Reading "Filipino Martial Culture". In it, Mark Wiley quotes an anthropologist discussing the concept of "sacred space": this is where you go to become something more, where you go to learn things that have a price, things that change you. He talks about crossing the threshhold and it reminds me much of my training in martial arts: bowing on entering the dojo wasn't about religion or even respect. It was a signal to myself to leave the mundane world outside. Out in that world existed relationships and money problems and minor frustrations. Inside this space was pain and sweat and blood and knowledge. Far more important things, far more real things.
There is a sacred space in combat, and in climbing and in, potentially, everything. I don't think the sacred aspect is about risk or even learning. It is about living.
Most people don't pay attention most of the time. How does your foot feel in your shoe right now? What is the nearest human movement you can hear? Whose breath, other than your own, can you hear? What are you smelling?
What makes training sacred is that you cannot do it in the usual mundane haze of inattention. I've seen oblivious students but they rarely last long under a good instructor. When you are learning dangerous things being stupid or being unaware is painful. It hurts and, in my opinion, it should.
This attention is what makes the thing sacred. A moment lived in attention is lived. A year passed in mindless repetition or safe in the comfort zone has only passed. It is wasted.
So it's the goal to live. Simply to live at all times. Dangerous places make that easier, long time spent where attention is required helps to make attention a habit. This habit of attention, in turn, makes the whole world sacred space.
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