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torbjornsaw
09-23-2010, 08:31 AM
There is a fundamental requirement in spiritual pursuit that involves surrendering ones will. As long as there is repository of self-will that won't give up control there can't be an opening to something new. For example, if in the dojo we bring our own rules of conduct (whether religious injunctions, cultural and social norms, or personal preferences) we set ourselves in opposition to the prevailing standard. We impose our ways above the ones that are common to the dojo.

Many teachers allow this and see no imposition on their authority. But I would contend it because if our dojo is a place where we train in a spiritual discipline (as O Sensei would point out) then it is of utmost importance that we come to understand that the dojo is a sacred room where subduing our ego is the main aim of our practice. Without it we will never have to confront the strongholds in our belief structure. Upholding a set of rules in a religious context that where set in place in order to facilitate ego-death and self-surrender can not be used as the very reason not to obey dojo etiquette. Can you see how it contradicts the very essence of spiritual pursuit?

That's why it has been said that the back of the ego has to be broken. So it looses its tenacity to always have the last word. Once broken, or given up, it no longer serves as a justification for following ones owns rules. Spiritual freedom implies much more than rigid adherence to form, structure and tradition. True freedom lies in understanding surrender of ones owns mind. In the end even religious injunctions must be given up if the goal is absolute surrender to God, or truth if you prefer.

Dojo etiquette is there to facilitate self surrender: Be on time, be clean, behave, bow. So if this rubs you the wrong way it serves its purpose. The dojo is not less sacred than the church or the mosque so we can't allow ourselves to view it that way when it comes to our attitude. In foreign lands we are strangers and guests, so it's good form to humble ourselves and learn the ways of the hosts. This is itself self-surrender; not for your self but for the other.

Breaking the will of the ego will never be an acceptable practice to the ego. Self-surrender means letting go of fixed ideas, even good ones. It is my role as a teacher to point out these personal strongholds until they are all surrendered and given up. This is Aikido discipline. It is deeply spiritual.

Rabih Shanshiry
09-23-2010, 08:58 AM
Intersting post - thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I admit that I don't see Aikido as a spiritual discipline - although I do believe there are spiritual dimensions to it. Nor would I equate the sanctity of traditional houses of worship with the dojo.

If spiritual pursuit is the goal, I can think of many more fruitful paths than Aikido. Serving the less fortunate would be towards the top of that list.

In some ways, Aikido can be a selfish pursuit. And we find that inflated egos, politics, and greed are fairly commonplace among the teachers of the art. I never truly understood the idea of Aikido being a vehicle for world peace and conflict resolution when Aikido's highest ranked fail to exhibit these ideals among themselves.

Aikibu
09-23-2010, 11:06 AM
The idea that something like the ego must be "broken" in order to be "fixed" is an interesting one...Good luck with it. :)

William Hazen

C. David Henderson
09-23-2010, 11:52 AM
Is this violence directed towards perceived imperception?

If it is, won't that kind of self-denial feed the ego?

Since the ego is illusion, does not treating it as a thing to be bested give more energy to the illusion just as treating it as a thing to be heeded?

What is the middle way, with regard to one's ego?

Marc Abrams
09-23-2010, 12:40 PM
There is a fundamental requirement in spiritual pursuit that involves surrendering ones will. As long as there is repository of self-will that won't give up control there can't be an opening to something new. .

Who's requirement? That "line," frequently given by the "shepherd"s to their "sheep" is simply a power player by the leader. Last time I checked, my self-will allows me to open myself up to something new all of the time. Frankly speaking, I far prefer autonomy to the idea that my own "self-will" is somehow not sufficient for me to live a sane, spiritual,..... life. If YOUR will is problematic for you to that extent, I am truly sorry!

For example, if in the dojo we bring our own rules of conduct (whether religious injunctions, cultural and social norms, or personal preferences) we set ourselves in opposition to the prevailing standard. We impose our ways above the ones that are common to the dojo.

WOW! I am getting concerned about what your own rules of conduct must be if they are some how in opposition to prevailing standards. It has been my experience that the VAST MAJORITY of people that I have encountered in the martial arts world seem to have come to the dojos with their own rules of conduct that need little if any "tweeking" in order to work well in a dojo environment.

Many teachers allow this and see no imposition on their authority. But I would contend it because if our dojo is a place where we train in a spiritual discipline (as O Sensei would point out) then it is of utmost importance that we come to understand that the dojo is a sacred room where subduing our ego is the main aim of our practice. Without it we will never have to confront the strongholds in our belief structure. Upholding a set of rules in a religious context that where set in place in order to facilitate ego-death and self-surrender can not be used as the very reason not to obey dojo etiquette. Can you see how it contradicts the very essence of spiritual pursuit?

When exactly was the last time that you had a conversation with O'Sensei regarding our training as a spiritual discipline? If YOUR ego needs subduing as a main aim of your practice, then I am once again concerned about you (as opposed to the Aikido community at large). Are you trying to start a religious sect called "Aikido"? Please do not assume that we need to "facilitate ego-death" and "self-surrender" in order to train sincerely. That kind of philosophical/religious/pseudo-psychological talk can be your own parameters. It is a whole other "ball of wax " asking others to assume them as part of their training.

That's why it has been said that the back of the ego has to be broken. So it looses its tenacity to always have the last word. Once broken, or given up, it no longer serves as a justification for following ones owns rules. Spiritual freedom implies much more than rigid adherence to form, structure and tradition. True freedom lies in understanding surrender of ones owns mind. In the end even religious injunctions must be given up if the goal is absolute surrender to God, or truth if you prefer.

True freedom exists in one's ability to be responsible for one's choice of thoughts, feeling and actions. If you would like to surrender your mind, please be my guest. However, do not try to sell to autonomous beings the nonsense that a surrendered mind is even remotely akin to freedom.

Dojo etiquette is there to facilitate self surrender: Be on time, be clean, behave, bow. So if this rubs you the wrong way it serves its purpose. The dojo is not less sacred than the church or the mosque so we can't allow ourselves to view it that way when it comes to our attitude. In foreign lands we are strangers and guests, so it's good form to humble ourselves and learn the ways of the hosts. This is itself self-surrender; not for your self but for the other.

Talk about dojo etiquette as it related to YOUR DOJO ONLY! If you consider pro-social behaviors to facilitate "self-surrender" then it it assumes that the self is not capable of pro-social behaviors? To me, that is a bizarre assumption. This may come as a surprise to you, but a dojo IS NOT a religious institution and should not be treated as such. Being culturally sensitive and pro-social is NOT a form of self-surrender, but appropriate, autonomous actions of a person with a healthy sense of self and interpersonal skills.

Breaking the will of the ego will never be an acceptable practice to the ego. Self-surrender means letting go of fixed ideas, even good ones. It is my role as a teacher to point out these personal strongholds until they are all surrendered and given up. This is Aikido discipline. It is deeply spiritual.

You sound more like a cult leader than an Aikido instructor. If ANY one told me that a martial arts instructor was acting and speaking in this manner, I would tell them to not to join that dojo, or if he/she were already a student, leave ASAP! Your first post on "peace" I considered nothing more than someone "waxing poetic" about a topic with little real-life experience regarding the realities of peaceful and violent encounters. Your post is something that I find disturbing and needs to be talked about. I would be surprised to find even a good size minority of teachers who would support your views.

Marc Abrams

Russ Q
09-23-2010, 01:33 PM
Hi Bjorn,

You speak your mind (notice the lower case "m") as you see/understand "now"....hope you can take the heat buddy cause you have a long way to go to understanding aikido practice or how to observe your ego...as part of your whole Conciousness...you can enjoy ridding yourself of ego entirely when you're dead.

Cheers,

Russ

Nicholas Eschenbruch
09-23-2010, 01:55 PM
Bjorn,
maybe once a year we both enjoy a course in a dojo where the direction is very clear but the atmosphere free and caring, and where no wills are broken.

Surrendering the ego in practice is quite another thing than breaking the will through rules.

I think I would benefit more from your recent writing if it were more personal and less abstract and preachy. What is your concrete experience with all this stuff you write about? How has it moved you so much that you feel the need to relate it?

I look forward to training with you again some time next year, until then all the best

Nicholas

jbblack
09-23-2010, 01:58 PM
Bjorn Saw wrote:

"Breaking the will of the ego will never be an acceptable practice to the ego. Self-surrender means letting go of fixed ideas, even good ones. It is my role as a teacher to point out these personal strongholds until they are all surrendered and given up. This is Aikido discipline. It is deeply spiritual."

Marc Abrams wrote:

"You sound more like a cult leader than an Aikido instructor. If ANY one told me that a martial arts instructor was acting and speaking in this manner, I would tell them to not to join that dojo, or if he/she were already a student, leave ASAP! Your first post on "peace" I considered nothing more than someone "waxing poetic" about a topic with little real-life experience regarding the realities of peaceful and violent encounters. Your post is something that I find disturbing and needs to be talked about. I would be surprised to find even a good size minority of teachers who would support your views."

Interesting thoughts - however it sounds more like folks using different words to say something very much the same.

From: Aikido Arts of Shin-Budo Kai

"Training in this dojo is based upon two philosophical “pillars.” The first, is “Mu Shin,” which can be translated to mean “empty mind.” It is important to clear our mind from the day and focus upon the immediate experience when entering the training area. At a deeper level, all of us must put aside our preconceived notions about what we can and cannot do, so that we can open ourselves up to truly learn from the training experience.

Our ability to execute Aikido techniques will greatly improve, when we can learn to “be in the moment”. The second philosophical “pillar” is “Sho Shin,” which can be translated to mean “beginner mind.” All of us, including the instructors, must put our egos aside and be open to learn from all that we experience in the dojo."

http://www.aasbk.com/training.php#aik

However you say it, perhaps Breaking the Will of the Ego is a strong part of Aikido.

As we all know, if our cup is already full nothing new can enter.

Cheers,
Jeff

Marc Abrams
09-23-2010, 02:20 PM
Bjorn Saw wrote:

"Breaking the will of the ego will never be an acceptable practice to the ego. Self-surrender means letting go of fixed ideas, even good ones. It is my role as a teacher to point out these personal strongholds until they are all surrendered and given up. This is Aikido discipline. It is deeply spiritual."

Marc Abrams wrote:

"You sound more like a cult leader than an Aikido instructor. If ANY one told me that a martial arts instructor was acting and speaking in this manner, I would tell them to not to join that dojo, or if he/she were already a student, leave ASAP! Your first post on "peace" I considered nothing more than someone "waxing poetic" about a topic with little real-life experience regarding the realities of peaceful and violent encounters. Your post is something that I find disturbing and needs to be talked about. I would be surprised to find even a good size minority of teachers who would support your views."

Interesting thoughts - however it sounds more like folks using different words to say something very much the same.

From: Aikido Arts of Shin-Budo Kai

"Training in this dojo is based upon two philosophical "pillars." The first, is "Mu Shin," which can be translated to mean "empty mind." It is important to clear our mind from the day and focus upon the immediate experience when entering the training area. At a deeper level, all of us must put aside our preconceived notions about what we can and cannot do, so that we can open ourselves up to truly learn from the training experience.

Our ability to execute Aikido techniques will greatly improve, when we can learn to "be in the moment". The second philosophical "pillar" is "Sho Shin," which can be translated to mean "beginner mind." All of us, including the instructors, must put our egos aside and be open to learn from all that we experience in the dojo."

http://www.aasbk.com/training.php#aik

However you say it, perhaps Breaking the Will of the Ego is a strong part of Aikido.

As we all know, if our cup is already full nothing new can enter
Cheers,
Jeff

Jeff:

I can only hope that you can notice a big difference between the idea of emptying one's mind and having to surrender one's ego.

When I talk about putting one's ego aside, I am simply referring to being open to learn from all experiences regardless of the rank of the person with whom you are training with.

Jeff I simply disagree with your suggestion that" However you say it, perhaps Breaking the Will of the Ego is a strong part of Aikido." What I do believe is that using your self to connect with other's in the moment can lead to very good and effective Aikido. Maybe, just maybe it is my training as a psychologist that leads me to look at the terms "ego", "self", .... differently than a layperson might.

That being said, I would never advocate what Bjorn wrote nor is anything that I have written about remotely similar to Bjorn's statements (regardless of how you might want to find some some perceived similarities).

Marc Abrams

Janet Rosen
09-23-2010, 02:45 PM
My reaction was much the same as Marc's.

I am not an 18 year old Marine recruit or a junkie walking into Synanon, to be handed over to Others to be broken down and reinvented, which is what the OP called to mind. I'm a mature person who already has her values and ethics and is very happy to abide by dojo etiquette but willing to (and has in the past) walked out of dojos that were not congruent with my values and ethics.

Bowing with beginner's mind and striving to be in the moment during training (what I call having open eyes, open mind, open heart) have NOTHING to do with terms like "surrender" or "submission" of any part of who I am.

Rather they are an embodiment of what I consider my best inner qualities, those I'm trying to polish while in the dojo.

C. David Henderson
09-23-2010, 02:55 PM
I don't see training towards empty-mind and beginners-mind as described in the Arts of Shin-Budo Kai excerpt being the same as breaking the ego either.

Of course, conscious ego-driven efforts to achieve empty- or beginners- mind as an act of will (that Will...) are as futile and self-defeating as ego-driven efforts to break the ego.

And both may be prone to leave behind the cloying scent of illusory achievement.

Marc Abrams
09-23-2010, 02:58 PM
My reaction was much the same as Marc's.

I am not an 18 year old Marine recruit or a junkie walking into Synanon, to be handed over to Others to be broken down and reinvented, which is what the OP called to mind. I'm a mature person who already has her values and ethics and is very happy to abide by dojo etiquette but willing to (and has in the past) walked out of dojos that were not congruent with my values and ethics.

Bowing with beginner's mind and striving to be in the moment during training (what I call having open eyes, open mind, open heart) have NOTHING to do with terms like "surrender" or "submission" of any part of who I am.

Rather they are an embodiment of what I consider my best inner qualities, those I'm trying to polish while in the dojo.

Janet:

I wish I was as eloquent as you! I guess that I have just seen too many victims of cults, that this kind of expressed thinking hits some raw nerves.

Our world has too many people who have already or are ready to give up their sense of autonomy to others who tell them how to live "better" lives. We would have a much saner world (and safer) if more people truly accepted personal responsibility for their actions and how they choose to interact with others.

Marc Abrams

Russ Q
09-23-2010, 03:08 PM
[QUOTE]We would have a much saner world (and safer) if more people truly accepted personal responsibility for their actions and how they choose to interact with others./QUOTE]

Amen to that!

Russ

lbb
09-23-2010, 04:38 PM
I would contend it because if our dojo is a place where we train in a spiritual discipline (as O Sensei would point out) then it is of utmost importance that we come to understand that the dojo is a sacred room where subduing our ego is the main aim of our practice.

Others have addressed other points; I'll confine myself to the "if" of this "if/then". If the dojo is a place where we train in a spiritual discipline, then all manner of things might be said to bollow -- but is that true? Many people have advanced arguments that O Sensei intended aikido to be a spiritual practice. I won't take issue with that, but the fact is that most of those who came after him did not share that understanding. Whether or not they wanted to is immaterial; the fact is that you will find few aikido sensei today who could clearly articulate the nature of the spirituality that aikido is meant to cultivate, much less act as a competent instructor of the practices intended to cultivate it.

So, even if O Sensei intended aikido to be a spiritual discipline, it isn't a spiritual discipline today. Some people will talk in vague and self-referential terms about how spiritual their time on the mat is, but "spiritual" feelings do not a spiritual discipline make. For aikido to be a spiritual discipline would require that the curriculum include instruction into what the desired spirituality was, and the practices by which it was pursued. That doesn't exist; hence, no "spiritual discipline".

Carl Thompson
09-23-2010, 07:09 PM
The ego comes from the Freudian structure of the psyche. All you people freaking out about having its back broken can rest assured that you still have an id and a superego in this analogy. Who needs an ego when you have a SUPERego heroically waiting in the wings to fly in and take over?

From what I could gather from the OP’s comments, the idea of breaking the controlling power of the part of your mind that purely seeks to gratify the id is another way of explaining masakatsu-agatsu (true victory being victory over the self). The will of the Freudian “ego” attaches you to the mere vehicle of the mind (i.e.: the body). This isn’t airy fairy spiritualism- it is the cultivation of a mind that manoeuvres that vehicle in a better way. It is being not less of a person but rather it is the idea of elevating yourself to be the best person you can be.

(…reaches for another beer…)

Marc Abrams
09-23-2010, 07:24 PM
The ego comes from the Freudian structure of the psyche. All you people freaking out about having its back broken can rest assured that you still have an id and a superego in this analogy. Who needs an ego when you have a SUPERego heroically waiting in the wings to fly in and take over?

From what I could gather from the OP's comments, the idea of breaking the controlling power of the part of your mind that purely seeks to gratify the id is another way of explaining masakatsu-agatsu (true victory being victory over the self). The will of the Freudian "ego" attaches you to the mere vehicle of the mind (i.e.: the body). This isn't airy fairy spiritualism- it is the cultivation of a mind that manoeuvres that vehicle in a better way. It is being not less of a person but rather it is the idea of elevating yourself to be the best person you can be.

(…reaches for another beer…)

Carl:

As I reach for my beer at the end of the day, I am thankful that you did not begin to talk about the ego from post-Freudian theories, Object Relations theories, etc. .........:freaky:

We can agree that we do not practice fairy spiritualism in our practice. As to other people, I am not so sure.....

Marc Abrams

RED
09-23-2010, 08:29 PM
With what I've read of everyone's posts on this thread; I applaud willingness to being honest with yourself, in any en-devour. Self awareness is key not just in Aikido, but is key in developing yourself in any area, IMO. I, again, applaud any effort of anyone to recognize the mentalities, biases, or weaknesses that might be keeping them from developing to their full potential. While these things might never be "broken" in a person's life; I think it is important to acknowledge they are there, for if nothing else but to keep them in check.
Basically, you can't get past anything that you refuse to see.

My two cents.
Peace.


PS: I find it interesting that this thread is active during Aiki-peace week.

niall
09-23-2010, 09:07 PM
Bjorn some people have been very critical. I hope you can accept the criticism without being defensive. That means without ego.

I have a problem with some of your language. Break? Subdue? Nothing natural about those words. And surrender comes after defeat.

If something is imposed on us from outside - from a teacher or from anywhere else - we are not freely giving up the ego.

And I hope you can find the irony here now that people have pointed it out. If you think you are a wonderful example to your students you might still have some work to do to throw away your own ego.

Actually reigi - dojo etiquette - is not to facilitate self-surrender (or perhaps it was in the Cobra Kai in the original Karate Kid). It is to show our true respect and thanks to the teacher and to each other. It is necessary in budo because the techniques can be dangerous and even lethal.

And I have no problem with people who don't think aikido is spiritual for them. But they can't tell me what it is to me or to anyone else. I hope my practice helps me to be a better person - to be unselfish and kind, for example. That is cutting away ego and that is spiritual and so I do agree with you about that.

Carl Thompson
09-23-2010, 09:33 PM
Bjorn some people have been very critical. I hope you can accept the criticism without being defensive. That means without ego.

So if he defends his idea, it means that the will of his ego has not been broken?

RED
09-23-2010, 09:55 PM
So if he defends his idea, it means that the will of his ego has not been broken?

I think everyone should just admit that they have an ego and get it over with.:p

Because, truth be told I'm a bitch like 90% of the time...and I'm pretty sure most people are too.
It's alright to admit to being human...everyone just has to keep their "ass-holeness" in check.

thisisnotreal
09-23-2010, 09:58 PM
irrespective of the choice of language; i believe the fact is that the concept of complete and utter ego ablation is the 'inner' secret of many of the so-called 'ways'. this is most often encountered in the search and cultivation for a state of mind...a 'way of being'. this has also been known as, and called, the 'embrace that smothers'. And it IMO is rightly to be feared. Yes...destruction is a kind of liberation.. But it is not the only kind.

Now it all depends entirely on how 'ego' is viewed. Is it the stubborn willful, prideful child that resists correction, growth, difficult truths? or is the thing that uniquely makes *you* *you*. To turn your back on the latter, the essence of who we are...I can only see as a betrayal of the highest order. It has been known though... sometimes black looks white, and up looks like down...

so hard to know another persons thoughts...let alone on paper.

just some random thoughts
M 2 c
josh

RED
09-23-2010, 10:06 PM
irrespective of the choice of language; i believe the fact is that the concept of complete and utter ego ablation is the 'inner' secret of many of the so-called 'ways'. this is most often encountered in the search and cultivation for a state of mind...a 'way of being'. this has also been known as, and called, the 'embrace that smothers'. And it IMO is rightly to be feared. Yes...destruction is a kind of liberation.. But it is not the only kind.

Now it all depends entirely on how 'ego' is viewed. Is it the stubborn willful, prideful child that resists correction, growth, difficult truths? or is the thing that uniquely makes *you* *you*. To turn your back on the latter, the essence of who we are...I can only see as a betrayal of the highest order. It has been known though... sometimes black looks white, and up looks like down...

so hard to know another persons thoughts...let alone on paper.

just some random thoughts
M 2 c
josh

I view pride not as stubbornness, because that in itself can certainly be a virtue. I find pride to be a sin of belligerent intellectual dishonesty. (About yourself, your place in the word and it's perception there of, in light of exceeding evidence there-of.)
Well you got to tear muscle to build muscle. Got to temper metal to make steal.
I see it that way. Sometimes there are parts of ourselves that get in the way of our actual potential. Like the "real you" is being smothered out by your less than moral attributes.
I think most of us are good people. But good people doing bad thing, myself included. Who you are should never be defined by your propensity to do evil. We all have that propensity, and to embrace the arrogance, negligence and bias of yourself is madness IMO.

There are limits to it, and I don't suggest taking it far. I just think it is common sense that sometimes you got to prune a tree for it's own good.

Keith Larman
09-23-2010, 11:17 PM
Man, I always knew having a degree in philosophy would pay off some day. Especially the extra work in religious studies with that focus on asian religions...

A link to my ideas on the OP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMNry4PE93Y

Yes, I'm joking... But I read this kind of stuff and that weird glaze forms over my eyes and I feel them rolling back in my head. Then I find a great urge to make a double martini... Hmmm, I've got some Bombay Sapphire I think...

And the sad part is that I really enjoy philosophy and psych discussions. However, some discussions... Well... See the link...

WilliB
09-23-2010, 11:48 PM
Man, I always knew having a degree in philosophy would pay off some day. Especially the extra work in religious studies with that focus on asian religions...

A link to my ideas on the OP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMNry4PE93Y

Yes, I'm joking... But I read this kind of stuff and that weird glaze forms over my eyes and I feel them rolling back in my head. Then I find a great urge to make a double martini... Hmmm, I've got some Bombay Sapphire I think...

And the sad part is that I really enjoy philosophy and psych discussions. However, some discussions... Well... See the link...

"My friend the zomby Jonathan likes turtles"?.... sorry this is too esoteric for me. Where is the philosopical message?

Carl Thompson
09-24-2010, 02:00 AM
Man, I always knew having a degree in philosophy would pay off some day. Especially the extra work in religious studies with that focus on asian religions...

If you have a degree, surely you must have learned how to make constructive criticisms, demonstrating compelling arguments, citing evidence and so on.

phitruong
09-24-2010, 06:56 AM
meet the Buddha on your dusty aikido highway
kill him! kill him! it is the only way!
"where?" you asked the killing be done
let the deed be done on highway sixty one. :)

torbjornsaw
09-24-2010, 07:33 AM
The ego never dies but we can learn a lot about it. Sometimes it can feel like an inner battle and then words like break and submission and surrender can fit. No one can impose it but we can point it out if it helps. The dojo is many things for many people and there are different aspects that can be addressed. We can word it differently if not clear or precise. Thanks for all the feed back.

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 08:01 AM
If you have a degree, surely you must have learned how to make constructive criticisms, demonstrating compelling arguments, citing evidence and so on.

Ego. Please define your terms. Do you mean that inflated sense of self worth? Do you mean the more Eastern notion of illusory conception of self-existence? Do you mean one of the 3-part psychic structure as defined in Freudian Psychology (which is quite distinct from #1 above)? Do you mean the so-called "self-conscious mind" idea that is probably the most common "popular" conception of Ego in the west? Do you mean conscious "awareness" of personal identity (a rich area of discussion in philosophy)? And so on.

And of course there is the fact that most mix and match any number (or all?) of the above definitions.

There comes a point when the topic gets so "out there" with people each using subtly and not-so-subtly different definitions of their words (Freudian ego conceptions, general psych definitions, general philosophical ideas, popular culture ego conceptions, general "fuzzy" non-defined ideas of something "ego-ish", self-awareness, notions of (non-)existence) that most comments without a greater context sound very much like the non-sequitur spoken by the little boy. There is no common ground that I can find in this thread hence the disconnect. At some point it starts sounding more like new-age air blowing.

Please feel free to ignore the guy who spent way too many years in psych research. In my experience we are humorless about some stuff then tend to make jokes when things get too far afield.

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 08:09 AM
I should add that I am perfectly comfortable with the notion that maybe I'm just not deep or smart enough to understand the topic. Even having studied the stuff I will readily admit to being somewhat baffled by most discussions like this. So I admit to the possibility that the disconnect is in my brain, that my "ego" (inflated image of self-worth? conscious mind? simplistic control mechanism? ) won't allow me to understand this sort of discussion.

Please, carry on. I'll go back into my cave and quietly stare at the shadows some more...

Marc Abrams
09-24-2010, 08:16 AM
I should add that I am perfectly comfortable with the notion that maybe I'm just not deep or smart enough to understand the topic. Even having studied the stuff I will readily admit to being somewhat baffled by most discussions like this. So I admit to the possibility that the disconnect is in my brain, that my "ego" (inflated image of self-worth? conscious mind? simplistic control mechanism? ) won't allow me to understand this sort of discussion.

Please, carry on. I'll go back into my cave and quietly stare at the shadows some more...

Keith:

My teacher has told me that I must eat your brain since I have surrendered my ego in order to become a zombie. If I eat your brain you can surrender your ego as well! Personally, I like a nice Chianti with my brain. How about you?

Marc Abrams

ps- If there are some more great links in your cave, please share!

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 08:51 AM
Keith:

My teacher has told me that I must eat your brain since I have surrendered my ego in order to become a zombie. If I eat your brain you can surrender your ego as well! Personally, I like a nice Chianti with my brain. How about you?

Marc Abrams

ps- If there are some more great links in your cave, please share!

Sorry, I'll take the 1990 Ch Montrose with along with a couple grass fed ribeyes grilled over mesquite we had a few days ago over chianti any day.

Unless you include fava beans... ;)

p.s. I also liked the zombie kid because years ago at a bar late at night I had a rousing discussion with a bunch of psych researchers about the best way to describe zombie intelligence. It was hilarious for me sitting there with a bunch of Ph.D.'s getting seriously involved in trying to figure out the best way to model the mental processes of a zombie. Was it best to consider them using a Freudian model where the id was the only structure left? The conversation got so wonderfully weird including considering brain evolution ideas (reptilian brain -- cue Anthony Hopkins doing that thing after he mentioned the fava beans), brain structure, heck, someone even somehow managed to bring up Jung and Paul Tillich (huh?). Of course I couldn't resist Julian Jaynes and that whole bicameral deal. What a great idea -- zombies as being throw backs to a more primal brain structure hence somewhat schizophrenic state of consciousness. Just with human flesh eating tendencies. Of course since most the people there were in the mental skills testing area we ended up discussing Guilford's theories and what sort of "mental stuff" would rotate out in a factor analysis after testing... So yeah, zombies can make for a good gedanken even in psych discussions.

So on self-examination I realize I also engage in some fairly odd discussions. So please, as I said, carry on without me. After further self-psycho-analysis I understand better why the zombie kid seemed so incredibly relevant to the discussion. Obviously it wasn't as relevant to everyone else as it was to me. Must learn to listen to the ego more and repress that irresponsible id that likes posting when I'm tired...

Marc Abrams
09-24-2010, 09:10 AM
Sorry, I'll take the 1990 Ch Montrose with along with a couple grass fed ribeyes grilled over mesquite we had a few days ago over chianti any day.

Unless you include fava beans... ;)

p.s. I also liked the zombie kid because years ago at a bar late at night I had a rousing discussion with a bunch of psych researchers about the best way to describe zombie intelligence. It was hilarious for me sitting there with a bunch of Ph.D.'s getting seriously involved in trying to figure out the best way to model the mental processes of a zombie. Was it best to consider them using a Freudian model where the id was the only structure left? The conversation got so wonderfully weird including considering brain evolution ideas (reptilian brain -- cue Anthony Hopkins doing that thing after he mentioned the fava beans), brain structure, heck, someone even somehow managed to bring up Jung and Paul Tillich (huh?). Of course I couldn't resist Julian Jaynes and that whole bicameral deal. What a great idea -- zombies as being throw backs to a more primal brain structure hence somewhat schizophrenic state of consciousness. Just with human flesh eating tendencies. Of course since most the people there were in the mental skills testing area we ended up discussing Guilford's theories and what sort of "mental stuff" would rotate out in a factor analysis after testing... So yeah, zombies can make for a good gedanken even in psych discussions.

So on self-examination I realize I also engage in some fairly odd discussions. So please, as I said, carry on without me. After further self-psycho-analysis I understand better why the zombie kid seemed so incredibly relevant to the discussion. Obviously it wasn't as relevant to everyone else as it was to me. Must learn to listen to the ego more and repress that irresponsible id that likes posting when I'm tired...

Keith:

Oh how I wish that you and your wife were able to join George, his wife and mine for that week-long play date in Napa/Sonoma Valley this past summer. I think that I am still drying out....... Maybe next summer.....

Waxing poetic with pseudo-philosophical, pseudo-psychological babble may be a nice form of mental masturbation for some people, but I get genuinely concerned when people try and do so as teachers. Your zombie link seemed to go above some people (I just love the bell-shaped curve), but was biting, to the point and very accurate.

Maybe we should retreat to our caves and try and find some nice grape juice for this weekend. Seems to be a much more constructive pursuit. Speaking of which..... son-in-law hosting a grill fest in my backyard this weekend. My South American Grill, along with with my home-made smoker will get some good use. They are brining Captain Lawrence beers (Local brewer who went to HS with my daughter and now has the 17th top independent micro-brewery in the world!) and I have to figure out a nice red to sip amongst my friends. Thinking a Molly Docker Carnival of Love......

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 09:35 AM
Keith:

Oh how I wish that you and your wife were able to join George, his wife and mine for that week-long play date in Napa/Sonoma Valley this past summer. I think that I am still drying out....... Maybe next summer.....

Yeah, I'm really sorry we couldn't make it, but I'm still backed up and working way too many hours. One of these days I need to rob a bank then take a real vacation. Lord knows I need it. Conversations like this work much better with a little cabernet and lots of laughs.

Waxing poetic with pseudo-philosophical, pseudo-psychological babble may be a nice form of mental masturbation for some people, but I get genuinely concerned when people try and do so as teachers.

Amen.

The insidious aspect of this is that it is very difficult to discuss because to some it sounds good and appears (and may in fact be) internally consistent. But at best is rests on a shifting conceptual foundation (if there is a foundation at all) and it becomes a amorphous blob of what is ultimately misused technical sounding words expressing total nonsense.

Shrug. As I said, carry on.

MM
09-24-2010, 09:37 AM
Geez, a lot of wining going on here. You two sure don't bottle up your feelings. Id be great if you'd just say what you mean. Okay, that was a stretch for a pun, so stomp me for it. Alright, alright, I'll put a cork in it. Psych! :) Just kidding.

Anyway, back to the topic and apologies for the thread drift of puns...

Disclaimer: No wines were harmed in the making of this thread, although some grapes were crushed that they had to be a part of it.

C. David Henderson
09-24-2010, 10:30 AM
meet the Buddha on your dusty aikido highway
kill him! kill him! it is the only way!
"where?" you asked the killing be done
let the deed be done on highway sixty one. :)

I never engaged in this kind of thing before
But yes I think it can be very easily done
We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61

SeiserL
09-24-2010, 10:40 AM
IMHO, do not surrender or break.
Accept, appreciate, transform, and utilize.

Aikibu
09-24-2010, 12:37 PM
IMHO, do not surrender or break.
Accept, appreciate, transform, and utilize.

This is the true Aikido :cool:

Harmony not harm many

William Hazen

Janet Rosen
09-24-2010, 02:54 PM
Anyway, back to the topic and apologies for the thread drift of puns...

There ego again....not that I bear you any anima-sity.

C. David Henderson
09-24-2010, 03:20 PM
Id just never gets old, does it?

Carl Thompson
09-24-2010, 04:09 PM
Ego. Please define your terms. Do you mean that inflated sense of self worth? Do you mean the more Eastern notion of illusory conception of self-existence? Do you mean one of the 3-part psychic structure as defined in Freudian Psychology (which is quite distinct from #1 above)? Do you mean the so-called "self-conscious mind" idea that is probably the most common "popular" conception of Ego in the west? Do you mean conscious "awareness" of personal identity (a rich area of discussion in philosophy)? And so on.

And of course there is the fact that most mix and match any number (or all?) of the above definitions.


Sorry but nope. He didn't so I won't either. I did point out the Freudian model of the psyche. You can take that as what I thought was the basic meaning but any of the others you mention are fine too. You have effectively said that with all these different possibilities there is no "common ground" to discuss and are thus not interested. Yet you do think it necessary to wield your academic authority to make fun of and quash the efforts of others. Isn’t that just an ad hominem argument? I do not know the OP but from what I can gather, he is speaking from some measure of experience himself.

Carl

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 05:06 PM
Carl, sorry, I just found the original post to be nearly incomprehensible and nonsensical. Mostly new-age gobbledygook. And as I said, I am perfectly willing to admit that maybe I just don't "get it". That's fine too. There is no requirement that I understand it for it to be correct or meaningful. Shrug.

As an analogy I know you know Japanese very well. You get to hear people start to pontificate on the meaning of Japanese terms and you likely will very quickly develop the impression that they don't speak the language very well. So there comes a point when you listen to something and you find a series of slight misunderstandings, spurious at best interpretations, then see them all strung together to create a whole new level of "meaning" to some rather innocuous term that in your opinion makes little or no sense. All the "logical" steps are okay, but all the small errors in meaning/interpretation/weighting/cultural underpinnings, etc. magnify into something that according to your understanding may be just flat out silly.

As a very low level example I remember hearing someone pontificate for a very long time on the deep, specific meaning of "onegaishimasu" in training in Aikido. About how it is the way we ask them to train with us, that it has all sorts of deep levels of special meanings of reciprocity, etc. The student asked if that was the "translation" of the term and he said "Yes, that is what it means". Well... all I'm thinking as I listened was that it was the word I used to be relatively polite when I ordered a beer the night before at the local family run Japanese restaurant.

Sorry, the post just struck me as incredibly superficial and "arm chair" psychology/philosophy. Bordering on an almost cult-like crazy focus with the whole "breaking" of the "will" of the "ego". That is my impression. Nothing more. Nothing less.

But again, as I said before, please go on. I had little problem with some of the posts and I'm most certainly not the thought police. The orginal post, however, struck me as, well, rather bizarre at best.

I'll leave this to the real psych people on this thread. I'm just a number crunching, study runnin' geek who never took the time to finish the dissertation. I ain't got nothin' on some of the other folk who posted who can actually "walk the walk".

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 05:17 PM
And Carl, I will add that I fessed up to having a rather long discussion with a bunch of very serious research folk about the psychological makeup of zombies. Rather silly and stupid, no?

It was an interesting conversation, certainly kept me on my toes, and frankly was rather enlightening. However, nobody took it all that seriously. There are things that are interesting to speculate about, think about, talk about, etc. But when you start to get into "destroying the ego", breaking the will, etc., that gets kinda "over-the-top". That raises flags. I agree with Marc up above -- I hear that kind of thing and I'd be telling people to run away as fast as possible. Sometimes these things go from being, um, really earnest about this stuff into the realm of being kinda cultish.

Obviously (and I mean that sincerely) I could be wrong.

thisisnotreal
09-24-2010, 05:29 PM
Sometimes these things go from being, um, really earnest about this stuff into the realm of being kinda cultish.i think this is an important point. Sincerity in and of itself is no measure of truth. A person can be extremely sincere.....but sincerely wrong at the same time.
And if you've gone this way; it can well be that you're the last one to see it too. This kind of stuff effects the *stuff* of who we are, and what we're made of; and how we see and filter the world. A better man than I wrote this; and I always remembered it: "If you open yourself up to being pervasively influenced, you will be influenced pervasively." or close to that. (thanks ea). hacking ego/worldview can be .. costly. IMO.

Carl Thompson
09-24-2010, 06:39 PM
Keith, I understand where you are coming from and I am grateful for your more detailed reply. I particularly appreciate your example:

As a very low level example I remember hearing someone pontificate for a very long time on the deep, specific meaning of "onegaishimasu" in training in Aikido. About how it is the way we ask them to train with us, that it has all sorts of deep levels of special meanings of reciprocity, etc. The student asked if that was the "translation" of the term and he said "Yes, that is what it means". Well... all I'm thinking as I listened was that it was the word I used to be relatively polite when I ordered a beer the night before at the local family run Japanese restaurant.

Here you have pointed out why you thought the pontificator was wrong.

Surely you can do this with the OP's statement? Just take it apart, piece by piece. It is one thing saying you think it is nonsense and giving better examples of just how nonsensical you think it is. Giving us examples of how it actually is nonsensical (as above, showing contradictions or factual errors etc) is another.

Carl

Keith Larman
09-24-2010, 06:49 PM
Carl, no time right now. The problem really stems from the whole notion of "destroying" the ego or "breaking" the will. These are all loaded terms. I kinda get what he's trying to say, but quite frankly human behavior is not all that easy to change. And just because we talk about things like "the ego" or the "will" it doesn't follow that they are in fact singular "things". A quick example that comes to mind is the notion of IQ. Testing guys (my area) use tools like factor analysis to rotate out factors that identify "trends" within really complex datasets. We try to find these underlying factors. But we take a huge leap when we move from identifying a factor and giving it a quantitative or descriptive "value" to the thinking that it is therefore a "thing". Reification of a factor results in moving from talking about an abstraction which is really a marvelously complex, varied, multi-aspect "set" of events/proclivities/whatever to thinking there's something more or less concrete there. What is the will? What is the ego? Beyond just defining the terms are we making the mistake of reifying the simplification of complex behaviors into some singular thing? When we do this we move from explanation into making new assumptions, forming new theories, then we can start talking about "breaking" the will, destroying ego, and all those things.

It just doesn't work that way.

But... Like I said, gotta go for now. Gotta go teach a class, actually...

Peter Goldsbury
09-24-2010, 11:08 PM
Please, carry on. I'll go back into my cave and quietly stare at the shadows some more...

Hello Keith,

Have you ever come across the writings of John Langshaw Austin? He was a powerful influence on the philosophy of language just after World War II. I cite him here because his writings are very relevant to what you wrote in Post #45. However, Austin had no time for the dialectic of Plato and his shadows in the cave, preferring Aristotle's much more robust and this-worldly ideas, which were rooted in the language spoken by educated Greeks.

We had a discussion of onegaishimasu last night in my rhetoric class. One student gave the usual 'deep meaning' explanation, beloved of some Japanese. Then we added 'yoroshii' and 'yoroshiku' to the mix (for 'yoroshiku onegaishimasu' is much more frequently heard here) and he was off, flying through the Japanese linguistic firmament. This student, who did kendo in his youth, also believes that the 'real' meaning of BU 武 is 'stopping spears'. Why? 'Because the Japanese are essentially peaceful.'

Relevance to this thread? None at all, really, except that Austin was a contemporary of Wittgenstein, who once wrote:

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." (Ogden translation.)
"What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." (Pears & McGuiness translation.)

Wittgenstein intended this proposition (No. 7 of his Tractatus) to apply to mystical and ethical statements. I do not believe he was right in this regard, but Austin's approach, that of detailed language analysis, is much more congenial to me. I think this is not really possible in a forum discussion such as this. So the opening poster's statements have to stand, but only for what they are worth.

Best wishes,

PAG

Keith Larman
09-25-2010, 01:30 AM
Dr. Goldsbury...

Lovely to see you posting.

Yes, I am quite familiar with Austin as "How to do things with Words" was one of my favorite books when I was an undergrad. I spent a great deal of time reading Austin, Wittgenstein, and Ryle. I even managed to catch a few lectures from Searle later on. Great stuff. I ended up doing an Honors Thesis in epistemology with an emphasis on many of these guys although I mostly focused on some rather dry and boring details from Carnap.

Honestly I still think about it all and "roll it around in my head" 25 years later. As a matter of fact a few months ago I went back to rereading the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Or at least trying to. It seems so easy, such simple sets of concepts. It becomes mind boggling so quickly. Amazing work... :)

I had thought of quoting the very same (very famous) Wittgenstein gem, but since I'd already apparently gone too far I felt I should probably toggle it back a bit. I've always thought the critique of a philosophy degree being useless was clearly incorrect. I found the work of people like Austin, Wittgenstein, et al gave me a tremendous advantage in later on dealing with the analysis and interpretation of statistical data for the large scale studies I ran. So many traps, so much subtle nuance. And I remember one day in a meeting with a bunch of psych/stats people I brought up the phrase "truth values" as I was trying to explain a problem I had with an interpretation of some data. Most of them had no idea what I was talking about. I was channeling Austin...

Regardless, after I posted my quick post above I started to regret it. I'm not exactly sure how to get any further in this sort of thing and I think you're quite right to say that the original post can just stand as it is. I would suggest that those interested might want to search the web for articles on signs of cult-like behavior. And Dr. Marc already went through much of it point by point well before I ever posted originally. His extremely insightful and relevant comments and how they were essentially misunderstood and/or swept aside really were what inspired me to post the video of the cute zombie-faced kid uttering the completely sincere but total non sequitur that he liked turtles.

Anyway, I'm really not sure there is much more to say in the context of a forum like this.

And as an aside I'm glad you picked up my Platonic reference as it was really more of an inside joke to myself. I recently reread Plato's Gorgias dialogue as a result of some of the incredibly silly political discussions we've been having here in the US. Ironically enough it also seemed somewhat relevant to this discussion. An interesting convergence of coincidence.

And I will admit to being vastly more sympathetic to the Aristotelean point of view myself.

Keith Larman
09-25-2010, 01:37 AM
Oh, and in the interests of completeness and giving credit where credit is due, I can't believe I left out one of my most important influences -- W.V.O. Quine. It is very difficult to find anyone today somehow not influenced by his work. His insights ripple through everything right down to even more "popularly known" writers/philosophers like Dennett and Hofstadter.

torbjornsaw
09-25-2010, 01:49 AM
Suffice to say is that my post very much relates to a student/teacher relationship in a spiritual setting. This language is not uncommon in the eastern stories of the guru/disciple dynamics. It might seem harsh and un-aikido like but I am quite used to that expression. The context for such an eastern traditional relationship is foreign and rare in the west.
It might sound like new age or quasi spiritual psychology but really it is just part of my own personal experience of such an encounter in the past (please see my links for a full description of those events, if you like to see where I'm coming from).
I don't have the expertise to point out the various differing ideas and explanations of ego and will. I'm simply saying that the experience of a rigid self adherence based on a set of rules/ideas might in real life be difficult to give up or surrender in order to experience a greater sense of freedom.
If you like you can pick apart anything you like without ever considering or asking the meaning of a statement, leading into an (hopefully) enlightening dialogue.
Considering that you might not know you say but really do you?

Peter Goldsbury
09-25-2010, 10:18 AM
Oh, and in the interests of completeness and giving credit where credit is due, I can't believe I left out one of my most important influences -- W.V.O. Quine. It is very difficult to find anyone today somehow not influenced by his work. His insights ripple through everything right down to even more "popularly known" writers/philosophers like Dennett and Hofstadter.

Hello Keith,

Well, I would take issue with you about Quine, but this would cause too much thread drift. I know nothing about Hofstadter, except that he has written bestselling books. As has Dennett. When I was at Harvard in the mid 1970s, I took a course from Daniel Dennett, which was really a discussion of his first book. During the course, it became clear that he was not amenable to reasoned argument, so my respect for him diminished somewhat. By comparison John Rawls (A Theory of Justice) was an excellent teacher. His lectures and seminars were deathly, because he had a stutter. Harvard had 'pro-seminars', which in the case of Rawls meant three hours on Kant's ethical theory. But he supervised my thesis on Socrates and I found him a kind and caring teacher.

We will obviously have to discuss these and other issues when I come to the US.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-25-2010, 11:27 AM
Suffice to say is that my post very much relates to a student/teacher relationship in a spiritual setting. This language is not uncommon in the eastern stories of the guru/disciple dynamics. It might seem harsh and un-aikido like but I am quite used to that expression. The context for such an eastern traditional relationship is foreign and rare in the west.
It might sound like new age or quasi spiritual psychology but really it is just part of my own personal experience of such an encounter in the past (please see my links for a full description of those events, if you like to see where I'm coming from).
I don't have the expertise to point out the various differing ideas and explanations of ego and will. I'm simply saying that the experience of a rigid self adherence based on a set of rules/ideas might in real life be difficult to give up or surrender in order to experience a greater sense of freedom.
If you like you can pick apart anything you like without ever considering or asking the meaning of a statement, leading into an (hopefully) enlightening dialogue.
Considering that you might not know you say but really do you?

Hello Mr Saw,

My own spiritual training has been in the western mystical tradition, focused principally on Walter Hilton, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the Spanish mystics like Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola. I have also studied zen as part of my aikido training, but I have never gone on a spiritual journey to the East, such as you recount in your blog. However, I did begin a journey over 30 years ago and this was to the East and was also a major spiritual journey. I believe you trained in Iwama for a time, but my own aim, as and which I eventually realized, was to come to Japan and stay here, until death, immersing myself as much as possible in the culture, but without ever becoming fully part of it.

However, I have never dared to be a spiritual teacher to my own aikido students, who are all Japanese. I might actually teach them spiritual values, but this is through training and not through discourses about it. Actually, my own relationship with my dojo students, spiritual or otherwise, is so special and private that I would never discuss it in public. I am sure that I do teach my student spiritual values, but this is not an essential part of my mission as an aikido teacher and I would not promote aikido as a spiritual activity as a special feature of training in my dojo.

Why do I state all this? Because in your opening post you use the royal 'we' and this suggests that all aikido teachers should have the same spiritual mission as you believe you have. But this is not right. Perhaps your own spiritual journey gives you the right to state publicly what you believe you have to do as an aikido teacher in your own dojo. But I myself do not believe that my own spiritual journey (every bit as eventful as your own, but less exotic) gives me this right.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius of Loyola discusses what he calls the 'discernment of spirits' The vocabulary is unfortunate here, but what he was emphasizing was the need to be sure that the guru in whom you place your trust really has the goods. For me, living in Japan, this is a major issue. I am sure that you are aware of Asahara Shoko, of Aum Shinrikyo. I have taught many bright students who believed that Asahara really did have the goods. So in this respect, you should forgive me for being somewhat unconvinced about Mr Cohen. Of course, he did not do what Mr Asahara has been accused of doing, but your whole blog discussion about Mr Cohen is couched entirely in terms of your own experience of him, much like my students talked of their experience of Aum Shinrikyo.

Finally, I have a question, related to the previous: how do you deal with spiritual rebels in your own dojo? Do you have a dialogue? In particular, do you allow that these rebels can actually teach you something about your own spiritual awareness?

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury

Keith Larman
09-25-2010, 11:50 AM
Hello Keith,

Well, I would take issue with you about Quine, but this would cause too much thread drift. I know nothing about Hofstadter, except that he has written bestselling books. As has Dennett. When I was at Harvard in the mid 1970s, I took a course from Daniel Dennett, which was really a discussion of his first book. During the course, it became clear that he was not amenable to reasoned argument, so my respect for him diminished somewhat. By comparison John Rawls (A Theory of Justice) was an excellent teacher. His lectures and seminars were deathly, because he had a stutter. Harvard had 'pro-seminars', which in the case of Rawls meant three hours on Kant's ethical theory. But he supervised my thesis on Socrates and I found him a kind and caring teacher.

We will obviously have to discuss these and other issues when I come to the US.

Best wishes,

PAG

Dr. Goldsbury.

Actually I wouldn't argue about Quine in terms of "correctness". There were many things with which I took exception. However, he certainly influenced a great number of people.

And having had the great pleasure of having had short discussions with Dennett on two occasions and having seen him speak, I would agree that he is quite, well, confident shall we say in his ideas. Not always the best property but I find myself doing the same sometimes.

I must admit for whatever reason I find Rawls difficult even on the written page. I remember reading Theory of Justice for a class and joking that I found reading Kant more involving. My colleagues thought I was insane, but for whatever reason I could never quite "get into sync" with Rawls even on the written page. He had interesting ideas and it was all good stuff, but something in my makeup simply made it difficult for me to process.

WRT this thread I would have to also comment that there are not many clear cut lines separating devoted groups from more "cult-like" groups. In some instances the subsequent behavior of a group (gassing a train line, mass suicides, violence against dissenting members, etc.) makes it quite clear that something singularly unhealthy was going on. But that sort of assessment is of the hindsight variety. And for a lot of years there was a lot of talk about "deprogramming" and the like that seemed themselves to suffer from some of the same problems they were trying to address. So there really is no agreed upon, clear cut set of criterion of any real value except for the obvious (performing terrorist acts, mass suicide, etc.).

That said, the "passion" and the concept of "complete" submission and/or sublimation of the will/ego many would find particularly disturbing. The OP may feel that such complete spiritual devotion is necessary for truly attaining some goals, however, I think most reasonable people would disagree. Or at least end up saying that if such extreme measures have to be taken that maybe it really isn't the road for them to be on. And I would think the OP would be fine with that point of view.

I *personally* find that spiritual growth is not an end to be pursued, but a by product of a life well-lived with awareness and authenticity. *How* one goes about that will vary. Of course some need more guidance than others, but guidance is quite difference from complete submission. My preference is walking the path *with* my teachers.

Rob Watson
09-25-2010, 12:30 PM
Please ignore as the following is mostly an internal dialogue with myself that simply spilled out onto the keyboard ....

Much like the preamble to the US constitution the subject line conveys intent but is not technically the body of the post. I ask myself does the ego have a will?

Train to be better than ones teacher ... ego ... will ... in double measure is a minimum requirement.

Forget ego as we are talking about audacity! Reconcile the world and join with the universe? Egomaniac crazy talking. Dancing on the razors edge. Yeah, I want to be better than that. Forget Hippocrates (do no more harm) but instead eliminate and repair what harm that has been done and prevent any more. To infinity and beyond. Sounds like fun, no?

torbjornsaw
09-25-2010, 07:06 PM
Hello Peter,

I appreciate your response, thank you. I teach Aikido and the understanding that relates to sensitive interaction. Occasionally I teach meditation and hold one-day seminars with open dialogue in regards to spiritual inquiry for those who are interested.

Andrew Cohen was a major influence in my spiritual search and I've described my events being close to him. I leave others to judge him, which many do. His actions speak for themselves. Learning did not begin with him and has not stopped since leaving him.

Rebels? All kinds of people train in the dojo, with varied interests. There is no philosophy or spiritual belief held out that must be embraced. All things are open to speak about. I share what I believe to be helpful if and when there is occasion for it.

Your spiritual path of choice sounds beautiful. Love to hear more of it.

Best regards,
Bjorn

torbjornsaw
10-06-2010, 08:29 AM
Since breaking the will of the ego is not an academic discussion of terminology but rather an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego and it's direct influence of what you choose to post in response, the engagement reveals exactly where you are coming from. Superior critical or just simply interested. Hijacking or participating in the original line of inquiry. If it's not to your taste don't step onto the mat.

lbb
10-06-2010, 09:21 AM
Since breaking the will of the ego is not an academic discussion of terminology but rather an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego and it's direct influence of what you choose to post in response, the engagement reveals exactly where you are coming from. Superior critical or just simply interested. Hijacking or participating in the original line of inquiry. If it's not to your taste don't step onto the mat.

So, in effect, you are saying that there is one true fact-based definition of "breaking the will of the ego", and that the meaning of the phrase is not at all subject to interpretation? That it is a fact on the order of 2+2=4? Can you tell us, then, what this one true fact-based definition is?

torbjornsaw
10-06-2010, 10:07 AM
What do you think it means Mary? It is vast subject yet very close. For me it had to do with listening and wanting to understand where the other was coming from. Dying to self can found in many contexts and if one has a little interest one can explore as to what it means. What I mean should be detectable through my posts. There is no fixed set formula or definite definition. Usually though when ego is mentioned it is stirred up because it doesn't like to hear it being exposed.

What I am referring to is an actual experience that can be understood in the terms of breaking the ego but it's not something one can explain, only point towards.

Thanks for asking.

C. David Henderson
10-06-2010, 02:28 PM
From "The Ten Oxherding Pictures with Commentary and Verses," Ch. VII, The Three Pillars of Zen, Phillip Kapleau (1965):

***
4 / Catching the Ox / Today he encounters the Ox, which had long been cavorting in wild fields, and actually grasped it. For so long a time has it reveled in these surroundings that breaking it of its old habits is not easy. It continues to yearn for sweet-scented grasses, it is still stubborn and unbridled. If he would tame it completely, the man must use his whip ...

5 / Taming the Ox / With the rising of one thought another and another are born. Enlightenment brings the realization that such thoughts are not unreal since even they arise from our True-nature. It is only because delusion still remains that they are imagined to be unreal. This state of delusion does not originate in the objective world but in our own minds.

***

I always assumed the Ox to be a metaphor for the mind, BTW, and not for something called ego. Blasted terminology; not unreal though it may be. Anyway, the discussion led my Ox to roaming in wild fields, as remains it's tendency...

lbb
10-06-2010, 03:22 PM
What do you think it means Mary?

I don't know what it means. You use different terms. Is it "listening and wanting to understand where the other was coming from"? Is it "[d]ying to self"? Is it "an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego"? Are any, or all, or some of those, "breaking the will of the ego"? You're the one using the term, can't you say what you mean by it?

torbjornsaw
10-06-2010, 03:43 PM
I don't know what it means. You use different terms. Is it "listening and wanting to understand where the other was coming from"? Is it "[d]ying to self"? Is it "an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego"? Are any, or all, or some of those, "breaking the will of the ego"? You're the one using the term, can't you say what you mean by it?

Dying to self is a kind of breaking the will of the ego. It means letting go of the need to know. It is fundamentally a giving up of being in control. This we can do daily in interaction and in Aikido. There can also be a deeply experienced surrender that can, through insight into the very nature of self, dislodge the habitual identification with a limited idea of self and shift to a more encompassing perspective of oneself.

Still, what do you think it points toward?

jonreading
10-22-2010, 01:10 PM
After reading through many of the posts, I also am confused by the references to the ego. To many I believe the invocation of the ego calls to mind Freud's id, ego and super ego. Brushing the dust of my philosophy books I believe under freud's contention it is the maturation of the ego that controls our primal instincts, and the maturation of the super ego to balance the ego. In other words, you improve your self through the maturation of your ego and super-ego.
But I would contend it because if our dojo is a place where we train in a spiritual discipline (as O Sensei would point out) then it is of utmost importance that we come to understand that the dojo is a sacred room where subduing our ego is the main aim of our practice.
I do not believe the purpose of our training is the subjugation of ego. Rather, I believe it is the maturation of ego.
That's why it has been said that the back of the ego has to be broken. So it looses its tenacity to always have the last word. Once broken, or given up, it no longer serves as a justification for following ones owns rules.
Again, I believe Freud's model would contend that we mature our super ego to guide and balance the ego, not "break" it.

You may want to clarify the definition of your terminology if it is not Freudian since that seems to be a point of confusion for some of us.

True freedom lies in understanding surrender of ones owns mind.
To whom do we surrender our mind? I contend that our training does not advocate surrendering our mind to anybody. I think I see where you are coming from I don't know if I buy the argument that as we become more connected to our world we become more "free." I believe that as we become empowered to change the world, we have a responsibility to implement our knowledge in that pursuit. What use is enlightenment if you do not improve your world? Who cares if you are one with the universe? True philanthropy is the assumption of this burden.

I also believe that there is a class of individuals who are free in mind. Jumping into the way-back machine, we use the term idiot, but idiōtēs is a better term for those who are truly naive in mind. We now use the term as a perjorative, but in origin idiot simply refers to one who is unfettered by the ego or super ego, a layperson or one without professional education. These individuals have the least knowledge of our world and therefore the least burden of responsibility (philanthropy). It is also why idiotias weighed least as a member of society, they contributed less than their worth.

guest1234567
10-22-2010, 01:58 PM
Our aikido class yesterday evening was specially prepared by our teacher, a simple man with very deep thoughts. We had arms, so he tolds us to form groups, one with a jo like a billard player and the rest of the group the balls, one the white ball, he had to hold a protection on his back because the one with jo would push him against the others, all the balls must close their eyes and just let him push, just be relaxed and mute.We changed everybody was once the billard player and also the white ball. The sense for this play was to practice distance and also to understand nobody is better than the other.
After that funny play he also told us that perhaps next time we all will be frogs and will jump like them and if anybody doesn't like to be a frog, he can sit down in a corner and be the scientist who studies the frogs.
I hope you will understand the sense in this thread .

jbblack
10-22-2010, 02:47 PM
Carina, Well said - thank you!

guest1234567
10-22-2010, 03:08 PM
I'm happy you understood me, our teacher told us more things, it really would have been worth to record him, it is incredible for somebody without higher studies, to be so wise.

Tim Ruijs
10-25-2010, 05:59 AM
The OP touches an important subject if I understand it well.

There is no sense in bringing other influences (sports, cultural, sprititual, philosophical) to Aikido in order to improve your Aikido.

I find it hard to put to writing, but it feels like he tells to try and *not* make of model of what you think Aikido is, but simply practice in the here and now. Let go of your assumptions of where you want your Aikido to end up.

Could also be that this is how I want to interpret his words because that matches my believes and teachings of my teacher :-)

jbblack
10-25-2010, 02:07 PM
"The important thing," said French critic Charles Du Bos, "is to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."

guest1234567
10-25-2010, 03:21 PM
"The important thing," said French critic Charles Du Bos, "is to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."
I would not say sacrifice, I think it is no sacrifice, just be a good human beeing and the feeling is great