Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Am i missing something??
I admit that it is harsh, or that it can be seen as harsh. However, it is not because I made it harsh. Like Josh is saying as well, and Derek too, it is the nature of the training that can be harsh when we seek to train via desire more than we do via commitment. It is harsh like Nature can be harsh -- it does what it does, and we can either find a way of working with it or we can try to work against it (failing in the end).
I am saying that desire and commitment is not the same thing -- this is the heart of what I am pointing out. If we are considering commitment to be part of "the great practice of Aikido," and I do, then, yes, desire is trivial from that context. As Josh said, no one ever got good at anything by training only when they wanted to. In a way, from a common sense point of view, "commitment" means precisely that you are able to endure beyond your desires. I find your marriage example very relevant here. Sure, desire may start a process -- I think it was here that I earlier posted about desire being the tip of a spear, etc. However, if you expect a commitment like a marriage to be based upon desire, or even affected by desire, then you will soon be looking at a divorce. This exact same thing happens in training. Sure, folks are not "old enough" for marriage (to someone or to Aikido) -- that is the difference between a mature practice and an immature practice. However, that does not mean that a "commitment" that is based upon desire works or that an immature practice should expect to be able to reconcile the same difficulties that a mature practice can. At most, an immature practice works for the time being, and anyone asking more of it is really asking too much. This is not "unduly harsh" -- it is more that it is painfully obvious. It works like this:
If we train because we desire to train, and if all desires are temporary, then we will stop training when we no longer desire to train.
This is as painfully obvious as pointing out to someone that it is not wise to build a paper house during the rainy season. It is not unduly harsh to say, "You know, water gets paper soggy."
I did not make any comment on whether or not taking away from physical practice holds value. However, here, now, I will say this concerning the "value" of taking time off: If one takes time away from one's training, because a desire has wavered and/or burned itself out, to figure out that desire is irrelevant to true commitment and thus to a mature practice, then that time off has value. If one takes time off, because a desire has wavered and/or burned itself out, to figure out that they desire some other activity, practice, person, place, or idea, then that time off has value. If one takes time off, because a desire has wavered and/or burned itself out, to find a new desire upon which or through which they can return to training, then that time off has no value.
Here is another perspective: Training is about transformation of the Self. If it is not, it will not hold our "interest." If training is about material things -- things that are far from universal and/or eternal, then our practice will not be universal or eternal. If training is about cultural things -- things that are far from universal and/or eternal, then our practice will not be universal or eternal. If training is about our moods -- things that are far from universal and/or eternal, then our practice will not be universal or eternal. Only the inner Self is our connection to what is universal and eternal; only through the inner most Self can we tap into what is universal and eternal. Our outer self, our small self, is very much seated in things like our desires -- where we lust for things material and cultural, and where we seek to satisfy our moods. Our outer selves live a temporal existence and so any practice based upon it is at best temporary.
Our outer self, our desire, is itself based upon our incapacity to reconcile fear, pride, and ignorance. This is why, though temporary, the satisfaction of our desires, or rather the thought of satisfying our desires, brings with it a sense of relief and pleasure (i.e. because they seek to address our fear, our pride, and our ignorance). That is to say, if our Aikido is based upon the temporality of our desires, and if our desires are based upon our fears, our pride, and our ignorance, then our Aikido, or the thought of our Aikido, is AT FIRST going to bring with it a sense of relief and pleasure. It is going to "speak to us" because we are relating to it via our fear, via our pride, and via our ignorance. This is what most folks call the "Honeymoon Stage." Some examples: At this stage, our practice is being fueled by our fear -- in which we wrongly glorify violence and posit the world around us as a place in need of fighting evil with our bare hands or with our sword. At this stage, our practice is being fueled by our pride -- in which we wrongly believe we will become more by attaining a hakama or the next rank, etc. At this stage, our practice is being fueled by our ignorance -- in which we wrongly believe that our desires, and the relevant fears and issues of pride that they are based upon, are of our true inner self and thus capable of sustaining a mature and life-long commitment.
If one has not found a way to relate their training to the inner Self -- to the universal and eternal, to that which is not based within our desire, fear, pride, and ignorance -- one's training will remain temporal (i.e. temporary and without integration). This is not "Paige's problem" -- this is a problem for any one, for everyone. From this point of view, if a practice is providing you with notions of relief and/or pleasure, if it is speaking to you perfectly, if it can never rub you the wrong way, if it is everything you love, if it is always exciting, if it is everything you never knew you always needed, then chances are you are simply having your fears, your pride, and your ignorance fueled by your training. Chances are that your practice is satisfying your desires because you are only training at the level of the outer self. Nevertheless, that practice remains temporary. In contrast then, a mature practice, or even a real level of training, which is one that is seeking to transform your self, one seeking to aid you in the reconciliation of fear, pride, and ignorance, is (especially at first) going to bring you no relief or pleasure, it will be everything you hate, it will be boring and tedious, it will be everything you have always avoided up until then. Why? Because, at first, it will make you face your fears, it will shame you for your pride, and it will pain you for your ignorance.
The problem here, or the truly difficult aspect to address here, is that most training is of a quality that it cannot fulfill or support the inner self. This is a sign of Modernity -- as we are losing our places and our times for sacrality. In my experience, most dojo are too mundane and/or too incomplete in their method to truly support the weight of our inner selves. For this reason, most dojo, again in my experience, settle for mundane transformations (e.g. some social awareness -- vs. compassion; some good citizenship -- vs. spiritual salvation; physical conditioning -- vs. wellness; etc.). We do not need a life-long practice to become socially aware, just a few good PSAs; we do not need a life-long practice to become good citizens, just a strong economy, a low unemployment rate, and a complex punitive system; and we do not need a life-long practice to gain some physical conditioning, just a gym blaring a nice track over the speakers, some technologically advanced-looking equipment, and both genders treating it like a singles bar.