We all have the chance to train ourselves to be more proactive in our own safety and avoid becoming a victim. And if we are victimized, this training will prepare us to take appropriate actions that will aid in our ability to survive with much less injury and trauma.
As the author affirms: "It is vital to realize that a physical altercation is the last thing that happens in a chain of events. And while we must never blame the victim, our safety is our responsibility. Many situations can be avoided, or their severity greatly lessened, if we pay attention during the chain of events that leads up to it and respond appropriately."
While this book is not about personal protection per se, it applies personal protection theory and specific tactics utilized by bodyguards to Buddhist practice, laying out strategies to protect our inner Buddha from attack. Thus the Four Noble Truths are applied to the concept of "threat" in the form of Four Noble Tactical Truths, the Eight Tactics Plan echoes the Eightfold Path, and the Tactics of Interdepending embrace the notion of Interbeing in the Buddhist world.
Paying attention and mindfulness being key concepts of both a bodyguard’s profession and a Buddhist practitioner’s practice, this pioneering book speaks to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
Jeff Eisenberg occupies a small niche in the Buddhist world. Actually, he created that niche, which is bad ass, and I'm very much hoping to see it expand. With 46 years of martial arts training and 33 years of Buddhist practice under his various black belts, Jeff's approach is startlingly unique. He recognizes the unfortunate necessity of violence in certain situations and is well versed in protecting himself and others. Buddhism is often seen as a completely pacifistic religion, concerned only with cultivating peace and compassion. And yet, it's Jeff's deep understanding of Buddhism and long-time meditation practice that inform his martial arts skills and allow him to respond to violence with violence in the least harmful way possible.
After years of training civilians, cops, and the military in self-defense, as well as providing private and personal security, Jeff has decided to transfer those talents to the realm of psycho-spiritual struggles. His specific skillset, so often used to provide protection for high-level executives and celebrities, is now being offered to those of us who fight our battles on the meditation cushion. Our inner peace, our sense of enlightenment and freedom, our internal Buddha: this is what Jeff is teaching us to safeguard.
He doesn't pull his punches, either. This isn't exactly a book for the casual practitioner, the New Age Dabbler, or the touchy-feely part-timers looking for less stress and better sex. This is for meditators ready to do the work, to clench their jaws, face their adversaries, and come out on top.
There are plenty of Buddhist authors out there willing to tell you this practice is tough but none of them can draw the parallels Jeff does. By comparing spiritual techniques to tactics used in the protection industry, he makes what is normally a mental endeavor visceral and sweaty. You're not going to feel clean and safe reading this; you're going to feel like you've been training to choke the shit out of all the personal demons you've created that stand between you and happiness.
Jeff mentions the martial arts saying, "Many will step on the mat but few will stay." I've done martial arts and I know this is true because I'm one of the many who quit. I thought I wanted to learn how to defend myself. I was attracted to the honor and discipline and tradition of martial arts. Turns out, they're not about that at all, at least if you want to actually be prepared for violence. They're about fighting and fighting is hard and scary and I was not cut out for it at all. The first time I got punched in the face, I had to take a few minutes to myself and put some serious thought into what I was doing. Once I got over it, somebody pounced on my back like a gorilla, wrapped their arms around my neck, and, near as I could tell, attempted to crush all the breathing life from my body. I tapped out immediately, which is the only aspect of fighting I naturally excelled at. Two days later, when I got my voice back, I said, "That's enough for me, thanks." I joined the long and ignominious parade of people who walked out the door but never walked back in.
The same is true in spiritual practice. Millions of people are interested in being happier, kinder, and more fully awake in this world. They see the Dalai Lama fumbling blissfully about, speaking in adorably broken English, and urging them to just be nice to each other and they think, "I want what that guy has." They join a local meditation group and, after a couple weeks or months, they quit because they aren't happier or kinder yet. What's more, meditation ended up being hard, even though it looks peaceful as hell.
I lead a weekly meditation group and I coach private mindfulness students. I've seen plenty of people show up excited to get going, only to fade away after a few short sessions. They wouldn't blink an eye if a fitness trainer told them it takes time and effort to get into better physical shape. Nor would they imagine they'd be sexy and ripped after two weeks at the gym. Yet they sort of unconsciously expect that from meditation practice. When it becomes apparent that it takes dedication and pain to change a lifetime of habits, traits, and slipshod morality, they respond like me after I got punched and strangled.
Even though Jeff is clear that protecting and nurturing your inner Buddha is strenuous, exhausting, and often boring, he doesn't make it seem impossible. He has a knack for making the reader feel like this is something they can do, despite the degree of difficulty. Additionally, he writes in easy-to-understand terms, many taken from the tactical world of security and protection. Don't let his casual tone and the absence of difficult Sanskrit words fool you; this is straight up dharma. It's obvious that Jeff has a deep understanding of traditional Buddhist theory, thought, and practice but, rather than presenting it in the same tired, academic way we've seen a thousand times, he comes across as a guy talking to you at the dojo after he's just beaten you up a little. He wants you to improve and it's readily apparent he knows his stuff forward and backward but he's not just throwing info at you, overwhelming you with needless jargon. Instead, he's illustrating his points with personal stories and showing you exactly how to get better, while never letting you think it's going to be an easy road. He's done the work and he can help you do it, too.
Jeff is an important voice in American Buddhism, which is all too often weak and ineffective. It takes toughness to walk this path, and a willingness to meet inner violence with love and acceptance, which is much harder than responding with brutality. But it also takes knowledge and experience, and the wisdom to know exactly when to apply force, and how much. Jeff is tough. He's also kind and loving. He's got the knowledge, the experience, and the wisdom. I'm thrilled he's taught me to kick some spiritual ass and I hope you get out there on the mat, too.
I have taught thousands of students personal protection theory and techniques over the years, and I have always started the instruction with the same message:
It is vital to realize that a physical altercation is the last thing that hap-pens in a chain of events. And while we must never blame the victim, our safety is our responsibility.
Many situations can be avoided or their severity greatly lessened, if we pay attention during the chain of events that leads up to the situation and respond appropriately.
Throughout my career as an investigator, bodyguard, tactics trainer, and martial arts instructor, I have heard numerous stories told by victims that range from the typical drunk jerk being a pain in the ass to horrific tales of violence, sexual assault, and hostage situations. More often than not, when the story was examined closely, it revealed that there were times in the chain of events when the victim's actions, or lack thereof, played a part in aiding the assailant.
Again, I am in no way blaming the victim! What I am saying is that we all have the chance to train ourselves to be more proactive in our own safety and avoid becoming a victim. And if we are victimized, our training will result in appropriate actions that will aid in our ability to survive with much less injury and trauma.
But this is not a book about personal protection, per se; it is a book that will take personal protection theory and specific tactics utilized by bodyguards and apply it to Buddhist practice, as it lays out strategies you can implement to protect your inner Buddha from attack.
Yeah, I'm a Buddhist. I was hoping that people would get that from the cool title I came up with, but if you didn't, now you know.
So, if you are a martial artist who bought this book to learn some badass martial arts techniques and have no interest in Buddhism, I'm sorry to disappoint you. But hang in there, as I think that you will find Buddhist teachings useful, regarding the mindset and strategies that go into a personal protection situation. Who knows? A little Buddhism might not hurt ya, either.
(By the way, if you're interested in more of a martial arts slant, I have another book with another cool title, Fighting Buddha (Findhorn Press, 2016) that you should check out. And if you want to train, you can con-tact me through www.fightingbuddhadojo.com. (I know, some serious self-promotion, but the books ain't paying all the bills!)
Conversely, if you are already a Buddhist but have no interest in the martial arts, I think you'll find it very useful to learn how the strategy a bodyguard uses to protect a client can be applied to your Buddhist practice. In fact, I am hoping that you have already recognized some Buddhist buzz phrases ("chain of events" and "pay attention") that are reminiscent of "the twelve links of dependent origination" and "mindfulness," and that I've piqued your interest enough to continue reading—and you're not on your way back to the bookstore to demand a full refund.
So, if you are still with me, let's take a look at just what a bodyguard is ... and is not.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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