Posts Tagged ‘Chi’

Breathe in and let yourself soar to the ends of the universe; breathe out and bring the cosmos back inside. Next, breathe up all the fecundity and vibrancy of the earth. Finally, blend the breath of heaven and the breath of earth with your own, becoming the Breath of Life itself. -Morihei Ueshiba

In our discussions of Kyudo, religion, psychology, philosophy and such, a friend once asked me to define spirit. He said that he would then tell me how he defined it. He never did. We don’t talk anymore. I suppose we are still “friends” in some loose sense of the word. We are cordial in passing at seminars, but little more. If this person did nothing else, he gave me cause to investigate other ways of viewing things. I am thankful for that, though I suspect he had little respect for my viewpoint.

I truly think that things happen for a reason. Our paths intersect with others for the purpose of teaching us that which we need to learn. I believe this friend fulfilled this purpose for me and moved on. I hope I left him with some lesson of goodness.

One of the problems we encounter in life is the assumption and expectation that we can define everything and wrap it up neatly in words.

Spirit is one of those areas. We know it when it touches us, but we reach to touch it and it slips through our fingers. It comes and goes, but somehow is ever present.

I relate the word spirit to the word love in certain senses. I’m sure no sane person would argue the existence of love. Love gives us strength, gives us purpose. We search for it. It can seem forever evasive or flowing like wine. Whether it is the pure and simple love of the sunshine, a mother’s love for her child or as complex as two lovers, it warms our heart and fills us completely.

Spirit? Some would say spirit is connected to religion. Some would say it is related to a state of mind. Some may even say it is related to nature. I cannot say that any of these are wrong. I simply cannot say. You will know it when it finds you.

For the naysayers of the world that don’t believe in much of anything beyond the material, I would suggest they begin with consideration that the English word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus, meaning breath.

As you shoot, consider the importance of breath in your Kyudo.

Sha Soku Jinsei.


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In re-reading parts of Ki in Daily Life by Koichi Tohei. last night, I ran across a section that pertained to something that has been popping into my mind from time to time. It deals with what can be called open mind. Tohei talks about being candid and begins with:

Not just in ki training, but when you are learning anything, frankness is essential. Some people, ruined by their previous experience or knowledge, are unable to learn things openly. These people have what we call bad habits. They judge things solely on the basis of their own narrow experience and think that what suits them is correct and what does not suit them is wrong. Progress does not lie this way.

Say we have a glass full of water. If we try to pour more water into it, the water will flow out, and only a little will remain in the glass. Once empty the glass, and it will hold plenty of new water. If your head is crammed with this and that, whatever new things you try to learn, they will not go in… Ki training is the discipline that lets you make great progress in moving from a world that emphasizes the body to one that centers on the spirit, from one that thinks in dualities, to one that thinks in absolutes, and from a world of fighting to a world of peace… Some people decide once and for all in their heart that they are not going to believe what anyone says.

We all come from varied backgrounds, different martial arts, religions, social backgrounds… that’s what makes us unique. But with the same vain of thought as Tohei’s glass of water, old water can become stagnant. And even if you add some fresh to it, I wouldn’t want to drink it. Best to empty your glass and refill with fresh water. I have also heard that as long as the ki flows pure, the water remains clean. I think the key here is that you have a continuous flow.

So, I suppose, we should try letting go… and have a glass of fresh water!

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Home is where the heart is...

Home is where the heart is...

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. – from Moving Water by Rumi

In Tohei’s book Ki in Daily Life, he speaks on plus ki and minus ki and yin and yang. He tells us that yin is the shade and yang the sunlight. Yin is destruction and yang is birth. He references the duality of this life… life-death…strength-weakness…high-low. Everything has its plus and its minus. We should focus on extending positive ki. He tells us later in his book that extending ki is the fourth of the Four Basic Principles to Unify Mind and Body.

Harmonious unity is accomplished when the three essentials (body, spirit or mind, and bow) come together as one, sanmi-ittai.

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“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

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In my studies, I ran across the following passage in Bow to Life: 365 Secrets from the Martial Arts for Daily Life by Joseph Cardillo. (pg 129) This is an excellent book, that brings much into perspective. My original post here had comments of my own, but I have since decided that any of my own thoughts detracted from the following message.

Your Way Is Your Way

Historically, the heart has been known as the primary organ of consciousness. In martial training this concept is known as Xin (heart consciousness). Xin is your open line to the Way. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the language of the Way is not English, German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, or the like. Its language is feeling: feeling what is truly in the pit of your heart-Xin. Joseph Campbell calls this “living from the heart” or “following your bliss.” Xin, however, doesn’t mean to live whimsically, and Campbell didn’t mean that either. Xin is a deep exploration of the heart to discover who you really are, the reason you are on this planet to begin with. Then, instead of going “outside” and gathering “things,” martial training emphasizes going “inside”. The more keenly you recognize and nurture what’s in your heart, the quicker and easier people, situations, events, and the like begin appearing in your life. Be present. Open your heart wherever you are. The secret is to be yourself- because you and the Way are one and the same.

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The martial arts divides the energies into the yin and yang and then further divides this in the five elements-water, wood, fire, earth, and metal.

The five element theory incorporates two cycles…

Generating or Creation cycle, where one element promotes the next one:

1. Water feeds wood, promoting growth potential. Water is vitality and grace. and is linked to the bladder.
2. Wood fuels fire, creating heat and energy. Wood is bone and sinew and linked to the liver and toxic processing.
3. Fire ash nourishes the earth, enabling it to sustain life. Fire is energy and agility and is linked to the heart and circulation.
4. Earth is center and stability, giving the other elements a place to use. From the earth comes metal. Earth is muscle strength and is linked to the stomach and digestion.
5. Metal is the combination of the elements, or result of them. Thus, creating either strong or weak metal. Strong metal can enhance or show weaknesses in the other elements. Mentally, metal is knowledge. It is linked to the lungs and respiration and elimination.

Overcoming or Destruction cycle, where one element exerts control, suppresses or inhibits the other:

1. Water cools fire
2. Fire tempers metal
3. Metal shapes wood
4. Wood growing penetrates the earth
5. Earth channels and controls water

Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings describes the five elements in regard to kendo. Blackwell Sensei pointed out that the five elements apply to kyudo as well. According to my notes, we can think in the following terms:

Wood-Kai and Nobia

Buddhisms’ five element theory replaces metal with void.

Bow to Life: 365 Secrets from the Martial Arts for Daily Life by Joseph Cardillo discusses the Five Element Theory in this manner:

Traditionally, martial arts (as well as Chinese medicine) offer the interplay between the five elements-metal, water, wood, fire, and earth-as a way of living. Each element represents a particular expression of Chi. Most dojos zero in on the constructive/creative and the destructive potential of each. This helps you to understand many subtler aspects of Universal Energy and to integrate them into your daily life. For example, metal liquefies into water, which produces wood, which produces fire, which produces earth, which sustains all life, and so on. Furthermore, for thousands of years, martial arts have taught that ultimately within any particular element each of the others can be found, and that such is the dance of life-“everything is part of everything else”, a banner that the most current of scientific research enjoys waving. Let such awareness enhance you by bringing you more contentment and clarity.

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