Re: Article: True Self Defense by George S. Ledyard
Thanx for this essay. In the intense atmosphere and stress in making a living, making money, providing for a family and the real worries that comprise being a resposible adult it is inspiring to be reminded to remember. To me, this remembrance involves what I believe is the gut of your essay: to remember who I am and all this entails, which you have masterfully alluded to. How many times under the guise of being "sharp, smart, dumb, ignorant, indifferent, etc., etc., I must admit I weakly used or manipulated others, esp. at work, in order to get what I wanted so I could "get ahead", "elevate my respect quotient" or advance up the money chain (I must not be all that smart or I would be higher up that money chain--or the respect thing). The seductive thing is that adapting to false values and perpetuating a false comportment gets you what you want, at least in the short-run.
Too bad: the cost is usually high and often the negative effects are deferred, as one can learn how to be happy and secure with just about anything. One of the many, many ill-effects of lying to oneself is a loss of energy, mental and physical, for a person and I guess a community also. I don't feel disciplined or competent enough to articulate the group thing at this time in my life---very complex.
On the subject of nuclear war Thomas Merton once said it wouldn't be the lone psychotic that would initiate such events or "press the button". It would be sane people following orders that were following orders etc,.... I don't know if this is true today but I understand what he was driving at.
In my own religion of Christianity, like any religion or philosophy, the bifurcation of secular and sacred is defended, emphasized, promoted, forced and lived by many. I believe this is a false division and can lead to a false transcendence. It has been my experience that if one takes some time and effort you can find legions of humble folk from whatever belief system that, while maybe not possessing the vocabulary or theological sophistication live their lives in integration with the secular and sacred, and aspire to ever greater learning and love for such wholeness, compassion, dignity and friendship that you have alluded to in the essay.
This hope is what attracts me to categories of thought that integrate living and caring in the world with the spiritual aspirations of finding the truths of human existence, which you seem to represent as True Self-Defense. Hence, my continued attraction to Aikido, to what seem to me the aspirations of Ueshiba.
The dojo I used to attend once had a meeting with another dojo down in San Antonio that had some Aikijujutsu fellows working out. I remember we had a water break midway thru.
I rushed over for water and air. One of the Jujutsu guys, I had never met rushed up to me all excited and said, "You know, one of the best things about being in a dojo is that you can't hide what you know and you can't hide what you don't know!"
All I could do was shake my head affirmative because I couldn't breath and I had water running down my chin. Then he was gone. This, to me, was good news.
Sorry for the very excessive length, but I couldn't help it.