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SILENCE AND THE NARROW PATH
 

REI

A person who shoots, must do so with “rei.” As proper behavior and outward expressions of respect, rei is the first principle of an archer. Foremost, such comportment is fostered through a mind striving with intention to embody such behavior.

Aiming for a proper mind, the main point of shooting is repeatedly training one’s mind, strengthening one’s body, and thus promoting the spirit of the way.

There is no movement of the hand or leg that does not correspond to rei and the refinement of this virtuous conduct is nothing other than a reflection of a person’s character. In learning to shoot, people differ in their naturally endowed abilities and inabilities in creating the “great vessel “ (taike.) We don’t talk about a person’s ability or inability. There is nothing other than the hard work of study and practice. Talking about cultivating the mind and tempering the body is easy. In actuality it is quite difficult to carry out. There are many cases where even though you understand a principle, the actuality does not follow.

If you completely master this true principle of rei, “the myriad phenomena all accord to the one principle.”

In knowing the bow, your knowledge does not stop at knowing only the bow. By knowing the bow you know rei, discern virtue, and learn to reflect on what is proper and improper in one’s own mind. In doing so you reflect upon oneself in the clear mirror of mind.

From this, we say that shooting is the way of Jin (kindness, benevolence, and thinking of others) and is the struggle of gentlemen. (Kunshi; the Confucian paragon of a virtuous man.) One can say that this lofty and distant thought can only be achieved through one’s solitary kyudo.

By intentionally making one’s intention correct and externally making one’s body straight, through this single art of shooting we can expect the perfection of cultivating both virtue and the body. Shouldn’t we work at this?

Kobayashi Harumichi
September, 1931

An instructor in the Bishu Chikurin Ha kyudo school. His teacher was Sekiguchi Genta Sensei

Translated by Michael Rich and edited by Don Symanski 2004-2005