The Japanese system of defense called karate has been demonstrated on the James Bond secret agent films before millions of cinema and television viewers. Despite this, there are still only a few experts in Europe who have passed the tests necessary to admit them into the higher grades called Black Belt. Discussion with one of these adepts brought out some common ground between the practice of karate and the practice of contemplation. One of the principal feats necessary to achieve the Black Belt grade is to cut through one or even two bricks with a single blow of the outside edge of the hand. If the karate pupil concentrates on the brick itself, he will never succeed in breaking through it. He must instead concentrate on the ground beneath the brick, thus admitting no thought of doubt, fear, or hesitation as to whether or not he can cut the brick. In fact, during the moment before striking the brick, he must suspend all thinking. And if any such negative thoughts do enter his mind, he must then abandon the attempt altogether for that period. The emphasis is laid on immediacy, on direct penetration unobstructed by thoughts of any kind. The meditator whose mind is centered on his own working of the meditation technique is like the karate pupil who fixes his mind on the brick. This is a mistake. But the meditator who fixes his mind on the Overself is like the pupil who concentrates his thought on the ground below the brick itself, and this is what leads to success. Obviously, such advice is not suited to the early or elementary stages of meditation where concentration is required. On the contrary, it belongs to the more advanced stage where success comes not from trying but from letting go, relaxing.
-- Notebooks Category 23: Advanced Contemplation > Chapter 7: Contemplative Stillness > # 33