“Find the Right Path” by Sveneric Bogsater
Sveneric was visiting Australia in 1998. With Ed Lomax, he tripped down to Tasmania to the Bujinkan Hobart Dojo to teach us. I was very excited, as were the other members of the dojo.
The training we recieved was incredible. Sveneric made the martial arts ” alive ” and, very scarey!
I was his uke and, it was an experience I will never forget. In fact, it was from this time with Sveneric which made me feel the pain and delight of training in true budo. He burned deeply into me, the heart of budo. This spark began to smoulder into a large flame which eventually blew me to Japan. For this, I will be forever grateful.
As with many other people from around the world, Sveneric encouraged me to continue training, not only from his words and teachings but, from his whole being, unified presence, and the over all wonderful energy that permeates from him.
He is a true teacher of the martial arts. I respect him as a true martial artist, and a man of the highest quality. He, in my eyes, is a true avatar of the Bujinkan.
Many years ago, I read an article written by Sveneric that was published in the Samnyaku. It was a very special article to me. It said many things that I took greatly to heart. I used to read it over and over again. It’s a fantastic piece of writing, and an important one for every Bujinkan practitioner.
I have recieved Sveneric’s permission to post it here on my blog. Please read it, and then read it again, and again.
Thank you Sveneric.
FIND THE RIGHT PATH…”This article was once published in the Bujinkan Densho Sanmyaku, Issue number 5 1995. However I lost a page from my original English version, so this article is rewritten from Swedish and therefore it may, in the use of some words, be slightly different from the original article published in Sanmyaku.”
“Find the right path” words spoken by our Soke Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi on a memorable day in April 1994. It was April the second, the death day of Takamatsu Toshitsugu; Soke’s mentor. During yet one of many fantastic lessons in budo, with Soke teaching both physical movements as well as internal depths. Many important things were said that day, about religions, justice, peace, love. It was about life itself. Among all important subjects that day, it was just a sentence of four words that came to stuck in my sub-consciousness, lying there and from time to time floating up to my consciousness, telling me each time something more, giving me a reason to once again look into my goals as a person and especially as a person practicing the martial arts. These words were as you may understand “find the right path“.I will in this short article share some of the things I personally believe to be the ‘right path’ for a martial artist.The original study of martial arts involves a very intense study of the art of living. Today I’m sorry to say that the martial arts, particularly in the west, acknowledges the external aspect of the arts more than the internal, in order to attract more people, who might place themselves in the pure satisfaction and limelight of personal power and importance. This type of one-way training usually does not progress any further then to be simple entertainment and mere showmanship.
It is an attitude towards the martial arts, demonstrating only physical appearance and showing off, with more or less spectacular techniques only intended to impress, neglecting the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion and respect. This makes the art remain an art only in the name.
True seekers of the martial arts are likely to find themselves lost, left totally alone to identify with the appearance, the external side, far from the truth of the real martial art and therefore never able to live in the core of their true being. When you comprehend the true nature of the martial arts you are fully aware that the authentic teachings forbade devaluing, hurting or destroying any living creature, not to name to take a human life. It is one of the ironies of our time that martial arts training, which evolved over centuries into a system focusing attention to ethics, moral strength and a correct way of living, nowadays should be conducted in terms of mere techniques and ‘gimmicks’ of fighting, as a mean to destructive ends, rather than an end in itself.
I personally believe that at some point in our own training we will reach a certain place in time where the choice is ours; to jump into the darkness of our own ego, where we can play a role, pretend to be a master; or to open up ourselves to the universal light and to the teaching where hearts are open and positively pulsing with life.The question is how we are training. It is not to capture a bunch of techniques and technical terms, and the quest must always be to open our minds and our hearts to the true essence of budo – the art of living.We need to bear in our minds that the techniques we receive as students during periods of training are only basic information, something we only have as a loan from our teacher. It is borrowed, the techniques are not our own. And borrowed techniques are stuff of ignorance when we only simulate the way other interpret them.
It is however necessary to progress in the beginning stage of our training. But to borrow from others is only acceptable to a certain stage. If the purpose is imitation, the result is clearly nothing but a replica and that’s the end of it. Nothing has bloomed fresh from our hearts.
Therefore it is important to go beyond what is borrowed, to go past the replica to reach beyond our fears. And for our desire for spiritual knowledge, we may find the true knowledge thatis intuitive and beyond our intellect. If and when we reach such a moment something will happen. It is not anything resulting from reasoning or logic, it is something else, and something vital, that can only happen when we are living our lives to the fullest and in harmony.If we aspire to be serious seekers on the martial path to true knowledge we must allow it to take time and to realize that we must open up ourselves and learn the art of surrender, so we can move beyond our ego-centred life. If we are not prepared to do so, it would be better not to start walking the path at all; such a path would be crooked and lead us astray.True knowledge comes from our heart, what we sense is true and if we simply focus on the right way of living and get the right understanding of life, things will come to us, whetherwe want them or not. It is only an art without artfulness that can give birth to a real art. A real art is grounded in the spiritual, in the purposeless, it has no conditions. It is free, like air in the sky. This is nothing that can be transferred by teaching or by words alone. To be ready to walk the martial path we must absorb the insight which has been transmitted from master to student throughout the ages of martial arts study and practicing. We in Bujinkan have the great fortune to have the direct transmission from our Soke, who inherited the nine schools Bujinkan Budo consists of, in the line of several hundred Grandmasters who went before. This is something to be proud of and to guard with our loyalty.
A true path is also a path of duty. As Soke wrote in one issue of Sanmyaku: “In order to live properly humans have to obey laws”. And he transmitted to us the 5 rules (precepts) of the dojo. It is something that is as important today as it ever was.
Just take a look around, everywhere we see poverty, drugs in all their forms and violence. Violence surrounds us today. Violence toward children and directed to the elderly. Violence is committed in many ways and often occurring in broad daylight. So for rules there is a need, the law is still a necessity today and in all groups and societies.
We who practice martial arts, we who claim to walk the true path of the martial artist, cannot chase for fame, fortune or personal illusions.
No, we have to follow through on our responsibilities, our duties at all times and should not remain prisoners in a house of mirrors.If we are able to live as such, it doesn’t stop there; it isnot the end in any way. It is a beginning of an endless process of personal progress, growth and spiritual transformation. To reach the true path is to first of all give up all our attachments, prejudices, selfishness and our greed. And maybe most important is to give up the destructive notion that our body, mind and spirit are something separate.
We also have to discover the emptiness from where intuition is born to be able to reach that place within ourselves where body, mind and spirit dance as one. It is a long process where logic has no part. The fundamental reality always manifests itself beyond all borders of logic. When walking the path we can begin to look at our world differently.
We will come to realize that at the moment our mind enters a state of absolute freedom, freedom from all external and internal pressure or affection, and we no longer hunger for anything at all, we experience a mindful synchronicity with everyday activities of our daily life.
This I believe may be the real secret, the mystery of the martial arts. It is also a path of no return. Once we have made our first step on the path we must always follow it without looking back. The mind that creates heaven also creates hell. The only source of all misunderstanding and confusion being you and I.
The several hundred masters and our present Soke are with their deep understanding and insight, guides and helpersalong the path. We must accept their help and assistance seriously with open minds and a warm welcoming heart, if we treat their guidance in this manner it is truly a guidance and help for all of us to find the right, the true path of a martial artist. This is an art of living a full, correct and rich life, a life in harmony with yourself and with all and everything that surrounds you.I hope you understand so far, that a true path is not being one of thousand techniques or some kind of combat orientated fighting. I do not believe in the attitude of budo that unfortunately is so widely spread. “To defeat someone by force or with lethal weapons”.
The true budo is for me simply to strive to live my life right and to reach out for a higher realm.I like to end this article with something once written by Sun Tzu. It’s directed to all of you who are living in the illusion that technical values and thereby a large number of forms and techniques is the essence of martial art. It is also directed to you who do not realize or like to grasp the value of Kihon Happo (or to you who believe you know it) as well as for you having a constant ‘need’ for new forms and more and more difficult techniques. And at last, to you who believe to be advanced.”The musical tones are only five, but their melodies are too numerous to count. The basic colours are only four, but their combinations are limitless. The flavours are only five, but their blending is of such variety as to be endless. In battle the forces are only two, the regular and the special, but their combinations are infinitive, and no one can comprehend them all”.When our belief and our trust reach the mature state, our hidden eye suddenly opens. Looking inward, toward what has always been there. Then when we are able to sense that what we believed was nothing, in reality was the very essence of teaching.I did not pay any special attention when Soke that day said the four words ‘find the right path’; in that particular moment it meant nothing. But somewhere in my sub-conciseness it began to grow and with time it opened up my hidden eye and allowed me to see what I believe is the right path of a martial artist. It was an awakening, believe me, and I can promise you that I’m prepared to walk that path to the end of my living days.