Re: Article: Clarity and Self-Delusion in One's Training by George S. Ledyard
I'm not sure I meant to downplay the value of "leaves." I'm not even sure what they are - as I said before. I don't think I was commenting on their value, only the need in us to give them value, or, more particularly, the need to give them a certain type of value.
The whole analogy is suspect to me actually. For example, the fact that you got two sensei using it, two sensei from totally different sides of the Aikido spectrum, etc. - my guess is that this analogy has some history to it. From the looks of it I would place my bet on it having some sort of Confucian origin with new spins given to it in Neo-Confucianism, the Nativistic movement, and then even inside of the WWII political propaganda. It smells of getting the masses to support the elite by telling them how important they are to the overall structure of something. For me, that goes contrary to a practice that is attempting to reconcile the world and to understand everyone and everything as One. That's why I start my own practice and the practice of my deshi from the position that we are all here to be roots. We do this in our own way, at our own pace, but we are all attempting to head in the same direction. It's all about orientation and movement for me.
If I may try to answer your other questions:
- a person should be aware of their level of commitment from day one. It should always be allowed to change - even daily. One just has to be aware of it - accepting of it as they are always striving to make more commitment.
- as for how one should bring this up... That's extremely complicated. In general, it has to be brought up in a way that it maintains high degrees of honesty while not losing its positive sense. This is a difficult balance to achieve for an instructor. The two things that go the furtherest in achieving this balance is that this topic is brought up as part of a whole system that is in place to foster both self-reflection and reconciliation; the other thing is that the instructor never separates him/herself from this system of self-reflection and reconciliation. This not only means that the instructor is also practicing self-reflection and reconciliation (or at least attempting to) this also means that the teacher must serve the student in his/her own practice of self-reflection and reconciliation. As a small example, this has me bringing my aforementioned student into the gym with me or even on the yoga mat, etc., to help guide her and motivate her into finding a more holistic balance for her training and the rest of her life, etc. - at the least.
Good questions - hope I grasped them correctly.