Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Women and Everybody Else in Aikido
Well then, Meggy it sounds like you are "working" within a place you are fine "working" within. For many, that is a state seldom reached, so I would say you could consider yourself lucky.
If I can use your post as a springboard - one I feel does touch upon the underlying subtext of this thread...
Perhaps we can reflect a bit on the ways relating to the ideals of Budo often touches upon the usual dismissals we make for ourselves and/or for our teachers when we are too ready or too quick to jump to the usual slogan of "we are only human" (and its many variations).
After all, training involves cultivated states. That means in some ways that we are "moving" from states that are (at the least) less cultivated to states of being that are more cultivated. Training involves change, a sense of progress even, etc. In change, in a sense of progress, in a sense of moving from non-cultivated states to more cultivated states, we must note that there is no room for the status quo to act as its own justification. In other words, true, we are all human, we are all prone to our mistakes, to our ignorance, to our delusion, to our pride, to our fear, etc. However, what makes us humans that practice Budo is that we do not justify a lack of cultivation or a halting in cultivation by falling back upon the status quo that marks the masses of those that do not measure themselves by the ideals of our art and our Way. Either we train or we do not. We should not be so ready to bow and enter the door of the dojo if we are just as ready to dip a toe back into the outside world when we find it easier to do so than to continue moving forward.
I think when we say, "we are only human," and use that phrase to keep our feet on the ground, to not slave ourselves to the possible depression of experiencing failure, or even at times to lighten the constant burden of measuring ourselves against ideals, AND we are still progressing toward our ideals, AND we are still investing as much as is possible for us to invest in these ideals, then that is fine. That is healthy. However, when we say, "we are only human," and we seek only to justify our halting, or our lack of further cultivation, or our lack of progress and continued investment in our practice, then we have strayed from the Path. Under such actions, no longer are we a human that practices Budo -- we are merely human (i.e. like someone that does not train).
Many of the abuses, the straying from the ideals of Budo and of Aikido by the institutional constructs that affect most of us, are often grounded in this type of behavior. In my opinion, this type of behavior resembles the type of coping responses that abused children often exhibit more than it does the Way of martial prowess and spiritual cultivation. I have trained in dojo where instructors abuse alcohol and other drugs, where they abuse their students, where they are about as spiritually mature as a piece of scrap paper, where they are plagued by pride, fear, and ignorance as much as anyone else that has never set foot in a dojo (of any art), etc., and always within such places, I also found a group of deshi that were more then ready to dismiss every shortcoming and outright contradiction of the Way with the phrase, "we are only human." This is no mere coincidence. The two types of action and of being are feeding off of each other.
The more I think about it, the more I feel this phrase of "we are only human" has nothing to do with Budo -- at least not the way it is usually used. Perhaps we would be wiser, more practical in our pursuits, if we could learn to do without this phrase and instead find other more proactive and healthy means of addressing our always-present distance from the ideals of our Way. I think, when we can do that, the gap can close between practice and activism -- which is what it will take for the issues that were brought up in this thread to be resolved. For it is not until practice and activism are reconciled that one can prevent one's practice from contributing to the status quo of institutions in question. It is not until practice and activism are reconciled that one can prevent one's activism from being deemed irrelevant by the masses that make up the status quo of the institutions in question.