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Old 11-20-2019, 12:49 PM   #26
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Quote:
Gerald Lopez wrote: View Post
Yes, Bernd, it is both!

Ki, and its equivalents, qi, prana, etc, have been mentioned in literature spanning thousands of years; so, as a concept it has been discussed extensively. It has also been the basis of health systems that are still in use....

This is not to say it has not been questioned and challenged - the Vitalism vs Atomism/Mechanism debate has raged in ancient Greece and India for centuries. However, both the Vitalism and the Atomism theories are just that - models that have some coherence and some evidence to "prove" their existence.

As W. Edwards Deming, adviser to Japan after the war, said, "All models are not true; but some are more useful than others."
.........
Koichi Tohei taught that ki is a highly useful model for understanding aikido and performing it excellently. Not only that, he believed it is also a useful basis for self-mastery and personal transformation. Tohei was the first person to articulate Ueshiba's teaching in terms of ki, and to develop a system to learn and practise ki.
.........
My contention is that aikido was meant by its founder to be a means of personal transformation and individuation. This means that a holistic approach is needed: one that integrates body, mind and subtle energy - ki. It involves opening oneself up to a way of thinking, feeling and practising that is sometimes vague, sometimes seemingly beyond reach, yet sometimes very clear and tangible. Ki is not easy to grasp, it takes time, and it needs a sense of letting go rather than intellectual analysis. To have a mechanistic, reductionist approach to aikido reduces it to physical techniques and nothing else. That is why many people misunderstand aikido in relation to "self-defence," and why there is so much confusion about the purpose and modern-day relevance of aikido.

Best,
Gerald

https://www.mindbodyaikido.com
Hello Gerald,

In fact, you gave a lot of effort with your answer, and what you're saying sounds pretty plausible.

But actually, like Tohei, you're talking about a belief system, or perhaps a philosophical approach.
Tohei's approach, as far as I'm aware, was heavily influenced by yoga. But I know other people who can do comparable things, even more effectively, and they explain exactly what they are doing without resorting to Ki. Nevertheless, quite not a few would immediately say, oh, now I see for the very first time, what aikido is about.

Our perception is simply not always and under all circumstances reliable.
So, it may well be that you feel bewildered and do not understand why you find yourself on the ground again, but someone else could easily explain it to you, if he wanted, without having to resort to ki or any kind of esotericism.

The founder and Tohei may have said a lot of things and in the best of intentions.
In any case, the Japanese native speakers generally use Ki in down to earth terms i.e. combinations of memes, that have clearly nothing esoteric about them, just as we, on the other hand, do not need "Esoterics" in our Aikido, to make it incomprehensible. At least to quite a many of those with less experience.

In the end, a human being can only do what a human being can and there is nothing supernatural about it, however exceptional it may seem.

Best,
Bernd
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Old 11-21-2019, 03:51 PM   #27
gezznz
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Smile Re: I thought ki was fake.

Quote:
Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post

In the end, a human being can only do what a human being can and there is nothing supernatural about it, however exceptional it may seem.

Best,
Bernd
Hi Bernd,

Thank you for your reply. It is indeed a perplexing argument.

First of all, I completely agree with you that supposedly "supernatural powers" are actually resources we all have. The reason we do not often express them is that somehow our "ordinary" state of mind interferes with access to our natural resources. This is something that Tohei asserted - he said that mind-body coordination was a way to tap into a natural form of being and acting.

I also agree with you that Ki is a component of a belief system, which as you say is a an aspect of philosophy. I mentioned that it is a model of understanding the world. The reductionist scientific western approach is also a model, one that works to explain many things, but not all things. For example, it has no way of explaining the mind, except as a series of chemical reactions, which is a circular argument.

Tohei was apparently influenced by Nakamura Tempu, who was a man who went to the US to study medicine, then went to India to study yoga, before coming back to Japan to become a spiritual leader.

From my many decades' interest in personal development, holistic health, yoga, and aikido, I have come to understand that the only reason we do not achieve our human potential is because of interference from our own minds. However, to try to deal with the mind using the mind is like trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

That is why I believe that coordinating mind with body, as in aikido or yoga with "mindfulness," and consciously using the concepts of Ki, we can eventually bypass the ego mind to an ego-less state (i.e. a state with less ego). Like my teachers before me, I can only present this way of practising aikido to people, and it is up to people whether they want to explore it or not.

We can have many belief systems and models to try to explain our existence, but in the end it is only experience that is 'truth." I am always grateful to the founder and teachers of aikido, for giving me the opportunity to have the exhilarating experiences of working and moving with others in ever more subtle ways as I get older in years. In this way, aikido is a never-ending journey of discovery.

Last edited by gezznz : 11-21-2019 at 04:00 PM.

Best regards,
Gerald
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:37 AM   #28
jonreading
 
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Because I don't post anymore... but this conversation sparked my interest.

Putting on my grumpy hat, I have the following observations in my training:
1. Ki is not a belief system. I think Westerners consume ki as if it is mystical; "following ki", "putting ki in my life," and so on. Unless you are practicing a religion of which ki is a component, I think this is confusing at best and wrong at worst. The generalization of ki does not help, nor the cultural context.
2. Aiki is a tool for transformation. Transforming what? Transforming how our body moves and unifying it to the mind to coordinate movement. Changing how you think is not equivalent to improving your mind's interaction with your body. When you conflate those ideas, things get muddy.

Quote:
From my many decades' interest in personal development, holistic health, yoga, and aikido, I have come to understand that the only reason we do not achieve our human potential is because of interference from our own minds. However, to try to deal with the mind using the mind is like trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Our mind is not what is in our way. Poor lifestyles and the [perceived] higher opportunity costs of everything modern society offers are in our way. I have used this example before, but it fits here... If you work out at a gym 1-2 times each week, live a sedentary lifestyle and eat poorly, would you honestly expect to make a healthier body? No. But, you believe that you should be healthier. How is this different? It isn't. Blaming your mind isn't fair and its an excuse for poor performance.

Cultivating Ki is freakin' hard. It competes with your lifestyle, it requires and insane amount of time to accomplish, and it fundamentally changes how your body works. To imply that you can cultivate ki over a long weekend or something is a disservice to the training. Aiki do should be moving meditation - a constant exchange of rewiring the brain to move the body and gaining command of new muscle and tissue you didn't even know existed the day before and then coordinating those muscles with larger movement. Rinse and repeat.

None of this is mystical or insurmountable. But, most of us make decisions to do something else that we believe is more important than cultivating ki. In accounting, your budget always shows your intentions - where you spend the most money is what you think is most important. In your life, I think there is a strong argument that how you spend your time tells me a lot about how invested you are in this training. This isn't right or wrong and each life is different, so I want to be clear that there is no judgment in this observation.

If you have been training for more than a few years in aikido and still cannot personally understand, define, and defend what aiki is in your training, I think you should be critical of yourself to ask "why am I doing something that I cannot explain?" Honestly, the answer may just be that you don't know what you are doing, which is fine. In Western culture, there is no parallel to the insanity of training something in which you do not know what you are doing or why. Except maybe golf - the sh!t drives me nuts, still.

I posted this only because I think we need to be OK saying, "I don't know what I am doing."

"I had a great class tonight, it felt like everything was effortless..." "You know what you did?" "Nope. But, I sure hope it happens again."

Also, get off my lawn.

Grumpy post over.

Last edited by jonreading : 11-22-2019 at 08:40 AM.

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Old 11-23-2019, 05:57 PM   #29
gezznz
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Woah Jon! Sorry if I may have triggered your grumpiness at the end of your week!

Why do we live a sedentary lifestyle? Why do we eat poorly? We do we make bad choices? Isn't it because of the mind, and lack of clarity?

Yes, I totally agree with you, cultivating Ki is hard, not because it is inherently hard, but because we need to let go of so much baggage that is in the way.

If we don't have a belief system that includes Ki, we see and experience the world as a physical place. If our belief system is vitalistic, and includes some form of life energy, we experience the world differently. That is the whole point of Don Juan's teaching in the Carlos Casteneda books.

Jon, I believe our understanding is very similar, perhaps it is just choice of words that get in the way.

Anyway, have a happy weekend mate. Kia ora from New Zealand.

Best regards,
Gerald
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Old 11-24-2019, 08:54 AM   #30
jonreading
 
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Hah!

I think there are some people who blame their poor decisions on their mind. I do not accept those decisions are related to a "Clarity of the mind." Mostly, I say this because poor decisions are often identified after the consequence takes its toll. I think most of us would argue that our decision-making skills are good, proven wrong only in the fullness of time. In any case, I do not think rational decision-making in the brain is a component of ki training. At least, not a component that is required for basic training.

In my earlier post, I indicated that I do not like laying a religion over discussions about ki. I have heard too many people use this complexity to obfuscate practical discussions of energy work. Second, I have heard many people (on this forum and elsewhere) who imbue "Ki" with a morality as a pseudo-religion. I don't think you can correlate morality and body energy to make any supported argument that energy training makes you a better person or improves your cognitive decision-making skills.

Ironically, Aikido people have a bad history of looking down on "lower" arts that focus on body training, not realizing that aiki training is... training to better understand the body. Which is the second observation I was making - that we will talk about aiki in our training, but the whole "change your body" stuff is too hard, so we talk about how much more "aiki" our minds are.

I could workout for 60 minutes tonight, but Game of Thrones is on and I have to watch that. I reject the premise the mind was simply "unclear" that 60 minutes watching GoT is less healthy than 60 minutes of exercise.

I think many of us simply don't know what we are doing, and we try so hard to prove otherwise that we literally make up things to sound like we know what we are doing.

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Old 11-28-2019, 06:38 AM   #31
dps
 
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Quote:
Gerald Lopez wrote: View Post
Woah Jon! Sorry if I may have triggered your grumpiness at the end of your week!

Why do we live a sedentary lifestyle? Why do we eat poorly? We do we make bad choices? Isn't it because of the mind, and lack of clarity?

Yes, I totally agree with you, cultivating Ki is hard, not because it is inherently hard, but because we need to let go of so much baggage that is in the way.

If we don't have a belief system that includes Ki, we see and experience the world as a physical place. If our belief system is vitalistic, and includes some form of life energy, we experience the world differently. That is the whole point of Don Juan's teaching in the Carlos Casteneda books.

Jon, I believe our understanding is very similar, perhaps it is just choice of words that get in the way.

Anyway, have a happy weekend mate. Kia ora from New Zealand.
Questionable whether Castenada's book are real.

"But doubts soon surfaced. Experts pointed out that Don Juan's "teachings" bore little resemblance to actual Yaqui Indian religious beliefs. Hallucinogenic mushrooms didn't grow in the Sonoran Desert, where Don Juan supposedly lived. Anyone who'd gone walking for hours in the desert at the hottest time of the day, as Castaneda claimed he and Don Juan had done, would surely have died of sunstroke"

and

"Journalists discovered that Castaneda was a habitual teller of tall tales who, among other things, falsified his family background and his place and date of birth."

https://www.straightdope.com/columns...or-make-it-up/

dps

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Old 11-29-2019, 04:48 PM   #32
gezznz
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Questionable whether Castenada's book are real.

dps
His books are real enough. At least I can say I own a few physical copies from the 1970s.

Interesting, I was a teenager in the 1970s, and excitedly told a "rational adult" about the Castaneda books I had been reading. He patronisingly told me, "Why don't you just stick with the real world, Gerald."

My journey into drugs, going into virgin jungles, and meeting "primitive" (actually sophisticated) people made me realise the "real world" is what we perceive it to be as a result of our beliefs, our upbringing, our culture - i.e. the collection of our resultant thoughts. If you believe in magic, your life is full of magic; if you don't, your life has no magic.

There is an army of naysayers, who have wasted their valuable time trying to research and discredit Castaneda.

The problem with materialists and rationalists is their overwhelming arrogance, which prevents them from allowing possibility, and from recognising the power of symbolism. Their rationality prevents them from thinking more deeply, and experiencing life more richly.

For example, people who say thinking, creativity and genius are "only" chemical reactions in the brain, themselves are not thinking deeply enough.

Whether Castaneda's books are "real" is beside the point. Is the Bible "real"? Is the Tao Te Ching "real"? Is the Mahabharata "real"?

Castaneda's books inspired me as a 16-year old, and gave me reference points to experience the world in different ways from many other people. This did not prevent me from building another world of constriction and limitation, which I am now realising I have done. As a youth, I did not have the experience and wisdom to fully utilise Don Juan's tools and fully free myself from my psychological and emotional "personal history."

Even as a student of aikido of one of Europe's most charismatic and brilliant teachers in the 80's and early 90's, I did not realise the gift of what I was receiving from him. I thought I was learning aikido techniques, and how to defend myself. How naive I was. Now, 30 years later, I am realising what it is about - for me anyway. And it is something I want to share, so others don't have to take 30 years.

Like Castaneda's books, you either "get" Ki or you don't. You don't have to know what you are doing, you don't have to prove it physically, you don't even need to try and explain with phony biomechanics theories, you just have to be open to the possibility that it exists.

I cannot change cynics and angry people. My hope is that, those who are new to aikido, and those who have an open mind, can resonate with what I have shared, and that it might inspire them to keep exploring Ki.

Have an awesome weekend.

Best regards,
Gerald
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:34 PM   #33
dps
 
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

He died of liver cancer.. Seems like a painful and unlikely way for a nagual to die.

dps

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Old 11-30-2019, 12:46 PM   #34
jonreading
 
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Quote:
Like Castaneda's books, you either "get" Ki or you don't. You don't have to know what you are doing, you don't have to prove it physically, you don't even need to try and explain with phony biomechanics theories, you just have to be open to the possibility that it exists.
I think this is part of my problem. In making a parallel comparison, you are equating a subjective discussion of a literature author with what should be an objective discussion of cultivating, training, and expressing ki. By choosing to subjectively discuss ki, you give yourself an opportunity to pivot away from differences in physical performance. For those of you who choose to believe in ki without requiring anyone to actually show us what its about... why are you willing to believe in it?

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Old 11-30-2019, 10:45 PM   #35
gezznz
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Re: I thought ki was fake.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I think this is part of my problem. In making a parallel comparison, you are equating a subjective discussion of a literature author with what should be an objective discussion of cultivating, training, and expressing ki. By choosing to subjectively discuss ki, you give yourself an opportunity to pivot away from differences in physical performance. For those of you who choose to believe in ki without requiring anyone to actually show us what its about... why are you willing to believe in it?
That is a very good question. There is belief that comes from "objective" evidence, i.e. the evidence agreed on by a large number of people. If a person is colour blind, they may believe the evidence of scientists that leaves are green.

Another source of beliefs is experience. Experience is purely subjective and individual, and it is often sufficient evidence to form a belief, unless one tries to rationalise the experience away by saying "That's not possible!" That has happened to me a lot, especially with regards to ki.

The original poster had an experience which challenged his beliefs. This caused a number of people to pile on him telling him to "forget about ki" and just focus on learning the basic moves. I may have reacted to this, and I apologise. I just feel it is a shame when a person is discouraged in the name of "objectivity." Don't get me wrong, I believe that being rational and scientific has its place, but I believe it only gives answers to part of the picture.

If you want an objective suggestion, what I suggest is you explore that experience and find a teacher who themselves have explored ki. I had the good fortune to have such a teacher. He was not a woo-woo flake, he was the first British dan grade of Kenshiro Abbe, a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba. Abbe had been sent to the UK in 1955 to spread Budo to Europe. My teacher learned under him - judo, karate, kendo and aikido - and attained dan grade in all of them, then became chief aikido instructor for the UK.

My teacher had felt his teacher's ki. His teacher had felt Ueshiba's ki (that's how he became his student). I had felt my teacher's ki. We all had had experiences (albeit different) of ki. The way I teach is very similar to my teacher's. We teach students about principles of mind-body coordination and ki, we give them exercises to experience the principles, then we show them how to apply their acquired experience and feeling to aikido, and daily life.

So we have an up-front approach. Tell them about the concept of ki first. Give them some small experiences. Guide them to gain more confidence. The understanding of ki is a felt one, and takes time to integrate. As a teacher, I found that understanding and capability to utilise ki is progressive. That is the purpose of the grades.

Other teachers have a different approach. Learn the physical moves first, then one day - perhaps - you will be lucky enough to "get" ki. From my perspective, that approach can result in aggressive or wooden styles, excessive focus on physical technique, a lot of shoving people around. Why struggle for so long?

One of the several reasons I made reference to Castaneda is that, in the books anyway, his teacher told him he was a lousy student because he tried to rationalise everything. So he had to take him through crazy experiences to "stop his world," ie suspend his rationalised world.

I think understanding ki is similar. We need to suspend our somewhat arrogant Western rationality and supposed need for objectivity (I have been guilty, I assure you), in order to allow a different kind of reality to surface in our awareness.

You can start by feeling the energy in your body. Try to extend the space around you, especially when you walk in the street. Extend to your aikido partner, and try to feel them even before they touch you. Lead them just before they touch you and see how that changes the flow. Relax more in the moves, especially when doing ukemi. Stop resisting and pushing, and relax and visualise the energy.

I have been away from aikido for 25 years, and have just come back. If there are no more teachers who can show people how to cultivate, train, and express ki, that is a tragedy. Definitely a lot has changed, and there appears to be a lot of polarisation and discontent within aikido.

I hope I have answered your question. Maybe the way I say things is not clear, and I am sorry for that. I haven't meant to insult anyone in particular, I just get frustrated because I can't find the words to make it clear to those who are struggling to understand ki. Perhaps, as someone has implied, it's because I don't completely understand ki myself. I did admit it is a lifetime journey.

Best regards,
Gerald
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