On the plane home I was thinking about effort and motivation. The teachers say they can tell a lot about a person by watching them shoot, and at the two taikai over the weekend I began to see this. Of course, I don’t know how accurate my impressions really were, but it does seem, watching people, that there are some who are motivated by something like anger, which is to say, they use the energy of anger to produce the motivation to hit the target, perhaps seeing it as an enemy. Others seem to be motivated by fear or desperation, as if their life depended on hitting this target. Still others perhaps by attachment or pride, some kind of ego involvement. It’s interesting.
From a Buddhist point of view, those motivations are all pretty much counterproductive, so I started thinking about what could motivate a person (me) to generate the effort needed? After a while I realized that two possible answers are love and compassion, or a combination of them, since by engaging in the effort for the benefit of others, you remove the self-cherishing aspect that so easily leads to feelings like anger, attachment, or pride. But it seems important to be clear about what you are doing: the idea isn’t to hit the target for the benefit of others. It’s to transcend anger, attachment, and pride for the benefit of others. And of course, put that way, it becomes basic Mahayana doctrine.
So, another point of contact.
Meanwhile, on a practical level, once I got back “home” to my local dojo, I let go of the turning of the elbow joint, and the arrows once again flew to the target. Instead of turning the joint consciously I put more effort into nobiai, and the “bounce” effect did not occur, at least right away. It did start to creep in later in the day, though, as I got tired, my mind started messing with my motivations, and I started to think about technique. It seems that we sabotage ourselves, mostly.