Thursday, March 2, 2017

On the Battle for the Mind and Heart

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
This week, probably more than other weeks, I've become more profoundly aware that the battle is really in a person's mind and heart. When I was in high school, my youth pastor told me once that the battle is in the mind. But I didn't get what that meant, then. It's only at this point in my life I really feel like I know what that really means.

In popular culture, coaches for professional athletes are focusing on the concept of emptying the mind, which seems to be the same thing as being in the zone or the zen state. It means that one just has to execute the correct actions without even thinking about it.

Recently, I paid a visit to my former boxing coach. We chatted. He fights in the boxing arena; me, the legal one. He kept telling me that all the events in our life that weigh us down, that bring us stress, that fill us with anxiety, "blinds the mind." He went onto tell me about a fight he didn't do that well in, because his "mind was blind."

The picture in this post illustrates the Eastern concept well. Rembrandt painted the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, now missing. While Jesus and his disciples were sailing on the Sea of Galilee, they got caught up in a violent storm. They feared they were going to die.

Jesus was sleeping while the event happened. One disciple even asked him if he wasn't afraid that they were going to die. (This tells you they thought they were going to die.)

After rebuking the storm, Jesus told the disciples, "“Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?”

In one sense, we see that the outer storm reflects the inner chaos and havoc of the disciples. We see that the Master, on the other hand, was able to sleep through the storm.

The point of passage proves that no matter the external circumstance, a person could still be rested and at peace. (Incidentally, I wonder what Rembrandt was struggling and conflicted with when he painted this picture.)

And isn't that what ultimate performance requires? A stillness and a peace inside a person. But that's much easier said than done.

In any event, as the time approaches, I better learn to clear the heart and the mind, because they both need to be able to see and see clearly.

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