In previous posts I have talked about the 心 Kokoro/Shin and how important this is in Japanese philosophy. The concept of Kokoro or Shin is not limited to Japan nor did it originate here, the usage of the term 心 and the linking of its importance to 気 Ki, Vital Energy dates back to ancient China (see Mencius 2A2). In this post I would like to take a look at the concept of 不動心 Fudoshin, an Immovable Spirit which is often associated with cultivation of 勇気 Yuki, Courage. This is very important in the martial arts, but is often misunderstood or, at the very least, not understood on a level deep enough to receive the positive benefits of incorporating it appropriately in our daily lives. Here, I would like to present some of the key points to help us understand this concept on a deeper level so that we can apply it to our training and receive the benefits of its cultivation in our lives.
(The Author at the Gateway to the Forbidden City, Bejing, China, March 2014)
(Inside the Forbidden City, Beijing, China 2014)
In order to better understand the meaning of the kanji, I think it is important to look at them individually and then again together, doing so can help us to see how they work together more clearly. Before we begin our deconstructive analysis, please let me just say that Fudoshin has nothing to do with stubbornness and everything to do with developing the ability to make decisions that are not reactive and made from a place of fear, anger or panic. Next, I will provide you with my personal interpretation of each of these kanji in the aims of supporting the above statement.
The first kanji 不 Fu also pronounced as Bu and Zu in Japanese is where some of the confusion may lay. When coupled with another, in this case, the second kanji, 動 Do or Ugo (ku) which means to move, changes the meaning to a negative or the opposite which, in this case, would become 'ummovable'. However, there is another translation for the second kanji which it to stir, change, or more importantly, when dealing with the 心 Kokoro, it means to be 'moved' or touched; affected or influenced by something. It is in this context that it should be interpreted in this case.
The 心 Koko/Shin is often closely related to and interconnected with 気 Ki, life's energy which is always moving as it vibrates. Sometimes the vibrations make us happy, at peace, and content, but other times it can move us in negative ways, if we let it, leading to pain, anger, and depression. Developing one's immovable spirit is simply another way to suggest that one not be moved in the wrong or negative (unhealthy) way by the ki which is all around and within us.
While on my tip to China this past March I felt this 気力 Ki Ryoku, energy especially in the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City (included in the photos in this blog)
(At the Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China, March 2014)
(Sign Describing the Shrine in the photo above, Forbidden City, Beijing, China 2014)
There are many kinds of Ki, as outlined in the Mencius texts,they can be internal as well as external forces pulling on our heart and affecting our spirit. If our heart is easily moved by these forces we will become susceptibility to acting or rather reacting to these forces in such ways that will eventually lead to unhealthy habits in our lives.Things such as 恐怖 Kyofu, Fear and 疑惑 Giwaku, Doubt if left to run freely in our lives will have very detrimental effects on us, changing who we are.
In the Karate Do context there are specific things that we refer to while teaching 組手 Kumite specifically, they are the following points that one wishes to instill in the hearts of their opponents and regret from entering their own heart:
驚く Odoroku, Surprised (in this case, leading to fear and hesitation)
恐れる Osoreru, Fear of (in this case the opponent's superior ability)
疑う Utagau, Doubt (suspecting that the opponent is better than they actually may be)
迷うMayou, To be at a loss of what to do (the feeling of helplessness in the match)
惑い Madoi, This is an extension of Mayou (leading to thinking that can be described as delusional)
All of these feelings are based in fear and doubt as discussed above and will inevitably lead to a feeling of helplessness and hesitation as a result of becoming separated from that power which some people refer to as the 'Flow'. However, someone who has developed an immovable spirit, in theory, should be insusceptible to falling victim to these and able to stay in the 'flow' no matter what the external conditions may be. To stand fearless in the face of fear and act appropriately is a fine example of Fundoshin.
Fudoshin is not about inaction it is about developing a spirit that is not paralyzed by the fears and doubts of indecision. The only way we can develop this is through consistent training and making it a point of facing our fears honestly and with a pure heart that is not clouded by the conditions listed above. My advice to anyone who is feeling the doubt creeping in is to go to the dojo and train. Don't just think about training, get out and do it! You will find something within yourself when you do and this strength of will and conviction is longing to be strengthened. It lives within all of us and often comes out in karate do practice. Through developing this condition we also develop something closely related to fudoshin, 克己心 Kokkishin this is often translated as Self-control but it is deeper than that because it is self-control of the spirit. It may take a lifetime to achieve this level of self-control but a lifetime of striving for such a thing will not be a wasted one.
(The Author on Campus at Quindao Univeristy, Beijing, China, March 2014)