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Old 10-28-2003, 08:47 AM   #26
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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~~Hear! Hear! Johann E. I know some people who claim to be working on their monkish detachment and 'death of ego', and quite frankly, I find them cold, distant, rude and much more absorbed by and focused on themselves (their ego) then in simply moving through their day unconcerned. This, to me, is the negative side of ego where their self-interest and self-love is negative and so that's what they manifest in the world~~

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-28-2003, 01:57 PM   #27
Bronson
 
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I have no ego, I'm the most humble person I know.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 10-28-2003, 04:12 PM   #28
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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I think this is a very interesting discussion here. Several points I think we have to be aware of is that in Japanese, we do not really have an equivalent term for "ego." There are terms for "self," etc. but nothing which carries the same range and depth of meaning as "ego" and I think this is where we may have problems in finding direct correlations of such terms as "self," "ego," and "I." In another similar thread, the terms, "mushin" and "zanshin" are also brought up. Another point, I think is that, even in Japanese philosophy or martial arts, etc., there are no neat catagories for each of these terms nor do they fit into a rational and empirical system of thought. One has to understand each term in the situation and time and circumstances in which it is used. The meaning also varies greatly between one master and the next, one school and the next.

Actually, mushin, yushin, zanshin, etc. all have the same meaning. . . . and really refer to the same mental state. I think we are also caught up in this discusssion without realizing a very Eastern custom of referring to abstract ideas in the negative. As an example, when we speak of "self," we generally refer to it as "no-self," in a sense meaning that "self" itself is difficult to define. This is a very common practice in Eastern thought, so we must not get too caught up in positive and negative dualism. In Japanese, for instance, "infinity" is "mu-gen," meaning "no limit." I don't want to go into this too much but there is no "positive" word for infinity. It is this similar practice to refer to such "difficult to define" things in the negative. Much like an ink painting which is defined by the blank spaces as well as the brush strokes. . . . .

Someone mentioned that "there is no self without the center." Actually, in Eastern thought, it may be more the idea of "there is a center, but the self is insubstantial." When they speak of "no self" - it is often in regards to finding one's center and disregarding or not focusing on the "bias" self which we identify as ego. In Eastern thought, the "ego" is not the "true self" which exists and is undeniable. I think there is a danger of mxing up this idea of true self which we seek as "mushin" or "mind" in our training - our true center - and this other idea of an "imaginary" self which is that part of our personality which is made up of discrimination, bias, duality, chaos, confusion, doubt, hate, etc. . . . .

In Buddhism, the "self" is definitely recognized and it is easy to say, "destroy or disregard the self" but this may be just sloppiness on our part to define such terms so superificially. Again, in Buddhism, they are not referring to the real or true self of the individual but perceptions, bias, etc. which we create as an image of one's self. Especially, in Zen, if I were to ask my teacher such questions as "what is mushin?" etc. I would probably be smacked real hard! What this means is to not concern yourself with such definitions or catagories - in another words "see mu-shin with mu-shin." Mu-shin is mind but, for Easterners, "no-mind" describes this mind better than "mind." Haha! By now, you are probably ready to beat me with a stick along with my Zen master!

We often define zanshin as a mental state of focus at the end of the technique. This can also be misleading, I think. This particular focus at the end of the technique is actually what connects one to the following movement. Zanshin is a strong mental focus which connects one movement to the next, to the next, etc. In this respect, as in Aikido, there are no separate, distinct movements or techniques, but one technique flows and is well connected with the next, and the next and next, etc. What keeps this flow continuous, is the state of zanshin which keeps the mind from breaking off this flow. Just as in traditional Japanese calligraphy, one stroke of the brush may end, but it actually continues into the next stroke, it is merely that the brush is lifted slightly off the paper. The end of one stroke is actually the beginning of the next. This connection is extremely important in good calligraphy. Zanshin keeps this mental flow going and connects each physical movement or technique, as the case may be, with the next. In this light all movements and all thought is one flowing process and really does not break up into separate or distinct segments - this one grand process of movement, physical acitvity and mental focus is mushin. It is the "smaller" self or bias mind which says, "ok this is finished," "ok, let's start the nest technique," and on and on. . . . . Zanshin, mushin, yuushin, etc are simply looking at different sides of the same coin. . . . .

And speaking of coin, with one more, you have my "two cents" here. . . .haha! That's all it worth! Ouch! I think my dear, beloved late Zen master just reached down from Paradise and gave me a smack on the head!
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Old 10-28-2003, 07:50 PM   #29
Anders Bjonback
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
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Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
~~Hear! Hear! Johann E. I know some people who claim to be working on their monkish detachment and 'death of ego', and quite frankly, I find them cold, distant, rude and much more absorbed by and focused on themselves (their ego) then in simply moving through their day unconcerned. This, to me, is the negative side of ego where their self-interest and self-love is negative and so that's what they manifest in the world~~
I hope I'm not one of those people.

If someone misunderstands the Buddha's teaching and thinks that he or she has to destroy his or her ego (as I have done before), then I think it's pretty natural for them to be negative. The way they treat themselves will reflect on the way they treat others. If one is only becoming cold-hearted, then I think there is something fundamentally wrong in one's spiritual development. I think it's really important to remember maitri, or loving kindness, towards oneself, and that working for the enlightenment or happiness of all beings does not been all beings besides oneself. (Sorry for being all-Buddhist in these posts but that's all I really know in terms of this subject matter).

But I don't think it's about moving through one's day unconcerned, either. Trying to remain unconcerned about everything could be seen as another way of trying to remain detached from everything, perhaps as a way of trying to put up a sheild between myself and my experience.

Last edited by Anders Bjonback : 10-28-2003 at 07:58 PM.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 10-28-2003, 10:29 PM   #30
Suzanne Cooper
Dojo: Retsushinkan Dojo/Alabama
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Good heavens! There are so many deep thinkers here.

I love to read threads like these. They really give all of us insight into our aikido brethren.

And brethren I do consider all of you!

And to think that a martial art would be such an open door! There isn't anything in mystical Christian theology, that I can point to from my limited experience, that resembles aikido.

It's as though aikido were a sort of physical prayer. I know that doesn't make clear sense. I'll keep working on figuring out a better way to describe it. Unfortunately, I'm quite full of pain medicine at the moment [horrifying root canal yesterday][busted shoulder, toothache--what next?? ]. Perhaps my thoughts will be clearer later.

I hope that I can continue to learn from everyone here on the aikiweb forum for a long time.

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 10-28-2003, 11:46 PM   #31
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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Oh my gosh! Please don't say that - there is a great treasury of wonderful writings in Christian mystical thought going back to the Bible, through thru centuries into the modern age. Thomas Merton writes on both the East and the West and is well known and recognized in many quarters of literature and the fine arts. Please read some of the recent writings of the current Pope John Paul II on his ideas of meditation and prayer. The writing of some of the early saints resemble Zen anbd Buddhist writings in a most profound way. Please read some of the writing of St. Ignatius and you will see the monastic order and method of practice very similar to what we observe in the traditional dojo. I think when we get down to discussing pure spiritual experience - most religions are very similar indeed.

It may cause problems of understanding to refer to Aikido as "prayer" or "physical prayer."

Again, the definitions of "prayer" and "meditation" etc are broad and defer greatly. Thanks!
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Old 10-29-2003, 06:19 PM   #32
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, the learned-identity-ego is very useful, it just should not be take too serious or too personally.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-29-2003, 10:04 PM   #33
Suzanne Cooper
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Hello Kensho-san!

I knew it! I was afraid I wouldn't explain myself very well. Yes, indeed, the purely mystical experience is very well discussed in mystical Christian theology!

May I try again?

There isn't a Christian equivalent to aikido's concentration and visualization. As best as I can tell so far, ki hasn't been represented to be equivalent to prayer.

Prayer, in a Judeo-Christian context, is in essence an intimate conversation with the One whom we know loves us, as observed by St. Teresa of Avila. And by definition, one may pray while working, and should, but they are not really equivalent activities. Complementary, but not equivalent.

What I was after when I called aikio 'physical prayer' was a way to describe such a perfect melding of purely temporal mental power with purely physical activity.

It is completely outside my sphere of experience. Every mental thing I do is prayer-related. Everything! Now, it is probably nothing more than vocational motivation, but I don't have any other point of reference.

Sensei's 'beginners' questionaire asks what the student wants to get from aikido. I listed 'self-knowledge.'

So far, I've discovered that there is another side to the mind--even my mind! And I've discovered I shouldn't try to communicate just because I wish to!

Pop! goes the ego!

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 10-30-2003, 10:17 AM   #34
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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Don't worry, I give you more credit than that! Pope John Paul's writings talk of meditation as part of our everyday physical activities of living which cannot be separate in how we communicate with God, as in prayer and meditation - this exactly echoes the Zen idea of "mindfulness" in all of our daily behaviors, or as in the expression of "every-minute Zen."

The late Mother Teresa also practiced daily service to others as a form of prayer and communication with God.

One of my students, a very well known celebrity, went to Calcutta to visit with her and returned very disappointed in her. I think he tried to impress her with his credentials and pestige but she totally ignored this and simply put a shovel in his hands and told him to get to work! Although my student was totally disenchanted with her, I was so impressed her spirituality and devotion that I almost thought of going to live in Calcutta myself.

In our daily activities from one moment to the next and when we are on the mats training throwing people around, when does this flow of energy stop, when are we not doing Aikido? I think it is all the same activity. It is only our biased mind ("self") that distinguishes between practice hours on the mats, work, play, sleep, eating, walking, etc. . . . .

I still don't want to call Aikido a form of "prayer" only because I think my own students will misunderstand this idea. . . . . . . As usual, my first concern is how I am teaching my students. I do think that there is nothing which separates our spiritual lives from our so-called normal lives. Many thanks!
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Old 11-04-2003, 07:10 AM   #35
EllenD
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I've practiced aikido for three and a half years and zen for 6 months.This was the same question that occurred when my zen training began.As a fine artist I would'nt have a career without ego.That is probably true for all proffesions,but glaringly so for anything in the creative field.We are the only species on earth (that I know of anyway) that feels the need to express itself in this way.The question may be what is the true deffenition of ego vs. more contemorary conotations.

The training I've done has lead more toward a conclusion of whether you control your ego or it controls you.

An ego is a terrible thing to waste.I'm quite fond of mine.

Miss Jen.
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Old 11-04-2003, 07:24 AM   #36
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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Why limit your life to the slim boundries of your ego? It is not a question of definition or whether you accept it or not. Ego is there and a part of your personality so there is really nothing to do to about it.
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Old 11-04-2003, 04:03 PM   #37
Kevin Leavitt
 
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....other than to acknowledge it and be constantly aware of it's affects on your view/perspective or outlook of the world.

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Old 11-04-2003, 04:17 PM   #38
Kensho Furuya
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exactly! Thank you!
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