Kendo’s Healing Message for November

13th November is always a significant date for all things Kendo, Kyu Shin Do, and Zen, as it’s the anniversary of the first public appearance of Kendo Nagasaki in a wrestling ring, which began an era of inspiration for all who saw him.

The Kendo Nagasaki phenomenon came about after the man behind the mask, Peter Thornley, was himself powerfully inspired by the man who’d begun as his judo teacher, sensei Kenshiro Abbe. It was clear to Peter that there was something profound about this man’s sheer skill, power, and stillness, so he literally sat at the feet of the master, opening his mind to Abbe’s Zen Buddhist wisdom, as well as his fledgling philosophy of Kyu Shin Do.

In many respects this was a courageous thing for Peter to do, as it meant contemplating unfamiliar eastern ways while letting go in meditation of all he’d learned as a westerner. But gradually, Peter felt how the stillness of Zen and the perspective of Kyu Shin Do opened him to entirely new ways of considering himself and his relationship with the world around him.

In the wrestling ring Kendo Nagasaki became an example of how excellent one needs to be to overcome the many and various challenges that life can throw at us, whilst also suggesting that such strength could come from within ourselves. Now, through his healing messages, the secret to Kendo’s power has been revealed as Zen and Kyu Shin Do, and that the pursuit of these can lead to personal transformation on all levels.

As part of this process, at the events held at the Nagasaki Retreat, Kendo has illustrated how Japanese Zen Buddhism incorporates Japan’s original indigenous religion, Shintoism, which, as with British paganism, leads to an active awareness of our relationship with nature. Recalling that we are a part of nature and not somehow superior to or separate from it is not only an important gesture of humility, it encourages us to extend our own self-regard to include concern for nature itself, which, in these climate-critical times, is more important than ever before.

This awareness can be viewed as a further aspect of the kinds of awareness that modern people must possess. Not only do we need to be aware of the risks of collapsing ourselves into social media, but we must also consider the consequences of our consumption, which – as with social media – will not come with any caveats or warnings from the providers. Never has it been so clear that we must take responsibility for the consequences of our choices.

On this 57th anniversary of Kendo’s first appearance, he would ask that we further open our awareness to the needs of the natural world around us. Even a small adjustment in concern for nature’s well-being will inevitably enhance the ecological-friendliness of the choices we make, for which nature, in its reciprocal benevolence, will reward us. More than this, nature is now clearly in need of humanity’s help, and being the best we can be requires us to make those nature-friendly choices.

Onwards, in enlightened benevolence.

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