Category Archives: Spirituality
Spirituality, philosophy, magic, and the like
Kōfuku No Shiori (幸福の栞), which translates as “A Guide to Happiness“, is a short text by Takamatsu Sōke. In seeing the Japanese original again recently, a number of things came to mind and I thought it might be good to post an English translation that will perhaps breathe some new life into this well-known and meaningful piece. Here’s the Japanese original:
Let’s break it down and see what we can find … Read the rest of this entry
To All My Friends,
Greetings of the Solstice!
This is a busy time of year with people travelling to spend time with family, and many celebrations to plan and attend, gifts to buy and send, cleaning, decorating, meal preparations, and the list goes on. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, stop for a moment. Did you stop? Good. Now stopped, realize that you are actually still moving. The Earth on which you stand, sit, walk, and run is constantly moving around and around, in its orbit around the centre of our solar system, a star which we call the Sun. No matter where we are on Earth, no matter what we are doing, no matter what traditions or beliefs we hold, no matter what holidays we celebrate – we are all constantly orbiting around our common solar centre.
The Sun, thanks to its gravitational hold, keeps not only our Earth, but also all of the other planets in its solar system, orbiting around it in an orderly fashion. Acting as a central axis of rotation, it keeps everything in balance. All of the planets owe their positions and trajectories to this central solar influence.
Like the planets, the various parts of our minds – our emotions, our preferences, strengths and weaknesses – all of the things that make up our personality, orbit around a centre – the centre of who we really are. Our true inner core. Our truest Self. It is this central Essence that has the power to bring order and balance to our lives, and the degree to which we live in accordance with this Core determines to a great degree how much happiness and fulfilment we experience in life.
With the Solstice now upon us, the days have reached their shortest of the year and our external star begins to gradually warm us with the lengthening of days once again. In this next coming revolution around our outer, visible Sun, may the Rays of your own Inner Sun and Guiding Light bring you to further fruition in Beauty, Joy, and Love as it risis gradually to its zenith above, and may you be blessed by drawing one step closer to your own Inner Light, of which our visible Sun is but a pale shadow.
In the first part of this article we looked at some early uses of the term “demon” in the West in order to help us more fully understand some of the things that Sensei refers to when he talks about the demon motif in connection with the Bujinkan martial arts tradition of Kukishin-ryū (九鬼神流). We also looked into some psychological principles derived from the demon idea and how those principles can be used to make our lives happier and more balanced. In this final part of the article, we will look at principles of Japanese geomancy (fuu-sui, 風水) related to the demon motif, and give some very brief hints as to some ideas for application of these principles to the Kukishin-ryū taijutsu techniques Kimon (鬼門) and Ura Kimon (裏鬼門).
Read the rest of this entry
The Bujinkan martial arts training theme for 2007 was the Kukishin Ryu tradition. (There is some debate over which term is best to use, Kukishin Ryu or Kukishinden Ryu, and Hatsumi Sensei uses both of these seemingly at random. I am going to use “Kukishin Ryu” in this article for the sake of convenience.)
The meaning of the term “Kukishin” is one that causes discomfort for some, as it involves a word usually translated into English as “demon,” – the term “Kukishin” being composed of the characters for “9 – Demon – Spirit[s] (九鬼神)”. Depending on your religious background and upbringing, this can be the source of a certain amount of trepidation. “See?” you’ll hear some say, “What further proof do we need that at the real heart of Japanese martial arts lurks all kinds of darkness and evil?” Unfortunately, the modern English term “demon” has taken on quite a different meaning from the way it was first used in past millennia, and it is this modern understanding of the word which causes some red flags to go up.
This article will first look at early uses of the term “demon” in the West in order to help us more fully understand some of the things that Sensei is referring to when he uses the corresponding Japanese term “oni” in training. We will next look into some psychological principles derived from the demon idea which we can use to make our lives happier and more balanced. (Yes, you read correctly.) In the final part of the article (Part II, separate post), we will look at principles of Japanese geomancy related to the demon motif, and some taijutsu ideas which can be interpreted in light of those principles.