What is the good life?

What is the good life?

It can be scary to think about this.  Fear and worry often creep into the answers.

Ever hear; “As long as you’ve got your health…health is everything!”  Some other answers include “enough to eat,”  ‘a roof over your head,” “family.”

Those are all ok but I consider them basic.  Birth into this world should include the basics: adequate nourishment, shelter, physical and mental capabilities to function, some material comforts.

Unfortunately, for reasons often beyond our control, that is not the case for the entire world. Hence why our answers to what is the good life are often tinged with fear, or false modesty and worry.

There are those who have less than us, less than the basics.  We fear that if we long for greater than what we currently have, it may be considered a sin and “The Lord Giveth And The Lord Taketh Away.”  So, many of us downplay or hide what we think of as the good life.

I mentioned the basics – adequate nourishment, shelter, physical and mental capabilities to function, with some material comforts.

What if I were to say that the good life is having lavishness to all of these? Plenty of delicious food to eat, knowing you have a stock of good and luxurious food and the ability to get more as wanted.  Or, a great and secure home, with lots ofimages space and amenities, paid for.  Optimal health, beyond your biological years, A creative mind with an expanding consciousness, and luxuries of learning, travel, experience and circles of interesting people as friends and family.

Would call me sinful for declaring this?  Would you consider it greed even if in having this I didn’t take anything from anyone else?

Well, that’s how I feel about it.  I have more than some, and I feel bad for them and often try to help from within my means.  But I’m not afraid of having more and having better.

But you should be content with what you have.  Really?  You should be content with ill health, shabby clothing, a cardboard box for a roof, and enough food to keep you hungry?  I disagree.

I just did a search for contentment and got this from Wikipedia, interesting insights that I agree with “Contentment may be considered as synonymous with happiness but is more basic or prior to happiness that can be derived from outer achievement or self-improvement…” I can dig that.  Although it does also speak of contentment as an attitude, but as an attitude it’s often applied to negative situations, and passive acceptance of the less than or even the worst possible.

It is attachment to materiality that is the sin or suffering, not possession of it.

I don’t begrudge those that have better than I, I celebrate that they have a better life than I, or one I would enjoy as well.  I’ve never been a material or spiritual threat to those who are enjoying a lavish life.  I look forward to it as well.

I’ve had slumps in my life, and peaks.  I really like the peaks, and when I find myself in a slump and get over the subsequent pity party we all throw, I start looking for the way back to the peak.  I’m not ashamed of that.  An old Zen saying goes “Seven times down eight times up!”

You can live at the peak, make your home there, or you can contentedly accept the slump and decide the gully is where you should stay.

I’ll tell you another really important element to living the good life: choice.

I choose the peak.  I live the peak already, just in process of making my home there, that’s all.

How?  Enterprise.  I have made my own way and will continue to do so.

There are many opportunities out here to prosper, to live the good life, to live at the peak.  Some are better suited to you than others, but you have to try, to explore, to at least be in the game.

You can’t win if you’re not in the game.  They say the chances of winning a mega lottery may be 347,000,000,000,000 to 1, but people do play and win, a greater truth is your chances of winning one absolutely zero if you haven’t bought a ticket.

I’m not asking any supernatural being to “give” it to me, to “bless” me over anyone else, I would think that conceited.  It’s no secret I’m not a “believer” in one of those.  But, there is a story in one of those books called “the parable of the talents,” a talent being a form of money or coin.

In it, it’s the guy who’s content with what he has and doesn’t do anything to improve the situation that is called “wicked.”  Then there’s this interesting comment:

“But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  If you’re content with an less than ideal situation, it can be made worse.

That’s from the bible.  I know you can take anything from the bible and find oodles of support pro and con, I’m not saying that’s an absolute interpretation, but it’s pretty good.

So buy that lottery ticket, change your job, try a new business.  Screw contentment with the gully.  You have knowledge skills and power that are going to waste down there.

I’m in the middle of something to help me live better, and I’ll be sharing what it is in case any of you are looking for choice in your life and want to give it a try.

Be Well.


It costs some money!

Ken Shamrock, four-time mixed martial arts wor...

Ken Shamrock, four-time mixed martial arts world champion and Marine Corps Martial Arts Program subject matter expert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A researcher found that most people choose a martial arts school primarily because they know someone else who goes there, a friend or neighbor, next in order of selection priorities was distance, after that was cost.  A long time martial arts school owner tells me the first question a caller ask is “how much is it?”

Ask school owners what they think most peoples criteria for selecting a martial arts school is, and their answers won’t match the research.  Most instructors think it’s their individual greatness, their championship wins and such.  Others think it’s the superiority of their style.  Some will credit marketing genius.

Proximity is a biggie, especially for beginners.

Even though they get sold on how important commitment is going to be to growth, and how often they can come, they know they’re really on the “let me TRY this out and see” phase and travel is also an investment: “So, only $100 a month, great! (thought bubble) “and that’s 3 gallons of gas at $4.00 each, times 3 times a week, times 4 weeks to a month, it’s really gonna cost me $250 to take this class, plus an extra ninety minutes travel time each time…” Oh yeah, this is a great school and all, but the YMCA is walking distance to my house, and even at the same price per class, it suits me better.”

It costs some money!

I, and many others like me have gone against the grain on this as students.  I have traveled 400 miles to train for a weekend with an instructor at their school, and paid the cost of a luxury hotel stay on top of the hotel stay.  I know others that regularly go cross country to do the same.  Having the disposable income to do it is a factor, I wouldn’t do it if it meant no groceries for my family for a week.  There’s also a little bit of a vanity factor ” I’m going to train with Master so and so, it’ll look like we’re buddies, and since he is recognized, that means I deserve recognition too!”  This is stuff that more advanced students do.  Yes, getting a higher degree of skills instruction is part of it and so may be the fact that there is no worthwhile instruction nearby.  I’ll say this, it’s gotten beyond my financial means to train with “Master” anymore, I can’t afford them.

Does that mean there’s never any quality affordable instruction nearby?  Or, that if an instructor is not famous or in a photo with a famous one, his stuff is no good?  No.  For beginners, anyone who knows a little more than you and can teach is a great start.  I have known some amazing martial artists, who by default and sometimes by choice are largely unknown practically anonymous.

Does that mean that if it’s good it should cost an arm and a leg, and you should pay it?  No.  There’s an old Zen story about a monk, cutting his arm off and giving it to the master in order to try to get instruction.  As they say in NLP, the map is not the territory.  Don’t let that be your guide, either in cash or blind and exclusive devotion.

Interested in martial arts and there’s a small place nearby?  Go check it out. take the free classes, then tell the instructor what you liked, AND WHAT YOU DIDN’T LIKE if anything.  Discuss the cost.  If it’s beyond your reasonable means and you are still interested, ask for an affordable fee.

A real teacher loves to teach and will not pass up a potentially good vessel for the knowledge they have to impart. If you are a a good vessel, they should want you. A teacher is not a teacher without students. Otherwise that knowledge will go to a schmuck who will waste it and not represent him well as a teacher.

I know about area demographics, overhead, and costs of living.  Still, instructors; you might do better by making instruction more affordable to your neighbors, and not set fees on what you think you’re worth, as opposed to what good students can pay, and I did say “good” students, as opposed to merely “prosperous” students.  Back to that Zen story, the monk sacrificed something essential to get the training, but the point is that he was WILLING to give a lot of himself for the training.

As an instructor I need a little cash, but what I really ask for is an open mind, humility, determination, trust (not blind or unintelligent obedience) and consistency.  When I find the right mix of these qualities in a student, money becomes secondary.  I have also had the blessing of receiving from instructors – when I had no money to give.  To which I am forever grateful, and seek to pay it forward just the same.

On the other hand, if I don’t like you or trust you, all the money in the world may not get me to teach you.

Check the Myself & Martial Arts Instruction tab above or click here for more information about the Rick Vargas Kali Silat & Self Defense training group that meets at Black Lightning Martial Arts in Debary, FL


A soldier came to the master and asked is there really a heaven and a hell?  “Who are you?” Demanded the master. ” I, am a Samurai!”  “You!  A soldier?  What idiot would have you as a guard, you look more like a beggar!”  The soldier grasped and began to draw his sword.  “So, you have a sword, big deal, it’s probably too dull to cut anything anyway.” As he drew his sword the master replied “Here, open the gates of Hell!”  At this, and seeing the master’s discipline, the Samurai was illumed with understanding, so he sheathed his sword, and bowed.  “Here, open the gates of heaven.”  said the MasterMy paraphrase from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.

Weapons are instruments of fear, they are not a wise man’s tools.  He uses them only when he has no choice.  Peace and quiet are dear to his heart, and victory no cause for rejoicing.  Tao Te Ching 31             

First, establish yourself in the way, then teach, and so defeat sorrow.To straighten the crooked you must first do a harder thing – straighten yourself.   You are your only master.  Who else? Subdue yourself, and discover your master.  Teachings of The Buddha The Dharmapada, 12

For him who has conquered the himself by the Self, the Self is a friend; but for him who has not conquered himself, the Self remains hostile, like an enemy. The highest Self of him who has conquered himself and is peaceful, is steadfast in cold, heat, pleasure, and pain; thus also in honor and dishonor.  The Bhagavad Gita 6, 6-7