Half and Half

The founder of Shorinji Kempo, Doshin So, said:

Half for your own happiness, and half for the happiness of others.

半ばは自己の幸せを、半ばは他人の幸せを。

This is one of the ideals that we strive for in our practice. You can apply it in any situation, both in the dojo and outside.

Training with a partner? Make sure that you both get a turn to practice, and make sure all your attacks are convincing so that everyone gets good practice.

Leading a class? You get to choose the techniques, so pick ones that will help you – but also try to make sure you’re assigning things that will help your students learn.

Living with a partner or children? You’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice this principle!

It sounds simple. And it is.

But not all simple things are easy.

The order is important. Build yourself up before you help others. Just like when you’re in a plane and the oxygen masks drop – put on your own mask first before helping others, otherwise you become part of the problem.

But how do you know that you’ve built yourself enough that you can help others? I view it more as a ratcheting-up. Build yourself a little, help others a little, build yourself a little more, help others a little more. You are always a work in progress, so helping others will always be a work in progress. As long as it stays in progress and doesn’t stop, that’s fine.

There have been scientific studies done which show that helping other people actually makes you happier than having someone try to make you happy. Even if the other person is a complete stranger who you will never meet!

It’s hard to get the balance right sometimes. You strive to help other people, and forget that you need care too. You take time for yourself and then feel guilty about it so never actually relax. Or you focus on your own wants and needs and it doesn’t occur to you that others might need you to focus on them right now.

Nobody is perfect and real life is complicated. Nobody will get this right all of the time. All we can do is try our best.


As a side note, if you want to be Zen about it, is it even possible to do things for yourself?

A MASTER was asked the question, “What is the Way?” by a curious monk.

“It is right before your eyes,” said the master.

“Why do I not see it for myself?”

“Because you are thinking of yourself.”

“What about you: do you see it?”

“So long as you see double, saying I don’t and you do, and so on, your eyes are clouded,” said the master.

“When there is neither ‘I’ nor ‘You,’ can one see it?”

“When there is neither ‘I’ nor ‘You,’ who is the one that wants to see it?”

Zen Koan

Published by Nicola Higgins

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something* martial artist, Girlguiding Brownie and Ranger Leader, and actuary. She somehow also finds time to read, fuss her cat, and occasionally spends time with her husband. * please note that "ten or more" is still something.

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