Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego
I don't think aikido is necessarily about preserving one's ego. For one thing, it works against our usual tendency to either to return struggle with struggle, to blindly go into a contest of egos. The way it was approached in the Aikido classes I took at Naropa University definitely showed its contemplative side. But it, like anything else, depends on how you approach it. There are some people who do aikido who are egotistical and like to harm others. Then again, there's this Buddhist monk going to Naropa's graduate program in Buddhist Studies that practices martial arts and finds it complementary to the teachings of the Buddha.
But really, Zen can be used to preserve one's ego if you're using it as a way of defining oneself. "I'm a Zen Buddhist, therefore I meditate and do these other practices and have this belief structure." Or, "I'm Zen and I believe in letting go of all belief structures." Ego is really tricky.
I remember this one adage that went something like, "Those who grasp onto existence are stupid, but those who grasp onto emptiness are as stupid as a cow."