During the ten years at his side as wife and translator, the teachings from Shibata Sensei sprung forth, many and varied. But if one teaching could be said to run through them all, it is this: Gambatte. Persevere. Don't give up.
His own life exemplified this quality—perseverance through the harsh, old-school discipline of his childhood training from his grandfather, through war, national defeat, the infant death of his only son, the erosion of kyudo practice in his homeland and the transition to a new country at the age of sixty, surrounded by students of another master who didn’t speak his language. An undying loyalty formed between these two masters, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Shibata Sensei. And so, Sensei persevered, half-forgotten in his “junk house” in Boulder, Colorado, through the sadness and chaos that ensued from Trungpa Rinpoche’s passing, through divorce, esophageal cancer, dissension that fractured his kyudo group, and a series of pneumonias that finally spirited him away.
Much can be said about this quality and what he meant by the words: “Gambatte, never give up!” There was a tendency among all of us to think that he meant some kind of hardening of the heart, a tightening of resolve. In some sense, yes. He used the analogy, at times, of the jaw gripping tight, not letting go, gritting your back teeth and going forward. But fundamentally, his perseverance always emanated from a soft heart, and in this seeming contradiction, so much was transmitted. Perseverance meant loyalty. You don’t give up on your teacher, the path your teacher has shown you and, in his case, your connection with your students. You don’t give up on the vision. You don’t give up on each other. And with this perseverance, perhaps, in ten years of meditation practice, you might take one step.