Friday, November 29, 2013

An Important New Book

The Teachings of Tempu: Practical Meditation for Daily Life details the life and meditation techniques of Nakamura Tempu (1876-1968). Mr. Nakamura taught Shin-shin-toitsu-do (“The Way of Mind and Body Unification”) for over 50 years and authored bestselling books. He trained over 100,000 people, including members of the Japanese Imperial Family, government officials, business leaders, top athletes, celebrated actors, martial arts experts, and notable novelists. 

The book begins with Mr. Nakamura’s early years and a global quest to cure his tuberculosis. This search took him to the USA, where he studied medicine at Columbia University. Next, he traveled to Europe, where he lived with actress Sarah Bernhardt and researched psychology. In Egypt he encountered Kaliapa, an Indian mystic and yoga master, who brought him to India for a final attempt to save his life. After austere meditation in the Himalayas, Nakamura Tempu attained enlightenment, shook off the bonds of illness, and returned to Japan a changed man. 

The Teachings of Tempu uses episodes from Mr. Nakamura’s life to introduce his philosophy of mind and body unification, his forms of meditation, and how these skills can help you attain better health as well as deeper calmness, concentration, and willpower. It contains rare photos from Japan, which chronicle his long life. Also featured are extensive quotes from his books, the first time his writing has been offered in English. The Teachings of Tempu presents experiments and exercises you can try at home to understand mind and body unification—the essence of Mr. Nakamura’s realization and the secret to unlocking human potential. Illustrations of these exercises and forms of meditation are provided, along with an Introduction by Sawai Atsuhiro, a leading teacher of Shin-shin-toitsu-do and a direct student of Mr. Nakamura. Dr. Robert Carter, author and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy for Canada’s Trent University, wrote the Foreword.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free Class!

On May 2, 2013 the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts in California will offer an introductory class in the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga. This event is FREE.

What You can Experience
Shin-shin-toitsu-do is the form of Japanese yoga and meditation that will be offered. Shin-shin-toitsu-do, “The Way of Mind and Body Unification,” was founded in the early 1900s by Nakamura Tempu Sensei. Nakamura Sensei lived in India, where he studied the art of Raja yoga, the yoga of meditation. After studying medicine at Columbia University, he blended Indian meditation and health improvement with his background in medicine, psychology, Japanese healing arts and meditation, and Japanese martial arts. He taught for many years in Japan, authored best-selling books, and counted among his students a large number of Japan's top executives, politicians, fine artists, athletes, martial artists, and people from every walk of life. But few Westerners have yet been exposed to these extraordinary teachings.

Shin-shin-toitsu-do offers you practical forms of seated and moving meditation, breathing methods for health, stretching exercises, autosuggestion for altering negative habits, stress management, and self-healing techniques that are little-known in the West. Emphasis is also placed on the development of ki (chi in Chinese). Ki amounts to life energy, and its cultivation has a profound effect on mental and physical health. The goal is greatly enhanced concentration, willpower, calmness, relaxation, and physical fitness.

All You Need to Know to Participate
The class will take place at 1053 San Pablo Avenue in Albany, California, right across the bay from San Francisco. The Japanese yoga program starts at 7:00 PM. You can read more about this subject at

Wear loose clothing and bring a notebook. Pre-registration is needed and easily accomplished. Just leave a voice mail at 510-526-7518 or send e-mail to Leave your name and phone number, and then indicate that you would like to participate. Indicate if anyone else is coming with you, and then just drop by on May 2, 2013. Please arrive a few minutes before 7:00 PM for general registration.

The class will be taught by Troy Swenson Sensei, who has been studying and teaching at the Sennin Foundation Center for several years. He has associate instructor certification in Japanese yoga.

Don't miss your chance to learn how Japanese yoga can help you realize better health, deeper calmness, and enhanced concentration in everyday life. Thanks for supporting our dojo. We're looking forward to seeing you, your friends, and your family on May 2.

Monday, March 11, 2013

From the Author

From the Author of Brush Meditaton and The Japanese Way of the Artist

Within our lifetimes, we are witnessing the meeting of East and West; the fact that both Asian and Western cultures have a variety of good points as well as bad points is fairly obvious. What is perhaps not as evident is my supposition that through a positive, non-biased process of Eastern and Western cultural exchange, a new, more balanced, more enlightened global culture may result. Moreover, while I explore calligraphic painting (shodo) as well as other Japanese cultural arts in Brush Meditation—A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony, and although I made an attempt to examine the meditative aspects of shodo and various Japanese arts, one of the main reasons I wrote this book is to let other Westerners know that it is possible, and meaningful, for non-Japanese to participate in traditional Japanese art forms.

At their deepest levels, the martial arts (budo), tea ceremony (chado), flower arrangement (kado), calligraphy (shodo), and other Japanese arts, are the same. Despite their obvious physical differences, these arts share a common set of aesthetics; and more importantly, they require the acquisition of identical positive character traits if you are to become successful in their performance. Note that many of these arts end in the word "do." Do means "the way," and it indicates that a given activity has transcended its utilitarian function, that this action has, furthermore, been elevated to the level of art, and that its proponents are teaching it as a way of life. In sum and substance then, a do form is an art which allows you to grasp the ultimate nature of the whole of life by examining yourself in great detail through a singular aspect of life. In other words, to grasp the universal through the particular.

Many artistic principles and important mental states are universal for the various Japanese ways. One of the most significant and basic principles that these arts share is the concept of mind and body coordination. While few of us are required to use a brush in daily life, most people are interested in realizing their full potential and enhancing their mental state as well as physical health. Since integrating the mind and body allows us to accomplish these aims, the relationship between the mind and body, along with how to achieve a state of mind-body harmony, is one of the main themes of Brush Meditation.

In the case of painting, some adherents may speak of a "unity of mind and brush," and make statements which indicate that "if the mind is correct, the brush is correct." In Japanese swordsmanship, it is not uncommon to speak of a unity of mind, body, and sword. Likewise, in Zen meditation, students are encouraged to arrive at a state of mind and body coordination, a state of "self-harmony." All of these assertions point to the necessity of integrating the mind and body in action. Mental and physical harmony is also vital for realizing your full potential in daily living, and it remains one of the central elements needed for mastery of any of the classical Japanese ways.

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, although I serve as Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts, I'm not teaching and pursuing the above-mentioned art forms, due to an overwhelming interest in Japanese culture. While I certainly am, of course, interested in Japan, my main intention in studying these arts is to examine the nature of the self, the universe, and life as a whole. This point is vital, as the miscellaneous "do" all indicate a "way" that transcends boundaries and limitations. It is in the end not a "Japanese way," but rather a human way, and ultimately, the Way of the Universe.

In Brush Meditation, shodo, or Japanese brush writing, is used as a representative example of how the various do forms help us to discover principles that relate universally to all aspects of living, and which can enhance our lives. Brush Meditation starts off with a brief history of calligraphy and painting in Asia and explains why these arts hold relevance for the West. Following this is an explanation of mind-body unification in shodo and painting, as well as the actual techniques of controlling the brush. The aesthetics and principles, which are universal for Japanese cultural arts, will also be explored, along with their importance for cultivating calmness and concentration. Of course, a few introductory lessons in brush meditation, calligraphy, and painting are included. Sources for shodo and painting supplies are also detailed in the appendix.

In conclusion, I am not a master of any of the above topics. Still, I have had unique opportunities to study, in both the U.S. and Japan, Japanese arts that remain inaccessible to many people in the West. It is my wish to share with interested others a bit of what I have been able to absorb about these art forms. Even more, this book amounts to an act of personal study, self-examination, and analysis that I hope will also be relevant to other people interested in art, meditation, and/or Japanese culture.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review of Brush Meditation, Part of The Japanese Way of the Artist Anthology

"As a highly ranked, well-respected instructor of various arts, including classical martial arts, Japanese yoga, and shodo (calligraphy), H. E. Davey is able to discuss shodo in terms of wider spiritual and philosophical implications for the non-practitioner and, indeed, for anyone seeking insights and ideas from Asian culture and traditions. This is an unusual talent and a rare gift, and Davey speaks from an unusual perspective of awareness, position, and repute."
--Wayne Muromoto, publisher, The Classic Budoka blog