So much material! So rich in thought! it is overwhelming!
Jon, Excellent post as always! You do such a good job of distilling the subject! Thanks.
So do you mean that you can refine yourself to react to what is, instead of what you think is, only through what you term "real" training? To me, there are always filters -- I practice with the same folks all the time, I have experience with them and hence deeply rooted assumptions about how they move and feel. Those assumptions might get in the way of seeing what really is in the moment. How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?
Yes I think there are probably always filters to a certain degree. I believe awareness of them is much better than unawareness though! I like your example of China. I too live outside of the U.S. (incidently going to China on Thursday!). I think that you experience a paradigm shift through experiences that allows you to see things differently which increases your ability to see things, if not more clearly, certainly in a different perspective. I think this is wisdom. I would hope it allows you to make better decisions (if there is philosophically such a thing!).
I follow the Dali Lama for the most part. He is somewhat of an enlightened individual I believe, at least more so than I! He seems to be all about experiences, not so much about preaching, but exposing himself to ideas, concepts, and alternate view points...and then using his "methodology" to process them into "embodiment" for personal improvement.
So, I think as budoka, and aikidoka we must constantly be exposing ourselves to a new way of looking at the same old thing. Might be irimi nage with a different instructor, partner, or school, body type etc. What I believe is important is to constantly question and reconsider. That will be different for every individual. You may be able to do this to a degree with the same people you train with all the time, or you may have to branch out.
For me, in aikido, it was and is, exposing my aikido to brazilian jiujitsu and mix martial arts, and re-interpreting it, questionng it, and now re-assembling it.
Again, I think one of the things Dave is asking me to respond to in post #16 is related to this. What is vital, if I understand Dave is that we must think for ourselves and constantly be thinking about what it is that we are trying to accomplish in our study.
Simply showing up and practicing is not enough. The "softing" occurs I think in our society because we are so used to walking into a store, purchasing stuff in a box with a money back warranty and having our problems solved. That is why infomercial do so well selling diet plans!
So, what is vital, again, is understanding WHY you are doing what you are doing and begining to make it your own and internalizing it. No right way, no easy path, and the path to aikido....may not involve an aikido dojo at all! It depends on you.
So basically in the end...I don't know the answer!
Have a nice day!