Paramita and the Perfection of Wisdom
“Shi-kin Hara-mitsu Dai-ko-myo” is our training hall motto. Inherited from my martial arts teacher in Japan and his teacher before him, it is an inspirational phrase we shout in front of the kamiza to start and close SKH Quest To-Shin Do Level 3 and Level 4 classes.
I have translated the phrase as, “Everything I encounter could serve as the perfection of wisdom that leads to enlightenment,” or, “Every experience contains the potential for taking me to the awakening I seek.”
The SHI of the phrase translates literally as “word(s)”.
The KIN translates as “sound(s)”.
Together, the two kanji for Shi-kin mean literally “The sounds of words,” or “Sounds and words”. The combination means “an encounter” or “something that occurs to me”.
HA-RA-MITSU is the Japanese pronunciation of paramita, a Sanskrit term that translates as “perfection of wisdom,” or “having gone over the river to the far shore”, a Buddhist metaphor for going beyond normal limits of thought and perception to reach highest or broadest understanding. I know the 3 kanji characters loosely translate as ” secrets of going over the waves” – a well done translating coincidence – but the word really is an attempt to use Chinese letters and Japanese pronunciation to get the Sanskrit “paramita”.
DAI KO MYO means “great bright light” – illumination “dawns on us.”
My wife An-shu Rumiko offers another interesting interpretation. We can see SHIKIN at one end and DAIKOMYO at the other, both leading inwards to the center of HARAMITSU. “All that we hear and all that we see can lead to the perfection of wisdom.” Multidirectional reading is possible in Chinese and Japanese, though difficult to imagine in Western languages.
My good friend Chris Penn of Boston Martial Arts has suggested that a contemporary parallel might be an expression like, “This could be it!” as you dig for treasure, or study something important, or interview for a dream job. You might recite over and over, “This could be it!” as a way of staying on your toes to make sure you get the most you can out of the opportunity.
Powerful words. Reminds me of the ‘Did you see?” mantra . People pass every moment not realizing the potential is there for enlightenment. We should all take a pause inbetween breaths and enjoy the moment. “Ah, you did see!”
When I take my son to school in the morning, each day we say “Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo!” We’ve discussed it a number of times and come up with three things (so far) that it means to us. So after we say the phrase I ask him “what does it mean?” and he answers “I will put in everything I possibly can into every moment of my life!” and I ask “what else does it mean?” and he answers “I will get OUT everything I possibly can out of every moment of my life!” and I ask what else it means (this is a new addition he came up with recently) and he answers “I will live a very happy life.” This morning he also said “this is really hard sometimes.” I’m just proud that for him it’s apparently easy some of the time as well :-). Thank you for making this idea available to us. It’s beautiful.
I see many times in ‘day-to-day’ life how many people miss potential and enlightenment by thinking things aren’t possible or worth the effort. It is so amazing how recognizing and appreciating the potential every moment has for enlightenment can take us so much farther beyond ‘everyday life’ and to the enlightenment we truly seek. Beautiful indeed.
Domo Arigato Gozaimas
I’ve thought on the meaning of this phrase often and really appreciate seeing your own thoughts (and those of Anshu Rumiko-san) on it posted here. Arigato gozaimishita! I thought I once heard or read tell of ‘shi kin’ being taken as a sort of sound effect, almost like ‘schwing!’ but without the humorous reference. A sword-stroke. I also found a translation of ‘shikin’ as ‘very near’ which also feels appropriate. With that in mind, I now think of the phrase as follows:
“Close as a sword-stroke, innermost secrets, great light exploding!”
I see the sword-stroke as something coming towards us, not as something we deliver ourselves. We are struck, not striking.
The secrets in our hara, our body, are completely beyond the grasp of our rational mind. This is where, I believe, the talents we see expressed by Anshu Stephen Hayes and Hatsumi Soke (and others) are coming from. We are not seeing (only) the results of practice and perfection of technique, but rather the results of an explosion.
Supernatural, in ways, to our current point of view, but in reality quite simply As Natural As It Gets. 😉
One translation from an on-line dictionary for ‘skikin’ states it as ‘point blank range’. How’s that for an image? ; )
Thank you An-Shu, I was watching the level 3 students at a Quest center as they were chanting this saying and I was kind of – in awe at how classical it seemed, especially in an American setting, I was intrigued at the meaning and purpose of it, and, well, now I have a much better understanding of it, and it is more beautiful than I had anticipated. I cannot wait until I can fully understand the spiritualism of this art completely. Thank you for this post.
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