Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Lore of Living

The following information was sent to me from one of our reader.

Yukiyoshi Sagwa (a notable Budo/material artist/ born 1902) said:

1. When I say the Hara (gut) is important, it’s not about making your Hara tight. If you position yourself in a Zazen (seated position for meditation in Zen practice.), is that the right way to set your Hara? Not really that either. You set your Hara in the right way as you do the moves.

2. A Ki-ryoku(気力- the power/strength, the power of the chi/ki) is not to be shown outward. It is the inner strength that goes deeper as you are using it.

3. When your opponent says “O-ho” coming to you with a fighting spirit, you say “hoho” and start the move lightly (relaxed).

My viewpoint:

Around the 1900’s, many interesting & unique individuals have come out to this world globally. Especially, people in the religious field and in the martial arts. It was a time, when many of the so-called Mononoke’s (a powerful spirit) souls incarnated.

This master of Budo, Sagawa, is one of them but for a Mononoke, the commonly seen strong character was quite drawn out in his case.

When I vision his sensei, Sokaku Takeda (born 1859), I can only see a small Oni demon wearing a Kimono. I almost wonder why someone like him came into this world of reality. He must have been taken as very “inhuman” to others in his time.

I am not personally acquainted with Mr.Sagawa, but through his lore, I could see he was a man who knew the true essence of what we are.

This teaching is not only the secret essence of the path of Budo. It’s the essence to live a good life in a fruitful and wealthy manner.

My interpretation on his lore no.1 is:
“Don't sit in meditation. Meditation can be done in the movement required in your daily life (which I have been saying in my blog). The Hara is a very important part of one’s body. It is the center of one’s body and it holds the health of the whole. The Hara (gut) is something like an atomic power station, a spiritual center that holds your health, life span and fortune. ”

There is a famous story about Hakuin (1685~1768, one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddism) who practiced an abdominal breathing technique to bring back his life force when everyone thought he was going to die from a serious sickness. Physically, the body will bring back its life force by breathing deep from the Hara. People who tend to get sick often or carry symptom such as depression, I feel their breathing is shallow. Lack of oxygen can do a lot of things. Deep breathing is a key to maintain your health.  

The physical body needs to be in motion in order to let it pay attention to its “physicalility”. At this time only, the mind is set free to be in the right place in order to see the truth.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, just say in your mind “ikashite-itadaite arigato-gozaimasu (thank you for letting us live)” as you breath deeply from your abdomen. If you are not sure about the abdominal breathing, simply do a deep breathing and try to put your attention on your abdomen. That will be fine.

The ki of gratitude will help your heart and the ki of your deep breath will help your physical body. And maintaining these two will strengthen your spirit body.

The core power of your spirit body is also at the center of your body, the Hara. The stronger the Hara, the stronger power you have to manifest your dream aligned with your good will. Finance will follow if it comes from a good will.

The meaning of lore no.2&3 is exactly as it’s said and can be used in your daily life practice:

No.2 is also about shutting off your emotional drain by going into inner-self rather than worrying about what’s happening outside. Simply focus on the work in front of you.

No.3 is about practicing to be in a relaxed state even when someone say things to hurt or offend you. Just let them say it and don’t try to talk back. There will come a time, when you will have your chance to be in a better position then him/her. Having the space in your heart and be at ease is another key to be a strong person.

Ikashite-itadaite arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Be humble to the Spirit of the Land

The Shinto shrine that is closest to where you live now is called Uji-gami(氏神). Ubusuna-gami(産土神) is the god of the land of your birth place (Where your mother lived when she had you in your her womb). It seems that many people are confused of these two different gods.

Like in the old days when people used to live all their life in one place, Uji-gami and Ubusuna-gami was referring to the same god. But in the modern days, most of the people move from one place to another.

When you are displaying a Kami-fuda, the formal charm with the name of the Kami (god), at your Kami-dana altar, you should prioritize the Uji-gami. Why is that?

When you think about your land–lord, which is more important? The land-lord of your former apartment or the land-lord of your present apartment? I should say the present one is more important because he is the one providing you good deeds in your present daily life. But you mustn’t forget about your first land-lord either. It’s better to pay a visit once in a while.

If you display your Uji-gami at your Kami-dana, it will help to bring you good fortune. It’s like if you ignore your land-lord and not pay any rent, he will kick you out. It’s sort of the same idea. If you don't have a Uji-gami in your local area, your nearest Ichi-no-miya Jinjya in your prefecture would become your Uji-gami. When you worship the Kami by sending gratitude, it means you are spiritually paying your rent.

It’s not that you have to display the charm on your altar. You will still live on even without it. But it’s a good thing to acknowledge the great spirit who lives in your surrounding. You are sharing the space with him/her. When you acknowledge the presence of your local Kami and be humble about it, he/she will help you bring good fortune.

We can explain to a certain degree, but a “life force” is still a mystery even in the modern science of today.

It’s easy to forget that we live on top of a spirit of the land, so I am suggesting that it’s a good idea to have a tool, a Kami-dana altar that is visible to your eyes. For some reason, if you cannot set an altar at home, you could use the Buddhist memorial tablet or a Tanzaku with the three incense and gratitude sending to your ancestral spirits.

Many people live in the same environment, but each person’s life runs differently.

We have the day and night. The day (reality) is half of our life. The other half is the invisible part. It's more effective for your life when you acknowledge the night (dark& invisible) side. You will be able to make your life more fruitful.

Ikashite-itadaite arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live