Re: Article: Transmission in Aikido by George S. Ledyard
If I may expand one of Mr. Hill's point and/or connect it to something that Mr. Ledyard has been saying...
The idea of gaining wisdom through oneself and/or by ones own means should not be considered antithetical to the process of mastery. This, in my opinion, is the point of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra. This is demonstrated in the contrast that Vimalakirti presents as a layperson to his esteemed company -- which is a "who's who" of Bodhisattvas. Therefore, gaining wisdom through oneself cannot be considered antithetical to the teacher/deshi dynamic either -- since it too is conducive to mastery.
To be sure, we must be cautious when the position of self-attained wisdom is used as a cover to the avoidances we may all hold in regards to engaging the Way fully, but the misuse of a position does not make that position false or invalid in its proper use. I think Mr. Ledyard has covered these misuses quite well in his article.
If I may, I would say, not as antithetical and more than merely a matter of current circumstances, more than merely a solution to a given set of logistical circumstances, like the Sutra hints, we must consider self-attained wisdom as integral to mastery. We should not guard against this type of practice for the fear we may have concerning its misuses, and we would do well, I believe, to not have to feel so pressed to justify it logistically in order to see it as valid.
The misuses will take care of themselves. Moreover, the justifications, in their unsaid, may be doing many a disservice as it subtly suggests to them that one should privilege external elements to internal ones. After all, coming to a teacher for the mere reason of being validated (as opposed to being self-validated), which is what one will be left with if self-attained wisdom is considered antithetical to the training process and to the sensei/deshi dynamic, is a type of avoidance, a type of disengagement from the true training. This may be a bigger problem, one we should more be concerned with than the misuse of self-attained wisdom. Why? As I said, the misuse of self-attained wisdom will take care of itself, as fraudulent or superficial insights cannot help but to expose themselves as such. However, for the most part, the institutional framework of Aikido politics will tend to support the deshi that comes to teachers with never wanting to think for themselves. This is the point of all institutional frameworks. In time then, as we can already see to a certain degree, that institutional framework will come to support not thinking for oneself, a turning away from self-attained wisdom, and even the absence of mastery. To me, that is a scarier option than some person that mistakenly thinks he has invented the wheel -- even when he's presented a square one.