Sunday, May 22, 2016

Notes on the 'do' arts of Japan

One name for the overall teaching is Ho-Do. Ho-Do is the Way of the Universal Law or Teaching. Ho-Do has two aspects that need to be resolved in order to have the whole teaching. We have Ken-Kyo, which means the exoteric teaching (teachings that deal with what we see); We also have Mikkyo or esoteric teachings that deal with what we can't see. These two together become Ken-Mi-Kyo and make up The Teaching. The Mikkyo has principles and practices we can talk about, but once we talk about them they really become Ken-Kyo; but we'll do the best we can. The real basis for The Teaching is in following the practices as they have been handed down, and living according to the principles that are embedded in them; in this way we embody The Teaching, and hand it down through our own presence; with our own life, and how we live it. REI: Rei means manners: All the 'do' arts begin & end with Rei. Rei is manners & Rei is the physical act of bowing. Thus 'upright' bowing, showing respect and humility from a position of strength is the physical manifestation of manners.

Living with manners is really the key of The Teaching. We say that manners are based on kindness... unconditional kindness. The kindness does not come from, nor is it driven by outside circumstances; unconditional kindness flows from out of who we are when we live The Teachings in our daily lives.

Rei begins and ends with the Tanden. The Tanden is our center. It is our physical center; if we measure heaven and earth, left and right, forward and back, there will be an intersection, a cross... hanging from this cross is our Tanden; our physical center. This physical center also represents our connection to all else, since from this center point is where all else begins. It also philosophically represents our core principles, the principles that are embodied by us... the principles we live by. The Tanden also represents the first teaching. The teaching of The Middle Path.

Awareness is the first step. Awareness of the Tanden is the core of the practice. All practice leads with... to... and from the Tanden. Our teaching says the training begins when we find the Tanden, also it says the training ends when we find the Tanden (which could mean that living in the manner that truely represents our core begins).

With the mind stable and established in the Tanden, we look out... gazing gently... seeing all that is, as it is. In this way we move in the world, with the world... without moving away from the Tanden. Thus we are moving without moving.

The Tanden represents our middle path. The first of the teachings. Begin from the very middle and extend out to embrace all that is. For from the middle everything is included. Even nothing is included in everything; what does the definition of everything exclude? even nothing must included. The empty space; the spaces inbetween may be the best spaces to remember; for these spaces join everything together. Another teaching arises from this, everything is interlinked, interwoven; the teaching says 'no separation' that there is 'not two'.

The path to the Tanden has always been breathing and relaxing. The path from the Tanden has always been bone and extension... Structure and Vision.

Awareness of the Tanden, through the art of breathing & relaxing, then, is the first step. This is a natural step that happens whenever we do not interfere. Like this, through gravity, with a small tether to the Tanden (like a plumb bob) we drop to the center of the earth. From the center of the earth we stand up; from the sacred tail/root bone we stand up; the spine, nape of he neck and crown of the head reach to the heaven (never leaving the center of the earth, or the Tanden, but merging the earth and sky with the Tanden as the center of this universe. From Heaven to earth we hang... suspended...From this upright posture, anything is possible... everything is possible.

The Middle Path or Way. We always begin in the middle. When we release fear and greed the middle path is what reveals itself. Some say that fight and flight are natural, but for us natural is the upright humans that we are when greed and fear are released. When we learn to let go. Shitai: One of the first teaching was 'Shi Tai' or the 4 Truths. We say Ku-Shu-Metsu-Do. The 4 truths are:

  • 1. Ku-Tai = Life is Uneasy
  • 2. Shu-Tai or Jittai = This uneasiness has a cause.
  • 3. Mittai = If the cause is released, uneasiness is released as well.
  • 4. Do-Tai = There is a path to release the cause... Follow the Way. This is generally understood to begin with the 8 Upright Paths - 'Ha-sho-Do'

Hassho-Do = The 8 Upright Paths

  1. 1. Sho Ken = Upright View
  2. 2. Sho Shi Yui = Upright Thought
  3. 3. Sho Go = Upright Speech
  4. 4. Sho Gyo = Upright Action
  5. 5. Sho Myo = Upright Livelihood
  6. 6. Sho Sho Jin = Upright Effort
  7. 7. Sho Nen = Upright Understanding
  8. 8. Sho Jyo = Upright Contemplation

Our first steps on the path are the 8 upright paths of: View; Thought; Speech; Action; Living; Effort; Mindfulness; & Meditation.

The 2 Pillars of of the practice are: Compassion & Wisdom

Roku Hara Mitsu - The 6 Practices or Perfections:

1. Fuse - Generosity / Alms / Charity

2. Jikai - Discipline / Training

3. Ninniku - Patience

Chudo - The Middle Path or Way

4. Shojin - Exertion / Effort

5. Zenjo - Meditation / Composure / Mindfulness

6. Chi'e - Wisdom

3 marks of the Law:

  1. Shogyo Mujyo - All things are transient / impermanent.
  2. Shoho Muga - All things are selfless / unsubstantial.
  3. Nehan Jakujo - To extinguish (illusion) is tranquility.

There are 4 foundations for our school:

  1. Wa = Harmony
  2. Kei = Respect
  3. Sei = Purity
  4. Jaku = Tranquility

We have the 7 principles as well:

  1. Fukinsei = Asymmetry
  2. Kanso = Simplicity
  3. Koko = Austerity
  4. Shizen = Natural
  5. Yugen = Subtle / Profound / Mystery
  6. Datsuzoku = Other or Un-Worldly
  7. Sei-Jaku = Silence / Quiet / Calm / Tranquil / Solitude

We say that there are 8 branches or limbs in my school. Or we might say the 8 branches of training. Shugyo-no-ha-shi(or eda).

Shu-Gyo is usually translated as austere training. But the Shu means to brush (away) or sweep, and the Gyo is action or activity. Shugyo then is the action of sweeping or brushing; in our school we say it means to sweep the dust balls from the corner; to find the last little remnants of our attachments that no longer serve, and sweep them away. I suppose this could sometime take some austere measures, but it could also be pretty gentle, detailed, and subtle activities too.

The first limb is meditation. The Japanese word for meditation is Meiso. 'Me' is our eyes; the 'I' is a bit more vague, and refers to several things at once, it refers the elements and also to a kind of mindfulness or awareness of the world; 'So' is our mind. The word Zen in our tradition comes from Zenna. Zenna is a type of absorption meditation, where we are absorbed into everything, and everything is absorbed into us; like a sponge and water one gets absorbed into the other, so there is no separation between them.

As part of our meditation practice we have Shikantaza. Shikantaza is 'just precisely sitting. This means we must sit in the prescribed manner and nothing more, and nothing less. Letting all else go. But what is this precisely prescribed manner? The bringer of this idea from China to Japan gave us a hint, he said "Genno, Bi choku" Eyes horizontal, Nose vertical. For m

One of the main branches for me has been Ki-Do. Ki here is Energy, Do is still The Way. Ki-Do then is the way of energy. To work with energy is called Ki-Ko; this is both working with external energies around us, and vital energies within us. Forms of Ki-ko actually refer to every posture and movement imaginable. But in Japan it is embedded in all the Do arts. But we usually split the Do arts up into other branches as well. But under Ki-Ko we can have all of the Bu-Do as Martial Arts (and I have in fact spent time practicing many of the Japanese Martial Arts and hold black belts etc in them; Kyudo (Japanese Zen Archery) is one such art, important in my daily practice; and Tai-so (exercises); also included would be practice like TaiKyoKu (Japanese version of TaiChi) in fact much of the exoteric is exactly like TaiChi, though some movements I've only seen in JapaneseTaiKyoKu. But all the Martial Arts of Japan fall under this category: Karate-do; Aikido; Naginata-do; Jo-do; Kendo; Iaido; for example. Even Sumo is included as one coming from ancient Kiko practices.

Another Ki-Ko is the Japanese Gei-Do, or Artistic Endeavors. For me this was primarily my exposure to Sho-Do (Caligraphy), and Sa-Do (aka Cha-Do; Chanoyu; Tea Ceremony); Koh-Do too, the way of incense is important in my temple life. Ka-Do also called Ikebana or Flower Arrangement is a Gei-Do (though in my particular school or Flower Arrangement experience was primarily within our tea school and so called Cha-Bana, or Tea Flowers.

One of the most important limbs is Rei-Do. Rei is etiquette or manners and the Do is again The Way. In the exoteric this is how to act according to the way of the gentleman or noble woman; but in the esoteric it is to live exactly in accordance with natural law. When these often seemingly two different teachings come together we begin to know the ‘Do’ or The Way.

One of my root teachers major influences was his family's experience in Zoen Sekkei (Landscape Architecture). So much of our understanding is based on working with nature in this way. Many of our concepts of spacing also come from here and the following paragraph to on Shukuyogo is related.

We also have practices and principles collectively called Shukuyogyo. This deals with In'Yo-Do / On-Myo-Do (The Way of Shadow-Sunshine). This deals with the interplay between the visible and invisible aspects of the world, and how to balance or harmonize within this world. It also incorporates our Fu-Sui (Wind Water) practices of working with how things flow. The exoteric side of Fu-sui deals with the placement of things in our lives... How we build our home and offices... the placement of furniture, and decorations... the colors we use. But it also deals with how we stand in relation to them, and how everything flows around us, with us, and through the space we find ourselves in. Esoterically it includes our core value and what we stand for and how we present these physically.

Jukondo, or medicinal arts is a favorite of mine. I have a lot of this knowledge but it only 1/2 from the mouths of my teachers, and the other 1/2 is from my habit of reading a lot on the principles of health and nutrition. But there are many key points that have been passed down from generation to generation, and it's interesting to read or hear about a current study that simply finally 'proves' what was handed down for generations already.

This includes: Diet - Shokuji-Ho (Shoku = eating; ji = stuff; Ho = the way of / dharma/ law/ rule) and also: Danjiki, or to do without. Technically this means fasting, to do without food. but the principle is often extended to making do with what we have in many situations and aspects in our lives.

We have what is called the art of Nagaiki or longevity.We teach 5 life style practices for Nagaiki (longevity):

  • 1. Mokuteki = PurposeTo have a purpose in our lives; to live for others, not just ourselves; to have a reason to live).
  • 2. Tekido = Moderation(to live moderately, modestly, and appropriately). 3. Hohoemi & Warai = Smile & Laugh(take time to have a good time, and not take ourselves too seriously).
  • 4. Osore wo Kaiho suru = Release Fear(To have courage in all circumstances, in kiko we have no room for fear).
  • 5. Ochitsuita & Odayakana = Be Calm & Serene(To remain Calm in all situations, helps us see clearly and live clearly).

Have a Purpose; Live Moderately; Smile & Laugh; Release Fear; Be Calm & Serene.