Kendo’s Healing Message for August

Do you know who you are? Kendo asks this apparently simple question, a question which might be thought of as having an obvious answer (“…yes, of course I know who I am!”), but it is actually quite profound because we are generally unlikely to ask it of ourselves – and yet, Kendo recommends that we should.

Who you are is more than what you do, more than your position in a family, more than your interests or vocation, more than the music you like, more than the car you drive, more than the clothes you wear or how you style your hair, more than how well you reflect or represent your social group – indeed, when pressed, we might have to concede that who we are is largely invisible, because we rarely, if ever, have to think about this core issue.

The instances given above could be thought of as the ‘dressing’ to our essential selves – the things, circumstances, or people which surround us. They undeniably have qualities of their own, but because they are external to ourselves, they have an autonomy which doesn’t depend on our presence. So, if, in one of Kendo’s ‘thought-experiments’ we take them away, what is left? Who is left?

Faith can be argued as being central to many people’s identity, and the pro-social rules and values which faiths teach are beyond reproach and an excellent ‘yardstick’ for living a good life. Buddhism, even though it has no central ‘deity’, likewise seeks to give guidance on how to live a good life, and crucially, a life which benefits others, radiating out from family, to friends and acquaintances, to the whole of society. It could be argued that once one has committed oneself to such an exclusively pro-social path, then there is little else to need to think about, other than being a conscientious vehicle for such good works. Indeed, such a teaching is central to Buddhism – allowing the mind to wander into ‘navel-gazing’ existential explorations is doing little more than indulging the conscious ‘monkey-mind’, which needs to be stilled and trained so that it understands that it is not the centre of the universe, but a part of a team dedicated to living a good life.

However, for those of us who have grown up in the reasoning, intellectualising west, we occasionally need a nugget of ‘information’ to feed to our minds, to help satisfy its appetite and at the same time guide it. All of Kendo’s works have used a mix of western rationality and the mysticisms to which people can relate here, to illustrate the simple Buddhist truth described above, and yet he goes further, which is why he asks that key question at the beginning of this message.

The ‘ego’ is an invention of western psychology, and it is a useful one, because who we are can be considered as being essentially our own ego. All us westerners have one as a result of our upbringing – it is our sense of self, what we stand for, our values, our likes and dislikes, our talents, our motivations, and in many cases, what we’ll put up with! And this is where there is potentially a problem with evolving, growing, becoming more refined, mature, and reasonable people – our egos motivate and give quality to our interactions with the world, they establish who we are in the world, and, as such, we are likely to feel a need to defend them. That is likely going to be a conscious process, and therefore limited by the mind. There is only one way to ensure that our egos are as wise as they can possibly be – Kendo’s Kyu Shin Do.

The essence of Kyu Shin Do meditation is to mentally place everything in one’s life at a safe distance away from ourselves, and then seek Zen peace at the centre of all that orbiting ‘stuff’. But as we still our minds and open ourselves to our own intuitive wisdom, our last thought can set the tone for intuitive guidance, and it is very wise to seek further wisdom regarding our essential selves – our egos. Giving the evolution of our egos over to objective wisdom also has a Shintoistic quality of humility – our intuitive selves are closer to the whole universe of nature than our little mental calculators, and making that wise, humble decision gives us the opportunity of finding true universal balance.

So, to answer Kendo’s question, do you know who you are? With Kyu Shin Do meditation, you have the opportunity of finding out just how great you could become.

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