Zen/Kyudo retreat – Zanshin ざんしん

28 05 2008

Zanshin ざんしん

Now that it s over I have found myself reflecting on different aspects of the adventure. When I was just getting started on day one and two. I thought to myself, well, it’s not as I thought it would be, but… I can do this! I can get through it no matter what. However I will not do this again. Partly because of our plans to go to Japan next year. Partly because I was not enjoying it. Now having completed the training.

I can see more of the value of the intensity. I would diffidently going again, with the right equipment. In fact I would like to go once more. I think it will be a good training for the Sail Passage. Yes, a week of Zen & Kyudo would be good mind and spirit training for a ocean passage. I’ll plan on working that into the schedule.

I believe this retreat qualifies as: Shigyo

Shugyo (修行) may be defined literally as “conducting oneself in a way that inspires mastery”. While the meaning of the kanji used in “shu” was originally translated as ‘using a brush to strike away the dust that obscures the viewing of a persons original elegance’, the combined kanji of “shu” and “gyo” (carrying out, walking along) is now generally translated as simply “severe or austere training”. The kanji rendered for this version of “shugyo” is most commonly associated with Buddhist asceticism, and most notably, the “shugenja” (修験者, ascetic mountain-dwelling monks).
When I read this I got a sense of what was to be. On many levels this was Severe or Austere training. As I look back I can see the overall connectiveness of the experience. It was a warrior retreat, unlike the heart zen retreat we just returned from. The underlying physical training was as intense as the spiritual. I am grateful to have been been able to attend. I see, feel, understand the link between the motion zen and sitting. Also how I want to run a retreat and the use of the sitting zen with the martial training. In my case it would be Tai Chi and Kung Fu.

Before I went on this retreat I purchased a book called “One Arrow, One Life- Zen, Archery, Enlightenment”. by Kenneth Kushner. I had planned on reading this during some free time , if there was some on this retreat. Now after attending the retreat I find the book resonates which the experience. The mind set of zazen carrying on to the mind set of a shot. The connection from grounding, to the release of the arrow. The alinement of the body with that of the bow , target, breath, arrow. The subtleties of the complementary nature of thought and action, movement and stillness. If fells in the gaps of the older book, “Zen and the art of archery”.

I see another one of these retreat as a great spirit training for my ocean passage. Even under ideal weather conditions this type of retreat with it’s, the structure, the subtile physical training, the mental forging, the connection to the earth, the release of ego in the face of something bigger is a challenge to spirit and body.

I am a bit sad that I will be unable, to attend more than one more in the future. However good things happen as well as bad, so only the Force knows about tomorrow I can only hope there is one an live where I am now and be grateful for the present.





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