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Old 09-23-2005, 06:34 AM   #1
John Matsushima
 
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Harmony with the Universe?

If the universe is inclusive of everything, everywhere, then how can one be out of harmony with the universe? Am I not already part of the universe? If not, then what am I? It is like saying a drop of water is out of harmony with the lake, or a tree is out of harmony with a forest. What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
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Old 09-23-2005, 08:59 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

IMHO, if you notice how many times you said "I" in your post, you will see how you can be out of harmony with the universe.

Mostly because we see ourselves as apart from or even the center of the universe instead of accepting our part of something far larger than ourselves.

Besides, "I", "harmony", and "universe" are only mental constructs that pull us further into self absorption and discord.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-23-2005, 09:01 AM   #3
kocakb
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

"The secret of Aikido is to harmonize ourselves with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself. He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the universe in himself and can say, "I am the universe."

I am never defeated, however fast the enemy may attack. It is not because my technique is faster than that of the enemy. It is not a question of speed. The fight is finished before it is begun.

When an enemy tries to fight with me, the universe itself, he has to break the harmony of the universe. Hence at the moment he has the mind to fight with me, he is already defeated. There exists no measure of time - fast or slow."
_______________________________________________________

O'Sensei wants you to be the universe itself; not a part of it. It can be discussed in many ways but as an example. There are people who have dedicated their lives to god. They are so full with God's love, they don't see or feel anything else. And one step further, they start to see God (or the power, beauty whatever you call) in every simple thing. They unify with God...O'Sensei says that, he found the budo while walking in a garden. He saw the power of the universe, the creation, he loved the universe, and aikido is therefore described as love.

Briefly said; I love you so much, I believe in you so much that I am you. And if I am you, I don't exist anymore, If I don't exist, you can not harm me. I am the universe, so you have to harm the universe, what you are not able to do...

Last edited by kocakb : 09-23-2005 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 09-23-2005, 09:44 AM   #4
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

In reply to SeiserL;

Does that mean to state that there is an "I" is to be out of harmony with the universe? I can see your point. In Buddhism, I believe this would be called an ego. However, the statement "To be in harmony with the universe" already predisposes an existence of at least two existing things,1)The universe 2) me. If not, and there is no I, then could the purpose really be just to be in harmony with ourselves?? Is this the true meaning of Aikido?

If it is indeed our perception of being apart from or being the center of the universe is the issue, then does that mean that we already are in harmony with the universe? (I smell some zen in that statement.)

I can agree with your final statement. Thank you for your reply.

In reply to Bulent:

That was some pretty powerful stuff. Thanks for your reply as well.

Last edited by John Matsushima : 09-23-2005 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 09-24-2005, 06:52 PM   #5
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

You can be out of harmony with the universe in your own mind if you pretend that the laws of nature / laws of the universe don't apply to you. Someone who picks up a rattlesnake expecting not to get bitten is out of harmony with the universe - just, basically, delusional.

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Old 09-26-2005, 04:15 PM   #6
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

You cannot be out of harmony with the universe on a sustained basis, however you can create a delusion within your own mind that you are separate from the universe. That causes internal conflict and unhappiness which can be manifested to others and cause ripples throughout the "fabric", however, the universe will gravitate back to the midpoint eventually or something like that.
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Old 09-26-2005, 10:57 PM   #7
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
If the universe is inclusive of everything, everywhere, then how can one be out of harmony with the universe? Am I not already part of the universe? If not, then what am I? It is like saying a drop of water is out of harmony with the lake, or a tree is out of harmony with a forest. What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
Perhaps a good analogy can be found in music. When the vibrational forces of a guitar string are harmonic, then the peaks and vallies match up at basically the same intervals. Indeed when tuning a guitar you can hear a pulse when two "E" notes are in tune, even though one is of a higher pitch/vibration than the other. Tune one of those notes so it's slightly high or low and you've got a disruption in harmonic quality even though both exist at the same time as part of the universe. This is a physical thing that can be fairly easily noticed.
I suppose in a similar way you could say parts of the universe are out of sync/harmony with the fundemental "pulse" of the universe. Remember that while the universe can be considered a singular, supremely complicated event, so too is it composed of distinct parts. Perhaps there is some unifying force which causes the universe to return to some natural balance point and maybe not. I don't know, but the universe does seem to have a knack for creating rythms. Perhaps, if there is a spiritual force, the same can be said of it too.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 09-27-2005, 05:22 AM   #8
ian
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
Mostly because we see ourselves as apart from or even the center of the universe instead of accepting our part of something far larger than ourselves.

Besides, "I", "harmony", and "universe" are only mental constructs that pull us further into self absorption and discord.
Don't know whether it's having read similar stuff on zen, but I tend to agree with what Lynn says almost all the time! But just to expand;

if someone punches you and you move, the punch does not hurt you - if you get hit in the ribs, the same physical laws apply, but your ribs bend/break and your body absorbs the impact; in it's own way your body is blending with the impact.

Many zen masters have said that the problem isn't that we haven't reached enlightenment, but that we are unaware that we are already enlightened. It's a matter of persepective.

To give an ecological example; you can say - how terrible, we are destroying the world. However on another level we are integral with the planet, and only one species - the planet is quite integrated and if we treat it badly eventually it just comes around and bites us in the arse (e.g. global warming/soil erosion etc).

Just like yin and yang; you can't get something for nothing - it just depends where you want to put that balance.

Maybe read some stuff on Bankei (I think a good book is 'the unborn'); simple and relieving!

Ian

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Old 09-27-2005, 06:51 AM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
If the universe is inclusive of everything, everywhere, then how can one be out of harmony with the universe? Am I not already part of the universe? If not, then what am I? It is like saying a drop of water is out of harmony with the lake, or a tree is out of harmony with a forest. What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
I think this is why anyone concerned about this question would need to study O Sensei's theology and a good start could be made by following the discussion on Omoto theology being conducted by David Valadez, Eric Mead and Shaun Ravens elsewhere on this website. The discussion is very difficult and meanders all over the place, but ir repays intensive study (you need to read the whole thread many times, in order to make sense of the argument, and check all the references).

There is another thread in Aikido Journal entitled "Hidden in Plain Sight" that also repays study. The meanderings here are even wider and there is a whole lot of chest thumping about what O Sensei was REALLY doing and thinking.

Actually, O Sensei's words were "I am the Universe", so you could argue that this is as much a matter of identity as of harmony. Did he mean it literally, or was he using a metaphor? I myself think it was the latter.

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Old 09-27-2005, 08:32 AM   #10
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

The question in philosophy is the distinction between monism and dualism. To see yourself not as a part but as part of the whole is a monistic point of view typical of some eastern points of view. In a dualistic world view, there are different kinds of realities and we tend to be the parts rather than the whole. It seems to me that O Sensei's was a monistic point of view in that he was about harmony and unity as representing the basis of his philosophy and world view. In the statement, "I am the universe", he is declaring that the greater whole subsumes the individual parts.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 09-27-2005, 02:54 PM   #11
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Jorge, good discussion. I think practices such as aikido help reconcile the dualism and help us understand better the concept of monism, or how we relate to the rest of the world around us.
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Old 09-27-2005, 06:14 PM   #12
Qatana
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

I once wrote an essay on "What I want". Naturally every single sentence began with "I want..." whether it was a material or spiritual benefit to myself or wholely selfless wishes for the health and safety of everything from my best friend to the planet.
Several people had nothing better to do with their time than to count the "I"s and "I want"s and tell me that my self-centeredness was what was preventing me from what I wanted.
Sometimes a word is just a word.Its context that matters.

Q
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Old 09-28-2005, 01:24 PM   #13
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Is it self centered to say "I want others to be happy?"
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Old 09-28-2005, 03:42 PM   #14
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Apparently!

One could, one assumes, refer to ones's self in the third person, but one finds such pretentious humility to be more egotistical than one's referring to one'self as "Me".

Q
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Old 09-28-2005, 04:07 PM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?



Thanks for that Jo, I needed a good chuckle after a long day at work!

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-28-2005, 04:20 PM   #16
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
If the universe is inclusive of everything, everywhere, then how can one be out of harmony with the universe? Am I not already part of the universe? If not, then what am I? It is like saying a drop of water is out of harmony with the lake, or a tree is out of harmony with a forest. What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
An interesting question, which is certainly worthwhile to consider whenever people say that certain things in science, for example, are "unnatural." That implies some sort of division between a subset of mankind's actions and all other physical actions and effects - which to me is an artificial and inherently ambiguous division.

I think that being in harmony is a matter of aligning our actions and our desires within the framework that causality presents. You can certainly desire something that is contrary to what your actions cause, but the effect of your actions is typically independent of this desire. Actions do not require that we understand or anticipate an effect in order for the effect to occur.

Having a mistaken perception of this cause-effect relationship causes disappointment, misunderstanding, and not achieving the desired goal because the actions and goals are "disharmonious." This is I think what Aikido (and probably anything that has a capital W when it is called a Way) is working at dealing with.

Its like that koan in the Wumenganon (sp?)... I'm paraphrasing, but that's ok since there are different translations anyways.

Q: "Is the enlightened one still subject to causality?"
A: "The enlightened one is one with the law of causality."
or
"The enlightened one is not blind to causality."

To provide a simple example, if I eat larger than normal meals every day (ceteris parabus - without additional exercise, for example), I will gain weight. If I expect to lose weight and plan on that, then I am out of harmony with the universe, because nature's laws dictate that that energy will go somewhere.

If I choose to be fat and eat a lot, than fine. If I choose be skinny and so eat less, than fine. Choosing to eat more and choosing to be skinny is disharmonious, in my opinion. It causes angst, at the least, since only one choice can be satisfied by what action I take (unless I take others).

To go off even further... In reality of course, what I choose means nothing, but what I actually do means something, and this is seemingly what is talked about in many koans.

Likewise, if I hurt an uke every class, even through the best of intentions and/or without realizing it, odds are that they will not like working with me very much - unless there are other, special circumstances (they are a masochist, or whatever).

My opinion is that an "enlightened" person could choose to act or not while knowing the full consequences of that action, and with their desires in alignment with those consequences. In this way, they would be in "harmony" with the universe, instead of what they want and what they do and what is going to happen being at cross purposes.

In the martial context:
If I choose to not hurt someone, they're not hurt.
If I choose to kill someone, they're killed.
Both of those choices have the outcomes that I foresaw.

That, to me is what harmony is about - making your actions and desires be in alignment with the desired outcome, and also potentially changing your desired outcome to be in alignment with your actions.

This involves foresight, or at least correct intuition. Maybe it involves something beyond that too... maybe it is impossible.

Rob
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Old 09-30-2005, 11:28 AM   #17
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
If the universe is inclusive of everything, everywhere, then how can one be out of harmony with the universe? Am I not already part of the universe? If not, then what am I? It is like saying a drop of water is out of harmony with the lake, or a tree is out of harmony with a forest. What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
This is the central idea in most of asian spirituality... In a Buddhist sense, we are already Enlightened. We are inextricably part of the whole. The problem is that we don't realize this. Our attempts to act "as if" we were separate causes suffering (and bad technique).

Aikido is often described as learning to harmonize with the energy of the Universe. But as you so aptly point out, we are already harmonized. You couldn't violate a natural law if you tried. So it is the incorrect understanding of this fact that makes ones technique difficult. Your partner isn't stopping your technique; you are stopping your technique by your insistance in thinking of yourself as separate.

So Enlightenment is to attain the realization that we are part of the whole and to incorporate that realization into our very Being to the extent that we no longer even conceive of it being any other way. In a technical Aikido sense, this realization comes from learning to allow technique to be what it wants to be and not what we want it to be. When two partners come together, the technique is allowed to create itself naturally (Take Musu Aiki).

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Old 09-30-2005, 01:19 PM   #18
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

I thoroughly agree with Sensei Ledyard.

Let me echo his sentiment in terms of a Western perspective.
After all, if it be True, it ought to be true in whatever idiom it is put.

Distinction is not opposed to unity, any more than the heads and tails (omote/ura) of a coin are opposed to their essential oneness, whether one side or the other be immediately visible or not.

Christian doctrine of Incarnation holds that God distinguishes between Creator and created, but without ever causing any separation one from the other. Traditional Christianity holds that Christ is the realization of this unity of Godhead and the created Order, with diversity of persons present in but one fundamental Reality. The distinction is finer than the blade of a knife. It is both useful and dangerous precisely because of its fundamental lack of substance.

The awakening of the sense of a distinction (uke/nage) is not a separation in fact, except in that we imagine it to be so. The modernly much maligned and misunderstood concept of sin in both Christian and Jewish thought arises from the error of imagining actual separation from the mere sense of distinction.

In the idea of original sin lies the initial awakening of the consciousness of good AND evil. From that flows the temptation to view it as a real separation. If we act from this assumption of separation, we are wrong, on many levels.

Original sin, in orthodox terms, is at the same time intimately partnered with the later awakening to the mirage of that separation, which is our Redemption. The Easter vigil Exultet speaks of this as the felix culpa -- the "happy fault" of Adam," "that gained for us so great a Redeemer."

This image of awakening to oneness in multipicity and finely divided, as seen in original sin and ultimate redemption are powerful for me in workign through the practical change of mind and heart that training produces. This same image is present in Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto, Hindu and many other deeply resonant spiritual traditions throughout the world. This would have to be so if the observation is true. And the fact of so many disconnected persons have made the same essential observation is at least some persuasive evidence that separation in fact -- is not real.

As with the paradox of original sin, I have always powerfully felt the necessary paradox in the Art of Peace lying implicitly within an art of explicitly violent encounter. Omote and ura again.

Aikido is an art both delicate and dangerous. My first teacher, Dennis Hooker Sensei, who has made no secret of the fragility of his physical person, embodies (literally) this most delicate dangerousness in a profound way. It has struck me from a early point in my training how much the attitudes of the best aikidoka I have encountered mirrored that spoken of Christ in instructing His disciples: to "be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves."

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-30-2005, 09:08 PM   #19
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

The comments of George Ledyard and Erick Mead jogged a few memories (of a previous life, perhaps ).

When I was in the Jesuits, locked away in a 'monastery' keeping silence, custody of the eyes and meditating for several hours each day, in a non-stop regime of 24-hour 'perfection' (probably the closest experience I have ever had to being an uchideshi of the Founder, as this is commonly understood), enlightenment and the harmony of the universe were not among the things we worried about.

What we did worry about was the mystical experience. Would we know when we were having one? How would we be sure that it was genuine? Apart from the writings of Ignatius himself, we studied those of people such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and works such as The Cloud of Unknowing. It seems to me that a major focus of this spiritual tradition is a preoccupation with the credentials of the mystical experience itself, understood as an experience that is mediated through the senses. The credentials of the experience were firmly tied to the moral qualities of one's life, understood as a life of 'perfection'. Without the latter, it was pretty pointless to worry too much about the former, which, in any case, was something God-given and unachievable solely by one's own efforts. I think there is a tendency for some crossing of cultural wires, when thinking of enlightenment, for I am sure that those brought up in a western spiritual tradition with equate ellightenment solely with the experience itself.

John of the Cross speaks of the 'dark night of the soul' and this dualism is also a major feature the Christian mystical tradition, which goes back to the Greeks. Plato worried a lot about reincarnation and this concept is probably as problematic as that of enlightenment. Much of his later writings discuss the way in which the soul can be led to 'remember' the Forms, known from a previous existence, and how this is achieved when the soul is 'imprisoned' in the body.

Many years later, after taking up aikido I encountered a Japanese shihan who talked of enlightenment, harmony of the universe, and practice in accordance with the 'inexorable laws of the universe'. He was the first shihan I had met who talked in this way (and, actually, he is the only one). This was perplexing and led back to the problem of the credentials of the experience, referred to earlier. How was it that in practising waza such as shiho-nage and irimi-nage, one was in harmony with the universe etc etc? In fact, there is a Christian tradition, illustrated graphically in Milton's Paradise Lost, according to which the universe is fundamentally in disharmony and this was brought about by the Fall. Harmony was restored by the Redemption, but the effects will not be seen until the Second Coming.

The Japanese shihan was teaching in the UK and I think the general reaction of his students was similar to his own reaction to O Sensei's discourses on the same topic, when he was a deshi. They struggled to understand what he was talking about, put it respectfully aside, and got on with their training in accordance with more closely held principles (Christian, in this case).

Best regards to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-30-2005 at 09:12 PM.

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Old 09-30-2005, 10:20 PM   #20
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
If the universe is inclusive of everything, everywhere, then how can one be out of harmony with the universe? Am I not already part of the universe? If not, then what am I? It is like saying a drop of water is out of harmony with the lake, or a tree is out of harmony with a forest. What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
Perhaps the universe is hiding? We in this costume of flesh search for the greater understanding that hides within us. Eckhart talks about God's day and soul's day in which in God's day all time is contained in the Now-moment. God in that Now is isticheit -western or tathata -eastern. In that Now-moment you discover the universe in you. God dancing cloud hidden revealed in you. You become a drop of water who's awareness expands into every drop of water in that ocean. Harmony. Undefeatable. But mostly we remain those drops of water convinced that the water drop is everything as we search for the ocean in the lake.

Oh well FWIW,
Gene
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Old 09-30-2005, 10:36 PM   #21
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Re: Harmony with the Universe?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
What does it mean to "be in harmony with the universe?"
To me, it means to be indistinguishable from your surrounding and environment. The feeling of you are in right place at the right time, perfectly blend in with whatever environment or situation you are in.

The above statement sum up harmony with the universe to the best of my understanding.

Ossu.

Boon.

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