Hatsumi Sensei's 6 ton 大黒天 Daikokuten Lights Up Our Bujinkan Path

Hatsumi Sensei's 6 ton 大黒天 Daikokuten, photo Michael Glenn
One day I was asking Hatsumi Sensei about the meaning of a particular scroll he had just painted. The reading of it was one thing, but the kanji, brush strokes, and shape of the entire piece suggested more. He answered me... sort of. Luckily I was familiar with the word he used. He said, 徴ね。Shirushi, ne?

Meaning this scroll had signs, hints, or clues.

I remembered that word because of some training I had done with Soke some years ago outside under some Japanese maples. He showed us a style of ninja walking that I describe here: How to Read the 徴  Shirushi Taught in 口伝 Kuden

Soke leaves signs and hints for us to follow everywhere. You just have to develop the capacity to sense them. I recently found another secret path that he has indicated for people who can find it.

Hatsumi Sensei dedicated a 6 ton 大黒天 Daikokuten statue created in honor of Takamatsu Sensei. This was on the 37th year of Takamatsu's passing. But he placed it as a sign for all Bujinkan students.

In modern Japan, Daikokuten is a fat, happy god of farmers. He also symbolizes food, wealth, and good fortune. But the funny thing is that older depictions of him in Japan portray him as a fierce warrior, sometimes even wearing armor. That is because he originates from the Hindu warrior deity, Mahākāla.
More 大黒天 Daikokuten in Soke's House, photo Michael Glenn
He stands holding 打ち出の小槌 uchide nokozuchi, his magic wish granting mallet over his head. One foot is on a 俵 tawara, or bale of rice. Next to the rice, at the bottom of the statue is a rat. Whenever there is plentiful rice, there will also be rats.

Hatsumi Sensei dedicated this statue in the year of the rat. Although the rat may seem to be a nuisance, he is a protector. For example, in one Japanese myth the story goes,
"the Buddhist Gods grew jealous of Daikoku. They consulted together, and finally decided that they would get rid of the too popular Daikoku, to whom the Japanese offered prayers and incense.

Emma-O, the Lord of the Dead, promised to send his most cunning and clever oni (demon), Shiro, who, he said, would have no difficulty in conquering the God of Wealth. Shiro, guided by a sparrow, went to Daikoku’s castle, but though he hunted high and low he could not find its owner. Finally, Shiro discovered a large storehouse, in which he saw the God of Wealth seated.

Daikoku called his Rat and bade him find out who it was who dared to disturb him. When the Rat saw Shiro he ran into the garden and brought back a branch of holly, with which he drove the oni away, and Daikoku remains to this day one of the most popular of the Japanese Gods. This incident is said to be the origin of the New Year’s Eve charm, consisting of a holly leaf and a skewer, or a sprig of holly fixed in the lintel of the door of a house to prevent the return of the oni.”
~ Myths and Legends of Japan by F. Hadland Davis , 1913 by George G. Harrap & Company, London
Soke said that he placed this statue in a spot where it could act as:
空間にもある繋がり、すなわち縄道 (定道)
... a connection through space like a rope path or a distinct guiding path binding or linking the 武神館道場 Bujinkan hombu dojo and the 本陣 Honjin together. Soke says this is like a lighthouse or a beacon guiding us in the direction of the 辰 Dragon.

If you can follow this path, you may discover what Hatsumi Sensei says the statue symbolizes:
六根 rokkon six sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind)

and 六道 rokudou (the 6 paths of existence or karmic rebirth in Buddhism).
The symbol on the bale of rice is a form of 宝珠 Hōju. This wish fulfilling jewel bestows wealth. But it is a Buddhist form of wealth that eases suffering, calms desire, and comes with knowledge of dharma. But many people just wish for riches.

Hatsumi Sensei said the statue was given the name of 威光武徳大黒天 Ikou Butoku Daikokuten (power of warrior benevolence). And the base of the statue bears his name, 初見良昭 Hatsumi Masaaki, 白龍翁 Byakuryu-oh (venerable white dragon).

More 神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou Japan Training Notes

Moonlight Enters the Bujinkan Hombu, photo by Michael Glenn
Below is a video preview of my latest notes from Japan about 神韻武導 Shingin Budo.

When I was training in Japan last week, I wrote extensive notes. I also recorded some video. This is part of my own learning process.

If you've been on a training trip to Japan yourself, you know how compressed that experience can be. Maybe you go to 2-3 classes everyday for 2 weeks. That is more classes than some people who live in Japan attend in a whole year! It is a huge amount of information crammed into a short time.

Hatsumi Sensei told us last week that when we are fighting we have to read the signs or hints (気配 kehai) that our opponent or the situation show us. So I record my notes as I discover these signs. If I get a hint of something important from my teachers, I make a record of it for later.

Then I come home and unpack my luggage. But also unpack my mind and body. I use my notes to debrief myself. They are like a compressed computer file that needs to be unzipped.

This process takes a few months and many classes while I uncover the treasures of my own experience in Japan. Then, when I start to feel confident that I understand, I go back to Japan for more mind, body, and heart transmission.

If you are reading this, then I'm not worried about your drive to learn. You have the ability to get more from training than most people by using all the resources available to you.

Here is your invitation: You can read about my Japan training and also get personal notes here: get your notes.  And an even bigger resource I offer is what I bring back from Japan for my own students, you can purchase this intensive training here: http://www.rojodojo.com/

Here is a preview of my latest:
and the preview link: http://youtu.be/JZl_Lcdy_6U

In this video, I share 2 specific strategies I discovered about how to use this year's theme of 神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou. I learned from Hatsumi Sensei to create your own kukan and resonate with this divine space. This can be something subtle and hidden, or powerful like entering a sacred space.

In conversation, this may seem more metaphysical than combat related. But doing this physically opens you up and frees you from using your own ego, your own muscle or force, or even your own technique. The results are techniques that the opponent cannot counter.

神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou: Entering the Divine Space of The Bujinkan Theme for 2014

Cameraman Enters Torii, Shibamata Hachiman Jinja 柴又八幡神社. photo Michael Glenn
Our Bujinkan theme for 2014 is spiritual culmination. Hatsumi Sensei said last night that it has been 42 years since the passing of Takamatsu Sensei. He said that the students of the Bujinkan have finally matured enough so that he can share these teachings with us.

Maybe you have seen the scroll hanging in the Hombu. Or have heard the theme of 神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou. It is easy to hear these words, but very difficult to understand and include them in your training.

After training with this idea in Hatsumi Sensei's classes, I have a suggestion for how to open up this theme in your training this year.

Soke tells us that the theme this year is about not doing your own techniques, but rather letting the divine techniques work through you. He told us that this happens with a divine resonance in the kukan. The space itself becomes divine.

Harnessing this theme requires the clarity created by 大光明 Daikoumyou. When we start each class, we ask for protection with the chihayafuru uta, and recognize the opportunity for enlightenment that comes with daikoumyou.

Many people bow in and clap without reflecting or opening up to this experience.

But the dojo is a sacred space. It may not seem like much. In fact a dojo can be anywhere with the right spirit. This year Hatsumi Sensei is helping us to find this same divine space in the kukan.

You can find it even in the middle of a fight. Open up the kukan for yourself and create this peaceful space where you can live. The peace you bring will be contagious. Hatsumi Sensei told us it will protect us like 冥加 myouga. Then everyone within this space, even your enemy, can be protected.

Don't enter the dojo and do your own technique. Don't use your own power in a fight. Hatsumi Sensei said,
"if you use your own movement, your lack of skill will appear. Use God's movement. Let divine movement come out through you."
This is kamiwaza. This may seem esoteric or mysterious. But we are all capable of it.  It is the most natural ability that comes with our birth. A butterfly can balance on a flower or the edge of a sword with no training.

When you enter this divine space the change is subtle. Subtle like the opening that occurs in the Godan test.

When you pass into a sacred space like this, walk through a 鳥居 torii or into a church, the change you feel reflects your own spirit. Some feel nothing, others feel a great deal.

Sensei told us during one technique, that it didn't matter whether we used a kodachi or a bo. It becomes space, it becomes 神韻 shingin. He said, "this year I'm teaching this kind of divine space."

So we can walk through a 鳥居 torii or pass our godan test. It's all the same. As Hatsumi Sensei told us right after we bowed in at the beginning of class, this is how we are able to see what real budo is.
 More 神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou Japan Training Notes

A Gift From the Heart to All of the Bujinkan

Today a most extraordinary thing happened in Hatsumi Sensei's class. As you probably know, the Hombu Dojo we currently have in Japan is slated for demolition. Many of us will miss it very much when a new Bujinkan honbu dojo is built.

But my friend and student William Kelly O'neill did us all a service. He spent the past many weeks painstakingly (emphasis on pain) recreating the Bujinkan Hombu dojo in miniature as a gift for Hatsumi Sensei.

Hatsumi Sensei and Bill O'neill with mini Hombu
What he didn't know was that it was a gift to the entire Bujinkan. Tonight he presented it to Soke Hatsumi.
Hatsumi Sensei checks out mini Hombu
Bill has been sending me pictures and explaining his design process over the last few weeks. The amount of detail, research, and thoughtful personal elements in his project have been very inspiring to hear about. At first I thought he was a bit crazy, but when you see the results...
Hombu Miniature

I know Bill put his whole heart into this project in a genuine spirit of giving. And everyone who was there was touched. Hatsumi Sensei decided tp present Bill with a Bujinkan Gold Medal. Well, this is when Bill was overcome with emotion and gratitude.

Hatsumi Sensei told me he was going to put the miniature in the new Hombu dojo.

Bill keeps appologizing to me for missing classes back home while he was in a race to finish his artwork for this trip to Japan. I told him, don't worry, you have your own dojo to train in. But since he gave his dojo to Hatsumi Sensei, he'd better come back to class!

Thank you Bill for the inspiration. This was a wonderful gift for Soke and all of the Bujinkan.

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