初学者…The one who begins to learn

Our school printed a tee shirt with our school logo in front and the word ‘初学者’ printed boldly behind the shirt. We had a discussion over what that word actually means.

Our school’s name is ‘Shoshin’ or ‘初心’ in kanji,  which Google translate loosely puts it as ‘Beginner’, ‘Innocent’, ‘Basics’. Well you get the meaning.

So what does 初学者 means then?

Loosely speaking, it also means the same thing, but in a Singapore, or Chinese context, to have ‘初心者’ instead of ‘初学者 ‘ will potentially give people the wrong impression that  初心者 means ‘the one who is careless’ as common as the Chinese saying of ‘粗心大意 (Cūxīn dàyì)’, as you might observe the ‘粗’ (Cū) sounds very much like  ‘初'(Chū). but the meaning is can lead one to a totally different conclusion.  ‘粗’ (Cū) loosely means careless, rough, or unpolished, and ‘初'(Chū)  on the other hand, loosely means early, begin.

Surely then intent was to have a beginner’s mind, a beginner’s heart, 初心(Chūxīn) instead of a careless heart, 粗心 (Cūxīn), surely a novice can be considered ‘careless”, unpolished, unrefined. Beginners can be careless, well, ‘experts’ can be just as careless; the point is that bearing the word 初心 in mind instead of 粗心, brings to the point that we must always take our learning at the beginning, conscientiously, and not carelessly.

Begin a word player, I’m quite happy to be called a ‘初心者’, and let people juxtapose between the concept of ‘The one with a beginner’s heart’ or 粗心者 ‘The one with the careless heart.’ Or call me a 初学者, as ‘The one who is at the beginning of the learning’, or  粗学者 as ‘The one who learns carelessly’. Either way, these are ‘labels’ for people to sort out, as for me i’m pretty much sort out as to how I orient myself towards Aikido towards life. and frankly speaking, ‘carelessness’ might not be such a bad thing in life, as it might bring about serendipitous and spontaneous results that might totally bring about a new discovery!

first published Apr 1, 2012 1:56 AM

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