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Samadhi: Self Development in Zen, Swordsmanship

Samadhi: Self Development in Zen, Swordsmanship

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“Samadhi” was written by Chozen-ji’s abbott Sayama Daian (Mike Sayama, PhD) and was originally published in 1985.

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The key to self-development, says Mike Sayama, is the experience of Samadhi, a state of relaxed concentration in which the individual neither freezes out of fear nor clings due to desire. Simply stated, samadhi is the free flow of vital energy within the body and between the body and the universe. Moving effortlessly across traditions and techniques, Sayama discovers that sages throughout history―Greek philosophers, German mystics, Indian seers, and our own Albert Einstein among others―have taught that this experience of transcendental oneness lies at the heart of full self-realization.

The first part of the book studies self-realization in Zen Buddhism. The author pinpoints its essence in Buddha’s enlightenment. The development of Zen is then traced, continuing down to living masters who in very recent times have transplanted their lineages from Japan to the United States. Sayama notes that we must choose as masters those to whom the authentic teaching has been transmitted through generations, and he examines in loving detail the sometimes strange and astonishing behaviors of those whose very presence communicates the state of samadhi.

The second part of the book presents Zen therapy, a way of self-development emphasizing the cultivation of samadhi through psychophysical training. Sayama compares the effects of Rolfing, Feldenkrais, and Zen therapy on the human body and mind. He includes easy-to-follow directions for creating the inner state he describes. He tells vivid stories of extraordinary cases treated from the point of view that the best therapy is nothing less than the removal of all dualism. Four main practices are presented: zazen (meditation), hara development, circulation of the vital energy, and communication.