Thread: Ki is Kindness.
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Old 12-14-2010, 05:57 AM   #110
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Ki is Kindness.

Hello Matthew,

Here are a few comments on the rest of your earlier post (#38). Be prepared for a long post.

Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Also, if sometimes we can look at the roots of a compound to understand it's meaning, but not always, how can we tell when it's appropriate to do so?
PAG. Consider the word Hiroshima. This is written in Japanese in four different ways: 廣島, 広島, ひろしま, and ヒロシマ. All four are used in modern Japanese. I think people would agree that the word designates the city in Japan on which the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. However, the sense, the meaning, is different. 広 hiro means 'wide' and 島 shima means 'island'. However, there is little point in looking at the roots of the compound in order to understand what this word means. When people think of Hiroshima, they think about a particular city, not about wide islands.

With other words, which are not proper names, there is rarely a need to understand the meaning of a compound by looking at the roots, unless you want to speculate about how the Chinese or Japanese originally composed the word, or unless you hear the word, out of context, and want to know what the components actually are. Thus, kikaki 気化器 means 'carburetor' and it will not make any difference to the meaning of the word to know the meaning of each of the constituents, though it might be interesting to consider how the word was actually created. Equally, 起原, 期限, and 機嫌 are all read as kigen, but 気 is not a constituent.

Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I'm fairly confident I have heard genki described as something akin to "the fundamental nature of ki," in the teachings of Tsubaki Okami Yashiro; assuming I am remembering correctly and not missing some nuance, doesn't this lend some authority to the least in terms of an authentic spiritual point of view?
PAG. I do not believe that KI has a fundamental nature, or has one basic concept. Here are a number of definitions, all taken from the Kojien 広辞苑, which is the Japanese equivalent of the OED. There are five core definitions. I give first (a) the Japanese, then (b) the reading, (c) a very rough translation, and finally (d) a few compounds or expressions.

1 (a) 天地間を満たした、宇宙を構成する基本と考えるもの。また、その動き。
(b) Tenchikan wo mitashita, uchu wo kosei suru kihon to kangaeru mono. Mata, sono ugoki.
(c) Something thought to be fundamental, which constitutes the earth / universe and which completely occupies the space between heaven and earth. The movement of this fundamental element.
(d) 気象, kisho: weather; 気候, kiko: climate; 天気, tenki: weather

2 (a) 生命の原動力となる勢い。活力の源。
(b) Seimei no gendoryoku to naru ikioi. Katsuryoku no minamoto.
(c) The force that is the prime mover of life. The source of vitality/vigor.
(d) 気勢, kisei: ardor; 精気, seiki: vitality; 元気, genki: vigor, health

3 (a) 心の動き・状態・働きを包括的に表す語。ただし、この語が用いられる個々の文脈において、心のどの面に重点を置くかは様々である。
(b) Kokoro no ugoki, jotai, hataraki wo hokatsuteki ni arawasu go. Tadashi, kono go ga mochiirareru koko no bunmyaku ni oite, kokoro no dono men ni juten wo oku no ka wa samazama de aru.
(c) Utterance(s) that inclusively/comprehensively express(es) the movement, circumstances and working of the heart/mind. However, according to the various contexts in which the utterance(s) is/are used, there are various ways of emphasizing particular aspects of the heart/mind.
(d) 気を回す, ki wo mawasu; suspect, give play to the imagination, make suspicious conjectures
気が向く, ki ga muku: in the mood (for doing something)
気が狂う, ki ga muruu: go mad; take leave of one's senses
心気, shinki: mood
気を利かす, ki wo kikasu: have one's wits about one
気負い立つ, kioi tatsu: nerve oneself for a struggle

4 (a) はっきりとは見えなくても、その場を包み、その場に漂うと感ぜられるもの。
(b) Hakkiri to wa mienakute mo, sono ba wo tsutsumi, sono ba ni to kanzeraru mono.
(c) Even though it cannot be seen, something that envelops a particular place or is felt to be in that place.
(d) 気体, kitai: gas; 気圧, kiatsu: atmospheric pressure; 鬼気, kiki: eerie;霊気, reiki: mysterious atmosphere; 雰囲気, fun'iki: ambience, atmosphere.

5 その物事来の性質を形作るような要素。特有の香や味。
Sono monogoto rai no seishitsu wo katachizukuruyona yoso. Tokuyu no kaori ya aji.
The ingredient that gives form to the particular character for a thing. Characteristic smell or taste.
気の抜いたビール, ki no nuita biiru: beer that has lost its taste.

What is ‘an authentic spiritual point of view'? One that is ‘really' spiritual, or a view, whether ‘spiritual' or not, that someone is entitled to have? I cannot really accept that the notion [that genki is akin to the fundamental nature of KI] is itself spiritual. Of course, someone can well include this notion as part of a general spiritual view, but this is to add something extra, in my opinion, as Shinto might well do. The closest the Kojien comes to any notion of spiritual is in (3), with the mention of 心 kokoro, which has a wide range of meanings.

Best wishes,


Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-14-2010 at 05:59 AM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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