What is the Kingdom of God like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and put in his own garden. It grew, and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky lodged in its branches.”

— Luke 13:18–19

Doubling Down: Training Involution #88

As I announced on Thursday, the Workout of the Week is now known as the Training Involution of the Week.  Why?  Because in Cabal Fang we don’t “work out” — we train.  We prepare.  We forge.  And above all, we are involved.

In honor of this way of thinking, today we are doubling down.

Cabal Fang Training Involution #88: Doubling Down

  • Pick a lackluster training session and double it.  Flip through your training journal if you have to and find one that disappointed you.  Let’s say you tried Self Destruct Sequence and you couldn’t quite finish.  Go do it twice.  Maybe you tried to run your first 5K and you had to walk half of it.  Well, go finish a 10K.
  • The goal of this exercise is to remind yourself that you are capable of at least twice as much as you think.  This is about mettlecraftendurance and form — not speed, power, accuracy or mobility — so take as many short breaks (a slow 12-count or 7 fast breaths) as you need.  Just finish.
  • Get your head right.  Re-read Chapter 30: Mettlecraft in the Cabal Fang Study Guide before you begin.  Don’t own a copy?  Order it here and read it later.
  • Start with the premise that this is going to be fun.  Don’t push yourself, just turn on your adventure circuits and start exploring your limits.  Don’t try to cram ten pounds of shit into a 5 pound sack.   Create a vacuum and flow into it like water.
  • When the fun starts to fade, find your joy.  Recite the Emerald Tablet, your favorite piece of scripture or poem, sing a song, give thanks to a higher power for your health, your strength, for the scenery, etc. etc.  When your head starts to crack only spirit can stitch it up.
  • When you start to get gassed modify your exercises.  When Push-ups start killing, begin doing them on knees.  If it’s a run and your knees start complaining, slow to a jog or take short walking breaks.  Don’t quit — adapt!
  • Maintain focus on form and breath.  Most injuries occur when form falters, either out of lack of focus (mental failure) or out of exhaustion (physical failure).  Breathe as deeply and fully as you can, through your nose if possible, and try to perceive the oxygen flowing into your bloodstream with full awareness.  The more tired you get, the more you need to focus on form and breathing.
  • Listen to your body as you search for your limits.  By all means quit if you’re injured.  But, that said, you’ll never live up to your full potential if you can’t tell the difference between discomfort, pain and injury pain — between mental failure and a physical failure.  This involution is an adventure.  Go find the line.

Introducing Training Involutions

INVOLUTION¹
\In`vo*lu”tion\, n. [L. involutio: cf. F. involution.
See {Involve}.] 1. The act of involving or infolding.  2. The state of being entangled or involved; complication; entanglement.

As of this coming Saturday the “Workout of the Week” will now be referred to as the “Training Involution” of the week.

Why?  Because we are martial artists.  We are not “working out” — we are training.  “Working out” means going down to the local fitness center to get your sweat on, maybe get on a treadmill or a bike, perhaps lift some weights.  There’s nothing wrong with that of course.  Workouts are good for you inside and out.

But this is Cabal Fang.  We are not here to work out, we are here to train.  To prepare.  To defend. To build our mind-body-spirit triangles into indomitable pyramids.  Above all, to be involved.  The term “training involution” implies that you are involved.

But there’s also a metaphysical meaning of the word “involution” which is the opposite of evolution.  Evolution is the growth phase.  Involution is the looking inward phase.  A caterpillar must enter its cocoon (involve) before it can exit as a butterfly (evolve).

You can work out while listening to your iPod — but you cannot train.

Who are training involutions for?

They are designed for martial artists looking for an extra-challenging weekly exercise session — especially for those practicing Cabal Fang martial arts looking to supplement their twice-weekly meetings and constitutionals.  But anyone can use them, even if only for inspiration.  See your doctor before beginning a new fitness regimen and listen to your body.  I will not accept responsibility if you try to blame me for injury or death resulting from any exercise routine on this website.

What do involutions consist of?

Each week I generally include three things — a fitness component, a martial component and a spiritual component.  But that doesn’t mean I always will.    Sometimes I will have activities that overlap and/or stretch boundaries and definitions.

When should I perform involutions?

Whenever you want.  But since they can be pretty intense, I suggest inserting them in your exercise scheme at a point that allows you adequate recovery time before your next session based on your fitness level.

Why should I do the involutions?

Because you want to pursue the Great Work, of course.  And to do that you have to get involved with yourself and the world around you.

Get ready, because this Saturday’s involution is going to be a real challenge.

 


¹ Webster’s 1913 Dictionary

Holy Communion #2

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution, here is the second installment in my video series exploring the mystical nature of Holy Communion.

In this series I begin with the premise that we do not need to struggle to reach God because, out of love, infinite God descends to the finite and becomes human in Christ.  God unites himself with Earth, with flesh and blood, which we accept into ourselves in the form of bread and wine, such that our bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit.  We see the truth, which is that union with God is not attained or achieved but realized and accepted.  And the truth shall set you free.

Dogs Kill (and WOOTW #87)

Sheriff: 22-year-old woman found dead in woods was mauled to death by own dogs

As soon as the story broke that 22 year-old Bethany Stephens was killed and mauled by her two beloved pit bulls, conspiracy theories started flying.  A “Save the Dogs” campaign was launched.  One news station even found a veterinarian to go on camera and say “there has to be another explanation for her death.”

But when the Sheriff’s office got permission from the family to release details they dispelled all doubt.  It turns out that the dogs were gnawing on her rib cage when they arrived on scene.  And yet, some people persist in saying that “there has to be more to the story.”

Poppycock.

The story is that two pit bulls killed and ate their owner.  As tragic as that is, it’s still a fact.  Dogs kill about 40 people a year in the United States.

I’m an early morning runner, walker and hiker who likes to go the park and do calisthenics.  So I’ve had five dog related incidents.  The breeds were: German Shepherd, Mutt, Golden Retriever, Chow and Black Lab. I escaped bites in three cases. The Chow got me on the thigh, the Retriever on the hand — and these were the only two that were leashed.

No, I’m not just super unlucky.  Here are some statistics from DOGSBITE.ORG:

  • Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States.
  • 65% of the 392 dog bite deaths from 2005 – 2016 were attributed to Pit bulls.
  • In 2015, more than 28,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.
  • Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016, costing more than $600 million.

I really wish that dog owners would maintain control of their pets, obey leash laws and be mindful that millions of their fellow citizens have been previous victims.

With all of this in mind, here are my self-defense recommendations with regard to dogs.

Prevent and Prepare

  1. Carry a weapon and practice using it. I walk/run/hike with either a tactical pen or a walking stick. I train regularly with both, hitting actual objects to maintain command and mastery of my weapons.
  2. Pocket your cell phone and don’t wear ear buds. Use your full attention and all senses to monitor your surroundings.
  3. Treat all dogs over 30 lbs like loaded guns.  
  4. Don’t trust dogs on leashes. Owners often cannot control their own dogs. The Chow that bit me easily yanked the leash from his owner’s hand to get his teeth into me.
  5. Maintain distance. Skirt all unfamiliar dogs by at least 30 feet.  If a dog enters your space, ready your weapon and be prepared to take action at first contact.  Assume all dogs are going to bite you.
  6. Disregard social conventions. If an unleashed dog over 30 lbs approaches you and you feel threatened, move away, present your weapon and loudly inform the owner that if the animal comes any closer you will kill it.  Owners usually grab their dogs and put them on leashes when you do that.
  7. Assume that any dog coming toward you is a threat. If shelter is nearby — a car, house, shed, high fence, etc. — get there.  But walk, don’t run.  And don’t turn your back.

If you are attacked

  1. If caught in the open, ready your weapon. Raise your free arm and shield your face and throat by grabbing the cloth of the opposite shoulder.
  2. Turn your body at right angles to protect your groin. Do not run. Stand your ground and very slowly advance toward the animal. Imagine and visualize you are going to kill it — that you are going to rip it limb from limb like a stuffed animal — even if you are unarmed.  Your body language will reflect your mindset.  Note that this advancing and visualization piece is at odds with expert advice. But I deterred a large German Shepherd using this method, and I think it works.  You need to make your own choices.
  3. If the dog attacks you, do not pull away.  That will only injure you more and, even if you get free, you’ll just get another bite.  Let it stay latched on while you strike at it repeatedly, yelling with each blow, until it lets go and runs.
  4. A strong dog can easily drag you off your feet.  If that happens, assume safety position.  Get on your hands and knees with your forehead on the ground, interlace fingers behind your head, pull your elbows in, and tuck into the tightest ball you can until the dog leaves or help arrives.

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #87

* 40 x 20 HIIT — see video below.  Set timer for rounds of :20/:10 or just set a timer to 30-second intervals and rest for a 10 count whenever it beeps.  For the first 20 rounds, cycle through Leopard Walks, Shrimps, Tiger Push-ups, Scorpions and Bear Walks (4 cycles through those 5 exercises = 20 rounds).  For the next 20 rounds, go at your heavy bag with full power — as if your life depends on it!

* Tarot Meditation.  Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes, stand up The Moon card from your Tarot deck at eye level and spend the time stepping into the card.  As you regulate your breathing and stare at the card, allow the image transition in your imagination from artwork to photograph and from photograph into a movie.  Allow your experience to unfold in your mind’s eye.  If you don’t have a tarot deck buy one here.icon Or just print out the photo above and use that.

My New Year’s Resolution: Exploring Holy Communion

Yesterday I started a day early making good on my New Year’s resolution: I performed my first public Holy Communion.  Sure, it was on Youtube, but I think that counts as “public.”  My plan is to do begin supporting a Sunday service at the park in the Spring,  Hopefully by then I’ll be more relaxed at the altar.

My goal in presenting these Holy Communion videos is to explore the mystery of the Communion rite with others in the hope that we can all better understand and appreciate the purpose, power, action and wonder of this transformative rite.

I hope, as an act of interfaith outreach, to open this mystery to a wider audience who may have preconceived notions about Holy Communion — and to perhaps re-enliven Holy Communion for those Christians for whom Holy Communion has become stale or by rote.

Why in the name of Heaven would I presume to suppose that my voice could possibly be worth listening to when there are 37 million churches worldwide already performing the rite on a daily and/or weekly basis, and there are already 161,000 Holy Communion videos on Youtube?

Because my viewpoint is a Hermetic, mystic, esoteric, inner Christian one.  And I think that’s pretty unique.

5 Buddhist-Christian Intersections (and WOOTW #86)

iconI just finished reading Christian Zen by Robert Powell.  And while it isn’t perfect — it’s too short, it assumes a working knowledge of Zen,  it doesn’t cover every saying in the Gospel of Thomas, and it doesn’t tie the G.O.T. back to the four canonical Gospels — it did give me another perspective from which to view Christ Jesus.

Here are the high points of what I learned from the book.  To be clear, the book didn’t make these points explicitly, it just put me in the frame of mind to see them.  And, to be honest, I think it helps if you read it right after you read some books by Alan Watts.

  1. The title “Prince of Peace” refers to inner peace.  I always thought it mean peace as in the opposite of war.  How did I not know know this already?  Christ Consciousness and Buddha-mind are opposite ends of the same stick.
  2. “The Kingdom of God” looks an awful lot like “Satori.”  In Zen, in order to experience the One, an individual must let go of personal notions about reality and allow the One to be experienced.   In Christianity, salvation cannot be achieved — only allowed to manifest.  In both cases, the One/God gives the gift and we only receive.  “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there!’ for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” ~Luke 17:20-21
  3. A Zen koan is a Christian parable.  I believe that the similarity between what a student of Zen might call Buddha-mind and what a Christian might call Christ consciousness is more than just skin deep.  Apparently the author of the koan “Not Far From Buddhahood” agrees with me.
  4. Atonement is “At-One-Ment.”  No, seriously.  It really does mean that — for real.
  5. Tea Ceremony is to Zen as Communion is to Christianity.  Both see the One/God “in a grain of sand” such that the simple act of preparing and consuming something with full intention, attention and care offers a window into paradise.  As Alan Watts said, “We fail to see the window because we are painting on the glass.”

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #86

This one should help you burn off some of those holiday treats.

  • One nasty, 10-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  Set a timer for 20 second intervals.  Complete 6 runs through the following 5 intervals: Jump Squats, Twisters, Get-ups, Clap Push-ups, and Rest. 6 sets of 5 = 30 intervals (10 minutes).
  • Grappling Conditioner #3.  I know we just did this one back in WOOTW #82, but it came up in my rotation yesterday so I did it again.  Set a countdown timer for 10:00 mins and complete as many sets as you can before the timer beeps of 5 Bag Lifts, 10 mounted strikes, and 5 Splay ‘n’ Punch.  Here’s a video.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need in order to finish.  Then, after you cool down…
  • Eat or drink something and experience it fully.  Doesn’t matter much what you do, just do it with complete care and attention to detail. Make your lunch and eat it.  Make tea and drink it.  You can even cut a piece of bread, pour a glass of wine, and try to experience “at-one-ment” while you consume them.