[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Extreme Simplicity,” “Foraging California,” and other books. He can be reached at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com, or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041.]
I grew up with the basic theme of the savior and his death and resurrection, defying the odds of a materialistic society. Jesus is the most widely-written about topic of all time: What are the facts, what do they mean, what does it mean to me, what does it mean to the future.
I felt very much in a seeking mode this Good Friday, and decided to sit in a church where I would sit in my childhood during the 3 hours of the passion of the Christ. To my chagrin, the churches I visited had no services, so I spent quiet time in my own inner church.
To me, the true essence of religion consists of ways of living, survival tools, if you will, that would help us survive if we’d only follow those guidelines.
After my “How To Survive Anywhere” book was published, a few acquaintances criticized me for the inclusion of what they perceived to be “non-survival” issues in the last chapter, which I called “What is Survival?” For example, I included USC basketball coach Wooden’s famous pyramid of success, including such “old fashioned” principles as the Ten Commandments.
My perspective is that we can all master Boy Scout skills, and we should. In addition, we should all strive to become better human beings, and become an asset to our family, community and nation. This requires discipline, patience, and study.
I am not a pessimist. It has long seemed that our society has lost its grounding, lost its ability to think, and sinks deeper and deeper into sectarianism, greed, and lust. On the other hand, there are countless guidelines and reference points that show the way to anyone awake enough who desires a way through the fog that our society has created.
The Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, for example. These are excellent practical survival guidelines that, if followed, provide us with emotional and spiritual stability and a sense of what to do and not to do.
So my perspective is that the higher ideals that we should learn, and live, are in fact, real “survival tools.” Let me know what you think.
There are other guidelines as well, coming from all corners of the globe.
For example, I recently obtained a copy of Miyamoto Musashi’s A Book of Five Rings. Musashi was perhaps the most renowned of all Japanese Samurai. An undefeated warrior, as well as a poet and artist, he wrote his book in 1645 while living in a cave during the last year of his life.
He divides his lessons into the Ground book, the Water book, the Fire book, the Wind book, and the Book of the Void. The Way of which Musashi writes is the Way of Strategy, and all of his books are chiefly concerned with Timing. In the Ground book, provides 9 guidelines, adding “This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy.”
1. Do not think dishonestly.
2. The Way is in training.
3. Become acquainted with every art.
4. Know the Ways of all professions.
5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
8. Pay attention even to trifles.
9. Do nothing which is of no use.
These are excellent guidelines to study and to apply to any profession. And because my state of mind was very much into seeing beyond dogma and division, I saw Musashi’s 9 guidelines as a very meaningful Good Friday message. Yes, we are nailed to the cross of our bodies and our culture, and only by following the spirit of such guidelines as the Golden Rule, the 10 Commandments, and Musashi’s 9 guidelines, are we to resurrect from our own morass of animality and materialism.
Let me know what you think.