Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kobara Sensei 7th Year Memorial Service

On December 17th, 2011 the Seventh Year Memorial Service for Kobara Ranseki Sensei took place at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco at 1:00 PM. Kobara Sensei was the founder and Shihan ("Headmaster") of the Ranseki Sho Juku system of Japanese calligraphy and painting as well as the Vice President of the Kokusai Shodo Bunka Koryu Kyokai, which is based in Urayasu, Japan.
The private service was attended by around 20 people, mostly members of the Kobara family and H. E. Davey Sensei and Miyauchi Somei Sensei, two of his closest students of shodo. Although Kobara Sensei taught many people the ancient art of brush calligraphy over several decades, only four people ever received Shihan-Dai, the highest level of teaching certification. Davey Sensei and Miyauchi Sensei are the last two living Shihan-Dai of Ranseki Sho Juku shodo. They lead the Wanto Shodo Kai, "East Bay Shodo Association," in Oakland, California. Davey Sensei is also the Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts, where classes in Integrated Shodo & Meditation are offered.
A Jodo Shinshu Buddhist service started the event, followed by a traditional offering of incense to Kobara Sensei by members of his family, Miyauchi Sensei, and Davey Sensei. The memorial service closed with comments from Kobara Kazuko, Kobara Sensei's wife. She recalled his deeply spiritual nature, how he viewed most everyone as members of his family, and how his last words were expressions of gratitude.
Following the service, refreshments were offered at the church social hall, which contained pictures of Kobara Sensei as a child, teaching shodo, receiving awards at international shodo exhibitions, and being presented with the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

From the Author

Living the Japanese Arts & Ways is out of print, but the entire book is now offered in The Japanese Way of the Artist (Stone Bridge Press). What's more, you'll also get two of my other out of print titles: Brush Meditation and The Japanese Way of the Flower.

Shodo (the "Way of Japanese calligraphy"), budo (the "martial Way"), and kado (the "Way of flower arrangement") are just some of the numerous Japanese arts ending in “Do,” indicating “the Way.” Nonetheless, how these arts function as Ways isn’t always understood.

It’s common to state that these various disciplines represent a Way of life (thus the designation “Do”), and that by practicing, we can transcend them and grasp the art of living. While this is true, it’s uncommon to find a teacher (or book) that can explain how such Do forms lead to spiritual realization. While some books pay lip service to the ideal of the Way producing spiritual evolution, they also sometimes fail to offer direct explanations and methodologies to help students realize the Way. It’s frequently assumed that merely manipulating a brush or throwing an opponent will produce profound realizations.

This is untrue and unfortunate. It’s untrue because it’s the manner in which we approach the Ways that determines what we learn from them. Spiritual realization isn’t guaranteed.

It’s unfortunate because the conscious practice of Japanese Do forms truly can result in the cultivation of mind and body. But to use them as meditation, we must investigate exactly how they can lead to realization.

Japanese calligraphy, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, martial arts, and other Do has been the subject of numerous books. Few of these works, however, have explored how they go beyond art and enter into spirituality. Even fewer have offered methods to practice what can be thought of as “moving meditation,” and which are needed for personal growth to take place.

My book was written to answer that need, and I'm grateful for the kind reviews as well as the positive worldwide response.