Wherever I go to practise Zazen I try to experience the Keisaku, when kindly offered by the Jikijitsu leading the meditation. It is a good experience to learn, and it gives me an impression of the character (and swordsman skills) of the person handling it.
Last year visiting Engakuji Temple in Kitakamakura for morning Zazen I should have been warned: either by the fierce expression in face of the monk carrying the stick, or by the fact his body sized as wide as tall. Politely choosing the place next to the entrance, I was the first one in the group having a chance to ask, and when the first blow came down on me I almost fell down from my cushion. The four strokes left two large blue-green-yellow bruises on my back for some weeks (and forced me to sleep on the side for a couple of nights). The monk’s other passion must be tameshigiri I concluded, the art of cutting objects into pieces with a katana.
A week after this experience I went to my “Home-Temple” in Kameoka. Knowing the old Master uses the Keisaku in a much lighter way, I challenged my colourful back once more. Two strokes came down precise but lightly, and while I changed to the other side with a feeling of relief and confidence, number three hit me on my head. BANG!
So much I was preconditioned by the 2 left – 2 right rhythm, that I completely ignored any other possibilities! Would that have occurred with master-swordsman-monk at Engakuji the week before, I seriously might not have survived my mistake.
Besides all the hype and big business happening around “Mindfulness” these days, I value the term in it’s meaning of an open awareness of what is happening right here, right now – instead of being preoccupied by concepts of what might happen next. At least, a bit more mindfulness might prevent me from some headache next time …