Shikin Haramitsu Daikōmyō (詞韻 波羅密 大光明)

For those who don’t study or know about Bujinkan, “Shikin Haramitsu Daikōmyō” is a phrase we (everyone in bujinjkan) say when we start our training.
After being a part of bujinkan for more than 3 years, I’ve heard some variations of the “meaning” of that phrase, but the one that I’ll be considering today is: “May everything I do today becomes a gainful experience and may it help me become enlightened.”(or “helps me become a better person”; same thing, really.)

Now, I’ve been studying bujinkan longer than I’ve been studying japanese, so I never really cared about the Kanji that phrase was written with, or the meaning of each individual kanji for that matter. Well, today I’ll be explaining the meaning of each of the kanji, and I’ll try to make sense of what the relation between the literal meaning of the kanji and the… philosophical meaning of the titular phrase.

詞: Read as “shi”, it means “phrases” or “a song”.
韻: Read as “in” or, in this case, as “kin” means “a rhyme”.
波: Read as “ha” or “nami”, it means “a wave”, “a billow”, “a ripple” or “surf”.
羅: Read as “ra”, it means “thin silk”, “range”(as in variety) or “net”.
密: Read as “mitsu”, it means, among other things, “dense”, “thick”, “intimate” or “stealthy”.
大: Read as “dai” or “tai” or “oo”, it means “big”, “large” and variations of those words.
光: Read as “hikari” or “kō”(kou), it means “light”, “a ray”, “shine”, “luster” and varations of those words.
明: Read as “mei”, “aka, “myō”, among others; it means “light”, “bright”, “clear”, “be familiar with”, “begin” and some other meanings.

Now, each kanji directly translated would give the nonsensical phrase… “phrase rhyme wave range dense large light bright” (directly from an internet translator).

Sice the kanji are read as groups (“詞韻” ”波羅密” ”大光明”) I’ll try to make sense of the groups now.

詞韻: this one I can’t even write as “shikin” in the computer… I have to write “shi” and then “in”. Anyway, from “phrases”/”a song” and “rhyme”, I could only think of “a proverb” (lets ignore the fact that “proverb” has its own kanji, for now…).

波羅密: From this one, i could make… “a thick wave of variety”. I can’t really think of other meanings for that.

大光明: This one was easy, since “光明” was translated as “a ray of hope” or “bright light” in my examples for the readings of kanji. So “大光明” would be “a big ray of hope” or “a great bright light”(i.e. Illumination)

But then, put that together and you get “A proverb, a thick wave of variety (that brings) Ilumination”… the only part that would make at least some sense would be “a thick wave of variety that brings ilumination”…
So I had to search around the internet to find out if anyone had a better idea of the meaning of those.

… and what a mind-numbing endeavor that was. There are many different translation for the words, most only talking superficially about their meaning. So, after reading most of them, I’ tried to make a more… simple but concrete explanation.

Apparently, the phrase is a really old buddhist “prayer”, wich means that the kanji probably have evolved over the time, and thanks to that, trying to make sense out of the literal meaning of the kanji is pretty dificult, to say the least.

詞韻: is, apparently, a word that buddhists use to “give power” or give more meaning to the phrase. The meaning I found most likely was:
“The sound made when opposite poles come togheter (i.e. light/darknes). It is also the sensation perceived by our hearing when it unites with our heart.”(see? try figuring that out only with the kanji.)
Some translations mentioned that the kanji “詞(shi)” alone could mean “poetry”

波羅密: Would be “Pāramitā” in sanscrit. Meaning “the practices that let us get to Nirvana”. The idea is promote the good values of “Pāramitā” in martial arts and in our daily lives. The practices of Pāramitā are:
1. Fuse Haramitsu: Charity
2. Jikai: Morality
3. Ninniku: Perseverance, Patience
4. Shojin: Energy, Effort
5. Zenjo: Meditation, Concentration
6. Chie: Wisdom, Correct Judgement (Wisdom – Prajnâ)

大光明: This one is still “Illumination” but it would mean somthing like “the illumination from our heart”.

Thus, we could translate “Shikin Haramitsu Daikōmyō” as “A moment of true interaction between body and mind can bring forth enlightenment”… or something along those lines?

Well, at least that’s the meaning I’m taking for now. If any of you got any different meanings, or think I screwed up in any of my translations; please enlighten me with your comments.

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~ by Castel on March 16, 2009.

13 Responses to “Shikin Haramitsu Daikōmyō (詞韻 波羅密 大光明)”

  1. Everything in martial arts got to be “mysterious” every single thing we do, could be interpreted in many differtent ways. That’s the spirit of “budo”.

    I think giving a phrase like that at the beggining and end of a class, encourage some stundents (like yourself) to find out the real meaning, and finding that there is no “real” or “exact” meaning for that. This is the way the “budo” manifests in everyone, it is like a religion, every single person in the world has his own concept for “good” and “bad”, and based on that, everyone chose a different path that shall leave to illumination or darkness.

    For me, shikin haramitsu daikomyo means “Step forward of what you want to achieve”. All of us train the same things, but everyone has different reasons to do it.

    Try to write about bufu ikkan, and another sea of meanings shall appear before our eyes… again.

  2. For some reason, it looks like my rant ended up being moe about the meaning of the phrase “shikin haramitsu daikōmyō”, rather than the meaning of the kanji in that phrase, and how did those meanings related to the general meaning of the phrase.

    My point was:
    The Kanji barely relate at all; only the “daikōmyō” can be translated to something reasonable. “Haramitsu” is just “paramita” in sanscrit, written in those kanji only to make translators go insane, and “Shikin” is some other obscure buddhist chant, again, written in kanji to confuse people…

  3. “time/space; body/mind/spirit; big light”

  4. Dankje Erwin!

  5. When asked for a simple explanation of Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Soke explained the meaning “Let the training be safe and enjoyable” so if a student feels that for their own preference that it is easier to say “amen” or “shalom” etc, then this is just as appropriate, so long as it comes from the heart.

  6. Shikin Haramitsu Daikōmyō, Means:Everything in the world has the possibility of holding the universal truth but you determine the outcome to be positive or negative.

  7. I love all the thoughts that have been shared. Some I have heard and others I have not. One that I was told early on in my training was “Every moment in life has the potential for the enlightenment I am seeking”.

  8. What if “myo”, instead of 明 (sun+moon=light), is actually 妙 (woman+small= mysterious, strange, excellent, exquisite), as used in some Buddhist denominations?
    The Great Shining Light or the Great Shining Mystery?
    Does enlightenment truly mean accepting you’ll never have all the answers?

  9. Reblogged this on Manő – Luča.

  10. […] Shikin Haramitsu Daikōmyō (詞韻 波羅密 大光明) […]

  11. […] our lessons begin and end with “Shikin haramitsu daikomyo” (詞韻波羅密大光明) is a mantra to integrate our external and internal, our physical […]

  12. Hi. I am an ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong and I wanna point out that the phrase “波羅密/波羅蜜” was actually from the Chinese Buddhist Scripture, which was brought into Japan several hundred years ago. The phrase was a translation from the Sanskrit word “paramita” which can be understood as “Completeness” or “perfection”.

  13. Discord

    Hey check this discord

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