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Old 08-31-2004, 01:49 PM   #1
mgreen
 
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Aikido and Preserving Ego

I practice Zen, and I was wondering if Aikido is still just to preseve one's ego. I know that many of O'Sensei's teachings were to shed ones ego, but If you do so, then whoare you defending? What is the "point" of defending oneself? I personaly practice Aikido just for fun, and find It to be a good physical and spiritual activity. I do not plan on ever having to defend myself. I belive good Karma is your best defense in life. On the other hand, I guess you could look at it from the persepective that the attacker is only attacking themselves. I am very interested in other peoples insights on this topic. Zen and of other faith.....
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Old 08-31-2004, 02:05 PM   #2
shihonage
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

First of all, nobody "plans" on having to defend themselves.

Second, your questions are a part of a larger question - "what is the point of living ?"
Once you answer that, smaller questions will fall into place.

Give me a call when you've found that answer.
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Old 08-31-2004, 02:10 PM   #3
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Takashi Kushida-sensei once phrased it something like the following. Aikido's origins in bujutsu make it intimately related to self-defense, and this is correct, but it is important to realize that there is self in the other person as well. This reminds me of a phrase Joel-sensei used to explain aikido when I was beginning (not long ago) - if you are completely one with the other person (or as he might say, "Not one /with/, just /one/" it is impossible for them to attack. Hence the saying, "Aikido is where someone tries to fight you, but you don't let them."
I remember O-Sensei talking about "I am the universe" On the one hand, that's a powerful expression of self, which perhaps explains the incredible presence he was known to possess. On the other, it's a far broader conception of self than most people subscribe to. Kirkegaard once admonished readers who focus too much on "self-improvement", saying that if you place your trust there, you will only have what strength you can gather yourself, which is inherently weaker than divine or universal strength.
I'd say that if you live a selfish, ego-centered life, then your aikido will probably only be used for selfish ends. (This is not just physical self-defense, but other applications of what you will learn in aikido.) I believe the saying is "ni to, ni men" - a sharp sword has two faces. In another saying, "setsu nin to, katsu jin ken" - the killing blade, the life-giving blade - traditionally, I believe, printed on the same sword.

Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 08-31-2004 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 08-31-2004, 03:41 PM   #4
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Matthew don't confuse the term ego as "self importance" or "self image" with ego as "identity". We are not defending our idea of who we are or want to be, we are defending our physical, corporeal bodies. If we are practicing for defense, that is.
Hopefully defense will happen if i need it!
Many aikidoists practice Zen or Vipasana, some aikido sensei- Kesho Furuya ion Los Angeles, i'm sure there are otheres- teach both aikido AND Zen.These practices are perfectly complementary.

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 08-31-2004, 05:40 PM   #5
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

It is a good question, and it is not without its answers or solutions, especially since it is related to one of the main points of all Budo training.

I think a like statement would be:

"If there is no ego, who is doing the Zen training?"

Politely, the answer to that question is the same answer to your question.

dmv
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Old 08-31-2004, 06:49 PM   #6
Jessie Brown
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Paul,

Do you remember in which works Kierkegaard talks about that topic? I don't have quite all of his books/essays on hand, but I don't think I've read where he explicitly discusses that-- 'd be interested in reading that section if you would please point it out.

Thanks!
Jessie
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Old 08-31-2004, 07:04 PM   #7
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Unfortunately, some people don't understand or respect karma.
Until they do, 1 reason I train is to help avoid, defuse or overcome them.
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Old 08-31-2004, 07:07 PM   #8
Jessie Brown
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

I think there are really interesting issues here.

Concerning the reason for self-defense, I also think a good way to look at it is in a broader sense of self. In true unity with your "attacker," self-defense is equally keeping the other person from harm as much as yourself. I also see it a way to prevent bodily harm from oneself but without lowering and injuring yourself by inflicting pain on the other person. I have a more occidental philosophical frame of reference, so I think of it in terms of the Platonic dialogue "Gorgias," in which Socrates argues that it is better to suffer injustice than to inflict on another-- even if the person has already done injustice to you. That is how injurious injustice of any kind (physical or otherwise) is to your soul. Aikido, therefore, allows a third path where you can prevent the other person from doing physical harm to you without reciprocating; while also ideally stop the harm the attacker is doing to his soul by attacking you. In other words, with aikido you can take both your and his negative energy and, by redirecting it, change it into positive energy and a learning experience for both.

I do differ on the question of self-improvement. For me (i.e. making no claims that is univerally true), that is the first preliminary goal of aikido-- to improve oneself and become in harmony within oneself (masakatsu agatsu). Once you're well started on that road, I think you should then extend and harmonize with those around you... and gradually expand your circle (the universe being the goal). But that first step of self-improvement and working on yourself seems to me to be an essential first and foundational step. How successfully can you love and harmonize with others without loving and harmonizing within yourself?

Philosophical Nerd,
Jessie
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Old 08-31-2004, 08:33 PM   #9
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Thank you all for taking intrest in this thread. It has been an issue I have been thinking about for some time. I really find the concept that the attacker has their own ego very interesting.I was always told to understand that ego only exists as what was created by society. For example, even if you hate someone, your ego cannot exist without them, because you identify yourself as not being them. That is why I think that we need to respect everyone we encounter in our lives. They are making up what we call our reality. To fight against them is to fight your own reality, and ulimately ourselves"ego". That is why I enjoy Aikido, because you are not actually fighting against them. They are fighting themselves. In Buddhism, everyone is viewed as one. I belive to attack someone is to attack yourself. And of course, there is still that whole Karma thing........and of course, there is still the option that this is all crap. hahaha. Fell free to tell me if you think so. I'll listen.
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Old 08-31-2004, 08:36 PM   #10
mgreen
 
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
It is a good question, and it is not without its answers or solutions, especially since it is related to one of the main points of all Budo training.

I think a like statement would be:

"If there is no ego, who is doing the Zen training?"

Politely, the answer to that question is the same answer to your question.

dmv
all a very strong point... I like that a lot
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Old 08-31-2004, 09:51 PM   #11
Richard Elliott
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Quote:
Matthew Green wrote:
Thank you all for taking intrest in this thread. It has been an issue I have been thinking about for some time. I really find the concept that the attacker has their own ego very interesting.I was always told to understand that ego only exists as what was created by society. For example, even if you hate someone, your ego cannot exist without them, because you identify yourself as not being them. That is why I think that we need to respect everyone we encounter in our lives. They are making up what we call our reality. To fight against them is to fight your own reality, and ulimately ourselves"ego". That is why I enjoy Aikido, because you are not actually fighting against them. They are fighting themselves. In Buddhism, everyone is viewed as one. I belive to attack someone is to attack yourself. And of course, there is still that whole Karma thing........and of course, there is still the option that this is all crap. hahaha. Fell free to tell me if you think so. I'll listen.
Heck no, man, no crap here. You have summed up a lot of stuff here for me which is easy to remember as a complete block in order to think on further. Are you a teacher of some kind? I can't help but believe that whatever Oneness is it is going to be similar to what I have experience as oneness with a beloved: a unity that includes a recognition and acceptance of all the differences and diversities that exist for her as well as the sameness...well heck, I'm no Shakespeare.

Reset: Years ago I started reading about Zen, but since I decided I wasn't going to practice it in a systematic way it would probably be better not to inevitably drive myself crazy trying to understand it. I admire people who make the practice and study of Zen and Aikido a serious or "serious" (see, see, it's already started! I'm feeling quotation crazy!).

The closest I've come to emptiness or void is simply the practice of quieting my mind as still as possible for as prolonged period as possible. This also involves emptying myself of perceptions as far as possible. Not easy. Is it fruitfull? Well . . . that's a perception.

In any case, without the capacity or practice of quieting my mind I wouldn't have made the little progress I made in Aikido, I think. I wouldn't have been able to relax.

I have an admiration and respect for Buddhism and their view of desire, ego, and I guess overcoming them.

I don't know if "ego", a Freudian concept to begin with is learned and solely a product of society. It might very well be. It's an interesting departure.

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 08-31-2004, 10:09 PM   #12
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Quote:
Jessie Brown wrote:
Do you remember in which works Kierkegaard talks about that topic?
I could be mistaken - it /was/ several years ago. I believe it was in "The Sickness Unto Death", somewhat near the beginning. My copy's at college right now, so I can't check.
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Old 08-31-2004, 10:19 PM   #13
mgreen
 
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Am i a teacher? Hahaha, hardly. I dont think that anyone can be called a teacher, because teaching itself is learning. At least in my experience. And true that trying to understand some of the concepts in Zen, are very difficult. Ive only been Practicing Buddhism for about 2-3 years, and Zen, for less than 1. And as much as I think I have learned a lot, sometimes, I realize I havnt even scratched the surface. Ever see a young Zen master? Richard, that is a good point you have. When you have a close realtionship with someone, whatever level you are on, intelectualy or spiritualy, you can somehow sense that oneness with them.

Last edited by mgreen : 08-31-2004 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 08-31-2004, 11:44 PM   #14
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Count how many times "I" is used in these post and an idea will form regarding efforts to preserve it.

The learned identity ego is useful. Just don't take it too seriously or too personally.

Now, who ever is asking and answering, back to training.

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 09-04-2004, 03:47 AM   #15
Charles Hill
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

I disagree with the idea that O`Sensei intended for us to shed the ego with Aikido practice. Saotome Sensei has send that we should work to improve our ego, make it bigger, stronger. (That is, if I understood him correctly) It is also important to note, I think, that O`Sensei reportedly hated Zen and would get angry if he heard that a student was practicing it.

Charles Hill
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Old 09-04-2004, 09:09 AM   #16
Richard Elliott
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
Count how many times "I" is used in these post and an idea will form regarding efforts to preserve it.

The learned identity ego is useful. Just don't take it too seriously or too personally.

Now, who ever is asking and answering, back to training.
Well said, sir. Too true. Will do.

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 09-04-2004, 11:06 AM   #17
Richard Elliott
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

The best of our thoughts, prayers, intentions and if possible actions could best be directed to Florida: the people, the dojos and all who are doing their best to preserve their lives and properties. We can all follow the example of those who are selflessly struggling to help themselves and the neighbors in this recent crisis and the one to come.

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 10-13-2004, 07:49 PM   #18
Anders Bjonback
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

I don't think aikido is necessarily about preserving one's ego. For one thing, it works against our usual tendency to either to return struggle with struggle, to blindly go into a contest of egos. The way it was approached in the Aikido classes I took at Naropa University definitely showed its contemplative side. But it, like anything else, depends on how you approach it. There are some people who do aikido who are egotistical and like to harm others. Then again, there's this Buddhist monk going to Naropa's graduate program in Buddhist Studies that practices martial arts and finds it complementary to the teachings of the Buddha.

But really, Zen can be used to preserve one's ego if you're using it as a way of defining oneself. "I'm a Zen Buddhist, therefore I meditate and do these other practices and have this belief structure." Or, "I'm Zen and I believe in letting go of all belief structures." Ego is really tricky.
I remember this one adage that went something like, "Those who grasp onto existence are stupid, but those who grasp onto emptiness are as stupid as a cow."

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 10-14-2004, 12:34 PM   #19
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Thought comes to mind. Don't you have to explore both sides of things? I mean like postive/negative, light/dark, yin/yang. How do you have an understanding until you grapple with these things?

Aikido has been a wonderful practice for me to work with energy and my relationship with others. It is a wonderful physical manifestation of reconciling and cooperation. I find it very in touch with concepts of zen.

When I am in the groove and feeling good...mushin or no mind....totally focused, it is much like active meditation.
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Old 10-14-2004, 01:16 PM   #20
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

To address the initial question:
Disclaimer: All these things have been said before, and better, by persons other than myself.
In my life, at some point, the meaning of the phrase "self defense" stopped being "to defend oneself from the world" and became "to defend the world from oneself". Training stopped being preparation to neutralize my enemies, and became a very serious form of misogi. I realized that I did not deserve to have power over other people and I decided that if the universe gave me that power anyway, I would make the conscious decision not to use it.
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Old 10-14-2004, 05:02 PM   #21
Anders Bjonback
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote:
In my life, at some point, the meaning of the phrase "self defense" stopped being "to defend oneself from the world" and became "to defend the world from oneself".
That is AWESOME.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 11-16-2004, 02:43 PM   #22
TheWonderKid
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

While I'm new to Aikido, I had merely assumed that by 'ego', O-Sensei meant something more like 'pride' in the 7 deadly sin type way. Like to shed the idea that a guy is too macho to be thrown by a girl for example. Or that he should always try to overpower his nage so they can't do their technique properly in some stupid test to show supposed superiority.

My Sensei explained to me that we do breakfalls and that in the dojo to sort of beat humility into you (maybe a bad choice of words but I hope you catch my drift). Then if you got into a fight on the street or something, and you found yourself in a tight spot you could roll to safety instead of trying overpower them with brute strength because you don't want to show what you perceive as weakness by rolling.

But again, I haven't been practicing very long so please tell me if I'm way off.
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Old 11-16-2004, 03:08 PM   #23
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Ego,simply put, it your own self perception. It is neither good nor bad. It is something to be aware and conscious of because it can distort or "filter".

Certainly being a legend in your own mind (machismo) is a form of egotism as expressed in western terms, but that concept does not entirely frame ego.

There have been many discussions on ego here. Might want to look them up to gain some insight on what others have talked about from time to time. Welcome.
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Old 11-16-2004, 03:29 PM   #24
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Ego is always discussed as though it's a Bad Thing. Maybe it isn't?

A gall bladder is not a Bad Thing. We are much better off with it than without it, unless it's unhealthy. Then we have to remove it because we can live without it.

You can't really just remove your ego. But some people have observed that obtaining a healthy ego is a lot more like removing the old one and replacing it with a better one than it is like working out muscles to make them stronger.

I'm rambling here, but it seems like these ideas address some of the points made in this thread.

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Old 11-16-2004, 06:39 PM   #25
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Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Thanks Kevin, I probably will look them up, but just starting out there's a lot on here to catch up on so that may take some time
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