EVIL DESTROYING YUMI
Kanjuro Shibata, Sensei
following talk was given by Shibata, Sensei at the Kyoto Dharma Study Group).
Good afternoon. It is
now the nicest season in Kyoto. How is your mind? Is everybody happy? Today my
talk is about kyudo and Hama-yumi. These ideas
have been transmitted from the past, but I will also talk about some of my own
ideas. Western archery is based on the idea of hitting the target. There is no
other reason for doing it. Western bows are made very scientically for that purpose.
However, Japanese bows are made from bamboo, which is cut by people. Since they
are made in a natural way, no two are the same, each one is different. To make
a yumi (bow) is very difficult and drawing a yumi is also difficult.
In western archery there
are also steps to drawing the bow, but the goal is completely different. Kyudo
is very difficult, but it makes no difference whether you hit the target or not.
In ancient Japan, kyudo was the highest form of ettiquette. A samurai also needed
to know the proper ettiquette associated with horsemanship, swordsmanship, and
spear. During the time of Nobunaga guns were introduced in Japan. They were more
accurate, but made a big noise when fired. The yumi was silent and one never
knew where the arrow came from, so the Tokugawa Shogun prohibited the use of
yumi in battle. The yumi then became a means of spiritual discipline and learning
ettiquette. It is also during this time that the Hama-yumi came into being.
The Hama-yumi or Evil-Destroying
yumi is used as a means of purification. To purify the environment and your own
spirit. The Buddhist image of Amitabha is sometimes shown holding a yumi and
ya. Why is the Buddhist ideal of peace and compassion connected with violent
weapons? Because they are not weapons of violence. They are weapons of purifcation.
About 700 years ago, a demon had appeared at the Imperial palace. It came out
at night and made the emperor ill. A skilled archer named Yorimasu Minamoto was
sent to the palace and he killed the demon with the first arrow. The emperor
regained his health and Yorimasu was promoted. This was the beginning of Hama-yumi.
What can we learn from Hama-yumi?
They are for cleaning
the mind. The Shihobarai was originally performed with Hama-yumi. Everyone is
surrouned by "hungry ghosts" - temptations, desires, negative thoughts and so
on. The haya, first arrow, is to exorsize these hungry ghosts. The
otoya, second arrow, symbolizes welcoming happiness since one has been purified.
How is all this connected to kyudo? Kyudo is based on strict rules of ettiquette.
It is competition with oneself. In sports one trys to be a champion, but kyudo
is not like that. The target is not a target. It is a mirror of your own mind.
People have seven basic
emotions or defilements. Happiness, anger, greed, expectation, sadness, fear,
and surprise. The aim of kyudo is to cut through these defilements in order to
experience mu, emptiness. Many people pactice meditation, but after fifteen
or twenty minutes one becomes restless and wants to be finished. Kyudo is standing
Zen. All of these hopes and desires and thinking while you are drawing the yumi,
such as "I want to hit the target, I want to have beautiful style," will cause
the ya fly of somewhere else.
Know yourself. Know your mind first and then you can practice kyudo. If your
mind is right you will hit the target naturally. It is the same in your whole
life, not only in kyudo. If you are always wondering about the target or the
result, nothing good can be accomplished. If you always look at yourself first
- your own feet, your own basis, then things will naturally go right.
The word "do" in kyudo
means "way". This concept of "do" is difficult to talk about. To practice the
way of kyudo is very difficult, although people think it is easy. This is also
true for the way of flowers, tea and so on. The practice of "do" has no concept
of a goal. The kind of kyudo I would like you to understand is not based on becoming
better and better. This discipline is a means of cleaning or polishing your own
mind through self-reflection. Life seems very long, but it is very short. It
is over in a flash.Hansei is the process of looking back over your life.
You reflect on your own deeds.
America and Europe are
highly industrialised. Traditionally, eastern nations have been more concerned
with development of the inner life, of mind. Do you think we are living in a
happy age? Computers, televisions - we have many such things. Our food and coffee
is instant, but does it taste good? Although we have scientific gadgets all around
us, something is missing. Aren't people forgetting their own mental and spiritual
development? I think human society has forgotten heart and mind. Wonderful mountains
are destroyed. The trees and soil taken away and large buildings put in their
place. The mountains cry, I think. The mountains say, "Why are the people cutting
off my head and my arms?" Sometimes the mountains become angry.
When rain falls the water
rushes down causing landslides. For the sake of future generations shouldn't
we be paying more attention to mind? In the old days people walked everywhere.
Now we drive our cars even a short distance to go shopping. Is this really convenient?
Shouldn't we think a little more about these things that are happening in the
I am very happy that on
such a beautiful May afternoon you have come to listen to my somewhat comical
talk. I hope from the bottom of my heart that you all attain happiness. Thank
you very much. I am used to speaking at universities where people don't listen
to me quite so sincerely.