If you are not familiar with the martial arts, the word dōjō means “place of practice” or more literally “the place of the way”. In martial arts and zen, dōjō refers to the school or center of practice.
This phrase pronounced JIKI SHIN KORE DŌJŌ in Japanese, is attributed to Yuima, a great layman who was considered an enlightened teacher during the early stages of Buddhist development in India. The story goes that Yuima claimed to have come back from the dōjō where he had attained enlightenment. A young monk asked Yuima: where was this dōjō? The young monk told Yuima that he wished to go to this place and attain enlightenment as well. Yuima then answered: Jiki Shin Kore Dōjō, telling the young monk that the dōjō which he had returned was not a building or a place but his straightforward mind.
In our modern society we are always coming up with excuses not to pursue study. While it is true that in most instances you do need to go to a school, a classroom, or a dōjō to receive instruction, it is however your willingness to study and learn what is truly required in order to achieve enlightenment. Willingness becomes the dōjō, therefore the place of practice is not a building– a place where you can enter and leave at will. It is our everyday life, we are in every moment developing ourselves. We have to awaken to the realization that every life experience is a lesson. This does not happen automatically, one must have the desire to do so.
We have a world around us filled with technology that make our lives convenient and “easier” while moving at super fast speed. While these tools can sometimes help with our training and studies, what Yuima was trying to tell the young monk was that all the tools are useless and unnecessary if one does not have the desire to pursue training.
JIKI SHIN KORE DŌJŌ is composed of 5 Kanji characters, and it’s one of my favorite Zen phrases to brush. The complexity of characters like JIKI and JŌ and the simplicity of SHIN and KORE, gives it a rhythm and balance that is aesthetically appealing.
Click on the link below to watch the video where I brush JIKI SHIN KORE DŌJŌ. One of the principles of Japanese Calligraphy is that once started we must follow through. The work can’t be fixed, re-touched or corrected once it is done. It is truly the experience of Ichi Go Ichi E or “One Time, One Chance”. When brushing a calligraphy with 5 Kanji characters there is plenty of room for mistakes, but one must stay focused and concentrated not only on the movements of the hand and the brush but also on the meaning of what’s being written.
In this case, the only way to make it through this calligraphy without messing up was to simply keep a STRAIGHTFORWARD MIND.