Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Temple Records

Temple records in Japan abound. Everything is recorded. In regards to Buddhism and the Warrior arts there are many writings and correlations.

We know of the Sohei, armies of warrior monks who used weapons though they were monks. We know of the Yamabushi, individual and warrior monks in non-affiliated temple groups, who used weapons both to protect themselves and also as methods to train in The Way.

We also know that many warriors upon retirement shaved their head, some simply because this was the safest and acceptable way to retire, and others sincerely to become monks, and perhaps some with the intent to repent in some way for their violent lives. In many cases they continued to use their warrior weapons as tools on The Way, much like the Yamabushi do.

The relationship between Zen and the Warrior Class of Japan is well known. Just like with the retirement situation of Warriors into Buddhism the relationship varied according the predilection of the Warrior's intent. Most received some basic initiation ceremony and a Buddhist name, but not evereyone studied Zen or Buddhism in any way, they simply supported temples or teacher so that they could support the Warrior's clan spiritually; but most used their priests as advisers and teachers; many studied Buddhism intellectually, but most took up Zen because of it's embodiment of the practice not because of it's intellectual and philosophical attributes. A great number of prominent Warriors took up Zen practice including Classical Interviews with the teacher to truly travel the Buddhist Path.

The priest of these Warrior students used every means possible to help them obtain the teaching. This included the creation of whole new methods and revival of others too. This was not the first time the warrior's weapons were used as a means of teaching, but it was possibly the most extensive. Zen is practice in daily life, and these weapons were the daily life of their warrior disciples.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

''Sha wa, rei ni hajimari, rei ni owaru,'' Shooting begins with etiquette and ends with etiquette. Actually almost all of the modern 'do' arts begin their treatise this way, by just replacing the 'sha' at the beginning with whatever exemplifies their art. I find the investigation of how to embody this philosophy quite compelling.

Just as intriguing is the fact that the written character translated as etiquette can also be translated as the act of bowing. So the physical manifestation of etiquette and manners is the bowing.

So what is bowing? Humility? Respect?

What is manners?
What is etiquette?

And how do we manifest this, not only in the dojo, but in our daily lives. How do we interact with everyone that in such away that we embody this 'Rei'?

Treat everyone with humility and respect?

When we act with humility and respect, I think our interactions become more kind too. 

Not just the answer to these questions in our head but in our lives, this is where the practice of the 'do' arts will have it's greatest impact, not just on our lives, but for the entire world.