Friday, December 27, 2013

Spirit of the Way

     “The true kinship between Zen and the martial arts, Taisen Deshimaru explained, lies in the fact that both can lead us toward the ‘Spirit of the Way’. Any conflict, whether it takes place within the body and mind, or outside them, is always a battle against the self.”①-Taisen Deshimaru, The Zen Way to the Martial Arts, (London: Penquin-Arkana, 1982) 35.  I contend we can insert ‘competitive cycling’ in the place of ‘martial arts’ and arrive at a system whereby Soto Zen principles can be incorporated into the competitive cyclist’s training and racing.
        Master Deshimaru does offer one important qualifier with his statement, “I have nothing against sports [insert competitive cycling]; they [participants] train the body and develop stamina and endurance. But the spirit of competition and power that presides over them is not good; it reflects a distorted vision of life. The root of martial arts is not there…In the spirit of Zen and Budo [‘the way of war’] everyday life becomes the contest. There must be awareness at every moment-getting up in the morning, working, eating, and going to bed. That’s the place for the mastery of self.” Ibid, pg.35
             I believe there’s much that can be taken from this philosophy and applied to the discipline of competitive cycling. I hold the “warrior” spirit to be an important component to the competitive cyclist’s mental approach to the sport.

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