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The “Thousand Cuts” Practice

Jan 01 2014 | By: Johnson Sensei

​Thousand Cuts practice consists of doing 1,000 cuts with a bokken (wooden sword), at a reasonably rapid pace. It provides the student with an opportunity to cut away all dualistic thinking through the mindfulness required when properly using the bokken. Each cut is its own complete action, nothing wanting, no excess. Repetition allows the student to focus on each cut, similar to breath-counting in Zazen. It also causes fatigue, and eventually you hit a wall, where your arms ache and you just don’t care anymore. It’s at this point that real focus occurs. Suddenly stripped of caring about your arms or how many more cuts are left or how much time is left, your mind is free to just cut. Each cut can happen without intellectual reflection, without our over active “monkey mind” drowning out our practice. Each cut becomes a pure manifestation of intent, unencumbered, like a baby grabbing an offered finger. Suddenly O-Sensei’s instruction comes alive: “Act decisively and without reserve”.


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