How to Use 初心 Shoshin to Protect Your Bujinkan Training

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Rain brings Summer Flowers to the Bujinkan Hombu. photo by Michael Glenn

During the tea break today, Nagato Sensei said some profound things. He began by speaking about how Soke has said that we should not teach bad people. Then he gave some examples.

Nagato named names. He listed some of the bad people that have passed through the Bujinkan. He aired some dirty laundry with details I won’t write about here. Then he also shared how they are dealt with by Soke and the Japanese instructors.

Nagato commented on the interesting fact that Soke does not eliminate these people from the Bujinkan. He said we need these bad people around to learn from them. They are the devils we know. Keep your enemies closer, as they say.

He said in the Bujinkan, we need to be capable of doing worse than the devil himself. He used the mafia or the yakuza as an example of evil. They may be bad, but we are worse. He said they should be afraid of us.

But then Nagato explained that the most important of all is to protect the goodness in yourself. Don’t allow your ability to destroy evil, or to be more terrifying than the devil, color your own heart black. How do you stay clear of the bad around you?

Nagato used the word 初心 Shoshin. This is beginner’s mind, or the spirit of a newborn. It can also be your original motivation for training. He said people forget why they began training. Then they lose their way.

They get caught in ideas of rank, power, politics, or building territories. And the purity of budo is lost to them. This purity that can both protect and destroy is a gift. Throw it away at your own peril.

Michael GLENN
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