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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 11:46 PM
the water does not try
to reflect the moon
and the moon has no desire
to be reflected
but when the clouds clear
there is the moon in the water
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 155
Comments: 1,111
Views: 1,690,901


In General go no sen butterfly Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #23 New 10-08-2010 05:32 AM
go no sen butterfly One night last week on the train going home I suddenly noticed a butterfly motionless inside the carriage. Perhaps it was overwhelmed by the electric lights and all the people and the noise. I imagined it patiently trying to analyze the situation. That's anthropomorphism - attributing human reactions to animals (well, and insects).

So I thought finally when it had worked out the time between stations and how long the doors opened for it might make its move and fly away to freedom. But of course it didn't. It stayed there motionless. Bewildered or frightened. Or still waiting for the right moment.

A moth doesn't do that. It doesn't wait patiently to think about anything. It just gets on with trying to escape. It flies off in a direction at random and if that doesn't work it changes direction and starts again in a different direction and keeps moving tirelessly careless of hitting obstacles until finally it finds an opening and escapes.

So you are probably thinking he's going to say we have to be patient like the butterfly. Serene too, maybe. No. I'm not. We have to act. Like the moth. But the problem is not to go off in the wrong direction. How to know the right direction? Well that might take years of training.

There is a terrible danger in waiting. In being a butterfly. In inertia. Waiting until the right moment. The right moment might never come. You have to act. Saki no saki. I remember at an instuctors' seminar listening to a long explanation from Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (9 dan) about aikido being a go no sen no budo - not a sen no sen no budo. He meant that aikido is for self-defence, not attack. But then I asked him about saki no saki. Attacking the attacker before the attack has taken shape. But after (or as) it has been decided in the mind of the attacker. And he agreed (maybe reluctantly - it was against the theme of the seminar!) that saki no saki was the ultimate budo. They are the same kanji: sen no sen and saki no saki. So aikido is not sen no sen, but it is saki no saki. Go figure.

But don't be a butterfly.

cool photo: Butterfly in a train http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtyler/3448454492/ used by kind permission of Alex No Logo aka blackheartking.com (xtyler). photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtyler/ under creative commons licence

niall matthews 2010
Views: 5620 | Comments: 12

RSS Feed 12 Responses to "go no sen butterfly"
#12 02-11-2011 09:47 AM
niall Says:
Thanks, Carina. I really like that.
#11 02-09-2011 02:53 AM
guest1234567 Says:
I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?" Chuang Tzu quote And a poem
#10 11-09-2010 02:03 AM
guest1234567 Says:
Yes, a mistake by copying, thanks
#9 11-08-2010 09:01 PM
niall Says:
Thanks Carina! This is the link I think http://www.positivethoughts.com/behappynow.htm
#8 11-07-2010 01:20 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Don't wait, don't be a butterfly http://www.positivethoughts.com/behappynow.htm.. Sorry NIall, I don't know anything about kanjis, but I think it makes sense in your post, Aikido makes us happy
#7 10-11-2010 01:09 AM
niall Says:
As Peter Goldsbury suggested I put a bit more background information on the kanji in the language forum: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18792
#6 10-10-2010 09:35 PM
niall Says:
Cheers, Billy. Asoh Sensei told me about real budo being saki no saki as the intention forms in the attacker's heart.
#5 10-10-2010 01:40 PM
Makochan Says:
Very interesting blog. Thanks Niall, Best Billy
#4 10-08-2010 10:48 AM
niall Says:
Thanks for that Chris.
#3 10-08-2010 10:43 AM
niall Says:
Thanks Peter. Yes Okumura sensei was very precise and methodical. Carl Thompson put a useful link: http://www.aiki-shuren-dojo.com/pdf/Go%20no%20sen.pdf. And another: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11941. It's the same word 先. The difference is that the sound sen is used as an objective description of the type of budo in sen no sen and the sound saki is used as an explanation (of mental or spiritual preparedness, say) in saki no saki.
#2 10-08-2010 10:41 AM
chris wright Says:
Great post Niall, reminds me of the question that was asked on your course here in August. I remember reading somewhere, that a student once asked O'Sensei if Aikido was Go no sen or sen no sen - and his reply was something 'like in aikido there is only one sen'.
#1 10-08-2010 06:34 AM
Hello Niall, Interesting blog. I once translated for Okumura Sensei at an overseas seminar, each morning I would visit Okumura Sensei before his class and he would very carefully explain what he was going to talk about. So I think you owe it to your readers to give a little more explanation, especially of the difference between 先 as sen and 先 as saki. Best wishes, PAG

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