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G: Gift, Giving, and Growth
G: Gift, Giving, and Growth
by Lynn Seiser
03-19-2012
G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Breathe in, the gift
Breathe out, the giving
growth

I have always heard that it was better to give and to receive. Always figured that was a rule made by the people on the receiving end of things. Yet in fighting, it made sense: I would certainly rather give a solid right cross than to receive one.
gift: (1) something given, (2) a notable capacity, (3) something voluntarily transferred without compensation
Gifts come in all sizes and shapes. Sometimes the most beautiful picture-perfect face hides a selfish evil heart, and the less than perfect ones often have a heart-of-gold and a beauty that perfection will never know.

Gifts may come with strings attached. That high left jab may include a follow-up right low cross, high left hook, and a right uppercut. Sometimes a gift is only given so that you will reciprocate. It can be a gift, an explanation, or an apology. It may be a "white-elephant" as a joke or an insult. It may come wrapped in pretty paper with ribbon or it may come in a brown paper bag. Some gifts are never given.

I remember in Aikido training the first time I heard to "accept the hit as a gift", I was not sure what they meant. In the bashing days, I knew it was a compliment when my training partner thought I was good enough to hold nothing back. Often they had more faith in my abilities than I consciously did. Fortunately, my unconscious body reflexes for survival saved me from too much damage. The gift from my former instructors and training met the gift my current training partners gave me by trying to knock my block off. Just shows you that two gifts can make a right.

What is important is how an attack is perceived and interpreted. If we see the attack as an ego attempt to do grave bodily damage in training (or under-mind my self-worth/esteem in the real world), we respond one way. If we see it as an opportunity given us by our training partner (mates and co-workers) to develop our perception, our assessment, our decisiveness, and our ability to respond, then we thank them for the gift.

In counseling couples, it is hard to realize that our partners (and children) often open up and act out where they feel the most vulnerable and the safest. People tend to fear closeness and intimacy. The closer we get to someone, the more vulnerable and afraid they may become. To test that safety, they may act out. They may take their frustration with the rest of the world out on us because they feel safe enough that we will not abandon them. This is an opportunity to show them who we really are. It is a gift.
give: (1) to present or convey, (2) to grant, bestow, transfer by formal action, (3) to accord, offer, or yield to another, (4) to put in the possession of another for their use
When we receive a gift, it is natural to want to give back. That is why some charities will send something (like address labels) along in their solicitation envelops. If they give first, they will expect to receive. It is a reciprocal process. Most of you already know that I really like reciprocal cyclical systems. That is why I am a family therapist.

One of the sensitivity drills I like to use on the mat in training is to have people connect both arms so that they are making a circle. As one pushes on the other's hand, they let the energy go up their arm, across their shoulder, down the other arm, out their hand and into the other person's arm. Which is turns goes across their shoulders and back. After a short while, they realize that no one is really controlling the flow and energy. The more relaxed they become, the more this exchange just seems to happen by itself, if they do not get in the way.

In life they say that the harder we push, the harder life will push back. Life pushes us hard, so we push back on life. Many think that we have to give back what we receive. Because it is better to give than to receive (especially if you are particularly competitive), then you may feel the compulsion to push back even harder.

If a training partner or loving mate is having a rough day and gives us anger, we tend to take it personally and give back our own anger. This seldom improves our training or our home life.

There is a difference in reacting and responding. Reactions seldom come from conscious choices but are a result of experience (especially painful experiences). Responses are something we choose based on our perceptions and interpretation of the current situation in from of us. That is what training and growth is all about. Just because I have been and am currently receiving violence, does not mean I have to react and give back violence (though that may be the appropriate response at times). Perhaps what training is about is not to react out of the normal fight, flight, or freeze response, but to respond with empathy and compassion. Perhaps training and practice is the opportunity to change our unconscious reflexes into our conscious responses until these new ways of being with each other (even in conflict) become our new unconscious reflexes.

Sometimes, it takes intelligence, empathy, compassion, wisdom, and a huge dose of courage not to give back exactly what we receive. Perhaps we learn to take in the bad and breathe out the good. When others are in pain, fear, and suffering, let us accept and appreciate the gift of an opportunity for healing.
growth: (1) a process of growing, progressive development, evolution, increase expansion, (2) to spring up, (3) a natural process
I once heard that if you always do what you have always done, you would always get what you always got.

If we are to move ahead in our training and in our living, it will be by doing something completely different (and not the Monty Python way). If we want to keep growing, we must get off, stay off our unconscious automatic pilot, and stay mindful to the cause and effect consequences of our actions.

It is said, that growth is a natural process and progress. We have to do something to stop the normal and natural, constant and continual inertia and momentum of growth. Perhaps we receive that gift every day. We have the opportunity to consciously, with compassion and courage, to change. We grow further apart or we can grow closer together.

When you bow to each other on the mat, thank each other for the gift of giving of yourself in mutual trust, respect, training, and growth. When you enter your work place, be thankful for the gift of work, to be of service, and as a means to support the family. When you enter your home, be accepting, appreciative, and grateful for the gift of another opportunity to encounter the most courageous act of all, loving each other.

Breathe in, the gift
Breathe out, mindfully give back
mutual growth

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance and Yondan (4th degree Black Belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is an adjunct professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:29 PM   #2
graham christian
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

A nice gift Lynn Sensei.

I believe when we can give and receive unconditionally then life itself becomes a gift and all around you grow.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:07 AM   #3
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Another nice column, Lynn. Lots of good stuff in "G". I always try to give back as I am given (minus handling charges, of course... ).
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Old 03-25-2012, 03:25 AM   #4
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I believe when we can give and receive unconditionally then life itself becomes a gift and all around you grow.
Thank you.

IMHO, I am not a fan of unconditional anything - life has conditions.

Otherwise, we might actually be reinforcing everything we are trying to condition out, like fear and ignorance.

Thoughts anyone?

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 03-25-2012, 03:32 AM   #5
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I always try to give back as I am given (minus handling charges, of course... ).
Thanks.

I try not to always give in kind to what I receive.

IMHO, people give each other too much grief.

So even if someone gives grief to me (or at least aims it in my direction with my name and address on it), doesn't mean I have to accept or receive it as mine.

I can decide what I want to give back if I want to give back at all (often this can reinforce and perpetuate the interaction).

Thoughts anyone?

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 03-25-2012, 05:32 AM   #6
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I always try to give back as I am given (minus handling charges, of course... ).
I should probably have worded this better... Meant to say I try to give back at least as I am given...
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Old 03-25-2012, 05:39 AM   #7
Benjamin Green
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

The thing that probably did the most for my peace of mind, when other people are giving me anger, was the realisation that we tend to assign internal motives to others - i.e. they're just a nasty person - but external conditions to ourselves - i.e. we had a bad day. Now, when someone's angry, I try to think of external conditions that might have made them that way, and that tends to make it less of a concern.

As to my own side of things, I find anger can only really exist when I'm taking someone very lightly, to the point where I'm not really concentrating on what I'm doing. The minute you want to throw a proper strike, or avoid one, anger goes right out the window. Just no time for it, too distracting.

It's similar with discussions. When you're having a good discussion, you're paying too much attention to the facts and the logical structures to be too offended by it. And if you're not having a good discussion - why are you talking?

Sometimes you have grievances - but again, it's a lot more productive if you put those down to external conditions. Maybe the other person doesn't have all the facts, or maybe there's some constraint on their behaviour. If there is a genuine conflict of interests then at least you can talk about that without thinking they're just doing it because they hate you.

Generally, life's very hard if you're intent on taking everything personally. Anger's just a rather nasty thing to walk around with. I don't want to be unhappy, so I try to run through more productive lines of behaviour first.
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:22 AM   #8
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post

IMHO, I am not a fan of unconditional anything - life has conditions.
How about unconditional happiness or joy?
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:27 AM   #9
graham christian
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Thank you.

IMHO, I am not a fan of unconditional anything - life has conditions.

Otherwise, we might actually be reinforcing everything we are trying to condition out, like fear and ignorance.

Thoughts anyone?
Quite the opposite I would say. I would say that we trap ourselves by putting the conditions there. All truth is unconditional and infinite.

Completeness is one principle I teach for example. To give completely, a hard thing to do for we put considerations and conditions on it. To be with and stay with your partner unconditionally, yet another principle covered by ma-ai.

We have innate love for example. It is infinite. No one can truly break your heart for the love is yours, it is not dependent on what another does or says actually. It is only ourselves who deny this truth and limit ourselves and convince ourselves we don't like or hate etc. We put the false conditions there and thus deny the unconditional. Thus become incomplete.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:52 AM   #10
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Dear all,
I think its much better to give someone a black eye than for someone to give me one.On the other hand when your boss pays you off /makes you redundant do you think he feels much better than you?If any politician taxes poor people and gives tax rebates to millionaires , this gift giving makes the Chancellor happy, the millionaire ecstatic and the plebs unhappy.The giving and getting prezzies at Xmas for example does not make everybody a Happy Bunny.I always fancy a sports car , but end up with a tie and a bag of toffees. Its a cruel world!! Cheers, Joe.
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I should probably have worded this better... Meant to say I try to give back at least as I am given...
In FMA Guro LucayLucay used to call it "return to sender" - especially in a knife fight.

It is better th give than to receive - isn't it?

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 03-25-2012, 01:22 PM   #12
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
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Quite the opposite I would say. I would say that we trap ourselves by putting the conditions there. All truth is unconditional and infinite.
Perhaps I am just not there yet.

IMHO, there is a time/place for conditions and a time/place for the unconditional.

There is a time/place to maintain connectedness and a time to let go and move on.

If you say there are false conditions, then it implies there are conditions on what you are considering unconditional.

What conditions do you place on complete and truth?

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 03-25-2012, 01:29 PM   #13
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
I think its much better to give someone a black eye than for someone to give me one.On the other hand when your boss pays you off /makes you redundant do you think he feels much better than you?If any politician taxes poor people and gives tax rebates to millionaires , this gift giving makes the Chancellor happy, the millionaire ecstatic and the plebs unhappy.The giving and getting prezzies at Xmas for example does not make everybody a Happy Bunny.I always fancy a sports car , but end up with a tie and a bag of toffees. Its a cruel world!!
Yes agreed Joe.

It can be a cruel world and perhaps we need to know when to be cruel to one person in order to help and protect others.

Where there are limited resources, to give to one we must take from another. One will think us helpful and the other will think us thieves.

The mobeus strip of then the rescuer becomes the offender and then the victim.

If there are Happy Xmas Bunnies there are probably Sad Xmas Bunnies. So is there an Easter Santa?

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 03-25-2012, 02:41 PM   #14
graham christian
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Perhaps I am just not there yet.

IMHO, there is a time/place for conditions and a time/place for the unconditional.

There is a time/place to maintain connectedness and a time to let go and move on.

If you say there are false conditions, then it implies there are conditions on what you are considering unconditional.

What conditions do you place on complete and truth?
The condition I place on complete and truth is unconditional.

Let go of the wall and you will be truly connected, hold on to the wall and you will be trapped.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-25-2012, 03:36 PM   #15
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
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Let go of the wall and you will be truly connected, hold on to the wall and you will be trapped.
This strategy should be reconsidered if you are dealing with a rope...
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:18 AM   #16
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
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The condition I place on complete and truth is unconditional. Let go of the wall and you will be truly connected, hold on to the wall and you will be trapped.
IMHO, if we talk about unconditional, it implies conditions. If we talk about conditions, it implies the unconditional.

Likewise, holding on implies letting go and vice versus, complete implies incomplete, and truth implies falsehoods.

I would rather have a set rules and conditions I can live with and by.

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 03-26-2012, 04:20 AM   #17
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
This strategy should be reconsidered if you are dealing with a rope...
And give people enough rope and they will either hang themselves or at least tie themselves up with it.

Very few are trained well enough to see and use the rope as a weapon.

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 03-26-2012, 04:23 AM   #18
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
How about unconditional happiness or joy?
IMHO, we tend to set conditions on what brings us happiness and joy.

Perhaps we hold our conditions in the mental constructs of our minds?

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 03-26-2012, 04:30 AM   #19
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Benjamin Green wrote: View Post
Generally, life's very hard if you're intent on taking everything personally. Anger's just a rather nasty thing to walk around with. I don't want to be unhappy, so I try to run through more productive lines of behaviour first.
Yes, so totally agree.

When I take any attack personally, I respond from my own inner identified fear and pain, and fail to see and respond to the fear and pain in the other person who launched the attack.

Likewise, I tend to take my own internal fear and pain, project it on others, and attack them for it.

The gift is seeing that we all create our own fear and pain.

The giving is the opportunity to disconnect from the internal/external process.

The growth is how that changes everything.

Thoughts anyone?

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 03-26-2012, 05:41 AM   #20
graham christian
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, if we talk about unconditional, it implies conditions. If we talk about conditions, it implies the unconditional.

Likewise, holding on implies letting go and vice versus, complete implies incomplete, and truth implies falsehoods.

I would rather have a set rules and conditions I can live with and by.
To truly give a gift is unconditional. To truly grow is unconditional.

One implies the other is indeed a rope trick.

This is my unconditional gift of understanding.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:19 AM   #21
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, we tend to set conditions on what brings us happiness and joy.

Perhaps we hold our conditions in the mental constructs of our minds?
Yes, it seems to me to we tell ourselves: "I refuse to be happy unless x condition is fulfilled." To me, unconditional happiness is being happy whether your expectations are met or not.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:11 PM   #22
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

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Yes, it seems to me to we tell ourselves: "I refuse to be happy unless x condition is fulfilled." To me, unconditional happiness is being happy whether your expectations are met or not.
Then how many people do we know who is "unconditional" in their happiness?

Certainly not me.

So, if we can have unconditional happiness, can we also have unconditional grief and sadness?

And if so, how would we tell them a part?

And if we can tell them a part, there must be some distinction/conditions that define them as different states?

Perhaps I just unconditionally accept (and appreciate) that I have conditions.

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 03-26-2012, 01:15 PM   #23
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Quote:
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To truly give a gift is unconditional. To truly grow is unconditional. This is my unconditional gift of understanding.
If to truly give, to truly grow, and to truly understand is to have no conditions then how do I know I have given (or received), grown (or regressed), or understood (or misunderstood)?

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 03-26-2012, 02:34 PM   #24
graham christian
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
If to truly give, to truly grow, and to truly understand is to have no conditions then how do I know I have given (or received), grown (or regressed), or understood (or misunderstood)?
To have no conditions? Is that what you think unconditional means?

Firstly, there are sequences of conditions, both negative(getting worse) and good(getting better).

Secondly, a)unconditional is used as an adjective ie: unconditional love. This means unhindered by self, unpolluted by self, natural.
b)it also means not dependent on the conditions of others or the external situation.

Thus, no excuses.

This condition or state from which a person can do this is obviously quite a free and enlightened state.

Now if you don't know if or when you have unconditionally given something then you have something rather insightful to look forward to. To recognise when you have truly given, truly grown or truly given understanding is a good exercise.

Ha, ha, in your job you should know how rewarding giving understanding is.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:26 PM   #25
Marc Abrams
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Re: G: Gift, Giving, and Growth

Lynn:

As psychologists, we come to the table with a different set of education than many. We both know that the concept of "unconditional" *anything* is simply an oxymoron. Any basic reading in the psychology of learning can help shed some light on how we look at things. We can no more detach ourselves from the contingencies inherent with interacting in our world, than we can detach ourselves from our fundamental "telic" nature (this term comes from Joseph Rychlak and it points out that we are inherently wired to seek for and ascribe meanings to events and interactions- be them internal, external, or a combination thereof). The other thing that many people get stuck on is that they view emotions as somehow detached from experiences, rather than viewing them as one way in which humans (and other animals) respond to events and interactions. I like how you also brought in the dualistic, existential paradigms as well!

We can try and explain these things to people and some people will look to educate themselves. Others, will remain stuck within their flowery and unrealistic " new-age philosophies" (soft, lazy thinking at it's worst...). Keep up the good work!

Regard,

Marc Abrams

ps- My version is that true budo is like the holiday spirit. It is always better to give than it is to receive!
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