Thanks to the a book by Riccardo Gabarrini and Aki Kaku, (Capire i Kanji – Understanding Kanji), it is possible to discover the graphic evolution that, over the centuries, led to today’s kanji “心” which means “heart”.
From a heart drawn in a way very similar to our modern symbol, Japanese culture elaborated on to a shape withsome lines to distinguish the two atria of the heart with two drops of blood up to trying to describe an artery.
As a novice kanji student I would have much preferred the archaic form of heart because it is certainly easier to remember…but never mind!
What fascinates me about kanji is above all the deep meaning that the Japanese people give to these complex traits.
For example, backto the kanji we are talking about in this post, focusing just on the concept of “heart” would be a very poor translation.
In fact, Japanese culture understands it as a concept of soul seen as the spirit of a person which includes both the heart [心臓 Shinzō intended as organ] and the mind [心身 Shinshin intended as mind and body]. Not just that, feelings [本心 Honshin seen as the real intention, the real feeling that one feels but does not show], sensations [安心 Anshin seen as relief, feeling safe] and desires [ 向上心 Koujoushin understood as ambition, desire to improve].
If we consider that, all these meanings and concepts are perceptible above all in our chest and not in our head. And in the chest beats our heart!
Those who practice a martial discipline learn over time that it is not a simple educational path in which one learns to give a perfect shape of an attack and a defense technique but there is much more.
Just like with the translation of the heart, a martial art is not just a study of technique but much more.
To understand this “much more”, you need to have the courage to step on the tatami, you need to have the perseverance to rise again after every fall, you need to overcome your own laziness, you need to accept yourself, working for constant self-improvement .
I have been practicing Aikido for more than 10 years… I could add “more than 10 years so far” or “just more than 10 years”…it’s a matter of perspective.
For some it is a very long time for an activity for others it is the minimum time to start learning it.
Personally I can say that in my martial path I have learned a lot about myself, I have tried and still try to keep a balance between yin and yang, between my black and my white. Obviously even in these two colors there is much more than a simple chromatic duality but we will investigate this in an other post.
I end my reflection by wishing each of you to be able to discover the deepest meaning of the heart [心 ] in your life and to live it for a personal path of improvement.
By improving ourselves we will surely contribute to a better world!
Disclaimer: Picture from Pixabay