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Old 05-09-2007, 09:18 AM   #51
saulofong
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Smile Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Well,

As it was already said, it depends on your concept of spiritual and on your concept of what is Aikido.....very very subjective...

What I can only write is my experience and my perceptions.

I have been in martial arts since I was around 10. I had already practiced Kendo, Kung Fu, Wing Chun Do, Jujitsu and then found Aikido around 8 years ago.

When I first started Aikido I had the only intention to develop my body sensibility to be able to use the other tools I had learned in other martial arts to be a good fighter. To be able to deal with any kind of opponent. To be able to destroy opponent.

Well, it took a couple years of trainning, reading and self-improvement courses for me to really face all the fear and unsecurity feelling that was behind all this search to be able to defend myself efficiently.

When I realized this feeling of unsecurity and faced it. All my practice started to change. My view and understanding of Aikido changed. The way I practiced changed. The focus changed.

Now I understand those people that wants to focus only on the "martial" part of Aikido if that really exists.

Aikido is about presence. About vulnerability. It is about being open to life. The techniques and training methods are only a way to get to that inner state. And they are only this....techniques and methods. And the way you practice this techniques and methods can or cannot be aligned to the purpose of Aikido. It depends only on the person practicing.

But this is only my view. Nobody needs to accept it. Nobody needs even to comment on it. I just felt like sharing...

Saulo Fong
Aikido - Instituto União
São Paulo, Brazil
http://www.institutouniao.com.br/aikido/
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:25 AM   #52
Aiki1
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Saulo - Very, very nice post.

LN

Larry Novick
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:03 PM   #53
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Saulo, thank you. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-09-2007, 04:02 PM   #54
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
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Saulo, thank you. Couldn't have said it better myself.
Good Stuff! I'm glad we're not done with this post yet. It seems to be only getting better

Thanks for joining the conversation
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Old 05-10-2007, 06:56 AM   #55
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
Saulo Fong wrote: View Post
Aikido is about presence. About vulnerability. It is about being open to life. The techniques and training methods are only a way to get to that inner state. And they are only this....techniques and methods. And the way you practice this techniques and methods can or cannot be aligned to the purpose of Aikido. It depends only on the person practicing.
This is very much my view as well. You stated it beautifully.

The hard part about Aikido is that it is all about being able to hold opposites at the same time and understand that they are just two aspects of the whole. In this sense I think Aikido practice is a big Koan that we must each solve for ourselves.

I don't think that very many folks really solve this Koan. Many of the folks who want so badly to embrace the aspect of fostering that inner state you spoke of do not understand the importance of developing their inner strength through the martial side of the practice. This is one of the reasons that many martial artists make fun of Aikido because it is readily apparent that many of the folks who are doing the art are actually quite fearful and their technique is what Clint George Sensei would call "wishful thinking Aikido". Being vulnerable, sensitive, and open is simply weakness if one still is fearful and has a reactive mind.

On the other side, it is quite apparent that many people doing the art are only concerned with learning more techniques for fighting, even when they say that's not what they are doing. The folks who are more focused on the spiritual side of the art can easily see that much of the motivation for these folks is to try to cover up their fears by pursuing power. This is a major motivator for many people in the martial arts. Yet it fools very few. The underlying fear and tension is apparent to anyone who isn't himself or herself motivated by fear.

Aikido is about taking the two opposite sides of the art and bringing them together in ones practice and ones life. There is tremendous power in losing ones fear. When one can connect the opening of ones heart with the fearlessness of the warrior, one is able to take ones physical practice to another level entirely. And in ones life you suddenly find that the dropping away of ones fear allows you to see the fundamental connection between people rather than having ones fears keep them distant and separate.

Aikido is, to my mind, a spiritual practice. But if it doesn't develop inner strength, if it doesn't move one towards the fearlessness one needs to move beyond our old reptile brain in which everything is about survival, all the time, then it isn't a spiritual practice of any great depth.

Aikido practice should be difficult. It should push your buttons. It should force you to let go of your baggage over time. It cannot be just about the fun. But it also should be about letting go, learning to trust that relaxing and meeting the world expansively will make you safer than fighting it and holding it away. Any practice that makes one more fearful or creates tension is bad practice.

Most folks give in to their fears and go one way or the other in their training. Each group is giving in to what they fear rather than overcoming those fears. Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 05-10-2007, 07:32 AM   #56
dbotari
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido is about taking the two opposite sides of the art and bringing them together in ones practice and ones life. There is tremendous power in losing ones fear. When one can connect the opening of ones heart with the fearlessness of the warrior, one is able to take ones physical practice to another level entirely. And in ones life you suddenly find that the dropping away of ones fear allows you to see the fundamental connection between people rather than having ones fears keep them distant and separate.
I really like this comment and think it is key. The goal, I believe is the transcendence of self (which includes, fear, ego etc).

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido is, to my mind, a spiritual practice. But if it doesn't develop inner strength, if it doesn't move one towards the fearlessness one needs to move beyond our old reptile brain in which everything is about survival, all the time, then it isn't a spiritual practice of any great depth.

Aikido practice should be difficult. It should push your buttons. It should force you to let go of your baggage over time. It cannot be just about the fun. But it also should be about letting go, learning to trust that relaxing and meeting the world expansively will make you safer than fighting it and holding it away. ...[snip]

Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.
Ledyard sensei, I enjoy reading your well thought and clearly written responses. Keep them coming!
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Old 05-10-2007, 09:13 AM   #57
tarik
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido practice should be difficult. It should push your buttons. It should force you to let go of your baggage over time.
I think many (most?) people don't allow their practice to push their buttons, or as they progress, forget and think that the button pushing stage of their practice is over (because they wear a black belt or some other measure like getting 'too old').

I think MANY people would prefer that their practice simply be fun (and I'm not saying that it shouldn't be by agreeing with you here).

Quote:
Any practice that makes one more fearful or creates tension is bad practice.
Amen.

Quote:
Most folks give in to their fears and go one way or the other in their training. Each group is giving in to what they fear rather than overcoming those fears. Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.
Damn.. eloquent. The root of the problem. George, has anyone ever told you that you should be a teacher?

Arigato, Sensei.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:23 AM   #58
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Near as I can tell, a person can't grow or change without buttons getting pushed. And if yer not growing/changing, what the hell is the point of living?

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-10-2007, 11:51 AM   #59
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This is very much my view as well. You stated it beautifully.

The hard part about Aikido is that it is all about being able to hold opposites at the same time and understand that they are just two aspects of the whole. In this sense I think Aikido practice is a big Koan that we must each solve for ourselves.

Snip good stuff....

Most folks give in to their fears and go one way or the other in their training. Each group is giving in to what they fear rather than overcoming those fears. Aikido is about finding the power that comes from connection rather than separateness. But if you are really going to let people in you must have a real warrior spirit, other wise its just too terrifying to feel that vulnerable.
Very well put. This is consonant with the psychological work that I do, as you are familiar with George - where a basic goal is developing the process of consciousness in us that can embrace all the many different aspects of our being, and learn to hold the tension of the opposites rather than disown the parts of ourself that make us uncomfortable or cause us to feel vulnerable. This allows us to continually find and return to our ever-changing dynamic center, at all levels - physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. And from that center, balance and wholeness emerge....

LN

Larry Novick
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ACE Aikido
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Old 05-10-2007, 11:57 AM   #60
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Wonderful post George. Mushin mugamae... real balance comes from being very comfortable being off balance in many, many ways.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:24 PM   #61
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Looks like George has captured many of our points of view. At the same time it also opens the door for some cross comparison. In other words, by this, can't we, and shouldn't we ask, "Is my/yours Aikido training intense enough?" "Is my/your Aikido training ego-stroking or ego-purifying? Etc.

I mean, sometimes, if folks get lucky, they are able to articulate what George has, but then when I see their level of practice, the low level of danger present on the mat, or the low level of true self-exposure and self-reflection in their practice, it's almost worse when they have left the over-simplified and nearly completely ignorant view of "martial vs. spiritual" for this other clearly accurate interpretation of Aikido practice.

Even at my own dojo, when I am forced to take some time off - say about a week - when I come back to the dojo, folks often feel like they are dropped in one of those frozen baths you can take in Japan. No matter how many times they have felt this, they allow themselves to go through it time and time again. This tells me that unless one is very disciplined he/she will return to what is comfortable. Martially, this means practice will turn into light choreographed junk. Spiritually, this means practice will be fueled by delusion and more about ego reinforcement than about ego purification.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-10-2007, 04:59 PM   #62
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
No matter how many times they have felt this, they allow themselves to go through it time and time again. This tells me that unless one is very disciplined he/she will return to what is comfortable. Martially, this means practice will turn into light choreographed junk. Spiritually, this means practice will be fueled by delusion and more about ego reinforcement than about ego purification.
I laughed at how timely this is for me! In my "aikido off the mat" job as nursing supervisor I am constantly reminded of the human tendency to slowly get sloppy/lazy and let standards slip if not continually challenged....it is also one of the things I love about having students; they keep ME from letting my standards slip!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:52 PM   #63
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

This is why a learning system has to have feedback loops. There must be appropriate challenging (managed competition) at all levels and testing at all times that gives us the most immediate, clear pass/fail information possible.

We all fall into comfortable levels of any behavior if our colleagues aren't appropriately calling bs when it happens. This has to be compassionate and as gentle as possible for the communication to be understood. I have an especially hard head sometimes and at times in my life the feedback has needed to be further along the scale towards "not very gentle" but thankfully, I'm educable. How can we all keep learning until the last possible instant of consciouness of we don't care about each other enough to give this feedback in loving ways. It is one of the greatest gifts we can share. Otherwise... we'll all just go to sleep and not know it.

Gambatte!

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 05-10-2007, 06:19 PM   #64
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

I agree with the feedback - extremely important. However, other than using the "c" word, I would prefer the word "spontaneous" or "live" training environments. That's just me. :-)

Aside from structural elements when it comes to training, I feel that certain elements must be present at the personal level as well - here are some I try and use and pass on:

- if one way is easy, and the other way is difficult - take the latter course.
- follow your fears; let your fears be your sign posts for the direction your training should take.
- sacrifice yourself before you sacrifice anything or anyone else.
- hold the Truth as more vital than you.
- note your discomforts and your reasons for them.
- accept where you are as you note that you can and should always do more.
- find no support in anything outside of yourself.

Do you all have any more, and would you be kind enough to share - please/thanks.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-10-2007, 09:06 PM   #65
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
... certain elements must be present at the personal level as well - here are some I try and use and pass on:
All well said. And those things are timeless ( alternately, from the Gospels and the Dhammapada):
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- if one way is easy, and the other way is difficult - take the latter course.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

"This is the only Way. There is none other for the purity of vision. Do you follow this path. ...Entering upon that path you will make an end of pain. ...Few among men are they who cross to the further shore. The other folk only run up and down the bank on this side."
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- follow your fears; let your fears be your sign posts for the direction your training should take.
"Do not be afraid."
(The single most repeated phrase uttered by Jesus in the entire New Testament)

"He who has reached the goal, is fearless, is without craving, is passionless, has cut off the thorns of life. This is his final body."
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- sacrifice yourself before you sacrifice anything or anyone else.
"And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.' "

"He who sees others' faults, and is ever irritable - the corruptions of such a one grow. He is far from the destruction of corruptions."
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- hold the Truth as more vital than you.
"... and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

"The gift of Truth excels all (other) gifts. The flavour of Truth excels all (other) flavours. The pleasure in Truth excels all (other) pleasures. He who has destroyed craving overcomes all sorrow."
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- note your discomforts and your reasons for them.
"... More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us ..."

"Easy to do are things that are hard and not beneficial to oneself, but very, very difficult, indeed, to do is that which is beneficial and good."
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- accept where you are as you note that you can and should always do more.
"For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

"Do not follow a life of evil; do not live heedlessly; do not have false views; do not value worldly things. In this way one can get rid of suffering. A man should not live heedlessly but should exert himself to live righteously. Such a man is happy in this world and in the next. "
Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
- find no support in anything outside of yourself.
"I AM with you always, until the end of the world"

"By oneself alone is evil done; it is self-born, it is self-caused. Evil grinds the unwise as a diamond grinds a hard gem... By oneself, indeed, is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself, indeed, is one purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 05-11-2007, 07:42 AM   #66
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
Aside from structural elements when it comes to training, I feel that certain elements must be present at the personal level as well - here are some I try and use and pass on:

- if one way is easy, and the other way is difficult - take the latter course.
- follow your fears; let your fears be your sign posts for the direction your training should take.
- sacrifice yourself before you sacrifice anything or anyone else.
- hold the Truth as more vital than you.
- note your discomforts and your reasons for them.
- accept where you are as you note that you can and should always do more.
- find no support in anything outside of yourself.

Do you all have any more, and would you be kind enough to share - please/thanks.

dmv
Hello David,

I find myself seeing those as too broad a spectrum. Not that I think they wouldn't apply in certain situations, but in an overall sense, not something I would agree with.

For instance, when done correctly, a technique elicits this response from tori, "But I didn't do anything". Finding that tori didn't do anything, one would think that's the easy road and since muscling a technique is much harder, then that way would be the one to take? Instead, I often think, find a good instructor and follow that way for as long as possible, whether easy or hard.

If one's fears causes one to back away, back out, lose intent, should one follow one's fears then? Instead I find that understanding one's Self will bring an understanding of one's fears. After all, isn't that what Aikido is all about?

I would much rather sacrifice the murderer intent on killing friends or family before I sacrifice myself or my friends or family. Anything and anyone is way too blanket a statement. For those who require a better understanding, I would rather sacrifice a child rapist's life before sacrificing my own life. My practice follows this logic. In training, though, I have more options. But still, my training partner has the intent to harm me. I will not sacrifice my own center, my own Self for anyone or anything. The martial application in Aikido dictates that I be able to not only withstand an attack but to also match that energy/intent. There is no "given up", "lost", or "surrender" of myself for anything or anyone. More than likely, the opposite is true. I will be as true to myself as possible and allow the other person to sacrifice their Self in their attack.

No support? My definition of support runs along the lines of to hold up, to promote the interests of, to act with, to keep something going, to uphold, etc. So, support primarily deals with outside influences. And to me, I have found that great people, family, and friends can have an enormous benefit to oneself in their support. So, no, I can't agree. Why do we even have teachers, if not for their support to help us find the way?

All IMO,
Mark

Oh, as to the thread, Is Aikido a spiritual practice. Yes. In more ways than one.

What's funny is that according to m-w.com, spiritual pertains to the spirit. Spirit is from spiritus, or breath. LOL. Can we say ki?

Spiritual is also affecting the essential principle influencing a person. In that aspect, any martial art could be seen as spiritual.

It's also relating to supernatural beings, of which the kami can be an example. Ueshiba and kami are definitely not separable. This can also be seen when people try to fit the Christian God as a kami.

It's also applied when one works on one's Self. And I don't think many disagree that Aikido does work on one's Self, as Ledyard sensei's excellent post points out.

Okay, I'll stop there. But, it isn't a matter of Aikido being spiritual. No, it's a matter of how one is defining/applying the spirituality of Aikido to one's Self.
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:59 AM   #67
tarik
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Hello Mark,

Quote:
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So, no, I can't agree. Why do we even have teachers, if not for their support to help us find the way?
I find myself nodding and agreeing with your response. No small surprise really.

Interestingly enough, David's post also rang true for me, but his post rang true in a different sense. I have gotten as far as I have because a deliberate attempt to understand my fears has allowed me to better understand my 'Self' and freed me from many of those fears.

These ideas are a part of the equation, an internal part, that is particularly important in times when you have no support, no teacher, no guideposts. However it must also be balanced by what you suggest.

Having found a family and friends that are supportive, having discovered a support system and a teacher, these things have fundamentally changed how I am able to approach and deal with differently. No longer do I feel that I have to 'steal' what I need; it is offered freely and with real friendship and love.

There is a paradox here in the balance of how to be self-disciplined and self-guided vs. a part of something larger. They don't have to be mutually exclusive, although it seems that way on paper. One of the paradoxes of practice.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Okay, I'll stop there. But, it isn't a matter of Aikido being spiritual. No, it's a matter of how one is defining/applying the spirituality of Aikido to one's Self.
Much more eloquent than my constipated words.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 05-11-2007, 09:37 AM   #68
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Hi David,
I think there are other ways of interpreting what David meant here. I don't think you necessarily took these the way he meant them. Here's my own take on them.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Hello David,

I find myself seeing those as too broad a spectrum. Not that I think they wouldn't apply in certain situations, but in an overall sense, not something I would agree with.

For instance, when done correctly, a technique elicits this response from tori, "But I didn't do anything". Finding that tori didn't do anything, one would think that's the easy road and since muscling a technique is much harder, then that way would be the one to take? Instead, I often think, find a good instructor and follow that way for as long as possible, whether easy or hard.
It's not about the physical effort. It is far more difficult to get people to let go of their fight or flight reactions, that old reptile brain, and to accept conflict in a relaxed and expansive fashion. It requires a major shift in what one believes will make one "safe". It is difficult in ones physical training and it is even more difficult to do in ones life off the mat. It's the letting go of the need to fight that is so very hard.

Quote:
If one's fears causes one to back away, back out, lose intent, should one follow one's fears then? Instead I find that understanding one's Self will bring an understanding of one's fears. After all, isn't that what Aikido is all about?
That is what training is all about... dealing with ones fears. I do not believe that David meant to give into ones fears but to look directly at them and understand what they are. But understanding does not in itself change the essential causes of ones fears. Look at all the people who have done years of therapy. They understand their fears on a very detailed level but many of them are still controlled by them. There has to be a mechanism to change our relationship with what makes us afraid. Mere "understanding' is only the first step, as important as it is.

Quote:
I would much rather sacrifice the murderer intent on killing friends or family before I sacrifice myself or my friends or family. Anything and anyone is way too blanket a statement. For those who require a better understanding, I would rather sacrifice a child rapist's life before sacrificing my own life. My practice follows this logic. In training, though, I have more options. But still, my training partner has the intent to harm me. I will not sacrifice my own center, my own Self for anyone or anything. The martial application in Aikido dictates that I be able to not only withstand an attack but to also match that energy/intent. There is no "given up", "lost", or "surrender" of myself for anything or anyone. More than likely, the opposite is true. I will be as true to myself as possible and allow the other person to sacrifice their Self in their attack.
I do not believe that David meant to imply at all that he would sacrifice himself by giving in to an attacker... I don't see that at all here. My take on this would derive from the meaning of the word samurai, which is "to serve". In the "spirit of loving protection" which O-Sensei spoke about, I would willingly sacrifice myself to protect someone who needed my help. I have several times intervened in domestic violence incidents. I did so fully knowing that I could lose my life doing so. If I had put my own interests first I would simply have called the police and let them handle things.

On the other hand it could mean self sacrifice for the greater good is with Gandhi’s resistance movement in India or the Freedom Riders in the US. In extreme cases, like the Buddhist Elder who committed suicide in Viet Nam by burning himself alive. Who doesn't think that these folks required an impeccable warrior spirit to do what they did for the benefit of others?

Beyond that limited view is the larger "Big Mind" view. O-Sensei got to the point in his own training where he no longer perceived any separation between himself and the other. So there is no attacker and defender. Getting to that point requires a fundamental letting go of all notions of who we think we are.

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No support? My definition of support runs along the lines of to hold up, to promote the interests of, to act with, to keep something going, to uphold, etc. So, support primarily deals with outside influences. And to me, I have found that great people, family, and friends can have an enormous benefit to oneself in their support. So, no, I can't agree. Why do we even have teachers, if not for their support to help us find the way?

All IMO,
Mark
Too often people look to their support to give them what they need to make changes. People come to rely on the teacher being there in class every night...

Years ago, when my dojo was new, I went through an extremely painful divorce. I woke up in the morning and the first thing I did was throw up. It was all I could do to get on the mat each night to teach. At one point, a student came up to me and that folks were a bit put off by the fact that my classes lacked the spark they usually had practice wasn't as enjoyable lately... I realized that these folks depended on me to motivate their training. They were dependent on me to provide the spark. It is not my job to motivate anyone's training. You need to motivate your own training!

Sure, there are people in your life who are "supportive" but if you depend on them to give you what you need to make fundamental spiritual change you will not do it. Spiritual work is essentially individual and personal. It is your work alone. A community of like minded folks is helpful (like the Buddhist Sangha or the members of the Ryuha) but one cannot become dependent on them. It is about your own practice; you have to motivate it, no one else.

Of course it depends on how deep you want to go... Most of us look to our practice to provide support for our lives. But if you look at someone like O-Sensei, he made everything and everyone in his life revolve around his practice. He had that tremendous force of will to make that happen. Not only do most of us not have that but most of us wouldn't want to do what he did anyway.

Carl Jung, in his autobiography, said that basically, embarking on a spiritual path is not voluntary, if it was no one would do it. A person is driven by his own nature to pursue a spiritual path, it is a drive "to know" that can't be ignored. It is entirely individual even though one might share the path with others. In the end he said that it is quite a lonely path. I have found that to be the case in my own training. The deeper I have gone, the more I am aware how few people really have any idea what I am doing or why I am doing it. As my Aikido has changed I have realized just how few people see things the same way I do. My own students have, at any given time been very supportive and enthused by what I was presenting, but I found that, over time, as I changed, I would lose students because I was no longer doing what I had been doing. Very few have stayed with me for the whole process... So I am essentially alone in what I am doing. I am not training for anyone else but for myself and I cannot depend on anyone else to give me what I need to follow this path.

Those are my only comments on your thoughtful post. Thanks for putting your ideas out there.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-11-2007 at 09:42 AM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-11-2007, 10:26 AM   #69
tarik
 
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Of course it depends on how deep you want to go... Most of us look to our practice to provide support for our lives. But if you look at someone like O-Sensei, he made everything and everyone in his life revolve around his practice. He had that tremendous force of will to make that happen. Not only do most of us not have that but most of us wouldn't want to do what he did anyway.
Which is why he's never been my model, precisely.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
So I am essentially alone in what I am doing. I am not training for anyone else but for myself and I cannot depend on anyone else to give me what I need to follow this path.
I've discovered this to a large extent. However, one can find people of like mind along the way and participate with them for as long as you share those similar goals (and sometimes longer). It's not forming attachments that will destroy us when they are severed or simply end for avoidable or unavoidable reasons that become a part of the path.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Those are my only comments on your thoughtful post. Thanks for putting your ideas out there.
Thank you very much for your comments. Oh.. and happy birthday!

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 05-11-2007, 10:40 AM   #70
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

Hi Mark,

Thanks for calling me on things. Allow me to explain a bit more…

I feel one has to remember that I issued these principles in combination with what Chuck said. In other words, they are expected to find their context, and thus their true meaning, from within the heat of challenge and intense live training environments. They are spiritual principles, and they make little to no sense in the realm of Aikido “lite” or “martial only” Aikido or “spiritual only” Aikido. For some Aikidoka, the heat of challenge and intense live training environments is the area of “overall sense” when it comes to Aikido training. If these principles are taken out of this context, one is only going to violate any number of them in order to appear to make “sense” of most of them. For example, one will seek to do less than one can, one will avoid his/her discomfort, deny one’s fears, or ignore the Truth as irrelevant to their own subjective experience.

Let us take your example, the one of tori/nage “not doing anything.” In an average Kihon Waza training environment (deduced from my traveling experience), especially in one where that environment is held up as they place by which one measures his/her maturity in the art, it would seem the choice is between muscling and not muscling technique, with the latter choice being the easier path and the former one being the path to avoid. This would, as you point out, appear to violate what I listed. However, from within an intense live training environment, the exact opposite is true. The hardest one to pull off is not the muscle-filled version but rather the one that has us holding true to Aiki principles. With a short answer, this is true because Aiki demands that our small-self be somewhat reconciled (e.g. purified of our fears and our self-attachments) while intense live training environments work to produce greater self-attachment at the same time that our fears are asking for greater and greater reconciliation before we cease to react habitually with them or for them.

When I suggested using one’s fears as signposts, I did not mean that to become a matter of succumbing to them. In fact, I meant the exact opposite. Budo training, and why it is so relevant today spiritually, is about the reconciliation of fear. To stop succumbing to our fears, to stop reacting habitually toward others via our fears, one has to interrupt the fear-cycle of thought, action, and speech. To do this, early on, one has to bring awareness to said fears. For the second one says, “I am afraid here,” one is no longer being fully controlled by his/her fear, as one is no longer simply reacting habitually (unconsciously) to his/her fears. Using one’s fears as signposts does not mean to continue living habitually in the face of fear – where without thought we bounce back and forth between the poles of resisting and retreating (two very non-aiki types of reactions). Using our fears as signposts means two things: first, recognizing them, identifying them, reflecting upon them, so as to interrupt the habitual cycle of unconscious reaction; and, second, going on to reconcile them as we go on to further cultivate our sense of freedom from our attachment to self-identity (which is the source of all fears). So, if an aikidoka, liked the feeling he/she achieved by throwing someone without effort in Kihon Waza training, but hated the difficulty of doing such from within intense live training environments, one is not supposed to stick to light and easy kihon waza training environments. One is supposed to work toward the intense live training environment. One is supposed to find out why they like one and hate the other. One is supposed to find a way of training that is both beyond like and hate. One is supposed to have no difference between Kihon Waza training environments and intense live training environments exist. Etc. One does this by engaging his/her fears, by using them to tell them what is yet left unreconciled. This is what I meant by “following your fears.”

I cannot say that the principle of self-sacrifice is an easy one to understand. In some spiritual traditions, it is considered the mystery of mysteries, and the victory of victories. But let me give it stab here at explaining it: In a world of Oneness, where no attack and no defender live, the small self is understood to be the cause of all ignorance regarding this Oneness. Another way: In a reconciled world, attachment to self-identity is considered the most dangerous of impurities. Thus, in a practice that aims at Oneness, or toward world reconciliation, in a practice like Aikido, the small self and attachment to self-identity are going to be devalued while a capacity for self-sacrifice (particularly of the small self and/or the sacrifice of one’s own attachment to self-identity) is going to be valued. From this point of view, the logic that has one having to choose between two evils, and/or that has one having to pay something for having to do so, is of ignorance, in that it is not of this Truth that is Oneness. In other words, the kinds of “decisions” you pose are a false problem, one that is a product of an attachment to self-identity and incapacity at self-sacrifice. Back to our intense live training environments, as I said, attachment to self-identity, fear, and bouncing back and forth between the habitual non-aiki reactions of resisting and retreating, run amuck here. And it is crazy to think that one is going to go into these type of environments and just learn how to let go of the small self just by trying to let go then and there. One needs some experience and some familiarity with letting go. So one starts small, and one starts slow. If you are sitting on a bus, and someone is standing, you offer your seat. If you are with money, and someone is without, you pay. If you are tired, and someone else needs rest, you let them rest. If you are both moving, you move last. Etc. As you become more equipped to face what has been called the “terror of compassion,” you will be blurring the line that separates mat and non-mat at the same time that you will be better equipped at practicing non-attachment to self-identity within intense live training environments, as you will be better equipped to give more of yourself to those that are in need, as you will come to not only understand the great Oneness but also be that great Oneness.

The principle of no support does not mean that one gains everything by oneself. The principle of no support means that whatever one has gained must stand up by itself. In other words, yes, we learn from our teachers, but if our practice varies, or worse if it declines, when our teachers pass away or just when they are gone for this or that, then our practice is not capable of standing on its own. In truth then, it is not a real practice, because it is so dependent upon the presence of others. This would be the same for things as well – such as rank, title, federation recognition, etc. To climb the spiritual mountain, we must use our own legs. We cannot CLIMB when all we are doing is SITTING on the backs of others that are going up to the top. This is what “no support” means. It is living up to the fact, using one type of discourse, that God reaches down only for those that reach up themselves. Taking this back to intense live training environments: Within such environments, or even within the life-endangering encounters they are designed to assimilate, all you got is you. From within there, everything else, everything one else, is either irrelevant or a hindrance. Best to get used to it when the ramifications may not be so irreversible. For this reason, at our dojo, I make an effort to leave folks to their own training from time to time – sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month, sometimes for half a year. I do this to expose the fraudulent “practice” – whether that is from a martial perspective or a spiritual perspective – for what it is: a lack of true investment, having no chance at the martial, the spiritual, or the whole of Aikido cultivation.

My opinion,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-11-2007, 10:47 AM   #71
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

OR - what George said - lol. Should have read the thread before I posted. Apologies.
dmv

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Old 05-14-2007, 07:54 AM   #72
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

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David Valadez wrote: View Post
OR - what George said - lol. Should have read the thread before I posted. Apologies.
dmv
David,
I certainly liked your longer post better. Thanks for the clarification. I find that I can't disagree with it or with Ledyard sensei's post.

Mark
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Old 06-04-2007, 11:17 AM   #73
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I have always defined myself as an atheist ... via aikido as a spiritual practice I was able to generalize, to see how daily living (aikido off the mat) was in fact a viable spiritual practice.
I'm also an atheist and feel the same way.
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Old 06-08-2007, 08:48 AM   #74
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

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Alex Kelly wrote: View Post
I'm also an atheist and feel the same way.
One of my young students ,a 14 yr.old girl, who has been with my dojo for 7 years is an avid lover and artist of Anime. For her, the leaps between physical and spiritual are null. Her pen traces the physical shapes of the characters she wishes to depic, her flow of line animates them with feeling and 'personhood' and her imagination brings them to life to the 'outer world', or others. She is a warmer and happier person when she practices drawing. Her aikido is just the same; applied spirituality.

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Old 06-08-2007, 11:15 AM   #75
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Re: Is aikido a spiritual practice ?

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She is a warmer and happier person when she practices drawing. Her aikido is just the same; applied spirituality.
Drawing is a good analogy to aikido. Both can set a person at ease and create a warm atmosphere.
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