Zen in the art of teaching…

Today, I discussed, “Zen in the Art of Archery” with my Japanese class. It has been awhile since I last read it, and I have developed further along the way since then. It has been another great reminder of life practice through art.

Today, we touched on some important things. Like the need to relax in everything that we do. Sometimes, I forget this. I have become so much better, and I am getting really close, but I still have more work do in this area. It is one of the main keys. Relax. Focus on the breath.

That to know the universe, according to Zen, is a paradox. You have to strive for it, but not. Have a goal, but forget about it. It is a riddle. Solve it, and you will understand more about life. This definitely relates back to relaxing. It is about internal progress.

Zen stories are my favorite and Master Awa Kenzo does not disappoint. I love the fantastic story of a blind folded shot at night with the arrow piercing the other arrow both dead smack in the middle of the target. But lo! That is totally irrelevant. It all comes back to the internal state. To the master, it does not matter whether he hits the target or not, so, he hits the target. Ah, the Zen paradoxes! I think I hurt a few of the student’s brains.

We then went on to think about life and death. To master being fearless in the face of death, that is when you have truly become a master. Deep, deep thinking.

We then went on to discuss how everyone’s path is different through life. Which fits in very well with the philosophy of the school I teach at. We are based on inquiry and strongly believe in personalized learning. Each young grasshopper must be helped in different ways at different times. It is an art form.

And then I reminded them that as they grow into their 20s, some of them might go off and practice an art or travel around the world and have experiences that will completely change them. This is to be expected. People from the past may not be able to understand.

We then related it back to its close Western counterpart: Stoicism.

It is one of the most important discussions I have had in education. It made me think deeply. It has been awhile since I last read this book and I have made progress down the path. It was a great reminder to be present. Be fearless. Embrace the way. Let go. Relax. Practice.

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