The Sea

Slowing down in your training gives you the ability to gain a wider perception and sensitivity of what is occuring in your environment. We can use juppou sesshou to negotiate our space but also to gain a working knowledge of the type of people that move around us.

We are all learning to swim in the dojo. Some eventually learn to swim enough to stay a float and even ” play ” in the wake of Soke and the Shitenno. But, many also flounder ( or become one ) by those that drown and sink to the bottom.

Even people that get skilled at swimming, it doesn’t mean that they will become enlightened or spiritually awakened. If we cannot cleanse the water we swim in, we will forever be lost in a mist of murky water.

Soke doesn’t dive in and save these people. He watches them. If you have what it takes to become a bugeisha, then you will find the way yourself. Budo is not about being “taught” or “saved”.

At the Daikomyosai, Soke again mentioned a famous story about a Samurai. I can’t recall exactly, but I will do my best to tell it.

There was a baby that fell into a pond. One retainer yelled to help the child. However, the General said to not help the child and just watch what it does. If the child could suvive, then it is worthy of being a great warrior.

The child survived and was raised by the General to be a great Samurai warlord.

Even if you think you can swim well, you better watch out where you swim. The sea changes and is largely affected by the elements surrounding it. The bottom can become hazardous from sharp coral and, the sand can move and change to create rips and under currents that can sweep you away, never to be seen again!

There are many dangerous things in the sea. And, many of these things cannot be seen until it is too late. Sharks attack from below with skillful suprise. We can also be set upon by a school of piranah!

Through our desire to experience new things, we may unknowingly step forward onto a poisonous octopus or with lack of awareness of the environment, become painfully entangled in the tentacles of a box jelly fish!

To remain neutral and aware in the dojo is to remain alive. We are learning how to live. To know how to swim is to know how to live. To know when to not enter the water is, aswell.  However, if we do enter the sea, we must consider the consequences.

The Breaking Wave Off Kanagawa. Also called The Great Wave. Woodblock print from Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Fuji, which are the high point of Japanese prints. The original is at the Hakone Museum in Japan.

Hokusai’s most famous picture and easily Japan’s most famous image is a seascape with Mt. Fuji. The waves form a frame through which we see Mt. Fuji in the distance. Hokusai loved to depict water in motion: the foam of the wave is breaking into claws which grasp for the fishermen. The large wave forms a massive yin to the yang of empty space under it. The impending crash of the wave brings tension into the painting. In the foreground, a small peaked wave forms a miniature Mt. Fuji, which is repeated hundreds of miles away in the enormous Mt. Fuji which shrinks through perspective; the wavelet is larger than the mountain. Instead of shoguns and nobility, we see tiny fishermen huddled into their sleek crafts as they slide down a wave and dive straight into the next wave to get to the other side. The yin violence of Nature is counterbalanced by the yang relaxed confidence of expert fishermen. Although it’s a sea storm, the sun is shining.

If we cannot see both sides of what entering the sea can bring,  than we will be suprised and not be able to endure the hardships that come from unseen places.

” Banpen Fugyo “

To fall prey to your own desires and get captured by your own thoughts and beliefs is to become easy prey. If we do not empty our cups at the door, we will forever enter the dojo with too much of ourselves, and not enough room for true learning. We will be too heavy in our minds, and just sink to the bottom when we dive in. However, it is known that heavy people can float quite effortlessy. But they generally just drift in a direction with no focus.

Soke steps from the sea and observes from the safety of the shore. At times the sea becomes rough and out of control. It becomes dangerous for those training. People start to flounder, and forget the rules and guidelines. They forget the basics. Many start trying the butterfly before they can tread water. And when they eventually get tired, they just dissapear below the surface.  

Soke is like a life guard. But he is a life guard that knows that one person cannot dive in and safe a hundred.

From the shore, he can also see those that are listening to the sea, or respecting it. He can see them taking the time to feel the currents, and move according to the winds. These are the people that are absorbing the nutrients of the sea. Soaking in the vitamins and minerals that have created and continue to sustain life as we know it for millions of years.

There are people that take from the sea, but don’t give anything in return. There are also people that pollute the sea with their own desires and lack of appreciation for the wonderful treasure that they are allowed to be a part of.

But again, Soke cannot dive in and cleanse the sea. It’s too large. He has therefore entrusted those that ” can swim freely ” to swim together in a school of their own and minimise this pollution.

The responsibility is great. The sea is big, but so are the hearts of the Bujinkan Budoka around the globe. Together we can help Soke treasure this art and keep it pure and clean for the generations to come.

Good luck at your swimming lessons!

Bufu Ikkan

4 Responses to “The Sea”

  1. Dunc, that was such a wonderfully helpful interpretation of all our Bujinkan training endeavours and life experiences of past, present, and those still to come.
    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Your knowledge, experience and position is truly humbling and always inspiring.

    I’m looking forward to returning asap in the coming year.

    Bufu ikkan.
    And Happy New Year to you and all buyu.

  2. Marty Dunsky Says:

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  3. Peter Meden Says:

    Beautifully written.

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