EVIL DESTROYING YUMI
by Shibata Kanjuro, Sensei
(The following talk was given by Shibata, Sensei in May 1985
at the Kyoto Dharma Study Group on the occasion of a Hama-yumi being presented
by him to the group).A
Hama-yumi is a special bow used in rituals of purification.
Good afternoon. It is now the nicest season in Kyoto. How is your mind?
Is everybody happy? Today my talk is about kyudo and Hama-yumi. These
ideas have been transmitted from the past, but I will also talk about
some of my own ideas.
archery is based on the idea of hitting the target. There is no other
reason for doing it. Western bows are made very scientically for that
purpose. However, Japanese bows are made from bamboo, which is cut by
people. Since they are made in a natural way no two are the same, each
one is different. To make a yumi is very difficult and drawing a yumi
is also difficult. In western archery there are also steps to drawing
the bow, but the goal is completely different.
Kyudo is very difficult, but it makes no difference whether you hit the
target or not. In ancient Japankyudowas the highest form of etiquette
A samurai also needed to know the proper etiquette associated with horsemanship,
swordsmanship, and spear. During the time of Nobunaga guns were introduced
in Japan. They were more accurate, but made a big noise when fired. The
yumi was silent and one never knew where the arrow came from so the Tokugawa
Shogun prohibited the use of yumi in battle. The yumi then became a means
of spiritual discipline and learning etiquette It is also during this
time that the Hama-yumi came into being. The Hama-yumi or Evil-Destroying
yumi is used as a means of purification. To purify the environment and
your own spirit. The Buddhist image of Amitabha is sometimes shown holding
a yumi and ya. Why is the Buddhist ideal of peace and compassion connected
with violent weapons? Because they are not weapons of violence. They are
weapons of purification.
About 700 years ago, a demon had appeared at the Imperial palace. It came
out at night and made the emperor ill. A skilled archer named Yorimasu
Minamoto was sent to the palace and he killed the demon with the first
arrow. The emperor regained his health and Yorimasu was promoted. This
was the beginning ofHama-yumi.What can we learn romHama-yumi?They are
for cleaning the mind. The Shihobarai was originally performed with Hama-yumi.
Everyone is surrounded by "hungry ghosts" - temptations, desires,
negative thoughts and so on. The haya, first arrow, is to exorsize these
hungry ghosts. The otoya, second arrow, symbolizes welcoming happiness
since one has been purified. How is all this connected to kyudo? Kyudo
is based on strict rules of etiquette It is competition with oneself.
In sports one tries to be a champion, but kyudo is not like that. The
target is not a target. It is a mirror of your own mind. People have seven
basic emotions or defilements. Happiness, anger, greed, expectation, sadness,
fear, and surprise. The aim of kyudo is to cut through these defilements
in order to experience mu, emptiness. Many people practice meditation,
but after fifteen or twenty minutes one becomes restless and wants to
be finished. Kyudo is standing Zen.All of these hopes and desires and
thinking while you are drawing the yumi, such as "I want to hit the
target, I want to have beautiful style," will cause the ya fly of
Know yourself. Know your mind first and then you can practice kyudo. If
your mind is right you will hit the target naturally. It is the same in
your whole life, not only in kyudo. If you are always wondering about
the target or the result, nothing good can be accomplished. If you always
look at yourself first - your own feet, your own basis, then things will
naturally go right. The word "do" in kyudo means "way".
This concept of "do" is difficult to talk about. To practice
the way of kyudo is very difficult, although people think it is easy.
This is also true for the way of flowers, tea and so on. The practice
of "do" has no concept of a goal. The kind of kyudo I would
like you to understand is not based on becoming better and better. This
discipline is a means of cleaning or polishing your own mind through self-reflection.
Life seems very long, but it is very short. It is over in a flash. Hansei
is the process of looking back over your life. You reflect on your own
deeds. America and Europe are highly industrialised. Traditionally, eastern
nations have been more concerned with development of the inner life, of
mind. Do you think we are living in a happy age? Computers, televisions
- we have many such things. Our food and coffee is instant, but does it
taste good? Although we have scientific gadgets all around us, something
is missing. Aren't people forgetting their own mental and spiritual development?
I think human society has forgotten heart and mind. Wonderful mountains
are destroyed. The trees and soil taken away and large buildings put in
their place. The mountains cry, I think. The mountains say, "Why
are the people cutting off my head and my arms?" Sometimes the mountains
become angry. When rain falls the water rushes down causing landslides.
For the sake of future generations shouldn't we be paying more attention
to mind? In the old days people walked everywhere. Now we drive our cars
even a short distance to go shopping. Is this really convenient? Shouldn't
we think a little more about these things that are happening in the modern
world? I am very happy that on such a beautiful May afternoon you have
come to listen to my somewhat comical talk. I hope from the bottom of
my heart that you all attain happiness. Thank you very much. I am used
to speaking at universities where people don't listen to me quite so sincerely.