We are all different people living different lives, but we share the enjoyment of training in our art. Whatever each of us gets from our training, we all share in the process of learning, experiencing, discovering, and developing. This is what being a student is all about. For some, training offers a great opportunity to get what we want and we leave the dojo having achieved just that. For others, training is a medium through which we strive to develop ourselves in a mental, physical or spiritual way. Many students train to develop one or two of these aspects and some hope to develop all three.
Mind, body and spirit are the ‘Sanmitsu’, the three secrets of our art. To make the most of our training we should develop all of these – but often the way is not clear. Learning Ninjutsu is much more than the intellectual passing of information – it’s a tactile experience beyond words. No matter how well someone describes a cake, it will not alleviate hunger! So learning takes place through the direct experience of the student while the teacher just points the way.
So it’s all down to us! Ninjutsu offers us a perfect vehicle to develop ourselves mind, body and spirit. If we really want to embody the art we need to look deeper and train with understanding. We must practice regularly if the body’s muscle memory, co-ordination, balance and strength is to improve. We need to look beyond every technique and understand ‘why’ so that the principles become clear and strong in our mind, and we need to search deep inside ourselves to find out how our spirit accords with the nature of things so we can flow in the moment. To advance requires that we change and grow, and if we have an open mind and heart we will have the capacity to look deeper and travel further. It’s fine if we want to practice Ninjutsu ‘our way’, but we will find ourselves at a dead end when we arrive at our own conceptual destination.
Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo’ is a verse that we repeat every lesson, and it can be translated in a number of ways which describe how our training can lead to self-development and enlightenment. One translation of ‘Shikin’ is a heart with four dimensions. An open heart, a sincere heart, a heart in tune with the nature of things and a heart dedicated to a chosen path. ‘Haramitsu’ means the perfection of wisdom and ‘Daikomyo’ enlightenment. Together, this could be understood to mean ‘With a correct heart may I reach the perfection of wisdom and enlightenment.’ More profoundly, it can be translated as ‘Each moment holds the key to our enlightenment’, and it is through our direct experience of the moment that we should investigate and clarify all things for ourselves.
We should look deeply at the feeling of our taijutsu, discover the concepts behind our techniques, examine the meaning behind ceremony and etiquette and look into the depths of ourselves. We should look closely at everything and ask ourselves ‘what’ and ‘why’, and if we can’t find the answers, we should ask others. Once we have something tangible, we should question ourselves again to reason it out, decide on its place and try to realise it within our own experience. Then we can test, use and develop it so we come to understand it.
What is the purpose of the kamidana, the vajra and bell, the verse chanted by the instructor at the opening ceremony, the clapping, the meditation, the bowing in of weapons etc? What use are they if we don’t know their purpose? What is the point of learning 10,000 ways of blocking the same punch?
Let us look deeply to develop our training and ourselves so that we can help others. Only then can we invoke with purpose;
‘Shikin haramitsu daikomyo’.