Philosophical Debate on Journeys

OK, first I feel like I need to apologize for how long I’ve been silent on this blog. Life really moves at a breakneck pace and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

I’ve been thinking through the philosophical debate on journeys recently. For those new to this idea it is a question of is the end of the journey the important part or is the journey itself important. I stand firmly in the realm of the middle ground on this. If the end did not matter why would we have taken the journey at all? So, the end must have some meaning. When viewing the most famous quote on journeys by Lao Tzu

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We see also a paradigm where the step itself has meaning. If the step did not have meaning we would not worry about the single step but worry about the strength it takes to make such a great journey. (Interestingly this phrase does refer to the strength it takes to make a journey, it takes the same amount of strength as it takes to make a single step.) Our goals on a journey should be to make each step, each moment, each lesson as important as the goal we shall reach at the end. Otherwise the importance of the journey is lost and we lessen the importance of the destination.

If you are equating the journey to the journey of life what would the importance of the events in an average person’s life be? The end destination is the same for everyone. There is no way around it, and would it not be simpler if this end destination was a lot closer to the start? If we view life in the way some do with no importance other than the importance of life itself what are the importance of the events? In my view, the importance of the events are for who they make us when we get to the end. What person will you be at the end of your life? Who will you have grown into? What will you have become due to the shape of your choices?

If there is nothing after death. If we die and simply cease to exist as some think, then there is no importance to the events. The importance is to perpetuate something which is simply vastly negative on the outset. Is this fallen horrible world, full of atrocities, really the best thing we can hope for? I sure hope not.

To get back on topic, however, if we believe there is something after death, even the most mundane life has a huge amount of importance. We cannot escape the importance. We’re here to learn, live, and grow. If we neglect any of this we will be lost in the mire of ineptitude which blinds so many people. (I personally call these people the “I want to be great” people.)

If we get lost in this quicksand we will come to the end of our lives and look back and think to ourselves what did I do? What did I accomplish? Instead of seeing the lessons for what they are, seeing the growth for what it is, and seeing ourselves for who we have become. This is the important lesson to take away from the journey. I could spend my life trying to make millions of dollars, and be unhappy every second of it. I could spend my life trying to be famous and be angry every second of it.

The importance is not in what we accomplish but how we accomplish it. The importance then is not simply in the destination but how we come to the destination. If I focus merely on the ends and use them to justify the means I can do anything I want but will it be worth it? If I use the means to justify the end, however, what I do every day will become worth it as they spur me on the road to making it to the final destination. I can look forward to the destination while also enjoying the little things which transpire between now and then.

This end could be anything. I used life as my example just for ease of relation. Everyone can relate to the idea of wanting to make their life important. Other topics may not have been relatable for one person or another. Apply the lesson to any journey you’re on. For me, writing and finishing projects, whether fiction or not is a journey I am on. I follow the journey step by step and enjoy what is happening along the way (I have to admit, there are times I do not enjoy the journey) but the finished story being the goal is a major enjoyable moment in life. The lessons learned along the way however shape me into who I am and I would not give those up for anything.

Good luck to you on your journey(s).

From my sojourning in Oregon,
Greetings!

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Of Students and Teachers

Well if you haven’t noticed by the posts I’ve been making in other media. The big theme in my life right now is relationships. I’ve written one thought about it at BelieveBetterMinistries.com already, but I want to take it in a different direction, now. As a Christian I see how important relationships are through the repetition of statements like “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30), and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. These along with Jesus’ numerous statements about how His disciples should love one another is as He loves us. (Jesus went so far as to say it was a new commandment.) I get it. Relationships are a big deal.

I want to approach relationships from a different perspective now. So, if we have relationships with others what are they supposed to look like? Calling myself a monk would typically mean I choose the austere, ascetic life style where I deny myself not only the comforts of life, but also the normal married relationship. In some traditions I would be denying myself all emotional attachments. This is not who or what I am. I am a Christian, martial artist, father, husband, son, brother, and so on. I am using the name to accentuate something. Here in the 21st Century, in Christianity, total celibacy is an oddity and most cannot actually do it.

As has been made very clear by numerous scandals in the past thirty years the Catholic Church’s mandate of celibacy for its priests is more damaging than holy. This celibacy is a gift and only those with the gift should attempt to be totally celibate. (See 1 Corinthians 7 for more info.) So that is not the life I have chosen. With this in mind I look at relationships.

From my perspective as a martial artist my relationships (with students) come under two ideas: 1. Leadership (or Modeling) is first in the matter of relationships with all students. 2. Service is the second part of my relationships as an instructor. The teacher/student relationship is an interesting once which much study has gone into. I say leadership comes first because it is what the student sees when they first enter my studio. Before they step on the mats, before we’ve started class, they see me in my uniform, fit and ready for class. This leadership is actually just simple modelling. I model the behaviors I want. I’ll take it one step further: In my classes, all my students are supposed to call me “Mr. May” so I typically refer to them as Mr./Ms. and their first name (for children Mr./Ms./Mrs. and their last name for adults). This is leading them to refer to me in the way I want them to.

Second, I must serve my students. This means not just teaching them, but also helping them in any way I can. Some people call this “Loving your students”. My response to them is “Of course I love my students, but I can love someone and not help them”. I can love someone and not serve them. I need to give what I can, fix what I can, change what I can, and just life them up in any way I can. This serving of my students, this taking of their needs, helps build a person who is able to be well rounded and have strong relationships in the future. These two ideas are the first way I approach the teacher/student relationship.

This relationship is massively important in the lives of every student and every teacher. I’ve seen, in my more than twenty years practicing martial arts, this relationship produce amazing things when it is properly cultivated; I’ve, also, seen it sourly abused, and, therefore, produce some terribly negative things. I would go so far as to say this relationship has an even greater impact than any relationship a student has with their peers.

Well this is another perspective on relationships. I hope you can see a little into my mind and my working. I have tried to keep my writing as plain as possible. I always look forward to hearing from those interested in a conversation. You can e-mail me at RB.May[at]BelieveBetterMinistries[dot]com. I look forward to hearing from everyone!

From my sojourning in Oregon,
Greetings!

Introductory Notes

by Ray B. May IV ~ 2017.03.22

Well this is a new project I (Ray “RB” May IV) am starting. This is not a separate project from my other projects it is simply an extension of what I already do. This is really going to be own blog, but geared more toward who I am. I’m am not sure if I am going to keep RB-Wan going or not. We shall see in the future. I never really published anything very regularly on it and shifted all of my energies to the two Christian Ministries – Believe Better Ministries and Breath of God Ministries – when I started working on those.

BBM grew slowly from simply my own rambling writings (much like what I am doing right now) to a working active ministry with goals visions and guidelines for what is being done. BOG Ministries was from birth a ministry with a goal. The goal of this ministry has changed over the course of its life, but it still has been guided by the Holy Spirit to what we have felt its end should be. This blog is going to be more like a personal blog, with a little more goal oriented writing.

I want it to follow the guiding of what a warrior monk was in the days of old. I have sometimes felt I am a warrior monk as I have trained the martial arts since I was six years old. The only thing I have done for longer than be a martial artist is believe in God. So, essentially this blog is going to deal with my ramblings on three main topics:

  1. Theology
  2. Martial Arts
  3. Philosophy

With these three topics I will most likely also include some of my writings on other topics (such as literature, my poetry, or pretty much anything I feel I want to put on here). I hope everyone enjoys what I choose to write and post here. I have had a lot of time to think about what I want this site to be as I’ve been considering doing this for a long time.

Now you know what my plans are I wanted to start off with a little about why I am doing this. I feel, sometimes, I am a warrior monk of the 21st Century. I’ve been a believer for almost as long as I can remember. I’ve practicing martial arts since I was a young child (since I was six) and these two things melded together would make a warrior monk… well, at least I choose to see it in this way. I am not an ascetic or have chosen any specific life style which would lend itself to the monastic worldview specifically and I mean no disrespect taking this title, but in many ways my theology and martial arts are wrapped together.

A verse in the Bible has led me down this path and has pushes me to continuously head toward the idea:

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

— James 2:26 KJV

This is the end of a passage where James has been vehemently explaining actions (works) and faith cannot be separated. This has been a confusing passage for a lot of people. Most have considered it to be putting forth the doctrine we are not saved without our works, and those who believe this passage to be preaching that have always put forth a legalistic doctrine of works. This is not what it is teaching. It is teaching us to active!

We need to be active in our faith. Jesus said we shall know believers by their fruit, just as we know the difference between a pear tree and apple tree but the fruit which grows on it. The works (actions) are the fruit. This verse guides my decisions. I try as often as I can to be active in my beliefs. This is because I am an active person. You can tell by the martial arts I practice. They are a cardio heavy, hard style of martial arts. My main style is Taekwondo, my secondary style is Kendo/Kenjutsu. (The reason I list both Kendo and Kenjutsu is because while technically I train in the traditional art of Japanese Swordsmanship (kenjutsu) there isn’t really a full kenjutsu school in my area (any more) and the art I practice was developed after the Meiji revolution making it a newer martial art in the way the Japanese view their martial arts. So according to tradition it can’t be labeled kenjutsu.)

Both of these martial arts promote heavy amounts of physical training and activity. This has produced in me a need to remain active. I have taken this into my relationship with God as well. When reading my Bible a verse jumped off the page. I was reading the Gospel of Luke.

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning”

— Luke 12:35 ESV

This verse is Jesus speaking. We are to stay dressed for action! Be ready, not simply for service or simple tasks, but for anything. The Greek literally translates to “gird up your loins”. This is a statement which was used of warriors as they prepared for battle. They strap a sash tightly around their waist then put their armor over top of it. We are to ready for whatever may come!

In meditation on the word and prayer I have come to realize this. We are not called to be pew surfers who simply go to Church on Sunday because that’s what good Christians do. We are called to be active, using our gifts in the service of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is where my thoughts are and where this project is heading. I hope I can encourage everyone who reads it to be active in their lives, in their faith, and in everything they do.

I’m going to end in prayer:

Lord Jesus,

Thank You for all You do for us on a regular basis. Thank You for the provision you have put in Your Word for us. I ask as I work on this project for Your leading. Lord, I do not want to be putting words down anywhere which would lead anyone astray from You.

Help me to be the light which shines like a city on a hill. You are the light and I can only reflect You, I ask in my writing I would reflect You and Your grace to everyone.

Lord, finally I pray for everyone who reads any part of this project. I pray You would edify them, lift them up and shine Your light in their lives. Lord, You are the magnificent, most powerful creator of the universe. I glorify You and praise You for the talents You have given me. I ask they would be used appropriately here.

Thank You Lord,
I love You Lord,
Amen.

From my sojourning in Oregon,
Greetings!