Re: Deepening Our Training
Undoubtedly, there must remain a type of "naturalness" to one's overall training - especially at the end or once one's practice has matured. The idea of forcing and/or attempting to manipulate oneself and/or one's practice is indeed one possible way of making one's Aikido artificial and thus most likely "shallow." However, when I speak of "deep," and why I do not see it being 100% synonymous with "continuous," I am referring to the deeper aspects of our selves. In that sense, I want to discuss the ideas and/or practices by which one makes one's practice a spiritual practice. From this perspective, I would suggest that the advice of "let it be" could only be taken as a caveat of sorts - like, "If you don't want ruin your Aikido as a spiritual practice, you better not force it." I would not suggest that "let it be" is 100% going to guarantee that one's practice deepens (i.e. becomes a technology for spiritual cultivation). "Let it be" may not always function as a positively as one might think.
It may be the case that spiritual traditions the world over have developed techniques, pedagogies, practices, and theories, precisely because "let it be" can only be a part of the deepening. It may be the case that spiritual traditions the world over have developed techniques, pedagogies, practices, and theories, precisely because the "let it be" of a non-spiritual practice is not a spiritual practice but only more of the same non-spiritual practice. In any case, when it comes to Aikido, while we can see that there was indeed a naturalness to the depth of Osensei's practice, we can also see that he very much indeed engaged in all kinds of techniques, pedagogies, practices, and theories that were designed precisely to actively deepen his Aikido.
One of the key one's for Osensei, and one of the one's he lectured on to a group of students that asked him directly about the makeup of his Aikido, was to see God in every aspect of the art. This technique for deepening one's Aikido is interesting because in that same lecture you see Osensei take the common mystical position that proximity to God equals distance from a material existence. Since most of us come to Aikido via a material existence, I wonder if seeking a naturalness to our training at too early a stage might have us simply making our Aikido part of our own material existence. Here, using the common mystical understanding of things, I am wondering if the improper placement of such a technique might have us stuck in our own materiality, away from our spirit, operating not at depth.
In that regard, I like very much what Derek had to say, and I'm completely engaged by the question Pauliina asked after reading Derek. From this point of view, of gaining distance from our own material existence, of bringing depth to our practice, it would indeed seem the case that real training cannot begin until we reach some sort of internal crisis, one that has us seriously asking of ourselves: What am I doing?
I would suggest then that there are times when it is better to try to ask this question continuously -- until we move beyond the frustration of being unable to answer it, until we move beyond even asking it -- relying on "let it be" not until after this.