Here the second of the Six Interviews of Itsuo Tsuda « Breathing living philosophy » by André Libioulle broadcast published on France Culture in the 1980s.
Broadcast # 2
Q: During the second week we will talk more in dept about the books published by Itsuo Tsuda. All these works published by the « Courrier du Livre » in Paris, are currently six: « The Non-Doing », « The Path of Less », « The Science of the Particular « , a book with the title « One », « The Dialogue of the Silence » and recently « the Unstable Triangle ». They relate to breathing and the field of thought in relation to it. […]
The concepts of soul and body has always been separated into clear-cut by the west. They have often talked about the elevation of the individual’s soul as much as underestimating the body, considered as related to temptation. If for Plato, the soul is cramped in its carnal envelope, a prisoner of the body, for a man like Itsuo Tsuda the body appears to be the captive of the soul. A soul who constantly manipulates abstractions and cuts the vital impulse.The man more and more lives in the brain. The hopes of the society is based on the intensive exploitation of intellectual capacity in which it is seen the privilege of the human being.
But this hypertrophicity of the brain creates a gap that is the source of the imbalance between the sensations, the body as life, as energy, as momentum, and the world built, conceptualized cerebrated. Breathing is unification, return to self, if you release the separation body and soul, if the soul ceases to be an abstraction, then it is everywhere, it is in the body as well as outside.
So… « ki », the concept of which we gave already a hint during the previous broadcasting, introduces us to the idea of unity. This is what we will try to understand now. So, Itsuo Tsuda, it seems that the first step, towards the understanding of ki, it is whether we feel the sensation. That is to say not to abstract it, not to imagine about living a sensation but really and truly feeling it.
I.t.: There is a principle we recognize in Chinese medicine, it is: cold head and warm feet. Currently it is exactly the other way around: hot head and cold feet. We do not even feel our feet. And the head heats up more and more. There is quite a contributing factor to it: this is Westernization. But we can not turn back. This is a trend that has been going on since long time already. But we also have the obvious benefits that come from Westernization. But if that is only on a material level it does not helps us, it places us in a precarious state as individuals. Individuals become increasingly prisoners of well-planned structures, they can not feel alive themselves anymore.
Q: Europeans elsewhere, you write, need to understand before acting. They do not engage immediately in action.
I.t.: What I am doing here, it is not precisely the same as what we would do in Japan. Often in Japan we do not explain, we found ourselves immediately into the experience path, it’s up to everyone to learn the lesson, isn’t it. Well, in the West this does not work. We need to understand first. But understanding is not enough. I have explained those people who were listening the explanation about swimming, but this does not allow people to be able to dive into the water. If we have not felt the first touch of the water, one can fill his head with all sorts of explanations, but it is useless.
Q: But people will perhaps argue about this, « but why do I need to be able to feel? Why is that so important for me? «
I.t.: Well, this is the concept of « Seitai » precisely that one that Noguchi created after the war. At the moment people think in a dualistic way: « here – that is good, that is bad. We must fight the evil. When we have fought the evil, we will have the good. » But in fact, we do not search this: we nomalize the terrain. That’s what he called « Seitai »: a well harmonized body. In the West we keep on finding the cause, we try to exterminate the cause. But as soon as we finished with the cause, here there are other causes that arise. But that’s the method that complies with this mental structure. But Noguchi brought this view which is quite different, which transcends all. If your organism is normalized, the problem itself becomes less important. In the West we say: there is such a problem. That’s a way of defining it, it does not change volume, it’s still there. We must attack this way etc.
Q. So there is in fact for the West an anatomical way of understanding, discursive kind, in which we distinguish cause and effect and in order to be able to act on a particular item. The concept introduced by the Seitai is a different concept. It is the notion of sensation. But this is the notion, if I understand, in which knowledge is not excluded. But it is another type of knowledge, intuitive knowledge, qualitative I would say, in relation to the Western notion of measure or quantification.
I.t.: The same problem increases or decreases importance depending on sensation. A bottle is half empty or half full. But the quantity is exactly the same. But the sensation is different in both cases. So just a little nothing can change human behavior. If one says, « that’s it, I’m done, » from that moment on one can no longer move forward. While if I say « I have already made three steps forward, » then Iam ready to make a fourth step, isn’t it.
Q. Do you not think that there is a notion that is brought by the West, which is about the total or the global but understood as an assembly of parts? With the quality we are also in something global, but without this assembly idea.
I.t.: In Seitai, we do not look at a person as an assembly of various parts. That’s the basic idea. A person is an individual, total, isn’t it. But everyone is different, in its movement, in his breath, in his sensitivity. That’s what matters to us.
Q. You talked about Master Noguchi repeatedly. Could we try to understand what the whole is, the unit in an individual through some examples of the practice of Master Noguchi, Noguchi was a therapist, wasn’t he. He is the creator of the Seitai method. So how is his job? What enabled him to understand those concrete things, spontaneously?
I.t.: For example, each one has its own biological speed, which determines the behavior, actions, movements etc. It is viewed in a quite detached way, objective, as per minute etc., etc., but for Noguchi, well that’s something concrete. Everything comes from that biological speed that is inherent in the individual. Without this notion of speed he can do nothing. But this…
Q: … so there, the notion of speed has nothing to do with the notion of rapidity, for example …
I.t. … no, no …
Q: … as we know it, it’s something else …
I.t.: No. We need to create the contact with the biological speed of that particular person. No need to apply a general and objective speed. Well, for example, there is a kid who comes while crying, he is crying because he broke his arm. Parents say: « It is impossible to touch him, he keeps on crying and crying … ». But Noguchi has already touched him. « Ah, ah good then it is because he does not dare to cry in front of a master. » No it’s not that. He touched him at a , biological speed, the breathing speed of the child, which is peculiar to him. At that time, the kid does not feel the contact, it’s part of him, and that it’s so important.
[Read extracts from books Itsuo Tsuda]
Q. You wrote that Master Noguchi could identify the individual through observation and by touch, something like the notion of an unconscious movement.
I.t.: Yes, for him, all the movements are unconscious hundred percent. We believe precisely the opposite. We believe we are the masters of ourselves, but we can not do much, and we try to hold us, to behave in front of others, etc. And then one day the brake is released, and then we wonder where it comes from. For Noguchi everything is unconscious, we are not masters of ourselves.
Q. Did Mr. Noguchi made a distinction between the unconscious movement and posture …
I.t. … but the posture is the realization of the unconscious movement.
Q. So the posture, it is observable by everyone … from the outside, without preparation, while the unconscious movement itself, requires preparation.
I.t.: Posture, if you think about the military way, for example, « Attention! » etc., so everybody tries to do pretty much the same. But when one is at rest, everyone is different.
Q. What is the relationship there between breathing and unconscious movement?
I.t.: There are some people who are breathless, for example. So when this happen, respiration rises higher and higher. So, people breathe from the top of the lungs and then finally when their breath weakens it goes through the nose. What we do it is to go lower, right, so we can breathe with our belly, or, if one’s wants, with the feet. Without the practice it is quite difficult to explain that.
Q: The idea of breathing is a concept much broader than a simple biochemical deal. Breathing is life, it is ki …, the « souffle » , the soul …
I.t.: yes …