The Image Nation

As children we are taught the importance of imagination for the purpose of keeping busy, being creative or just having fun with friends. More than likely because it is introduced to us at such an early age, it’s generally depicted as childish or even worse…a form of fantasy.

We often forget that our bodies in many ways are like a universe, made of 30 trillion cells with different functions, most of which are automated, keeping us alive without us needing to understand the extent of their purpose. However, every so often a thought about what we are made of can help us understand a hint of our value, direction and most importantly, perception.

What does it mean to perceive something? How is it different from seeing, viewing or witnessing an event?  The word “per” as one definition states is containing the largest possible portion of an element. This means as a “per son” you contain the most of who you are. The word “ceive” means to obtain or to get something. In short, we could say what we perceive creates the person that we are.

To perceive something doesn’t mean that we have to see it with our eyes, it just means that we have to visualize or imagine it. How many times have you felt uneasy about a day or event you were concerned about, but it didn’t even happen? We can even become violent by thinking continually on an unpleasant even if improbable future. This is why the first step of martial arts training is learning how to quiet the mind. Learning to control and not be manipulated by the random thoughts of the mind.

You are not your mind. This means that more than likely you are not the image that your mind often projects. Your mind is just a tool, just like your spine, heart and toes. They all have significant purposes, but none of them are the sum total of you. This is why in our training we must learn to overcome pain, fear and discomfort. It’s a way of coming to terms with the understanding, “I am not my pain.” If your brain is always in control, that means that “you” are always out of control.

Maybe it will help if we realize that the brain is technically blind, deaf and lives in complete darkness. Just as we rely on our brain, our brain relies on sensors in the eyes and ears to make sense of anything. So what we perceive is merely a guess based on the brain’s experience of our world. How could you even know if when I say the color red, I’m not seeing a different color than you? We’ve all grown up and named the colors that were projected by our minds. Yet, what we have witnessed could be completely inaccurate according to another man’s perception.


These differences in perception lead to arguments, wars and even worse…social media debates. In a sense what you are saying in a debate is that my 30 trillion cells (most of which I’m not in control of) have gathered enough data through subconscious guess work to be more accurate than your 30 trillion cells, all in a universe that mankind has not even explored 1 percent of. Without a little humble pie in your diet, not only will you hinder yourself from the truth of martial arts, you will not be able to joyfully accept what you don’t understand.

Let’s make it easier by using an example a little closer to home. Every day we use the internet to communicate, inform and entertain ourselves. Even though the internet is virtually endless, we generally run through the same sites, ideas and videos on a day to day basis. Only when a trusted source introduces something new, do we have the prospect of a new discovery. This means your imagination can not imagine something you haven’t experienced or perceived. If I describe an elephant to someone who has never seen one, he might call me out of my mind.

Our knee-jerk reaction when we see something incomprehensible is to refer to it as fake, staged or whatever term the masses tend to use so that we can feel comfort in our unwillingness to grow differently. It’s much less offensive to the ego to declare something as unreal rather than be forced to perceive deeper.

Even if you were educated, very informed and experienced in a certain area, you would only be referring to the time period of your learning and experience. I just returned to my home town after 20 years of being in Asia and have found it similar but vastly different. I didn’t even have an email until I was a student in the university and now kids don’t even play Pokemon Go because it’s outdated. Even if we were able to perceive the truth at a given point in time…that time has changed.

Through admitting what we do not know, we open the door to continue expanding our universe, our perception and our personal lives. I’ve had many ideas that didn’t pan out too much, but every idea that was not my own has greatly improved my world. This is why it’s most important to surround yourself with unlikeminded people that have a good image of who you are and could be. They can give you an image of success when you can’t see it in yourself. But even when you can’t see it, do your best to remember and be grateful for all of the things you have already overcome.

Whether it was a financial or relationship problem, there were those times that you thought everything would end badly. Luckily for us, the universe is much like our own cells. We don’t always have to be aware of it, but it’s continually helping us get to the next day. Or maybe I should say, the next day we imagine.

The only difference between our imagination and reality is distance. This distance is measured by time and our will. If you have the will and spend the time to create it, it is already manifested. This is the very definition of kung fu, which means “time and effort.” Every time you practice a kick, punch or takedown, you are practicing a visualization of success. With enough time and effort, the brain is convinced there can be no other reality and you will be successful.

On the good days let’s train, on the bad days let’s train. Every day is a good day because it’s another opportunity to close the distance between my imagination and reality.


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