1.4 The influence of Zen

It is said that if you have Zen in your life you have no fear, no doubt, no unnecessary craving, no extreme  emotion, no illiberal attitudes and no egotistical actions. Zen is a habit of self- searching through meditation to realise one’s true nature, with insistence on self discipline.

There is a direct link between the principles of Zen and the principles of Kendo. Through self discipline in our kendo training we seek to overcome doubt and fear as well as developing humility, a deep respect for others and an overall mental and physical well being. The links between Zen and Kendo are so strong that in some dojos in Japan it is compulsory to also study Zen and practice Zen meditation techniques. In virtually every dojo throughout the world the practice session begins and ends with a brief period of Zen meditation called “Mokuso”.

The Gates of Paradise

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”

“Who are you?” enquired Hakuin.

“I am a Samurai” the warrior replied.

“You a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar”.

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin contined: “So you  have a sword! Your weapon is probably much to dull to cut off my head.”

As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked “Here open the gates of hell”.

At those words the Samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise” said Hakuin.

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