It has been about a month and a half since I have played a game of Go on any server. I stepped aside to spend time studying, with the intention of returning stronger. My time was restricted in unexpected ways such as a long power-outage from Hurricane Wilma and a lot of little things here and there I had to take care of. Sadly, I had much less than an hour a day to study. In that time, I went over joseki patterns and tried to learn good play and strong shape from them. I had hoped to buy a few Go books and pick up new skills and knowledge but Hurricane Wilma brought unexpected expenses. Even with that, it was nice to take time to learn what I could, and now I am happy to begin to play again. Thinking about my rank before I left, around 28k, I wondered if I had gained any this month and a half, and was reminded Bodhidharma's journey to China and his meeting with Emperor Liang.
Bodhidharma (Da Mo in China, Daruma in Japan) was a Buddhist monk from India who set out to China to pass on further teachings. Many people think that Bodhidharma brought Buddhism to China, but that isn't so. Buddhism had been there for some time, but the number of enlightened teachers was few, if any. When Bodhidharma arrived in China he was granted an audience with Emperor Wu Di of the Liang Dynasty. Emperor Wu Di is famous for his large Buddhist temple and monastery projects and patronage of Buddhism all over China. Upon meeting Bodhidharma he asked, "In my vast building projects and patronage of Buddhism, what merit have I gained?"
Bodhidharma replied, "None, whatsoever."
The Emperor wasn't pleased.
And so I imagine myself face-to-face now with a Bodhidharma of the Go world when I ask, "With the study of the Opening, and joseki patterns, what strength have I gained in this month and a half?"
I imagine the reply would be, "None, whatsoever."
Though I have learned more of the game and have a better understanding of heavy/light shape etc., my guess is that this will have little effect on my immediate rating or ability. Thankfully I do not play Go for this reason and enjoy playing and studying as a journey, and not as some fixed goal or rank. That attitude will come in handy in these next few days. Let's hope I fair better than Emperor Wu Di.
Over the weekend, while visiting relics of Buddha Shakyamuni, Nagarjuna, Marpa, Milarepa, Atisha, Tsongkhapa, and many other Buddhist saints, I had the rare honor of being blessed by a Tibetan Rinpoche, who said a blessing while holding a relic over my head. Though it won't help me much with Go, it crosses oceans in the few things more important.