The Esoteric Principles were written by Prof. Seishiro Okazaki in the 1930's and given to his Black Belts. They were kept secret for several decades, finally being released to the public in the 1960's. They are now studied by all Danzan Ryu Black Belts as the core philosophy of the art. What follows is an analysis of Okazaki's Esoteric Principles by David Hallowell, Sandan, Christian JuJitsu Association.
The Analysis is in 9 parts. You may jump to any part from here and return to this point at the end of each section by clicking on Top of Page, or you may start part one below and continue reading though each one.
Esoteric Principles, Part 1
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
Shin Mei Kan
"Since the fundamental principle acquired through the practice of Jujitsu has been elevated to a finer moral concept called Judo, 'The Way of Gentleness', it may well be said that the primary objective of practicing Judo is perfection of character. And to perfect one's character, one must be grateful for the abundant blessings of Heaven, Earth, and Nature, as well as for the great love of parents; one must realize his enormous debt to teachers and be ever mindful of his obligations to the general public."
What Okazaki has done with jujitsu can be explained in the following way. Any discipline, when practiced with diligence and concentrated attention, begins, at some point, to be performed spontaneously. Variations begin to appear intuitively. At this point, the discipline becomes an art. When this activity is combined with a sincere heart which seeks God (thus "elevating" it), the ego is drawn away from the self. Over time, the character of the person will be "perfected": no ego left.
This can be done with any activity when it has reached a point that it is done with a still mind, without thinking about it. This is why Aikijitsu is now Aikido by Ueshiba. This is why the disciplines of tea, chado,and sword, kendo, exist. They have been elevated in their focus above mere actions to a path to some other goal. This is what the "Do" suffix indicates: a "way" or "path", the end result being perfection of character. This is why Okazaki refers to Judo as a concept; it is a high ideal, a goal to be attained.
In the next sentence, Okazaki tells us what must be done to help us accomplish that goal: we must continually have an attitude of thanksgiving, knowing that we have what we have, not because of ourselves, but by God and his creations. This discourages the ego from growing and increases humility.
Hopefully, most of us have had parents who have loved us greatly and tried to raise us as well as they could. As imperfect as human love is, love is God's nature. Therefore, whatever love we can give to others increases, a little, the manifestation of God's nature in us. Thus, we have gratitude, thankfulness and love to our parents and teachers who have given so much over our lifetime.
Having all this, it is now our sacred responsibility to help others as we have been helped. Without asking anything in return, love others as you have been loved. Help and teach now the "general public", and pass on the learning and love that you have. They become blessed by receiving, and we become more blessed by the giving in love.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 2
Shin Mei Kan
"As a member of a family, one's first duty is to be filial to parents, to be helpful and harmonious with one's wife or husband, and to be affectionate to brothers and sisters, so that the family may be a sound, successful, and harmonious unit."
Okazaki's focus in this paragraph is to stress the basic importance of the family unit and our obligations to its successful functioning.
In a modern organized society, so much depends on the family and the stability of its members. It is the foundation unit of nations. Where the family is not strongly cohesive, or non-existent, the nation begins to weaken from within and fall as a house on sand. We are the rocks upon which the house is built.
Okazaki's directive is simple: to love our family. Selfishness, mistrust, fear and even violence tear up the family, drive its members apart. We are to create a synergy where there is so much love that it flows through us to others outside the family.
Okazaki gives practical examples of that we can do. Whoever we are, chances are we had parents. For most of us, hopefully, loving our parents comes easily. Not everyone is that fortunate. Parents are fallible and subject to the same temptations we are. If some of us have parents who are less than we wish, we must forgive them. We must do our duty as children and give them assistance with love. Remember not always wanting to do as your parents told you? Usually, there was a good reason. Some parents are more adept at communicating with their children than others.
As the years go by, even as you age, remember your parents. One day they may not be able to get around as they used to. Now especially, help them. Give them the peace of mind that you're there for them as they were for you.
For those of us who are married or plan to be, Okazaki wants us to understand that a husband and wife are a team; indeed, "one flesh". Each must help the other wherever possible and not take selfish advantage of the other's giving attitudes. This will breed resentment and anger toward the other. Be sure your love is mature and unselfish. Is your love based on the outward physical or the inward mental and spiritual being? How many marriages do we see based on fear and control? Though both are bound in marriage, each member is still an individual and must feel free in each other's love to be themselves. It is these differences, however, working together, that create the resulting harmony and peace in which their children may grow.
Speaking of children, how many of you readers have brothers or sisters? I suppose it's inevitable that some (!) childhood quarrels do come about, but now that we have chosen a higher discipline, we will do no more of that! The key again is love. Some may have been pushed around by an older sibling. Maybe you were the one striking terror into a younger child's heart. Regardless of how they respond or now feel toward you, you must change if need be and love them.
Again, if the focus in our lives is not ourselves but God, the love that we need to live well with our family will flow easily. Love will make the family "a sound, successful, and harmonious unit."
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Esoteric Principles, Part 3
Shin Mei Kan
"As a member of a nation one must be grateful for the protection which one derives as a citizen; one must guard against self-interest and foster a spirit of social service. One must be discreet in action, yet hold courage in high regard, and strive to cultivate manliness. One must be gentle, modest, polite, and resourceful; never eccentric, but striving always to practice moderation in all things. One must realize that these qualities constitute the secret of the practice of Judo."
Even as we help others near to us, we as Martial Artists are bound to uphold and serve the country in which we all live. We may not wear our country's uniform, but we are warriors in its cause nonetheless.
Rarely in history has there been a country so great and far-reaching yet so affording of liberty to its citizens. We all have the freedom to attain our highest aspirations if we just put the right effort into it.
Because our country is powerful, we have great protection against outside threats. But there is also the threat from inside: that people become so smug in their protected state that they become selfish or apathetic. We must always find a way of serving others so government bureaucracy need not always be called upon.
Though we may be called upon to help others, Okazaki reminds us that it is also not a great thing to think we're a super hero now because of our art. We must be discreet, not Superman or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and with confidence. Be humble but don't shirk your responsibilities. I believe Okazaki had these ideas in mind when using the phrase "strive to cultivate manliness." This of course means cultivating a high standard for yourself regardless of sex or social rank.
Okazaki next plainly states traits of character we need to strive for: be gentle, not rough or uncaring physically or emotionally. Be modest, not boastful or attracting attention to yourself. Be polite, not rude or forcing your will where it is not wanted or appreciated. Be resourceful; always use your head. Adapt to changing circumstances. Do not be eccentric, which attracts undue attention. In action or personal habits, practice moderation, for this will cause the least stress to ourselves and others.
These stated qualities are called the "secrets" of the practice of Judo. We would do well to remember this and incorporate them into our lives and our practice of Jujitsu. It is the way of gentleness; we must approach all of life in this way.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 4
Shin Mei Kan
"Anyone who practices Judo should neither be afraid of the strong nor despise the weak; nor should he act contrary to the strength of his enemy because of the art he has acquired. For example, if a boat is set afloat in water, one man's strength is sufficient to move the boat back and forth. This is only possible because the boat floats; for if, on the other hand, the boat is placed on dry land, the same man's strength is scarcely sufficient to move it. It is necessary, therefore, that the weak should learn this fact with regard to the strong.
"The forms and techniques should be remembered as the basic art of Judo. One should never use these arts against anyone without sufficient justification. Therefore, refrain from arrogance and do not despise a small enemy or a weak opponent."
I include comments on two paragraphs in this issue because I see them as related; how we should view an opponent and how we use our art.
A practitioner of the way of gentleness should not be deceived by appearances. An opponent may only look strong or weak. A person's mind and spirit should be the deciding factor in a confrontation. Therefore, have a spirit of equanimity. Do not have a preconceived emotional bias pro or con and your mind will be clear to react spontaneously to the actual threat rather than the perceived threat.
Do not use strength against strength. Don't try to fit your opponent into an art that he isn't set up for. Take what he gives you. Fill the openings and weaknesses and guide him into the art. You must be relaxed, and not tense from emotion or 'trying' to make the art work, to make it effective.
We now arrive at the well known boat-in-the-water analogy for kazushi. This is an excellent simile that most everyone who has dealt with boats at all can understand. Since Okazaki lived and taught in the Hawaiian Islands and fishing and boat travel were very common, most people could relate to this. I could now add skydiving or orbital free fall as modern corollaries which are true in all three dimensions. The major thing we're getting rid of or reducing is friction. Using kazushi, whether preexisting or created by tori, allows the practitioner to perform the art with minimal effort. This is why all practitioners, especially weaker individuals, must excel at proper technique. They will overcome the tendency to use their own strength, and also overcome the strength of their opponent.
We must remember that all the techniques we learn are only basic; there are innumerable variations that also transcend into mental and spiritual planes. Therefore, we'd better have a good reason for using these arts because everything we do physically also has spiritual consequences.
Understanding this, it is easy to understand why Okazaki warns us again not to let ego in the form of self-importance cloud our view of our opponent. Indeed, any emotional response will put you at a disadvantage. It will set up false expectations of uke which will mentally bias one for anticipating a particular action. This we must not do, for we lose spontaneity and our spiritual connection. Then we are trying to do battle instead of letting God's Spirit do the work through us.
These principles covered here are some of the great spiritual teachings that cover character growth in our system. With faith in God and effortless, spontaneous action, we connect with the Divine.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 5
Shin Mei Kan
"Every student of Judo should realize that honesty is the foundation of all virtues. Kindness is the secret of business prosperity. Amiability is the mother of health, strenuous effort and diligence conquer adverse circumstances. Simplicity, fortitude and manliness are the keys to joy and gladness; and service to humanity is the fountain of mutual existence and common prosperity."
This issue, we examine Okazaki's advice on how to live a happy, fulfilling life. This is begun by reminding us that we should embody the attributes explored here. The more a person is motivated by love and not egoic fears, the more they will project an aura of attraction to others. In this way we can be a channel of blessing by inductively boosting other's spiritual connection to God.
Okazaki first addresses honesty as the "foundation of all virtues". It takes a lack of fear to be honest. A total lack of fear means that your only motivation is one of love with no ulterior motives. People will feel at ease with you and trust you above others. This will make it easier for us to teach and help others.
Most people need a job for monetary security. Most people probably wish they didn't, but that's the way most large societies have been structured for recorded history. We, as Judo practitioners, must never allow greed of gain to become a motivation in our lives or work. Because amiability and kindness are something which should come naturally, we should attract people no matter what we do. Customers or business associates would tend to want to do business with people who are nice to them. It may not make you rich, but it will most likely help you keep customers and happy customers are usually good for more business.
Clearly, Okazaki understood the health benefits of not letting your job 'get to you'. By working pleasantly and not getting emotionally attached and depressed when Mr. Murphy (of Murphy's law) pays a visit, we can keep job stress to a minimum. I, for one, still have problems here. It's getting better though. These are goals we must strive for, not necessarily instantly attain. Our lives would be much better if we could though.
When Okazaki writes that 'strenuous effort and diligence conquer adverse circumstance', I thought of the flooding we most recently had here in California and the little town of Meridian. All the townspeople worked day and night sandbagging the levees because they were determined not to be flooded out again as in past years. They were successful. The levees held and the town was saved though a bit isolated.
The keys to joy and gladness, we are told, are simplicity, fortitude and manliness. We should live simply, without extraneous attachments or 'needing' nonessentials and bear hardship without complaint. We must have faith that we will be supplied with what we need and have patience through trying times. The joy one finds is in the knowledge that God is caring for you through it all. Happiness is found within, not in outward circumstances. Choose to be happy.
Okazaki closes with another reminder of our duty to help all people. When others are of like mind, our mutual existence is that much richer and easier.
We must all remember then to be happy in all circumstances. Be kind and forgiving to all. Be a bottomless well of joy and faith and everyone we touch can be blessed by the Lord we love so much.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 6
Shin Mei Kan
As aptly expressed in the poem 'The bough that bears most hangs lowest' one should never forget the virtue of modesty as one attains proficiency in the art of Judo. Do not disdain or regard lightly either literary or military art; each is important and deserves equal cultivation and respect. Within constant motion and change there is tranquillity; and within tranquillity, there is motion and change."
Although our skill and confidence grows as we progress in the art, we must never lose sight of the fact that our responsibility to those under our care also grows. As human nature so often dictates, students will look up to us more or put higher ranks and black belts on pedestals. Remember not to allow others' inflated perceptions to influence your self-image. More to the point, more care must be taken to deny self created bloated egos. We must take care that we never lose sight of our divine goal by the distractions of success on the way. If we can, we must try to deflect attention away from us and to God. If we allow enjoyment of the attention, we will want more and perhaps take action to increase or use it. This is wrong! Keep your modesty and your head bowed.
As a man of samurai descent, Okazaki knew well the importance of a well rounded knowledge base. As in the saying 'all work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl' (P.C. version), our brains will not develop equally. By developing our literary knowledge or creative outlets, our intuitive abilities will advance and assist our logical side. Also, as a militarily trained individual, we will not be merely an uncivil bore. We must be able to fit in and be conversant in many customs and subjects. We may be called upon to not only fight as a soldier but lead as a commander or serve as a diplomat. Be prepared for any eventuality by training to be as versatile as possible.
The last sentence in this issue's paragraph is a statement of the hidden workings of spirit in our physical world. As one is performing an art in which one is physically moving without having to think about what one is doing, we tend to enter a meditative state. Our minds are 'still'. Examples can be found in Tai Chi forms, native American 'fox walking', running or even driving (though usually not recommended). Conversely, when in a meditative state and our minds are still - not thinking about anything - whether physically seated or moving, there is a freer flow of ki/spiritual energy circulating in our bodies. Thus the 'motion and change'. The deeper the stillness of the mind, the stronger the amplitude of the spiritual flow.
Master Okazaki was seemingly very diverse in this paragraph, yet the subjects all deal with apparent paradoxes in our lives. We must ponder deeply and understand them internally to know the truth behind his words.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 7
By David Hallowell
Shim Mei Kan
"Remember always parental love and one's enormous indebtedness to teachers. Be grateful for the protection of heaven and earth. Be a good leader to younger men. To lead younger men well, will in the long run, mean to attain proficiency in the art of Judo."
We must remember and appreciate that we did not get where we are in life all by ourselves. We are where we are because someone took care of us when we could not; someone took the time to teach us when we were lacking in knowledge. Ego tends to focus so much on what 'I' did that it tends to forget that it really didn't do as much as it thinks it did. Our founder clearly understood that humility is tied with always giving credit to others. By making a habit of this practice we can help stunt the growth of self-importance.
On a similar thought, expand your appreciation to heaven and earth. The earth was created to care for us, and we must return this sentiment. All of heaven protects earth and all things living on or around it. If we could only see into spirit and understand just how much we are protected from evil forces, our gratitude would be immeasurable.
One never really understands the sacrifices teachers make until one becomes a teacher. To lead well is much like parenting. The hours are often long with little or no pay, but it is very rewarding when successful. Being a leader, teaching the art over many years, molds the character into that which is being taught. To teach well, you must give. If you do not give in teaching, the student may not easily receive.
The more you can, by Jujitsu, blend into your student's mind and body, the more effectively you can teach. Lose yourself and become the art within the student. Self will be lost and you will be a conduit of light for the divine.
Okazaki understood so much about life and about the arts, and it is sometimes difficult to relay that knowledge into human language. If we think deeply on all spiritual writings and open our minds without preconceived thought, we can glimpse the original thought of the writer and see into the spirit which originated it.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 8
Shin Mei Kan
"Like a drawing in India ink of the whispering of wind in the pines, the secrets of Judo can only be suggested. Only through personal experience can one comprehend the mystic ecstasy of such secrets. It is said of Jujitsu that it would require ten years of practice to win victory over one's self and twenty years to win victory over others."
Okazaki here indicates his knowledge of spiritual things which, to truly know, can only be experienced. Every other description is like trying to smell colors: you're using one sense modality to try to describe something experienced in another. There is nothing to relate to.
This is one of the greatest difficulties for teachers: to be able to help their students past the point of physical experience, to spiritual experience. A teacher can best do this by having been there himself. Okazaki clearly had. This is one important way to tell if your teacher is someone who just knows theory or has been there - as Jesus: do they speak with authority? Can they describe actual personal experiences? Better yet, can they give you the experience? An advanced teacher like Prof. Estes was able to transmit his spiritual experience to anyone he wished with their permission. Prof. Edwards, I believe, once said that after one such episode they were "crying like babies". Just sitting on God's 'doorstep' one can experience unbounded joy; your whole body experiences it since all spinal energy centers are charged up from Sacral to Christ Center. To actually experience the merging of your spirit with God - to see through spiritual eyes, to experience omnipresence, omniscience, the hearts and minds of all creation - has no description. 'Mystic ecstasy' is as good a description as any. At once, you know the infinite love and power that is flowing through you. You KNOW the existence of the Creator and that any use of this power must be only by His direction.
Ten years is not a very long time. It may seem long at the beginning or if you are young (<20 years old). In the journey to learn our techniques and self control, time must be taken. Developing the patience and perseverance to gain 'victory over one's self' is in itself part of the goal. Knowing how difficult it can be to do this, one can see how easy it would be to take twice as long - "twenty years" - to gain victory over others. As Sun Tzu wrote, "For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Also related: "Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril."
As it appears, Okazaki is saying simply: the end goal of Jujitsu is infinitely worth the work; we just need to spend the time.
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Esoteric Principles, Part 9
Shin Mei Kan
"Whatever the trials or dangers, even 'Hell under the upraised sword', remain calm and remember the doctrine imparted to you by your teacher.
"A noted verse reads: 'For the lotus flower to fall is to rise to the surface.'
"Only by cultivating a receptive state of mind, without preconceived ideas or thoughts, can one master the secret art of reacting spontaneously and naturally without hesitation and without purposeless resistance.
"These are the secrets of Kodenkan into which I have had the honor to initiate you."
The parting thoughts of our founder, I feel, reiterate the most important concepts we need to emulate: the ability to be calm under even life threatening circumstances so that any response may be in perfect harmony with the impending threat.
When the sword is raised, death is but a moment away. If you think, or hesitate for even a moment, you die. Since everyone reading this is currently alive (?), we must consider the fact that we WILL die. We must somehow get used to this fact and learn to live life in the present and face death without being afraid. If you are afraid, you are wasting time, paralyzed by something a second into the future which may or may not occur, depending on how you act NOW. The fear is from selfish attachment to the body. Our mind does not wish to give up its physical existence. Once the spiritual self is made stronger than the physical mind/ego, the attachment is broken. This realization of spiritual triumph over self is the goal of our very existence. From there, we move on and up, wherever the Creator wishes us. Jujitsu is a spiritual path to that end. Therefore, we must remember what our teachers tell us, and DO it, because they have gone before and have hopefully made more progress. Sometimes they may advance enough to actually give some spiritual assistance to the student. However much our teachers help, though, that crucial step MUST be made alone. There is no other way.
The verse of the lotus flower falling is a poetic illustration of the preceding explanation of giving up self. As Christ was glorified in His death and rose again, the lotus in dying floats to the surface of the water where all can see its beauty. In a smaller and more subtle way, we may think of this as ridding self of ego and allowing the spirit to rise in us.
Master Okazaki's last admonition is to develop the receptive state of mind we need to master the Kodenkan system. What needs to be done is this: quit the logical mind by whatever means necessary. Usually this is done through meditation, prayer, ceremonies, chanting, etc. Different cultures vary in the way their religions approach this problem: seeking anything we can use to occupy the ego so that our intuitive spiritual mind can be released. Your body will act on its own without having the 'brain' in the loop at all, and the action will be perfect. It will not be 'us' acting but the spirit through us.
This is the incredible system Seishiro Okazaki built and passed on to us. We owe nothing less than our lives in passing on these arts and the transforming power they contain.
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Copyright Christian JuJitsu Association, 1998