Hyuga Amir describes the huge diversity in his life journey. His father was Iranian and mother Spanish. He spent some years in both Spain and Iran. How did he finally land up making Japan his home? How did he connect with the teachings of Krishnamurti? This is an extraordinary story.
Spain, Iran, Japan………from a very young age I have been in contact with distant cultures and places and raised in many different environments. My childhood has been marked by travels. At the age of ten, I remember traveling alone by plane from Iran to Spain.
I remember not being a very ‘normal’ child. What gave me inner freedom and space in my childhood mind was the feeling of not belonging to anything. With an Iranian father and a Spanish mother, my childhood was marked by diverse experiences. Strange, funny and painful experiences of both suffering and joy. Having grown up with my parents, grandparents and many distant relatives, let’s say that my passage to maturity was ‘exciting’ to say the least!.
I lived two years of my childhood in Iran. There I saw the horrors and scars that war leaves on a country. The country was at war with Iraq for years, indeed all through the1980s. At that time, I was too young to see that the religious spectacle had nothing to do with the true religious spirit.
At the age of 13, I returned again to Iran to stay for more than a year. It was a tough stage in my life since it was a completely different world from the one I was used to. The climate and the food did not suit me but above all the ‘religious’ culture was suffocating. There I was able to observe for the first time how the brain can change, how one’s mind can shrink due to the imposition of dogma. My liveliness and my strength were crushed day after day and the desire to get out of such a nightmare became a constant dream.
I was able to observe and experience in my own life the oppression of a society governed by organized religion and how that environment can make the space of the mind of a child smaller and smaller. I longed to return to what for me at that time, as a child, represented freedom. That was Spain where I spent most of my childhood years. Thanks to my grandfather, I returned to Spain.
During my childhood and especially in my adolescence in Spain, I began to have a fascination for China, Japan and the martial arts. Over the years, this fascination became polarized towards Japan. I remember having dreams and getting goose bumps looking at photos of the Kamakura Buddha that appeared in books my grandmother had as part of her collection. At that time, my mind was looking for something that would make it different from others. That led to my first contact with the land of the rising sun when I was 14 years . Upon my return to Spain, I had already decided that one day I would live in Japan and practise martial arts.
During the last years of adolescence, I began to practice martial arts but above all one that for me summarized all the values and essence of Japan. That was aikido. It had a great impact on my life not only mentally but physically as well and I immersed myself in its practice completely. While I was studying aikido, I realized that although it was a Japanese martial art, its quintessence, “being one, harmonizing with the rhythm of the universe” represented that universal spirit; not belonging to any country or any flag but to be a complete human being.
During my university years, I returned to visit Japan and delved deeper into the study of culture and the language. I became fascinated by manga stories, anime and all the popular youth culture. These regular trips were a preparation to settle permanently in the land of the rising sun.
It was at this time that I first discovered the existence of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Reading and watching him on video changed my life; it changed me and for days and nights in a row, my thirst to know more about what this man had to say became insatiable. Listening to him and reading him was putting into words what one felt in his heart from a very young age in a non-verbal state. It meant discovering and accessing a new world. This thirst forced me to go beyond the limits in which my mind had been stuck until that moment and to discover many things that I had never thought or reflected on before.
They were not dogmas, it was not the boring talk of a saviour or a guru or the typical philosophy or religion that one would have read so far. It was something fresh, dynamic, pure, the essence of life itself in words. There was no resistance or denial on my part to Krishnamurti’s teachings because I felt them as pure facts and truths that I could verify in my daily life, in my relationship with others in my inner world and my relationship with the outside.
When I finished my graduation and after different events, including meeting by chance in Italy the teacher who studied and cared for the founder of aikido during his last years, I permanently moved to Japan. Being able to live there, I could in a way fulfil that dream of my youth and at the same time understand the spirit, the innermost secret and essence of aikido.
I also discovered the relationship between aikido and the things Krishnamurti spoke about especially in terms of space in the mind, full attention, sensitivity and our relationship with outer space, with the universe, the cosmos. The microcosm that one contains, the relationship of that small cosmos and the macrocosm is also the quintessence of aikido.
Despite my passion for aikido and my desire to be in this part of the planet, things were not easy in Japan. The sincerity and strength of the samurai as well as the sensitivity and wisdom of the Zen master were some of the things that seemed very interesting to me as well as the accuracy and devotion for the moment and for the activity that he is doing. The artistic world as well as the general way of doing things, a social order very different from the rest of the planet, at first glance were always a source of inspiration and security that Japan was something special. But like the rest of the planet, Japan has also lost the essence of good things.
In societies like Iran or even Spain, perhaps one can appreciate the disorder from outside and in others such as northern European countries or in this case and especially Japan, disorder is more difficult to appreciate since externally everything works apparently well.
But after living here for many years, one perceives the internal disorder, the psychological disorder of society.
Of course it is important to have physical security and there is no doubt that Japanese society has it and this makes life very comfortable. But if one goes out on the street there are fewer and fewer people who look around, who smile, who are sensitive to their surroundings, who enjoy watching a sunset, listening to the song of the birds, the evening breeze caressing the highest leaves of the trees or enjoying a chat with a friend. This largely thought-based way of life leaves little room for the sensitive. It creates more and more mechanical and robotic people, self-centred, unable to listen or see attentively, with the heart. Listening and seeing together with the art of learning are for me the three fundamental arts to understand life. One can learn a lot if one has a real sense of humility.
In Japanese society, education is creating people who want to resemble others, who seek security in imitation and in the so-called idols of the artistic world. Of what use is an education that does not help the person to have a real relationship with nature and also with the rest of humanity? Real order must be in consciousness. Sadly, in Japan, the company has become a kind of religion and the true spirit of martial arts has been replaced with fierce competition.
In Japan, I have also I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some wonderful people, not only in the schools or companies in which I have worked but also and as it usually happens, in sectors dedicated to helping the most disadvantaged, whether elderly or children with special needs. It is with them where I have learned the most, learned from children and adults because one can learn a lot if he knows how to listen. In my life here, I have been lucky to meet one of the greatest educators for life in recent times, Professor Kanamori Toshiro, a great friend who unfortunately left this world recently.
The other part of my life where I have enjoyed the most is with the children who are my students. They have been my source of inspiration and strength many times when things got bad. One can learn a lot from children through the mirror of relationship. Of their purity, of their spontaneity, of the good and also the not so good that they can already have since they are very young. Children can get out of you what is hidden in your heart if you relate to them from one to one and sincerely. In addition, if one pays full attention to them and comes into contact with their centre, one also realizes that children are generally in contact with this non-verbal state, which is not thought. This allows them to see and feel things that the adult, crushed by many years of conditioning, cannot. In this sense, opening my heart naturally to children has taught me a lot throughout my life.
Children have, despite our corrupting influence, remained the treasure of this world and the only way to change this world is through our relationship with them, with a revolution in education that produces a generation of non-fragmented human beings. Fresh minds with character and inner discipline not dictated by any manual or by any book but by its direct relationship with life and with the environment in which they live.
Eventually, I decided to take the last step, which was to abandon the two nationalities, Spanish and Iranian that I had. After 12 years, I was granted Japanese nationality. It is not something I wanted because I never felt from any country from a very young age but for convenience and to be able to carry out the things I wanted to do I thought it was the most appropriate.
Suffering many times from uncontrollable stress, crying many times being alone with no one and several times at the physical and especially mental limit I was finally able to open a new door or discover what was always there. Getting the nationality made me cry not because I obtained a new passport but because going all through that I started the inner revolution in myself.
Just at this time and after having lived in the aikido mecca for ten years with my aikido teacher, experiencing the 2011 earthquake in an area quite close to Fukushima with its consequent replicas and expansion of radiation from the power plants, I decided that it was important to turn the page. In 2018, I moved to the northernmost and least populated island of Japan: Hokkaido. And this is where I currently run a martial arts and gym dojo and at the same time work as a kindergarten teacher and also with special needs children.
The name of the dojo is the same one I use as my name, Hyuga, which literally means looking at the sun. I hope that with the purity of children and the lovely sun, we can all carry out together the most important revolution. For this, education and the arts will be fundamental tools. This is the place where I am now and this is where I would like to begin afresh. A new beginning, a new dawn.