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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > November, 2005 - Aiki-Ethics
by Lynn Seiser

Aiki-Ethics by Lynn Seiser

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Why is it so hard to simply do the right thing? Don't we all know what the right thing to do is?

Ethics, by definition, is the discipline of dealing with what is good and bad, right and wrong, and with moral duty and obligation, a set of moral principles and values, a theory or system of moral value, and the principles of conduct governing an individual or group of individuals. Once outside the periphery of the organizing group, the rules of ethics of that group no longer apply.

The Hippocratic oath for healers states, first to do no harm. The Buddhist percepts include refraining from doing harm, lying, stealing, adultery, and intoxicants. The Christian commandments state that thou shall not lie, steal, bear false witness, or covet> Instead one should honor. Bushido was a strict code of conduct or ethics. The golden rule states to treat others as you would want them to treat you. Karma supports a cause-and-effect relationship. What what-goes-around-comes-around. Every community and society has its own unique rules and roles. Yet, in many ways, they all seem to be very similar to me; do the right thing.

Right according to who? Do the good thing. Good according to who? All statements contain, or lack, a referential index. Those things that I would consider ethical, or right and good, are those thing I personally agree with. Those that I would consider unethical, wrong and bad, are in essence, those things I don't personally agree with.

I once saw a very bad ninja/spy movie (okay, I've seen a lot of bad movies). A young son finds out his father is not really a traveling businessman, instead he is a spy. The father is trying to help his son understand the situation. The son looks at his father and asked, "Dad, are there really bad men out there?" The father, with both compassion and wisdom said, "Son, to them, we are the bad guys." I guess right or wrong, good or bad could simply be a matter of which side you are on.

As a counselor, I have dealt with victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction for almost 30 years. In all those years, I have found that when clients get calm and quiet. I can ask them if they know the truth. They do. I ask if they know what they need to do. They do. I tell them to go and do it. When we live a life we know is incongruent with what we know is true and right, we fill our lives with fear, anger, anxiety, and depression. We have a choice, we can have fear or we can have love. We cannot have both. The choice is ours.

As Sensei and Sempai, we are models in the Dojo. As parents and adults, we model for our children the rules of our family and our society. As participating members of these Internet forums, we model for others the environment and rules. Through identification and imitation, others learn the often unspoken rules, roles, and codes of conduct. They learn our ethics by who we are, not by what we say. We all know what to say, but often have trouble putting words into practice.

If Aikido is a gift from O'Sensei Ueshiba to cure the conflict, chaos, and confusion of the world, then we as practitioners must develop the ethics that can facilitates this process in ourselves, our relationships, and our communities. The big picture implies that Aikido is not just a gift for the Dojo, but a gift for our everyday life and interaction with each other. Aikido is built on universal principles that benefit all, even those who don't consciously embrace it. Aikido, the way of harmonizing energy in loving protection of all.

Aiki-ethics could be our ability to enter, blend, redirect, and control a conversation or situation without resisting or eliciting resistance. If resistance, disagreement, rudeness, or even hostility is given, can we utilize it rather than get defensive, retaliate, or wish it wasn't there to begin with? To train hard and gain true confidence in ourselves, and in Aikido, we must be able to accept the world as it is, even if it's not the way we personally think it should be. But hey, no one ever asked me how I thought the world should be and if they did, they probably wouldn't respond anyway.

All Aikido starts with a bow. Aiki-ethics would be to maintain a sense of good manners and respect whether we disagree or are being disagreed with.

Some of our best lessons in the Dojo have been from our toughest workouts by trying new techniques that we just can't make work, yet. Some of our best lessons in life have been from our biggest critics and facing our biggest fears.

Aiki-ethics is the goal. The journey and how close we get is a personal choice. Make the right choice. Simply do the right thing.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training.

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