Monday, 8 August 2016

Eshu Martin

                “I had very angry teenage years,” Eshu Martin, of Zenwest in British Colombia, told me. His mother had died when he was very young which had left him with a great sense of sadness. “Vandalism was my crime of choice. And I think fundamentally it was just a lot of pain and grief which I dealt with with drinking and drugs at a pretty early age. By grade eight, I was doing acid and things like that. Breaking things. And then my father remarried when I was thirteen, which. . . .” He laughed softly. “I mean, I’m certainly friends and made peace with my step-mother now, but back then it was sort of I would wake up and the first thing on my mind was how to make this person’s life a misery.
                “In my later teens, started to get into martial arts because I realized they were more effective, honestly more effective, and more efficient ways of being destructive than just random acts of violence. So got into martial arts. Martial arts led to the Tao Te Ching, Eastern philosophy. So I started reading that and going, ‘Oh, this stuff makes sense to me.’ Then I came across a book called The Book of Five Rings by Musashi. Musashi was influenced by a Zen priest named Takuan and so his whole philosophy and strategy is largely influenced by Zen. So you have to have some grasp of what Zen was if you’re going to get anything, and in the beginning of the book, in the introduction, in order to sort of encapsulate Zen, there was this parable about these two monks—the older monk and the younger monk—returning to the temple after their begging rounds, and there’s been heavy rains, and there’s a bridge that’s washed out, and on the other side there’s this concubine who’s distressed, who wants to get across. So the old monk picks her up and carries her across, and the young monk is really upset about it, and, all the way back to the temple, he can’t let it go. And at the end, he questions the older monk, saying, you know, ‘How did you do that!’ And the old monk says, ‘I put her down at the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?’ And for me . . . I get weepy even now.” His eyes teared as he spoke. “For me, it was like this light went on. Because my anger had come from this real chip on my shoulder that, having been the golden boy, the universe had done this to me or that God had done this thing to me, and my anger at people generally was, ‘Don’t you realize what a great person I am? Why are you treating me like this?’ And what dawned on me when I read this was that it was me. It was me that was picking up this anger and this sense of entitlement and indebtedness every morning. The suffering I was experiencing was not externally imposed upon me; it was like something I was whacking myself with. It was just like a couple of paragraphs, and a bell went and I wept and just the whole weight of it hit the floor. And it was at this point, I went, ‘Holy shit!’”

[Eshu Martin – Cypress Trees in the Garden: 15, 43-44, 46, 47, 50, 52, 84, 98-115, 203, 468]
[See also: Eshu Martin]

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