In religious comparison, we may liken each Kenshi (practitioner of Shorinji Kempo) to be like a monk. As such a kenshi disciplines himself with austerities called Ekkin Gyo, similar to a monk in India who does Hatha Yoga. That science which deals explicitly with Ekkin Gyo is said to be Shorinji Kempo. By this we may infer that Shorinji Kempo is the only physical manifestation of Kongo Zen.
The Gyo of Chinkon - This discipline comprises of Samu, Kyakka Shoko, Affirmations called Seiku, Seigan, Shinjo and breathing techniques coupled with visualization techniques.
Kyakka Shoko & Samu is an act of internal cleansing (inner healing) through external actions of cleanliness. It is based on Ahimsa (non-violence). Every kenshi is expected to leave his foot wear at the entrance of his dojo with reverence and full awareness. At this moment, he leaves his past along with his footwear. All his experiences that he has gone through are removed with the act of removal of footwear. He thus enters into the dojo with a renewed spirit of a new born child (ref Seigan: we resolve to set aside our preoccupations and practice this art as if we are new born children).
It is interesting to note, that during the days of Lord Buddha, the Buddhist monks collected the fallen feathers of peacocks and bound them together to make a broom. This they used to sweep the pathway where they trod so that, they would not unknowingly step upon insects such as ants and cause harm to them.
Having entered the dojo he acknowledges the Eternal Spirit by bowing towards the altar and bows to each of his fellow kenshis and senseis who are present. He then goes about cleaning the nooks and corners of the dojo. He does these actions in silence and contemplation. During such a moment he feels one with himself and with his surroundings. He feels calm and peaceful. In Japanese we call this, “Jibin no kokkoro omigaku”, meaning “To polish one’s heart”. This act is called Samu.
Having calmed his body and mind through enthusiastic actions spent in contemplation and silence during cleansing of the external environment, he is now ready for Chinkon or Meditation.
Chinkon Proper – Kenshi then comes to a standstill position and does affirmations called Seiku, Seigan, Shinjo. This is done in Ritsu-Zen and Zazen positions (standing and sitting positions)
While Standing, Seiku or meditation is recited. This recitation of Seiku is done with enthusiasm. The Kenshi then sits down in Zazen with closed eyes (meimoku) and regulates his breath (chosoku). His body is maintained in upright position (Seichuzen) while seated. The posture adopted for seating can either be Chakuza (Vajrasana) or Anza (Sukhasana – half lotus position). Padmasana is never advocated as the meditation belongs to the Kshatriya class and not the Brahmana class. As such, the Kenshi should be ever ready to do his Dharma in upholding the Good and virtuous by being a Soldier at all times. This position expresses intimately the balance between meditation and activity. In Zazen, the kenshi resumes his Breathing or Pranayamic techniques. He breathes through his nostrils gently and deeply for 10 seconds. Retains his breath for 3 seconds and Exhales his breath for 7 seconds. This makes one complete Breathing cycle. Why does the kenshi not expirate for 10 seconds equally the inspiration time? Here in lies the science of a warrior! A warrior must at all times be ready to guard himself and his possessions both animate and in-animate. For this purpose he retains always a part of air in his lungs. This enables him never be caught breathless in any situation. There is a second reason. In Hatha Yoga the inspiration is said to be “Prana” and the Expiration is called “Apana”. Day in and Day out all living things are said to be practicing Pran-Yoga or Breathing-Discipline. It is when we are unable to take back the breath that has exited, we are said to be “Deceased”. Meaning, when we cease to take that specific in breath we are Dead. Thus a Warrior who goes into the battlefield of life is consciously training in Chosoku wherein he is able to master his life force called Ki. Through Zazen he is able to attain mastery called Shin-ryoku, Ki-ryoku (Life Force) and Tai ryoku. These powers are called in India as Siddhis and every monk aspires to gain such powers as a result of his austerities. In good time, he develops his Intuition (Agama in Sanskrit and Kan in Japanese) which is said to be Tan-ryoku.
Now, one may ask, why should we regulate the breath in meditation? The answer is, Our ancestors (especially the God-men who walked this Earth through out the ages from time immemorial) had discovered the link between Mind and Body, Between Astral body and Physical Body. They defined the link as Breath. They found that the consciousness of man is affected in direct proportion to the activity done by him. A running man breathes hard but a sleeping man breathes slow indicating that the higher the amount of bodily activity, the harder the breathing and more restless the mind. Since the amount of activity is high in this discipline and essential it is to keep the mind calm, regulation of the breath is the only course of action to take towards this end. I shall delve deep into this Life force control technique in a separate book meant for technical purposes.
After regulation of breath for about 30 times, The concentration is placed on the Hara or Seika-tanden (Kikai-one inch below the navel) while the attention is still maintained on the breath which is now “watched” and not regulated. Thus the Kenshi spends his time in active inactivity for a particular duration as per his disciplinary schedule. During his Zazen or Ritsu-Zen he attains a perfect spirit called Zanshin (Perfect Spirit). Here the kenshi is found to be in a state of “high awareness”. When he gently comes out he continues to maintain his bliss state in his activity and this is said to be Heijo Shin (Everyday Mind or Natural Mind). This state of consciousness is different from what is known as Mushin (Empty mind or no mind). Thus a Kenshi expands his consciousness from the little self to the larger self which is the cosmos itself. He is in tune with everything that is within him and without him. This is KONGO ZEN.