Musubime o kaimei — Unravel the Knot 結び目を解明

Our lives are populated with tangled knots. Unraveling them means organizing our environment, as well as gaining an understanding of how the people and things in our lives fit together and are related to one another.

Musubime o kaimei 結び目を解明 [pronounced “ muh-sue-bee-meh oh kai-may”] means “unravel the knot” — simultaneously pointing out the importance of creating order and organization in our lives, while also understanding the structure of our lives.

Organizing the Knots

On one level, the benefits of unraveling the different tangled parts of our lives is clear: not only do we gain practical benefits from being more organized, more orderly, and having the different elements of our lives clearly arranged, but we also gain significant reductions in stress and uncertainty in our lives by reducing the complexity in them, and introducing more clarity into our daily existence.

Don't underestimate the effect of chaos and disorder around you. Sometimes we ignore this because we feel we can't take the time or don't have the energy to be more orderly.

In fact, our minds and spirits can become just as cluttered as our offices and homes.

Often, we don’t even realize the psychological impact of the disorganization of our physical environment on our own mental state. The disharmony of our surroundings can mirror, or even create, the disharmony in our spirit.

Have you ever walked into a room or office and felt a bit of unease? Or gone to a retail store, walked into the shop, and felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm for browsing the wares on sale? All of these subconscious feelings are effectively a manifestation of the surroundings, and their lack of organization and perhaps cleanliness.

Spending the time and effort to organize the spaces that you inhabit – your home, your office or workplace, etc. – is time well-spent. Feeling at peace when you come home, feeling energized when you enter your workplace – these are all easy and achievable advantages that you can have.

Understand the Knots

There is another level of understanding in musubime o kaimei, however.

It is interesting to note that the kanji を解明 (kaimei) that makes up a part of musubime o kaimei 結び目を解明 literally speaks of “elucidating or understanding” the knot — not actually “untwisting” or “untying” the knot.

To “unravel” in this case really refers to understanding the different threads of our lives. Some parts of our lives are complex because that is their nature; other times, we may simply have complexity in our lives because life itself can be complicated.

In either case, it is perfectly acceptable and normal that we have “knotted” parts of our daily existence.

Yet, we can focus on understanding those parts, and we can also focus on understanding the inter-relationships of those tangled parts of our lives to each other. In many cases, understanding these complex portions serves to remove disharmony and mental clutter — it is not necessarily so that we must also untangle them in reality. Understanding, in this case, becomes functionally equivalent to unraveling.

Organization and Understanding

Regardless of whether we actual untangle the criss-crossed parts of our lives, or we simply understand them better and more clearly, musubime o kaimei 結び目を解明 urges us to strive for greater harmony and inner peace in our minds.

By unraveling our knots, we knit a stronger spirit for ourselves and our lives.

Kanji/Katakana Meaning
結び目 knot (musibime)
of, upon [acting] (o)
解明 unravel, elucidate (kaimei)

Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered by Sensei at the Goju Karate dojo in Oakland, California on 7 January 2015; this concept was presented again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 20 September 2023.