I received this question fromone of the members here on December 3 and received permission to reprinted it here with my reply:
I am an admirer of your articles. It is good to hear regularly from an
experienced sensei (aside from my own instructor). This is the first time I've
I am curious: in a recent story, you described going over to a temple and, when
told you needed to quit aikido first, you readily agreed and turned to leave.
What was going through your mind then? I imagine you were not serious about
quitting aikido. Did you say that just to avoid a problem, or to prompt him to
begin to argue his side, etc.? I ask because it seems a fairly radical move.
Thank you! -Paul Sanderson-Cimino
My Reply: I knew from the beginning he was just testing me. . . . "Agreeing" to his conditions meant politely that I am "open" to anything in order to learn from him. Traditionally, this is a way to show sincerity. Because we both come from the same tradition and understand this "form," such dialogues can take place. . . . Like my student who didn't know what was going on or to a person who is to full of himself or over-confident, one would be immediately be offended and lose one's temper. . . . and this would mean a lack of focus or lack of openess to learn. . . . . . . and, as in olden times, the student would be turned away. This is why they say in olden times, when one is going to learn from a teacher, one must become like a empty teacup or blank piece of paper. . . . . A good teacher can see this in a student in just a few words. Today, we look at a lot of these teachings too literally or too superficially and often forget that there is a subtle transmission of knowledge here in our tradition of martial arts and Zen, etc. . . . . . . . . These traditional methods of learning are extremely interesting, aren't they? Does these answer your question? Maybe we should share this on the thread? I wonder if others have that same question as yourself - I never thought of the point you made. . . . .very good!
PS: If this teacher actually thought I was going to quit Aikido so easily or make his own Zen so all-important, I would instantly realize that he is a fool and leave immediately! Nothing to learn here!
Aikido Center of Los Angeles,
Rev. Kensho Furuya