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Old 09-25-2010, 10:27 AM   #51
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Suffice to say is that my post very much relates to a student/teacher relationship in a spiritual setting. This language is not uncommon in the eastern stories of the guru/disciple dynamics. It might seem harsh and un-aikido like but I am quite used to that expression. The context for such an eastern traditional relationship is foreign and rare in the west.
It might sound like new age or quasi spiritual psychology but really it is just part of my own personal experience of such an encounter in the past (please see my links for a full description of those events, if you like to see where I'm coming from).
I don't have the expertise to point out the various differing ideas and explanations of ego and will. I'm simply saying that the experience of a rigid self adherence based on a set of rules/ideas might in real life be difficult to give up or surrender in order to experience a greater sense of freedom.
If you like you can pick apart anything you like without ever considering or asking the meaning of a statement, leading into an (hopefully) enlightening dialogue.
Considering that you might not know you say but really do you?
Hello Mr Saw,

My own spiritual training has been in the western mystical tradition, focused principally on Walter Hilton, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the Spanish mystics like Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola. I have also studied zen as part of my aikido training, but I have never gone on a spiritual journey to the East, such as you recount in your blog. However, I did begin a journey over 30 years ago and this was to the East and was also a major spiritual journey. I believe you trained in Iwama for a time, but my own aim, as and which I eventually realized, was to come to Japan and stay here, until death, immersing myself as much as possible in the culture, but without ever becoming fully part of it.

However, I have never dared to be a spiritual teacher to my own aikido students, who are all Japanese. I might actually teach them spiritual values, but this is through training and not through discourses about it. Actually, my own relationship with my dojo students, spiritual or otherwise, is so special and private that I would never discuss it in public. I am sure that I do teach my student spiritual values, but this is not an essential part of my mission as an aikido teacher and I would not promote aikido as a spiritual activity as a special feature of training in my dojo.

Why do I state all this? Because in your opening post you use the royal 'we' and this suggests that all aikido teachers should have the same spiritual mission as you believe you have. But this is not right. Perhaps your own spiritual journey gives you the right to state publicly what you believe you have to do as an aikido teacher in your own dojo. But I myself do not believe that my own spiritual journey (every bit as eventful as your own, but less exotic) gives me this right.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius of Loyola discusses what he calls the 'discernment of spirits' The vocabulary is unfortunate here, but what he was emphasizing was the need to be sure that the guru in whom you place your trust really has the goods. For me, living in Japan, this is a major issue. I am sure that you are aware of Asahara Shoko, of Aum Shinrikyo. I have taught many bright students who believed that Asahara really did have the goods. So in this respect, you should forgive me for being somewhat unconvinced about Mr Cohen. Of course, he did not do what Mr Asahara has been accused of doing, but your whole blog discussion about Mr Cohen is couched entirely in terms of your own experience of him, much like my students talked of their experience of Aum Shinrikyo.

Finally, I have a question, related to the previous: how do you deal with spiritual rebels in your own dojo? Do you have a dialogue? In particular, do you allow that these rebels can actually teach you something about your own spiritual awareness?

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury

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Old 09-25-2010, 10:50 AM   #52
Keith Larman
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Keith,

Well, I would take issue with you about Quine, but this would cause too much thread drift. I know nothing about Hofstadter, except that he has written bestselling books. As has Dennett. When I was at Harvard in the mid 1970s, I took a course from Daniel Dennett, which was really a discussion of his first book. During the course, it became clear that he was not amenable to reasoned argument, so my respect for him diminished somewhat. By comparison John Rawls (A Theory of Justice) was an excellent teacher. His lectures and seminars were deathly, because he had a stutter. Harvard had 'pro-seminars', which in the case of Rawls meant three hours on Kant's ethical theory. But he supervised my thesis on Socrates and I found him a kind and caring teacher.

We will obviously have to discuss these and other issues when I come to the US.

Best wishes,

PAG
Dr. Goldsbury.

Actually I wouldn't argue about Quine in terms of "correctness". There were many things with which I took exception. However, he certainly influenced a great number of people.

And having had the great pleasure of having had short discussions with Dennett on two occasions and having seen him speak, I would agree that he is quite, well, confident shall we say in his ideas. Not always the best property but I find myself doing the same sometimes.

I must admit for whatever reason I find Rawls difficult even on the written page. I remember reading Theory of Justice for a class and joking that I found reading Kant more involving. My colleagues thought I was insane, but for whatever reason I could never quite "get into sync" with Rawls even on the written page. He had interesting ideas and it was all good stuff, but something in my makeup simply made it difficult for me to process.

WRT this thread I would have to also comment that there are not many clear cut lines separating devoted groups from more "cult-like" groups. In some instances the subsequent behavior of a group (gassing a train line, mass suicides, violence against dissenting members, etc.) makes it quite clear that something singularly unhealthy was going on. But that sort of assessment is of the hindsight variety. And for a lot of years there was a lot of talk about "deprogramming" and the like that seemed themselves to suffer from some of the same problems they were trying to address. So there really is no agreed upon, clear cut set of criterion of any real value except for the obvious (performing terrorist acts, mass suicide, etc.).

That said, the "passion" and the concept of "complete" submission and/or sublimation of the will/ego many would find particularly disturbing. The OP may feel that such complete spiritual devotion is necessary for truly attaining some goals, however, I think most reasonable people would disagree. Or at least end up saying that if such extreme measures have to be taken that maybe it really isn't the road for them to be on. And I would think the OP would be fine with that point of view.

I *personally* find that spiritual growth is not an end to be pursued, but a by product of a life well-lived with awareness and authenticity. *How* one goes about that will vary. Of course some need more guidance than others, but guidance is quite difference from complete submission. My preference is walking the path *with* my teachers.

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Old 09-25-2010, 11:30 AM   #53
Rob Watson
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Please ignore as the following is mostly an internal dialogue with myself that simply spilled out onto the keyboard ....

Much like the preamble to the US constitution the subject line conveys intent but is not technically the body of the post. I ask myself does the ego have a will?

Train to be better than ones teacher ... ego ... will ... in double measure is a minimum requirement.

Forget ego as we are talking about audacity! Reconcile the world and join with the universe? Egomaniac crazy talking. Dancing on the razors edge. Yeah, I want to be better than that. Forget Hippocrates (do no more harm) but instead eliminate and repair what harm that has been done and prevent any more. To infinity and beyond. Sounds like fun, no?

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:06 PM   #54
torbjornsaw
 
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Hello Peter,

I appreciate your response, thank you. I teach Aikido and the understanding that relates to sensitive interaction. Occasionally I teach meditation and hold one-day seminars with open dialogue in regards to spiritual inquiry for those who are interested.

Andrew Cohen was a major influence in my spiritual search and I've described my events being close to him. I leave others to judge him, which many do. His actions speak for themselves. Learning did not begin with him and has not stopped since leaving him.

Rebels? All kinds of people train in the dojo, with varied interests. There is no philosophy or spiritual belief held out that must be embraced. All things are open to speak about. I share what I believe to be helpful if and when there is occasion for it.

Your spiritual path of choice sounds beautiful. Love to hear more of it.

Best regards,
Bjorn

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Old 10-06-2010, 07:29 AM   #55
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Since breaking the will of the ego is not an academic discussion of terminology but rather an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego and it's direct influence of what you choose to post in response, the engagement reveals exactly where you are coming from. Superior critical or just simply interested. Hijacking or participating in the original line of inquiry. If it's not to your taste don't step onto the mat.

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Old 10-06-2010, 08:21 AM   #56
lbb
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Since breaking the will of the ego is not an academic discussion of terminology but rather an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego and it's direct influence of what you choose to post in response, the engagement reveals exactly where you are coming from. Superior critical or just simply interested. Hijacking or participating in the original line of inquiry. If it's not to your taste don't step onto the mat.
So, in effect, you are saying that there is one true fact-based definition of "breaking the will of the ego", and that the meaning of the phrase is not at all subject to interpretation? That it is a fact on the order of 2+2=4? Can you tell us, then, what this one true fact-based definition is?
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:07 AM   #57
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

What do you think it means Mary? It is vast subject yet very close. For me it had to do with listening and wanting to understand where the other was coming from. Dying to self can found in many contexts and if one has a little interest one can explore as to what it means. What I mean should be detectable through my posts. There is no fixed set formula or definite definition. Usually though when ego is mentioned it is stirred up because it doesn't like to hear it being exposed.

What I am referring to is an actual experience that can be understood in the terms of breaking the ego but it's not something one can explain, only point towards.

Thanks for asking.

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Old 10-06-2010, 01:28 PM   #58
C. David Henderson
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

From "The Ten Oxherding Pictures with Commentary and Verses," Ch. VII, The Three Pillars of Zen, Phillip Kapleau (1965):

***
4 / Catching the Ox / Today he encounters the Ox, which had long been cavorting in wild fields, and actually grasped it. For so long a time has it reveled in these surroundings that breaking it of its old habits is not easy. It continues to yearn for sweet-scented grasses, it is still stubborn and unbridled. If he would tame it completely, the man must use his whip ...

5 / Taming the Ox / With the rising of one thought another and another are born. Enlightenment brings the realization that such thoughts are not unreal since even they arise from our True-nature. It is only because delusion still remains that they are imagined to be unreal. This state of delusion does not originate in the objective world but in our own minds.

***

I always assumed the Ox to be a metaphor for the mind, BTW, and not for something called ego. Blasted terminology; not unreal though it may be. Anyway, the discussion led my Ox to roaming in wild fields, as remains it's tendency...

Last edited by C. David Henderson : 10-06-2010 at 01:30 PM.

David Henderson
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:22 PM   #59
lbb
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Quote:
Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
What do you think it means Mary?
I don't know what it means. You use different terms. Is it "listening and wanting to understand where the other was coming from"? Is it "[d]ying to self"? Is it "an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego"? Are any, or all, or some of those, "breaking the will of the ego"? You're the one using the term, can't you say what you mean by it?
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:43 PM   #60
torbjornsaw
 
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I don't know what it means. You use different terms. Is it "listening and wanting to understand where the other was coming from"? Is it "[d]ying to self"? Is it "an inquiry and dialogue into the nature and behaviour of ego"? Are any, or all, or some of those, "breaking the will of the ego"? You're the one using the term, can't you say what you mean by it?
Dying to self is a kind of breaking the will of the ego. It means letting go of the need to know. It is fundamentally a giving up of being in control. This we can do daily in interaction and in Aikido. There can also be a deeply experienced surrender that can, through insight into the very nature of self, dislodge the habitual identification with a limited idea of self and shift to a more encompassing perspective of oneself.

Still, what do you think it points toward?

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Old 10-22-2010, 12:10 PM   #61
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

After reading through many of the posts, I also am confused by the references to the ego. To many I believe the invocation of the ego calls to mind Freud's id, ego and super ego. Brushing the dust of my philosophy books I believe under freud's contention it is the maturation of the ego that controls our primal instincts, and the maturation of the super ego to balance the ego. In other words, you improve your self through the maturation of your ego and super-ego.
Quote:
But I would contend it because if our dojo is a place where we train in a spiritual discipline (as O Sensei would point out) then it is of utmost importance that we come to understand that the dojo is a sacred room where subduing our ego is the main aim of our practice.
I do not believe the purpose of our training is the subjugation of ego. Rather, I believe it is the maturation of ego.
Quote:
That's why it has been said that the back of the ego has to be broken. So it looses its tenacity to always have the last word. Once broken, or given up, it no longer serves as a justification for following ones owns rules.
Again, I believe Freud's model would contend that we mature our super ego to guide and balance the ego, not "break" it.

You may want to clarify the definition of your terminology if it is not Freudian since that seems to be a point of confusion for some of us.

Quote:
True freedom lies in understanding surrender of ones owns mind.
To whom do we surrender our mind? I contend that our training does not advocate surrendering our mind to anybody. I think I see where you are coming from I don't know if I buy the argument that as we become more connected to our world we become more "free." I believe that as we become empowered to change the world, we have a responsibility to implement our knowledge in that pursuit. What use is enlightenment if you do not improve your world? Who cares if you are one with the universe? True philanthropy is the assumption of this burden.

I also believe that there is a class of individuals who are free in mind. Jumping into the way-back machine, we use the term idiot, but idiōtēs is a better term for those who are truly naive in mind. We now use the term as a perjorative, but in origin idiot simply refers to one who is unfettered by the ego or super ego, a layperson or one without professional education. These individuals have the least knowledge of our world and therefore the least burden of responsibility (philanthropy). It is also why idiotias weighed least as a member of society, they contributed less than their worth.

Last edited by jonreading : 10-22-2010 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:58 PM   #62
carina reinhardt
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Our aikido class yesterday evening was specially prepared by our teacher, a simple man with very deep thoughts. We had arms, so he tolds us to form groups, one with a jo like a billard player and the rest of the group the balls, one the white ball, he had to hold a protection on his back because the one with jo would push him against the others, all the balls must close their eyes and just let him push, just be relaxed and mute.We changed everybody was once the billard player and also the white ball. The sense for this play was to practice distance and also to understand nobody is better than the other.
After that funny play he also told us that perhaps next time we all will be frogs and will jump like them and if anybody doesn't like to be a frog, he can sit down in a corner and be the scientist who studies the frogs.
I hope you will understand the sense in this thread .
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Old 10-22-2010, 01:47 PM   #63
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Carina, Well said - thank you!
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Old 10-22-2010, 02:08 PM   #64
carina reinhardt
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

I'm happy you understood me, our teacher told us more things, it really would have been worth to record him, it is incredible for somebody without higher studies, to be so wise.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:59 AM   #65
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

The OP touches an important subject if I understand it well.

There is no sense in bringing other influences (sports, cultural, sprititual, philosophical) to Aikido in order to improve your Aikido.

I find it hard to put to writing, but it feels like he tells to try and *not* make of model of what you think Aikido is, but simply practice in the here and now. Let go of your assumptions of where you want your Aikido to end up.

Could also be that this is how I want to interpret his words because that matches my believes and teachings of my teacher :-)
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:07 PM   #66
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

"The important thing," said French critic Charles Du Bos, "is to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."
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Old 10-25-2010, 02:21 PM   #67
carina reinhardt
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Re: Breaking the will of the ego.

Quote:
Jeff Black wrote: View Post
"The important thing," said French critic Charles Du Bos, "is to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."
I would not say sacrifice, I think it is no sacrifice, just be a good human beeing and the feeling is great
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