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Nathan Scott
16th January 2002, 01:28
I'm curious if anyone has any comments or knowledge about silently reciting norito, kun, or some kind of maxim during dojo mokuso (meditation before/after keiko).

I believe this is the case, for the instructor at least, in some if not many traditional dojo.

A friend passed on to me something titled "gosei", which is such a maxim, apparently recited silently in kendo. Following is the romaji followed by my loose translation:

Gosei

Hitotsu, shisei ni motoru nakarishika

Hitotsu, genko ni hazuru nakarishika

Hitotsu, kiryoku ni kakuru nakarishika

Hitotsu, doryoku ni urami nakarishika

Hitotsu, busho ni wataru nakarishika

**

Five points to reflect (self examination)

Item: did I oppose my own sincere integrity?

Item: did I speak or act in ways that were disgraceful (shameful)?

Item: did I neglect the cultivation of vital energy (ki power)?

Item: did I avoid strenuous exertion?

Item: was I indolent (lazy)?


I've been generally told to "clear my mind and focus on the upcoming tasks/previous instruction" while taking mokuso. I've heard some dojo, like karate, recite verbally a kun or maxim instead of using silent mokuso. I've further heard that some classical styles recite Shinto norito of some sort.

Any comments appreciated - don't feel obigated to paste the exact content of your "gosei" if doing so is not comfortable. Just curious how common this is.

Regards,

[edited translation to reflect the intended past tense]

Yamantaka
16th January 2002, 12:28
Originally posted by Nathan Scott
I'm curious if anyone has any comments or knowledge about silently reciting norito, kun, or some kind of maxim during dojo mokuso (meditation before/after keiko).
I believe this is the case, for the instructor at least, in some if not many traditional dojo.
Any comments appreciated - don't feel obigated to paste the exact content of your "gosei" if doing so is not comfortable. Just curious how common this is.
Regards,

YAMANTAKA : Just repeating what I learned from one of my sensei, many years ago...
MOKUSO is wrongly understood, in the West, as "Meditation". It isn't. It is more similar to mind and body relaxation. As you relax your body, you relax your mind. Since it is very difficult to "empty the mind" (stop thinking), I was taught that instead of the myriad thoughts that crowd our minds, I should try first to concentrate in one thought (the wind, the singing of a bird, the sound of a machine...) and try to progressively relax the mind.
Of course, concentrate in just a norito might be a way but I believe the problem of emiting and thinking about the norito is much more troublesome than listening to the sound of a bird...
IMHO :o

Nathan Scott
16th January 2002, 20:03
Ubaldo-san,

Hmmm, sounds kind of like meditation! Anyway, this is more convenient a term than "mind, body & spirit calming break"!

:)

Thanks for the input.

Charlie Kondek
17th January 2002, 13:56
Good topic, Nathan. I hope we see more posts. In kendo practice, I usually pray (being a Christian) or try to empty my mind with breathing meditation. I either recite a mantra ("maranatha," breathe in on the "mara" and out on the "natha") or try to counting meditation. That's where I try to count concentrating only on the numbers. Once my mind wanders, I start over at 1. Usually sounds like this in my head:

1... 2... cold water... d'oh!

1... 2... that was a good kote - d'oh!

1... sex... d'oh!

1... 2... food... d'oh!

Markaso
25th January 2002, 09:21
Nathan - A very good question indeed. I have also been taught that the moksou was a cleansing technique of sorts to prepare for the upcoming practice or battle or what have you. Also in my Dojo we did a mokuso at the end of our practice as well as before and after a doing a Kata. I found it to be a great calmer before doing a Kata infront of my Sensei or before a test.
I never really did any sort of mantra but I did try to find my own center of calm.

Gil Gillespie
28th January 2002, 21:48
My understanding of mokuso is more toward those posters who reflected a stillness or emptying of the mind. Rather than a checklist or a mantra, more of a conscious stilling of the ripples in our spiritual pond. Definitely connected to training, but usually following training, as we do it, but both are acceptable. So is a personal meditation. We really use it as a quieting time for students to use as they wish.

Markaso
28th January 2002, 23:21
Mr. Gillespie - Nicely said! Before or after or both, All I think are acceptable. I know I need and enjoy a good Mokuso.

Jeff Hamacher
29th January 2002, 01:08
looking at the characters that are used to write mokusou, you get:

"moku", meaning "silence; to become silent"
"sou", meaning "to imagine; to turn thoughts over in one's mind"

in that sense, "silent mokusou" is a good example of redundancy. it also sounds rather strange to discuss talking during mokusou, since such a thing represents a contradiction.

Mr. Scott, i'm afraid i don't have any direct knowledge of various spoken rituals during martial arts training, but i have certainly read about them here at E-Budo (e.g. i'm pretty sure Toby Threadgill has made mention of this practice in his dojo). is it your impression that such rituals replace the practice of mokusou, or that both practices are followed in conjunction? it would be interesting to hear from you and others on this point.

warning: nitpicking thread drift dead ahead!

Yamantaka-sama, i think you raise a very important point as well, but i think that your claim that mokusou is not "meditation" might sooner be applied to the practice of zazen. my little exercise in etymology suggests that one may think of anything that one likes during mokusou, in fact turn those thoughts over in one's head quite actively. your "focus on one thought" seems very similar to what i've heard about Rinzai sect zazen. perhaps Mr. Kondek's prayers have something in common with this. in either case, the practitioner is actively manipulating their own thoughts, and as Mr. Scott says we might as well call this meditation.

on the other hand, Mr. Gillespie's description is pretty much my (very limited) experience with Soto sect zazen: in essence, not thinking of anything in particular. Soto zazen really does differ from meditation in that way; it is "sitting for the sake of sitting". like Mr. Gillespie, i tend to use my mokusou (we do it at beginning and end of jo class) for this purpose of allowing myself to become calm. much like dust suspended in a glass of water, you can do nothing to the glass to move the dust to the bottom. you can only wait for the dust to settle as the water and gravity allow.

my apologies, Mr. Scott, for dragging this thread way off topic. for what it's worth, i hope to hear more information regarding your original question.

Nathan Scott
29th January 2002, 06:45
Hello,


is it your impression that such rituals replace the practice of mokusou, or that both practices are followed in conjunction?

To be honest, I'm not really sure, which is why I thought I'd throw it up here.

My main training has been under Obata Toshishiro sensei. During his class, mokuso is called briefly, and we are taught that this is the time we use to clear our minds of whatever stress, tension and/or mental activity we have accumulated over the day. This is intended to allow us to focus fully on the forthcoming training, which is important for learning and for safety.

After class, mokuso is called briefly, and we are taught that we are to play back what was taught during training, as well as any specific corrections that were offered. This mokuso at the end of class may include verbal comments from the Instructor (Obata sensei in this case), in which he may re-emphasize a principle or point, or simply recite the names of what was gone over during class that night.

I've adopted this application of mokuso in my own dojo, as it makes sense to me, and well... it is how I was taught.

I believe that there are some traditions that, at least at some stage of the instructor's initiation, include silent (spoken in the mind only) recitation of some kind of scripture. I can think of two cases in which I believe this practice is adhered to, and both of them have a shinzen at their shomen. So perhaps in these traditions it is some kind of Shinto norito - perhaps adapted to fit within the context of the tradition (like a harai).

As long as we're yacking, here is another aspect to consider in regards to this question.

It would seem that mokuso is fairly common in modern budo, and is typically translated as "meditation; contemplation."

However, there is another term that is sometimes used, perhaps by older traditions, called "mokuto". Until a couple of years ago, I thought it was the same term altered slightly to fit within various Japanese regional dialects. It turned out that mokuto uses different kanji than mokuso, and means "a silent [tacit] prayer; a silent tribute."

Mokuso is clearing and/or focusing the mind, while mokuto is silent recitation

So this is probably where the division is made. A better question, I guess, might be to ask "what arts/dojo use the term mokuto?"

Any further insight by anyone?

Regards,

George Kohler
29th January 2002, 08:59
Hi Nathan,

What I've been taught mokuso is used for concentrating/focusing on training.

Yamantaka
29th January 2002, 10:48
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher
looking at the characters that are used to write mokusou, you get:
"moku", meaning "silence; to become silent"
"sou", meaning "to imagine; to turn thoughts over in one's mind"

Yamantaka-sama, i think you raise a very important point as well, but i think that your claim that mokusou is not "meditation" might sooner be applied to the practice of zazen. my little exercise in etymology suggests that one may think of anything that one likes during mokusou, in fact turn those thoughts over in one's head quite actively. your "focus on one thought" seems very similar to what i've heard about Rinzai sect zazen. perhaps Mr. Kondek's prayers have something in common with this. in either case, the practitioner is actively manipulating their own thoughts, and as Mr. Scott says we might as well call this meditation.

YAMANTAKA : Mokuso might also be translated as "Imagine nothing(silence)", in which case, to "actively manipulate one's own thoughts" would be senseless.
On another point, what I said was that the translation of Mokuso in the West was incorrect,in my opinion,as many other japanese words. Perhaps a better translation would be "Mental relaxation" or "Quiet Mind". But, of course, this translation of Mokuso as "Meditation" is widespread and usually accepted without much thinking.
My thanks for a very good post. I hope some other people, like Dr. Goldsbury do come in to enlighten us still more.
Best

Markaso
29th January 2002, 14:46
Mr. Scott - Maybe, and I think I might be reaching here a bit but I think that the practice of mokuto might be practiced by the Dojos that might have a Buddist link or it may be the head Senseis upbringing with a Buddist background as for you question:

"So this is probably where the division is made. A better question, I guess, might be to ask "what arts/dojo use the term mokuto?"


We might want to ask, it could be easier, what arts/dojo are more apt to use the practice of Mokusou? Maybe we could get the answer to your question a little faster this way.
Then go on to your original question. I think that this plan of questioning might bring up som interesting information.

Jeff Hamacher
30th January 2002, 01:13
Yamantaka,

the term mokusou may be interpreted to mean a number of things, i suspect. for example, your teacher says that mokusou is not "meditation" as it's understood in the so-called "West". fair enough. as the posts in this thread indicate, each dojo appears to have its own method, so to speak, and in some sense everyone is correct in their method. i'm not going to argue with people who have many more years of experience in martial arts or far deeper understandings of japanese culture than i can ever hope to.

on the other hand, my point was that the character sou itself has the meanings that i listed above. its principal meaning, as i understand it from my dictionary, is "to think of/consider many thoughts at once". silently considering various thoughts, to me, can be called meditation. i think that etymology backs up my opinion on this, but as i said above, i believe that there must be many different practices of mokusou. thus, we can agree to amicably disagree.

Mark,

mokutou is defined in the Kojien quite simply as "silent prayer". the definition makes no specific reference to Buddhism. this appears to differ from norito in that the latter is read or spoken aloud, at least according to the definition i have.

Markaso
30th January 2002, 04:19
Mr.Hamacher -

You have a very good point indeed. The difference between Mokusou and Mokutou might not be at all that diffierent. But I do know that some sects, here in Japan, do a chant of types with their eyes shut. I heard the term for that a while ago and that was Mokutou. The person that was explaining it to me might not have given me the right word. I may stand corrected but I will look into it though and see what I can find out. Stay tuned.

As I said before to Mr. Scott:
"Maybe, and I think I might be reaching here a bit but I think that the practice of mokutou might be practiced by the Dojos that might have a Buddist link or it may be the head Senseis upbringing with a Buddist background ".

Nathan Scott
30th January 2002, 07:05
FWIW, the simple translations I offered above came from Kenkyusha's New English-Japanese Dictionary (what is "Kojien"? Did you mean to write "Kojiten"?).

Mokuso and mokuto are not interchangable terms, I know that much. They do have a slightly different function. I do agree that medititation is not always "thoughtless". Perhaps this is zazen, but one type of meditation is that in which you focus on a single subject, as opposed to the typical juggling of things on the back-burner of your mind. Some meditation is designed to enhance your senses.

I think it is safe to say that mokuso serves a useful function in martial arts. Mokuto might be more of a continued tradition though, but keep in mind that the instructor is the only one that seems to be in on the "silent prayer". The rest of the students appear to be basically doing mokuso. Perhaps the "silent prayer" part of it is considered optional for students. Recite 'em if you got 'em?

Regards,

Yamantaka
30th January 2002, 09:36
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher
Yamantaka,
the term mokusou may be interpreted to mean a number of things, i suspect. for example, your teacher says that mokusou is not "meditation" as it's understood in the so-called "West". fair enough. as the posts in this thread indicate, each dojo appears to have its own method, so to speak, and in some sense everyone is correct in their method. i'm not going to argue with people who have many more years of experience in martial arts or far deeper understandings of japanese culture than i can ever hope to.

YAMANTAKA : Jeff San,
You give much more credit than I deserve...:)


Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher
i believe that there must be many different practices of mokusou. thus, we can agree to amicably disagree.

YAMANTAKA : Sure. :toast:
Ubaldo Castilho de Alcantara

P Goldsbury
30th January 2002, 12:37
Hello Ubaldo and Everybody,

I came across this thread this only this morning while I was in my office. I consulted some of my Japanese colleagues, two of whom practise karate and judo, respectively, and when I got home I checked the dictionaries I have here. Here are some results.

The Kojien (?L辞苑?@こうじえん -- Jeff is correct in his reference: the Kojien is an authoritative Japanese monolingual dictionary). On p.2640, the definition of 黙想?@も!そう is given as: 無言で?lえにふけること: 'mugende kangae ni fukerukoto', which translates as, "to be lost in thought without words", a very nice definition, in my opinion. There is a reference to 黙思?@も!し 'mokushi', which has much the same meaning. Thus, in the Kenkyusha New Japanese-English Dictionary, under 'fukeru' (p. 260), an example is given: 'mokushi ni fukeru': 'to be lost in silent meditation'. The Kojien gives precisely the same definition of 'mokushi' on p. 2639, with a reference to 'mokuso'.

I think it is clear from these references that there is little difference between 'shi' and 'so'. In my own faculty, my special subject is listed as 言語思想 (げんごしそう 'gengo-shiso'). The two characters in 'mokushi' and 'mokuso' are combined into one word: 'shiso', but nobody has ever come up with a suitable English translation. What I actually teach is the philosophy of language, but this is not quite right: this subject is actually 言語哲学?@(げんごてつが! 'gengo-tetsugaku'). 'Gengo-shiso' is something much looser, like 'thoughts / meditations / speculations on language'. An example of 'gengo-shiso' might be the theory of metaphor: how thought is bound up with language in a non-philosophical way.

The latest edition of the smaller Kanjigen (漢字源 かんじげん) does not gives either compound. On p.1760, it gives 黙?l?@(もっこう 'mokko'), with references to 'mokushi' and 'mokuso', as a compound containing the radical 'moku'. The definition is, だまって?lえこむ: 'damatte kangae-komu': "to be absorbed in silent thought".

The much larger Daijigen (大字源 ?@だいじげん) gives 'mokuso' on p.1149, along with 'mokushi' and 'mokko'. The definition is the same in all three cases: 黙って?lえる?@だまってかんがえる "damatte kangaeru": "to think in silence".

Thus, I think none of these definitions really gives any indication as to the actual content of the thinking component in 'mokuso'. Whatever you do, you do it in silence. Unfortunately, none of the dictionaries I have access to at present gives the etymological history of the compound, i.e., when 'mokuso' first came into general use in Japanese. For that we need Morozashi's Daikanwa-jiten and further investigations will have to wait till my next visit to my kanji teacher.

However, my Japanese colleagues considered that 'mokuso' had a specialised meaning relating to the martial arts. All agreed that the thinking component depended on the guiding principles of the art in question. Thus, as in Soto-Zen, you focus on "just sitting" and let the thoughts wander where they will, so in 'mokuso', you focus on the silence, and also allow the thoughts to wander where they will.

But the two most eminent aikido teachers I have have given theories of 'mokuso'. Arikawa Sadateru Sensei, for example, focuses on seiza: in silence you focus on lowering your centre. Tada Hiroshi Sensei focuses on breathing. After hard training, in silence you bring your kokyu back to a state of calm. To my mind both ways have the same overall aim.

Perhaps they were influenced by other exercises that the Founder of aikido practised, like 'funakogi' (rowing the boat) and 'furitama": (shaking the balls), which were exercises with a specifically religious aim, at least in the beginning. By this I mean that for O Sensei the focus was on achieving an aim (summoning the kami) through an action. So, what you were actually 'thinking' about while performing the action was less important. The focus is the action, or state, rather than the thoughts.

Finally, the other posts in this thread and my own training in linguistics suggest to me that it is a mistake to assume in Japanese that the meaning of a compound equals the sum of the meaning of the constituents. We purists can go on and on worrying about the 'thinking' component, but my Japanese colleagues telll me that 'mokuso' means 'meditation'. They look at me askance when I insist that it really means 'thinking in silence'. For them, including my juudo and karate colleagues, this actually means meditation.

So, Nathan, what you do after practice, as per your first post, is just fine. I think it is part of the discipline of practice. And Jeff, perhaps you should consult with your Japanese colleagues to see if their reactions matched those of the colleagues in my department.

Oh and I am so glad that John Lindsey's latest upgrade allows me to input Japanese characters once again. Thank you very much.

Regards to all,

Peter Goldsbury,
_________________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences

P Goldsbury
30th January 2002, 13:07
I should add to my last post that 黙とう?@(も!とう, mokuto), is quite different. At IAF meetings it is the practice to have a minute's silence in memory of shihans & other members who have recently died, like Kisshomaru Doshu, for example. The minute's silence is 'mokuto' and, of course, it is in silence. Chanting, for example does not occur. There was a similar period of 'mokuto' during the memorial service for the late Kisshomaru Doshu.

___________________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Markaso
30th January 2002, 13:58
Mr, Goldsbury - Mr Lindseys new program might allow you to put in the Japanese Kanji but unless you have a Japanese system or an application that can read the Kanji it all comes up as jibberish. Just thought, if you did not know by now, I would let you know.

As luck would have it, one of my hard drives is all Japanese. Thanks for the Kanji!

Nathan Scott
30th January 2002, 19:08
Yes, what kanji literally implies and how certain groups use the term functionally may differ slightly. Look at how different groups use the term aiki. Some consider it a very basic idea of blending, while others add a great deal more to it.

Come to think of it, I seem to remember that mokuto is used (in budo at least) where there is a recent or historical figure that "respects" are paid to. Part of this, at least in some cases, also is intended to create a connection with the spirit (kami) of such person, and to encourage them to "overlook" the practice in hope of inspirations and safe keiko.

As such, a shinzen (or in rare cases butsuden) are typically present. Some dojo may also include photos of past masters.

I kind of thought there would be more people sharing (varied) first hand experience with mokuso/mokuto from their own dojo/art, but I'm starting to think that perhaps this subject is not particularly emphasized or understood as much as I had assumed. That makes for a good topic of discussion!

Thanks for the interesting contributions.

Markaso
31st January 2002, 00:33
Mr. Sott -

Yes, people,even myself at times, seem to go off on other paths and confuse the issue a bit.

I guess when I first read your thread I thought you just wanted some comments.....my mistake.

In my Dojo, where we practice Go Jyu Ryu, we do a Mokusou before and after a practice. My Sensei in Kyoto, come to think of it nor does my Shihan in Kyushu, really do not tell the student what to think, not think, focus, not focus on, But I used it for many a things. For example I would use it as a focusing time for the upcoming practice, a thanking time to my Sensei, throwing away my stress before a practice time as well as a host of other things. We did not do any kind of mantra or chant. Very silent we were.


Hope this was more of what you were looking for.

Jeff Hamacher
31st January 2002, 01:23
Prof. Goldsbury,

as informative and insightful as ever; thank you for your comments. at least one of the aikido dojos where i've trained used mokusou in the same way as you describe Tada-sensei's approach (i'm looking forward to taking part in his portion of the foreigners' budo seminar in march). as you suggest, i will pester my colleagues and see what they say.

speaking of my colleagues, you and other participants in this thread may be interested to know that every day at my school we do mokusou, immediately following cleaning time (for those who aren't familiar with the practice: students in japanese public schools are responsible for cleaning as a matter of tradition. there are no professional custodial staff who perform this function). although it isn't discussed often, students get some instruction on how to use their mokusou during orientations which are held at the start of each term. in my school, students are generally encouraged to think back over their day and evaluate their experiences. it's my impression that most public schools in japan do not include mokusou in their routine, but i'd be happy to hear from those who know differently.

whether or not this has any relationship to mokusou as it is practised in the martial arts world is another matter, but once again this may prove an interesting point of discussion. let's keep it going, folks!

PS Yamantaka: if only we could actually have that beer together!

Charlie Kondek
31st January 2002, 13:32
Hi, all. Good thread. I have subscribed to it, but I think that function must not be working, cuz I didn't get any e-mails letting me know there had been additions.

Very interesting about the mokuso/mokuto. I've never practiced traditional arts, only gendai arts, and sometimes quite Americanized gendai at that. So I have no direct experience with mokuto. There is a bit of reigi before and after kendo practice that is supposed to represent an acknowledgment of instructors past and present as well as whatever your concept of cosmology is.

I have been experimenting in my mind with meditation techniques. It seems to me that having a mantra or system of thought sometimes helps more than simple breathing minfulness or a counting meditation or an image meditation. If you have words to say and you think about those words and the images that accompany it sometimes takes your mind through the cleansing and stilling process that you need to achieve that pre- and post-practice mindframe. I like the mantra you described here, Nathan, but would probably never use it myself as it is not personal enough for me. (For example, lately I have been a big fan of St. Francis' "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.")

BTW, I have to agree with everyone here that the purpose of pre-practice meditation is to get rid of all the detritus of the day that's in your mind (work, chores, parking, worries, whatever) and focus on doing your best and having a good, safe practice, as well as to (in kendo at least) acknowledge the art and history of what you're doing. The purpose of post-practice meditation is to absorb what lessons you have learned, again try to clear away any cobwebs (for example, the fact that your rival schooled you in jigeiko or that you just couldn't quite get the men cut you wanted) and try to take those lessons into the outside world. That kind of packs a lot into a few seconds of mokuso! Hmmm... good argument for making mokuso longer and dialoguing with the fellow students about how they can make the most of that time.

hyaku
31st January 2002, 15:07
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher
Prof. Goldsbury,

it's my impression that most public schools in japan do not include mokusou in their routine, but i'd be happy to hear from those who know differently.

whether or not this has any relationship to mokusou as it is practised in the martial arts world is another matter, but once again this may prove an interesting point of discussion. let's keep it going, folks!

PS Yamantaka: if only we could actually have that beer together!
....

We also include Mokuso. I work for a group of 23 schools colleges and University.

Hyakutake Colin

Yamantaka
31st January 2002, 21:11
Originally posted by P Goldsbury
Hello Ubaldo and Everybody,

The Kojien (?L辞苑?@こうじえん -- Jeff is correct in his reference: the Kojien is an authoritative Japanese monolingual dictionary). On p.2640, the definition of 黙想?@も!そう is given as: 無言で?lえにふけること: 'mugende kangae ni fukerukoto', which translates as, "to be lost in thought without words", a very nice definition, in my opinion. There is a reference to 黙思?@も!し 'mokushi', which has much the same meaning. Thus, in the Kenkyusha New Japanese-English Dictionary, under 'fukeru' (p. 260), an example is given: 'mokushi ni fukeru': 'to be lost in silent meditation'. The Kojien gives precisely the same definition of 'mokushi' on p. 2639, with a reference to 'mokuso'.
The latest edition of the smaller Kanjigen (漢字源 かんじげん) does not gives either compound. On p.1760, it gives 黙?l?@(もっこう 'mokko'), with references to 'mokushi' and 'mokuso', as a compound containing the radical 'moku'. The definition is, だまって?lえこむ: 'damatte kangae-komu': "to be absorbed in silent thought".
The much larger Daijigen (大字源 ?@だいじげん) gives 'mokuso' on p.1149, along with 'mokushi' and 'mokko'. The definition is the same in all three cases: 黙って?lえる?@だまってかんがえる "damatte kangaeru": "to think in silence".
Thus, I think none of these definitions really gives any indication as to the actual content of the thinking component in 'mokuso'. Whatever you do, you do it in silence.
However, my Japanese colleagues considered that 'mokuso' had a specialised meaning relating to the martial arts. All agreed that the thinking component depended on the guiding principles of the art in question. Thus, as in Soto-Zen, you focus on "just sitting" and let the thoughts wander where they will, so in 'mokuso', you focus on the silence, and also allow the thoughts to wander where they will.
Regards to all,
Peter Goldsbury,


YAMANTAKA : Dear Goldsbury Sama,

It's always a pleasure to read anything by you. I sincerely bow to your superior knowledge. Thank you for teaching me. (And, by the way, when do we get TOUCHING THE ABSOLUTE - PART 3?)

[quote]PS Yamantaka: if only we could actually have that beer together!
Jeff Hamacher
[End quote]

YAMANTAKA : Who knows?

Markaso
31st January 2002, 22:57
To think or not to think. To focus or not to focus. That seem to be the question.

The definitions that some of you have brought up are very good indeed!But I think that the real meaning goes deeper than just the paper on which it is written.

What are some of the things we all focus on or not, think of or not? Of course it would be interesting to know what who does in what art.

W.Bodiford
14th February 2002, 22:55
Originally posted by P Goldsbury

Perhaps they were influenced by other exercises that the Founder of aikido practised, like 'funakogi' (rowing the boat) and 'furitama": (shaking the balls), which were exercises with a specifically religious aim, at least in the beginning.


Peter:

I couldn't help but laugh aloud at my mental image of men in loose-fitting fundoshi chanting norito and shaking their balls.

Usually furitama is translated as "arousing the spirit."

Best wishes,

Kimpatsu
15th February 2002, 00:15
Personally, I think it's all a load of old bollocks. :D
Seriously, though, I think the ball-shaking (i.e., spirit-arousing exercises) are used to provide an external, physical action or object on which to focus, to the exclusion of all else, thus making the path to enlightenment easier to find.

'renso
15th February 2002, 01:05
Great thread. This is not a very informative post unlike many other here; just sharing.

My teacher doesn't call for mokuso after every lesson; so I get to practice THAT not very often... it depends on the "mood" of the teacher and of us all.

Our directions are to let thoughts come and go gently, without striving to "kill" them, nor clinging to them. The idea is "just sitting". Also, he tells us to listen to our breath, feeling it in the nostrils or in the belly, or wherever it's better for us. After some time, I decided that the "focus" it involves it's not quite the "focus" I can describe. I bet you all know how it changes a LOT from time to time... sometimes you just can't stay quiet, other times you find it the most relaxing and calming experience ever.
I think it's one of those clever eastern tricks :) aimed at practicing things you can only practice, and cannot grasp without practice... it's the essence of this concept. Just sit! I like that.

Markaso
15th February 2002, 03:38
Mr. Kehoe

You just might be touching on an interesting idea here.:idea:
Focusing on something physical on the outside from within and trying to connect them as in making a path. Might be worth a thought or two.


:look:

Nathan Scott
15th February 2002, 21:57
Mr. Belloni,

Sounds like a bit of zazen. The impression I get with mokuso, especially after reading the responses here, is that this refers to a somewhat broad idea, as opposed to a specific method.

Also, my growing suspician is that the practice of mokuso in martial arts is a relatively new idea, probably borrowed from its general use in the school systems and what not.

While the ealier koryu often had connections with aspects of Buddhism and/or Shinto, the more modern system have generally moved away from this practice. Also, arts such as Judo, Kyudo, (Atarashii) Naginata, Kendo - and to a lesser degree - Karate and Aikido, are all commonly taught within the school systems in Japan. Including the mokuso already used in the schools would of course make sense.

Various koryu sometimes attach themselves to specific deities or aspects of Buddhism or Shinto, and as such these koryu may have different content in their mokuto.

Makes sense to me, but can anyone add to this theory?

I'm off to shake my balls the old fashioned way: leverage enhanced percussive impact with the tatami!

Markaso
17th February 2002, 00:39
Mr. Scott -

I just recently was told that Mokuso has been a rather new concept too.apparently in the Meiji era it was much more prolific in the Budo sectors as before that I am not sure.

Mind you, just a thought, I heard a long time ago that the Samurai would do a Mokuso of sorts before doing battle or practice. Sort of a mind cleansing I was told.

I think that their do(way), was Bushido(way of the warrior) and that their main skill or art was with the Katana. I guess that would be Iyaido. So maybe,at least in Japan, this may have been one of the earlier forms in Mokuso in the arts. Mind you just a thought.

Jeff Hamacher
22nd February 2002, 00:18
just a tip to everyone who's been following this thread: the inaugural issue of Kendo World has an article on this very topic from one the of the top kendo instructors in japan. check out the mag's website for subscription info and other goodies.

Kendo World Magazine (http://www.kendo-world.com/)

i have no idea what the article contains, but it sounds like it may offer some insights. enjoy!

Markaso
23rd February 2002, 22:18
Mr. Hamacher -

Went to the site and found some short mpegs but no view on Mokuso. The site seems to be an overview of the magazine that they are putting out.

Jeff Hamacher
26th February 2002, 02:09
Originally posted by Markaso
Went to the site and found some short mpegs but no view on Mokuso.
sorry, Mark, i realize now that my post was misleading for what it didn't say: that the website does not contain the article in question! i checked out the website on a friend's recommendation, saw the mention of the article, and thought that some members might want to get this issue if they were interested. please accept my apologies, and read you later!

Markaso
26th February 2002, 13:43
Mr. Hamacher -

No need to apologize but thank you. I would, if you do get a copy later, like to know more about the article. I think it is interesting how others view and use Mokuso.

Nathan Scott
27th June 2002, 21:30
Hi all,

Trying to get caught up here on some E-budo...

I have a subscription to Kendo World, and as I just wrote in another thread, it is a great magazine.

The mokuso article is titled "Hokkai-Join and Reflections on the Meaning of Mokuso", and was written by Inoue Yoshihiko, Kendo Hanshi Hachidan.

It is quite interesting, but a bit thick if you are not well versed in Buddhism. I'll try to summarize some of the points from the article:

In Kendo, mokuso is performed while laying one hand in the palm of the other hand, placed in the lap with both palms up. This position apparently comes from Buddhism, and is called "Hokkai-Join" - which can be thought of as a "sign of power expressed through the body" (mudra). Those that have achieved enlightenment (Buddha) place the right hand on top of the left. Those that are still seeking enlightenment left hand on top of the right (there is apparently a similar rule for sitting crosslegged).

The author states that such mudra seem to be used only in esoteric forms of Buddhism these days, such as Mikkyo, and that such mudra are used in order to aid the proponent to make a connection between themselves and the Buddha being visualized.

In esoteric Buddhism, assuming the same postures of the various Buddha, combined with mokuso, is believed to help the proponent to "realise that one has hte cosmos within, and at the same time is a part of the cosmos".

The artice also makes references to the idea of "Gorin no sho", "Go rin to" and "Godai" (I'm not going to try to explain these ideas here!).

In addition to the Godai (five cosmological elements), there is a sixth element called "shiki" (consciousness). All six elements combined are believed to create all Buddhas, all sentient beings, and all material words. When the Buddha Dainichi portrays the five elements, he assumes the Hokkai-Join hand posture (used in Kendo), and adopts a different mudra (that of "Supreme Wisdom") to express the sixth element. The Hokkai-Join represents enlightenment.

As far as the mokuso part, the author defines Zazen as a method "intended to free the mind from bondage to any thought form, object or vision regardless of how holy it may be. One aims to reach a state of no-mind or nothingness."

However, it lates states that meditation in esoteric Buddhism is designed to focus on some kind of "meditation object", such as a mandala (Buddhist tantric diagrams).

The article goes on for another couple of pages, discussing the specifics of meditation in various forms (Soto and Rinzai Zen, and unusual methods used by some famous Budo-ka like Yamaoka Tesshu and Shirai Toru). There is a lot of interesting information there, and my continued summarizing would not do it justice. If this post is interesting, I would recommend picking up the magazine.

While the article is quite interesting, it does not state clearly "what you do in mokuso", but rather, what the history is, where the methods come from, how to perform them, and what the intended goals were.

We may be back to "perform it however your art defines it".

Hope this was useful,