Amenimo Makezu

Kenji Miyazawa

Unbeaten by the rain
Unbeaten by the wind
Bested by neither snow nor summer heat
Strong of body
Free of desire
Never angry
Always smiling quietly
Dining daily on four cups of brown rice
Some miso and a few vegetables
Observing all things
With dispassion
But remembering well
Living in a small, thatched-roof house
In the meadow beneath a canopy of pines
Going east to nurse the sick child
Going west to bear sheaves of rice for the weary mother
Going south to tell the dying man there is no cause for fear
Going north to tell those who fight to put aside their trifles
Shedding tears in time of drought
Wandering at a loss during the cold summer
Called useless by all
Neither praised
Nor a bother
Such is the person
I wish to be

by: Kenji Miyazawa

Always Question

Henderson-Sword-Profile-150In the martial arts it is essential for you to question. Like other endeavors in life do not simply accept what someone tells you, question it. When you learn a kata or some other form or technique understand that it was/is one person’s or one system’s interpretation and that means “an interpretation” or “one specific interpretation”. There are other interpretations as well that are valid. In the martial arts we all walk our own road, find the road that is yours, but to do so you will have to develop critical reasoning of what you are doing. At that point, the martial arts will be your driving force. Before that you are just renting it from someone else.  – Dr. Henderson

That’s were you go wrong. Parroting what others say, copying what others do, this is what fails you. You alone must do it. You must grasp what’s being conveyed and make it your own through your own understanding….Your problem is that you never want to think for yourself, you just want to be taught; this is why you haven’t developed the habit of thinking for yourself…Don’t just swallow what anyone says. You must have your own ideas. You must judge the merits of anything for yourself….Never unquestioningly accept whatever anyone says as the truth. To do so is dangerous because it will make you lose the desire to generate your own ideas. Even when you learn from another, you must engage in critical thinking to develop it further.” Tatsuo Kimura – “Transparent Power, A Secret Teaching Revealed” p.134

Transparent Power

Unto This Last

“I desire, in closing the series of introductory papers, to leave this one great fact clearly stated. THERE IS NO WEALTH BUT LIFE. Life including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by mean of his possessions, over the lives of others.”

John Ruskin, Political Economist and Philosopher

Dr. Henderson’s Comments:

John Ruskin would remind us of the the primary lesson taught to all men and women throughout the ages: that from virtue comes all things and that we must be vigilante in cultivating our character. He speaks directly to the point that there is no wealth but life and that life in itself the the utmost treasure. His view is that man is the richest who helps to cultivate happiness in others through the development of their own character and the appropriate use of their own material benefits and talents.

Is this not the way in the martial arts? We strive to develop our character further, and though we hit stumbling blocks, as we are only human, it is the desire to improve that is most important. Through the process of improving ourselves we improve our community. Through the process of creating happiness within ourselves we help to create a more harmonious community in which we live. The martial arts can help each person to become more in tune with their own challenges and work on them to develop a greater sense of contentment and happiness. Ultimately, the martial arts helps us to know ourselves better and that helps us to accept ourselves without the need for external validation. By extension it helps us to accept others. This is were true happiness lies. Once this is attained then we are able to bring happiness to others through our presence and thoughtfulness both of our words and actions.

Attaining the above should be the path of each Sensei.

Scatter Me To The Wind

When I die, scatter me to the water, the winds, the fires, the four corners of the earth…(Shihan Tang)

Wabi Sabi by Shihan Tang

Amid willowy mists I stand,
Waters beckon to fallen leaves,
Shadows dance on the lake.

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Wabi Sabi is the distinctly Japanese aesthetic ideal inspired by the inherent impermanence, imperfection and incompletenesss of life.

Golden brown leaves, falling to the autumn ground – that is Wabi Sabi.

Cherry blossoms floating in the winter breeze, descending to the winter snow, that too, is wabi sabi.

A ceramic bowl, cracked in certain places but still retaining its essential nature, that, too, is wabi sabi.

The imperfect human who lives from a simple heart and a beautiful soul, that is wabi sabi.

Holding hands with your beloved, watching the setting sun, listening to the evening crickets call, that, too, is wabi sabi.

Looking into the eyes of a newborn baby, knowing that a human soul lives within, inspiring reverence in you, that is wabi sabi

Fact is, everyone knows wabi sabi in his/her soul. It’s just we never had a word for it.

The motto for wabi sabi might well be “Leaves Fall”

Richard Powell may be right in calling it “rustic charm”.

All these – and more – are Wabi Sabi. All we need to do, as Richard Powell said in “Wabi Sabi Simple”, is to Create Beauty, Value Imperfection, Live deeply

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Resource: Richard Powell’s site: http://www.stillinthestream.com/files/index.htm

A Look Into A Mirror

Cherry blossoms,
Falling onto winter snow, dancing in the wind;
A warrior kneels, prays and embraces emptiness.
Listen to the wind, it calls your name;
Look into a mirror and see your soul,
Look into a mirror and see…Greatness.

Shihan Kenneth Tang

Interlinks

Frederick Bastiat (1801-1850)

“I am not one of those who believe that a science has inherently its own natural and immutable boundaries. In the realm of ideas, as in the realm of material objects, everything is conected; all truths merge into one another, and every science, to be complete, must embrace all others.” French Economist Extrodinaire – Frederic Bastiat

Dr. Henderson’s Comment:

Frederic Bastiat would have us remember that all knowledge is interlinked and it is only our inherent dualist nature that tries to categorize various topics thus excluding some from our analysis. Is this not true within our martial arts practice. We exclude some forms, some schools, some exercises because we believe that they are beyond the scope of our studies or lie outside of our own school’s focus. What do we lose by taking this approach? We would do well to heed Bastiat’s concern and remain open to all knowledge. Only this way can we continue to grow both in life and within the martial arts.

A Fleeting Life by Shihan Tang

“Life is but a fleeting reflection on the mirror of existence,
Permanence exists not, and if your heart speaks otherwise,
It lies to you. Impermanence is the essence of life,
and this very truth sets us free.
Life is precious, life is fleeting.
Live well”

– Shihan Kenneth Tang

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I bought a new book today. Its title, “Writing Poetry From The Inside Out: Finding Your Voice Through The Craft Of Poetry” by Sandford Lyne. When I came home, I Googled his name and found that he passed away on February 7, 2007.

Quite a sobering thought, to know that I now held in my hands the words of a man who is no longer with us. If I didn’t buy that book, would I have even known who he was, and that he was gone? Would I have in my possession the voice of his living memory?

Until today, I’d never heard of his name. I only came across his name because of my interest in poetry and he wrote a book about writing poetry. Apparently, Mr. Lyne had been leading poetry workshops across the United States for twenty years and has had his poems published in numerous publications.

Google brought up some links and there was at least one that led to an expired domain name which carried his name as part of the domain. Is that all that is left of a person when he dies? A few Google links and an expired domain name?

Is life THAT fleeting? I hope not. I believe not. And while I had never known him, I feel as John Donne did in his poem “For Whom The Bell Tolls”:

“No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manner of thine own Or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”

During his life, Mr. Lyne must have influenced many, many lives for good, through both his own life and his work. “Writing Poetry” shows a masterful command of the subject-matter as well as of the craft of writing itself. It has been a very, very inspirational read so far.

That, however, is secondary. The point is that we should ensure that we live our lives in ways that leave more than a mere expired domain name. We must live our lives in ways that leave enduring legacies in the lives of our loved ones, and in the lives of everyone with whom we come in contact. We must live lives that make a difference.

To Quote Emerson:

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Your life is precious. May it be beautiful and prosperous. May it make a difference.