Sunday, July 22, 2012 (06:00 -06:00)
Learn Kyudo, a living tradition of meditative archery, a powerful and highly refined contemplative practice.
Centuries ago in Japan, archery was regarded as the highest discipline of the Samurai warrior. Then, as the bow lost its significance as a weapon of war, and under the influence of Buddhism, Shinto, Daoism and Confucianism, Japanese archery evolved into Kyudo, the \"Way of the Bow\", a powerful and highly refined contemplative practice.
Kyudo, as taught by Kanjuro Shibata XX, is not a competitive sport and marksmanship is regarded as relatively unimportant. According to Shibata Sensei, a master of the Heki Ryu Bishu Chikurin-ha school of Kyudo, the ultimate goal of Kyudo is to polish the mind.
The practice of Kyudo is deceptively simple. Students receive instruction in the basic form, \"shichido\", or seven coordinations, in 5 classes: how to shoot a Japanese bow and ritualised movements. After the initial training, practice begins by shooting at a straw target only two meters away. When a degree of proficiency is attained the practice expands to include 28 meter shooting.
Working with the precision of the form, a natural process gradually unfolds through which the practitioner has the opportunity to see the mind more clearly. The target becomes a mirror which reflects the qualities of heart and mind at the moment of the arrow\'s release. This distinguishes Kyudo from archery where simply hitting the target is the goal. Kyudo is \"Standing meditation\", and as such, is a true contemplative art. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the renowned Tibetan meditation master, said, \"Through Kyudo one can learn to live beyond hope and fear, how to be\".
This programme is open to both beginners and experienced students. Men and women of all ages are able to practice Kyudo. Physical strength is not a factor. Children can begin at around eight years of age.
Equipment is provided. Dechen Chöling has recently constructed an elegant „azuchi“, a traditional Japanese structure in which the targets are placed.
“One is not polishing one\'s shooting style or technique, but the mind. The dignity of shooting is the important point. This is how Kyudo differs from the common approach to archery. In Kyudo there is no hope. Hope is not the point. The point is that through long and genuine practice your natural dignity as a human being comes out. This natural dignity is already in you, but it is covered up by a lot of obstacles. When they are cleared away, your natural dignity is allowed to shine forth\" - Shibata Sensei.
The Kyudo path is one of self-discovery and ultimately, self-realization. Although the path may be long, there are vast rewards along the way. It all begins with the first shot.
Onyumishi Kanjuro Shibata is a 20th generation master bowmaker and archer and 3rd generation \"Bowmaker to the Emporer of Japan\" (retired).