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Way of the Samurai 3:4

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It's rare for such an old wooden building to survive in Japan in private possession. For Master Otake, the continuity of the school proves the rightness of the founder's teaching. The founder had served and fought for a great family for many years. But when their fortunes declined, he decided that there was much wrong with a way of life that had no future. When he retired to Katori Shrine, he taught that the art of the sword is the way to peace. His main teachings are on three scrolls that have been copied thousands of times by the masters. The teachings are secret, to be given to the students only when they reach high enough standards. The master gives the first scroll after about 5 years. The second, after 10 years. And the third is given only to the most advanced and dedicated students after more than 15 years. But then, only if they are more than 42 years old. The scrolls are not just about fighting techniques, but include religion and philosophy. All these are combined in a comprehensive strategy for life that governs everything, advising even how to choose the position of your house. The warriors studied Yin and Yang and they used this whenever they would think about building a house or a castle. At such times they would study the balance between Yin and Yang to determine the proper location and position. They knew that however much effort they put into the fortification, if the surroundings were wrong, it would all come to nothing. For example, these rules dictated that to the north you must have mountains, that to the east you must have running water, and to the south you must have a broad open expanse. This is sensible because the sun shines from the south and so it is better for your fields. To the west you should have a large road. These rules are summed up in the rhyme "Turtle-snake to the north. Blue-dragon to the east." "Red-sparrow to the south. White-tiger to the west." Master Otake chose the building site for his own new house by these principles. He was uprooted by the building of the huge international airport for Tokyo. And the government helped him to buy a new site. It was not easy to find somewhere that followed the rules. But he succeeded. To the east, there is a small stream. To the north, a hill. There are open fields to the south. While to the west, there is a road. These same rules were used to determine the site of the emperor's castle in Tokyo and many other important sites in Japan. The school has always drawn strength from its country setting. It has not depended on the whims of great men. It has been separated from the affairs of state. One reason, perhaps, why it has survived. Master Otake himself was a farmer until he retired to concentrate on the school. When he was forced to move his house, he brought two important things with him. One was the training hall, the dojo, taken apart and reassembled on the new site. The other was the ornamental trees that he had trained in the traditional Japanese manner, branch by branch, into the perfect informal shape. He is a deeply traditional Japanese. And therefore, his new house is built on the ancient pattern. He lives in it with his wife, a son and his wife, and a grandchild. The young Otake began to study at the school during WWII. As a young Japanese, he knew that he would be asked to die for his emperor, but he did not know if he had the strength to do that. He heard about the school and went there as a student to see if they could teach him this sword of courage. After a rather dull and brief military service, he returned to the farm, and continued as a student of swordsmanship. His master taught him the samurai code of honour, Bushidō, the way of the warrior. For Master Otake, the popular idea of Bushidō is overromantic and misleading. Outside of Japan, people think that Bushidō is synonimous with hara-kiri. Actually, the meaning of Bushidō is to achieve something in the world and then to be able to throw away this body and to accept death. But this concept is very easily misunderstood. It's really quite different from just going out and dying. If you fail to achieve something, and say, "Oh, I must kill myself", it's not a very productive way of thinking. Bushidō rejects that irresponsible way of thinking. If you have tried to perform some act and failed, there is also in Bushidō the concept of continuing to live even though you may have to live in shame. If there is a chance to right the wrong you've done, then you should do so. This is the real Bushidō. The samurai reached extraordinary levels of skill in fighting. They also believed that honour was more important than life. So they fought without fear and were formidable because of that. Their code was harsh. But at its best, it led to lives of courage and deaths of great dignity. To be a great swordsman required more than physical skill and willpower. Amongst the subjects that they studied was a special mystical form of Buddhism. They used it in a practical way, weaving spells to cure illness and to defend against death in battle. Master Otake is well known as a healer. Many people come to him for treatment. When patients come to see him, he makes a spell suitable for their particular illness. The drawing is a shorthand for a complex set of gestures. Within the teachings of the arts of war, we find the writing of the nine signs or characters. This practice is a major contribution of mystical Buddhism to the arts of strategy. There are nine such signs and they are called Rin, Pyō, Tō, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen. These nine signs came originally from India, they are mantras. Clasping the hand in this way makes a mantra. This is "Rin". Each sign has a chant with it. This one's is [Chanting] All the characters have a significance related to the spell.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 94
Posted by: halfleaf on Apr 8, 2010

Way of the Samurai 3:4

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