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Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses
Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses
by Ross Robertson
04-23-2012
Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
~ Albert Einstein

Aikido is flourishing.

Within a relatively short period in history, aikido is a thriving, global art form and martial discipline. There are many different teachers, schools, lineages, styles, and philosophies. Diversity and vibrancy signify a high level of success for aikido.

Such diversity of expression inevitably brings a certain degree of identity crisis. The question of what aikido is, exactly, and what it isn't, forms an ongoing discussion and energetic debate.

In order to frame the discussion in a meaningful way, I think it is useful to suggest some ground rules. Let me propose a couple of lemmas to start us off:

1) Aikido is not a thing, but rather a set of things.

2) Notwithstanding the above, there is or should be a unifying quality or characteristic that provides commonality to the class of things rightly called "aikido."

Hopefully, the first of these is not terribly controversial. Only the most fanatical and fundamentalist mentality would say that there is one and only one kind of aikido, and that they (presumably along with other members of their clan) alone know what is true aikido.

More reasonable minds will admit that taxonomies are often open and nested. That is, an instance of a class is often itself a class with dependencies. For example, we could say that aikido is an instance of jujutsu, or at least of Japanese budo, and that is superseded by the class of all martial arts. At the same time, aikido is the class of practices, disciplines, philosophies, traditions, and whatnot, of... well, that would take too long to list. Let's just say of exemplars like Ueshiba Morihei and similar representatives.

The second of my propositions is very likely where the real trouble lies. As soon as we set about the business of discovering, defining, or asserting characteristic properties, we risk moving toward the camp of fanatics. Yet if we refuse to try, then we participate in the dissolution of aikido itself. If aikido is allowed to become so broadly defined that it can no longer be defined at all, then the term becomes meaningless. Aikido as a concept can no longer be relevant.

I myself can make no case, nor offer formal proofs. I lack rhetorical arguments guaranteed to sway the majority. Unsurprisingly though, I do have a strong opinion.

There is a singular property which I believe must be present in all forms that are entitled to be classified within the field that is aikido. Though singular, it lacks (at least in my native English) a single word to describe it. I can, I believe, get it down to two:

Aikido is the budo of love.

(So, okay... maybe "budo" isn't really English either.)

Budo is a martial way. It often refers specifically to Japanese martial arts, but here I mean it to signify all varieties of offense and defense; individual security or coordinated militaries; human or otherwise. "Budo" is, quite simply, the way of war. Budo is the study, practice, and expression of competitive territoriality and the fight for resources. Budo is the legitimate impetus to perpetuate the self or species, whether undertaken wisely or foolishly. Budo is integral with the very nature of reality, from the simple fact that transitory phenomena cannot persist in the face of the more durable.

Many, including those in my own lineage, have argued that aikido is not, and cannot be, a martial art. Part of the justification stems from the fact that there was a significant change in the orientation of aikido when the name changed from "aiki-budo" to simply "aikido." If "bu" was dropped, then aikido is no longer budo.

I sympathize with the spirit of this argument, but I disagree with its logic and its consequences. Whatever new and revolutionary a thing aikido may be, it is best appreciated by recognizing the unmistakable DNA of budo within its makeup. Aikido arose from within budo, and even if we allow that it exhibits a significant mutation, let us not pretend that it has nothing to do with budo. Far better, I think, to look at what is implied by the idea that aikido is a new, possibly unprecedented kind of budo. Or better, a restoration of budo to its real meaning:

"True budo is the loving protection of all things."

That is the crux of aikido.

Here we have -- not just the idea that warfare can contain acts of compassion -- but the idea that the true way of war is love itself. This also requires that what we call "love" be understood as martial.

Furthermore, this should not be seen as a paradox. We are being asked to understand the fundamental unity of love and war. These are not opposites locked in eternal tension, out of which only occasional moments of reconciliation emerge. The new insight demands that we see them as one.

If, as they say, all is fair in love and war, it may be because the statement is redundant.

Ueshiba had the genius to see this, but he could no more own the idea than could Copernicus own the Earth's orbit of the sun. The best Ueshiba could do was to say "Look! These things we thought were contradictory really are not!" And then of course, he could compellingly demonstrate the power that comes with new understanding.

You don't have to grok this in its fullness in order to practice aikido. I'm sure I don't. But I think what unifies us as aikidoka is that we try. Aikido is, after all, a path. We need not have arrived in order to be on the Way. Nevertheless, the path does lead somewhere, and I see the Aiki no Michi leading us all toward the Budo of Love.

What this means is that it is possible to be a devotee of Ueshiba Ryu Aikijutsu, but not be practicing aikido. Those who focus only on the martial practicality of our heritage and who deliberately foreswear the discipline of love... I'm prepared to say that what they do is not aikido. Those who are excited about love and peace, who dance cooperatively with their partners in harmony but with no deep awareness of death and destruction, I also say this is not aikido.

More generously I suppose, I might say they practice a piece of aikido -- the way it's possible to sit in a saddle but not actually ride the horse, even if you do get somewhere. I would imagine this applies to us all in varying degrees, and yet there are true masters of dressage.

To those many other martial artists who do not practice aikido, but who have discovered that their skills are best applied for the maximum benefit of all, I say, "Welcome." I would say we are fellow travelers on the same road, but wearing different clothes. You need not call it aikido for it to be aiki. And if you look at my aikido and recognize your own art in it, this too is good.

There is no copyright or trademark, it's true. Unfortunately this also means that anyone can do anything and call it aikido. That's their right and I wish them well. But it's also my right to say no, I think you're missing something vital for it to qualify as aikido.

With something as vast as aikido, I suspect we are all missing some element or other. That's why we train together. That's why I want to meet you on the mat and exchange our experiences. That's part of why I value you. You know things I couldn't possibly.

Yet I want your knowledge to fit into the framework of my desire. Help me learn to better fight this war that affirms my Right to Exist. Help me to better preserve and protect that which I love. Help me to love more and better, and together let's work on the strategies and tactics of love. Join me, or let me join you, in a campaign of defeating the enemies of the quality of life.

I am uninterested in increasingly narrow definitions of aikido. Let mine be expansive and multivalent. Let my aikido be polyamorous.

Even so, I wish to remain relentless in the pursuit of what makes for an aikido that is authentic. I want to be counted among the new warriors who are eager to give our lives by living fully. I want to be among those who take up newer and better arms to expand the territories of beauty, joy, humor, health, and rationality. I want to come closer to aikido's central defining characteristic.

I'd like to have the genius and courage to help make war smaller, less complex, and less violent.

Love also.

"Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

2012.04.02
Ross Robertson
Still Point Aikido Systems
Honmatsu Aikido
Austin TX, USA

www.stillpointaikido.com
www.rariora.org/writing/articles
@phospheros
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:11 PM   #2
graham christian
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Nice one Ross.

The spirit of love and protection.......mmmmmm.......a well polished spirit.

May I offer you this: Have you ever considered loving protection? I mean in a 'deeper' sense than just a mother protecting her young type definition.

Consider protection from what? This opens up and broadens the horizon and leads more towards the truth.

Then take it a step further and ponder that it of itself protects from these things and so the message is to polish. To act from the truth of it rather than the analytical limited concept.

Food for thought.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:29 AM   #3
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Hi Graham,

Not sure I follow. Can you say more?
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Old 05-04-2012, 02:30 PM   #4
graham christian
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Hi Ross. Yes. I as you may have noticed can say plenty.

Regarding the spirit of loving protection and considering it in a deeper sense. Spirit. Your true spirit.

We could start there for example. Your true spirit is of loving protection. This goes along with Ki. The fact that I say your true spirit implies we may have other than true spirit and yes indeed we do.

As with all self development disciplines it is a matter of reawakening yourself. I personally use three principles I call the three 'R's' Realignment, Rehabillitation and Restoration.

The spirit and thus with it the Ki need rehabillitating (reawakening) realigning and restoring. Thus back to the spirit of loving protection, true spirit.

Now in Aikido and the path of developing such things we ahve to face many barriers within ourselves and rid ourselves of many false views etc. Before doing so we may equate the spirit of loving protection one way and then as we progress see there is more to it and so on and so forth.

Thus we reach different realities on the same thing and the more real it gets the more depth we see in it, the more nearer truth of it the astounding and simple (yet logically not) it becomes and logic itself disappears. For we see more as to what the spirit of loving protection actually protects us from.

So the view is to look at it as something with a role, it does something, it does something extraordinary. That is the true function of your spirit.

On the point of budo is love I have a different view too Ross and so I don't equate it with war or on the battle field etc. I can do but to me that is minor nor major. No, to understand how love can be budo or what is meant by true budo is love I would have to show you the line of 'reasoning' I use.

It starts with wisdom. Wisdom being the views based on love and goodness and thus wisdom rules out logic which is based on intellect and right and wrong and such ideas. Thus I say logic is the enemy of wisdom and satisfies only the ego.

So then we come to the study, the disciplines of looking at things from the viewpoint of love, of compassion, of humility from which we may see through the illusions of negativity and return to calmness and stillness. We can then also view and see them in existence too.

Thus we discover the ways of love and goodness, their principles, how they are in harmony and indeed also bring harmony to scenes in life which of itself brings harmony too. So first we have to relearn about love and goodness too, to rehabillitate it in ourselves, to realign ourselves to it and to restore ourselves. All part of masagatsu and agatsu. All part of the path.

True budo is love: Let me take you now to the five minds of budo. Developing these five minds is once again a matter of practice and the three 'R's. But note they are called the five minds of budo which means budo has five minds does it not? Five stable viewpoints. Five disciplined views.

Without love and goodness you cannot achieve these stable positions and viewpoints and ways of seeing. Senshin itself would be self evidently a super discipline, a mind, a budo and it itself is of love.

Intellect and logic cannot see this and never will for it is not of the ego mind it is of the true you.

Zanshin is of the spirit and thus could be called the budo of Ki.

Hope that gives you a brief idea of from where I am coming.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:43 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Yes agreed.

To live intelligently, we live in love.

To live ignorantly, we live in fear and pain.

We are the fools creating our dragons or the wise creating our princesses (or princes).

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 05-07-2012, 12:59 PM   #6
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Graham,

Logic can be wrongly applied, but then, so can love. If love that is wrongly applied is not true love, then logic that is wrongly applied is not true logic.

In any case, if logic is the enemy, then is it exempt from the principles of loving protection? And the same for our egos, can we not establish disciplines which bolster and enhance our egos in healthy, balanced ways?

Also, if not through logic, then by what channel should I be persuaded of the merits of a new idea? For me, logic leads to love, and vice-versa, if each be true.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:06 PM   #7
graham christian
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Graham,

Logic can be wrongly applied, but then, so can love. If love that is wrongly applied is not true love, then logic that is wrongly applied is not true logic.

In any case, if logic is the enemy, then is it exempt from the principles of loving protection? And the same for our egos, can we not establish disciplines which bolster and enhance our egos in healthy, balanced ways?

Also, if not through logic, then by what channel should I be persuaded of the merits of a new idea? For me, logic leads to love, and vice-versa, if each be true.
Hi Ross.
Can love be wrongly applied? It either is or it isn't love. There is no wrongly applied love means it isn't love. Logic wrongly applied? What's that? I know logic is applied and many times to a bad result.

Logic is exempt from loving protection and every other spiritual truth. The zen koan of empty cup springs to mind.

Ego? Well we can give in to it, appease it, act from it etc. but if we understand it the only way of balance is by having nothing to do with it and thus letting it learn a better way. Every spiritual or cognitive realization you have increases your own awareness and understanding and thus wise changes ego. It is a thing that needs restoring not balancing in my view but it comes not through addressing it but through addressing self.

Now once we transcend logic we find what is there and what is there is real and follows certain principles. Understanding these principles would thus form a 'higher' type of logic you could say, better known as wisdom.

Enlightenment and enlightenments are all to do with this path are they not?

In our daily lives and I would put it to you, in Aikido, we come across doing things that defy logic. Not having a logical explanation we react to them in various ways. Thus they end up labelled magic or unreal or IP or just phenomena. Mostly rejected by logic and even feared.

Ego has no love, no kindness, no goodness, no faith. It has no intuition. Only you have these things and you are the true self of ego so any balance can only come from the rehabillitation, realignment and restoration of yourself by yourself.

Thus I say people, humans, in their current condition overall are far from enlightened. We tend to think that the most scary things are monsters. In my experience I have found the most scry things for many are things like love, goodness, kindness etc. Scared to love others for fear of blah blah blah. Scared to be too kind for fear of being taken advantage of or more blah blah blah. Thus they actually live in fear constantly, the place of ego, and protect themselves with logical reasons as to why they are and act as they do.

These are my thoughts on the matter.

Logic believes that enlightenment is some kind of thing that equals improved.

Wisdom knows that enlightenment is a returning to. This implies we have lost something, in fact a lot. Logic and ego cannot have this for they think they are being the best they can be.

Humility. We are as humans a bunch of dumb, unenlightened, stupid people. Unaware as to how we got so stupid and ignorant.

To see this would be the first stage of enlightenment I would say.

When you know love you know it conquers. Until then you doubt and fear it.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:57 AM   #8
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Graham,

I always appreciate your thoughts. What I am seeking is to learn more about the basis for your assertions. I see a number of things that you say as if they were self-evidently true, but to me they are not. I don't mean I think they are necessarily false, but rather that to me they are not self-evidently true.

I also think ego and logic are very different in my own experience. You speak of wisdom as being a kind of higher logic, and this I agree with, but as a vindication of logic rather than a refutation of it.

Ego is not the enemy. Not to me, anyway. Ego can be made into an enemy, but it is not inherently so, and it takes work to make it so in any case. Ego is simply one manifestation of our true self. Ego is a kind of interface between self and other. That at least is my understanding, so it makes more sense to me to deal with it lovingly, to see that it is rightfully healthy and functional, and is not being derogated.

In any case, I enjoy our exchanges and honor your views. I'm deeply grateful for your contributions to the discussion of my articles and the respectful attention you give them. The wonderful thing about these fora is how we can come together to extend and amplify one another, not necessarily in unison, but more often in harmony. It pleases me that you and I can be in the same chorus.
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:37 AM   #9
graham christian
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Graham,

I always appreciate your thoughts. What I am seeking is to learn more about the basis for your assertions. I see a number of things that you say as if they were self-evidently true, but to me they are not. I don't mean I think they are necessarily false, but rather that to me they are not self-evidently true.

I also think ego and logic are very different in my own experience. You speak of wisdom as being a kind of higher logic, and this I agree with, but as a vindication of logic rather than a refutation of it.

Ego is not the enemy. Not to me, anyway. Ego can be made into an enemy, but it is not inherently so, and it takes work to make it so in any case. Ego is simply one manifestation of our true self. Ego is a kind of interface between self and other. That at least is my understanding, so it makes more sense to me to deal with it lovingly, to see that it is rightfully healthy and functional, and is not being derogated.

In any case, I enjoy our exchanges and honor your views. I'm deeply grateful for your contributions to the discussion of my articles and the respectful attention you give them. The wonderful thing about these fora is how we can come together to extend and amplify one another, not necessarily in unison, but more often in harmony. It pleases me that you and I can be in the same chorus.
Hi Ross.
Thanks for your comments, I enjoy sharing. Like you I approach from the view of sharing rather than argument or using the fora as a battle ground.

A number of things I say I do present as if self evidently true, yes, so you are quite correct in your view there and yes my way of putting things although of unusual terminology are generally quite assertive so as is my style.

I find that certain wise people throughout the ages come up with views and point out truths designed to help others, to provide guidelines for others, so that they too can come to see these things. The funny thing is that most of them come up with the same kind of views be they Ueshiba, Buddha, or any other religious prophet or wise yogi or wise man or woman. Statements like' love conquers all' 'faith moves mountains' etc. etc. These enlightened and wise people see this and say it as if it's self evidently true which to them it is.

Thus I see it as my duty, being on a similar path, to work towards fully understanding such views and transcending being just an intelligent fool ha, ha. Such is the path to me.

Recently I started a thread on academics and in the past have given my views on study. I see study itself as a cycle, a sequence of steps towards an end goal. It starts with purpose. desire, and intention and ends with ability, doing. With all steps completed then this should be the result.

Now, along the way on this path of study we are gaining understandings to do with what we are addressing. As we progress these understandings get more and more real. We gather lots of data along the way but as they get more real we then throw away lots of the data for it has served it's purpose. We thus come to a full understanding and an ability to do, to apply why we have learned and it is simple and easy and at that point obvious. The next 'problem' only comes about if you then want to teach or help others understand for to them it is not obvious. Self evident. This is how it is and always will be.

I like your view on ego too. I cannot disagree with it or seeing it as an interface. That's a very good way of looking at it.

I can only say that coming to learn and understand the truth of the things talked about by past wise and enlightened people as true self, then and only then can one discover and differentiate even more between self and ego and indeed learn more about ego. Thus the goal isn't the destruction of ego but the enlightenment of self.

There is no magic wand but the correct ways are always magic.

One last thing on logic. I hold that you can study, address and learn about, anything.

Thus you can study love itself, kindness itself, life itself, anything.

In doing so you can find that as understanding increases then the principles of the thing being studied become revealed. The truths on which they are based and follow unerringly. Thus discovering these principles they can be utilized and thus comes about the technology of the thing and a new way of thinking or looking at things. A new 'logic.' Along the way though these new improved understandings lead to self realizations and letting go of past firmly held beliefs and normal yet false or let's say detrimental understandings. So the path is a path and a discipline and cannot stray from the cycle of study and practice and the enlightened views are based on principles and the discipline of application of those principles and is thus a way and a wisdom.

So I would prefer to say that the way of wisdom (albeit a higher logic) rules out so much of what is called logic by the 'intelligent fools' who tend to be seen as 'superior' in this world today that I tend to emphasize the foolishness of logic.

This is also my zen way of doing things.

What am I? Nothing. What can I be? Anything. Even an intelligent fool.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:10 AM   #10
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

I suggest love is both rightly and wrongly applied within each of us daily (should we use such manichean terms). Another more holistic way of putting it is to say along with author bell hooks, "Love is as Love Does." Each of us has layers of pain-body that, as they get exposed, we have an opportunity to improve the quality of our love. This is something that cannot be put into kata, for it is so often not "what we do", but "why we do" a given thing. It is about finding ways to break our hearts open, allowing the full feelings of joy and pain to be fully experienced, and to feel connected to all with, for lack of a better term, "inter-being."

As a young ministry student at Point Loma College in 1974, I talked with two Christian student surfers
were confronted by local surfers who were angry that Cal Western had sold it's campus to the Nazarenes. These two surfers were literally boasting to schoolmates that they had "turned the other cheek" when they got bullied by the locals. I saw fear in their eyes and challenged them regarding
their true motives.

Love and compassion can also be fierce. "Jigme" is a fine Pali term for such a spirit and is the Buddhist name for a female friend of mine who was struggling to climb to base camp at K1. A yak herder on the trail behind her kept pitching pebbles at her. She was aggravated about it but kept walking. Base camp was only 200 yards away. She didn't know it but the yak herder did. No kata can encompass what must generate from the heart.

Practicing fearless clarity, authenticity, honesty, and compassion - allowing the whole you to be present and accepted by yourself is the path of love. Once love arises it can act in ways many folks cannot understand. Indeed, they may ridicule you and even kill you for it.

This is the core of my Aiki as well as my Budo. I honor all and am grateful to those who help me "do love" as I practice my kata.

Last edited by Chris Parkerson : 05-12-2012 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:47 PM   #11
graham christian
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

I like it Chris. Good on you.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-12-2012, 11:16 PM   #12
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I like it Chris. Good on you.

Peace.G.
Namaste.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:48 AM   #13
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Intelligent Fools, Dragons, and Princesses

Quote:
In doing so you can find that as understanding increases then the principles of the thing being studied become revealed.
@Graham: Not much to disagree with at this point, just a comment in the spirit of the discussion. One of the most important questions I think we can ask ourselves is "how do we know?" Received wisdom, either from great minds or from direct experience, should nevertheless be held as suspect until verified. How do we do this? How can we test our perceptions and feelings?

For the record, I also will make many statements as if they are self-evidently true. I think this is fine in informal discourse. But when the debate sharpens and we challenge each other for clarity and veracity, then I know I'll have to explain "how do I know" in terms that are as close to incontrovertible as is humanly possible. I don't always succeed, and it can be difficult to back down when I know I don't have the goods to back up an assertion.

@Chris: Definitely agree with the "love is as love does" idea. I know too many people who want to be excused because of their good intentions rather than accept responsibility for the effects of their actions.
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