Saturday, October 24, 2009


People argue a lot about whether some art is a "jutsu" or a "do." They miss a simple fact. In Japanese culture, there is a way to do everything. There is a proper way for everything to be done. Not just those things that have been codified as arts with names. There is, for example, a proper way to wring out a towel.
"Huh? You've got to be kidding." I can hear people thinking. There really is. The idea is to find the best way to do something. All the arts we study and practice, judo, sado, kado, iaido and on and on, are little ways. They are supposed to point us at the big Way of life. But it's not just the named arts. Everything has a way. The unspoken lesson of Japanese culture is that there is a way for everything we do, every day. Even simple things like how to hold a pen, pencil or brush, or how we hold and drink our tea, or how we wring out a towel.
The ancient idea is that if the outer ways are correct, the heart and mind will also be correct. Unfortunately, I've known too many elegant and polished scoundrels to believe this to be true. I do believe that we can approach everything we do with the idea that there is a way hidden within it. A friend of mine taught me about the way of standing. She worked with me and taught me how to stand. Her way was much better than what I had been doing, and had the benefit of making my back feel better. I wish she was closer because I'm sure she could teach me a lot about the way of walking.
All of these little ways should give us clues about the way of living. None of the little ways is complete in itself, but they all point a finger at how to approach the rest of life, the physical, the mental and the emotional.