Today’s kakejiku or scroll hanging in the tokonoma is an ichigyo brushed with the single character toki 刻 which is commonly translated as time. An ichigyo is a single line of calligraphy that is supposed to elicit a response or provoke the viewer into a different mental state.
Warriors of old were always well read individuals who were not only well versed in the military arts but also in religion, literature, poetry, Japanese and Chinese classics and art.
Generally, most kakejiku are supposed to be profound and many times what is left out is sometimes more important than what is put in. This scroll is no different. Its meaning is not readily understandable by simply just reading the character.
The character toki 刻 left standing alone means “to chop or engrave.” So an uneducated person could accidentally misinterpret that as its meaning. However when the character toki is added into the idiomatic expression jijikokkoku it means “from one moment to the next.” From here we extrapolate that it is supposed to mean “moment,” but that also is a little too juvenile. As we sit there and ponder the scroll’s deeper meaning, what arises could be the Buddhist’s perspective on impermanence and thus every moment that existed before or after this one moment is an illusion and that we can easy be deluded into thinking that those thoughts are real.
Since this scroll is more of the smaller size used in a chasitsu or tea house, we can theorize that its meaning is to make full use of this one moment for all other moments before may not have happened and all moments after may never come. All we have is this one moment – cherish it!
The best things are almost always plain and simple. When something is good but in a plain and simple way it is referred to as jimi (地味) in Japanese.
Martial artists naturally tend to shy away from things that are too ostentatious. This is because humility is a quality that all martial artists strive for. Something that has jimi is something taht is subdued with almost a plain sense to it.
When we look at the techniques, some may have a flashy quality but those aren’t usually the most effective. The most effective are the ones that are usually the most simplest.
People are that way too. Look around at the people in our lives. I am sure that most of us will see that the people whom we regard the highest are the people who are just “working class” people who have a kind of simple and subdued nature to them. We all have that one friend who is either pompous or overly dramatizes things – those are usually the people who are the most complicated.
As we look at the great martial arts masters of old, we see just normal people like you and me. The difference is not in how flashy they are but that they simply put in the work to get good which led us to think of them as great.
Today, the martial arts is, on a certain level, completely different. People tend to laud those with the loudest voices or showiest techniques. This is not budo. In Budo, jimi is simply putting in the work. We put in the work to get good – it’s that plain and simple.
Like most, Mondays always seem so blah. I thought I’d re-post something Furuya Sensei wrote about training in hopes that it might help us get over the doldrums of Mondays.
Museishi (無声詩)- The Unvoiced Poem – the message of our training is like a poem, the words are heard but the message lingers elsewhere silently. . . . To go deep into the art of Aikido is to go deep inside one’s self.
At the heart of Aikido training exists our true selves. This journey can be hard and arduous but it ultimately leads to joy and happiness. The first step begins with us and looking at our lives with a lens that is trained inward. We are our biggest problem and when we start to see that we can begin this journey inward. Until that time the world will be against us and every person and every thing will be our enemy. Give up the need to find the source of your problems outside yourself and begin to look inside of you. This is the only way out.