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"Scientific cosmology is offering us a new picture of an awesome universe, but science provides no way of personally connecting to it. New scientific ideas as intellectual entertainment are not going to change our point of view. The scientific picture of the universe and the actual experience of it as reality - like mind and heart - each come fully alive in the connection with the other. Cosmic ideas need to be integrated harmoniously into all we know, and that can open us up to the universe. But how in practice is that done? How can we bring our stunted consciousness into harmony with scientific reality? This is the great challenge of our time…" Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe.
How does the study of Aikido, a martial art, relate to my understanding of the universe and my experience of being of the universe? Aikido, in the larger context, larger that is than merely a collection of techniques used to deal with conflict, has provided me with a vehicle for experiencing the connection referred to in the first sentence in the above quote. I can read the science, observe my surroundings with my senses and measuring instruments, devise theories and provide explanations for natural phenomena, in other words feed my mind. Through study and book learning I can intellectually connect to the universe. But this intellectual connection is inadequate to enhance my experience of being of the universe and thus my connection remains incomplete on a personal level. To experience a personal connection with the universe requires more than an intellectual interaction with the world; it also requires physical interaction between me and my surroundings. Aikido enables me to experience this physical interaction.
Motion is at the heart of Aikido. The dynamics of bodies in motion give rise to all Aikido techniques. Motion is at the heart of the universe. The dynamics of bodies in motion give rise to all events that compose the universe.
On a large scale, the same physical laws governing the motions of planets, stars, galaxies and galactic clusters govern our motion relative to one another when we practice Aikido. What Aikido provides me is a way to internalize those laws and experience them personally. Continuity is the watch word at this scale. Technique mimics the motion of planets and their home star orbiting about a common center. Smooth, effortless and flowing, we move along paths indicated and defined by the continuum which is, in turn, shaped by our presence. And thus my connection with the larger universe is enhanced and brought to life in an intimate way.
Moving in the other direction, away from the large toward the very small, random motion becomes the predominant player in my Aikido. Random motion, especially during randori, causes every encounter with my partner(s) to be slightly different. Randori happens, technique occurs without volition, we move together and techniques grow out of our motion. I can practice the same technique with the same partner ten thousand times and each encounter will be unique and unpredictable. The randomness and uncertainty of each encounter allows me to internalize and personally experience the physical laws governing events on the quantum level of the universe. And thus my connection to the smaller universe is enhanced and brought to life in an intimate way.
Studying Aikido allows me to contract my point of reference thereby increasing my awareness. With expanded awareness I am able to bring my consciousness into harmony with the scientific reality that my mind has absorbed as my book knowledge has grown. The two, the knowledge of learning and the knowledge of experience, complement each other creating a synergy of understanding that echoes deep within me. My continually changing Aikido therefore, is one tool that I employ to integrate my consciousness with ever changing scientific reality.