But when you try to understand what illusion really is, or why reality is considered an illusion, you need to get some advice from our elders. Plato has always been one of my favorite philosopher and today I stumbled upon this sentence that made me think a lot about this “illusion/reality” duality. I know now that where there is duality there is lack of unity, and unity is what we are looking for in the Bujinkan. So I tried to unite this dual aspect.
“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true”.
Asian philosophies (and many others) have taught us that the world in which we live is not “reality”, that it is “illusion”. And we’ve all accepted it, thinking: “if those clever Asian guys said it so long ago, it must be true”. But is it really true? And here, Plato, who wasn’t really from Asia, helps us understand it better.
The “relative emotional values” (REV) he is referring to are created by ourselves (brain, education, ego) and these REV, in fact, act like shields preventing us from seeing clearly was we have in front of us. It is because we are unable to see correctly with the 心神心眼, shinshin shingan (the eyes and the mind of the gods) that we are stuck in the world of illusion*.
The first problem is that people have accepted this and are happy with it, not trying to see beyond the veil. They know it is wrong but they are too lazy to even try to change it. This is the same in the dôjô, where many come from an illusion of what ninjutsu is and once taught properly stay or leave the dôjô because they do not want to change their initial wrong vision.
The second problem is the concept of “morality”. And the main issue is that the concept of morality bears many definitions** if it refers to onself, the group/family, the city, the country, etc. But whatever morality is, is it still morality when based upon emotions? No.
Our emotions are flawed and make us see things different from what they are. Therefore when morality derives from emotions that are based upon our inability to see reality; what we obtain is a “system of morality” that is not able to provide us with the tools to survive in the real world. The Chinese were the first to understand the difference between theory and praxis. Apparently this system of morality is only theoretical and not at all practical.
So I would rephrase Plato’s sentence and say instead: “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values defines a theoretical reality, and a practical illusion”.
We do not live in 幻覚の世界, genkaku no sekai (the world of illusion) but in 現実の世界, genjitsu no sekai (the world of reality). The Bujinkan is an art based solely on practical reality.
* This is the blue pill/red pill of the Matrix movies
3 thoughts on “Genkaku no Sekai”
Thank you for your food for thought. I was reading your previous post on kokoroe, and realized that it fit quite well into the TenChiJin model. All living things from the time they come into existence start to investigate the physical world around them exploring outward. For man, once this “earthly” or “material” knowledge is gained, the next step is to explore inward. The study of the psychological or the sociological, starting with self-reflection. We try to understand who we are as individuals as well as trying to understand the motives of other people. As we attain understanding of human nature, we start to imagine the ideal (which doesn’t exist presently, and perhaps can’t ever exist on Earth). This is understanding of the divine. However, I think that the pursuit of knowledge in any field is endless, so we explore and get teaspoons of knowledge of the world around us, reflect upon ourselves and our place in it, and then redefine the ideal based upon that new understanding. Then we go back and repeat the process. Kokoroe can have many interpretations because it has various nuances (experience, knowledge, wisdom, a notion, understanding, idea, a hint, rules of how something works/is done, regulations, know-how, etc.). When we take a spoonful of information, gobble it down, and fully digest it, this (as I understand it) is kokoroe. It’s the EURIKA moment….or taking something to heart. Anyways, this is my idea. Please tell me what you think.
So now in response to Genkaku no Sekai (continued from my ideas on kokoroe)…..
Plato in “The Republic” makes the allegory of a cave with prisoner who has spent his whole life chained inside it with his back to the outside world. His only image of the the outside world is that of the shadowy forms made by the interplay of light and objects projected on the rear wall. When the prisoner starts to realize that perhaps the shadows are projections of something else, perhaps this is the kokoroe moment. If the prisoner is suddenly free and turns around to see that the images are silhouettes made by firelight on statues, the statues become the new real, until there is another kokoroe moment when he realizes that perhaps this too is an image of something else. If he realizes that there is a truer light towards the mouth of the cave and walks toward it, and upon reaching it would at first be blinded by the sunlight, but then realizes that this is the ” true ” light shining upon the “real” world. Metaphorically the Sun is the truth or the ideal form of what is good. It illuminates completely/perfectly. Plato’s argument is that morality or higher good has to based on more than an individual perception of what is good because often our individual perception is not based on the truth. This search for the ideal truth is the search for the divine. We should ignore ,according to Plato, what we feel…..look for the universal truths. So now that our prisoner is free from the cave and in the real world, he decides he wants to learn more. He decides to be “educated”. He attends university, learns about the nature of light and matter, photons and atoms, which essentially are made of ….well,…..NOTHING. So everything in the physical world that he has deemed to be “real” have turned out to be an illusion. One whole big Universe full of nothing looking like a big something. In fact, time, matter etc, may depend on perspective…on how we see it. Ignore your own perspective to find divine truth, but the divine truth is based on perspective? Now his head hurts…too much time in the bright light of the Sun which may or may not exist, and he feels like he’d like to retire to the comfort of his warm firelit cave and forget about all this mess.
So how does this relate to our art ….The Divine Warrior Hall Bujinkan? We have “forms” or kata. They are tangible perceptions of a deeper knowledge…a necessary step in the pursuit of more fundamental and universal concepts, but if you take them apart ( Shu ha ri), they turn out to be empty in and of themselves. As one understands the concepts more deeply, you can apply them to the forms to make them something. Just as the Universe exists as one thing with two natures, so do the forms. The kata are nothing, or are they everything….now my head hurts. Hat sumi sensei is truly a Budo no Kamisama. His budo exists in where the something and the nothing exist freely together. Or at least that’s my perception. What do you think?
P.S. Have you heard of Shrodinger’s cat? Basically it was an experiment to determine the nature of electrons to determine if they are a particle or a wave. As it turns out, they can be both depending on the method of observation…more food for thought.