Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: AikiWeb Column: Another Training Dilemma: A "The Mirror" Conversation by "The Mir
Let us say this when it comes to the cultivating of the self: Most of our responses to the training are habitual. Most can be categorized according to one of three types of responses that we undertake when we experience any wisdom or insight that has the capacity to further transform us – to bring about change in us. These three types of responses are, first, resistance – resistance toward wisdom or insight. Resistance allows the status quo to maintain itself by us fighting against the element of transformation. In essence, we look to remove the catalyst for change away from us. Second, there is retreating – retreating from wisdom or insight. This retreating allows the status quo to maintain itself by us removing ourselves from the impetus of change. Third, which is more often than not a support to one of the previous two responses, is delusion. In delusion, of course denial is at work, but what is most dangerous is the feigning of engaging with the insight but doing so in a way that little to no change in the self is truly necessary and thus brought about. In delusion, we maintain the status quo by adopting only what can be called the “spirit” of transformation while we thereby reject all that really brings change in us. A good example of this is when in our Aikido training we look to cultivate ourselves along the lines of non-violence and non-resistance but we set up our practice so that no conflicts ever arise. In other words, here I am referring to the will to develop a capacity to not resist attacks but to set up training in such a way that uke never attacks. Sure, in this case I am not resisting against attacks, but it is because there are no attacks to resist against!
When I train, and when I teach, I look for these internal struggles. I do not do this solely to be free of them, as that is for the most part impossible. I look for them because I have learned that it is through the appearance of these things that real change actually occurs. In other words, I am suggesting, that real change cannot occur until resistance, retreating, and delusion are first practiced and then used as an entryway into the true mechanisms of the self. These things, I suggest, are not the ends of training – they are the beginning of training. There is no other entryway into the self but through these doors – in my opinion.
For me then, when I read this column, I read it from the point of view that all is moving along nicely, as it should, as it has to. In other words, if we are not tossed into existential turmoil, where all the big “whys” live, at least once a year, then this means that training has for the most part stifled and with it our means to transform the self.
I realize that there are those on this site that fear looking back at what they have written, worrying and attempting to get others to worry on how their words will hold up to posterity’s sake. This is such a strange concept to me, particularly from my above stated point of view. The point of training, from the above point of view, is to have as many “Holy cow! I didn’t know anything” moments as possible – not less, and certainly not to have a last one, once and for all. It is when I look back at what I was doing or saying or writing and am unable to say to myself, “Oh man, what an idiot you were!” that I start to get worried. For me, when these moments are not present in our training, we are not training. We have solely been trying to legitimate the status quo of our existence, as we always attempt to do when it comes to the transformation of the self. Training, Aikido or otherwise, then becomes just another activity that has been subsumed under the control of the habitual self.
For me, the more skilled a practitioner is in the transformation of the self, the more quickly they can run through the process of wisdom/insight-resistance/retreat/delusion-reconciliation-transformation. That is to say, a skilled practitioner of Aikido is someone that can experience a wisdom or insight, pass through the process of habitual reaction of resistance and/or retreating and/or delusion, engage the habitual self by looking to reconcile said wisdom with said resistance and/or retreating and/or delusion and thereby bring about self-transformation. The more skilled the practitioner, the more quickly they can run through this cycle in the technology of the self. In fact, when it comes to the highly skilled this process will happen so quickly that it will for the most part be instantaneous - thus give the illusion of having never occurred.
So, if I were to reply to this letter, I would say:
Great job! You have managed to stumble across something that stirred up enough resistance/retreating/delusion – a catalyst for further self-transformation. Now, bring more awareness to that resistance/retreating/delusion. Look to see how and why such reactions are supported by the habitual self. Engage more, invest all you can, open up and accept. You are now training, transformation is happening. This is all good – possibly painful – but all good.
Besides, if self-transformation did not feel like this, what should we expect it to feel like? ;-)