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Old 11-19-2007, 04:03 PM   #26
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,944
Re: A Better Person

a better person, no. a person, most definitely. then again, there is a book that said I am from mars. hmmmm.....
that i am a closet masochist who paid good money to get beaten on a regular basis and enjoy every minute of it.
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Old 11-19-2007, 08:36 PM   #27
MikeLogan's Avatar
Location: Rochester, NY
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 281
Re: A Better Person

two things at the moment I see in both aikido and my own impressions of religion

one being the golden rule

the second that goodness does not always mean nice

If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.

- Thomas Hardy
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Old 11-22-2007, 08:02 AM   #28
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: A Better Person

Avery Jenkins wrote: View Post
Everybody is doing the best they can. Me too.
If studying and teaching Aikido has taught me anything, it's that everyone is not doing the best they can. That's what they tell themselves and that's what they want to hear from the people around them. Actually, very few people do the best they can. Those people stand out; they are the exceptions.

I remember Lovret Sensei's little adage, "There are two types of students... Those that train as often as they can and those that train."

For most of us, our lives are a set on compromises, balancing whole sets of competing concerns... The person pursuing Budo as a Path makes choices every day... Do I go to that seminar or do I bank that money for my kid's college? Do I go to class again tonight or do I stay home with my partner who isn't that on board with training. Do I marry this person I've found even though I know it will interfere with my training?

So when someone says they are doing the best they can, they usually mean they have made as much of a commitment as they are willing to make. That is usually far from "their best".

Forget how we balance all the elements in our daily lives with training. Most people have totally scaled down aspirations for what they wish to accomplish. Is getting a shodan REALLY the best you are capable of or is it simply what you are willing to shoot for? Is getting a Sandan or Yondan and opening a dojo somewhere your highest aspiration? Could you perhaps have become a Shihan level practitioner if you had structured your choices differently?

One frequently encounters on these forums those folks who say they want to train but there is no local teacher. The response is: then move to where there is a teacher. Then you get the reasons why they can't move... Of course they can move. It's just that other concerns are more important than Aikido training.

Are you training every day? Are you traveling to seminars, going to camps, reading every book and publication on Aikido and the martial arts? Do you have every DVD worth having and watch them when you can't be at the dojo training? Have you packed up all your belongings and moved to Japan or somewhere else to be an uchi deshi, putting in 5 or 6 hours a day on the mat and having no life outside of training?

When I hear people say they are doing there best, I am usually hearing them justify why they aren't. VERY few of us are doing our "best". We are simply making choices and compromises. We need to be conscious about those compromises and choices. We need to be conscious of when our aspirations are unrealistic when compared to our commitment. We need to be aware of how we settle all the time for less than we could have done.

We do what we do. But very few of us can honestly say that we've done "our best". In every area of my life I can say that there was always something else I could have done, something I should have done better, could have put more time and effort into.

Budo as a Path is about NEVER being content, always seeking. Telling yourself you've done the best you can is usually just an excuse to make yourself feel better about the compromises you've made. As a concept, it has little value. You make choices, you live with the results... In Budo one is never content with what he knows... there is always something more. It may be about attempting to find what your "best" is, but for the vast majority of us, we never actually find out what that is.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 11-22-2007 at 08:04 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 11-22-2007, 07:51 PM   #29
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Re: A Better Person

Good post George. When I finally recognized what you are saying, and stopped beating myself up because I realized that life is a constant compromise and that I made decisions is when I really felt empowered and in control of my life.

Also, there are always dreams and things I wish I could do, and I do want to always look for improvement of doing better.

However, I try no to be so hard on myself or lamenting about "how the grass is greener." Or to be envious of those that have time and ability to train more than I.

I try and live in the present moment. As Ram Dass would say, "be here, NOW!" and simply love what training and time I do have to spend with whatever I do.

On another note, I like what George Leonard, Sensei has to say in his book on Mastery. A good book for those wishing to "do their best".

Thanks again for being so honest and offering a good perspective.

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Old 11-24-2007, 09:53 AM   #30
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,264
Re: A Better Person

Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Good post George.
I have to agree whole-heartedly. It falls in line with my views about what most people mean when they speak of genius. Usually (it seems to me), people speak of these great feats as if they exist on some level they couldn't hope to attain and to some degree I always hate to hear that kind of talk. On one hand, people speak like this as a way of showing respect and admiration, and that's very good, but when put in the context of what most individuals apply themselves at, it so often denotes an uncrossable divide.
In a nutshell, and at the risk of sounding a little funny, my mission in life is to be the best person I can be. I take it very seriously as an ideal and is ultimately the only fixed goal I have in life, but as Sensei Ledyard described, every time I've fallen significantly short of this ideal, it was because I didn't apply myself as fully as I know I could have...I can't think of a time where this wasn't the case. Sometimes we simply fail at things, but if we're really doing our best, we learn something from it and still become better at whatever task we're trying. I think the great thief and inventor, Edison, once described that after so many attempts of failed light bulbs, he learned hundreds of ways NOT to make one. In a sense, this is what I think becoming a better person is all about...at least, in the context of "failing" or falling short of our expectations (which is usually what people refer to when speaking of the "human condition"). As long as we are applying ourselves as fully as possible; truly doing our best or near enough so, we're always coming closer to achieving those eureka moments which then put things in a new and better light.

...Supposedly, Edison said, "I have not failed 1,000 times. I have
successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb." I think when we are truly doing our best, this kind of sentiment becomes actively valid.

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Old 12-05-2007, 08:41 AM   #31
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 290
Re: A Better Person

For me, I am into music so I can appreciate the expression of self in martial "arts", I am sure everyone else can too!
Basically it is an art like any other art... and I think you should treat it as such!
Go and learn how to do it and after that you make your own Aikido! Just like any other creative art!

Before you drive or steer your vehicle, you must first start the engine, release the brake and find gear!
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