On the front wall of the dojo is a hand drawn Japanese scroll, this depicts Bodhidharma, an Indian monk who died in 540AD. He took Zen Buddhism to China from India and also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of kungfu. He is considered the founder of the martial arts that spread throughout Asia, including the Karate we practice today. Throughout the ages developing oneself physically and developing ones mind have been closely tied together in the martial arts. The practice of meditation, calming ones mind to be clear in thought and action being a skill needed for combat as well as to be calm and happy in ones life.
It was this connection that lead me to start reading about and following Zen Buddhist philosophy over 25 years ago. I discovered that these practices were about developing ones own understanding and insight rather than just following what someone told you. This makes Zen both difficult and yet easy at the same time. At it’s core is the idea that through meditation and deep contemplation you can come to a deeper understanding that allows you to find true happiness regardless of what might be happening. As Da, my wife is a Thai Buddhist, in recent years this has lead me to also be involved with the Thai Buddhist community, although the practices are slightly different, the underlying philosophy towards life is the same.
We have been going to the Thai Buddhist temple in Geelong for some time, and so were really please when the head monk accepted our invitation to come and run meditation and do a blessing at the dojo. For me my martial arts and Buddhist philosophy are inseparable, so it felt very appropriate to have them come as part of our traditional start of year training session. For Da, who has grown up as a Thai Buddhist to be able to have the monks, come to the dojo along with a lot of the students and a lot of our Thai friends from Geelong and Melbourne was a great honor and extremely important event as well.
This year the Kagami Biraki training session consisted of 45 minutes going through all our basics then finishing with 20 minutes of Kata, the 7 monks came just in time to see the last couple of Kata. They then performed a traditional Thai Buddhist blessing and meditation. As part of this we also shared food with them and everyone ate together. To finish up the head monk gave everyone a string bracelet for good luck and wrote on the wall above were we walk through to the change rooms, also for good luck.
I had lot’s of really positive feedback from those who attended this and have seen lot’s of those at the dojo continuing to wear the bracelets given to them. It was an opportunity for people to see and be part of a cultural practice that they normally wouldn’t get a chance to see. Meditation and time for reflection is always a good thing and hearing those who live their lives this way reminding us of that and helping with the practice of it is definately something I feel worth while.
For anyone who didn’t get one of the string bracelets I have some given to me by the head monk to give to those who would like one. Just see me to get one.
There are 144 photo’s from the day on Google. Google Photo’s
Osu Shihan Malcolm.