When I read Erick's words, I thought of lines from T. S. Eliot's poem "Ash Wednesday":
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still. [/i]
Eliot is always welcome. The discussion had actually already recalled to me this line of his: ""I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
"...to care and not to care" -- does that perhaps describe the line that separates connection from attachment? Feeling that a connection exists, but renouncing attachment to the outcome? And was Eliot only able to renounce such attachment when he finally accepted that he didn't control the outcome?
In one way of viewing it, non-attachment is a way to harness the ego -- by diminishing it, in a sense, to but another object among others, an identity of objects.
The other option -- the mode of aikido as I see it (and while we are at it, Christianity, explicitly) is enlarge the "I" to include the one attacking me, my neighbor and, ultimately, the Godhead itself. Neither O Sensei's declared goals, nor the Two Great Commandments of Christ leave any room for misunderstanding on this one. Love results in an identity of subjects.
As an infant, my unruly arm was not made obedient to my will by beating it into cowed submission. I learned it was part of me and began to cooperate with its nature and thus to make it more fully of me, nor as a matter of will, at all, but as a matter of perfect identity. My arm, after a few months accommodation ("to make fit") is now just "me." In raising my hand I do not "will" an "it." I simply move myself.
My neighbor, my enemy, indeed, my God, is no different, and the means in every case is exactly the same -- Love. Many people accept this as a sympathetic and even intellectually valid principle of the mind and heart. We are, for better or worse not merely minds and hearts, but messy, hormonal, instinctive bodies -- "this quintessence of dust." Aikido is teaching this lesson to the as yet recalcitrant body.