Karate Meditation Gone Wrong


(June ‘98/#40)

“Hi. Are you the fellow teaching karate?”

I was, I introduced myself, and we sat down to chat.

The fellow was chunky, but looked in fair shape. He dressed neatly. He had eyes that lit up the night.

It was the eyes that did it, really. You see, I grew up and had attended college in the small town of Los Altos. Los Altos, for those of you not of a geographical bent, is a long walk and a short expectoration from a place called Haight-Ashbury.

If there is a mecca for dopers it was the Haight Ashbury. It was in the Haight that all the major dopers came to gather in the sixties.

And it is true that, while I spent most of my time in San Jose, where some most excellent martial arts were being taught, I did know about drugs. I was in college and I won’t deny that I went to concerts and ‘be-ins’ and that sort of thing.

And now some guy had showed up on my doorstep with eyes that were luminous, deep, lustrous…stoned.

I don’t teach people on drugs.

So I led the conversation in a subtle direction. “Do you take drugs?”

He shook his head. “My religion forbades drugs.”

Hmmm. Those eyes. Something was going on with this fellow.

“What do you do for a living?

“I’m a tree surgeon.”

A tree surgeon? I had never met a tree surgeon. I asked him to tell me about his profession.

“It’s really interesting. When I am contracted to work on a tree I  spend a lot of time talking to the tree. The tree tells me what is wrong, what it needs, and then I perform surgery.”

His approach sounded bizarre, but I didn’t know anything about tree surgery…so what the heck.

But I still didn’t know why his eyes glowed like somebody who had taken eight hits of LSD and stayed up for a week. My next question opened the door.

“Interesting,” I said. “How do you know that what the tree tells you is correct? I mean…I don’t know if trees lie or anything, but…?”

He nodded. “Yeah. A lot of people ask me about my methods. I practice meditation.”

Bells went off in my head. “What kind of meditation?”

He told me.

And I thanked him, refused to teach him, and showed him the door.

Okay, I can see that I’ve got some explaining to do.

Meditation, according to the dictionary, is ‘reflecting upon something, contemplating.’

I have nothing against that.

And I support a man’s right to the religion of his choice.

My problem was that I was familiar with this fellow’s ‘religion,’ and knew that what he was doing was concentrating on ‘energy points’ until a chemical was released.

The body, you see, is a chemical factory, and it can manufacture any chemical you can imagine. And my tree surgeon friend had succeeded in  manufacturing an illegal substance, and was as stoned as any hippie.

Well, that was his right.

As it was my right to refuse to teach him.

The fact of the matter is that I see absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down to clear your mind. I see nothing wrong with taking a few deep breaths and calming yourself. I see nothing wrong with taking a moment to be by yourself.

I don’t even see anything wrong with talking to a tree. (Unless, of course, the tree is ‘barking’ at you–nyuck, nyuck.)

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