Kyoshi's Technique of the Week


Technique of the Week (December 20th, 2009)

From Sensei Larry Link

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Empty and Begin Anew

As we reach the end of one year and the beginning of another, we
should pause to reflect on where we have been and where we are going.
We are all black belts of 2009, and white belts of 2010. Joy and
Vigor! - what possibilities we have!

At the start of anything, we can reflect on the concept of beginning.
In a fantastic book called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, the teachings of
Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki have been edited and compiled. He loved the
innocence and possibility of the beginner’s mind. In his words:

Wisdom is not something to learn. Wisdom is something that will come
out of your mindfulness. It is the readiness of the mind that IS
wisdom! So the point is to be ready for observing and ready for
thinking. This is called emptiness of the mind. If your mind is
empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In
the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind
there are few.

Hanshi is encouraging us in the same way when he says NOW is the
moment – Don’t wait. Don’t hold back. Do it NOW!

I don’t know about you, but 2009 was a crowded year! Like a room
crowed with things, the room will slowly lose its function. It is the
condition of our modern life that our minds are crowded and thus, in
danger of losing their function. Use the turn of the new year to
empty and begin anew. Master Suzuki offers us an excellent metaphor
to picture this emptiness:

Our understanding should not be just gathering many pieces of
information; instead of gathering, clear your mind. If your mind is
clear, true knowledge is already yours. When you listen with a pure,
clear mind, you accept as if you are hearing something you already
know. This is called emptiness, or omnipotent self, or knowing
everything. When you know everything, you are like a dark sky.
Sometimes a flashing will come through the dark sky. After it passes,
you forget and there is nothing left but the dark sky. The sky is
never surprised when all of a sudden a thunderbolt breaks through.
And when the lightning does flash, a wonderful sight may be seen!
When we have emptiness we are always prepared for watching the
flashing.

No matter what you have done in 2009, 2010 offers us new opportunity.
Do it now means that we cannot dwell in the past. And since none of
us are perfect, our karate practice offers us a living metaphor.
Master Suzuki:

When we reflect on what we are doing in everyday life, we are always
ashamed of ourselves. One of my students wrote to me saying, “You
sent me a calendar, and I am trying to follow the good mottos which
appear on each page. But the year has hardly begun, and already I
have failed!” The master said “Shoshaku jushaku” which means “to
succeed wrong with wrong” or “one continuous mistake.” A master’s
life could be said to be so many years of shoshaku jushaku!

Sensei Des Chaskelson has stated this simply by saying that “A black
belt is just a white belt who never quit.” As karateka of Ueshiro
Shorin-Ryu Karate USA, we are fortunate to be surrounded by many wise
teachers and metaphors: Never give up! Moving forward! Joy and
Vigor!

Wishing you all a very full (empty!) 2010….

Sensei Larry Link