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mathewjgano
07-04-2008, 01:37 PM
The Way of the Kami! (kannagara)
The well-practiced sword
Must be made transparent and shining
Through the grace of the divine.

I'm curious about the possible meaning behind the 3rd line, particularly the term "transparent;" and was hoping some folks with a linguistic bent might shed some light on the subject for me.

Obviously this passage has spiritual connotations, but I'm not necessarily looking for a spiritual answer here, so feel free to interpret the message how you see fit.
Thanks in advance,
Matt

jennifer paige smith
07-04-2008, 03:54 PM
I'm curious about the possible meaning behind the 3rd line, particularly the term "transparent;" and was hoping some folks with a linguistic bent might shed some light on the subject for me.

Obviously this passage has spiritual connotations, but I'm not necessarily looking for a spiritual answer here, so feel free to interpret the message how you see fit.
Thanks in advance,
Matt

Think of 'polishing' through use, care, and cleansing (misogi).


The last several days Doka have been very inspiring and timely, wouldn't you say?

mathewjgano
07-04-2008, 11:31 PM
Think of 'polishing' through use, care, and cleansing (misogi).

The last several days Doka have been very inspiring and timely, wouldn't you say?

You know, lately I've been signing on directly into the forums page and so I've been missing the doka, but I do find they often seem very timely and always inspiring. I've wondered if Jun picks them or if they're on some loop.
I was thinking the "transparent" part probably referred to cleansing as well. It brings to my mind the idea of being like a lense: since it is through our state of being (the quality of our mind and body) that we sense and experience reality, it seems a fitting analogy that a greater transparency allows for a clearer vision/sense of things.
Whatever the actual case, it certainly was a thought-provoking doka...which is what I always like about them. I like anything that causes the creative centers to percolate.

Peter Goldsbury
07-05-2008, 01:36 AM
Here is the Japanese text:

かんながら
練り上がりたる
御剣は
すめよ光れよ
神の恵みに

Kannagara
neri agari taru
mi tsurugi wa
sumeyo hikareyo
kami no megumi ni

With a translation by John Stevens:

Practice the way of the gods
continually by
wielding the sacred sword
use it to spread clarity and light
and the blessing of the gods.

mathewjgano
07-05-2008, 03:24 AM
Here is the Japanese text:

かんながら
練り上がりたる
御剣は
すめよ光れよ
神の恵みに

Kannagara
neri agari taru
mi tsurugi wa
sumeyo hikareyo
kami no megumi ni

With a translation by John Stevens:

Practice the way of the gods
continually by
wielding the sacred sword
use it to spread clarity and light
and the blessing of the gods.

Thank you, Mr. Goldsbury. Do you know why the translations are different? Could one be said to be more correct than another?

Peter Goldsbury
07-05-2008, 06:52 AM
I have no idea.

I know that Abe Seiseki has collected O Sensei's douka and I have seen other translations, but I do not know which one Jun uses.

I came across the translation by Mr Stevens in his latest book, which I have been using in connection with the columns I am writing.

Josh Reyer
07-05-2008, 09:14 AM
Thank you, Mr. Goldsbury. Do you know why the translations are different? Could one be said to be more correct than another?

Japanese in general, and poetry in particular, is very vague from a grammatical viewpoint. It's a high context language, which means a lot is understood via context. This makes translating poetry an almost impossible challenge. Unless there's a misunderstanding on a word, various translations can all be different, and yet, "correct".

In this case, the problem word is "sumeyo", which is an imperative meaning "Be clear", as in a clear, settled liquid. Imagine a bowl of miso soup when the miso has settled to the bottom, leaving the water clear. Or lake water becoming clear after stirred up mud as settled. Or "clarified" wine. Thus Jun's source translates it as "transparent", and Steven's as "clarity".

I have issues with Steven's translation in other places, though. In particular, I can see no place in the original indicating "spreading" anything, and sumeyo and hikareyo are imperatives, not nouns to be "spread". Jun's source looks the most accurate to me. I'd translate it (without attempting to retain any of the poetry):

The Way of the Kami
The well-polished
Sacred sword
Be clear and shine
By the grace of the kami.

mathewjgano
07-05-2008, 12:48 PM
Thank you both, Peter and Josh. My understanding of Japanese is pretty "hit and miss" so I appreciate your lending me some insight (I'll give it right back when I'm finished with it).

jennifer paige smith
07-05-2008, 04:52 PM
Thanks from me ,too.

The particular translation in this case was supervised by former doshu and edited by Seiseki Abe.

A further reflection on this doka inspires a memory of a day training with my teacher Anno Sensei where he communicated that there is a suggestion in working in aiki sword that we are cutting through veils of illusion to uncover a place of stillness through the great works of misogi. When we cut purely we penetrate the liquid of time and enter into a peaceful/still state: free of illusion. We polish ourselves and become our best selves or "someone who people will love to train with."

Suru
07-05-2008, 09:01 PM
As uncool as it is to refer to my own novel, the main character pictures himself in a giant hourglass, as a grain of sand. He yearns to become part of the surrounding glass (which is made from sand), so that he may allow others to see right through him. This feeling of ultimate liberation of ego/fear he can only hope for, since some others would take advantage of this opportunity to strike. I believe O'Sensei wanted each member of our global society to become transparent (unafraid of each other). It seems to me that we would all have to do it together. To varying degrees of conscious cognition, everyone wants world peace. We want to step out of the shadows but survive at the same time. This is 3.0 x 10^8 times easier said than done.

Drew