Kendo’s Healing Message for July

One of Kendo’s favourite concepts is known in academic circles as ‘Sui Generis’ – it means ‘in and of itself’. Kendo recommends that we apply it to all things in life, and most importantly, to ourselves.

To know something ‘in and of itself’ means to know it solely by its own qualities, and not by any opinions that others may hold of it or the ‘genre’ to which it’s generally felt to belong. It’s an exercise in discrimination to look at something objectively and find its innate truth, and doing so can yield surprising results.

Perhaps the most accessible example is music. If we take the blanket decision that we don’t like a particular kind of music we will never have the opportunity to discover the jewels of songs that can truly touch us. This is even clearer with artists – if an artist is known for a particular style, we may never give any of their work the chance to reach us, but the melodies, the harmonies, or the flow of just one of their songs may take us on a deeply rewarding emotional journey which would have been impossible if we’d relied solely on indiscriminate blanket opinions.

Kendo acknowledges that this applies to people too – people from different walks of life, different incomes, different races, and blanket judgements are as inappropriate for any one of them as for anything else that may be worth knowing, if we just give them the opportunity.

Perhaps the most acute manifestation of knowing something ‘in and of itself’ applies to ourselves. There’s a somewhat cynical quip about materialism, which describes it as ‘spending money we can’t spare to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.’ When hearing this, most of us give a wry smile because we know we’re at least partially or occasionally guilty of the practice described – but why? Isn’t it true that the best people we know are simply not bound up in such nonsense?

Kendo concedes that it’s impossible to be a part of society without ‘playing the game’ to some extent at least, but the intriguing parallel here is that taking an objective Kyu Shin Do view of our lives is as valuable as doing so with our minds. Find deep peace, and place everything day-to-day at that Kyu Shin Do distance, where you’ll be able to see all their merits, ‘sui generis’. You might find that much of what you do is actually relatively unimportant compared to peace of mind and strong values, and when you do this with what’s in your life, you do it for yourself too – your own essential self is revealed, uncluttered and unencumbered by trivia.

Kendo recommends that we do this exercise regularly – it can be most revealing about who we really are. Have we been so engrossed in ‘playing the game’ that we’ve lost sight of ourselves? There’s nothing to be afraid of and everything to gain; as we discover ourselves ‘sui generis’, we become ever-more true to ourselves and ever-more able to see clearly what really matters in our lives. Then, other often-quoted but more positive maxims begin to apply – we come to really know our essential selves, and then we can truly ‘know god and the universe’. One of the most poignant questions ever asked by the great philosopher Socrates was, ‘What is the value of an unexamined life?’ Kendo gives you the tools to do this job, and achieve a truly valuable life.

And, as Kendo so often points out, when you are the best you can be, you help the world around you become the best it can be too.

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