Skillful Means of the Hoshin Warrior
There is a term in Buddhism called Upaya, that can translate to ‘skillful means’ and refers to “a means that goes or brings one up to some goal.” I heard of this term years ago and it has always resonated with me in my work endeavors. Though my take on its meaning may be different than what the Buddhists relate it to, it gives me purpose and direction when I practice my tradecraft.
When we start out in Hoshin, we are given everything we need to progress, and it is given right up front.
Applying Upaya would then dictate that you take each technique or belt related material and practice it. Maybe you set aside time each day to go over it and do that a couple times per week. Of course, at its highest level of practice you are constantly in a state of practice!
I have been using Upaya as it relates to my Hoshin work is when I am engaged in daily activities. No longer am I just opening a door by pushing with my hand, or walking ‘around’ people in a close environment. Doors are now opened with full body awareness, and I time it so my breath, the step into, and the hand land at the same time. Or, when people are in close proximity, my angles take on various elements. These practices are done discreetly and with minimal movement.
One thing I have noticed since becoming involved in the Ryu is the changes that seem to take place. Each belt level is no longer a goal to get to, but a series of opportunities to learn the depths of the attitude. We stand our ground at Earth, gain control of our fears at Water, blaze our path at Fire, and really learn what it is to be a complete human at Wind. What comes out of all this?
Tools and approaches that will help you on your path towards mastery is what the instructors show. How you use the tools and what you make with them are up to you.
I imagine there are quite a few who come to the Hoshin Budo Ryu without having read Path Notes of an American Ninja Master first. Path Notes is a great way to find out a lot of information on a variety of topics as they relate to some esoteric concepts that many look for, as well as practical applications for self development.
I imagine also that most folks want to enter the Ryu to gain some insight into the mystical ways of the ninja and be given access to powers that can make comic book readers excited. After 4 years of training in the Hoshin Budo Ryu, one thing I can say for sure is that the mystical ways are there and are not really closely guarded secrets. There are no real secrets, just the lack of training by those who chase after short cuts.
In our modern day of microwave enlightenment, we want to have more and do less to get it. However, in reality does anything worth having ever come so easy? Even if a person is born with great talent, they still work at practicing their trade. You never see sports legends sitting there watching their team mates practice. No, they are out their continuing to hone their skills and always working to get to another level.
Enlightenment comes in a multitude of watts and there is no end in sight! The only reward for your hard work is more work as what was your previous target is now just a milestone. There appears to be a few people who feel that by working on an enlightenment process will solve all their problems and the world will bend to their will.
Focus gets you to the proper place of learning allows you to expand you knowledge base. However, what good is focus if not applied correctly? Could focus in the wrong area lead to imbalances? Consider that a lot of people have searched for spiritual training and maybe find some glimmer of hope in their lifetime. Those might be the lucky ones as I think there are a lot of people who spend wasted time focusing on what might not be important. We live on a material plane and then spend countless hours and energy working to get to higher planes.
If we look though at the lightening path of the Hoshin Budo Ryu, we see that progress can be made very quickly because there is a common element that is shared cross culturally albeit in times gone by. So, our modern day warriors are able to make quick gains by walking the razors edge between life and death. It’s as if our life is like picking a lock, we use a piece of metal to work the tumblers in the lock every so often getting a noticeable click. With some talent, we may get the lock open maybe we never will.
However if we have a key given to us, how much easier is it to open the door in front of us? Where do we get a key? The key is forged in training, and always has been. If you are stuck in your life, train more. If you are unsure, train more. If things are going great, you better be training more. The Hoshin elements are genius in that by working them you unlock a lot of obstacles that prevent you from progress. By show of hands, how many people find that they are asking the same questions today as they may have done 4+ years ago? You are not training!
If you are asking how to lose weight every year, and you never seem to lose it then by reason alone you are not working out or eating right. How do we know this? Because you would lose weight and not have to ask the question. Inventory your questions that you want to know and see if there is an area in your life that needs work on. Is there a connection?
Take a good look at your current self and wonder if you are the same ‘in general’ as a few years ago. Are you better, healthier, stronger, more loving, wealthier etc??? If not, then you are not making progress and are not training. Sure, we may plateau at times and that is ok so long as we are moving in a direction and can look back and see distance that has been covered.
In summation, what I hope my reader has pulled down from this is that focus is needed when applied properly. Training is the vehicle that gets us to our destination and Skillful Means of those applications reaps dividends.
-Written by Jerry Fulford