Kendo’s Healing Message for January

At the Retreat, the New Year’s weather has so far been surprisingly mild, very different to previous years – there has barely been a frost at all this winter and the roads haven’t even had to be salted yet this January. While this not-unwelcome break from the season’s usual biting chill has helped to somewhat kick-start our New Year’s optimism, it’s unfamiliarity is disconcerting, and rightly so.

Part of what Kendo teaches is that just because we can reason and rationalise and justify our actions, that doesn’t separate us from the ‘big picture’ of nature; true health and wellbeing spring from a sympathetic and holistic relationship with the whole of the natural world around us, of which we are inextricably a part. That’s the ‘subjective’ aspect, at which any enlightened person will arrive, but there is also an objective ‘bigger picture’ of increasingly pressing importance.

The Shinto aspect of Kendo’s holistic Zen philosophy illustrates that it’s a two-way street and that there’s more to an aware life than remembering our place in nature – humanity depends so much upon nature that we cannot survive without us ensuring that it is healthy and respected, and that’s going to require some enhanced awareness from us. When the internal combustion engine became more widely available we were never warned that its exhausts could reach toxic proportions and contribute significantly to warming the climate; when plastics became available as packaging we were never warned that they could not be digested by nature and that they would end up choking it; the ‘consumer’ blamelessly adopted the convenience of these inventions, but the consequences of their wide-spread use are now evident, and an example of the kind of forward thinking that we need to adopt.

Kendo suggests that for this New Year we all adopt a resolution of always being aware of the consequences of all our actions – not just on other people, but on nature itself. He accepts that of course we can’t all immediately buy electric cars or suddenly reject all foods packaged in plastic, but by being aware of how we use our modern conveniences, that conscientiousness will grow into progressively less harmful consequences of our lives, for which nature will reward us.

Whatever challenges we face, we still have a responsibility to the world around us, to people and to nature itself; Kendo points out that the ever-more refined awareness of how we live is a group consciousness which will support us all, as we support each other. We will all be doing the right thing by living aware lives and ‘paying it forward’ to the benefit of our future selves and our children. This is truly being the best we can be, for our families and communities and all our futures.

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