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Hagen Seibert
01-02-2004, 03:49 AM
Hi, I´d like to know you thoughts on this:

Zen-Buddhism teaches that there is no self, or better said, that what we perceive as our self is merely an illusion.

Keeping that statement im mind, what are the consequences for self-defence? A friend of mine, who is as zen master, once asked: “If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?” This leads to the logic assumption, that Aikido or any other Budo were no longer sensible ???

What is your answer on this zen master´s question?

shihonage
01-02-2004, 04:26 AM
Q: What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor ?

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A: "I lost my tractor".

fjcsuper
01-02-2004, 06:54 AM
I thought the farmer would say something like: "@#$%!"... :D

I think what your friend said about no self is actually not being selfish. Or maybe he could be talking about ego. But self defence is, I think, different. It is neccesary to defend your own life right?! :confused:

Merry New Year

Kevin Masters
01-02-2004, 07:58 AM
Hi.

It sounds like a matter of semantics. Maybe a more correct term would be autodefence?

Then there's no self defending self, there's just "defending".

Aleksey has a more appropriate answer though I think.

First there is a Budo (tractor), then there is no Budo (tractor), then there is?

I'm puzzled. It's Friday but feels like Monday.

Goetz Taubert
01-02-2004, 08:44 AM
I aggree that it seems to be a semantic problem.

But, to be on the safe side, give him a good punch when he is in deep meditation and see whats happening.

Just kidding ;)

Hagen Seibert
01-02-2004, 09:41 AM
"I think what your friend said about no self is actually not being selfish. "

Let me assure that he meant no self.

I have to comment, that making this a matter of semantics is the second most easy reply.

(The first most easy reply is to say: Well, I do have a self, so where is the problem.)

regards

Josh Manning
01-02-2004, 10:20 AM
To my limited understanding, no self means that what is percieved as "You" is nothing more than a random collection of attributes, as though those pieces of self that you identify as yours were bees in a hive, some flying in, some flying out more or less constantly. this case, there is no true self, as all of the pieces are subject to sudden replacement. The comment about no self to me seems foolish though, since any animal at all defends itself, even the most passive or tame animals. Why should a human be an exception?

Don_Modesto
01-02-2004, 10:30 AM
“If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?”
If there were no homonyms, would you have to ask this question?

Rich Stephens
01-02-2004, 10:48 AM
Don't take things too literally when considering Zen.

And as far as semantics go, of course it is a semantics problem. Are you sure that even the general understanding of the word "self" in English is the same as that of the word used by your Zen Master when speaking to you? And was that word the same as the Japanese and Chinese words written in zen and chan texts? And were those words exact translations of the words actually spoken by the Buddha? ("Anatman" was probably the term used). Until all that is cleared up, we don't even know that we're all talking about the same thing.

But in the end, the statement "there is no self" isn't important to consider. In the earliest Pali texts, it is reported that the Buddha refused to answer the question. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. In other words, he put it in that category of questions that should put aside because they do not lead to an end of suffering.

The "Zen Master's" question is: If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?

Here's a possible reply: "your premise that there is no self, is at the worst flawed, and at best simply not worth consdering. What one should concentrate on is ending suffering and in as much as Aikido accomplishes that, it is a worthwhile activity."

Or if you want to give it a less confrontational reply, you could reply that "I am defending whatever it is that puts alms into your bowl" or "I am defending whatever it is you are defending when you put food into your stomach each day."

-Rich

John Boswell
01-02-2004, 10:48 AM
In March, I plan to marry the woman I've searched all my life for. She and I plan to have kids and I'm very much looking forward to being a father.

Just this morning, I was thinking of what I would tell my child on why I train in Aikido and what the purpose a learning budo, and what it was all about. And pardon me for setting aside the idea of "no self" at this time, but its a difficult concept to explain.

What I DO know about why I train is: I train in budo so I do NOT have to fight.

Evil exists in the world in various forms. Bullies, Dictators, pretentious governments and officials, authorities of various kind, even just the schmuck at the bar who's had to much to drink could be acting out on impulse for various reason... alcohol being the evil agent there.

Whatever the reason is, force is coming at you from all different directions. If you fail to act on it when it does appear, it will collied with you and halt or hinder your advancement through life and getting by in our day to day world. THIS is called being the effect of something. It is a form of destruction.

In order to be at cause, we have to redirect that energy. Even better than that is to live life and set yourself up so that adverse force will not come your way in the first place! Obeying laws, paying taxes, sending out good energy by making friends and having friendly relations even with people you would rather not associate with... these are all ways of getting by, blending, living in harmony with others. Can't all of that also be considered self defense?

As far as "no self" goes, I personally believe this is the universal void that O'Sensei loved to talk about. A person's spirit or soul can not be seen but it is there. Walk into a room at your hospital where someone is on life support. You, the doctor and the patient are in the room. Would you say there are two and one half people in the room? Does that comatose person count any less than you or the doctor? No. There is life there. There is a being whose body is in terrible shape, but if there is life... there is a single, whole spiritual being attached to it. THAT is the "no self" that exists. The body, truth be known, is the actual illusion.

So... though we fight to defend "our self", we are actually defending the vessal in which we get around in. There are tons of ways to defend, but the reason is the same... to get by in this thing called life.

Hope I didn't throw anyone off or stir up any contraversy.

Happy New Year everyone!

Rich Stephens
01-02-2004, 10:53 AM
If there were no homonyms, would you have to ask this question?
While I was writing my overly long reply, Don comes in and nails it with one sentence! BRAVO!

Thalib
01-02-2004, 11:10 AM
You know Seibert-san, it's starting to make sense to me now.

Budo is not self-defense.

A samurai raises his sword up high leaving himself open comitting to the attack. On the battlefield, he does not think about defending himself.

Usually the person that goes into the battlefield wondering if he's going to stay alive through the battle is the first one to die. If one thinks this, one might as well not enter the battlefield. If one thinks of self-defense, one might as well runaway or retreat.

In another case, if a person comes into battle prepared for death, believing or even knowing what he is doing is right, he will usually live to see another day. Facing the blade, he is unphased, keeping his calm and relaxation all the way through. If he died, he and his comrades will believe that he had died an honorable death.

I'm not going to get into if the Samurai code was true or was the idealism put into place during that period. Let's save that for another thread. The case above is in the correlation of "not defending the self".

John Boswell
01-02-2004, 11:51 AM
Thalib,

Not to be "too" technical, but looking at the samuari who raises his sword, leaving himself open to attack... from what I've learned so far in Aikido, there is a reason behind that stance.

A sword is raised or lowered prior to attack for the purpose of inviting attack to a certain area upon you. Once that attacked is expected, you can better plan its defense and counterstike.

Example: As Uke raises his ken to strike shomen uchi, Nage slides forward with the ken pointed down. As the strike comes down, you raise the ken above your left side, handle up and point down... raising block. Then, as Uke's strike goes by, Nage pivots left and strikes shomen.

I just love weapon's work! :D

But yours is an interesting point to. ;)

Kevin Masters
01-02-2004, 12:40 PM
Congratulations, John.

Here's to a rewarding and loving home!

And fatherhood is really awesome.

Best.

Kevin

John Boswell
01-02-2004, 02:27 PM
Thank you, Kevin! I'm certainly looking forward to this upcoming adventure! ;)

Happy New Year to you!

Hagen Seibert
01-02-2004, 03:23 PM
Ha, this thread starts to become interesting. Special thanks to Kevin, Rich and Thalib for your postings.

Ahmm, maybe I did not get Aleksey´s point because of lacking vocabulary: Is there another meaning to "tractor" apart from the machine that pulls the plough ?

Of course the question “If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?” was meant as provocation. So it may play with semantics, but he is not the sophist type. Nevertheless replacing self with the word selfishness doesnt answer the question properly. If "you put food into your stomach each day" you basically are selfish. To live is being neccessarily selfish. If you are selfish there is a self. Even if you do not think of your self and act without a self involved, your actions could still be interpreted as selfish. So, where is the difference between the "self" of "If there is no self..." and the "self" of "..what do you actually want to defend ?"

regards

John Boswell
01-02-2004, 03:57 PM
Ha, this thread starts to become interesting. Special thanks to Kevin, Rich and Thalib for your postings.
HEY! What am I? Chopped liver? I said some very profound stuff!!

/runs off crying to his mommy.:(





Just kidding! :p

Thalib
01-02-2004, 04:56 PM
Huahahahah...

Don't take it personally Boswell-san.

Anyway, it is true about there is a technical reason behind that, but when one is on the battlefield the mind should no longer be thinking of technical matters. He shouldn't be "thinking" at all. Not just clearing the mind from techniques but from oneself also. Mushin no shin, the mind of no mind.

Thinking about defending the self will lead to fear and anxiety. One will usually be easily cornered. On the battlefield one could easily be killed. During Aikido practice I could see people that are defending themselves when doing technique. They are the ones that usually steps back or step away too far most of the times.

One of the principle of Aikido, not just Aikido actually but any Budo, is irimi or entering. Defensive practitioners are usually afraid and "run away" from the attack by stepping to the right or to the left really far away or back away from the uke, away from the attack. The result is that one will be too far away to execute any technique and will give opportunity for uke to do another attack. It is fine during practice, but could prove fatal in real life.

It is good to discuss these type of matters during practice or off practice, but it is not good to be thinking about it when one is faced with a "true situation". There are technical reasons, but those technical reasons are backed by principles. When applying those principles the spirit matters most.

Hagen Seibert
01-02-2004, 05:20 PM
Sorry John, of course I did not mean to say that your post was not profound or unimportant or anything like that. I just fancied some, which doesn´t mean I don´t value the others.

SeiserL
01-02-2004, 10:46 PM
A friend of mine, who is as zen master, once asked: “If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?” This leads to the logic assumption, that Aikido or any other Budo were no longer sensible ???What is your answer on this zen master´s question?
Slap him.

If he defends, asked to see who it was that defended. If he does not defend, ask who is it that got slapped.

If there is no self, then there is no one slapping and no one getting slapped.

Is this the one hand slapping koan?

OTOH, IMHO, much of Budo is not self-defense but other-defense.

jk
01-03-2004, 12:21 AM
Now THAT's an elegant answer...thanks, Lynn.

Oh yeah, and take his wallet while you're at it. :)

L. Camejo
01-03-2004, 12:52 AM
Zen-Buddhism teaches that there is no self, or better said, that what we perceive as our self is merely an illusion.

Keeping that statement im mind, what are the consequences for self-defence? A friend of mine, who is as zen master, once asked: “If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?” This leads to the logic assumption, that Aikido or any other Budo were no longer sensible ???

What is your answer on this zen master´s question?
Perception is the true question here I guess.

TO be more exact, if "what we

perceive as ourself is merely an illusion" then in self defence we are defending a perceived illusion. This statement however is based on the prerequisite of human perception (in the form of the zen master or the originator of the initial concept) being totally clear to begin with, else the perception of the self as an illusion may in fact be an illusion itself.

As far as Aikido goes, it has been said by its founder that "if the senses are clogged, one's perception is stifled." The practice and study of Aikido has been offered by its founder as well to be a way of "polishing the spirit" and enabling the senses to be cleared and ths spirit to be forged, thereby creating clearer windows of perception.

In this sense, Aikido as Budo (which may encompass the concept of "self defence") is a means of determining whether the Zen Buddhist concept of "no self" is correct to begin with, as it allows the practitioner to develop the clarity needed to correctly perceive what is and is not.

On another line of thought - if one looks at the land from the air one gains a new perspective and may as a result have a more holistic way of perceiving the land. However, if one attempts to look at the land from a mountain top, the view is better than in the lowlands, but they are still on the land - the view is not as comprehensive as from the air.

My question then is, since the Zen master is operating in the same dimension as everyone else, how does he know that his perception of what is illusion is correct? He may be in fact subject to a different illusion than the rest of us, no?

After all, it's all about one's level of perception right? Who determines which mind is clearer than the other?

Just a few thoughts.

L.C.:ai::ki:

indomaresa
01-03-2004, 03:13 AM
I agree with Thalib about budo not being a self-defense

but here's another thing; aikido isn't ultimately supposed to be a self-defense pursuit too, it's a way to achieve harmony. This is probably what Zen and Aikido agrees in.

We learn to be aware of an attack, blend with it, and bring a non-harmful end to the conflict.

Polished properly, aikido is expected to do so before the conflict even began. This is the realm that Morihei Ueshiba is said to have reached. Maybe, his opponent came attacking with complete realisation that they couldn't win, or they were sucked into his harmonizing process.

So my reasoning is; if aikido is used to create harmony between uke and nage, the self-defense concept is non-existent.

- there is no self. Just harmony.

As for perceiving illusions, I'm still far from understanding that concept.

Don_Modesto
01-03-2004, 12:16 PM
Slap him.

If he defends, asked to see who it was that defended. If he does not defend, ask who is it that got slapped.

If there is no self, then there is no one slapping and no one getting slapped.

Is this the one hand slapping koan?

OTOH, IMHO, much of Budo is not self-defense but other-defense.
ROTFLOL!

BTW, very handsome book; just saw it yesterday in Borders. Congratulations. (Is that you as UKE in most of the pics?)

SeiserL
01-03-2004, 10:19 PM
BTW, very handsome book; just saw it yesterday in Borders. Congratulations. (Is that you as UKE in most of the pics?)
Thanks for the kind words. No, I was taking the pictures. That is me upside down on the cover though.

AsimHanif
01-10-2004, 08:03 PM
We are not defending anything. We are accepting what comes and connecting to that spirit or energy. This is my understanding of what aikido is. Yes it is a Budo but aikido is unique in this respect unlike karate. This is the line of thought Terry Dobson wrote about in his "Akido in Daily Life". There doesn't have to be a winner or loser. I think that is a good Zen exercise.

AsimHanif
01-10-2004, 08:11 PM
Maresa - sorry I didn't see your reply. I think you said it better than I.

Lyle Bogin
01-10-2004, 10:06 PM
I don't see the difference between harmony and self-defense. The primary function of co-existence is existence itself....the preservation of your own interests.

To fully subscribe to zen ideals of no self, of some dramatic unfettered state, seems aweful to me. I prefer the suffering of a normal life.

tedehara
01-11-2004, 11:48 AM
We are not defending anything. We are accepting what comes and connecting to that spirit or energy. This is my understanding of what aikido is. Yes it is a Budo but aikido is unique in this respect unlike karate. This is the line of thought Terry Dobson wrote about in his "Akido in Daily Life". There doesn't have to be a winner or loser. I think that is a good Zen exercise.Just a foot note. Terry Dobson wrote Aikido in Everyday Life: Giving in to Get Your Way. Koichi Tohei wrote Aikido in Daily Life. Similar sounding titles but two different books by two different authors.

:confused: confusing!

malc anderson
01-11-2004, 03:00 PM
Hi H.S., My answer would be along the lines of, as I feed this illusory body so that I can realize my True Being in this life time I have also found a way (aikido) to defend this same body (for the same reason) without seriously hurting my attacker and also keep my body fit and healthy.

Surely as Buddhism traveled from India it was the Bodhidharma that brought M,A.s with him? I see nothing wrong with defending your body, your kids, wife, etc. but there is a twist, you will have to fight your SELF to be able to claim Agatsu. But then how about the meaning of these words : NO SELF, the best way of describing it would be to tell you about the birth of my daughter; I was left alone with her for sometime just minutes after she was born, she lay there still and quiet she had no name, no religion, no language, no idea of up, down, left, right, etc, etc all she could do was Feel. This is the state of “No self”. The “SELF” is all the stuff that gets added on through life and in the end traps us in this illusion. I have and do experienced this no-self-state and understand that this is just the “open door” to that world inside, and it is so beautiful they call it divine and it leads to kensho.

If only we could take away the misconceptions in all religions and philosophies and realize what Osensei’s world of harmony could be. Masakatsu Agatsu Malc

“To practice properly the art of peace, you must: Calm the spirit and return to the source”

indomaresa
01-11-2004, 07:02 PM
......

Ted Marr
01-12-2004, 08:31 AM
Fun story along these lines...

An army was invading a town where there was a temple presided over by an enlightened sort of monk. As part of this invasion, a warrior ran into the temple, and saw the monk there in meditation. He screamed at the monk "get down on your face and acknowledge me as your master". The monk continued to meditate. The warrior continued to bluster, shouting at last, "do you know who I am? I am a man who could run you through without batting an eye!" The monk finally responded, saying "do you know who I am? I am a man who could be run through without batting an eye"

Fun stories aside, you can think of aikido and zen this way; A perfectly enlightened person without a sense of 'self' might not need to defend themselves. But they might wish to avoid dying at another's hands in order to help their attacker properly appreciate a lesson in valuing compassion.

k'shi
01-16-2004, 01:33 AM
Hi, I´d like to know you thoughts on this:

Zen-Buddhism teaches that there is no self, or better said, that what we perceive as our self is merely an illusion.

Keeping that statement im mind, what are the consequences for self-defence? A friend of mine, who is as zen master, once asked: “If there is no self, what do you actually want to defend ?” This leads to the logic assumption, that Aikido or any other Budo were no longer sensible ???

What is your answer on this zen master´s question?
Many identify with the ego/thinker which is the illusion which is spoken of. What we trully are is our spirit Self. In simpel words our bodies can be seen as cars and it's engine our ego. Yet do you identify with the car and it's engine? When someone comes up with a baseballbat to destroy your car, you have all the right to protect your car.

Love,

- Jop den Daas

Thalib
01-19-2004, 07:38 AM
I was just thinking...

Bujutsu is martial arts.

Budo is martial way.

None of them actually say anything about self defense, but "the way" do call for self sacrifice for a greater purpose.

Anders Bjonback
01-26-2004, 06:57 PM
Are you sure that even the general understanding of the word "self" in English is the same as that of the word used by your Zen Master when speaking to you? And was that word the same as the Japanese and Chinese words written in zen and chan texts? And were those words exact translations of the words actually spoken by the Buddha? ("Anatman" was probably the term used).

...

But in the end, the statement "there is no self" isn't important to consider. In the earliest Pali texts, it is reported that the Buddha refused to answer the question. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. In other words, he put it in that category of questions that should put aside because they do not lead to an end of suffering.
Well, as to anatman, Buddha didn't speak sanskrit or the pali the early teachings were recorded in.

Based on what I learned from my one course in Buddhism I have taken so far, I'd have to disagree with your idea about the Buddha's silence. According to Rahula, author of What the Buddha Taught, a Theravadin Buddhist, that example of Buddha's silence does not show that he never said there is no self. The example of Buddha's silence is this one: one day someone asked Buddha if there was a self, and the Buddha remained silent. One of his students, who was with him, asked him why he had not answered, despite saying multiple times before that there is not one. Buddha told him that if he has said yes, the confused person would have thought that there was a self, a wrong view. However, if he has said no, then the person would have thought, "I had a self, but now I do not have one," another wrong view.

The view that one has to get rid of one's ego or self is a wrong view, because the truth is that it wasn't there in the first place. The idea "I have no self" could be said to be wrong, though, because it originates from the idea of a self. You believe you have a self, and beginning with this belief in a self, you think, "I have no self, this self does not exist." (I guess this presumes that any idea coming out of a belief in a self is in the ulitimate sense wrong.)

Although I still have much to learn and much of what I have just said might be wrong, I don't think Buddha put that question aside because he thought it would not put an end to suffering. Unless I am mistaken, the concept of a soul or self separate or independent of the skandhas is a cause of suffering, even according to early Buddhism.

---

In Aikido and the Harmony of Nature, Saotome Sensei says that if one kills another person, one is committing a grevious act. But if one allows the other person to kill him or her, then that is also bad, because he or she is allowing the other person to accumulate negative karma which will result in the other person's suffering. Aikido has another way of handling the situation--mutual preservation.

Also, in Buddhism, there is ultimate versus relative reality. In the ultimate reality, there is no self, no suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path... But in the relative, we have to deal with this relative world, where we have to do banking, etc, presuming we have a self, and we have to follow this path that is ultimately also illusory.

James Besenyei
01-27-2004, 12:47 AM
self....no self....defend....don't defend...on...off....there is no duality, defending is not defending, self is no self, and all the such.

Bronson
01-27-2004, 01:22 AM
Slap him.

If he defends, asked to see who it was that defended. If he does not defend, ask who is it that got slapped.
I still think you should slap him on general principle evileyes

Bronson

taylor
02-13-2004, 03:27 PM
So, basically this guy asked you a question: who are you trying to defend?

Only you can answer for yourself, but as long as we believe in a solid, substantial, enduring "self," then most of us will want to defend that self, "me."

This guy already has a premise, "there is no self," and then asks you who you're defending.

I'd first tell him to prove his assertion, then you'll tell him.

If he makes a case, think about it long and hard, or follow his advise on how to truly get what he's saying, and then see if your motivation changes.

I have a hunch that even enlightened people in some situations may see it appropriate to pull out a bit o' whipass. That doesn't mean they're bound to it. And it doesn't mean they obsess about martial arts.

Cheers.