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Shabutsu: Copying the Buddha to focus on serenity

Mai Tsumura (standing right) briefs her friends in Novus Rotary about the purpose and practice of Shabutsu

The word Shabutsu literally means in Chinese characters “Copying of Buddha”. However, the art of Shabutsu itself is not only copying the image of Buddha, but also retracting the mind of the Buddha while you are tracing the image. The final goal is that your state opf moind become the state of ’emptiness’ which is different to ‘nothing’.

Leicester Novus Rotary learned more, and practised the art thanks to their Japanese friend Mai Tsumura. Mai has been in Leicester for 13 months researching Victorian English Literature, particularly the work of art critics, essayist and philanthropist John Ruskin.

Mai is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Nishinomiya Ebisu and while visting the club some time ago, she had a go at Shabutsu herself and she gave Novus members and guests a chance to try it, too.

After sitting, eyes shut, for a minute or so to prepare for calmness, members took up the special Japanese calligraphy pens which Mai had brought from her home country, along with various images of the Buddha. Then in complete silence — a real rarity in any Rotary Club meeting ! — the 13 people present traced over the image.




Afterwards, all agreed that they had slowed their minds and put aside the cares of their busy days . They had, they said, found an internal quietness and peace.

Mai said she was delighted by her friends’ reactions and was looking forward to reporting back to the Rotary Club of Nishinomiya-Ebisu, who believed this to the first time Shabutsu had been used by an overseas Rotary Club.

The usual toast (in Novus, taken with our without a drink) to “Rotary Fellowship, and Peace The World Over” included particularly this time the Rotary Club of Nishinomiya-Ebisu.

Novus members with their completed tracings of the Buddha

The meeting was held at the club’s new venue, Elizabeth Park, Checkland Road, Thurmston, Leicester LE2 1RB.Members agreed that it suited them very well.

If you would like to attend any meeting of Leicester Novus Rotary please come along… but please go to the Contact Us tab at the top of this page to e-mail us to check where and when we are meeting.

Last edited: 22:45 on Thursday, October 10, 2019