The meaning of dojo - Inoue Yoshihiko hanshi

Inoue Hanshi's speech on 'the meaning of dojo' for the new Auckland Kendo Dojo Opening Ceremony (12 July 2008):

"In relation to the speech given by President Sayer about the dojo, I would just like to comment about the meaning of what a dojo is: a dojo is a place for people to conduct the study of their life.

When we speak about this study, it is really the study about one's own heart. In the process of this study, we acquire the elements that make us human beings.

From the very beginning, from the time that we were born, we come to this “road” of life with a very pure heart, but in the process of growing up and coming of age, there are a lot of effects on our lives, things that we learn and the understanding that we come to have, and in this way, that pure heart of ours, we can say, becomes soiled or takes on some mistaken understanding about the meaning of life.

With time and the impact of the events that have occurred in our lives, some troubles accumulate in our hearts - some misunderstandings, confusion, illusions. However, we must have the desire and spirit to refresh ourselves, renew ourselves, and regain that purity: this is the meaning and purpose of our study of kendo.

In the history and development of the Japanese traditional cultures, there is a very specific type of theatre, called the Noh theatre. In the Noh theatre, in the early stages, there was a great Zeami Motokiyo. Zeami served to define what Noh theatre would become, formalizing Noh in his treatise the Kadensho.

Zeami articulated three points about the approach one should have in their life and study:

From the very beginning, the pure heart – do not forget the simple, uncomplicated, pure heart that we are born with, try to regain that, to find that once again.

The second element, from moment to moment in our lives, not just broad theoretical concepts, but in practice in everyday life - from moment to moment, to see the wonderful things in our lives, to be aware of them, to keep your heart full of wonder, you must never lose this.

The third element, even throughout your life, when you become senior in age, you have accumulated a wealth of experience, you've seen all, you’ve studied all, even then, look upon life, and find unexpected moments, see the fantastic nature of things, be surprised, continue to be full of emotion, and continue to see the beauty of one's life.

From the time that we are all born, and all throughout our lives, even until the moment that we die, be a person who is full of emotion, full of the joy of life. This is the thing to learn.

Today, I think all participants must remember that during our severe practice, a young child caught my attention. From the distant part of the room I looked over and heard his voice calling out so clearly 'yaaaaaaaa meeeennnnn'. It was so enthusiastic. It was this pure, heart full of passion that I wanted to point out to you all. Pease remember it

All of us acquire some education, and there is the impact of the environment over the years, and as a result our hearts become more complex. I want you to take care, to not lose that pure voice, that unobstructed, simple joy of doing things.

I would like you all to have this freshness of your life, to revere life. To have that pure voice that rings out. When you possess this and you are confronted with another person, in all tracks of life, if you have this emotion, this feeling, you will project this out, and engage the heart of your counterpart with it. They will be able to feel your heart as well. This is the kind of human being that I would like to ask everyone to try to become, to strive to become.

In the process of our study, also keep in mind that we would like to find that purity of life through practicing earnestly, and polish ourselves as human beings. We should strive to polish our hearts, wash away the confusion, and regain purity. A human being can do this in a way, like hearing music or seeing some beautiful art. The moment that we are confronted with some beautiful thing, we will have a fullness in our hearts, emotions pour forth, and as a result of this experience we can feel the joy and beauty of life. A heart of a person is the same thing, with it, you can move and inspire others, your joy can evoke joy in others.

If we each do this, and more and more people refine themselves, elevate themselves, become enlightened in this way, we will have a society full of such wonderful people, and society itself will become enlightened. This is the study we undertake, to make an enlightened society, bright and full of optimism. This must be our aim."

-Inoue Yoshihiko hanshi

For more details:

1. MMB! Kendo Blog: (Thanks to Vivian for the note taking!)

2. Auckland Kendo Club Blog:


Unknown said…
What beautiful words of the heart, what is left to say after hearing such wisdom?