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Category Archives: Misogi
At its simplest, the ideogram for ‘misogi‘ shows a divine purity. ‘Divine’ is the altar on the left, ‘purity’ is a large number of cuts in a tally stick: many repetitions – or, possibly, just ‘counting’… ‘hi-fu-mi…’ the ‘miraculous sword’ of counting…
But the way we write ‘large/big’ – in this case ‘large number’ – is actually a human being with arms and legs spread wide. The conventional gloss is that it is a man or woman gesturing ‘as big as this!’ But, equally, in a non-materialistic society, the highest numbers you might ever encounter, would be not objects, but repetitions of physical movements. And that picture of a human figure with arms and legs spread wide, could indeed be a picture of someone performing shin-kokyu… or ame-no-tori-fune… or tai ch’i… and the pictographs can easily align to show a person performing some kind of active, physical yoga with a tally stick and a sword emanating from their head. And then: the oldest version of ‘altar’ is a simple table with drops of liquid… that does entirely resemble Nachi Falls…
An alternative kanji, which can also be read as ‘isagiyoi‘ (‘pure’ and ‘virile/vital’), has water instead of the altar: so it can be beautifully drawn as a great human being (‘O-jin‘) with water, counting, and a sword in their mind.
These three things [sho-chiku-bai], if we want to say clearly what they are, we would say: they are the red jewel, the white jewel, and the perfect, clear jewel. What we call ‘the red jewel’ is shio-mitsu-no-tama [the salt-filling-up-jewel]; the white jewel is shio-hiro-no-tama [the salt-ebbing-out-jewel], and the perfect, clear jewel is the jewel of the wind. And we have to make full use of all the benefits of that misogi that comes from the spirit-powers of wind and water. We have to completely purify with misogi the kegare of some 100 million years, accumulated up to the present day. We have to set about performing this misogi. Because without this misogi we will not be able to create a thing. Nothing fine will arise. And we will not be able to set a single thing aright.
– – – O’Sensei, probably audio-recorded by by Masatake Fujita, transcribed by Sadateru Arikawa Shihan, published in Aiki-Shinzui, pp. 22-23
O’Sensei performs misogi in the mountains…
Sprinkled by spring waters,
The rocky crag’s voice:
How perfectly pure and clear it falls,
– Also when no-one is there.
Basho meditates and performs misogi behind Hidden View Falls on Sunlight Mountain…
For a while
In a waterfall
I seclude myself –
The first-rites of Summer…
…a mountain waterfall…
Tumbling down a rocky crag
the water filling a deep blue-green
…by Nishigo falls in Yoshino…
…amidst the rushing water
are there yellow mountain-rose petals falling?
… a waterfall’s sound …
– – – Basho
We cannot get by, just using our mind and our five senses: this doesn’t work. Notice how, in Buddhism, for example, they talk about purifying the mind and these five senses (“rokkon shoujou!“)… And when we talk about the mind and these five senses (rokkon), in relationship to the manifest world, well… in order to see this world clearly, and really know it, we have to understand that this is something we can only do through our physical body of flesh, and it takes some dedication to acquire this faculty.
And, paradoxically… as we work on [through our physical body] acquiring the ability truly to see the manifest, physical world as it really is, we find that this is very much about purging and clearing the pathways and channels of the mind and the five senses so that they are clean, harmonious and bright.
– – – O’Sensei, probably audio-recorded by by Masatake Fujita, transcribed by Sadateru Arikawa Shihan, published in Aiki-Shinzui, p. 44