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The Search for a Healthy Mind

Kawaraban No. 69
by the Head of Tendokan, Kenji Shimizu

I wish you a happy New Year.

It has become a general custom to regenerate at home during the days from the end of the year to the beginning of the New Year. Talking of regeneration sounds good, and I read at leisure all the books and magazines, which piled up in the meantime. And among them there were articles, to which I consent spontaneously. The previous elderly chief priest Taido Matsubara of the Ryugen temple of the Rinsai sect wrote as follows: “In the West people say that a healthy mind lodges in a healthy body, but in the East people say conversely that a healthy mind creates a healthy body”, and that is quite a difference.

I as well have stated the same opinion in the preceding issue of the Kawaraban, and according to Mr. Matsubara is it a Western conception that first of all a healthy body is a premise, and he explains that conversely the East puts emphasis on a ‘healthy mind’. And I think that this is a very interesting hint. He assumes that body and mind should not be considered separately. If the spiritual conception is healthy the movements of the body will become healthy, too. This is the truth.

According to that Zen priest “is it a basic principle in Christian belief that life is wonderful, but in Buddhism is the starting point that life is sultry”, and I can remember articles, which explained the differences between those religious views easily to understand. During my foreign seminars I come into contact with a lot of foreigners, and the transmission of the culture of the Japanese Mind has helped me personally to very many positive experiences.

Nowadays there is nearly no day without some report about education problems, and these problems are quite serious. But critics and the Board of Education etc. are totally frustrated because the results are not quite as hoped although they met repeatedly, and there is the impression that the scene is far away of any problem solving. It is useless to discuss education without considering the children, who play an essential part.

I am not quite sure, whether the Japanese became rich with a material attitude, which is dyed by a way of economic thinking, but they have lost the strength to think by themselves. In an egoistic manner they do not look back to their history and nature, and from a spiritual point of view we have become a poor nation. The reason for such a bad development of the Japanese society is not only the dissolute mind of the children. There will be no new beginning, if first of all the whole society does not find back to a healthy spiritual attitude.

I had the intention to let my son, who became Uchi-Deshi now, visit different Dojos in Japan to gain experience, and casually I talked to one of the best German students about this matter. Thereupon he (Olaf Mueller) gave me the clear answer that “it might be a better alternative sending my son abroad instead”. O. Mueller has a doctor’s degree, he is responsible in the government for the communal water resources, and he is in charge of more than 1000 subordinates. Of course he is person, who has understood Tendoryu Aikido especially well, and he is a trainer, whom I trust very much after 25 years of friendly relationship. And this student of mine told me as a Japanese with these words implicitly that “he feels unhappy about today’s Japan”, and that is a memory, which resulted in very complex thoughts on my side.

How does a healthy mind look like? If we explain this from the standpoint of a person studying Aikido, someone has a healthy mind if he acts instantly with courage and readiness according to what he judges as honest. After all we call this courageous action. And this probably is an important criterion, which today’s Japan has lost.

For example, even if we become technically better and even if we become a little stronger, if this goes not together with courageous action, there will be no righteousness.

© translated by Ichiro Murata and Peter Nawrot 02/2007