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Old 06-30-2011, 08:30 AM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Shugyo: Mindfully Train

Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
May I ask for some clarification? What does "mindful" mean?

I dunno. Mindfulness, how does it work?

Thank you very much for your post.
Hello Cliff,

I am going to play devil's advocate here and question Lynn's whole approach. His column is an elegantly poetic meditation on the attributes of a certain kind of daily training, but it seems to me to assume that we all know both what this training consists in: what shugyou is and what mindfulness is. So we might want to say, on reading his column, "Yes, yes, this is exactly what I mean by training" / "Yes, yes, this is exactly what I have been doing (or trying to do) everyday in the dojo." Thus readers of his column may be congratulating themselves thankfully, because this is what they have been doing / aiming to do all the time, but Lynn has put it so elegantly.

I will discuss mindfulness later, after I have focused on shugyou. Lynn is using the Japanese term, rather than the accepted English translation of training, or ascetic training. Why? Like its linguistic cousin kuzushi, shugyou has an aura, and because of its Japanese quality it is assumed to convey more than the sum total of the English equivalents, even to those who are unfamiliar with Japanese. Training? Well, we do this every day. But shugyou? Ahh, this is something with the extra nuance conveyed by the Japanese term. But what?

To see what I mean here, consider the other possibilities for the title of Lynn's column:
Keiko: Mindfully Train
Renshuu: Mindfully Train
What is the extra ingredient that Shugyou has that the other terms do not?

Well, let us go back to the Japanese.

One problem is that shugyou is both written in two ways—and Morihei Ueshiba seems to have used both ways of writing indiscriminately (I am basing this opinion on the Japanese originals of Budo Renshuu and Budo). Here are the two ways: 修業, 修行.

In modern Japanese, 修業 can be read as shuugyou (with an extra u) and basically means learning something, like an academic subject or an art, including a martial art like aikido. There is no extra ingredient beyond the basic learning process.

The other way of writing the term 修行, conveys a different meaning. In modern Japanese there are two meanings:

(1) In Buddhism, shugyou means carrying out the teachings of the Buddha, in order to achieve enlightenment. A good example would be the training regimen pursued by the ‘marathon' monks on Mount Hiei in Japan. Kukai, also, has many examples in his writings of this kind of shugyou and usually it has to include three ‘secrets', one of which could well be interpreted as mindfulness, but not, I think, with the meaning that Lynn intends.

(2) The second meaning of shugyou involves both sides of the bun-bu (文武) equation and I will quote and translate the Japanese text of the Koujien.

Seishin wo kitae, gakumon・gigei nado wo samemigaku koto. Mata, sono tameni, shukoku wo hemeguru koto (musha shugyou).
Forging the spirit, polishing one's life goals by training in academic disciplines or in the technical arts (like aikido). In addition, someone who wanders around the country in order to pursue such training. (Wandering samurai).

I think that a shugyousha subordinates everything else in life to the requirements of what it is that demands the shugyou. Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba were prime examples of musha shugyousha in martial arts. However, there are also cases of similar extreme examples in academic pursuits, such as the nativist scholar Motoori Norinaga.

From these definitions and examples, I do not believe that shugyou simply means one's ordinary daily training with the addition of mindfulness. I think this is far too simple and, in any case, is already conveyed by the term keiko or (more strongly, involving repetitions that might well hurt) by renshuu.

As for mindfulness, for me a good place to start is the OED.

"mindful, a.

1. a.1.a Taking thought or care of; heedful of; keeping remembrance of. Also const. with obj. clause and how or that.

a 1340 Hampole Psalter lxii. 7 If J was myndefull of the of my bede. 1382 Wyclif Heb. ii. 6 What thing is man, that thou art myndeful of him? 1579 B. Googe tr. Mendoza's Prov. 49 That where hee [sc. Cæsar] was verie mindefull of all other thinges, hee neuer would remember any iniurie doone vnto him. 1661 Marvell Corr. Let. xxvi. Wks. (Grosart) II. 63 We beseech you be mindfull that the 29th of May be kept for a thanksgiving. 1736 Berkeley Discourse Wks. 1871 III. 421 In all their actions to be ever mindful of the last day. 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. iv. I. 428 He had always been mindful of his health even in his pleasures. 1873 Black Pr. Thule x, Mindful of the fastidious ways of his friend.

b.1.b Having remembrance of. nonce-use.

1859 Tennyson Geraint & Enid 191 Guinevere, not mindful of his face‥desired his name.

c.1.c const. with inf.

1581 J. Bell Haddon's Answ. Osor. 420 To be Baptized in Churchyardes‥was an auncient custome‥that so such as were to be Baptized might be made ye more myndefull to confesse a rising agayne from ye dead. 1664 Evelyn Kal. Hort., Mar. (1679) 13 Be mindful to uncover them [the plants] in all benign, and tolerable seasons. 1692 Sprat Contriv. Blackhead i. 19, I was not so mindful to preserve the Letters that came to me. 1889 Gretton Memory's Harkb. 324 The monks were always mindful to establish themselves where there was water close at hand.

d.1.d without const.

1567 Turberv. Ovid's Epist. 141 b, So she with mindefull wrath Upon my corse for thee awroken is. 1605 Camden Rem. 32 Antient families have given those names to their heires, with a mindefull and thankefull regard of them. 1728 Pope Dunc. i. 93 Much to the mindful Queen the feast recalls. 1747 Collins Ode to Liberty 16 Let not my shell's misguided power E'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears. 1854 S. Dobell Balder i, Point with mindful shadow day and night, Where we lie dust below.

†2.2 Minded, inclined to do something. Also with ellipsis of vb. of motion. Obs.

1632 Lithgow Trav. ii. 59 A great number of passengers‥that were all mindefull to Zante. Ibid. 61 The Turkes retired till morning, and then were mindfull to give vs‥a second alarum. 1672 in L'pool Munic. Rec. (1883) I. 285 Any that shall bee mindfull to build upon or improve any such wast. 1681 J. Chetham Angler's Vade-m. xxxii. §1 (1689) 173 Tired and mindful to rest.


The state or quality of being mindful; ‘attention; regard' (J.); †memory; †intention, purpose.

1530 Palsgr. 245/2 Myndfulnesse, pencee. 1561 T. Hoby tr. Castiglione's Courtyer ii. (1577) G iv, To lose‥the mindfulnesse of them. 1577--87 Holinshed Chron. I. 169/2 There was no mindfulnesse amongest them of running awaie. 1612 T. Taylor Comm. Titus iii 1 (1619) 541 To keepe in mens memories the mindfulnesse of their duties. 1817 Moore Lalla R. (ed. 2) 72 That deep-blue, melancholy dress Bokhara's maidens wear in mindfulness, Of friends or kindred, dead or far away. 1820 Jay Prayers 355 Let us not forget our souls, in our mindfulness of the body.

As far as I understand Lynn's idea, mindfulness seems to be a constant state of awareness or attention that accompanies an action. The question is what this state actually adds to the quality of the action itself. To see what I mean, consider the opposite: mindless. If I am doing something mindlessly, what I am I not doing that I should be doing, in order to fit Lynn's desired description of my activity? If I am running, what would be the difference between running mindfully and running mindlessly and what difference would it make to the quality of my running? I myself have run marathons where my mind has been more or less disengaged from the rhythmic positioning of the feet and the maintenance of the breathing rhythm. To my mind, this was ‘mindless', close to the desired state achievable by zen sitting.

Of course, you have to train ‘properly', which means paying attention to what you are doing. However, I am unconvinced that the addition of attention or memory is sufficient to transform ordinary keiko or renshuu into shugyou.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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