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Old 06-21-2005, 09:22 AM   #1
Magma
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Post Double Edged Sayings

Along the way to this point in my aikido training, I have come across a couple of quotes which, after a little thought, could seem to cut both ways, and I have wondered what the initial intent of the speaker must have been.

I have my own opinion about these sayings (tending toward the dual meaning being intentional), but I am interested in what others have to say and also in if there are other quotes/sayings that seem to cut in both directions.

Here are two that I can think of off the top of my head:

1) Near the end of Jon Stevens book, "Invincible Warrior," there is an anecdote of an American student running up to O-Sensei and asking to learn his (O-Sensei's) aikido. O-Sensei responds that this is rare, since those who have followed him have all been interested in learning their own aikido.

2) "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities/options; in the expert's mind, there are few." - Suzuki

Thoughts?

Tim
It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:05 AM   #2
djalley
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Lightbulb Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
2) "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities/options; in the expert's mind, there are few." - Suzuki
I read Bruce's Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do some time ago. This line reminded me of a statement he made. I'm paraphasing since it's from memory, but the essence of the quote remains.

"When I started the martial arts, a kick was but a kick, and a punch was but a punch. When I advanced in the martial arts, a kick became much more than a kick, and a punch became much more than a punch. When I finally mastered the martial arts, a kick was just a kick, and a punch was just a punch."

What I got out of it was that to the uneducated, there were no variations of kicks and punches. Then, as enlightenment began on the subject, there were many options of how to kick and punch. Finally, when the art was mastered, the kicks and punches were just that, whatever it took to get your foot and fist into your opponent's gut.

I take it to mean in Aikido that once you've truly mastered it, you'll know exactly which technique to use to make the most of Uke's energy, and you'll use it.

My opinion.
D
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:45 AM   #3
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

I am reminded of the old zen story:
Student: "Teacher, what is the nature of Zen?"
Teacher: "Have you just finished your evening meal?"
Student: "Yes, I have."
Teacher: "Then go wash your bowl."
You have to love any teacher who can combine the transmission of profound wisdom and common dismissal.
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Old 06-21-2005, 12:32 PM   #4
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
2) "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities/options; in the expert's mind, there are few." - Suzuki
brought to mind this quote (yep, another quote):

"...the practice of all the arts is for the purpose of clearing away what is on your mind. In the beginning, you do not know anything, so paradoxically you do not have any questions on your mind and you are obstructed by that. This makes everything difficult to do.
"When what you have studied leaves your mind entirely, and practice also disappears, then, when you perform whatever art you are engaged in, you accomplish the techniques easily without being inhibited by concern over what you have learned. and yet without deviating from what you have learned..."

From The Book of Family Traditions in The Art of War by Yagyu Munenori.
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Old 06-21-2005, 11:53 PM   #5
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Many people use the phrase, "Great minds think alike", but are generally unaware of the second half of the saying, "and fools seldom differ". Talk about cutting both ways........
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Old 06-22-2005, 04:14 AM   #6
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
1) Near the end of Jon Stevens book, "Invincible Warrior," there is an anecdote of an American student running up to O-Sensei and asking to learn his (O-Sensei's) aikido. O-Sensei responds that this is rare, since those who have followed him have all been interested in learning their own aikido.

Thoughts?
Given the context in which that story appeared in the book, I have alway interpreted it to mean that O-Sensei thought none of his students really had the same goals as him. Other things that I have heard have reinforced this idea. O-Sensei saying that one wanted to listen to an old man, and the fact that most of his students all a went in different directions when he died.
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Old 06-22-2005, 06:53 AM   #7
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
2) "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities/options; in the expert's mind, there are few." - Suzuki
Tim, which Suzuki are you quoting from:
Shunryu or Daisetz Teitaro or for that matter neither of these?

Gene
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Old 06-22-2005, 02:16 PM   #8
Magma
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

The quote was attributed to DT Suzuki, so I am guessing Daisetz Teitaro. I had heard it before I looked it up for the purposes of this thread, so I just took the first reference that I found as a cite.

That quote is interesting to me because depending on how you hear the word "expert" spoken, you get a vastly different implication from the quote. If he treats "expert" reverently (rather than sarcastically), then he might mean that an expert has moved beyond the chaos of seemingly innumerable techniques, beyond the cognitive break of being in a situation where action is necessary but being unable to decide what exactly to do because there are so many options, and beyond the techniques themselves to where the expert utilizes the principles that underlie the techniques however they become expressed, no matter if there is no particular technique, per se.

On the other hand, if he uses "expert" sarcastically, then it seems to be more of a comment on the beginner's mind being open to everything and ready for any challenge, while the expert has become a closed door to any new knowledge. The "expert" in this case already knows it all, so there is no reason to have an open mind to learn more.

Personally, I feel that the quote is masterful because it elicits both of these interpretations and understandings. Both are valid points, and yet opposite from one another.

As for the O-Sensei story, the opposite side of the coin is worth considering. Wouldn't O-Sensei have understood that the one (and perhaps only) thing that philosophical paths share in common is that they are personal? Of course everyone will walk their own path and learn their own aikido. I'm 6'7" tall... if I tried to do aikido the way O-sensei did (at, what was he, under 5'?) I would diminish my effectiveness. The same holds in reverse.

Isn't there something to be said for a situation where O-Sensei has a bunch of students who are trying to be him rather than simply trying to be, and he turns this into a lesson for a potential new student: treat aikido as a rulebook for making your path, rather than as the path itself.

And even though students ended up going each in their separate directions after o-sensei's death does not mean that they were - in his opinion - on their own path. It can be argued that to whatever extent they taught that "this" is the way o-sensei did things, they are not wholly on their own path. They have their own memory of the way o-sensei did that particular technique, which differs from someone else, ensuring that those two students of o-sensei would likely head in different directions.

Tim
It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 06-23-2005, 02:12 AM   #9
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
As for the O-Sensei story, the opposite side of the coin is worth considering. Wouldn't O-Sensei have understood that the one (and perhaps only) thing that philosophical paths share in common is that they are personal? Of course everyone will walk their own path and learn their own aikido. I'm 6'7" tall... if I tried to do aikido the way O-sensei did (at, what was he, under 5'?) I would diminish my effectiveness. The same holds in reverse.

Isn't there something to be said for a situation where O-Sensei has a bunch of students who are trying to be him rather than simply trying to be, and he turns this into a lesson for a potential new student: treat aikido as a rulebook for making your path, rather than as the path itself.

And even though students ended up going each in their separate directions after o-sensei's death does not mean that they were - in his opinion - on their own path. It can be argued that to whatever extent they taught that "this" is the way o-sensei did things, they are not wholly on their own path. They have their own memory of the way o-sensei did that particular technique, which differs from someone else, ensuring that those two students of o-sensei would likely head in different directions.
Well of course there are physical differences in every person, and everybody has their own interpretation of what a technique looked and felt like to them. Just look around in any dojo, not everyone is doing the exact same thing as the person next to them, and if you are doing a technique the same way no matter who you are practicing with you will find that its not going to work on uke #1 as it did on uke #2. Every technique has to be tailor made to fit uke, and nage. Besides which O-Sensei himself change the way he taught technique as he went through life, so there little wonder why there are Physical differences in the way some students remembered a technique being performed. That being said, most aikido looks very similar, no matter what the style.

What I took the quote to mean was that O-Sensei thought that his students were there to learn his martial art, not his way of life. Aikido was his creation based upon his thoughts about martial arts, philosophy, and religion. I'm sure it would be upsetting to see all of your students trying to emulate you as a martial artist, but not in any other way, when aikido meant so much more to O-Sensei them just being another way to hurt people.

That's just my thoughts on it, but as you said it could be taken one way or the other, and unfortunately O-Sensei is no longer with us to ask about clarifying what he meant.
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Old 06-27-2005, 09:36 AM   #10
guest89893
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
Along the way to this point in my aikido training, I have come across a couple of quotes which, after a little thought, could seem to cut both ways, and I have wondered what the initial intent of the speaker must have been.
1) Near the end of Jon Stevens book, "Invincible Warrior," there is an anecdote of an American student running up to O-Sensei and asking to learn his (O-Sensei's) aikido. O-Sensei responds that this is rare, since those who have followed him have all been interested in learning their own aikido.

2) "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities/options; in the expert's mind, there are few." - Suzuki

Thoughts?
Hi Tim,
I had been away at a seminar so just got through reading whom you believe you were quoting. If you can find were D.T. wrote that I would appreciate it (I'm too lazy to go through all his books here at my house).
I do know that the quote you are using is in Shunryu Suzuki's book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind 1970 published by Weatherhill.
The quote, "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities/options; in the expert's mind, there are few." is the beginning of Suzuki's prologue. I was really hoping someone more qualified than I would have mentioned this and explain that it is not dualistic regarding what is meant by this saying. Shunryu is saying the goal of practice is to keep our SHOSHIN, which in the context of his writing means "beginner's mind."
Quoting from the book, For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic[p.21]
In the beginner's mind there is no thought," I have attained something." All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind.[p.22]

So your thoughts in your later post:
On the other hand, if he uses "expert" sarcastically, then it seems to be more of a comment on the beginner's mind being open to everything and ready for any challenge, while the expert has become a closed door to any new knowledge. The "expert" in this case already knows it all, so there is no reason to have an open mind to learn more.
Is a little more on the track. I can not comment or give an opinion regarding the quote from the Stevens book, since I have not read it.

Shunryu in his book retells a story from Baso a disciple of Nangaku, while Baso was still a student. That may offer something to this thread's line of questioning.
Baso was practicing zazen and Nangaku asked Baso what he was doing, which the reply was practicing zazen. Nangaku asked,"Why are you practicing zazen?" The answer from Baso, "I want to attain enlightenment; I want to be a Buddha." so Nangaku goes and gets a tile and begins polishing it.Baso asks what Nangaku is doing and is informed that Nangaku wants to make the tile into a jewel. Baso asks,"How is it possible to make a tile a jewel?" Nangaku fires back, "How is it possible to make a Buddha by practicing zazen?" Nangaku continued," "Do you want to attain Buddhahood? There is no Buddhahood besides your ordinary mind. When a cart does not go, which do you whip, the cart or the horse?"
That is also how one should approach Aikido training.

Gene

Last edited by guest89893 : 06-27-2005 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 06-27-2005, 09:52 AM   #11
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Cart = body, horse = mind?

Thanks for that last post....
Ron

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Old 06-27-2005, 12:11 PM   #12
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
Near the end of Jon Stevens book, "Invincible Warrior," there is an anecdote of an American student running up to O-Sensei and asking to learn his (O-Sensei's) aikido. O-Sensei responds that this is rare, since those who have followed him have all been interested in learning their own aikido.
iirc this appeared in an interview w/ Nadeau Sensei, w/ Nadeau as the American student in question.

-LK
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Old 06-27-2005, 12:55 PM   #13
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Cart = body, horse = mind?

Thanks for that last post....
Ron
Was I being too obtuse?
At the risk of over telling I was sharing what I read as having multiple double-edges possible to match both the thread's "double -edged sayings" title and also tying in to the author of and same philosophical roots as Suzuki's statement labeled #2.
Because I think you can take what you did and it seems to fit or reverse Cart = mind, horse = body and it seems a fit, too. In addition, Bosa's story working so hard to get "it" (Enlightenment, Zen, or Aikido, etc.) that you become the obstacle to getting "it." Is the double-edged reality to dualism.

Yep, clear as mud.
I sound much more enlightened after two or three six-packs.
Gene
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Old 06-27-2005, 02:19 PM   #14
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

How about after a couple of shots?
R

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Old 06-27-2005, 08:23 PM   #15
guest89893
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Re: Double Edged Sayings

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
How about after a couple of shots?
R
After a couple of shots, I'll sound like a prophet. Of course after a couple more after that I'll just sound incoherent...Oh wait already sound like that.
Later buddy,
Gene
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