Zen and the Martial Arts

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Spirituality in the Arts' started by Vulcan, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    Anyone here practice zazen meditation and the martial arts?


    How has your sitting help with your movement, and vice versa?


    Have you learned to manage your anger and stress through zazen? Do you think that meditation can be a help, or a hindrance to budo? After all, how can one do no harm and practice killing at the same time?


    This is an open discussion. All are welcome.
     
  2. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    Oops, I just realized that this was meant for the "Philosophy & Spirituality" Sub forum.


    This site is huge, sorry. It will take a while for me to get oriented.


    Mods, please move to the correct forum. Thanks.
     
  3. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hey James,

    In the interest of a new start, I'll join in on this.

     
  4. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    IMHO, I dont think meditation is taught correctly in some schools. This isn't to say that there aren't some that do teach it correctly, but the ones that I've seen, no, its not done correctly.


    Ummm....no. Actually, I'm not sure how sitting is going to help with movement.


    As Chris said, some may use it, however, I do not.


    I would say a help. Meditation, IMO, is supposed to be relaxing, and you should be relaxed in a SD situation, so yeah, its a help.

    Well, there are more to the arts than killing, IMO, especially considering the fact that each and every situation should be assessed, with your response in accordance to whats happening. In a nutshell, Chris pretty much summed my exact thoughts on how I view SD.


    This is an open discussion. All are welcome.[/quote]
     
  5. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    "Do no harm" is a Buddhist prerequisite, not a Budo prerequisite, hence the question.
     
  6. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    One of those wonderful little paradoxs for many in history to deal with, though. Musashi, in the Gorin no Sho, wrote that you must be totally concerned with killing the other person in a fight (meaning that you cannot be concerned with your own life, but that's almost beside the point I'm making here), and at the same time he was highly influenced by Bhuddist scripture at the end of his life (when he is said to have written the Gorin no Sho), and it is said that you need to have a deep understanding of Bhuddist scriptures to truly understand his words. Many of the Ryu's headmasters, particularly in the last few generations, have been Bhuddist priests.

    When it comes to the concept of re-incarnation, there was quite an ingenious way to explain the samurai I came across. Essentially, the samurai were the ruling class (hence, high up on the scale of reincarnation really), yet they went against Bhuddist teachings by killing, so how were they karmically punished? The way it was explained was that they were doomed to be reborn as samurai, and go through the same existance of pain, death, and blood. This may have been one reason so many turned to Bhuddist priesthood later in life (a relatively common occurance). I just find that interesting...
     
  7. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Ruling classes have ever found a way to explain their doings, there's not many who can afford to disagree with them! I imagine the thought of having to come back as a Samurai wasn't exactly much of a threat as they would have seen themselves as 'top dogs' and who could imagine that being bad, human nature being what it is. Becoming 'religious' in old age is a fairly common thread running across many religions and thoughts, one has more time when older to consider philosophy and if you have survived combat you know old age will get you so death looms larger still. If, too, you have been strong, active and combative all your life, becoming old is unpleasant so again religious beliefs can be a comfort.
     
  8. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    I wonder if Takuan disowned him, or if he actually never knew him at all.

    Of all of the claims about Musashi, the ones concerning his Zen practice are the most tenuous. And that is saying a lot when you consider his other legends.

    I'm actually disappointed Takuan mentioned Yagyu and not Musashi. I would like to believe that he took Takuan as his teacher and became enlightened.

    Oh well...
     
  9. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Well, the main source for Takuan being a teacher of Musashi that I have found is again Yoshikawa Eiji's book (and the Manga series based on it). There are a large number of references to Musashi studying Buddhism throughout his works (most particularly the later works, Gorin no Sho and Dokkodo), so saying that mention of his Zen practice being the most tenuous I feel is out of place, especially considering some of the other stories attributed to him.

    I wouldn't be too disappointed that there are no records of Takuan Soto mentioning Musashi, whereas he and Yagyu Munenori had a fair bit of correspondance (some of which is kept in the book The Unfettered Mind), showing in Yagyu's works such as The Life-Giving Sword. Yagyu was, after all, the Teacher to the Shogun, and Musashi, despite what many think, was rather unknown as a swordsman in Japan until Yoshikawa's book helped to popularise that aspect of his life again. Until then he was better known as an artist.

    One other thing, though. You mention that you have put the "do no harm" aspect in there as it is a precept of Buddhism, rather than martial arts, but I would point out that "zazen" simply means seated meditation, and while definately used in Buddhism, its occurance does not necessarily mean that Buddhism is present. So few people here will make the connection, unless practicing Buddhists themselves. And although Buddhist thought has influenced a great number of Japanese martial arts, Japan is a multi-theistic nation, and most Japanese see no issue being Buddhist and Shintoist, for example. And Shinto is as big an influence in the arts as well (Katori and Kashima shrines being major centres for Classical Japanese systems, giving rise to Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, Shinto Ryu, Kashima Shinryu, and many more that trace themselves back to one or another of these arts), as even Musashi was said to have travelled to the Katori Jingu in his journeys.
     
  10. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    Sorry I have been so absent...but I have been very busy with my daily meditation, studies, Zazenkai (zazen from 6:30am-9:00 pm with my teachers once a month for three days), and iaido. I was nursing a dislocated shoulder from jiu-jitsu when I joined up, so I had much more time back then.

    See the latest issue of Black Belt magazine for an excellent article on the benefits of meditation in the martial arts. It contains a lot of support for my assertions that sitting can greatly benefit your movements, kata, and martial mind. Or should I say, no-mind.


    Have a great week.


    -James
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi James,

    Can you provide a link to the article? I'm not about to comment on something I can't read for myself first, you understand, and we tend to get the magazine a few weeks after the US, whereas others may not get it at all.

    I will, however, reiterate that meditation, sitting or otherwise, can certainly have many benefits, however I completely fail to see how sitting with your eyes closed helps movement. Visualisations of perfromance can help performance, absolutely, however that is rarely the way zazen is performed, and to go even better than that, you need to actually do it.
     
  12. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Just as a note, there is much more to Zen and Zen in the Martial Arts than zazen. To be honest to practice Zen in the martial arts you really do not need to sit in zazen at all.

    It is also a book by the way, and a rather good one - Zen in the Martial Arts


    Also there is a lot more to Buddhism if that is what you are focusing on here with this post and Zazen. There are also various sects of Buddhism (Mahayana, Hinayana , Tantrayana, Theravada) that look at things slightly differently there are even different sects within the sects of Buddhism Tibetan, Chan, Zen and sub sects of those like Soto and Rinzai Zen

    Here is more to consider

    The Three Jewels
    the Buddha
    the Dharma - the way the Buddha taught to live your life
    the Sangha - A group of monks and other people who meet together

    The Four Noble Truths
    1. Life means suffering.
    2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
    3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
    4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

    Eightfold Path
    1. Right View Wisdom
    2. Right Intention
    3. Right Speech
    4. Right Action
    5. Right Livelihood
    6. Right Effort
    7. Right Mindfulness
    8. Right Concentratio

    These are the Five concepts.
    1.I will not hurt a person or animal that is alive.
    2.I will not take something if it was not given to me.
    3.I will not have sex in a way that is harmful.
    4.I will not lie or say things that hurt people.
    5.I will not take intoxicants, like alcohol or drugs.
    In some types of Buddhism, when a person wants to be a monk, he will follow other precepts also

    The Precepts
    I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from ...
    1....harming living beings.
    2....taking things not freely given.
    3....sexual misconduct.
    4....false speech.
    5....intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.
    6....taking untimely meals.
    7....dancing, singing, music and watching grotesque mime.
    8....use of garlands, perfumes and personal adornment.
    9....use of high seats.
    10....accepting gold or silver.


    Basically, don't over think this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  13. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    Good post. There is much more than zazen, but I did not want to overwhelm the conversation with a dissertation. Best to start with sitting, and end with sitting. Personally, I don't over think it, I practice daily. I am a Soto Zen Buddhist and a Martial Artist.


    Chris, I will try to get you that link. You are correct, there is no visualization. In fact, to empty the mind is to give it it greatest benefit (I will go over some Takuan later). But one correction...we don't meditate with our eyes closed.


    Peace.


    -James
     
  14. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Soto Zen, cool... more sitting, less koan :)

    I am not a buddhist ,although I do practice Zazen, however my mother-in-law is a Chan Buddhist.
     
  15. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    I do not see it as a matter of "more or less". As a former student of Rinzai, we meditated in Rinzai, as a current student of Soto, we take the public record (koan). My sensei would say "not two".


    Back to Chris...

    Chris,

    I invite you to explore this matter further if you are interested. If you are not interested, then I welcome you to drop it. It would be impossible to talk about something that only one of us have experienced. It would be like one of us having a full bladder and expecting the other one to empty it for them. It simply can't be done. I was introduced to Zen about 25 years ago and only now am I developing my taste for it to the point where I can appreciate the subtlety of it's flavour.

    May you be well.

    -James
     
  16. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi James.

    Frankly, I'm not sure where this has come from. You start this thread with the statement "All are welcome to participate", refer only to zazen, which is simply seated ("za") meditation ("zen"), without specifically refering to any particular Buddhist sect or faction, just asking how seated meditations helped anyone with their movement, if at all. And, frankly, I have been the most vocal in this thread, with Xue Sheng adding some great info as well.

    My suggestion to yourself is to either add in all the context you wish to be a factor of the discussion, in which case you can dictate it's direction (but if you are now only asking that those interested or involved in Soto Buddhism to contribute, you are probably going to have a very lonely thread....), as this really seems to come out of nowhere. Either you want a discussion or you don't.
     
  17. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    alrighty then

    It was kind of a toungue and cheek reference based on what Soto is as compared to Rinzai historically...hence the :) that was at the end.


    Nice reference to an old Zen story, but that is in reference to someone asking a Zen master "What is Zen" and I do not think that is what Chris asked you, you were discussing zazen and that does not necessarily mean you have any link to Zen Buddhism at all. If you read anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn he is basically doing Zazen that is for the most part Buddhism free.

     
  18. Vulcan

    Vulcan Orange Belt

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    This does not imply that you want to learn, but that you have your mind made up. That is not "discussing" but more like "cutting". I could be wrong, so I led with "I invite you to explore this matter further". If you do not want to, and simply have your mind made up that it doesn't work then I invited you to "drop it", i.e. I am not going to waste time trying to convince you, as this is not my goal to win you over. :)


    You already meditate before class and explore deeper meditation practice in your Ninpo. So we are having a "violent agreement" I think it's called?

    It is very hard to have these kind of esoteric discussions online, and frankly I have never tried it before, especially concerning the fighting arts which many in the Buddhist community do not understand.

    I will chalk it up to poor communication on my part, as I suppose I have not been able to properly direct the thread to the liking of the two of you, and for that I am sorry.


    -James
     
  19. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Not liking or disliking just a bit of confusion.. that is all
     
  20. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Not really, the entire post was asking you if you could supply a link to the article you say backs up your concept of sitting helping movement. I then continued to say that I can see no relation there, so if your article can give some support, I'd be very interested to read it. That's all.
     

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