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One's own Self-Rebellion
With other Self-Rebels
Is an excellent method
Of improving one's faculty
For dynamic understanding.
Here is a little brainstorm that I've been entertaining.
Aikido, Ethical Codes and Otherness
Most aikidoka that I have spoken with over the last year and a half claim that their training in aikido has effected every part of their life. While the type and degree of effect is different for everyone I would feel safe assumeing that any effect has been a postitive one-- increased awareness, compassion and confidence. Day to day I become aware of a new effect that aikido has had on my understanding of and interaction with the world. Recently, I am most aware of my own rising ethical standards.
I have never studied ethics formaly. Notice, however, that I have informed you of this difficiencey before allowing you make the assumption that I am trying to pass myself off as some sort of expert on the subject.
An ethic is a principle of right or good behavior. The diffculty in discussing ethics then is apparent from the beginning, for, in order to behave in a right, or good manner towards others we each require a certain code, or at least a referance point to measure our behavior with. In an ideal world we might imagine a certain Prime Code that could be the standard by which humanity measured itself. Sadly, such a Prime Code seems more like a theme for an epic work of utopian science fiction than a realistic quest for humanity. It seems beyond our capacity at present. The frustrating thing is; somehow it doesn't feel like it should be so difficult.
We are all familiar of the various attempts to standardize ethics. Each of the world's religions and cultures have their own codes, and when comparing these codes it is apparent that they are generally very similar. Nonetheless, we find the peoples of the world in constant conflict with each other. Upon examining this tendency one may begin to suspect, as I have, that the conflict comes not from an adhereance to these ethical codes, but from the abuse of power and from the tendency of leaders, both religious and secular, to inforce something called Otherness.
This idea of Otherness can be explored further by reading the works of such thinkers as J. Krishnamurti and Arthur Koestler, but otherness can be simply described as the inforcing of differences (whether real, or imagined) between groups of people while simultaniously inforcing the similarities (whether real or imagined) between the individuals that make up each of those groups. In its worst forms Otherness creates, enemies and slaves. In these cases Otherness, it seems, is used as an excuse to abandon one's code of ethics in the quest for power over another. Similarities between ethical codes are somehow forgotten while differances are highlighted. Ethical codes, instead of bridging the gap of Otherness, tend to widen it.
There are many possible explanations for the human tendency to highlight otherness, but reasons for this are, in a way, less important than simply recognizing this tendency of which we are all guilty.
In the past I have written, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, about being an Aikido fanatic. I sincerely hope that anyone who identified the statement understands the irony. For fanatisism is, more often than not, exclusive and sepratist. While it is easy to divide the world into those who study Aikido and those that do not, I believe that Aikido is fundamentally a method for eliminating the illusion of Otherness. Two quotes from O'Sensei:
There is evil and disorder in the world because people have
Forgotten that all things emanate from one source.
All things, material and spiritual, originate from one source and
are related as if they were one family. The past, present, and future
are all contained in the life force. The universe emerged and
developed from one source, and we evovled through the optimal
process of unification and harmonization.
Now, we all had our reasons for starting our practice of Aikido. The magnificient demonstrations of power that we read about. The demonstrations that we witnessed-- effortless power and grace-- some sort of gateway to trancendence-- invincibility. We are all guilty of these desires. All guilty of wanting to eliminate our fears-- to override the animal nature that tells us to fight or take flight. We are all guilty of wanting to have some sort of moral, ethical stature above and beyond the majority of humanity.
And as we continue to practice Aikido we do attempt to adhere to the highest standard of ethical combat-- something we might translate into a Prime Code. But, we must be cautious of enforceing our Otherness negatively. As we discover this new identity for ourselves and find a community of like-minded we must be sure not to allow our dedication to turn into fanaticism-- into a form of rightousness enforced by an incomplete understanding of our new ethical code.