Shin, Zen, Bi
Truth, Goodness, Beauty
The essence of kyudo is based on the three concepts:
We strive for a pure and right-minded shooting. This requires a pure and right-minded heart—a true heart. In addition, the flight of the arrow with it the absolute truth of hitting or missing. The moment of truth manifests at the moment of the release of the arrow. Whatever the outcome, it’s undeniable.
Sei sha hitchu (A true shot never misses) can be seen as a metaphor for the principle of truth in kyudo.
In the practice of kyudo we strive for such qualities as courtesy, compassion and non-belligerence. We seek to display these qualities in all situations, even outside our kyudo practice. Rei, our rules for etiquette surrounding our ceremonies, help us to show common courtesy and respect for others, and is an essential element in kyudo practice.
The two previous concepts, of course, are considered beautiful. But beyond them, we strive for an aesthetic awareness in everything we do. The practitioner’s attire, comportment and sense of order are all part of this aesthetic. Furthermore, it is said that if we surrender to the ancient kyudo principles of practice (Shaho), our true nature will be allowed to emerge by removing our own ego. And our true nature—in and of it self—is beautiful.
“The main point of kyudo practice is to polish your mind. When someone hits the target, you can sometimes see happiness. In kyudo, you cut this happiness. That’s merely the enjoyment of ego. Whether you hit the target or not, whether you have a beautiful form or not, is not the true measure of your practice. In kendo, karate, judo, all these forms of fighting training, victory comes from cutting someone else. Kyudo is completely different. You cut yourself, your own ego. ”
– Kanjuro Shibata XX, Sensei