Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heki-Ryu Kyudo and Chikurin-Ha

The Chikurin Schools of Kyudo I was shown, are forms of Heki-ryu. We often add the Heki-ryu to the end of the name; ie Kishu-Chikurin-Ha-Heki-ryu.

Yoshida Shigekata studied under Heki Danjo and formed Iga Heki-ryu. Chikurinbo Josei studied under Yoshida Shigekata and formed Chikurin-Ha.

Two of Chikurinbo's students started their own schools: Hoshino Kanzaemon formed Bishu-Chikurin-Ha (he held the record at Sanjusangendo [120 meter competition, how many arrows and hits in 24 hours] with 10,542 shots and 8000 hits) His sempai, Yoshimi Junsei formed Kishu-Chikurin-ha. Yoshimi Junsei's student Daihachiro Wasa set the next record at sanjusangendo with 13,056 shots, and 8,133 hits.

The story says that with Daihachiro was just about to beat the record he wanted to compose himself and took a short break. But when he went to pick up the bow again, his hand had swollen so he couldn't grip the bow. A master came over and scolded him for taking a break; the master then made a small slit to release the pressure on Daihachiro's hand. Daihachiro then went on to set the record. The master who scolded him was none other than Hoshino Kanzaemon, the previous record holder. The previous record holder thus helped to have his own record beaten in order to promote the art of kyudo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Kanji for Buddha

In my tradition we usually say Butsu rather than Buddha, but it's the same thing.
I had my inka out the other day (the paper I received from the Abbott at my temple).
Two things stuck my mind.
One is that it doesn't say I'm a Buddha, but refers to the potential to be... I found that interesting.
The other was that the Kanji that was used for Buddha was a man standing with a bow and two arrows, I found that interesting too.
Then we copied some copies of the Hannya Shingyo (Wisdom Heart Chant) yesterday and there is an intro that the leader chants, just before this intro is says Butsu, and again the kanji used was a man standing with a bow and two arrows.
Being a zen man who practices Japanese archery, I kind of like this kanji of a man standing with bow and two arrows as being the symbol for Buddha.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Esoteric Teachings

The esoteric teachings, by their nature, are rarely written about publicly. They are always handed down orally, from one to the next. The reasons for this a so numerable that if I listed them all I would bore you. But this secretiveness has always seemed counter productive to me; since we can't truly 'finish' until everyone is finished, how can everyone 'finish' if we only 'stamp' one at a time. We need to broadcast the teaching to everyone, right? So that's what I'm trying to do, even though it can't be done.

Of course The Teaching was being passed down well before the written word, so face to face was the way it had to be done; and if that's the teaching, then the teaching should continue like that, shouldn't it?

This Teaching can only be passed by an adept who has been recognized within the adept's lineage. An adept is the only one who has the 'whole' picture on what The Teaching is, and how to pass it down.

That's the problem with the adepts that are not recognized by a previous adept, it's not that you can't understand The Truth without a teacher, it's that we can fool ourselves into thinking the picture is complete with a small leap in understanding well before we actually embody The Truth; this mis-understanding has us teaching incorrectly or at least incompletely. Of course this can happen within a lineage too, where adepts have been stamped prematurely. But our odds are better that a recognized person of a recognized lineage has the whole thing.

Also a realization of The Truth is wonderful for the individual, but it does not come with a tradition for transmission to complete the process from one adept to the next. It is this last piece that makes me say 'The Teaching' has been passed, not just The Truth.

The esoteric teachings are never to be written down, let alone broadcast like this. But most of us write down what we are taught in our personal journals. Even these journals are to be kept private; we're not even supposed to share them amongst the other 'disciples'. This is because esoteric teachings are individualized; what one person needs to hear, my be the opposite of what another needs to hear.

For this reason I never used to share my journals. But the face to face process is so slow... maybe I'm not patient enough? But once I understood I wanted to share; once I was recognized, I felt the need to share. But I'm walking on ground that is rarely tread. It has been done, but the track record of success is not good.

In the teaching passed to me, there are both exoteric and esoteric teachings; the two together create The Teaching. The exoteric are those that we can see and talk about. The esoteric are those we don't see and only try to talk about.

Esoteric teachings don't fit in words; it's one of the reasons they are esoteric. Some of the teachings are powerful and can be abused or misused by the untrained. People often think they know before they know and things get twisted, turned, and bent.

We can't talk about The Teaching, because the esoteric portion once put into words no longer really makes sense, it begins to go in circles trying to include everything; everything includes even opposites, so it makes no logical sense to call two opposites true; but in terms of The Teaching, everything must be included; the most important part of 'everything' may even be 'nothing.'

Only the exoteric portion is taught, the esoteric is 'stolen' from an adept by being in their presence. Being in an adept's presence, simply, one day we understand and this understanding is recognized. The exoteric teaching says this takes 20 years, the esoteric teaching says it takes one heartbeat, both are true.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shaho-Kun: Principles of Shooting

'Shaho-Kun - Principles of Shooting: The way is not with the bow, but with the bone, which is of the greatest importance in shooting.

Placing Spirit (Kokoro) in the center of the whole body, with two-thirds of the Yunde (left arm) push the string, and with one-third of the Mete (right arm) pull the bow.

Spirit settled, this becomes harmonious unity. From the center line of the chest, divide the left and right equally into release. It is written, that the collision of iron and stone will release sudden sparks; and thus there is the golden body, shining white, and the half moon positioned in the west'.

The Shaho-Kun was written by Yoshimi Junsei, a Shingon Buddhist Priest, founded the Kishu Clan and Kishu-Chikurin-Ha Kyudo.

The Raiki Shagi: Record of Etiquette - Truth of Shooting

The Raiki Shagi:

Record of Etiquette - Truth of Shooting:

The Shooting, with the round of moving forward or backward can never be without courtesy and propriety (Rei).

After having acquired the right inner intention and correctness in the outward appearance, the bow ...and arrow can be handled resolutely. To shoot in this way is to perform the shooting with success,and through this shooting virtue will be evident.

Kyudo is the way of perfect virtue. In the shooting, one must search for rightness in oneself. With the rightness of self, shooting can be realized. At the time when shooting fails, there should be no resentment towards those who win. On the contrary, this is an occasion to search for oneself.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Quote: Swami Satchidananda

If left alone, the mind is peaceful. It’s almost like a bowl of water. You don’t have to make the water do something to be calm.

Lecture Q&A with Kosaka Sensei

My teacher often gives lectures on Japanese Culture and Art. In addition to being a Priest, he is an artist, teaches kyudo, runs the gallery at the local Japanese Cultural Center, has a wife and kids, etc. So after one lecture, he asked if there were any questions. A woman said, "Yes, I have a question. With all these different aspects of your life, how do you balance them all". He had quite a pause after that question, he even looked puzzled. I'd never seen him look puzzled, he usually shoots back quickly and concisely to questions. Then you could see his face light up, and I realized that it was not the answer to the question that eluded him but the question itself; he said, "Ah, I see, you've separated them".