Saturday, September 21, 2013


Greetings to all,

Shugyo is an important term in our practice, one which distinguishes the methods of ordinary instruction from Dharma instruction. Monshin sensei has noted that shugyo is “mind-body training in which physical training masters the techniques perfectly so that the practitioner's body internalizes the techniques completely as second nature... (it) consists of two phases: repeated somatic training (such as posture and movements) and internalization”.
We have this term “muscle memory” , which describes how the repetition of an action, such as how you learn to ride a bicycle, is retained more strongly than reading a manual, for example. Its not that our muscles have memory, but that certain patterns are deeply encoded in our brains and retrieved easily and strongly through repeated performance. The performance then becomes automatic, as it were, by-passing the analytics of reason. We don’t have to think our way through repeat performance, we have to release those rational tendencies and allow the body to communicate directly with the stored memory.

It is for this reason that we understand our pedagogy is not one of lectures. Only the most introductory practice skill can be acquired by reading books or watching videos. If we wish to transform practice into the form of our life’s activities, we must associate with a more advanced practitioner who can transmit their own shugyo to us. Practice grows by this transmission to us and the gradual intensification of our own guided practice until those methods, as Monshin sensei reminds, are internalized as second nature.

Yours in the Dharma,                          
from Akashaloka,                  
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu                                           


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