Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Right Here, Right Now

I first encountered this poet and calligrapher when I lived in Japan. His name is Aida Mitsuo. Some of my Japanese friends introduced me to his work, and tried to convince me of his cleverness. Above we see a piece of his work. His calligraphy is child-like and almost burped out onto the page. He even childishly uses the kana or phonetic alphabet rather then the refined kanji, or Chinese characters. On the surface I do not like this piece. BUT, I have remembered it for ten years...I have recreated it, I have found it's wisdom. OK, I like it.

It says "Ima Koko" - Now, Here. In the English language it is often translated as 'Right Here, Right Now'. This is a Zen idea. I reminds us that the past is gone, the future is unknown, and truly all we ever have is the right here and now. All thought, action, change, and work only happens in the now. Living in the past or for the future is not the way, because we will never be in the past or future, only the now.

For those of into Zen or the martial arts, we like to build myths about teachers. Eventually the teachers that came before us become symbols of what we can achieve if we follow the way. Often the teachers take on a quality of purity and perfection. For those of in the martial arts they become enlightened or invincible.

Ima Koko - 'Right Here, Right Now' beckons us out of the fantasy and mythology. So what is Mr Monk or Mr Teacher was so great? That was their path. That was their practice. The only practice and person you can ever be responsible for is yourself. Budo, the martial way and Zen did exist in the past, but largely it is irrelevant to you and me practicing right now. We stand on the shoulders of the great teachers that came before us, not so that we can copy their art. We don't try to become them, or deify their lives. We stand on their shoulders so we can practice the art and spiritual paths, right here and right now and come to our own own conclusion. Nothing else matters except what you do this moment.

So remember fellow travelers on the path. Live in the now and seize the day. Make every encounter with your teacher, student, coworker, wife and child meaningful. Show them who you truly are, and what you are working on becoming. The teachers that came before are mere legends. The teachers that are to come have not been shaped yet. There is only you - and you perpetually exist in the here and now.

"Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward--your destiny are here and now."

~Dag Hammarskjold

1 comment:

  1. The Fatboy Slim song is in my workout playlist. You have no idea how...invigorating it is.