Kumo no aimai tsuki — Clouds Obscure the Moon 雲のあいまい月

Our perspective of what is important can sometimes be obscured by distractions and unimportant matters.

Kumo no aimai tsuki means “clouds obscure the moon” — and talks about the ability of small things to keep us from properly seeing “big picture” things in our lives.

Clouds are actually pretty small in relation to the Moon. The average length of clouds in the sky is about 10 kilometers; the Moon has a diameter of about 3,500 kilometers. So how is it possible for us to look up into the night sky on a cloudy evening, and see a 10 km long object completely obscure a 3,500 km object?

The answer, of course, is perspective.

The Importance of Proper Perspective

Our perspective is a particular spot, on the surface of the Earth, and we’re seeing the Moon about 360,000 kilometers away; if we were observing the Moon from a different vantage point (say, on a different part of the Earth, a hundred miles away), we wouldn’t find the Moon obscured at all — it would be clear and bright in the night sky.

Similarly, we sometimes find little things — a setback, a temporary failure, a distraction from something else in our day — taking us off-track, obscuring our strong focus on our goals and our aspirations. How is it that minor things can make us stop doing the things we need to do, and get distracted?

Again, the answer is perspective.

Proper Perspective in the Face of Distraction

It is important to keep these distractions in the perspective that they should be placed: they are minor events, minor obstacles. They may seem very big right now because they make the most “noise” in our day: our car breaks down, we have an unexpected big bill to pay, we feel sick with the flu, etc. But… in the long-term, these are just things that need a small amount of our time and focus right now.

And in six months, or even six days, from now, they won’t even be remembered.

What will be remembered however, are our goals, and our achievement of those goals, and the steps necessary to accomplish them. The clouds are not long remembered, but the silver light of the moon will illuminate the night sky in our future quite brightly.

Forget the clouds. Focus on the moon.

Kanji/Katakana Meaning
Clouds (kumo) (used with の, modifying particle)
あいまい obscure (aimai)
moon (tsuki)

Editor's Note:This lecture was first delivered by Sensei at the Goju Karate dojo in Oakland, California on 17 September 2016, and then again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 26 August 2022.