The Brain in the Abdomen (Hara)
Kawaraban No. 71 & 72
by the Head of Tendokan, Kenji Shimizu
Since the past there are examples like ‘pit of the stomach’, ‘gut feeling’, Haragei (‘to express oneself without words’), ‘sit down’ (in Japanese ‘lowering the hips’) and so on, and many sayings come into my mind, which are related to the abdomen. I think, that I hold a certain authority regarding the close relationship between mind and body, as I have continuously practiced Budo for a long time. All creatures have life force, and there is a proverb about the instinct of defense saying that even a worm writhes if he is being stepped upon (in Japanese: ‘even a small insect consist by one half of spirit’).
Shouldn’t we advise people about the necessity to think even more about their way of living? The other day an 85 years old man said in a journal that “he possesses social status and money, but that he would ‘throw away’ all these things, if would in exchange be able to feel ten years younger!” Everybody becomes older, but only if you become older you will understand the marvelousness of youth and health; unfortunately most people often do not keep this clearly in mind.
Well, Ki controls the body to optimize health. From ancient times it is said “we train mind and body with Budo”, and the people attempted especially to achieve perfection of Ki power. Probably we will find in every sport the idea of a persistent mind. People, who are able to train their main during practice, become very strong.
In contrary to the words of above-mentioned 85 years old man it is said that in ancient times the advanced level Samurai, who often had to deal with life and death, trained their mind with Zen in order not to fear death. They took methods of training and hardships, which today’s people are not able even to think about. Nowadays Zen seems more to be more a temporary fashion. In contrast in ancient times there was a struggle with the own self because of the responsibility for the family and towards the state.
Perhaps this time it became a somewhat tough issue.
Every human being is able to concentrate on the center of his body (Hara), and although the mental state of everybody is different, for our life we should be ready for the vicissitudes of life as far as possible.
© translated by Ichiro Murata and Peter Nawrot 01/2008