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Archive for the ‘Mokuso’ Category

Ten rai wo kike

TenraiI snatched a tenogui from the pile in the cupboard before practice and as you do, I held it up to look at before it and my men went on. It read Ten rai wo kike, “listen to heaven’s (nature’s) sounds”
Thinking of the practical relevance of this advice to kendo in the UK was not easy, I had just completed mokuso against the sound of the air-conditioning fan and a squash ball bouncing off the next door wall. Kendo experiences in Japan were easier to connect. The rain on the roof of Uegaki sensei’s dojo in the Yoshino Mountains or the spring breeze blowing through the cherry trees on the walk through Osaka Castle Park on the way to the Shudokan are far more conducive to reaching mushin.
Regardless of environment, this chain of thought led me to contemplate why we have mokuso before and after kendo. To me it is a great way to transition from the crowded, working day “to do list” mindset that normally comes home with you after a day at work, to the calm natural mind you need to practice kendo. At the end of the kendo session, mokuso has the reverse effect, taking you from heightened awareness to a more relaxed state.
Mokuso is not full blown zazen, but just 30 seconds or so to clear the mind before and after kendo. More precisely it is an opportunity for you to let your thoughts flow without becoming attached or concerned.
This is not a technical guide, because I am not qualified to teach what is in effect a meditation technique, but you should be in an upright relaxed seiza with left or right hand supporting the other, thumbs touching, knuckles down towards your lap. (Which hand supports which is irrelevant, but one way indicates god supporting humanity and the other humanity supporting god. Unfortunately I can’t remember which is which).
Different people take a different approach, some count breaths, some concentrate on the depth of breathing, other like to project mental images, such as contemplating the hidden side of the moon.Personally I like to think of the imperative “Shisei o tadasu, kokyu o tadasu, kokoro o tadasu” (correct posture, correct breathing, correct heart)
Not quite the sound of water trickling from a mountain dojo roof, but it drowns out the air conditioner.

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