Usage no Hirune 兎の昼寝 [pronounced “ooo-sah-gi nō hi-roo-nee ”] means “rabbit sleeping at noon” — warning us that inattention can be fatal to our goals and aspirations.
For a rabbit to sleep in broad daylight is quite dangerous; it can easily fall prey to predators and become someone’s lunch. Perhaps we aren’t in danger of literally becoming someone’s lunch, but inattention to detail and a dereliction of focus can lead us to lose sight of the important things in our lives.
And these important things can be people, and our relationship with them — we don’t just lose sight of goals and to-do list items, we can lose our connection to the people most important to us by failing to pay attention to them.
Spend Your Treasure Wisely
If we are napping during our day instead of moving forward towards our goals and our purpose, then, while we may not be physically in danger, we certainly are in danger of having an unfulfilled day that quickly becomes an unfulfilled life.
Signal Vs. Noise
On a more day-to-day level, usagi no hirune points out the importance of focusing on the “signal” and not the “noise” in our lives. We live in a world that is filled with distractions, some of which are even of our own making. These distractions range from the latest social media post to a constant barrage of low-quality email coupled with disorganized days that have no plan and no clear commitment to accomplishing the tasks that move our important goals forward.
All of these distractions add up to a figurative nap at Noon — their sum total fills our day with a lack of true awareness: it’s as if we sleep-walk through a part of our day, in fact.
So how do we avoid being this type of rabbit? The most important, and first, step is to simply be aware of what we’re doing. How are we using our time, how are we allocating the precious twin resources of time and focus? Are we spending them in ways that, with hindsight, appear wise? Appear fulfilling? Or are we wasting them, or misfiring and missing our essential targets?
Find the Signal
We are surrounded by noise, but the signal is there.
The steps to accomplishing our goal, the connections to the people and causes that are important to us — they are ever-present amid the fog of noise. Our ideal, as karateka, is to cut through that fog, and reach out to the important things in our day that move us forward.
Our ideal is most definitely to not be the rabbit that naps at noon.
|of (no) [pertaining to]
|sleeping, nap (ne)
Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered by Sensei in San Francisco, California on 17 February 2017; this concept was presented again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 12 July 2023.