Monday, June 8, 2009

The Trinity, Renaissance, Arete, and Samurai

Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

I've always appreciated the challenge to excel in multiple fields and aspects of life. The name of this blog TRINITY TRAINING GROUP is a testament to the triad of life: Mind, Body, and Spirit. The Christian Trinity is my way to envision and explain a human's completeness and balance.

I've also spoken and written about being "Renaissance men and women." The concept of being Renaissance is knowing a lot about a lot. It's related to the French root of the word renaistre, which means "to be born again." The period in Europe known as the Renaissance was a cultural rebirth in many intellectual pursuits, such as science, theology, music, and art to name a few. The "polymaths" of the Renaissance period were known to be those men who had a broad and universal knowledge, spanning many disciplines and fields.

The Greeks use yet another term: ARETE. The word arete translates poorly into modern language. Its ideal of "excellence" is almost just as foreign to modern culture. However, ancient Greeks held firmly to this ideal of virtue and excellence in all aspects of life: physical, emotional, ethical, intellectual, courage, discipline. It was deemed to be noble to strive to reach one's fullest potential on all fronts. Spartan warriors exemplify arete.

In the East, they identify these same ideals within the samurai. These highly literate and educated fighters were sometimes known as warrior-poets. These samurai were closely held in the same hand with strict philosophical movements, as well as extreme loyalty to the nobility.

Most every culture (both ancient and modern) has a word, phrase, or concept that embodies personal excellence. Being a Christian, I was pointed to the idea of the Trinity during high school. However, the concepts of Arete, the Renaissance, and the Samurai just as accurately portray my life's direction of balance and excellence. I find constant encouragement from the teachings of many cultures and time periods.

I have been blessed with many successes in life. As I look around, I find many of those who subscribe to a holistic approach to life share many similar achievements. Likewise, I find those with this same inner balance who strive for excellence can contend with failures, setbacks, illness, and injury better than those without the same foundations. For me, living as a Christian has been extremely rewarding, even in times of disaster and failure. Some of my life's greatest lessons have come after disappointment, sadness, and hardship. I'll argue to my own death that my strength of spirit has done more for my life than any summation of physical or mental strength.

In school, much of intellect is measured by way of tests, grades, and report cards. Much of physical ability is measured in sport, by way of a stopwatch or referee. However, one's emotional/spiritual health and stability is rarely graded or evaluated...(I'm not saying it even should or could be measured). It's easily argued as the most abstract of the three. And with its mystery comes neglect and ignorance.

Our emotional health includes many topics: purpose, competition, greed, self-absorption, self-esteem, courage, worth, ethics, integrity, attitude, honesty, loyalty, desire, respect, compassion. The list goes on and on. For as much stock as I put into physical fitness and education, it pales in comparison to that focus I put on spiritual health.
For those believers out there, I stand tall knowing you have my back on the stance that Belief brings peace, contentment, and success. For those skeptics out there, you will always be looking for those qualities somewhere else....even though it's surrounding you. Go ahead and keep ignoring it.

Personal excellence has many recipes. They all contain three main ingredients: Mind, Body, and often-neglected Spirit. Pick up all three pieces and see where they take you.....

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