Silk and Iron

Train away the ego to see with sharp, pure eyes.

sword making

“We cannot see any personality in their calligraphy. The personality we see in art should be well trained without much ego in it. I think you can understand the difference between personality and ego. Ego is something that covers your good personality. Everyone had character, but if you don’t train yourself, your character is covered by ego. You cannot appreciate your personality.

“Through long practice and training, we get rid of ego. A word in Japanese that expresses this training is neru. Neru is how we refine silk by washing it many times so that the threads are white and soft enough to weave. We also use the character for iron. We temper iron by hitting it while it is hot —not to forge or to shape it but to make it strong. Hitting it after it is cold doesn’t work. Training is something like this. When you are young, you have a lot of ego, a lot of desires. Through training you rub and wash your ego, and you become quite soft, like pure white silk. Even though you have strong desires, if you temper them enough, you will have strong sharp iron, like a Japanese sword. This is how we train ourselves.”

–Shunryu Suzuki

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About Lightning Heart

Nomad. Poet. Philosopher. Teacher. View all posts by Lightning Heart

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