Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Zen and the Tao

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

First, what is the “Tao?” Tao is about the principle that underlies the universe, combining within itself the sub-principles of yin and yang and it signifies the way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order of life, the universe. Tao is often referred to as, “The Way.” The Way is often interpreted as a path one takes in life, especially in regard to martial arts practices. The Japanese translation is “Do []” and refers to a road-way; street; journey; course; moral; teachings, etc. Tao is Do (pronounced doh) and Do is Tao in martial arts. It deals with ethics, morality and virtue to say the least. 

Zen uses the following characters/ideograms to express what the speaker or writer means or wants to convey, i.e., , , , , . The first deals with both dhyana or profound meditation along with Buddhist Zen, the second deals with good; goodness; right; virtue, the fourth one deals with the last; previous; one-time; former; the fifth one is about all; whole; entire; complete; overall and the last one deals with meal; food; counter for bowlfuls of rice, etc. The character we are using here is the first one, i.e., , meaning dhyana (profound meditation); Zen (Buddhism). 

Zenmon [禅門] also means Zen and entering the path of Zen. Zen for martial arts is best explained, my explanation and interpretation, is as follows:

In Zen, one must direct the mind on the observation, the feel, of the breath; one must direct the mind on the observation of the mind; one must direct the mind in meditative practice toward insight, i.e., koan practice; one must direct the mind inward, to the self and then direct the mind to the moment letting everything approach, be perceived and then to leave without restriction, obstacles or to be attached to the past and future, distractions of thoughts and feelings from stimuli. 

The essence of the definition of Zen, as provided in the last paragraph, is the creation and use of a specific type of mind-set and mind-state. In Zen for martial arts as in dart arts there are expressions through terms used to describe how one achieves such a present moment immovable mind, i.e., mushin, mushotoku, hishiryo and fudoshin. 

Zen in the dart arts is manifested by disassociation from external distractions and thoughts where the practitioner remains singularly focused on the art of the dart. Nothing intrudes and distracts, it is an emptied mind often referred to as a state of mushin. To have a mind that has no mind and allows free flow creative primal, conditioned, response to stimuli. In the dart arts stimuli is about grasping, throwing and hitting an intended target with an empty and immovable mind.

An immovable empty mind is a mind-state of clarity produced by the suppression of one’s ego that empties the mind, not empty as in void or nothing but an empty mind that is present, in the moment and aware while being free from the bonds of emotionally immaturity and the needs and desires of the ego. 

When one achieves Zen state of mind in the dart arts, one has achieved the ability to empty the mind of distractions, preoccupations, pre-conceived perceptions and intent, fears, worries, i.e., all are absent, suppressed, and are no longer an issue for the mind while in a dart art mind. 

It is that state of mind that is symbolized by ‘water,’ a mental state that is as still as a pond of water without ripples, the surface is like a mirror and reflects clarity and the undistorted image of the dart arts, like reflecting back what you present like a mirror. 

Zen mushin is not something that can be experienced by any thing other than actual experience ergo why the theme of the dart arts is practice, practice and practice - like infinity, without end, constant, disciplined and consistent. Mushin of the dart arts is achieved when a darter has freed the mind from anger, fear, judgement, and the ego during the throw, each and every one. 

Mushin: Mushin is the essence of Zen and Japanese martial arts. Mushin literally means the "mind without mind", and it is commonly called "the state of no-mindedness". Mushin is the essence of Zen and Japanese martial arts. It is a state of mind where the mind is not fixed on or occupied by any thought or emotion. In Zen on in your daily life, if the impulse is expressed as conscious thought, it is not Zen.

Mushotoku: In Zen, the concept of Mushotoku [無所得] represents a state of mind where the spirit does not seek to obtain anything. This is the attitude of a mind that does not get attached to objects and that seeks no personal gain. It transcends dualities and limitations of the ego. When in mushotoku, even if you lose a match you are still free, content and moving ever forward toward enlightened dart arts. 

Mushotoku is a concept of acting without wanting to achieve a result, and giving without wanting something in return while still attaining that very thing. It is about no fear of either having something or losing that something, it is about being something regardless. It is not discarding the very nature of the discipline but embracing it without attaching one’s mind to it to the detriment of all else, it allows its presence in the moment. 

Mushotoku means getting rid of attachment on a mental level, that is, becoming unattached to personal achievements in all forms. Letting go of achievements means letting go of the inner self. In the end, giving up the self is the greatest achievement you can reach. Mushotoku is you, me and the entire Universe in pure sincerity.

Hishiryo: [非思慮] is a state of mind beyond thinking and non-thinking. During Zazen, it is the normal condition of the consciousness. Consciousness during Zen meditation is not the same as it is in daily life, it does not behave like the intellect. During zazen, we have thoughts that appear and disappears naturally; this is perfectly normal. If we let those thoughts come and go freely, without giving form to them, without wanting to chase them, the intellect becomes peaceful by itself and hishiryo consciousness appears, beyond thinking and non-thinking.

The more you think, the more afraid you become, and the more anxious you grow. When you think too much, conflicts and battles take hold of your mind, preventing you from achieving a zen mind in the dart arts. When you stop this internal activity, you return to the normal, simple, and peaceful condition of the mind, the immovable mind. 

Hishiryo, it is entirely connected with the present, never overthinking, to be eternally connected to the present moment. Hishiryo is the absolute ego-lessness consciousness, in full unity with the dart arts.

Fudoshin: [不動心] is the 'immovable mind', that is, the mind that has met all challenges of life, and has attained a state of complete composure and fearlessness. This state of equanimity is essential in the practice of the dart arts. Fudoshin represents a peaceful state of total determination and unshakable will. It is the state of a spirit that is determined to win, and that is filled with courage, endurance and determination to surmount every obstacle that comes in its way. Fudoshin is associated with a feeling of invincibility, of a mind that cannot be disturbed by confusion, hesitation, doubt, or fear.

All of this explanation is about our minds and how our minds lead the way for our bodies thus meaning that our bodies follow our minds and our minds, through appropriate training, practices and experiences, leads our bodies. It is tantamount to a physical moving profound form of meditation that leads to goodness, right or righteousness and virtue, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

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