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torbjornsaw 09-08-2010 09:19 AM

Peace
 
With the Aiki Peace Week organized by Aiki Extensions coming up I thought I write something about Peace.

Peace in the deepest and truly spiritual sense indicates an understanding that transcends even the notion of conflict. Peace in the way I'd like to present it has nothing to do with struggle. It is a joint understanding come upon through a mutual insight into the nature of life itself. Peace exists as real possibility in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. There is no time to overcome or to conquer. There is no time to negotiate, argue, mediate or compromise. Peace is absolute or not at all. Peace looks at no history, makes no plans for the future. It is truly in the now. Once you find it in yourself to hold such a absolute view you will not be able to join any opposite side. There is no more worthy cause than the cause for peace itself. No side can lay claim to it. It favors no one. Peace have no agenda but itself. Peace takes no sides.
Peace requires a direct insight into the nature of life itself. It is a spiritual pursuit into your own deepest self. Find the meaning and purpose within and you'll solve all questions of conflict. Conflict in the world can only be dealt with this understanding. Anything else will merely scratch the surface and be hardly of any use.

In my dojo all inquiry and meditation is geared towards this direct intuitive understanding. All spiritual and human dilemma can be looked into and understood through a passion to want to know. We can solve the problems of conflict, whithin and whithout, through dialogue and joint inquiry and contemplation.

The practice of Aikido is made for this purpose; to understand Peace! Once you understand it, you can live by it. That is not an easy matter but without understanding you would not even know where to start. So look at the heart of Peace and solve it to what it means, right now, together with another or by your self. Then and only then will you bring peace to this world. What does it mean? Pursue it with your life and with a passion that the world depends on it.

Marc Abrams 09-08-2010 01:57 PM

Re: Peace
 
Bjorn:

Sounds good in theory! Unfortunately, life does not always seem to fit so neatly within our postulates. For an example, a man is running at your young child with a cleaver in his hand and is screaming that he is going to kill that devil. How do you translate your theory in practice in that moment?

Marc Abrams

mathewjgano 09-08-2010 02:08 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Bjorn Saw wrote: (Post 264274)
...The practice of Aikido is made for this purpose; to understand Peace! Once you understand it, you can live by it. That is not an easy matter but without understanding you would not even know where to start. So look at the heart of Peace and solve it to what it means, right now, together with another or by your self. Then and only then will you bring peace to this world. What does it mean? Pursue it with your life and with a passion that the world depends on it.

Nicely put! I believe we generally get out what we put in...of course this gets complicated when we get a group of autonomous individuals, but if we're not trying our very best for peaceful situations I would argue we're demonstrating either apathy or cynicism; neither of which are genuinely peaceful pursuits. Some people say you have to work hard to keep others from stomping you down in life and I think this kind of attitude channels incoming events into positions of conflict. I would rather say you have to work hard to appreciate/understand where another person is coming from in order to find paths that lead to mutually benificial situations. Rather than spend energy trying to shut down the other guy, I would rather spend it on non-oppositional (e.g. mutually propelling) behavior. It just seems more efficient to me.
It's all too easy to write off the other person as somehow lacking and use that as an excuse for non-peaceful responses. Peace in the absolute (or near enough) sense is all too often a peripheral thought, an abstract notion of some far-off ideal that probably isn't very practical...a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

mathewjgano 09-08-2010 02:27 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 264286)
Bjorn:

Sounds good in theory! Unfortunately, life does not always seem to fit so neatly within our postulates. For an example, a man is running at your young child with a cleaver in his hand and is screaming that he is going to kill that devil. How do you translate your theory in practice in that moment?

Marc Abrams

Speaking for myself of course, the simple answer is "the best I can." Maybe another way of looking at this in terms of absolutely peaceful efforts would be to change the situation to having one loved family member chasing after another with the cleaver. Or let's begin with an operating assumption that the attacker ingested something accidentally or is otherwise acting in a way that might be described as accidental.
The question then becomes one of means and ability. A lack of peace-based effort might induce us to simply blast that person when we might have just knocked him out or otherwise eluded him.
If someone were to try and kill my child I would easily want to defend my child and not so easily want to protect the attacker. This is pretty natural, and I think demonstrates a natural hierarchy of importance, but this is where the focused effort to be more peaceful comes in (i.e. training to be successful at peaceful behavior). Where possible (and recognized as such) acting with peace in mind means providing an opportunity for the attacker to learn from his mistakes.
To my mind the practical side of this comes from the tendancy for people to listen to those they relate to; people who have been in similar situations. If I'm trying to convince a violent aggressive person to stop that behavior, I'm going to have less credibility than someone who also exhibited that behavior, but later chose more peaceful efforts. That's the "why" for me that justifies peaceful efforts in the light of extreme violence.

dps 09-08-2010 04:00 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Matthew Gano wrote: (Post 264289)
If someone were to try and kill my child I would easily want to defend my child and not so easily want to protect the attacker. This is pretty natural, and I think demonstrates a natural hierarchy of importance, but this is where the focused effort to be more peaceful comes in (i.e. training to be successful at peaceful behavior).http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6861XV20100907

If you have to make a focused effort to be more peaceful, to acquire peacful behavor, then a state of peace is not natural.

David

dps 09-08-2010 04:08 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Bjorn Saw wrote: (Post 264274)

Peace in the way I'd like to present it has nothing to do with struggle.

I would rather have contentment with struggle than peace without.

Without struggle there is no growth.

David

mathewjgano 09-08-2010 06:40 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 264295)
If you have to make a focused effort to be more peaceful, to acquire peacful behavor, then a state of peace is not natural.

David

In a lot of human behavior, the more you express it, the more easily it is expressed in the future. I guess your sense of what "natural" means would suggest things of this variety become more natural the more you practice them. Are you suggesting that people who tend toward more aggressive behavior shouldn't try to change what is more "natural" for them to express?
So I guess the point isn't about whether it's natural or not, so much as what will lead to a happier tomorrow. Punative measures don't always seem to be the best answer to that.
Quote:

Without struggle there is no growth.
I took struggle here to mean conflict, but I could certainly be wrong in that guess.

lbb 09-08-2010 07:33 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 264295)
If you have to make a focused effort to be more peaceful, to acquire peacful behavor, then a state of peace is not natural.

Maybe...or maybe it's your definition of "natural" that's off. I know that people commonly use "natural" as synonymous with "effortless", but the more I think about it, the less that seems correct to me.

Marc Abrams 09-08-2010 08:38 PM

Re: Peace
 
Peace and violence are simply terms that we use to describe some "frozen" moment of time that describes some aspect of our relationship with the world (internal and/or external). Peace or violence are not static goals but descriptive moments in time. I think that we do more to make our world more sane and peaceful by focusing in on how we relate to ourselves and those around us rather than trying to pigeon-hole these experiences within some artificial, opposing positions. That was why I sought to add some degree of reality to the "waxing poetic."

Marc Abrams

dps 09-08-2010 09:44 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 264300)
Maybe...or maybe it's your definition of "natural" that's off. I know that people commonly use "natural" as synonymous with "effortless", but the more I think about it, the less that seems correct to me.

Generally natural is meant things as they are without human intervention.

"This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind.This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature

dps 09-08-2010 09:53 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Matthew Gano wrote: (Post 264299)
. Are you suggesting that people who tend toward more aggressive behavior shouldn't try to change what is more "natural" for them to express?

No.

I am saying peace involves struggle to change the natural aggressive behavior that brings about conflict.

Quote:

Bjorn Saw wrote: (Post 264274)
Peace in the way I'd like to present it has nothing to do with struggle.

Peace is the result of struggling.

David

torbjornsaw 09-09-2010 01:23 AM

Re: Peace
 
Peace may be an outcome of struggle but once you get there you can realize that it rather came about by ceasing, by ending the struggle, by laying down your arms, not by defeating or overpowering the sense of struggle or conflict.

The peace I'm referring to is an internal quality that emanates outward, touches people and overturns anger. In Aikido we use our body to speak this language of peace. It is already immanent in our actions. When we see eye to eye the struggle is seen not as the necessary prior to peace but the blind adherence to separate points of view. Therefore the struggle is not necessarily needed in order to accomplish peace but more often than not it is anyway.

But if you think you need the struggle, then you will never ever relinquish it.

Carsten Möllering 09-09-2010 02:36 AM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Bjorn Saw wrote: (Post 264309)
Peace may be an outcome of struggle but once you get there you can realize that it rather came about by ceasing, by ending the struggle, by laying down your arms, not by defeating or overpowering the sense of struggle or conflict. [

Isn't struggle a manifestation or effect of conflicting interests?
Why do you think it to be usefull, if one party gives up to realize, to bring it's interests to effect?

Quote:

In Aikido we use our body to speak this language of peace. It is already immanent in our actions.
I don't see the parallel?
aikido is budo. It is practiced to controll an attacker by using aiki.
Someone attacks - the attacker is controlled - the attacker is thrown or locked. And an attacker who isn't proficient at ukemi will be hurt. (Not in training but in "real life".)

Quote:

But if you think you need the struggle, then you will never ever relinquish it.
Isn't struggle - on different planes - a motor of developement and change?

Is it helpful to try to abandon conflict, struggle ... ?
Or might it be helpfull to learn how to live and to solve conflict or struggle in helpful ways?

lbb 09-09-2010 07:15 AM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 264304)
Generally natural is meant things as they are without human intervention.

Human intervention? Have you ever seen a beaver dam?

torbjornsaw 09-09-2010 07:36 AM

Re: Peace
 
Yes isn't the most helpful way, to realize peace? If we do then we will want to learn how to defend/respond in a way that does not add to the conflict or aggression but to appease and neutralize it. This is Aiki; to blend, to harness and to diffuse the anger.

If my objective is peace foremost then my actions will follow my intention to lead others into that peace as well. That is not the easiest thing to do but why not try. O Sensei had nothing else on his mind. He wanted to establish peace in this world beginning with you and me.

dps 09-09-2010 09:17 AM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 264314)
Human intervention? Have you ever seen a beaver dam?

Yes, a natural wonder,



as compared to an unnatural wonder,



David

dps 09-09-2010 09:58 AM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Bjorn Saw wrote: (Post 264316)
If my objective is peace foremost then my actions will follow my intention to lead others into that peace as well. .

What if someone like Hitler, Stalin or Osama Bin Laden doesn't want to go into that peace with you?

David

jonreading 09-09-2010 10:50 AM

Re: Peace
 
I like this post, it is food for thought if nothing else.

I'll throw out a couple comments:
1. Peace s a state of being, not an emotion. We internalize states of being (peace-ful, full of peace) to express that state.
2. Peace is the absence of conflict. It does not inherently contain an altruistic connotation.
3. Harmony is the balance of two or more things in opposition. It does not inherently contain a peaceful connotation.

An earlier post referred to the rhetoric of peace to overcome conflict. I call this expression sympathy and it is a non-physical argument but and argument none-the-less. Aikido does express a sympathetic quality in aligning our attackers energy with our own. However, sympathy is not peace. I can sympathize with a friend who commits a heinous act, but I may not be at peace with that act. (NOTE: my high school English teacher hated the adjective -ful suffix and told us to image people as vessels that could be filled with hope, peace, beauty, hate, etc. - I never got over that...)

I often read about peace inherently expressing a altruistic aspect. However, there are societies under cruel dictators that are at peace because opposition is destroyed. There are murderers who are at peace with their actions. I don't give peace more credit that its due.

Finally, I see a lot of inter-changing peace and harmony. A lion eating a gazelle is a harmonious relationship, but I don't think that gazelle is at peace. A river raging through a gorge is a harmony of nature, but the water is not peaceful. Harmony is not peace, it is a balance. Balance has struggle - a equilibrium in which each opposition may not gain advantage without risk to endangering the relationship.

As I look more closely into budo, I am not sure if peace is/was the proper translation into Western culture for our expression in aikido. I think peace as a state of being is an altruistic goal we set for ourselves as the expression of our understanding of harmony.

I know a handful of individuals who have had to perform extra-ordinary feats in their life, some of them traumatic. These individuals often speak of what they did and how they feel as separate issues. "I know I needed to put down the dog, but I feel terrible about it. "I didn't want to shoot the guy, but I know he would've have hurt me." "I was just following orders, but I didn't like what I did." We read these words all the time, but to me it illustrates an action required to create harmony, and an emotional reaction.

I believe aikido is the path to understanding how to make the best decisions to create/re-establish/destroy a harmonious relationship, and how to be at peace with that action.

I think we sometimes lose focus on this concept because we are civilians and often the most difficult decision we face is which TV show to watch. However, for those who bear more serious burdens, I believe this is key to remaining intact as a person. For example, I cannot imagine what the weight of responsibility a military commander feels when she makes a decision that will end [many] lives. I think budo helps warriors come to peace with the nature of violence, conflict, and the consequences of their actions. This is the martial art I believe I am learning and the role harmony and peace have in that training.

P.S. I reserve the right to amend this perception in twenty years.

donhebert 09-09-2010 10:58 AM

Re: Peace
 
Thank you, Bjorn, for a thought provoking post.

A long time ago (in the 1980s) I once had the privilege of hosting Justine Merritt in my home. She is the woman who started the Ribbon Project which was a folk art effort to encircle the pentagon with a long ribbon constructed of fabric panels, each one made by a person or group expressing their grief over nuclear weapons. Justine was remarkable person and I was moved by her faith and deep wisdom. Despite the idealism of the Ribbon Project, in no way could Justine be called naive. She was an older woman who had seen much of the world. The Ribbon Project had brought her into contact with many world leaders and military people who held to the necessity of having nuclear weapons in today's world. During her short visit with me, she made a important comment about her experiences that has stayed with me every since. In essence she said (I am paraphrasing) that she had to learn to stop thinking she had the power to change other people. She said that her struggle was "to remove the pershing missles from my own heart. I have one for President Reagan, one for Margaret Thatcher, one for Mikhail Gorbachev..."

This struck me as profoundly honest and a difficult pre-requisite for the pursuit of peace. Statements that have to do with Aikido "providing an opportunity for the attacker to learn from his mistakes" have always seemed to me to be not only naive but putting the emphasis (and problem) in the wrong place. Peace building begins with removing the beam from our own eye before removing the mote from the eye of another.

I have long felt that once I have accepted the responsibility that comes with being brought into existence and begin to hold to certain principles of living, then I have to continue the hard work of improving myself so that I am actually competent in promoting my ideals. For example, is it not important to develop a useful understanding of what peace consists of? It is clearly more than just the absence of violence. In order for there to be peace, Franklin Roosevelt's four freedoms are a good beginning. These are:

1. The freedom of expression
2. Freedom of religion
3. Freedom from want
4. Freedom from fear

Ironically Roosevelt was making a case for war when he promoted these in his 1941 State of the Union address, but it seems to me that unless people everywhere can have these freedoms, then conflict and violence will persist. Peace may not happen if we reject the use of force from our toolkit, but it will certainly not happen if we have a narrow view of ourselves, our family, our community and the world.

A necessary peace-building skill is the ability to clearly perceive what is truly going on in a given situation and the true nature and motivations of the people involved. I find that this is not always easy (since I have been wrong a significant number of times) and begins with a trying to get a clear understanding of myself. Aikido can be a very interesting tool for self-preparation if we practice it from this point of view.

Best regards,

Don Hebert

donhebert 09-09-2010 12:06 PM

Re: Peace
 
P.S. Anyone who is curious about Justine Merrit can check out http://justinemerritt.net/

mathewjgano 09-09-2010 01:05 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Jon Reading wrote: (Post 264324)
I believe aikido is the path to understanding how to make the best decisions to create/re-establish/destroy a harmonious relationship, and how to be at peace with that action.

I really like this! I try to be altruistic because I think it holds the greatest potential overall. That said, I'll do what I have to in order to protect myself and others. To my mind, this is the art of peace.

donhebert 09-09-2010 01:43 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Matthew Gano wrote: (Post 264328)
I really like this! I try to be altruistic because I think it holds the greatest potential overall. That said, I'll do what I have to in order to protect myself and others. To my mind, this is the art of peace.

I have to say that this stood out for me also. This is an excellent perspective.

Carl Thompson 09-09-2010 07:23 PM

Re: Peace
 
It seems to me that in the original post, Bjorn Sensei simply gave his definition of peace. Then some people described situations that are not peaceful and said "how is that peace?" Then folk started discussing how to achieve peace. Obviously we all have different definitions, but I think the original post remains an informed and valid view of it. One way of achieving peace (by most of our definitions) was shown to us by Morihei Ueshiba Osensei. I hope that the better we get at it, the less struggling is involved.

I would like to add something I heard from global educator (and a consultant for Peace Boat and other projects) Kip Cates:

"In order to reach peace, we have to teach peace"

Carl

lbb 09-09-2010 08:09 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 264319)
Yes, a natural wonder,

as compared to an unnatural wonder,

David

So let me get this straight. Because beavers are "animals", anything they do is "natural", but because humans are...um...ummmm....ummmmmmm...humans...everything we do is "unnatural".

Got it.

WilliB 09-09-2010 10:00 PM

Re: Peace
 
Quote:

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 264336)
So let me get this straight. Because beavers are "animals", anything they do is "natural", but because humans are...um...ummmm....ummmmmmm...humans...everything we do is "unnatural".

Got it.

I didn´t.


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