This was written collaboration with DeepL (2023).
the ancient way;
Shugyo is an ancient way, a way of the function, interaction, and conflict of sen-sei, from small to great. According to Tadashi (2019), shugyo is “one well-spring of the Japanese educational tradition”, appearing earlier than Meiji era, and has been “inconsistent” in use since the Edo Era (p. 484). Modern translations makes sign and index of shugyo difficult, as these rest on frameworks of modernity, where understandings of less-than-modern events may yield insight into shugyo (p. 473). It is in the author’s affect, cognition, and behavior (i.e., attitude) that shugyo may be interpreted through atemporality. That is, seeing through a confound of temporal fixation. In this sense, an index of shugyo emerges in an ancient sense perception in contextual living in worlds devoid of even the earliest technologies. Shugyo does not just contribute to surviving, but also thriving in the inclination toward solving strain and stress, not only individually, but also collectively, amongst various as had yet evolved into socially differentiating spheres of daily activities in societies.
Tadashi’s Historiographic Analysis
Curiously, it was thought in the Edo period that shugyo was separate from politic—“politics does not require shugyo; shugyo does not make for good governance” (as cited in Tadashi, 2019, p. 474). However according to Confucian ideologies, shugyo was a necessity of “rulers” (p. 474). To expand on the ideology in these early times, “the way of the saints” was the “way of nature”, and society was built around common diverse “temperaments” (i.e., individuality) of human nature (p. 474). Teaching in this way was through etiquette and music, without force (p. 474). In these ways, institutions ruled rather than rule through cultivating virtues (i.e., shugyo; p. 474). In this time, practicality rather than shugyo was essential in education (p. 474).
政治のために修養は必要ない。修養を積 んだところでよき統治ができるわけではない。(Tadashi, 2019, p. 473; citing 荻生徂徠 [1667-1728])
Shugyo was interpreted in various ways depending on individual (pp. 474-475). In some perspectives, “shugyo is the way to become a ruler” (p. 475), yet later Japanese Confucianists included the “governed” in the practice(s) of shugyo (p. 475).
Shugyo overlaps morality, but is not externalized in norms (i.e., a-form-al), and is a “personal ethical practice”—“it is the work (motivation, expectation, and effort) of individuals who wish to improve themselves… it is like training” (p. 475). Fuji Nakae later emphasized shugyo as a study, reflecting, and preparing “one’s inner self” and emphasized activity of study similar to sutta studies of Buddhist lineages (p. 475). Ito Ninsai later thought that “daily duties of ordinary people are opportunities for cultivation”—the mediocre/vulgar daily activities of life (p. 475). To Ninsai, this shugyo is not about defeating oneself, not subordinating to mind as teacher (p. 475). Ninsai emphasized direct practice—修為 (p. 475); this mattered more to Ninsai than ideals, and emphasized phenomena (p. 475). Fujiki and Ninsai emphasized shugyo for all peoples (p. 475).
We should do our duty as much as we can in our daily lives in our daily dealings with others. This is the Way. The ‘mundane‘ of today is immediately the way.(Tadashi, 2019, p. 475; citing the framing of shugyo by Fujiki and Ninsai; trans. DeepL)
In Tadashi’s conclusion, it is helpful to just quote, as it is succinct, efficacious, and salient for a reader to understand and perhaps apply in their own quest for cultivating the significance of the mundane and vulgar moments of daily life.
The way of shugyo is self-cultivation. It is not an effort to influence others, nor is it a compulsion from others. It is not a force from others. It can be similar to a practice, or it can be similar to a regimen. It can be more like training, or it can be more like curing. In some cases, the emphasis is on self-discipline or social success. It is important to note that “shugyo” has not always been described in terms of “cultivation”. This paper is a reimportation of the word cultivation… The problem domain of “修養 cultivation” is broader than that of “修養”.(Tadashi, 2019, p. 475; trans. DeepL)
Nishihara, T. (2019). Anatomy of “Shuyo 修養”: The Japanese educational tradition understood through translations or dialogues with understanding in other languages. Kyōikugaku Kenkyū, 86(4), 473–484. https://doi.org/10.11555/kyoiku.86.4_473
Appendix I: Earlier Conventional Commentary
At first it will come like the bee, a simple life. Hunting [ carrot/stick ] , gathering [ goal/reward ], seeking [ challenge/skill ]. Life, that ever increasing complexity driven by the folding behavior of changes across density distributions. A great forge of life, take musu ai ki. Metabolic efficiency far beyond intellectual calculation.
Shugyo exhibits valences dependent on velocity and density of resource distributions behind a living activity. Some live in the forest, some at the gates of homes, others in large homes, some in mansions and palaces, some in heavens, some in hells. Shugyo comes together through marubashi. Phenomena assemble in homage to shugyo,
Austerity in resource expenditure, every moment cared to with the attention of master. In pouring tea, in placing a foot upon the earth. In opening the mouth to speak, in sitting on a chair. Thought, word, and deed. Mindfulness taken to the pinnacle of the mountain of space and time, that only moment, right here, right now; tada ima.
Take care with shugyo, lest one end up in the asura realms.