A radish-inspired spiritual practice

The inventor of the Takuan pickled daikon radish was the 16th Century Zen monk Takuan Soho, famous also for his letters to the renowned samurai Yagyu Munenori, on the application of Zen discipline to combat (and vice-versa).

I love pickled daikon, and Takuan’s letters have long inspired me. What better source for a bespoke spiritual practice!

Quick caveat: this is based on my own experience and what feels good to me. I can’t say what effect it might have on others, so look after yourself.

Step one: find a place to sit with a tree or other plants in clear view, preferably outdoors.

Step two: look at the tree and try to see all of the leaves in motion.

Step three: without shifting your gaze, try to become aware of all movement within your field of vision. Small bugs and butterflies, cars driving by, birds flitting in and out of view, plants in the foreground, trees in the background. Become aware of all the movement as it occurs.

Step four: as your awareness stabilises and becomes consistent, become aware also of your own body on the other side of this field of vision that fills your awareness. While you can’t “see” yourself, you can be aware of yourself sitting there viewing the scene before you.

Step five: become aware of the movements of your muscles, the sensations in your body, and the thoughts and ideas in your mind, all without losing awareness of your field of vision. Being aware of your own body has a sense of “completing the circle”.

Step six: as you feel the complete circle, notice that the awareness of your field of vision and the awareness of your body and mind are one and the same thing. Enjoy the lightness and sense of space.

Step seven: notice that the thoughts and impulses and ideas and feelings running through your body and mind are different in this practice of awareness. The contents of your mind feel less pressing. And the new thoughts that come seem to take a cue from this lightness and space. Notice also that some thoughts and impulses that arise would totally interrupt and put an end to this practice of awareness, but you have the choice of whether to go along with these impulses or not. Notice that the stories you have been telling and the way you usually carry yourself are not relevant to this state of awareness.

One thought on “A radish-inspired spiritual practice

  1. Just buy your たくあん/takuan at the スーパー/super(market) like everybody else!
    Seriously though, you can’t commodify or abstract away every process in your life, and it seems you’ve chosen a decent process to immerse yourself in.

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