Archive for the ‘Zen’ Category

“You can only become accomplished at something you truly love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well, people can’t take their eyes off of you.” –Maya Angelou

I ran across this quote today and my thoughts immediately turned to Kyudo.  It says so much that I couldn’t not share it with you.

In so many of the other martial arts, the goal is to make money, losing focus on the art itself.  I am thankful that this, so far at least, is not the case with Kyudo.  Sensei has a couple of good quotes pertaining to this subject, but I dare not try to quote him without looking back at my notes to assure accuracy.  This was not the part of the quote that captured my interest anyway. It was the rest of the quote that moved me.

I recall one international Kyudo seminar a few years back.  I watched one of the sensei from Japan.  He was, by all appearances, not highly focused on what the group was doing. Though in actuality, I think these guys don’t miss a thing.  He simply wasn’t enthralled by the action going on.  If I understood the translator correctly, he even told the group that they were boring him.

In the past, we have been taught to make our Kyudo flow, to make Kyudo our own. I’m certain that by making Kyudo our own, they did not mean to deviate from the information taught in the Kyohon. Somehow, I felt they meant to put yourself into your art.


I’m going to say, “By relaxing, breathing from the tanden, and truly loving what you are doing.” In this way, the movements will no longer be static or robotic, but should flow, just as a beautiful piece of music that you “know by heart”.  Even if there is a pause in the piece, the energy of the music flows right up to the last note, and even after that last note has been struck, it still resonates, fading slowly.

Music or Kyudo, either done in this way, is not boring.  I think the idiom “to know by heart” may mean more than the dictionary states, “to know a piece perfectly”.  I believe in the case of Kyudo, the meaning could more aptly be “with mushin and from the heart”.  When your body knows the movements, there is no need for mind and one can truly shoot from the heart.  As we polish the heart, we can shoot without fear. We can be expansive and as large as our heart is.

“The way is in the practice.”

“Shoot from the heart!”


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More than grass and string.
It is heart,
It is connection.

The bow knows the Way.
The doing is in the not doing.
Do not interfere with the way.

Control and desire destroy beauty.
Striving for non-striving,
No trying.

Movement creating art,
Flowing as smoothly as time,
One second

to the next

at its own


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The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

– Shoot from the heart!-

Everywhere you go it’s Zen this and Zen that. Just what qualifies something as being Zen? Who is making the rules these days? And who is breaking them?

It’s pretty much common knowledge that Zen is a sect of the Buddhist religion. And common knowledge means that if I know it everyone else should… and probably did long before I.

But, what else is Zen?

I was helping “unload the cans” (unloading freight) the other day and a co-worker asked me, “What is all this Zen stuff you see on everything? What does it mean?”

My mind skipped a beat as I tried to come up with a plausible answer and keep my hands moving packages. “Well, I think… being in the moment.” But, I started thinking, how is a box of cookies or any other inanimate object in the moment? We talked a bit more trying to figure it out together. Finally, I left it at, “I’ll let you know when I figure it out.”

In searching for an answer for Darrell, I checked out the Zen Firefly Lights. Now don’t get me wrong, I like pretty lights and these look fun. But Zen? The ad purports that these artificial lights will recreate the nights of old, when fireflies were abundant and will add positive chi and feng shui to your backyard.

I still don’t get it…

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