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Taomeow

Nikkido (The Way of the Diary)

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Posted (edited)

Nikkido is supposed to be one of the Japanese (zen?) self-cultivation practices -- writing in a diary every day, not in an ordinary way but in a strictly formalized fashion pursuing the triple goal of developing the mind, honing the action before undertaking it, and tempering the spirit.  There's some 30 "patterns" or "styles" of writing to choose from -- once chosen, it is meticulously followed.  E.g. in the "Wood, blade, hoar" pattern, the first entry is aimed at nourishing and expanding the intellect, the worldly knowledge of the mind, and can be, e.g., a quote from an encyclopedia on some subject of interest; the second, honing one's mind toward clarity and precision before undertaking an impending action -- toward making it decisive and sharp like a blade; the third, personally formulating a maxim, a "settled" spiritual truth, which is supposed to be short, elegant, and profound.  The diary itself is not for long-term preservation, not for sharing, and not for re-reading -- it's the process that counts.

 

Typing is not used in the original process. :)  

 

I wonder if there's a taoist counterpart.  Or maybe it's worth creating if there isn't.  Or maybe there's a way to "translate" and adapt this practice to TDB entries.  The ephemeral nature of online writing (albeit much of it is preserved, it is mostly about the process in the moment) seems to have some of the nikkido flavor to it already...  just a whiff of course...  in some PPDs.  :) 

Edited by Taomeow
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Not familiar with Nikkido, but I used to practice something called Naikan, which a local Jodo Shinshu priest recommended.

 

https://tricycle.org/magazine/naikan-therapy/

 

It's originally from the Japanese Pure Land tradition but its been spun out now as a therapeutic tool. 

 

For the period I stuck to it I did find it a powerful reminder of how much we rely on the kindness of others, and useful indeed in cultivating a sense of gratitude.

 

I do think its something more suited to the Japanese character though, and personally it never stuck for me.

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@Taomeow -  thought provoking post.  Especially the part about "The diary itself is not for long-term preservation, not for sharing, and not for re-reading -- it's the process that counts."

 

So I decided to google Nikkido and the top hit was... your post.  ;-)

 

Any suggested reading on Nikkido?  

 

Thanks... 

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49 minutes ago, Fu_doggy said:

@Taomeow -  thought provoking post.  Especially the part about "The diary itself is not for long-term preservation, not for sharing, and not for re-reading -- it's the process that counts."

 

So I decided to google Nikkido and the top hit was... your post.  ;-)

 

Any suggested reading on Nikkido?  

 

Thanks... 

 

LOL, that's the internet for you.

 

I don't know anything about it, unfortunately, besides what I wrote.  I got it from a novelist whose main protagonist -- to give the closest approximation -- is a Russian cross between martial heroes of Louis Cha's wuxia novels and Sherlock Holmes, who lived in Japan and got most esoteric training there under fictitious but historically believable circumstances in the late 19th century.  The author, who unlike his protagonists is our contemporary, is a graduate of the most prestigious school of Oriental studies and an encyclopedically educated historian.  Among other things, he has translated many major Japanese authors and gave his main protagonist a most adorable yakuza sidekick.  Nikkido was introduced as a practice the protagonist (a lifelong martial artist and self-cultivator -- albeit in a very worldly setting) undertakes much later in life and finds most demanding.  His life spans a whole bunch of extremely entertaining (and superbly written) novels through the time period from the 1870s to the 1920s.

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Posted (edited)

I´ve done lots of process-oriented not-for-rereading writing in the form of Morning Pages, a la Julia Cameron´s The Artist Way.  The idea is to write 3 handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind without stopping or editing in any way.  Contrary to the rules, I ususually write on my laptop and way more than the 3 pages suggested, usually a minimum of 3000 words.  (Clearly I should get out more.)  Although I have some misgivings about the practice, I mostly find it therapeutic.  As I write I´m very aware of my bodies reaction to the process of writing itself and often my entry is a sort of running log of those reactions -- lots of yawning, sometimes tears, unusually deep breaths, chattering teeth, relaxation of my face, neck, chest.  I can start out in a bad mood and it will eventually clear if I just write enough.  Often there´s a sense of emerging into the external environment...not sure how to put it ...I can be all wrapped up in myself and my words and then I kind of pop out and take a renewed interest in my surroundings.  When this pop out happens, I figure it´s about time to quit.

 

My hesitation with this practice is that the writing itself can be quite negative.  It´s not butterfly and rainbow stuff.  Maybe this is the power of this kind of writing....trauma processing? catharsis?  It´s just that I sometimes wonder if focusing negatively like that is just deepening neuroemotional grooves I´d rather not deepen.  (If others have thoughts on this question, please share.)

 

Not sure if this bears any resemblance to Nikkido but it´s what came to mind.

Edited by liminal_luke
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9 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

I´ve done lots of process-oriented not-for-rereading writing in the form of Morning Pages, a la Julia Cameron´s The Artist Way.  The idea is to write 3 handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind without stopping or editing in any way.  Contrary to the rules, I ususually write on my laptop and way more than the 3 pages suggested, usually a minimum of 3000 words.  (Clearly I should get out more.)  Although I have some misgivings about the practice, I mostly find it therapeutic.  As I write I´m very aware of my bodies reaction to the process of writing itself and often my entry is a sort of running log of those reactions -- lots of yawning, sometimes tears, unusually deep breaths, chattering teeth, relaxation of my face, neck, chest.  I can start out in a bad mood and it will eventually clear if I just write enough.  Often there´s a sense of emerging into the external environment...not sure how to put it ...I can be all wrapped up in myself and my words and then I kind of pop out and take a renewed interest in my surroundings.  When this pop out happens, I figure it´s about time to quit.

 

My hesitation with this practice is that the writing itself can be quite negative.  It´s not butterfly and rainbow stuff.  Maybe this is the power of this kind of writing....trauma processing? catharsis?  It´s just that I sometimes wonder if focusing negatively like that is just deepening neuroemotional grooves I´d rather not deepen.  (If others have thoughts on this question, please share.)

 

Not sure if this bears any resemblance to Nikkido but it´s what came to mind.

 

Interesting stuff!  Writing is, essentially, one venue of expression of one's qi -- hence an attitude of reverence that in the East persisted for thousands of years toward, e.g., a calligraphy scroll by a high level master, a prescription by a competent physician (which was thrown in the pot and boiled together with the herbs to add the doctor's healing touch and intent embedded in the writing), to say nothing of talismanic writing.   

 

I sometimes did automatic writing similar to what you describe too, not as a practice, just experimentally.  Always handwritten though.  The outcome is more often than not rhymed rhythmic poetry, full of puns and inner rhymes, sometimes supplying a striking image with more than one layer of meaning, sometimes taking a humorous turn, sometimes getting emotional -- or bizarre, or nonsensical.  Two lines in particular I will always remember as the greatest I've ever written by this method or any other (alas, can't translate them without them losing all of that greatness) but they were followed by a very funny one, a kind of comic U-turn in the mood and mode.  I don't keep those pages (it's usually one page, seldom two) but those two striking lines hint that the method is probably worth exploring more.  I was thinking of making a calligraphic scroll out of them and hanging it on the wall as a reminder. :) 

 

  

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10 hours ago, Taomeow said:

 

The outcome is more often than not rhymed rhythmic poetry, full of puns and inner rhymes, sometimes supplying a striking image with more than one layer of meaning, sometimes taking a humorous turn, sometimes getting emotional -- or bizarre, or nonsensical.  Two lines in particular I will always remember as the greatest I've ever written by this method or any other (alas, can't translate them without them losing all of that greatness) but they were followed by a very funny one, a kind of comic U-turn in the mood and mode.  

  

 

Very cool!  I sometimes do this kind of freewriting as a warm-up to more structured writing, often as a way to generate ideas.  My brain often gives me metaphors, something that doesn´t happen much otherwise.

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I was looking for another thing and found a book, in the Japan National Library, about how to write diaries.

Unfortunately, that book is not online for reading or downloading (besides, it will be in Japanese...).

Maybe it is related to what Taomeow said before.

 

Diary.png

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