Monday, August 7, 2017

The Spiritual Wisdom of Rocky Balboa

He should lift up the self by the Self,
and not sink into the selfish.
For the self is the only friend of the Self,
and the only foe.
(Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita)

I admit it, when I feel depressed or when I need to jump-start myself in order to go to the gym or running, I sometimes play the Rocky Theme or the Eye of the Tiger. As I see the fighting scenes or the training shots, I feel a mental kick and the adrenaline rushing through my system. Those movies meant a lot to me when I was growing up. They made me a better athlete and they kept me awake during the endless exam weeks.

I never fight anyone, unless I really have to. Fighting is not the WAY! So instead, I view the symbol of the fighting scenes as our challenge to get the upper hand over our inner demons. It takes as much skill as it takes will-power and strength. Believe it or not, the Rocky movies have plenty of spiritual insights to offer. Take Apollo Creed's disastrous fight against Ivan Drago that ended in his death in Rocky IV. What he considered an exhibition game to earn a little money and publicity, Ivan Drago considered an opportunity to prove the superiority of the Soviet Union over America. Yes, our demons sometimes get us utterly unprepared in life's chaos or on some sleepless full moon nights. But for every spiritual travelers this only happens a few times. When we start understanding what is at stake, we are ready to carry our own in any battle.

There was so much meaning in Rocky's eyes when he finally faced Ivan Drago. Win or lose, he knew that in preparation for this fight he had given it all. There was also no expression of hostility or revenge for his friend's death, just calm acceptance of the brutal fight that would lie ahead. When we hate our demons and wish them away, they will gain the upper hand. For unbeknown to us, they just mirror something we don't yet understand about ourself. When we enter a compassionate sparring match we learn a lot about the depth of our being, just as we are able to  impose new boundaries on our demons.

All inner fights and struggles only show that we still have something to learn. Eventually it dawns on us that the 'self' that can be part of the Self. But until this blessed day, please give the self discovery journey your all!

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