Judgment, an Aiki perspective
Handan, in Japanese, means a "judgment, a decision or an interpretation". This differs from hanketsu, "a judicial decision, or a sentence". It certainly is not similar to tenbatsu, or "heaven's vengeance, or divine retribution".
To survive, we must learn to discriminate amongst things, situations, intentions and meanings, that may either benefit or harm us. These survival lessons tend to stay with us for the entirety of our lives, and rarely undergo periodic examination or self scrutiny to see if they still apply.
We must have the courage, experience and the will to make tough decisions, quite often on a moment's notice. We must also develop the wisdom and flexibility in thinking and feeling, to correct any misunderstandings that we make, or are made about us. Appropriate humility applies here, as we remain true to our convictions, but remain open to new information and to make the necessary changes in our perceptions, and in our judgments.
I recall a recent incident, where an imminent and well respected Aikido sensei committed, in my mind, a breach of trust unworthy of his reputation and of his character. This appeared so totally out of character, and inconsistent with the amazing history of correct thinking and action by this man, that I was shocked.
Yet, was it my right to judge this person and this incident, reversing all my good will and positive support for this man and his status as a proven leader in Aikido, forever? Are not my feet made with a similar clay from which all others are fashioned? Did I really have enough facts and insights to appropriately judge both the scenario and the person's actions? Even if I did, was it the best application of the Aiki Principles I profess to champion and to follow?
How often over my 56 years of training in Aikido have I encountered similar instances where behavior did not match "correct thinking" and "correct action". How often indeed, have I been guilty of not remaining true to the principles I claim to uphold, and have proved all too human in the final accounting that inevitably results.
"Judge ye not, and be not judged", is a phrase I recall. Yet, in the very act of exercising judgment, there is much to be learned from both the attempt, and from the revelations that result, both personally and otherwise. I may regret my miscues, but I treasure my findings, and the new insights I gain.
The appropriate use of "judgment", in any event or cause, is a "one of a kind" scenario, where the parties involved need to be so careful and respectful, not only of what is known, but of what is not known, or even knowable. It is a course, once set upon, that is all but impossible to correct or undo. It may have consequences unforeseen, that may portend even greater misunderstandings, inappropriate actions, and foster additional unfortunate judgments.
It is my choice to maintain appropriate ma-ai, commit to correct shisei, and to exercise proper sonkei, and nasake , keeping my regard and reigi intact. This situation, and this marvelous sensei, deserves no less from me.
It is also my choice to remain ever vigilant as well as understanding, whenever similar events occur, trusting that my accumulated wisdom will guide me then
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