SHUGYO: ACTING IN NATURAL AWARENESS
It is not easy to fathom meanings of concepts if you have not grown up as part of a culture. Words and phrases have their own story, are often complex and often do not have pedants in another language. In addition, people live, think, feel and act in very different ways. General conditions shape the big and small. Language is a possibility of expression that allows abstract images and descriptions. Shugyo, like many other things, does not just happen in the mind, it happens on many levels of our existence. To be one with the present moment, is maybe a pretty good description in our cultural context, but it's for sure, that's it's not redundant.
First of all, I would just like to give You an impression by my personal attempt of definition, which will certainly will change in future by deeper understanding. "For me, Shugyo is a path of unbiased learning, which doesn't focus on immediate understanding. It's a state of open mind, without judgement. Everything in the present moment flows in, most unconsciously, without filters. The goal of being in the here and now, of course being connected, without thinking of a perfect outcome, which could be somewhere in the future and thus an illusion. The entire individual energy and attention flows into what we are doing and as we said, we do it neither good nor bad, we dedicate ourselves with all our possibilities and our presence in the moment of creation, making him a bit more perfect."
What is "Shugyo"?
In ancient times, a Shugyosa traveled around to learn. You can find a lot about this on the Internet. Also one can deduce the meaning of the word from its syllables. I will not argue with both here. I talked to some people about Shugyo and accidentally fell into it, because I have studied it intensively. Shugyo happens when you devote yourself to something and face it with an open mind. It is a natural process of learning and experiencing with impartiality and a certain humility. Learning stops, when you think you know. Those who do not question their memory drift more and more into their subjective reality. Traveling, especially on foot, means constantly having to experience new things and make new decisions, and if it is only to turn left or right.
Our mind is very "complex", if that's what you call it. We certainly have a consciousness, that is more or less an active interface. We can retrieve information from our memory, add new information through our senses or external inspiration and create causalities, to create our very own reality. To think means to use a part of our mental capabilities, which causes a lack in perception. A basic rule of Zen is: "Dedicate Yourself exactly one thing.", multitasking is an illusion. Apparently, we are not really able to do several things at the same time, but work sequentially in sections one after the other. Probably be have no multitasking and no multicore processor. In Shugyo, we learn by allowing the current situation, the present moment, to flow unhindered into us. It is an open-minded way of learning on all levels of consciousness, free from selfish illusions. It's the attempt to do the best without setting a goal. Humility opens our mind to inspiration. Through repetition can create new patterns without having to understand it.
In Shugyo we live and exist in the Zen spirit. It is a kind of "respectful being and acting, without prejudice and selfishness, at the highest possible level of consciousness in a timeless mind-body state, to come close to the presence of truth, to perfection in its pure causality, in the natural flow of things. For someone who starts to get interested in something, it may just be "a process of learning at the highest possible level of concentration." For a religious person, it may be, "God expresses himself through everything, I trust in him". For a Zen monk it is not a question, it is an answer, a natural matter, for an artist it is the infinite way of expressing himself through his work, for a warrior it is the path on the path itself, the deeper meaning of daily practice, and in the end a matter of life or death. Aikido is an integral part of the training. Kanshu Sunadomari defines "Life is Shugyo, a process of training and refinement of the self, which ends only with our death. "(Enlightment through Aikido, 2004, p. 65) and Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, explains Shugyo as" forging", a process of turning one from conscious, analytical or basic training into one a more natural, more instinctive understanding of the movement passes over, which is inevitably necessary to really understand the nature of aikido. It is a disempowerment of the ego, a process in which the boundaries between consciousness and subconscious mind are removed.
Most of us have experienced Shugyo. Shugyo happens right here and now. It means to act "automatically correct". Shugyo means learning by doing. Shugyo is free from prejudice. Shugyo happens in the eternity (timelessness) of the moment. Shugyo never stops. Shugyo is Zen. Shugyo is created by combining body and mind in a natural way. Shugyo is the connection with the source of all being. Shugyo is an expression of creation, of the universe itself. Shugyo is a manifestation of the spiritual in mater (heaven and earth). Shugyo is spiritual development. Shugyo is based on humility and respect. Shugyo is a way of perfection. Shugyo is a way to truth. Shugyo is powered by the heart. Shugyo is self-development. Shugyo is a journey. Shugyo is without subjective evaluation of one's doing. Shugyo opens the mind. Shugyo is without emotions. Shugyo is attention to detail. Shugyo is Aiki. Shugyo makes us to "better" people. Shugyo is the willingness to find a way to aim and approach a target. Shugyo is faith and trust.
For me, Shugyo means to live in the present moment, to be aware, intense and free from prejudice, to listen to his heart and to act respectfully and humbly. Imperfection is something natural. Those who accept, will probably be more perfect than those who think to know and can. It doesn't matter what we are doing, everything can be our teacher. People with a strong ego may find it harder to learn from "mistakes", because one "sees", "reflects" and "accepts" less through self-conceit. Humility and respect open the mind and work like a "catalytic converter" in the process of learning and increase the capacity for self-reflection.
Perhaps self-knowledge is the most interesting thing in life. To feel the self and reflect this arguing thing called ego. Buddha once said, "We are what we think, with our thoughts we create our world". Let's start thinking about thinking. In the present moment, we collect information about our senses and store it as a data pattern in our memory. Our mind compares the current situation with our experience and generates a behavioral recommendation. If this subjective process of evaluation, judgment, and condemnation that evokes expectations is not reflected, we remain trapped in the logical cage of our ego. Shugyo takes place on the level of the self, it goes far beyond the boundaries of our ego. Time to redefine yourself!
Shugyo frees from illusions. In combination with Misogi and Musubi you can get a bit closer to your own existence, your self and the truth. Many thanks to all who have inspired me, to accompany me on my way and still will.
Bodo Gwinner (Fukushidoin H.A.A.)