The Purification of the Spirit
December 2, 1996 · 10:31pm EST · Posted by Fujiyama Dojo
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
As with every endeavor that any man has taken, the virtue of the task lies in its motivations Regardless of the accomplishments and the effort that it took to achieve them, a journey motivated by ego and the desire to step up to that mental podium in which we set ourselves above the "lesser others", lacks nobility. At the individual level, such self elevation produces a shallow, laughable, and unimportant arrogance. But at the general level, it might provide enough rationalization to justify such indignities as the belittling of other races, or the conquest of other nations.

Martial arts are not exempt from those motivations. Martial artists are not above them. The ideas and actions of budoka are never disconnected from the ryu he or she practices. The errors in their attitudes become blemishes in the traditions of the ryu. Facing the inner self is the greatest challenge for a budoka. A cynic would not be interested in refinement of the spirit - he, or she, never questions his or her worth - but for that very reason he or she is unworthy of the teachings.

No coward has ever considered learning compassion because a show of strength is his proper medium. No individual of low spirit has ever consider learning humility and reticence, because exuberant arrogance is his trademark. However, no man or woman truly worthy of belonging to a ryu has ever ignored compassion and humility, nor ever takes for granted the privilege of learning. For these reasons, the practices of ritual purification are important.

Leaving the impurities of the mind behind, symbolically washing away internal conflicts and bad attitudes, the renewing of one's commitment to the ryu, the dojo and the traditions we are part of, is as important as the learning of a technique. The purification is not necessarily a religious ritual, but a spiritual one. It is almost a character reference to ourselves, aimed at facing our faults with the purpose of eradicating them to the best of our abilities.

Most old styles of Bujutsu included forms of purification. Some centered around the individual, some included rituals to purify the environment as well.

The water ablutions, the symbolic grid cuts of the shu-in, the hand signs, the meditative prayers, and so on are not to be taken as mere archaic esoteric nonsense. The practice of oharai, misogi, haya kuji, to-in, shu-in, and similar rituals should not be disregarded as something unrelated to ko-ryu Bujutsu. Regardless of our religious beliefs (or absence of them) the sincerity of our motivations should be a priority in our training. A physical action which is linked to a sincere intention reinforces the thoughts and the actual effort to tear away that which poison the spirit. And in the realm of the character every one of us needs as much as we can gather. These old practices are still just as effective to those with proper spirit as they were centuries ago.

Spirit unification is still the foundation of tanren. Sincerity is still a required virtue of Budo. We still live in a Shin Kai (Divine World), even if we are reluctant to admit it.


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