The idea of Shoshin as an always fresh immaculate heart, when everything is yet to come, is a popular term for philosophical discussions in Japan. I don’t know why, but with the beginning of this new year, the year of the buffalo, the word shoshin took over my mind. I have been confronted with this term for a quarter of a century through the art group of my Japanese friend Izan Ogawa, because that is the name of his calligrapher art group. Shoshinsha. I’ve always translated Shoshinsha as a Beginners Association. I understood that the group’s vision emphasizes the enthusiasm of those who are beginning to learn something. Those who know that there is a lot ahead and maybe they won’t even be enough for the given thing, but the topic fascinates them and they give themselves to it no matter what it costs. Sometimes the word shoshin is used as a warning not to behave as if one already knows everything. Shoshin is simply the heart of a beginner.
A few days ago, I added another meaning to the word shoshin thanks to a computer translater. It translated shoshin as “fresher.” It surprised me. It even made me angry. Where has the heart contained in the word disappeared? The idea is so noble and yet the translator translates it only as something fresh. Unspoiled, not yet old. But then the classic heart of a beginner entered my mind and I humbly decided to check the shoshin afresh.
I asked Izan what the heart of a beginner must be. The heart is called “kokoro” and in the word shoshin it is the second part of “shin”. It is said to be the heart of “uiuishii,” that is, pure, transparent, immaculate. Furthermore, the heart is “mizumizushii”, that is youthful, fresh and juicy, and last but not least the heart is “sugasugashii”, an uncomplicated heart, flooded with the unnecessary and one that radiates a nice feeling of simplicity and intelligibility. “Sho” in the word is behind the first clothes for a newborn baby and the scissors that cut it. It appealed to me. How beautiful!
Yes, this is ideed the equipment we will definitely need this year! It will not be easy to make sense of catastrophic scenarios and conflicting information. It will cost us a lot of effort to maintain determination, zeal and freshness for good simple things. So I thought that to the last year’s encouragement of Ichi Nichi Kore Kou Nichi – every day is my favorite day, this year I will add a warning Shoshin Wasureru Bekarazu. It means I must not allow myself to forget my beginner’s heart.
Shoshin Wasureru Bekarazu has a sequel, a set of two graduating hints. They were all spoken by a Japanese artist and thinker Zeami of the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. They are roaring.
Remember to be fresher
Remember to be fresher sometimes
Don’t forget your fresher age
The original is:
Shoshin wasureru bekarazu
Tokidoki shoshin wasureru bekarazu
Roogo shoshin wasureru bekarazu
My translation is:
Don’t forget the heart of a beginner
It has the power of freshness!
Remember the freshness sometimes!
For what? For the heart of a beginner.
Even old age can get younger.
By what? The heart of a beginner.
I want a beginner’s heart!
Yes, wanting a beginner’s heart is Miyabi’s wish for the new year 2021. We want to be for you fresh and even fresher!
Yours, Miyabi Darja