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Larry Novick wrote:
Basically, I really agree with you [Mark Murray], except on one point. If we think of Aiki as only a way of changing the body, or that it only "lives at the physical level" then I feel we are limiting it to only that level of training and experience. To me, it goes way beyond that, into the energetic and spiritual realms as well. This is just my own personal experience.
In fact, I think this is what distinguishes Ueshiba from all, or most of, the others who "got or get Aiki."
Yes, I thought Ueshiba made it quite clear that the aiki he was talking about was different to the aiki that others had spoken of. I think it's fair to assume, given how much Ueshiba spoke about spirituality and the divine, that he was talking about spiritual realms and going beyond body or mind-body aiki. So maybe he thought that one could bypass the grosser mind-body aiki (the stuff that actually works in fights, and which we call Internal Skills) and go straight to a more spiritual expression of aiki. i.e. that it was not so much that Ueshiba was unwilling to teach mind-body aiki, but that he thought he was teaching something better - higher.
Could this may have been Ueshiba's big mistake? That he pitched his teachings too high and failed to remember how necessary his foundation in mind-body aiki training was to his, later, more spiritual understanding of aiki. This would explain why, as Jon Reading suggested, we are not finding enlightenment AND can't fight very well.
Just a hypothesis,
Jon - I think you have hit on a profoundly important point here, and relevant in how one approaches "Aiki training."
"Aiki skills" gained through subtle physical reorganization are great, and provide something that is, I think, missing in most Aikido training. But in my world, I can't stop there. The energetic and spiritual levels add, for me, expanded dimensions of experience and training such that one can approach even the "physical level" Aiki skills from a slightly different posture - that of connecting to an internal experience that then provides the outer reorganization and skills.
As you point out, I too think this is what O Sensei was ultimately more in tune with, and was trying to get through to his students about. At that point, few seemed to be interested, or to get it. But I think this is what Tohei was trying to point to - attending to a deeper internal experience - what he would eventually call "mind-body unification" - and, in learning to maintain the integrity of that inner, dynamic state, have that be the guiding experiential principle to gain the "other skills." Since, as you say/imply (if I understand you correctly), both levels seem to be generally missing from modern Aikido training, things have.... gone awry....
Added to that, since O Sensei's focus clearly was, in the end, spiritual, I think he stopped separating "Aiki skills", which can be applied to many things, from "Aikido", which is another aspect of this whole thing.