Reading Instinct for Freedom-2009.8

Dear Taimyo Practitioners and Friends:

We are coming to the end of our 6-week Taimyo Meditation series at the Day Street Dojo in San Francisco – doing weekly practices together and daily practices on our own, as well as reading Instinct for Freedom by Alan Clements. I am grateful that so many of you were able to participate in this workshop series, either in person or from a distance. Did you notice some changes in yourself or the people around you?

Below is an e-mail I received from Shin-ichi Matsuyama in Osaka, Japan. I would like to share it with all of you as an example of how I’d hoped everyone would use the practice and reading to expand their awareness.


Dear Ito-Sensei,

I’ve just finished reading Instinct for Freedom (in Japanese, “The Dharma Life.”). Thank you for introducing me to such an important book – it really reminded me of your “White Magic” approach to Shintaido. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“My relationship is me.”
Page 199 (paperback version)
“When I am in doubt, I ask myself if I am avoiding relationship or engaging it.”
Page 200 (paperback version)

“We must be both relaxed and attentive, able to rest and play at the same time!”
Page 190 (paperback version)

Clearly, we must learn to live with cosmic ambiguity while struggling to grasp greater truths. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin informs us of both the struggle and its resolution: “When every certainty is shaken and utterance fails, when every principle seems doubtful, then there is one ultimate belief that can guide our inner life: the belief in an absolute direction of growth to which our duty and our happiness demands we should confirm.” Page 188 (paperback version)

Reading this book, I realized that Buddha himself lived in the middle of worldly affairs. His country had given him a princely inheritance of wealth and privilege and he founded a path of meditation to develop inner peace. He had the blessing of life with which to bring that message to others. The book, however, also reminds me that The Buddha – had he chosen that path – could have led his country in a peaceful way, yet it ended up participating in the slaughter of the weak and powerless by neighbor countries. He must have seen how terrible that was. What message has the Buddha left for us about situations like that? (We don’t know his opinions on this matter.)

I also remembered a diary that I read some time ago by Shurei Sasai (Bhadant-G Arya Nagarjuna Shurei Sasai, a Japanese-born Buddhist monk who has lived in India since 1966 and is now an Indian citizen). Sasai’s meditation training took him to fearsome places – to fight against the darkness of his own selfishness and karma and to work heart and soul for a principled world order. Sasai and Alan are very different types of people, but they hold these values in common.

I looked on YouTube and found Alan Clements’ lectures. In seeking out his work I found threads to Ken Wilber, Ram Dass and Thich Nhat Hanh. I like Alan’s YouTube pieces even more than his writing! YouTube is pretty amazing.

By the way, I saw the Shintaido video produced at The Massachusetts Shintaido Farm. It’s really great.

This sums up the reflections I wanted to share with you.

– Shin-Ichi Matsuyama Osaka, Japan August 7, 2009

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