Re: Shu Ha Ri
You are too kind Chuck. Thank you for your reply.
I agree, I think what you are paraphrasing has to be assumed in any kind of training that takes seriously the reconciliation of form and non-form. I think we have to allow for that even if we may or may not want to understand such levels of training as stages. In other words, it almost has to be a bare minimum requirement.
I also agree with the suggested rarity, but I especially like your implied position - that when we are talking about a teacher we are talking about a teacher who has himself or herself realized Ri. Not just any teacher will do, in other words. (Or) At least we can say, not just any teacher will make the difference between attaining Ri by oneself, on the one hand, or with the guidance of another, on the other hand.
(topic change) On the rarity: Unlike other posters in this thread, my experience does not lend itself to the position that we are talking only about those folks that have trained for a very long time under Japanese shihan. In fact, my experience lends itself to the position that most Japanese shihan are either not interested in this process, have not or cannot train in this process themselves, and/or are unwilling to involve students in this process on any kind of regular basis. My experience also lends itself to the position that it is second, third, and fourth generation instructors (from Osensei, and from non-Japanese cultures) that are more inclined to take this ideal seriously -- seriously enough to actually orient training around it. Also, in that experience, which is of course just the experience of one man, non-Japanese folks more inclined to invest themselves in Japanese shihan that do not involve themselves at any kind of "deep" level in Shu-Ha-Ri training orientations are also equally less likely to involve themselves in such training. There is perhaps a sociological reason under such a perspective: The transcendence of form can hardly be measured, packaged, institutionalized, etc. It is hardly good for business -- so to speak.
That said, most of us are going to have to rely on the various "pratyeka buddhas" that are out there -- or become one. That is to say, most of us, if not nearly all of us, are going to have to rely upon the long and twisty path of trial and error (tinged with great discipline and drive) and/or upon those other folks that already had to follow such paths. I say this because I do not hold that the "micro-adjustments" that we often see in high-ranking individuals during demonstrations and/or instruction are necessarily the same thing as Ri. Rather, it is, for the most part, just being really really good at forms.