Comments No. 4

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From Ula
Peter thank you very much for the picture and your memory of these two ordinary heroic gestures, its a beautiful image.

I agree its a good plan to do Taimyo and see where it leads us. I believe that as we change on the inside it will show on the outside, even if we are not aware of it ourselves.

I would like to thank everyone who joined us in the UK doing Taimyo this time, and to Peter, Ingrid and Jeff who wrote their questions and thoughts for us to ponder. If any one else would still like to add their thoughts or reflections please email me or Mr Iida ( and we may add these to our Taimyo network member website.

Even though our international meditation has finished. I feel sure that we will all be doing some part of Taimyo every day. Looking on the website calendar, I was not sure when the next Interational meditation will be, however I notice that the 23rd of each month has been added as a local event. I am happy to be a part of that too in a kind of local/international way *S*

May peace grow in all our hearts and shine out into the world.


From Peter
Thanks. Your image of the flowers opening reminded me of this famous photo from 1969 of an anti-Vietnam demonstrator in Washington putting a flower down the barrel of the gun of the policeman confronting him.

It’s one of those ‘ordinary person confronting power’ (‘speaking truth to power’ is the Quaker phrase) photos of which perhaps the most famous is the man holding up the whole line of tanks at Tiananmen Square. They express a real lifefulness in confronting war. And also express a bravery and a directness of gesture which we aren’t always capable of in the rest of life but which keiko ought to make possible.

So (whatever I wrote about singing songs and knitting outside nuclear bases the other day) let’s do our taimyo, then go out and make our own version of those gestures, and see where they lead us. They may not lead the world to end war, but they will surely change us – and maybe others will notice too, just like I remembered that flower of 36 years ago…

With love

From Ula
Peter ,

Thank you very much for both yesterday’s and today’s insights. I like your description of the polarities of Taimyo and the ying yang symbol. I reminds me too of flowers opening and closing as the sun comes out and goes in, nature’s response to nature, or the kokyu/breath/rhythm of nature that you reminded us about.

I was listening to a programme about the Tsunami, and there are some islands near Sri Lanka inhabited by primitive peoples, where there was hardly any loss of life. When asked why this was so one of them described their ancient idea that the land and sea are constantly fighting for boundaries, and when they saw the tide go out such a long way, for them it was the land making a big move into the sea. They understood that the sea would surely respond immediately, by encroaching the land. So they all went up to high ground and were saved. They knew how to read the polarities in nature and listen to nature’s breath.

The ying -yang symbol is a symbol of opposites and of balance. Connie wrote to me recently about Taimyo and said: “Balance = homeostasis and every time we change we try to go back to a balanced state, so perhaps we are studying one of those eternal repeating cycles of change, achieve balance, change again etc. Just a thought.”

I agree that our performing of Taimyo is a way of restoring some balance. I believe that we are moved through doing Taimyo to think and act in a way that is embracing of a peaceful imperative, by being gentler in our lives, by being stronger. Maybe we can reach for peace by being activists or by being contemplative, one day opening and closing like a flower the next breaking through mountains.

Thank you.


From Peter Furtado 2
Last night I was thinking why taimyo involves the sort of spinal twists that we have always done as warmup exercises but form very little part of the rest of keiko: the twisting movement in taikimai, the ankle- and wrist- turning, the Pole Star exercise placed almost as the climax and resolution of the whole kata. What do they mean? Why are they there? How do they relate to the rest of what we have learned in Shintaido and in the rest of life?

Usually I think of these forms in terms of energy spirals, like (if I am feeling grandiose) those images you get in astronomy books of huge pulses of energy shooting out of the poles of pulsars and quasars which are the most powerful forms of energy in the entire sky. But last night it made me think about other, much more gentle images of turning: seasons turning, animals curling up to sleep (and this one resonates particularly with the beautiful, kind, nurturing movement of yoshin – which again I usually think of as an inward eiko – but perhaps that’s another story…).

Then I found myself back to the question of war and peace. How does the fostering of a sense of the richness of life – as I was writing about yesterday? – foster peace? What does it mean to say you oppose war? Or even that you want to abolish war? Or that you support peace? These are questions I find myself thinking about a lot because as a Quaker I am surrounded by people who are pacifist-activists, but I am never quite sure what they are doing: how does, say, sitting outside a nuclear base knitting or singing or symbolically cutting the perimeter fence bring an end to war? The answer I usually make to this question is that it is bearing public witness that there are values in our world – in fact the deepest values in our world – that are affronted by the existence of weapons systems, and although that witness will never end or abolish those systems, it must be made and will gradually bear fruit in small ways that will nourish humanity and life and contribute to ensuring that militarism does not totally smother or destroy the world. Whereas many of my friends believe – I think – that one day, if we demonstrate and knit and sing and cut wire for long enough, then war can actually be abolished and peace will reign throughout the world, I myself don’t, if I am truthful, believe that. I think there will always be war and what we have to do is try to minimise it. To mitigate its impact, to defend the weak and suffering, and to find resolutions to particular conflicts, to try to prevent the next one, to seek out its roots deep in our economies, our lives and our psyches; but not to abolish war itself for ever.

What does this have to do with taimyo and twisting? I was suddenly struck by the image of the yin-yang symbol. It seemed to me as if taimyo’s twisting – not to mention its polarities (inside-outside, openhand-closed fist, up-down, person-planet, big-small, muso-kaisho) – encapsulated this simple symbol. And the twisting is the body’s expression of the turning, wrap-around integrated sense of those polarities. It is not like doing shoko when you stand foursquare and symbolically say ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’, but something much more involving, integrated.

Do you remember that song by the Byrds?
To every thing, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time of love a time of hate
A time of war a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

That song is based on the Bible – Ecclesiastes III. Take a look at it: it sums up this aspect of what I’m trying to say about taimyo. And while it doesn’t give me such an ambitious notion of campaigning for peace as some of my friends embrace, then it gives me an image that there love and peace and embracing are as necessary, and as powerful as war, and are its equal, and are contained as a seed in every moment however bleak.

With love

From Peter Furtado 1
Hello everyone
I have had my emails restored after three days of missing them. So I haven’t been able to contribute, up to this moment.

To be honest I am finding it hard to distinguish between taimyo ‘by myself’ and taimyo ‘with’ others in this manner. I also find it hard specifically to relate taimyo to meditation for peace. I think it is itself, and whatever broader ‘political’ resonances it may have to come indirectly. I have been thinking about, and trying to support, Ito Sensei’s meditation on Pearl Harbor and the Nanjing Massacre and other aspects of the Second World War, but frankly I find that taimyo is about today and now (and maybe Iraq) rather than about history. (I have been exploring ways of relating keiko to history, and would be happy to share with you all that at another point – but preferably in the dojo rather than by email.)

But when I do taimyo I feel dimensions of myself loosening up and my being relaxing, throwing away the tightness of the rest of life. It is like a flower blooming. I love the way the forms comes back inside the body, then opens to the universe; the way it boomerangs from largest to smallest – from taikimai to shoulder rotations. It breaks down barriers and makes you part of all things. Each time I do it, the tenshingoso in Part One becomes smaller and softer and more delicate and fragile, like gossamer or frozen mist. Last night I was doing taimyo by a stream very close to our house, and it reminded me strongly of doing taimyo on the last day of my holiday last summer, on a hot but very green riverbank in Burgundy. I had a particularly strong experience of the ten-point
meditation in Part Three. As I stood with my arms stretched to the side (position 3), it was like the whole river was flowing through my body to the sea; as opened my hands (6 and 7 and 8) I was aware I could see the flowers and the small mammals on the opposite bank preternaturally
clearly, and felt that all the smallest creatures around me – spiders, voles, frogs, minnows, daisies – were all part of my keiko. Like the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem ‘Glory be to God for dappled things’.

Then, last night, there was a long, low, slow, bring, white shooting star, crossing the sky from east to west.

For me, then, taimyo is about a deep ecology, about (as the old slogan used to go) Person/Planet, about being part of life in all its richness and diversity.

War, bombing, rape, militarism are all surely the absolute opposite of all that. If taimyo can strengthen our sense of that rich, fragile, resonant life, and can allow us to communicate that sense to people around us, then it will have helped us, in a minuscule manner, to resist the depredations they may be causing in the world we live in.

Peter Furtado

Peter Furtado

From Ula
Subject: TAIMYO Thurs Dec 8

Hello again Taimyo friends,

Today Jeff and I did Taimyo in our kitchen with one candle burning and the lights turned off to help us reach a quiet place. We have a smallish kitchen, so we stood facing each other. For me it was like doing renki kumite, seeing Jeff and his dancing shadow moving in time and breathing in time…and I could easily imagine all of you, and our fellow taimyo practitioners from around the world making the same movements. The spirits and characters of many of my old friends came to visit me during today’s practice and I felt part of a timeless river of my friendship.

I hope your mediation was also full of peace and friendship.