OFF TO THE SIERRA

Well, we’re off to the Sierra to terrorize the locals on the motorcycle for Memorial Day. I had realized that I’ve been writing a lot about being a liberal, and not much about being armed, so here’s the beginning of something (have to go adjust the preload on the rear suspension…) about guns. Back Tuesday with more.
SHOOTING AND MINDFULNESS
I just realized that there have been a bunch of posts about politics and liberalness, and hardly anything gun-related at all. And I have to uphold the blog title, or it’s just posturing, after all.
So I’m trying to teach the SO (Significant Other) how to shoot; in part because it’s something I do and she wants to be able to participate (and doubtless, to quote Uncle Duke, my personal role model, to be able to “return fire”), and also because I’m trying to get my idea of mindfulness across to her.
In her case, it is in part because she is working to become a good motorcyclist, and riding successfully – which to say surviving – riding motorcycles calls for a number of skills, but first of all calm awareness, or what the Eastern meditative religions call mindfulness.

Mindfulness is nonconceptual awareness. Another English term for Sati is ‘bare attention’. It is not thinking. It does not get involved with thought or concepts. It does not get hung up on ideas or opinions or memories. It just looks. Mindfulness registers experiences, but it does not compare them. It does not label them or categorize them. It just observes everything as if it was occurring for the first time. It is not analysis which is based on reflection and memory. It is, rather, the direct and immediate experiencing of whatever is happening, without the medium of thought. It comes before thought in the perceptual process.
from Mindfulness in Plain English

I call it simply “the art of doing what you’re doing”. Most of us spend all our time thinking about all the stuff our minds consume…what I’ll put into the blog tomorrow, my Visa bill, what I’ll say at the meeting tomorrow, what was said at the meeting yesterday…and while our minds run with all this activity, they are only loosely tethered to what we are doing. While we’re talking on the cell phone, we aren’t doing a very good job of driving. In “The Empty Mirror”, a great book about Zen studies, the abbot accuses the Western student of being loosely tethered, of “brushing his teeth while pissing, which means you do a bad job of brushing your teeth and a bad job of pissing”.
For me at least, I find that shooting – particularly the kind of dynamic shooting involved in tactical or combat shooting – requires that kind of mindfulness.
Guns are heavy in the hand. They should be. Part of this is mechanical, the physical weight of the mechanism needed to contain the explosive power of the cartridges. And a part of it is the psychic weight of knowing this is a real weapon, and that you are suddenly both at risk and responsible.

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