Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Essence of Bushi-Do – Samurai Art

At the end of the day, I always feel grateful that I was able to live through the day. I say in my mind “Ikashite-itadaite arigato gozami-masu. Then again in the morning, I say the same thing for the new day. I am always living the moment being consciously aware about life and death.

I do have a healthy body. In spite of my health, I am strongly conscious about life and death. I think this is my asset and advantage. I believe that being conscious about life and death in every moment is the essence of Bushi-do(武士道), the Art of Samurai.

To attain the skills to fight or kill others is not the purpose of Bushi-do. The true Bushi-do is about realizing the precious life we have in front of us.

The true Bushi-do should be about maintaining a healthy body and to protect the body that is carrying his precious soul.

As in today’s modern world, someone who cares about others, who would drive safely so neither oneself or others would not be injured… He/she is a practitioner of a Bushi-do. Until the Meiji Period (1868~1912), I sense that most of the people had the consciousness to care about oneself and others. Today it had declined.

Those who are in gratitude about their own life know that life is precious and would take care of his/herself as well as others.

When you are practicing the ancestral worship with gratitude, you will start to feel that every moment is valuable. There might be a moment when you feel that everything and everyone feel so dearly close to your heart. Then you are in the right path. You might be showing a lot of emotions in the surface but deep inside you heart is becoming very strong and grounded and no matter what happens, you will be able to remain clam.

It is better to be aware when your body is still healthy. Once you are sick, it is hard to start being grateful.

Going to work with your healthy body is something very valuable and worth thanking for. Don’t allow yourself to wound your heart at work. Look at the problem from a perspective between life and death. As long as you are alive, problems will always start to change and come to an end. This is only possible in this World of Reality.

He or she who could look at a life from the point of life and death will be able to live strong and enjoy fully.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Importance of Shinboku (神木)

There is a word called “Chinju-no-mori(鎮守の森).” “Chin” means to becalm or a weight. “Ju” means care taking or protect. “Mori” is forest. With all the meanings combined, it implies that something precious is protected in a calm manner in the forest(=yashiro/shrine).

In the ancient Ko-Shinto, they wrote,「神社=もり」so people would read Jinjya (shrine) as mori (forest). In the ancient days, shrines did not exist. People payed a visit to the forest and mountains. One part of the forest was segmented as kapu - a sacred ground. It was prohibited to step inside the area. And people sent offering of the gratitude energy.

One of the origin of a shimenawa(注連縄) comes from placing it in front of the kapu area in the forest. They put a rope to close the area. A forest without any human invasion is a space full of oxygen produced by the plants. By the energy of gratitude sent by humans reaching into this space, I could see both plant energy and the gratitude energy intertwining in a spiral form. This ki would reach and purify the local area that will influence the heart of the local people.

One of the origin of a Shinto priest (shinkan) is the person who stood inside a shack by the kapu rope. He was the keeper protecting the forest. Therefore, a shrine without a forest or many trees is not a true shrine. Without the trees, the divine energy cannot descend to the place. The trees in a shrine with divine energy descending, grows very well. In the country, we often come across a shrine with trees growing abundantly. You could tell whether the shrine is a good shrine or not by looking at the trees.

By protecting the forest with a kapu area, they were protecting the plants. At the shrines of today, each tree, a shinboku – sacred tree, in the shrine site represents a forest. Therefore, you must not touch the trees. When it is touched by many humans, the ki will be disturbed and it could block the divine energy to descend.

When there are kenzokus, the guardian spirits watching over the shrine, whoever touched the tree may get into trouble. The kenzokus will be angry at you. Sometimes they could be like the wasps and unmerciful.

At The Grand Shrine of Ise, I often see an oni demon kenzoku guarding the shinboku. I have catched them in my camera few times. They could punish you by breaking a bone. If you had touched or even worse hugged the shinboku, please apologize in your heart.

You could have your own shrine at home. The sakaki leaves and water would become the forest on your kamidana altar. Send your gratitude to the sakaki leaves and the water. Do have a sense of manner to wash your hands before you touch the sakaki.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live