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Old 06-27-2012, 02:15 PM   #290
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: My Spiritual Aikido

Chris Parkerson wrote: View Post

In a pre-industrial mind, perhaps in the mind of Deguchi Nao (1836--1918) and Deguchi Onisaburō (1871--1948), spirit and flesh were not divided. earth and heaven was one organic whole. And all life was a giant cacaphony of in and yo.

be well,

I couldn't agree more. You are no spring chicken... you remember the days when people had the attitude that if it was natural, it was good. That spirituality was about being groovy and going with the flow. That was all a reaction to the post WWII materialism and conformity.

But that period coincided with the period of greatest growth for Aikido and the art attracted a disproportionate number of folks who had the philosophical / spiritual alignment.

Pirsig's book, one of my favorites, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, talks about this and I think his discussions are directly relevant to Aikido. The Aikido community seems to reflect the split between what Pirsig identifies as "square" and "groovy". So you have the "square" folks that put their entire focus on the technical... how does it work, why does it work, under what circumstances does it work, etc.

Then you have the "groovy" folks who pretty much take that attitude that the "feel" is paramount. It's all about the beauty of the movement, the feeling or harmony with a partner, and discussion of the art is almost entirely about the spiritual and hardly ever about the "how to".

The whole point of Pirsig's book was that this can't and shouldn't be a dichotomy, which I believe is your point as well. I think it is difficult for folks who have some real sense of this to participate in these discussions. It's one thing when the contributor is a newbie. It's quite another when the person is an experienced senior who is maintaining some point of view that you know to be from Mars. There are always different points of view and we all try, I think to be open and tolerant in general. But there are simply times when someone steps up and says, "Excuse me, but the Emperor has no clothes."

When I encounter someone whose technique is awesome and they have a solid understanding of the martial aside of the art, then I am apt to pay close attention to their ideas about spirituality. The technique is the bottom line because it's the part that you can't fake. Spiritual discussion without a real ability to manifest the principles in ones body on the mat is just disconnected, nice sounding wishful thinking. While I am equally critical of what I call the "bop and torque" folks and believe strongly that they will never become truly high level without being more thoughtful about what they do, to my mind, they are more likely to get to that high level because they are developing at least some sort of technical foundation. Neglecting that part just leads no where as far as Aikido is concerned. If being spiritually advanced was what was required to be great at Aikido, Zen Masters and Yogis, sufis and other mystics would be great at Aikido.

So, despite the need for on-line etiquette and mutual respect and tolerance here on the forums... I don't think we can really expect to have people treat nonsense as serious. Polite discussion can't require one to check ones common sense and personal experience at the door. If someone wants to prove me wrong when I say something is bogus, that's just great... I am fine with that. But until then I am apt to stay it's bogus or avoid discussion altogether, which I find myself doing more frequently these days.

That said, I enjoy your posts... you have an interesting perspective.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside