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A Sense of Oneness From Many Places

May 17, 2007

heijoshin.jpgFrom texts on Heijoshin to Parmenides’ Poem of Being, the internal aspects of martial arts come together under an umbrella of language, much of it translated. There are so many words, in so many languages, from Greek to Japanese, used to approximate states of inner peace and self actualization, in general, transcendence.

A brief language (and life) lesson comes from one of our Blue Snake Books titles, Martial Arts are not just for Kicking Butt, edited by Antonio Cuevas and Jennifer Lee,

“This mental state, to which all martial artists aspire, is called heijoshin. Literally translated, it means “constant stable spirit,” but such a translation hardly does it justice. The nuances of the Japanese language help greatly in understanding the full nature of heijoshin, a word comprised of three kanji (ideograms):

Hei has numerous related meanings in Japanese: “peaceful,” “calm,” “steady,” and so on. The closest English equivalent, however, may be “level,” or “even,” since these terms can be used in such a way as “level-headed” and “even-handed” in English.

Jo has a more precise meaning, at least in terms of its English translations: “always,” “constant,” or “continually.”

Shin translates both literally and figuratively as “heart,” with almost all the same nuances. Thus, to Asians and Westerners alike shin is understood as more than simply the internal organ that pumps blood, but connotes the mind, the spirit, the emotions, the character — the whole inner essence of the individual.

Thus, heijoshin is a concept of the whole inner being of a person being continually at peace.”

[Jinseikan: Iaijutsu Philosphy, Masayuki Shimabukuro and Leonard J. Pellman]

Here’s another approach to oneness from Ancient Greece, taken from one of our North Atlantic Books titles, Persephone Unveiled, by Charles Stein, taken from Fragment 8 of Paremenides’ Poem of Being,

There is only one path left
and that is

And on it there are many signposts
that Being is unengendered,
that it cannot be broken apart
(for it is whole, without parts),
that Being does not fluctuate,
that it has no end.

It never was. It never will be. It is all NOW — one continuum.

Other poetically influenced martial arts bloggers have been discussing the internal aspect of martial arts practices. For example, Martial Views is a clear, insightful blog on the philosophy of martial arts, written from a broad perspective. John’s post on Peak Experiences talks about something that can be experienced universally, the high that comes from exercise combined with ethical practices.

By the way, I found Martial Views by visiting the Blog Flux Blog Directory‘s section on Martial Arts. We hope to be listed there soon. It’s a great place to see the wide scope of Martial Arts in the blogosphere.

This blog is unique, in that it was created for all martial arts enthusiasts willing to engage in a thoughtful, respectful debate on all types of martial arts. Please keep this in mind when you comment. We would love to hear from you.

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