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A Moment to Pause

Bi Toku Kyudo Kai

Bi Toku Kyudo Kai

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It is amazing to me how much of life in general parallels the teachings in Kyudo. I have read that “Kyudo is Life” (p.9 Kyohon) Sha Soku Jinsei. I really questioned this when I first started kyudo. It didn’t make a bit of sense how shooting an arrow relates to life! But, the Kyohon goes on to say, “we as practitioners of Kyudo, who are expected to master such virtues as discipline, modesty, gentleness, self-restraint, and reflection through the shooting, can realize these qualities in our own life.”

This ties in with page 70 of the Kyohon. Herein it states:

The full draw (kai) is, psychologically speaking, the continuity of an imperturbable spirit. Removing attachments, desire, and worldly thoughts towards the target, at the full draw you must wipe away negativity like doubt, anxiety, faintheartedness, fear, and self-depreciation and make the effort to fulfill the spirit with self-control, composure, endurance, and determination, founded on the right belief. This disciplining of oneself in this very precious way is connected to Shasoku- Jinsei-Shooting is Life.

I was reminded of this today… no attachment, no doubt, no fear!

I hope you will find meaning in this as well.

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A friend asked me recently, “What do you really know? What do you really know for certain?” In trying to answer this and other questions that have come up, I have found that some of the simplest questions have the most difficult answers and in the process, open up more questions.

Now, I’m still not sure what kind of an answer he wanted me to arrive at, but I came up with an answer that works for me at this juncture in life. I came up with only one thing I know for certain. Hopefully, I can take that one thing and build upon it.

In this life things are constantly changing and remaining the same. It is the nature of things and no matter my displeasure, it is the way life goes.

Life can be a bumpy road filled with hurdles, detours, roadblocks, peaks, valleys, twists, turns and dead ends. It is how we handle these that counts if we want to continue to move forward. As we seek answers, oft times the harder we look at something the more unclear it becomes. Only in the stepping away, does the darkness fade and the light moves in. Sometimes, we are so far in that we can’t even see how to step away. “How can I just step away?”

I originally thought stepping away in order to let go meant I was ignoring the issue at hand. After much deliberation and reconsideration, I have come to terms with this. Stepping away does not mean “turning your back to the problem”. It means “putting it in reverse”, still focused on the issue, and backing up to the point where you took the wrong turn. Back up to a point where things were right. Back up to where you could see clearly.

It is in the backing up, the stepping away, the letting go, that we are enabled to move forward. That is not to say the road ahead will be clear with no obstacles, although one can hope. Even the smoothest of roads can have abrupt twists and turns that leave us off track.

Now, you may be wondering, “How does this relate to kyudo?”

Anyone that has done kyudo for more than a day has discovered that it can be, will be and is frustrating. Just as any path we follow, there are the peaks, valleys, and rough spots along the way. What do you do with this frustration? What do you do when you hit a dead end? Do you get discouraged and quit? I hope not!

You back up, step away. Find the root of the problem. Go back to the basics. Go back to ashibumi. Go back to dozukuri. Go back to the vertical line and the horizontal line and rebuild from there.

The spirit is made stable on the base of the vetrical and horizontal cross (Tateyoko-Jumonji). (p. 70)

Whether kyudo or life, we need a rock solid foundation to build upon. If necessary, tear it all down to rebuild on this solid ground. Tear it down to build it back. Back up to move forward, and hopefully you will find more.

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Rubaiyat verse

I wanted to share this poem. It has a beautiful message. Much too beautiful to be lost down in the bottom of the comment section – JM

Comment:

Aaron Blackwell
sckyudo@aol.com
205.188.117.10
Submitted on 2009/03/12 at 7:16pm

From one of my favorite poets:

Early one morning I heard an angelic chime
Bringing news of a loving and joyous clime
Pursuit of the unimportant is the worst crime
Live in joy & love before the end of your time.

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Right Inner Intention

As we practice kyudo, it can be easy to direct focus mainly towards the shooting technique. Elementary logic tells us this is the more visible aspect of kyudo. Is it?

I suppose that depends on the eyes that see. We need never forget that kyudo is the way of perfect virtue. As we move forth, we should carry this with us as well.

As stated in the Raiki-Shagi, we must acquire “right inner intention” and “correctness in outward appearance”… then, “the bow and arrow can be handled resolutely”. We work on the outward correctness of our appearance continually as we shoot, striving to refine our technique towards perfection. So, what is “right inner intention”?

We can begin by looking at the Kyohon . There it lists the five Confucian virtues as: Benevolence, Justice, Courtesy, Wisdom and Sincerity. In addition, it states on pg. 70, Removing attachments, desire, and worldly thoughts towards the target, at the full draw you must wipe away negativity like doubt, anxiety, faintheartedness, fear, and self-depreciation…

What is “right inner intention”? I’m working to figure this out. I suppose a good place to start in trying to understand this concept would be to look deep within ourselves and to remember that the way is in the doing.

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Several weeks ago I had someone ask me, “How long have you been playing kyudo?”

Now, I don’t always hear correctly, so I asked him to repeat this just for affirmation. Yes, he said play. My immediate reaction was a mental thought of, “I don’t play kyudo. I take my kyudo very seriously!” Then it occurred to me that English was probably not this person’s first language and I gave an appropriate answer to his question.

This idea came to the forefront in another context when a friend explained to me that when he puts his glove on he is doing kyudo, even when he is not in the act of shooting. I gave this concept more thought, playing kyudo versus doing kyudo.

If we consider the English language and it’s use regarding sports, we play football, play tennis, play golf or baseball. I am sure most of these players take their game very seriously. But, we do martial arts, even those that incorporate a sporting aspect. When I taught karate classes, this was one thing that was stressed in every children’s class, “We never play karate. If I do… my hair will turn green… my teeth will fall out… (or any of other numerous absurdities).”

Again the subject of differences in languages came up at a recent Kyudo Alliance seminar. It was brought to our attention that students in the West generally think of practicing their martial art. But in Japan, there are at least six words to define this more precisely.
(1) Keiko is just showing up and doing something, usually translated as practice.
(2) Renshu denotes more involvement. Rather than practice, this word can be understood as training, such as baseball practice versus spring training.
(3) Shunren can be regarded as a discipline.
(4) Tanren can be thought of as forging.
(5) Kufu carries things a step further to where the body has been forged repeatedly, much as the layers of the Japanese sword. The mind and body have melded into one.
(6) Shugyo is the highest level in which the body, mind and spirit are as one. It has been said that shugyo is “conducting oneself in a way that inspires mastery”.

In this same vain, there are three levels of skill in the Japanese language relating to the arrow and target connecting:
(1) TĂ´teki, the arrow hits the target.
(2) Kanteki, the arrow pierces the target.
(3) Zaiteki, the arrow exists in the target.

So, as you do your kyudo, keep in mind the level of effort and the amount of yourself that are you giving. What level are you training on? Are you holding back or are you putting all into every shot? Are you shooting from the mind or are you shooting from the heart? Are you polishing your heart as you train?

“The Way is in the training.”

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On Words

I ran across this excerpt from the Tao Te Ching the other day. It had meaning to me, so I am sharing it here. I hope it will have meaning for you as well.

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Translated by James Legge

Chapter 81 (Final Chapter)

Sincere words are not fine
Fine words are not sincere
Tao adepts do not dispute this
The disputatious are not adept
Those who know the Tao are not extensively learned
The extensively learned do not know it

The wise do not gather for themselves
The more one expends for others
The more one has

The Way of Heaven is sharp
But injures not
With all a wise one does
There is no striving

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