When an arrow is shot from a bow it will fly perfectly straight and hit its mark every time. The only problem is that a human is required to operate it. This can be very revealing. Every fraction of an inch off alignment in the body, every hiccup in the breath, every mental block is detected and revealed in the outcome, and how far away the arrow is from the target is how much you affected the arrow’s perfect flight.
This truth is revealed in very much the same way in Hoshin. The more excessive the motion, the more misaligned the body, the less awareness/focus of the spirit, the more you are going to mess up the body’s natural inclination toward survival. The only thing keeping you from “hitting the target” is YOU. Remember Hoshin is about stripping away the excess and achieving perfect flow.
You’ve heard Soke say “Shut up and train” right? This isn’t just an effort to keep class running smoothly. There is another level of understanding to this.
In the beginning, your arrows will land all over the target. Eventually, with much practice, you’ll find that sooner or later they will find their way to the center. This isn’t just because you’ve been working on your alignment, or your release, or your focus. It’s because your brain has secretly been working it out behind the scenes. It begins to understand the connection between you and the target and fills in the blanks as if there were no space in between. New neural connections are made, and all of a sudden it feels “natural.”
The moral of the story? The more you practice, the more you “get it.” That’s right, it’s all about mat time. The more opportunities you give the brain/body to enhance this new neural network the better. It may not require you to figure it out mentally (in fact that’s probably the worst thing you can do, besides getting frustrated, which puts unnecessary stress on an otherwise constructive process) but it does require your constant participation. This includes victories and so called “failures.” And your relationship to the word failure will also be a good indicator of your success rate. The more you understand that it’s all good the more you can put aside the self-pity and get to work.
As you can probably tell I’m getting into instinctive archery. This is essentially archery without the use of a sight, and it is a very rewarding art form. In it I find a striking resemblance to Hoshin as it is also a no-bullshit art whose truths run deeper than the manuals. They are revealed as these neural connections are made deep inside and eventually make their way to the surface in whatever way you can intellectually understand it. It requires patience and dedication. Perfection is impossible, striving for it is not. The more you show up, the more you’ll understand the true value of what I’m saying.