Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?
I think we have to go back to the several times it has been said, "this type of teaching and this type of learning is not for everyone." I think we should always keep this in mind as issues like this are being raised and/or as we are coming to reflect on these issues and what they might say about ourselves and/or about our training.
For example, some words or concepts have been thrown around: the spontaneous application of Aikido and seishin tanren. As I am reading this thread, I see that I have some things in common with others that have posted. I see that Rob and I have a common perspective regarding some of the problems that come up with forms training. I see that I have some things in common with Chuck regarding the role and marks of spiritual forging. I would never presume to suggest, or even hold in my own mind, that we agree 100% over these things. I am only aware that we share some common ground -- a ground I seek to use for further discussion and for further reflection. As this common ground works as a base for such things, I am aware of the fact that my own reasoning and practice as led me to this common ground. In particular, I am aware that my own reasoning and practice has me holding, at a personal level, that such things (i.e. spontaneous Aikido and spiritual forging) are indeed left out only at the cost of having something great go missing. This is my personal view -- reflected in my personal training. They are present in my personal training, and in my teaching, because I am seeking to avoid what their absence inevitably means -- as demonstrated to me by my own mind and my own experience.
At the same time, I am well aware of the presence of folks that do not follow either my reasoning and/or my practice. As a result, I am aware that the common ground I may have with others is not a common ground I will have with everyone. This difference is something that innately marks the entire reasoning process; as such, reasoning is a process ultimately based upon demarcation and/or delineation. Reasoning draws lines between things as it seeks to bring other things together. Practice does this as well, as the given proofs of experience are gathered from particular physical experiments and not from all of them. In the face of the sheer volume of difference between my reasoning and my practice and what others are doing in this now great community of aikidoka, it would be ridiculous to suggest that we must all line up according to one doctrine.
It is ridiculous for two reasons: First, it is ridiculous to suggest that we should all line up under one doctrine because the foundation of any doctrine that is held at a personal level must be grounded internally -- must come from one's reasoning processes and through one's experience. Such a thing would be attempting to gain sameness via tools that create difference. Second, it is ridiculous to suggest that we should all line up under one doctrine because sameness in terms of numbers is irrelevant to both reasoning and true experience. At one level this means that what is reasonable and what is true in experience does not gain or lose anything according to how large a number hold the same view, but at another level this also means that everyone else's Aikido, in a very real or concrete way, is irrelevant to our own. This is why someone can tell me, or I can read others saying, that "Aikido sucks," or that "Catholicism and Aikido both suck," or that to do quality Aikido I need to have some sort federation legitimacy of some kind, etc., and I can keep on training as if I have heard or read nothing -- holding my own views contrary to these positions that are different from my own. They do not touch me because they cannot touch me.
So some things have been mentioned: spontaneous Aikido and spiritual forging. Some jokes were made regarding the way we often come to both of these things. To be sure, some implications can be drawn from what is being said and related to what others (who are not speaking) are doing. This happens every time we come up against a reasoning process that is not our own or every time we encounter someone who has different experiences. However, this is not the point of what is being said since no one can or would trying to get everyone to follow a single doctrine anyways. We are free at such times to simply say, "Not my thing," "Not my cup of tea." No one should or can be faulted for stating the obvious -- "I do not do that."
This is not to suggest that we cannot discuss such things. Even our differences pertaining to such things can leave room for discussion. It is just that we are to realize that such discussion is merely a matter of ideas rubbing up against each other and not outright attempts to curb the ideas of another against their own desires. That means that these discussions can only get as personal as we allow them and that any ensuing reflections that they may generate can only get as deep as we individually permit. For me then, when someone says or hints "forms training will not lead to spontaneous application," I may see a common ground, or I may see an interest in something I am not interested in (e.g. fighting with Aikido), or I may see a reasoning I disagree with. If I adopt any of the first two positions, I would seem to be fine -- meaning I will not come up against anything that "sticks." If I want to engage in the third possible reading, I will have to rub shoulders closer with the speaker -- meaning, I will have to set my reasoning and my training experiences next to those of the speaker. This too can prove to be very useful and thus well worth doing. What seems out of place, in my opinion, because it does not do us any good, is to hold up and contrast something with our contrary position while being unwilling or unable to put up our own reasoning and/or experiences on the table.
Now, why say all this? I say this because I think what would be most useful regarding your last post would be for you to ask yourself why such things "stick," versus having some of us that have some agreement regarding seishin tanren answer your questions. However, the latter may happen with the best of intentions and may indeed prove to be helpful. Why suggest that we may not want to focus on your questions? Because earlier you said this: "All I know is I would not be as happy with my dojo if there was an overt expectation that I use Aikido to examine myself and my motives directly. For me, that is just not the setting." In my opinion, this is the second of relating to what has been said: with seishin tanren, we are beginning to talk about something you are not interested in. Of course, here I am assuming that you do not mean by such statements that such introspection cannot take place via Aikido or in a dojo -- that here you are only meaning to talk about your Aikido and your dojo experience. However, if that is not the case, and you do indeed mean to have your reasoning and your experience make contact with that of another, then could I (humbly and politely) return your questions to you before I actually attempted to answer them:
- Are such things not demonstrable for all to see?
- In studying something, are we to remain forever within the manufactured "realities" we utilize to address learning curves?
- Can students generally profess their intent with their training when they join a dojo? Should they be able to? Does it benefit them to be able to do so or does it hinder them to be unable to do so?
- Is it impossible to learn The Way in a Place for the Way?
- Is it impossible for one dynamic motivated along a given ideal (i.e. the dojo as a social setting motivated along the concept of Aiki) to affect other dynamics (i.e. other social settings) not motivated by that first ideal? Isn't this what happens with our home life and our outside life when we are children?
- Whatever the means, is not the overcoming of the dismay that is ours because of the sheer level of physical intimacy part of the training, part of progress in the training? Doesn't it have to be?
- Why does the possibility of the physical/spiritual cultivation of Aiki inhibit those that want to understand such a term only metaphorically?
- Do teachers who follow their ideals -- follow what their reasoning and experience has led them to adopt as their own perspective -- help students fulfill their own potential or is that potential better served by a teacher who compromises his/her perspective for some reason or experience he/she has long ago rejected?
Your points are excellent and, for me personally, your posts have provided a lot of fuel for further personal reflection pertaining to what I do and why I do it. Moreover, I consider points very real, particularly for you. Only, as you can tell by my own posts, I personally am not interested in a training or in a dojo where happiness is put above self-examination. To be sure, I have my own reasons for why I do not choose to train that way, but really, my rejection of it is a personal preference -- it is not my cup of tea, not my thing. It is not my thing for reasons that I have attempted to state above. So I fear we may just end up talking past each other here -- because we are just doing different things. I wonder if are questions to each other is not just us passing each other -- talking past each other. However, I certainly did not want to suggest by a silence that what you say is not worthy of existing and/or even of considering -- it is. Hence, this reply -- this attempt to stay connected through a very real difference in understanding Aikido and thus in practicing it.
Thanks so much,