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Shi-kin Hara-mitsu Dai-ko-myo

What does Shi-kin Hara-mitsu Dai-ko-myo mean? I’d like to share some of my research and thoughts about what this phrase means to me. Conventional wisdom around the Takamatsu-den based organizations loosely translates this as “In every moment is the potential for the enlightenment we seek” or “keep going and you can get it.” The question this brings to mind is “get what?”

There are more poetic translations:
“Sound and light are released from the interaction of the heart and spirit making it possible to advance with Buddha.” The words that stick out in this translation to me are “making it possible”. They make me think that within there is potential, but again, within what?

I have heard An-shu Hayes translate it as: “Everything I encounter could serve as the perfection of wisdom that leads to enlightenment,” or, “Every experience contains the potential for taking me to the awakening I seek.” From Mr. Hayes’ translations I get confirmation of continued searching in the direction of “potential” but also the curiosity of “perfection of wisdom”.

His translations, he says, are from the more literal translations of the kanji:

Shi meaning “words” and Kin meaning “sounds”, the combination together as “the sounds of words” or “sounds and words”, meaning “an encounter” or “something that occurs to me”. For me the transition from “sounds or words” to “an encounter” is not clear but “an encounter” and “something that occurs to me” lead me to the thought of a moment and my perception of that moment.

Hara-mitsu being a Japanese pronunciation of the Sanskrit paramita, paramita meaning “perfection” or as it is translated in Tibetan as pharoltuphyinpa meaning, “gone to the other shore”, a Buddhist metaphor for transcendence of mental fixations concerning a subject, objects and actions. This transcendence seems to me to be a releasing of preconceptions, which I may hold, in order to perceive the moment in its entirety.

And Dai-Ko-Myo means “great bright light”, which Mr. Hayes calls illumination “dawning on us.” Or as I have been known to say “Dawn breaks on marble rock” meaning even with my thick Irish skull, there is the possibility of understanding – of getting it.

Mrs. Hayes has offered a multi-directional reading with Shikin at one end and Daikomyo at the other, both leading inwards to the center of Hara-mitsu. “All that we hear and all that we see can lead to the perfection of wisdom.” There are two parts of this translation that stick out to me “All that (we sense)” and again perfection of wisdom, this term, which is leading me to read it as pure or uninhibited perception of a moment.

What, then, does Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo mean to training beyond a motto or pledge to pay attention while in class?

Over my many years of training it has transformed for me from a promise of things to come into the answer itself. If I look back at my training and where it was focused over the years I see a change in focus and perception.

In my early training my focus was on myself. How do I do the things I see being shown to me? This has matured over time to become a better and better understanding of “kamae” or where I am in gravity at the moment. A necessary understanding if I am to learn to use my structure properly instead of relying on force. The combination of bone structure and gravity become a taijutsu tool to be used.

While this training focused on improving myself continues, an awareness of the opponent in a conflict, where they are, what their intent is, etc. blossomed. This focus on them, while working to determine what they are doing, improves understanding of conflict and begins to allow you to use more subtle movement with higher success probabilities.

These two perceptions, one of knowing myself, and one of knowing the opponent, would seem at first to be sufficient for success. They even bring to mind the quote attributed to Sun Tzu in The Art of War about success. But to me there is a paradoxical trap in these two perceptions.

If my focus is on myself to assure proper kamae and application of taijutsu it is difficult to be aware of my opponent. So my actions may utilize taijutsu but they may not be appropriate for what is happening. Leaving me to try to force my actions into the situation at hand.

If I focus on my opponent, so that I can clearly see my goal and work to attain it in the conflict, I can fail to maintain kamae and end up using force instead of proper taijutsu. I may be more appropriate at this moment but without proper taijutsu I can fall prey to the fact that the opponent may be better (stronger, faster, more intent) than I am and I could still lose.

The question and answer I have discovered within Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo is how to let go of this trap of focusing on one or the other. What is it that contains both perceptions? What contains both my opponent and myself? The answer I have found is the moment.

The ever-changing moment of “now” is the only target of my focus that will allow me to take in everything while at the same time not getting lost in one thing. The potential of each moment experienced through a pure perception not only leads to enlightenment but to me is the enlightenment at that moment, perceptions, goals, actions all become one in the moment to provide you with the appropriate answer for that situation.

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