Re: Zazen necessary for training
Coming on here and telling everyone they need to do a specific type of meditation connected to a quasi-religious dogma that is not expressly connected to Aikido or they won't understand Aikido is ridiculous... especially considering the number of high level teachers/shihan who visit this board. This kind of arrogance and dogmatism is exactly why I have never had much use for strict zen, or at least what we get of it here in the west. I have no doubt that zen was a very useful way to achieve certain mental states and insights for those to whom it was an organic extension of their time and culture. Maybe some people from the contemporary industrialized west can get the same from it, but too often it seems like people get caught up in the exotic trappings and it becomes some kind of ego-adornment - something to make oneself feel like some kind of special insider that is superior to the unwashed, unenlightened, materialistic masses. For an antidote to this type of narrow approach to eastern thought, I recommend reading Alan Watts - he seems to get to the marrow and allow you to consider and even experience some of these insights without getting caught up in incidentals.
I have tried zazen and other forms of static meditation in the past and found that they weren't very useful to me. Either nothing was happening or whatever was happening was so slow that I'd have wasted half my life before I got anywhere. I have experienced states that fit various descriptions of what meditative methods purport to be their goal, even 'enlightenment(s)'. Sometimes these were drug experiences, but mostly they were working meditations.
The most interesting states for me come from sculpting, particularly prolonged welding, often in the midst of a sort of storm of vent fans, grinding, loud music, etc... I find what I call time dilation particularly interesting - time moves more slowly, and extremely deft, fast physical responses and actions become effortless. I begin to invent and self-learn at an astonishing rate. If I get in that zone for a while, I find it sometimes takes several minutes to an hour until I can talk to people without feeling like I'm somewhere else or sounding like a monosyllabic caveman. The linguistic communication parts of my brain seem to be shut down.
Long distance driving also has some interesting meditative qualities. Even certain, simple computer games lend themselves to meditative experience. Any kind of repetitive chore can have some of these properties, and many kinds of martial arts kata seem well-suited. In my view, the kinds of states and insights pointed to by various eastern religions and practices aren't really rare or special at all. They are available to anyone who is willing to let go of their assumptions and habits of overthinking and get really involved in something. The different paths of meditation and getting to enlightenment are nearly infinite because these activities and ways of being are natural and relatively normal to humans. It's only because we are so carefully and rigorously thought-conditioned by our culture and religions that it seems to be hard.
Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 12-28-2006 at 03:57 PM.