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jennifer paige smith
04-29-2007, 10:17 AM
open terrain, here. Let's let it fly!

domo, jen

dps
04-29-2007, 02:05 PM
open terrain, here. Let's let it fly!

domo, jen

What do you mean by spiritual?
David

SeiserL
04-29-2007, 02:43 PM
IMHO, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. We each put our own purpose and intent into our practice (of whatever we do). It is not inherently there.

So, is the question, "Is my/your Aikido a spiritual practice?"?

Chuck Clark
04-29-2007, 04:42 PM
Need to define "spiritual" and "practice"... I think if we're human we're involved in spiritual practice of one kind or another whether we want to or realize it. It can take a long, long time ... or not.

George S. Ledyard
04-29-2007, 06:29 PM
Need to define "spiritual" and "practice"... I think if we're human we're involved in spiritual practice of one kind or another whether we want to or realize it. It can take a long, long time ... or not.

Hi Chuck,
Since Body - Mind - Spirit are fundamentally inseparable one could say that any activity must involve the spirit. I think that it's a matter of degree in terms of the amount of commitment made to the "practice". When it gets to the point at which one could consider a practice a "way of life" rather than simply an activity that one does, one is certainly getting to what I would call a "spiritual" practice since the doing of it will necessarily involve change on the part of the person doing it.

I think you are right that "spiritual" needs to be defined, at least each one of us needs to know what he means by it. It's quite a bit like Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance assigning his class to define what is meant by "quality". It became a Koan that eventually drove him crazy because he insisted on trying to come up with an objective definition and it turned out that it was impossible. I would maintain that "spiritual" is another such concept.

As a working definition I would say that "spiritual" pertains to how the person we believe we are relates to the reality it thinks it sees around it. Anything that is a "spiritual" practice is an activity that is designed to change both of those perceptions i.e. who we think we are and what we see as the reality around us. For this to be the case, the person doing the activity must be open to this change or the activity can be empty spiritually even though a certain amount of time and effort have gone into it.

I remember years ago reading a letter to the editor of Black Belt Magazine. The writer stated that he was sick and tired of reading about the spiritual side of the martial arts and that he himself had done martial arts for over twenty years and had no "spiritual" benefit whatever. I thought that represented something of an achievement.

Chuck Clark
04-29-2007, 08:17 PM
Hey George,
I think we've visited enough both online and in the flesh (literally in the hot tub) that we have lots in common. I agree with your post above.
After some point, our realization of practice and doing becomes one with no distinctions that separate them.

Janet Rosen
04-29-2007, 10:25 PM
VERY interesting topic given this article in today's SF Chronicle:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/04/29/MNG22PBS151.DTL

Personally, yep, aikido has been my spiritual practice and as such it showed me how living is a spiritual practice.

dps
04-29-2007, 11:11 PM
Personally, yep, aikido has been my spiritual practice and as such it showed me how living is a spiritual practice.

Is it your only spiritual practice?

David

kironin
04-30-2007, 12:48 AM
Hey George,
I think we've visited enough both online and in the flesh (literally in the hot tub) that we have lots in common. I agree with your post above.
After some point, our realization of practice and doing becomes one with no distinctions that separate them.

Okay, what's the deal with Chucks and hot tubs ?

and do we really need this visual ?

:D

after aikido practice,
a foot massage while you are in a hot tub,
that is a spiritual practice.

L. Camejo
04-30-2007, 05:43 AM
after aikido practice,
a foot massage while you are in a hot tub,
that is a spiritual practice.
Amen to that brother. You just described heaven to me there.:)

Just goes to show that pretty much anything can become a spiritual practice if ones mind and heart is set in that direction.

LC:ai::ki:

barry.clemons
04-30-2007, 08:11 AM
open terrain, here. Let's let it fly!

domo, jen

1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spiritual
2. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/practice

Yes; Aikido is a spiritual practice for me.

Janet Rosen
04-30-2007, 09:42 AM
Is it your only spiritual practice?
David
I have always defined myself as an atheist - my longer discussion of that and how aikido came to be my spiritual practice is in an old Mirror column
http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/themirror/2004_05.html
What I meant by the sentence in this thread, and maybe didn't elaborate on enough, is that it via aikido as a spiritual practice I was able to generalize, to see how daily living (aikido off the mat) was in fact a viable spiritual practice.

Dan Reynolds
04-30-2007, 10:57 AM
IMHO, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. We each put our own purpose and intent into our practice (of whatever we do). It is not inherently there.

So, is the question, "Is my/your Aikido a spiritual practice?"?

Spoken like a true Master!

For me the answer would have to be "yes" the study of Aikido is part of my spiritual development .

jennifer paige smith
04-30-2007, 11:35 AM
Okay, what's the deal with Chucks and hot tubs ?

and do we really need this visual ?

:D

after aikido practice,
a foot massage while you are in a hot tub,
that is a spiritual practice.

Someone above asked me what I define as' spiritual'. I would say this particular post just about covers it.

Beyond the flesh of humor, I would say an 'inveterate occupation with space' would begin to define my sense of the spiritual. The occupation, however, culminates in 'wholeness', or the full circle of generation.
Terry Dobson spoke of Ma-Ai,defined as 'space time' and the beauty that is generated from the place of that observation. The beauty of unveiled vision. To a painter it is colorful. To a musician, it can be rythmic dynamic. To a soundster it is a vibrational sensibility. The road is many fold. Gratefully.

js

Dewey
04-30-2007, 01:06 PM
open terrain, here. Let's let it fly!

domo, jen

I'm going to throw a wrench into the works and give you my solicited opinion. First, a short biographical note needs to be made here, since we all bring something to Aikido (call it baggage, if you wish).

Either respect me or revile me for it...I am a devout Roman Catholic. So much so, I spent 5 years in the seminary preparing for the priesthood. In the end, I decided that it wasn't for me. However, having spent those years in intense prayer and theological study, owing to the fact that my occupation was to ponder spiritual matters (i.e. navel gaze)...I reflected a great deal on a good many number of subjects. One of which was the martial arts.

I had been fascinated by the martial arts and wanted to study one, but I had trouble reconciling their study with my religious convictions (you know, the whole "nonviolence thing" that Jesus taught and countless saints & theologians expounded upon). That is, until I discovered Aikido.

Aikido is indeed a spiritual practice for me in that I have a medium through which I can confront violence & aggression without succumbing to it or in any way participating in it. By blending, entering, diffusing, neutralizing...I, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, become "a channel of peace."

How do you like them apples?

dps
04-30-2007, 02:37 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10524[/url
url] //www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10570[url]http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10524[/url



David

dps
04-30-2007, 02:53 PM
Brian Dewey wrote: "How do you like them apples?"

From a previous post on another thread,

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10584

"Welcome to the forum Jess,
On this forum you will meet people who will just appreciate that you like apples, some will wonder what kind of apples you like ( Jonathan,Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Fuji, etc), why you like the apples you do, what is the technique you use to eat the apples, what is a better way to eat the apples,what is the spirituality of eating apples and where apples came from and how they are not the same as they where. Great fun and exercise for the mind."

David

Chuck.Gordon
05-01-2007, 04:36 AM
Okay, what's the deal with Chucks and hot tubs ? and do we really need this visual ?
after aikido practice,
a foot massage while you are in a hot tub,
that is a spiritual practice.

And then, we only got in the hot tub because it was cooler than the ambient outdoor summer temps in Austin! I don't remember the single malt having a THING to do with it.

How's cousin Craig and when are you coming to Europe? Better hurry ... Looks like (75% chance) I'm headed back to the USA about this time next year, if not earlier. Not sure where, but probably East Coast-ish.

As an atheist and skeptic, I have to ask for definitions of spiritual, too, as I don't believe in a 'spirit' as a distinction from emotions and intellect. As an abstraction, it can, of course, refer to intent, will, courage or any number of other intangibles.

It seems, for many, that 'Spiritual' is pretty much equivalent to 'I'm in awe of this and can't rationally explain it.' For me, budo certainly doesn't fall under that heading.

cg

salim
05-01-2007, 08:00 AM
One the most prevailing behaviors that is so distasteful to some many in the Martial Arts community, the spiritual crap. This is one of the main reasons that Aikido is not taken serious. The Aikidoist is look upon as a long haired hippies chanting away, massaging there ego's with intellectual speech. To much attention direct toward the Japanese culture and spiritual stuff. There are many people would who just rather learn self defense.

salim
05-01-2007, 08:01 AM
I can't believe this discussion exist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very sad.

dbotari
05-01-2007, 08:35 AM
I can't believe this discussion exist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very sad.

Yet you continue to contribute to it. If it bothers you, step away from the key board, turn-off your computer and go train in your "self-defense" oriented aikido.

jennifer paige smith
05-01-2007, 09:52 AM
One the most prevailing behaviors that is so distasteful to some many in the Martial Arts community, the spiritual crap. This is one of the main reasons that Aikido is not taken serious. The Aikidoist is look upon as a long haired hippies chanting away, massaging there ego's with intellectual speech. To much attention direct toward the Japanese culture and spiritual stuff. There are many people would who just rather learn self defense.

Not everyone who takes Aikido to it's spiritual equation is a chanting hippie. Unless of course you mean that skinny old guy in a skirt, with that long beard who went around, absurdly, claiming that, get this, Aikido is a manifestation of divine will as sent through him in the form of a martial art. What a stoner! Then he went on to continue his ego driven, narcissistic, intellectually snobbish chanting about Izunagi this and Izunami that. What a goon. It is hard to believe that he wasn't simply hauled out back to get his ass kicked by some 'real' martial artist.
God, I'm glad my eyes have been so opened. Until now I was shamelessy following in the footsteps of a stinky hippie who, obviously, couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag.
How could I have missed it?

John Kelly
05-01-2007, 09:58 AM
I can't believe this discussion exist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very sad.

Thank you for stepping in. I was wondering when a dissenting vote would appear. If aikido has taught me anything, it is to appreciate the energy of others as a way of resolving conflict. Training in Aikido for self defense, I am trying to blend with an aggressors energy and redirect it in a way that brings no harm to either of us, but resolves the conflict without giving ground personally or endangering myself needlessly.

In my opinion, that is a spiritual practice, because I have discovered the use of this training when I am away from the dojo, in everyday life. Understanding others can lead to harmony, even with those I believe I have nothing in common with. It is indeed a spiritual journey that brings you to understand the value of your enemies hearts and minds.

John Kelly
05-01-2007, 10:47 AM
I see. Thank you for clarifying for me. I understand from your first post in this thread that you do not care for the spiritual or japanese cultural aspects that are often associated with Aikido training. I think most people on the board, including me, would grant you that as your right. You train in aikido as a form of self defense only and wish to keep it that way. You implied, also in your first post, that you were annoyed by the way others think your chosen style is for hippies and such. No one likes their chosen style insulted, no one appreciates being told they are wasting their time training in a useless art.

So far, I get it. Where you lost me, and possibly the person who sent you a warning, is your second post where you said you couldn't believe that this discussion existed. Clearly, you were a bit hyped up, but by saying that you are doing exactly what you were complaining of in your first post.

The civil librities you speak of would also apply to those who you disagree with, as in all of those who posted on this thread before you. So by dissing the entire thread, you are insulting everyone here, including those who may be reading it and not posting. Only you know if that was your intent, but please consider what you say here before you submit it. Many could easily take offense by your language, regardless of your intent.

I believe all points of view are worth considering, and did not take offense to your statements. But I did take note of the inherent hypocracy of them, intentional or otherwise. If it were up to me, I would encourage you to post more often, I too find it stiflingly high minded around here sometimes. When that happens to me, I just jump to another thread. It's a big world, and not too hard to find a place that will keep my interest on the internet.

Even us hippies who can defend ourselves are not using Aikido to start fights in person, so why would we do so online?

best of luck,
jk

George S. Ledyard
05-01-2007, 11:01 AM
Troll alert... time to use the ever popular "ignore function". Keep that blood pressure down and your "wa" harmonious.

SeiserL
05-01-2007, 11:43 AM
One the most prevailing behaviors that is so distasteful to some many in the Martial Arts community, the spiritual crap. This is one of the main reasons that Aikido is not taken serious.
IMHO, you are correct.
Spiritual crap is still crap and should be accepted as crap.
Spiritual practice, now there's the discipline.
Thank you for the opportunity to practice.

senshincenter
05-01-2007, 02:09 PM
The art is a spiritual practice. The fact that this person’s or that person’s Aikido is not spiritual does not take away from the fact that the art is spiritual – in the same way this person’s or that person’s Aikido not being martial does not take away from the fact that the art is martial. The Founder was very clear in his practice and in his words that this is the case. If someone’s Aikido is not spiritual, it is just that person’s Aikido that is (not) marked thusly and not the art; as when someone’s Aikido is not martial, it is just that person’s Aikido that is (not) marked thusly and not the art. This is a little bit more than, “Aikido works, it is just your Aikido that does not work. For, if a person has an Aikido that is not spiritual, or not martial, in my opinion, that person has got some serious self-reflection to do, as one has to go to great effort to keep the art a-spiritual or a-martial. Behind such great efforts lay a whole lot of stuff that Aikido training, at any level, is supposed to purify out.

That said, I would define a spiritually fulfilling Aikido as being marked by two vectors – depth and breadth. By depth, Aikido is spiritual according to how penetrating we are in our self-reflections (i.e. how much we are able and willing to reveal of ourselves to ourselves) as they come to us via the practice and penetration of the Art. By breadth, Aikido is spiritual according to how much we are able and willing to apply the discoveries of our self-reflections to other areas of our lives – with ALL AREAS OF OUR LIFE being the direction/goal.

dmv

kironin
05-01-2007, 02:58 PM
As an atheist and skeptic, I have to ask for definitions of spiritual, too, as I don't believe in a 'spirit' as a distinction from emotions and intellect. As an abstraction, it can, of course, refer to intent, will, courage or any number of other intangibles.


Chuck, I think this is nitpicking on the word too much. To me, spiritual practice especially as it pertains to the martial arts does not have to be and should not be confused with mysticism and mythology.

As a scientist, I very much feel that one strong aspect and appeal of aikido for me is as a spiritual practice. Aikido is an activity that involves me physically as well as mentally in as Carl Sagan would put it a reverence for life, awe at the wonders of nature, confronting ethics and morality, building community, the celebration of life's passages and a sense of striving for social justice. Aikido definitely presented me with a path to be confronted with physical manifestations of certain philosophies swirling around in my head. It provided a discipline in which to work on nonverbal aspects of myself in emotional and other non-intellectual realms. It provided balance in my adult life to the highly analytical and intellectual activities I spend my time on.

to quote from a very nice essay that I found when I was thinking about my response to this...

Carl Sagan and Modern Scientific Humanism (http://humanists.net/pdhutcheon/humanist%20articles/Carl%20Sagan%20and%20Modern%20Scientific%20Humanism.htm)

Sagan distinguished clearly between mysticism and spirituality. While mysticism is concerned with matters of magic, the occult, the supersensual and "essentially unknowable', spirit is something quite different, he maintained. "It comes from the Latin word 'to breathe'. What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word 'spirituality' that we are talking about anything other than matter (including the realm of matter of which the brain is made) or anything outside the realm of science...Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality...The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a profound disservice to both."


In my view, the self-defense aspect of aikido is actually critical to a deeper authentic spiritual practice in aikido. Without training in an awareness of why something works and why a certain movement or feeling is needed to be effective, you remove the ability to experience those moments in training in the dojo when reality intrudes and for a moment a response was not just kata but actually just the right and appropriate thing to happen at that moment regardless of where you are. A little epiphany happens however briefly that illuminates everything.

---

on a less serious note, how are those hot tubs in Bavaria ?
dang, I better start scrounging some cash together in a hurry! :p
at the moment I have been focussed on preparing for my Sandan test in Iaido coming up fast in August at the national camp. My performance that day with all the pressure in front of a large audience is going to be at least a surreal experience if not a spiritual one. I will definitely be out of body that day. Look forward to the day after, worse it looks like several of my students will be testing for shodan that day and watching me. Ugh, I may need to escape to Bavaria after that. :rolleyes:
I gather Emily is still putting up with you!

plus :ki:
Craig

dps
05-02-2007, 07:40 AM
I found this to be interesting and decided to post it on this thread.

In the conclusion of the thesis (chapter v) the author says,

"I have sought to address two questions. The first question was simply, Is Aikido a form of religious practice for its American practitioners? This was a straightforward question. The second was more complex. If Aikido is a form of religious practice for its practitioners, how does it fit into their religious framework? Is it subsumed within another, more traditional religious tradition, such as Christianity, or are traditional Western religious traditions rejected and simply replaced with a new religious framework?"

and later on in his conclusion he writes,

"For two-thirds of all subjects, Aikido was a religious practice. The high percentage for whom Aikido was a form of religious practice was surprising because many of these people were strongly affiliated with established religions. In fact, half of these subjects identified themselves as either members of a particular religious organization, or as unaffiliated Christians (the one Moslem was also a member of this group). These individuals were able to interpret the teachings of Aikido, as well as those of their primary religious affiliation as being mutually supporting, rather than as contradicting each other.

The other half of the subjects for whom Aikido was a religious practice were no longer affiliated with any religious organization. In fact, no member of this group even identified themselves with an established religious tradition. There was a general feeling within this group that genuine religiosity and religious organizations are mutually exclusive. These individuals did not like organized religious groups, and felt that religious dogmas obstruct one's search for true religious understanding. Several of them stated they felt that each person must find the truth for themselves, rather than simply accepting what others said was the truth.

Many members of this group were actively developing their own cosmologies and sets of religious practices. Taking something of a supermarket approach to religious ideas and practices, these individuals had investigated numerous religious traditions, including various Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist groups, practices and literature. Taoist works, particularly the Tao Te Ching, were very popular with this group, several of whom quoted from it during their interview. "

http://arizonaenergy.org/Aikido/aikido_as_spiritual_practice_in_.htm

Aikido as Spiritual Practice in the United States

by Peter W. Boylan, M.A.

A Thesis
Submitted to the
Faculty of The Graduate College
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the
Degree of Master of Arts
Department of Comparative Religion

Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan
December 1999
Copyright by
Peter W. Boylan
1999

Four sources the author uses on the philosophy of Aikido are;
" The Art of Peace" by John Stevens ",
"Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" by Mitsugi Saotome " ,
"Abundant Peace, by John Stevens",
"Aikido in America", by John Stone and Ron Meyer

Dewey
05-02-2007, 08:00 AM
What disturbs me in some folks' responses when the issue of spirituality in Aikido comes up is the idea that the principles/concepts of "spirituality" and "self-defense" are mutually exclusive terms/paths. That is, an Aikidoka can only pursue one path and not both simultaneously. That's just rubbish!

Concerning what exactly "is" spirituality in Aikido is like what former President Bill Clinton said, "it depends upon what your definition of 'is' is..."

From what I have culled from O'Sensei's writings, interviews and what many of his uchi-deshi reported concerning spirituality in Aikido, I'd settle on the non-religious definition that "spirituality" in Aikido is the awareness of your connection to other people & the world around you.

As such, you can interpret that awareness in a multitude of ways. In a religious context, a martial context, a tactical context, an ethical humanist context, an existential context, a psychological context, a socio-political context...any context you want. One is not limited to only one context in that the context changes with every situation we find ourselves in, both on and off the mat. In fact, that is what spirituality in Aikido is...IMHO.

SeiserL
05-02-2007, 08:25 AM
What disturbs me in some folks' responses when the issue of spirituality in Aikido comes up is the idea that the principles/concepts of "spirituality" and "self-defense" are mutually exclusive terms/paths.
IMHO, spirituality and "self" defense, perhaps (not certainly not necessarily) mutually exclusive. Spirituality and "other" defense perhaps mutually inclusive.

akiy
05-02-2007, 08:25 AM
Aikido as Spiritual Practice in the United States

by Peter W. Boylan, M.A.
Peter's thesis is also here on AikiWeb:

http://www.aikiweb.com/spiritual/boylan2.html

-- Jun

Dewey
05-02-2007, 08:43 AM
IMHO, spirituality and "self" defense, perhaps (not certainly not necessarily) mutually exclusive. Spirituality and "other" defense perhaps mutually inclusive.

Point well-taken!

senshincenter
05-02-2007, 09:03 AM
From my perspective, it's not that one would train in both the cultivation of the spirit and self-defense - as if one wear eating hamburger and fries. My experience suggests to me that such an approach would only work to have one thing distract from the other. I would also suggest that such would be the case even in the more culturally acceptable "defense of others." Rather, the martial side of a fully realized Aikido practice, and thus the capacity to defend oneself or others, is more an incidental of proper training, an incidental that comes about as a result of using violence (i.e. the subjective experience of ourselves in conflict) to cultivate the spirit and/or to develop awareness regarding one's habitual enslavement to fear, pride, and ignorance.

As the main tool, the martial side is no less an aspect of the entire practice than a mixing instrument is to a cake recipe. However, like in a cake recipe, sure you can lick the spoon, but you'll only want to eat the cake. You can appreciate the martial benefits, even as you are dependent upon their incidental presence as a sign that you are seeking deeper and deeper truths regarding your habitual enslavement to fear, pride, and ignorance, those things that have us de-centered and reactionary, those things that keep us from fully realizing the Oneness/God/Awareness/Spirituality/Etc. (you pick the word that gives you the least hang-ups), but it can only get in the way if we become attached to them in any manner (e.g. wanting them, naming them, having them define us, etc.).

My take,
dmv

Janet Rosen
05-02-2007, 04:40 PM
I appreciate Craig's long post on differentiating mysticism from spirituality.
I see no contradiction between having one activity serve as both a spiritual practice and a practical martial art, just as I see no contradiction between, say, finding a spiritual aspect to washing the dishes, and actually washing the dishes well!

Tony Wagstaffe
05-03-2007, 03:13 AM
Can't say its a spiritual thing for me.... more about overcoming my weaknesses and carrying on the best I can.... It helps to keep me young and optimistic and keeps me out of the rut that life can become if we allow it. You can go to church and do the Christian bit if that's spiritual.... imho spiritual is in the mind where 'God' was really born but that's something you won't find out until you have expired!!

jennifer paige smith
05-03-2007, 09:11 AM
Can't say its a spiritual thing for me.... more about overcoming my weaknesses and carrying on the best I can.... It helps to keep me young and optimistic and keeps me out of the rut that life can become if we allow it. You can go to church and do the Christian bit if that's spiritual.... imho spiritual is in the mind where 'God' was really born but that's something you won't find out until you have expired!!

I think of the term 'Takemusu Aiki" when I hear your last sentence. The translation, as with all translations, is rendered many ways. I come to a sense of 'corageous ,generative re-birth' or 'unionized something from the place of nothing' when my mind travels to this concept. For me, that is in the mind of God, for now.

Spiritual is a vague word in our language. Often we don't have a language that is structurally accomodating to discuss spirituality. If we could think of it like 'snow' to the inuit maybe we could have some luck. Honestly, I avoid the word in everyday use becuse it is so relative. But being relative we can evaluate our own growth by measuring our Own responses to situations, evaluating them, and then reexamining our responses in the future. Did we grow? Yes or No. Perhaps enlightenment is a better word for elevating our responses and our selves. Not some outside 'thing' but truly a measure of ourselves against our higher educating ,sensibilities.

jennifer paige smith
05-03-2007, 09:18 AM
Point well-taken!

Through the form of a well forged body comes a brilliant light.

thanks

kironin
05-03-2007, 10:28 AM
.... imho spiritual is in the mind where 'God' was really born but that's something you won't find out until you have expired!!

"I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God".

Sufi Proverb

Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, "When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets."

"Every activity can be an opportunity for the most profound lessons." Ragip Baba

Aiki1
05-03-2007, 01:44 PM
Not everyone who takes Aikido to it's spiritual equation is a chanting hippie. Unless of course you mean that skinny old guy in a skirt, with that long beard who went around, absurdly, claiming that, get this, Aikido is a manifestation of divine will as sent through him in the form of a martial art. What a stoner!

This is by Far the best post I've read in a Long time!!! Esp. the last line. I love it.

Thank you for a great laugh!

LN

Aiki1
05-03-2007, 01:51 PM
Nobody take this personally, please. :-)

Reading this thread reminded me of an old Sufi saying:

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is asleep. Wake him.

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is a child. Teach him.

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Follow him.

Although I would change the last to be:

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Take him to lunch.

LN

jennifer paige smith
05-04-2007, 09:15 AM
Nobody take this personally, please. :-)

Reading this thread reminded me of an old Sufi saying:

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is asleep. Wake him.

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is a child. Teach him.

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Follow him.

Although I would change the last to be:

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Take him to lunch.

LN

When are we going to lunch?:)

Aiki1
05-04-2007, 09:36 AM
When are we going to lunch?:)

Ok, I should have said: take -Her- to lunch! :-)

LN

jennifer paige smith
05-08-2007, 03:44 PM
Ok, I should have said: take -Her- to lunch! :-)

LN

Until or after lunch, does anyone else have a word to weigh in here before I end this thread?
Given all of the votes in the district, we have determined spirituality to be the winner!

tarik
05-08-2007, 04:03 PM
Going

tarik
05-08-2007, 04:04 PM
Going....

tarik
05-08-2007, 04:06 PM
Gone! I hearby declare this thread sold to the highest bidder, spirituality! :drool:

xuzen
05-09-2007, 04:02 AM
Is aikido a spiritual practice?
Once a year it is. After our annual dinner, the spirit flow freely, and the beer and the liquer and ... you know what I mean.

Boon.

jennifer paige smith
05-09-2007, 08:41 AM
Once a year it is. After our annual dinner, the spirit flow freely, and the beer and the liquer and ... you know what I mean.

Boon.

Yah,but, I don't wait until once a year.

jennifer paige smith
05-09-2007, 08:43 AM
Gone! I hearby declare this thread sold to the highest bidder, spirituality! :drool:

Please go to Martial or Spiritual? if you are further interested in this or other related topics( including "Best" Bathroom Practices for the Powerful and Potty Trained).

saulofong
05-09-2007, 09:18 AM
Well,

As it was already said, it depends on your concept of spiritual and on your concept of what is Aikido.....very very subjective...

What I can only write is my experience and my perceptions.

I have been in martial arts since I was around 10. I had already practiced Kendo, Kung Fu, Wing Chun Do, Jujitsu and then found Aikido around 8 years ago.

When I first started Aikido I had the only intention to develop my body sensibility to be able to use the other tools I had learned in other martial arts to be a good fighter. To be able to deal with any kind of opponent. To be able to destroy opponent.

Well, it took a couple years of trainning, reading and self-improvement courses for me to really face all the fear and unsecurity feelling that was behind all this search to be able to defend myself efficiently.

When I realized this feeling of unsecurity and faced it. All my practice started to change. My view and understanding of Aikido changed. The way I practiced changed. The focus changed.

Now I understand those people that wants to focus only on the "martial" part of Aikido if that really exists.

Aikido is about presence. About vulnerability. It is about being open to life. The techniques and training methods are only a way to get to that inner state. And they are only this....techniques and methods. And the way you practice this techniques and methods can or cannot be aligned to the purpose of Aikido. It depends only on the person practicing.

But this is only my view. Nobody needs to accept it. Nobody needs even to comment on it. I just felt like sharing...:)

Aiki1
05-09-2007, 10:25 AM
Saulo - Very, very nice post.

LN

Janet Rosen
05-09-2007, 03:03 PM
Saulo, thank you. Couldn't have said it better myself.

jennifer paige smith
05-09-2007, 04:02 PM
Saulo, thank you. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Good Stuff! I'm glad we're not done with this post yet. It seems to be only getting better:)

Thanks for joining the conversation

George S. Ledyard
05-10-2007, 06:56 AM
Aikido is about presence. About vulnerability. It is about being open to life. The techniques and training methods are only a way to get to that inner state. And they are only this....techniques and methods. And the way you practice this techniques and methods can or cannot be aligned to the purpose of Aikido. It depends only on the person practicing.

This is very much my view as well. You stated it beautifully.

The hard part about Aikido is that it is all about being able to hold opposites at the same time and understand that they are just two aspects of the whole. In this sense I think Aikido practice is a big Koan that we must each solve for ourselves.

I don't think that very many folks really solve this Koan. Many of the folks who want so badly to embrace the aspect of fostering that inner state you spoke of do not understand the importance of developing their inner strength through the martial side of the practice. This is one of the reasons that many martial artists make fun of Aikido because it is readily apparent that many of the folks who are doing the art are actually quite fearful and their technique is what Clint George Sensei would call "wishful thinking Aikido". Being vulnerable, sensitive, and open is simply weakness if one still is fearful and has a reactive mind.

On the other side, it is quite apparent that many people doing the art are only concerned with learning more techniques for fighting, even when they say that's not what they are doing. The folks who are more focused on the spiritual side of the art can easily see that much of the motivation for these folks is to try to cover up their fears by pursuing power. This is a major motivator for many people in the martial arts. Yet it fools very few. The underlying fear and tension is apparent to anyone who isn't himself or herself motivated by fear.

Aikido is about taking the two opposite sides of the art and bringing them together in ones practice and ones life. There is tremendous power in losing ones fear. When one can connect the opening of ones heart with the fearlessness of the warrior, one is able to take ones physical practice to another level entirely. And in ones life you suddenly find that the dropping away of ones fear allows you to see the fundamental connection between people rather than having ones fears keep them distant and separate.

Aikido is, to my mind, a spiritual practice. But if it doesn't develop inner strength, if it doesn't move one towards the fearlessness one needs to move beyond our old reptile brain in which everything is about survival, all the time, then it isn't a spiritual practice of any great depth.

Aikido practice should be difficult. It should push your buttons. It should force you to let go of your baggage over time. It cannot be just about the fun. But it also should be about letting go, learning to trust that relaxing and meeting the world expansively will make you safer than fighting it and holding it away. Any practice that makes one more fearful or creates tension is bad practice.

Most folks give in to their fears and go one way or the other in their training. Each group is giving in to what they fear rather than overcoming those fears. Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.

dbotari
05-10-2007, 07:32 AM
Aikido is about taking the two opposite sides of the art and bringing them together in ones practice and ones life. There is tremendous power in losing ones fear. When one can connect the opening of ones heart with the fearlessness of the warrior, one is able to take ones physical practice to another level entirely. And in ones life you suddenly find that the dropping away of ones fear allows you to see the fundamental connection between people rather than having ones fears keep them distant and separate.

I really like this comment and think it is key. The goal, I believe is the transcendence of self (which includes, fear, ego etc).


Aikido is, to my mind, a spiritual practice. But if it doesn't develop inner strength, if it doesn't move one towards the fearlessness one needs to move beyond our old reptile brain in which everything is about survival, all the time, then it isn't a spiritual practice of any great depth.

Aikido practice should be difficult. It should push your buttons. It should force you to let go of your baggage over time. It cannot be just about the fun. But it also should be about letting go, learning to trust that relaxing and meeting the world expansively will make you safer than fighting it and holding it away. ...[snip]

Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.

Ledyard sensei, I enjoy reading your well thought and clearly written responses. Keep them coming!

tarik
05-10-2007, 09:13 AM
Aikido practice should be difficult. It should push your buttons. It should force you to let go of your baggage over time.

I think many (most?) people don't allow their practice to push their buttons, or as they progress, forget and think that the button pushing stage of their practice is over (because they wear a black belt or some other measure like getting 'too old').

I think MANY people would prefer that their practice simply be fun (and I'm not saying that it shouldn't be by agreeing with you here).

Any practice that makes one more fearful or creates tension is bad practice.

Amen.

Most folks give in to their fears and go one way or the other in their training. Each group is giving in to what they fear rather than overcoming those fears. Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.

Damn.. eloquent. The root of the problem. George, has anyone ever told you that you should be a teacher? ;)

Arigato, Sensei.

Janet Rosen
05-10-2007, 10:23 AM
Near as I can tell, a person can't grow or change without buttons getting pushed. And if yer not growing/changing, what the hell is the point of living?

Aiki1
05-10-2007, 11:51 AM
This is very much my view as well. You stated it beautifully.

The hard part about Aikido is that it is all about being able to hold opposites at the same time and understand that they are just two aspects of the whole. In this sense I think Aikido practice is a big Koan that we must each solve for ourselves.

Snip good stuff....

Most folks give in to their fears and go one way or the other in their training. Each group is giving in to what they fear rather than overcoming those fears. Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.

Very well put. This is consonant with the psychological work that I do, as you are familiar with George - where a basic goal is developing the process of consciousness in us that can embrace all the many different aspects of our being, and learn to hold the tension of the opposites rather than disown the parts of ourself that make us uncomfortable or cause us to feel vulnerable. This allows us to continually find and return to our ever-changing dynamic center, at all levels - physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. And from that center, balance and wholeness emerge....

LN

Chuck Clark
05-10-2007, 11:57 AM
Wonderful post George. Mushin mugamae... real balance comes from being very comfortable being off balance in many, many ways.

senshincenter
05-10-2007, 12:24 PM
Looks like George has captured many of our points of view. At the same time it also opens the door for some cross comparison. In other words, by this, can't we, and shouldn't we ask, "Is my/yours Aikido training intense enough?" "Is my/your Aikido training ego-stroking or ego-purifying? Etc.

I mean, sometimes, if folks get lucky, they are able to articulate what George has, but then when I see their level of practice, the low level of danger present on the mat, or the low level of true self-exposure and self-reflection in their practice, it's almost worse when they have left the over-simplified and nearly completely ignorant view of "martial vs. spiritual" for this other clearly accurate interpretation of Aikido practice.

Even at my own dojo, when I am forced to take some time off - say about a week - when I come back to the dojo, folks often feel like they are dropped in one of those frozen baths you can take in Japan. No matter how many times they have felt this, they allow themselves to go through it time and time again. This tells me that unless one is very disciplined he/she will return to what is comfortable. Martially, this means practice will turn into light choreographed junk. Spiritually, this means practice will be fueled by delusion and more about ego reinforcement than about ego purification.

dmv

Janet Rosen
05-10-2007, 04:59 PM
No matter how many times they have felt this, they allow themselves to go through it time and time again. This tells me that unless one is very disciplined he/she will return to what is comfortable. Martially, this means practice will turn into light choreographed junk. Spiritually, this means practice will be fueled by delusion and more about ego reinforcement than about ego purification.
I laughed at how timely this is for me! In my "aikido off the mat" job as nursing supervisor I am constantly reminded of the human tendency to slowly get sloppy/lazy and let standards slip if not continually challenged....it is also one of the things I love about having students; they keep ME from letting my standards slip!

Chuck Clark
05-10-2007, 05:52 PM
This is why a learning system has to have feedback loops. There must be appropriate challenging (managed competition) at all levels and testing at all times that gives us the most immediate, clear pass/fail information possible.

We all fall into comfortable levels of any behavior if our colleagues aren't appropriately calling bs when it happens. This has to be compassionate and as gentle as possible for the communication to be understood. I have an especially hard head sometimes and at times in my life the feedback has needed to be further along the scale towards "not very gentle" but thankfully, I'm educable. How can we all keep learning until the last possible instant of consciouness of we don't care about each other enough to give this feedback in loving ways. It is one of the greatest gifts we can share. Otherwise... we'll all just go to sleep and not know it.

Gambatte!

senshincenter
05-10-2007, 06:19 PM
I agree with the feedback - extremely important. However, other than using the "c" word, I would prefer the word "spontaneous" or "live" training environments. That's just me. :-)

Aside from structural elements when it comes to training, I feel that certain elements must be present at the personal level as well - here are some I try and use and pass on:

- if one way is easy, and the other way is difficult - take the latter course.
- follow your fears; let your fears be your sign posts for the direction your training should take.
- sacrifice yourself before you sacrifice anything or anyone else.
- hold the Truth as more vital than you.
- note your discomforts and your reasons for them.
- accept where you are as you note that you can and should always do more.
- find no support in anything outside of yourself.

Do you all have any more, and would you be kind enough to share - please/thanks.

dmv

Erick Mead
05-10-2007, 09:06 PM
... certain elements must be present at the personal level as well - here are some I try and use and pass on: All well said. And those things are timeless ( alternately, from the Gospels and the Dhammapada):
- if one way is easy, and the other way is difficult - take the latter course."Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

"This is the only Way. There is none other for the purity of vision. Do you follow this path. ...Entering upon that path you will make an end of pain. ...Few among men are they who cross to the further shore. The other folk only run up and down the bank on this side."
- follow your fears; let your fears be your sign posts for the direction your training should take.
"Do not be afraid."
(The single most repeated phrase uttered by Jesus in the entire New Testament)

"He who has reached the goal, is fearless, is without craving, is passionless, has cut off the thorns of life. This is his final body."
- sacrifice yourself before you sacrifice anything or anyone else.
"And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.' "

"He who sees others' faults, and is ever irritable - the corruptions of such a one grow. He is far from the destruction of corruptions."
- hold the Truth as more vital than you. "... and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

"The gift of Truth excels all (other) gifts. The flavour of Truth excels all (other) flavours. The pleasure in Truth excels all (other) pleasures. He who has destroyed craving overcomes all sorrow."
- note your discomforts and your reasons for them. "... More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us ..."

"Easy to do are things that are hard and not beneficial to oneself, but very, very difficult, indeed, to do is that which is beneficial and good."
- accept where you are as you note that you can and should always do more.
"For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

"Do not follow a life of evil; do not live heedlessly; do not have false views; do not value worldly things. In this way one can get rid of suffering. A man should not live heedlessly but should exert himself to live righteously. Such a man is happy in this world and in the next. "
- find no support in anything outside of yourself."I AM with you always, until the end of the world"

"By oneself alone is evil done; it is self-born, it is self-caused. Evil grinds the unwise as a diamond grinds a hard gem... By oneself, indeed, is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself, indeed, is one purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another."

MM
05-11-2007, 07:42 AM
Aside from structural elements when it comes to training, I feel that certain elements must be present at the personal level as well - here are some I try and use and pass on:

- if one way is easy, and the other way is difficult - take the latter course.
- follow your fears; let your fears be your sign posts for the direction your training should take.
- sacrifice yourself before you sacrifice anything or anyone else.
- hold the Truth as more vital than you.
- note your discomforts and your reasons for them.
- accept where you are as you note that you can and should always do more.
- find no support in anything outside of yourself.

Do you all have any more, and would you be kind enough to share - please/thanks.

dmv

Hello David,

I find myself seeing those as too broad a spectrum. Not that I think they wouldn't apply in certain situations, but in an overall sense, not something I would agree with.

For instance, when done correctly, a technique elicits this response from tori, "But I didn't do anything". :) Finding that tori didn't do anything, one would think that's the easy road and since muscling a technique is much harder, then that way would be the one to take? Instead, I often think, find a good instructor and follow that way for as long as possible, whether easy or hard.

If one's fears causes one to back away, back out, lose intent, should one follow one's fears then? Instead I find that understanding one's Self will bring an understanding of one's fears. After all, isn't that what Aikido is all about?

I would much rather sacrifice the murderer intent on killing friends or family before I sacrifice myself or my friends or family. Anything and anyone is way too blanket a statement. For those who require a better understanding, I would rather sacrifice a child rapist's life before sacrificing my own life. My practice follows this logic. In training, though, I have more options. But still, my training partner has the intent to harm me. I will not sacrifice my own center, my own Self for anyone or anything. The martial application in Aikido dictates that I be able to not only withstand an attack but to also match that energy/intent. There is no "given up", "lost", or "surrender" of myself for anything or anyone. More than likely, the opposite is true. I will be as true to myself as possible and allow the other person to sacrifice their Self in their attack.

No support? My definition of support runs along the lines of to hold up, to promote the interests of, to act with, to keep something going, to uphold, etc. So, support primarily deals with outside influences. And to me, I have found that great people, family, and friends can have an enormous benefit to oneself in their support. So, no, I can't agree. Why do we even have teachers, if not for their support to help us find the way?

All IMO,
Mark

Oh, as to the thread, Is Aikido a spiritual practice. Yes. In more ways than one.

What's funny is that according to m-w.com, spiritual pertains to the spirit. Spirit is from spiritus, or breath. LOL. Can we say ki?

Spiritual is also affecting the essential principle influencing a person. In that aspect, any martial art could be seen as spiritual.

It's also relating to supernatural beings, of which the kami can be an example. Ueshiba and kami are definitely not separable. This can also be seen when people try to fit the Christian God as a kami.

It's also applied when one works on one's Self. And I don't think many disagree that Aikido does work on one's Self, as Ledyard sensei's excellent post points out.

Okay, I'll stop there. But, it isn't a matter of Aikido being spiritual. No, it's a matter of how one is defining/applying the spirituality of Aikido to one's Self.

tarik
05-11-2007, 08:59 AM
Hello Mark,

So, no, I can't agree. Why do we even have teachers, if not for their support to help us find the way?

I find myself nodding and agreeing with your response. No small surprise really.

Interestingly enough, David's post also rang true for me, but his post rang true in a different sense. I have gotten as far as I have because a deliberate attempt to understand my fears has allowed me to better understand my 'Self' and freed me from many of those fears.

These ideas are a part of the equation, an internal part, that is particularly important in times when you have no support, no teacher, no guideposts. However it must also be balanced by what you suggest.

Having found a family and friends that are supportive, having discovered a support system and a teacher, these things have fundamentally changed how I am able to approach and deal with differently. No longer do I feel that I have to 'steal' what I need; it is offered freely and with real friendship and love.

There is a paradox here in the balance of how to be self-disciplined and self-guided vs. a part of something larger. They don't have to be mutually exclusive, although it seems that way on paper. One of the paradoxes of practice.


Okay, I'll stop there. But, it isn't a matter of Aikido being spiritual. No, it's a matter of how one is defining/applying the spirituality of Aikido to one's Self.

Much more eloquent than my constipated words.

Regards,

George S. Ledyard
05-11-2007, 09:37 AM
Hi David,
I think there are other ways of interpreting what David meant here. I don't think you necessarily took these the way he meant them. Here's my own take on them.

Hello David,

I find myself seeing those as too broad a spectrum. Not that I think they wouldn't apply in certain situations, but in an overall sense, not something I would agree with.

For instance, when done correctly, a technique elicits this response from tori, "But I didn't do anything". :) Finding that tori didn't do anything, one would think that's the easy road and since muscling a technique is much harder, then that way would be the one to take? Instead, I often think, find a good instructor and follow that way for as long as possible, whether easy or hard.

It's not about the physical effort. It is far more difficult to get people to let go of their fight or flight reactions, that old reptile brain, and to accept conflict in a relaxed and expansive fashion. It requires a major shift in what one believes will make one "safe". It is difficult in ones physical training and it is even more difficult to do in ones life off the mat. It's the letting go of the need to fight that is so very hard.

If one's fears causes one to back away, back out, lose intent, should one follow one's fears then? Instead I find that understanding one's Self will bring an understanding of one's fears. After all, isn't that what Aikido is all about?

That is what training is all about... dealing with ones fears. I do not believe that David meant to give into ones fears but to look directly at them and understand what they are. But understanding does not in itself change the essential causes of ones fears. Look at all the people who have done years of therapy. They understand their fears on a very detailed level but many of them are still controlled by them. There has to be a mechanism to change our relationship with what makes us afraid. Mere "understanding' is only the first step, as important as it is.

I would much rather sacrifice the murderer intent on killing friends or family before I sacrifice myself or my friends or family. Anything and anyone is way too blanket a statement. For those who require a better understanding, I would rather sacrifice a child rapist's life before sacrificing my own life. My practice follows this logic. In training, though, I have more options. But still, my training partner has the intent to harm me. I will not sacrifice my own center, my own Self for anyone or anything. The martial application in Aikido dictates that I be able to not only withstand an attack but to also match that energy/intent. There is no "given up", "lost", or "surrender" of myself for anything or anyone. More than likely, the opposite is true. I will be as true to myself as possible and allow the other person to sacrifice their Self in their attack.

I do not believe that David meant to imply at all that he would sacrifice himself by giving in to an attacker... I don't see that at all here. My take on this would derive from the meaning of the word samurai, which is "to serve". In the "spirit of loving protection" which O-Sensei spoke about, I would willingly sacrifice myself to protect someone who needed my help. I have several times intervened in domestic violence incidents. I did so fully knowing that I could lose my life doing so. If I had put my own interests first I would simply have called the police and let them handle things.

On the other hand it could mean self sacrifice for the greater good is with Gandhi’s resistance movement in India or the Freedom Riders in the US. In extreme cases, like the Buddhist Elder who committed suicide in Viet Nam by burning himself alive. Who doesn't think that these folks required an impeccable warrior spirit to do what they did for the benefit of others?

Beyond that limited view is the larger "Big Mind" view. O-Sensei got to the point in his own training where he no longer perceived any separation between himself and the other. So there is no attacker and defender. Getting to that point requires a fundamental letting go of all notions of who we think we are.

No support? My definition of support runs along the lines of to hold up, to promote the interests of, to act with, to keep something going, to uphold, etc. So, support primarily deals with outside influences. And to me, I have found that great people, family, and friends can have an enormous benefit to oneself in their support. So, no, I can't agree. Why do we even have teachers, if not for their support to help us find the way?

All IMO,
Mark


Too often people look to their support to give them what they need to make changes. People come to rely on the teacher being there in class every night...

Years ago, when my dojo was new, I went through an extremely painful divorce. I woke up in the morning and the first thing I did was throw up. It was all I could do to get on the mat each night to teach. At one point, a student came up to me and that folks were a bit put off by the fact that my classes lacked the spark they usually had practice wasn't as enjoyable lately... I realized that these folks depended on me to motivate their training. They were dependent on me to provide the spark. It is not my job to motivate anyone's training. You need to motivate your own training!

Sure, there are people in your life who are "supportive" but if you depend on them to give you what you need to make fundamental spiritual change you will not do it. Spiritual work is essentially individual and personal. It is your work alone. A community of like minded folks is helpful (like the Buddhist Sangha or the members of the Ryuha) but one cannot become dependent on them. It is about your own practice; you have to motivate it, no one else.

Of course it depends on how deep you want to go... Most of us look to our practice to provide support for our lives. But if you look at someone like O-Sensei, he made everything and everyone in his life revolve around his practice. He had that tremendous force of will to make that happen. Not only do most of us not have that but most of us wouldn't want to do what he did anyway.

Carl Jung, in his autobiography, said that basically, embarking on a spiritual path is not voluntary, if it was no one would do it. A person is driven by his own nature to pursue a spiritual path, it is a drive "to know" that can't be ignored. It is entirely individual even though one might share the path with others. In the end he said that it is quite a lonely path. I have found that to be the case in my own training. The deeper I have gone, the more I am aware how few people really have any idea what I am doing or why I am doing it. As my Aikido has changed I have realized just how few people see things the same way I do. My own students have, at any given time been very supportive and enthused by what I was presenting, but I found that, over time, as I changed, I would lose students because I was no longer doing what I had been doing. Very few have stayed with me for the whole process... So I am essentially alone in what I am doing. I am not training for anyone else but for myself and I cannot depend on anyone else to give me what I need to follow this path.

Those are my only comments on your thoughtful post. Thanks for putting your ideas out there.

tarik
05-11-2007, 10:26 AM
Of course it depends on how deep you want to go... Most of us look to our practice to provide support for our lives. But if you look at someone like O-Sensei, he made everything and everyone in his life revolve around his practice. He had that tremendous force of will to make that happen. Not only do most of us not have that but most of us wouldn't want to do what he did anyway.

Which is why he's never been my model, precisely.


So I am essentially alone in what I am doing. I am not training for anyone else but for myself and I cannot depend on anyone else to give me what I need to follow this path.


I've discovered this to a large extent. However, one can find people of like mind along the way and participate with them for as long as you share those similar goals (and sometimes longer). It's not forming attachments that will destroy us when they are severed or simply end for avoidable or unavoidable reasons that become a part of the path.


Those are my only comments on your thoughtful post. Thanks for putting your ideas out there.

Thank you very much for your comments. Oh.. and happy birthday!

Regards,

senshincenter
05-11-2007, 10:40 AM
Hi Mark,

Thanks for calling me on things. Allow me to explain a bit more…

I feel one has to remember that I issued these principles in combination with what Chuck said. In other words, they are expected to find their context, and thus their true meaning, from within the heat of challenge and intense live training environments. They are spiritual principles, and they make little to no sense in the realm of Aikido “lite” or “martial only” Aikido or “spiritual only” Aikido. For some Aikidoka, the heat of challenge and intense live training environments is the area of “overall sense” when it comes to Aikido training. If these principles are taken out of this context, one is only going to violate any number of them in order to appear to make “sense” of most of them. For example, one will seek to do less than one can, one will avoid his/her discomfort, deny one’s fears, or ignore the Truth as irrelevant to their own subjective experience.

Let us take your example, the one of tori/nage “not doing anything.” In an average Kihon Waza training environment (deduced from my traveling experience), especially in one where that environment is held up as they place by which one measures his/her maturity in the art, it would seem the choice is between muscling and not muscling technique, with the latter choice being the easier path and the former one being the path to avoid. This would, as you point out, appear to violate what I listed. However, from within an intense live training environment, the exact opposite is true. The hardest one to pull off is not the muscle-filled version but rather the one that has us holding true to Aiki principles. With a short answer, this is true because Aiki demands that our small-self be somewhat reconciled (e.g. purified of our fears and our self-attachments) while intense live training environments work to produce greater self-attachment at the same time that our fears are asking for greater and greater reconciliation before we cease to react habitually with them or for them.

When I suggested using one’s fears as signposts, I did not mean that to become a matter of succumbing to them. In fact, I meant the exact opposite. Budo training, and why it is so relevant today spiritually, is about the reconciliation of fear. To stop succumbing to our fears, to stop reacting habitually toward others via our fears, one has to interrupt the fear-cycle of thought, action, and speech. To do this, early on, one has to bring awareness to said fears. For the second one says, “I am afraid here,” one is no longer being fully controlled by his/her fear, as one is no longer simply reacting habitually (unconsciously) to his/her fears. Using one’s fears as signposts does not mean to continue living habitually in the face of fear – where without thought we bounce back and forth between the poles of resisting and retreating (two very non-aiki types of reactions). Using our fears as signposts means two things: first, recognizing them, identifying them, reflecting upon them, so as to interrupt the habitual cycle of unconscious reaction; and, second, going on to reconcile them as we go on to further cultivate our sense of freedom from our attachment to self-identity (which is the source of all fears). So, if an aikidoka, liked the feeling he/she achieved by throwing someone without effort in Kihon Waza training, but hated the difficulty of doing such from within intense live training environments, one is not supposed to stick to light and easy kihon waza training environments. One is supposed to work toward the intense live training environment. One is supposed to find out why they like one and hate the other. One is supposed to find a way of training that is both beyond like and hate. One is supposed to have no difference between Kihon Waza training environments and intense live training environments exist. Etc. One does this by engaging his/her fears, by using them to tell them what is yet left unreconciled. This is what I meant by “following your fears.”

I cannot say that the principle of self-sacrifice is an easy one to understand. In some spiritual traditions, it is considered the mystery of mysteries, and the victory of victories. But let me give it stab here at explaining it: In a world of Oneness, where no attack and no defender live, the small self is understood to be the cause of all ignorance regarding this Oneness. Another way: In a reconciled world, attachment to self-identity is considered the most dangerous of impurities. Thus, in a practice that aims at Oneness, or toward world reconciliation, in a practice like Aikido, the small self and attachment to self-identity are going to be devalued while a capacity for self-sacrifice (particularly of the small self and/or the sacrifice of one’s own attachment to self-identity) is going to be valued. From this point of view, the logic that has one having to choose between two evils, and/or that has one having to pay something for having to do so, is of ignorance, in that it is not of this Truth that is Oneness. In other words, the kinds of “decisions” you pose are a false problem, one that is a product of an attachment to self-identity and incapacity at self-sacrifice. Back to our intense live training environments, as I said, attachment to self-identity, fear, and bouncing back and forth between the habitual non-aiki reactions of resisting and retreating, run amuck here. And it is crazy to think that one is going to go into these type of environments and just learn how to let go of the small self just by trying to let go then and there. One needs some experience and some familiarity with letting go. So one starts small, and one starts slow. If you are sitting on a bus, and someone is standing, you offer your seat. If you are with money, and someone is without, you pay. If you are tired, and someone else needs rest, you let them rest. If you are both moving, you move last. Etc. As you become more equipped to face what has been called the “terror of compassion,” you will be blurring the line that separates mat and non-mat at the same time that you will be better equipped at practicing non-attachment to self-identity within intense live training environments, as you will be better equipped to give more of yourself to those that are in need, as you will come to not only understand the great Oneness but also be that great Oneness.

The principle of no support does not mean that one gains everything by oneself. The principle of no support means that whatever one has gained must stand up by itself. In other words, yes, we learn from our teachers, but if our practice varies, or worse if it declines, when our teachers pass away or just when they are gone for this or that, then our practice is not capable of standing on its own. In truth then, it is not a real practice, because it is so dependent upon the presence of others. This would be the same for things as well – such as rank, title, federation recognition, etc. To climb the spiritual mountain, we must use our own legs. We cannot CLIMB when all we are doing is SITTING on the backs of others that are going up to the top. This is what “no support” means. It is living up to the fact, using one type of discourse, that God reaches down only for those that reach up themselves. Taking this back to intense live training environments: Within such environments, or even within the life-endangering encounters they are designed to assimilate, all you got is you. From within there, everything else, everything one else, is either irrelevant or a hindrance. Best to get used to it when the ramifications may not be so irreversible. For this reason, at our dojo, I make an effort to leave folks to their own training from time to time – sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month, sometimes for half a year. I do this to expose the fraudulent “practice” – whether that is from a martial perspective or a spiritual perspective – for what it is: a lack of true investment, having no chance at the martial, the spiritual, or the whole of Aikido cultivation.

My opinion,
dmv

senshincenter
05-11-2007, 10:47 AM
OR - what George said - lol. Should have read the thread before I posted. Apologies.
dmv

MM
05-14-2007, 07:54 AM
OR - what George said - lol. Should have read the thread before I posted. Apologies.
dmv

David,
I certainly liked your longer post better. :) Thanks for the clarification. I find that I can't disagree with it or with Ledyard sensei's post.

Mark

aek
06-04-2007, 11:17 AM
I have always defined myself as an atheist ... via aikido as a spiritual practice I was able to generalize, to see how daily living (aikido off the mat) was in fact a viable spiritual practice.

I'm also an atheist and feel the same way.

jennifer paige smith
06-08-2007, 08:48 AM
I'm also an atheist and feel the same way.

One of my young students ,a 14 yr.old girl, who has been with my dojo for 7 years is an avid lover and artist of Anime. For her, the leaps between physical and spiritual are null. Her pen traces the physical shapes of the characters she wishes to depic, her flow of line animates them with feeling and 'personhood' and her imagination brings them to life to the 'outer world', or others. She is a warmer and happier person when she practices drawing. Her aikido is just the same; applied spirituality.

aek
06-08-2007, 11:15 AM
She is a warmer and happier person when she practices drawing. Her aikido is just the same; applied spirituality.

Drawing is a good analogy to aikido. Both can set a person at ease and create a warm atmosphere. :)

Erick Mead
06-08-2007, 01:02 PM
I'm also an atheist and feel the same way. Why, then, I wonder, did you use His Name? ;)

I' [A]m ...

aek
06-08-2007, 01:09 PM
Why, then, I wonder, did you use His Name? ;)

lol

dalen7
06-19-2007, 04:40 AM
Its what you make it.
For me (again Im new, but still) it is a spiritual practice - as its my focus, and Im approaching everything about the art from that aspect.

So, for me I am able to work on relaxing and patience and being present in the moment and taking the 'good' from it I can.
(Instead of limiting myself by the 'cant-do's' that would be so easy to do.)

So for me it is 'spiritual'.

Kind of like the question in the other thread of 'whose the master in aikido' - you are. Its your take on the art and how you adapt it to yourself. Otherwise your the follower (if your not the master) ;)

Peace

Dalen

jennifer paige smith
06-20-2007, 08:20 AM
Its what you make it.
For me (again Im new, but still) it is a spiritual practice - as its my focus, and Im approaching everything about the art from that aspect.

So, for me I am able to work on relaxing and patience and being present in the moment and taking the 'good' from it I can.
(Instead of limiting myself by the 'cant-do's' that would be so easy to do.)

So for me it is 'spiritual'.

Kind of like the question in the other thread of 'whose the master in aikido' - you are. Its your take on the art and how you adapt it to yourself. Otherwise your the follower (if your not the master) ;)

Peace

Dalen
I recognize the rhetorical nature of my upcoming post. It is meant as a device to express my experience as Uke to the art of Aikido.

What if 'myself' is changd by the art? What if I come 'empty'to practice and adapt my life to a new model as a result of exposure to whole concepts? What if Aikido is and was a better way to live positively and reframe my life view? What if, by letting go of my previous concepts, I could become more of myself and increase my capacities?
This is what Aikido has delivered to me.

jennifer paige smith
06-20-2007, 08:23 AM
Its what you make it.
For me (again Im new, but still) it is a spiritual practice - as its my focus, and Im approaching everything about the art from that aspect.

So, for me I am able to work on relaxing and patience and being present in the moment and taking the 'good' from it I can.
(Instead of limiting myself by the 'cant-do's' that would be so easy to do.)

So for me it is 'spiritual'.

Kind of like the question in the other thread of 'whose the master in aikido' - you are. Its your take on the art and how you adapt it to yourself. Otherwise your the follower (if your not the master) ;)

Peace

Dalen
I recognize the rhetorical nature of my upcoming post. It is meant as a device to express my experience as Uke to the art of Aikido.

What if 'myself' is changd by the art? What if I come 'empty' to practice and adapt my life to a new model as a result of exposure to whole concepts? What if Aikido is and was a better way to live positively and reframe my life view? What if, by letting go of my previous concepts, I could become more of myself? Then I am both the master and the follower, yet neither because I am simply being Jen.

Sam Feinson
07-09-2007, 09:41 AM
The same applies for me in many activities: running, swimming, skiing, hiking, cooking, taking walks through the city, listening to music...

jennifer paige smith
07-09-2007, 10:58 AM
The same applies for me in many activities: running, swimming, skiing, hiking, cooking, taking walks through the city, listening to music...

Exactly. Threads of universal fabric can weave themselves into our lives in many ways. Awareness of their presence brings us peace and education into their function brings us courage.

paulo gomes
07-12-2007, 08:32 AM
aikido gives a spiritual way of life to those who are looking for something like that i've met many aikidokas who are not at all "spiritual" & though are very good in completing the techniques you cant feel the exchange of ki

jennifer paige smith
07-26-2007, 09:07 AM
aikido gives a spiritual way of life to those who are looking for something like that i've met many aikidokas who are not at all "spiritual" & though are very good in completing the techniques you cant feel the exchange of ki

I've met many spiritual people who would never call themselves that. They simply are themselves, deeply.

I think of 'spirituality' as a simple ladder. You don't yell out "Hey, I'm a 'ladder-stander'." the whole time you're up there. And you generelly don't announce or even notice that it is cool that you are climbing up. You just have a different place to operate from and it is fairly mundane. When you're done for the day you put your feet on the ground where you first started and prepare for your next project. You just get a little more adept at the transition with practice. No bells and whistles....just a little more proficient than when you started.

Erik Calderon
07-26-2007, 09:11 PM
I've met many spiritual people who would never call themselves that. They simply are themselves, deeply.

I think of 'spirituality' as a simple ladder. You don't yell out "Hey, I'm a 'ladder-stander'." the whole time you're up there. And you generelly don't announce or even notice that it is cool that you are climbing up. You just have a different place to operate from and it is fairly mundane. When you're done for the day you put your feet on the ground where you first started and prepare for your next project. You just get a little more adept at the transition with practice. No bells and whistles....just a little more proficient than when you started.

So true......Those that are, the ones that don't call themselves, are a wonderful pleasure to be around.

Erik Calderon
http://www.shinkikan.com