Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Change in Perspective Can Reveal to Us Our True Teachers

I know that for most of you reading this blog, karate-do is more than just a hobby. I know that it has and continues to teach you many things that reach far beyond the walls of your Dojo into every aspect of your life thus changing your perspective of the world around you. I know that you are a different person now than you were before you started practising karate-do. I know this because I most definitely am. I can say with certainty that I would not be where I am today if I had never began practising Karate-do. I can also take this statement one step further and state that I would not be who I am today if I had never began practising karate-do. I believe that this change is a direct result of the shift in my perspective that the various experiences I have had caused within me. A great deal, if not all of my life changing experiences have been a result of my relationship with karate-do.

When our perspectives change they sometimes allow us to to learn very important life lessons from common things in our everyday lives. Things all around us and even our mundane experiences become our teachers. In this post I would like to discuss one such example of this phenomena looking at a hidden message within Chinese and Japanese characters; Kanji. In this post I will share with you one example from separate kanji and ask that you consider how this hidden message may influence and enhance your training.

The picture above is a very famous perspective test often used to illustrate how we can go back and forth in our minds regarding what we see and perceive to be true.

An Important Aim of Karate-do
One of the core aims of karate-do is the enhancement of the quality of the lives of its practitioners. We strive to strengthen our bodies and minds in an attempt to improve ourselves ideally leading to happiness and contentment. There are as many different definitions of the term 'success' as there are people who have ever contemplated its meaning. I am not trying to define success here in this post or even in this blog. I believe that all of the various definitions presented to describe the process to attainment of success and the state of being successful are important and valid because we each are striving for our own form of success.

In our training we learn the important lesson of もう一同 Mou ichi dou, One more time. Of 諦めない Akiramenai, to Never give up. This is quite possibly one of the most profound lessons in this and other martial arts because it is this drive that we develop within ourselves that pushes us to do one more push-up, to take one more step, to try one more thing, one more time, that in the end leads us to our goal. This message is exemplified when we compare the following kanji:
Most people Stop; 止まる Tomaru just before they get it Right;  正しい Tadashii.

Sometimes it only takes One more step あと一歩 Ato ippo. One more try あと一歩 Ato ippo.
When you think about it, the process of karate-do training is really a long and studious one of building upon all that we have already done in order to be prepared to take that one more, most important step; あと一歩 Ato ippo.
Please take another look at the two kanji written above, if you haven't already noticed, and are very similar. The only difference is one very important stroke of the brush; Just One Line changes the meaning from "Right; correct; proper, or perfect" to "Stop; halt; to stay in one place."
Sometimes it only takes One Thing to make All the Difference!

(Change Same Signpost from image search)

Let's look at another couple of kanji and compare them in the same way to see if this isn't just a fluke. This time I will take two kanji that are juxtaposed in their meaning: 辛い Tsurai which means painful and is often used to describe suffering. But, with just one more stroke of the brush 辛い becomes 幸せ Shiawase which means "Happiness; good fortune; luck; and blessing." By simply taking one more step あと一歩 Ato ippo, and writing one more line in our life's story, we can change our suffering into a blessing. I believe that this is one of the major lessons that kartate-do is trying to teach us through its process. A process known as 達成感 Tasseikan; the process of achieving fulfillment.

I look forward to 2017 being a productive year for us and that our unique perspectives will help us to see the important lessons all around us more clearly, allowing us to grow in leaps and bounds as we actively participate in our own personal development throughout the year.

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