[ by Charles Cameron — is “conflict resolution” in conflict with “conflict” — and if so, what’s the appropriate resolution? ]
[left] Strozzi-Heckler’s book, now in its fourth edition; [right] one of a series of figures called Yoga Joes.
Craig Davies at a site called Art-Sheep has a post titled Classic Green Army Figures Practicing Yoga Instead Of Holding Guns, and sees thing in black and white, or perhaps better, darkness and light:
If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga. Concentrating or relaxing your muscles and mind in order to release tension, is something a soldier would never have the luxury to do under the dangerous circumstances of war.
Inventor Dan Abramson thought of a amazingly creative and beautiful way to connect the two, by creating “Yoga Joes”, a series of simple green plastic army men that have some killer… yoga moves.
Apart from artistically interesting, Abramson’s cool idea to create a series of yoga soldiers gives an essence of serenity to the cruel and violent nature of war.
“I made Yoga Joes because I thought that it would be a fun way to get more people into yoga – especially dudes… beyond that, I wanted to make a violent toy become peaceful,” he says.
That’s glib, and wrong, and not too far from what many people think who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace”.
Richard Strozzi-Heckler, on the other hand..
Well, he was one of them, teaching Aikido, arguably the most openly pacifistic of the martial arts — and when he got invited to train some Green Berets, in the words of George Leonard:
Even before the program got started, Richard was excoriated by people he respected for even considering teaching aikido and other awareness disciplines to Green Berets, to “trained killers.”
Leonard goes on to ask some probing questions:
Does this imply that those of us who love peace would have no soldiers at all? And if we do have soldiers, do we really want them to be deprived of the best possible training? Do we want low-grade soldiers with no awareness or empathy? And if we do teach awareness and empathy to our soldiers, will they be able to perform the brutal tasks sometimes assigned them? Surely we don’t want a horde of Rambos loosed upon the world. But if not Rambo, then who?
Think for a minute:
If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga.
Yeah? And the total opposite of one is many? or none? or minus one? or all?
If I asked you, what is the opposite of yoga, would you say war?
And what’s the opposite of peace?
I wrote above of those who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace” — and there are, by contrast, those who who identify more readily with the “war” side — but are those two sides “at war” with one another? Can, to press the point, “peace” be “at war” with anything?
Dan Abramson, Yoga Joes: here to keep the inner peace
George Leonard, intro to Strozzi-Heckler, In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets
The Buddha‘s Diamond Sutra:
So I say to you –
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:
Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.
So is all conditioned existence to be seen.