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Old 08-01-2005, 12:12 PM   #26
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hi Rob,

I distinctly remember Kondo Sensei reading us the riot act at one of the first seminars of his I attended. There were a lot of first timers there (myself included) and Kondo Sensei was furious that people paid $200, drove for hours or flew in, and STILL didn't listen and try to do what he said, but just continued with their old habits. I also remember that there was some rather 'heavy' ukemi involved at some point

It seemed that some left without ever quite getting what he was going on about. He also took the time to explain why he was so furious quite clearly. One of my "memorable moments in Budo"...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-01-2005, 12:37 PM   #27
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Ron,

Would it be possible for you to share with us some of what he said in his explanation? I am very interested in hearing it.

thanks,
d

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-01-2005, 12:50 PM   #28
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I think it was something like "I'm sorry to be so hard on you, but it is very important that I do not waste your money, and you do not waste my time". I remember distinctly the difference in mood though. One minute he sits us down and is literally berating us. A few minutes later he is friendly and joking, almost appologizing. But it was clear he wanted our attention, and got it. Even the few who didn't seem to change had no excuses from that point on. He was offering us the technique on a platter...If you were hungry, you ate. If not...your time and money wasted.

Its been at least 4 years, and you know how the memory plays tricks...If anyone else was at that seminar and can correct anything I've said, please do. It would be interesting to hear how someone else remembers it.

Best,
Ron

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Old 08-01-2005, 12:51 PM   #29
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Nope.

cg

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Old 08-01-2005, 12:56 PM   #30
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hi Chuck,

I'm struggling myself with this idea of 'shame' in budo...can you elaborate on your contribution based on the posts that others have written?

I do believe that Budo needs standards...personal standards as well as group standards. I'm not yet completely convinced that 'shame' adequately represents the motivation to reach those standards. I may not be understanding the use of 'shame' either.

Perhaps Dr. Goldsbury can speak some more to 'hojiru'(?) if that is the correct term, and its place in the japanese society?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-01-2005, 12:56 PM   #31
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
"budo" probably does require shame. But, our version of it, might not "require" it. The problem, as I see it is that we inappropriately shame children so much that that's the hammer and everything looks like a nail. Maybe if we tried "respect"?! - Rob
Why do you immediately think that shame and respect are in opposition to each other? Having respect for someone else or yourself can happen at the same time as feeling shameful. Try reaching out and finding out what aspect of shame might be valuable in budo practice instead of immediately going to the far end.

I have felt, over the years, shameful at times for example, for giving less than I knew I could in practice. Or another example, there were times (long ago) when I enjoyed dominating another person on the mat. I still feel a sense of shame about that... but, at the same time I respect myself and others for being human and trying to do our best and learning along the way. In a way, it's part of compassion.

I agree with Peter and David's thoughts about teachers that set up a "spiritual" and/or "theraputic" agenda in the dojo. It's a budo dojo, not a clinical setting where professional quality group therapy should take place under the guidance of a competent, responsible leader . Although that sort of growth, etc. can and does happen in the dojo. It's more an outcome of the functional dynamic of a good training enviornment. This is usually a result of the example and teaching of a good leader and teacher. It should be our goal, in my opinion. That is part of the michi of the practice, if in fact the goal is budo rather than just the study of efficient technique.

Good discussion, thanks for starting it David.

best regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-01-2005, 01:38 PM   #32
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Yes, I think you are all making some very relevant points - all excellent comments. You are all getting what I am poorly trying to talk about. Moreover, you all are helping me to better formulate what I am trying to get at. So, for that, thank you.

I am beginning to see that the word "shame" carries too much negativity today. So much, that it seems unable to really function as a spiritual tool and/or as a tool for self-advancement and/or self-perfection. To be sure, there was a time when that was different, but, today, it seems we cannot get over the "dark" things that are now associated with this word. In my mind, yes, this is part of the problem. That is to say, our incapacity to utilize a sense of shame spiritually is connected to our modern tendency to try to avoid these more repulsing aspects of our emotional selves. That said, I would never want to suggest that such introspection is for everyone or even that it is something that everyone MUST do. I have already said numerous times that not every is open to such teaching and/or to such learning. My only critique, or (better said) the only critical deduction that can be drawn from my position is that for those folks that are pursuing "spiritual" cultivation and/or mastery of the art (whatever those things may mean), it seems overly accepting, and therefore foolish, to try to achieve such things with only the utilization of our more positive emotional states. (More on this below.)

As I said, there was a time when such a position would not be considered such an affront to common sense and/or to our common wellness. The discrepancy between that time and this time, and the ensuing effects of that discrepancy is what I am interested in. How has such a thing affected our training -- our understanding of Budo as something that cultivates the spirit and/or that inspires mastery (i.e. inspires a penetration of the depths of our art and inspires a dissatisfaction with the superficial aspects of our art)? For example, here we are today saying that "shame" is not so important and/or that there are better ways of thinking of what we want to say with the word "shame," and yet here is what Meng-Tzu (Mencius) said:

"'Shame' is the greatest and most important word in a person's lifetime. Why? Because one who knows shame, will put forth his or her best efforts into reforming faults and will eventually attain sagehood or become a saint. One who cannot comprehend the word ‘shame' will be unrestrained and immoral. This person will then be just like an animal."

It may be important to note that being "like an animal" meant that one was not human - that one could not therefore fulfill the depths of their own humanity (i.e. becoming virtuous, following the Will of Heaven, etc.). As everyone knows, the writing of Meng-Tzu are central to both Budo and to the thought of Osensei. Here is another example -- this one taken from the tales of the Buddha (Buddhist thought, especially that concerning the various states of mind, is also important to Budo and thus to Aikido):

"As if to make up for the seven years he was without a father, the Buddha took great interest in Rahula's (the son of the Buddha) moral and spiritual education, teaching him many times himself, and making Sariputta his preceptor and Moggallana his teacher. Rahula responded to this excellent tutelage by being an eager and attentive student and it is said that each morning as he awoke, he would take a handful of sand and say: ‘May I have today, as many words of counsel from my teacher as there are here grains of sand.' As a result of this enthusiasm, the Buddha said of his son that of all his disciples, he was the most anxious for training. When Rahula was still a boy, the Buddha discussed with him aspects of Dharma that were suitable for the young and in such a way as he could understand and remember.

Once, he got a pot of water and calling Rahula to his side said to him:

‘Rahula, do you see the small amount of water in this pot?'
‘Yes, sir.'
‘Even so (i.e. like this), little is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying.'
The Buddha then threw the water away and said: ‘Do you see this small amount of water that I have thrown away?'
‘Yes, sir.'
‘Even so (i.e. like this), Rahula, thrown away is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying.'
The Buddha then turned the pot over and said: ‘Do you see this pot that has been turned over?'
‘Yes, sir.'
‘Even so (i.e. like this), turned over is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying.'
The Buddha then turned the pot upright again and said: ‘Do you see this pot now empty and void?'
‘Yes, sir.'
‘Even so, Rahula, empty and void is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying.'
The Buddha then impressed upon his son the importance of speaking the truth.
‘Rahula, for anyone who has no shame at intentional lying, there is no evil that that person cannot do. Therefore, you should train yourself like this: 'I will not tell a lie, not even in jest.''
Having explained what has to be done, the Buddha went on to explain to Rahula how it could be done.
‘What do you think about this, Rahula? What is the purpose of a mirror?'
"The purpose of a mirror is to look at yourself."
‘Even so, Rahula, one should act with body, speech or mind only after first looking at oneself. Before acting with body, speech or mind, one should think: 'What I am about to do, will it harm me or others?' If you can answer: 'Yes, it will,' then you should not act. But if you can answer: 'No, it will not,' then you should act. You should reflect in the same way while acting and after having acted. Therefore, Rahula, you should train yourself thinking: 'We will act only after repeatedly looking at ourselves, only after reflecting on ourselves.'"


I do not believe it is mere accident and/or coincidence that the author of this story has connected the need for a sense of shame with honesty, the Truth, introspection, social responsibility, and had the Buddha speaking thusly to his student that was the most anxious to receive training. For me, Ron has repeated a very similar story, filled with as much wisdom, when he said:

"The fact of the matter is, even in those less frequent times he is on the mat, I find something in his training manner that is less 'casual' than mine. I guess my awareness of this difference and how it motivates me is what you are calling 'shame'? Personally, I'd simply call it honest self-reflection, and the ability (when used correctly) to modify my approach to achieving my goals."

In answer to your question Ron, yes, this is what I would call "shame." As I said earlier, I am trying to refer to a repulsing energy that I am suggesting is vital to our spiritual pursuits. On the one hand, I am talking about this, and, on the other hand, I am talking about our Modern resistance to such repulsing emotions. I am interested in what I have called a deeply personal and internal emotional response that is repulsive in nature and that is related to some aspects of our training in some very real and positive ways. I tied this "deeply personal and internal emotional response" to the presence of an ideal, a desire to be near that ideal, and one's given distance from that ideal. In my questions, I suggested that an awareness of these three things is something positive. I also suggested then when "shame" is understood as an awareness of having two contrary desires (i.e. the one mentioned just above and any other desire that acts contrary to the latter) it too could be considered something positive. While Modernity may want us to "only feel good," such an emotion as shame does have within it the capacity to repulse us into consistency and thus away from self-alienation and/or a need to manufacture delusion. Thus, as we can see in Meng-Tzu and in the tale of the Buddha, shame can be considered part of our mental and emotional well-being -- part of our overall wellness.

As I have said several times now, this is quite contrary to how we reflect upon shame and/or how we let ourselves experience shame today. As Rob said, few of us will be able to utilize repulsing emotional states, "to focus on letting go of our habits and really try to see more of what's going on." Most of us will indeed only go on to perpetuate a sense of disempowerment in another. (Yes, Alice Miller is very relative here -- excellent recommendation!) For me then, this too is part of the problem -- there are three things now on the table: a) The role shame can play as a repulsing energy; b) Our Modern resistance to experiencing shame and/or utilizing shame; and c) Our individual incapacity to turn shame into anything other than an unsaid excuse for abusing others. For me, all of these things are interconnected. So perhaps it is best to take on Ron's suggested definition of "an honest self-reflection that is coupled with the ability (when used correctly) to modify our approach to achieving our goals." Maybe today there is just too much baggage associated with the word "shame."

The only downside to such a definition is that we are today prone to carry out such introspections, very well and good, when everything is light and airy, whenever everything can feel good, when it is easy, etc. We are not so capable of doing this when what we will see is not what we will like. Somewhere in the definition then I would personally like it to be clear that we are indeed referring to both attracting and repulsing emotional aspects of ourselves -- what today we call positive and negative states of being.

Camilla, I really like your reply. I think it balances things out nicely and makes sure that things stay on the ground somewhat. I would never want to get too distant from what you are pointing out quite nicely. However, I think it is important to also point out that within your position there lays two positions that could possibly end all need for reflection. First, there is the position that such reflections are irrelevant -- at least for those that are not "serious" or for those that are not attempting to "master" anything. Second, there is the very position I am attempting to problematize. Though not stated directly, there seems to be present the notion that all can be achieved through positive means alone.

I realize I am PULLING these things out, but I am doing so in order to explain the following more clearly. It is true that I have used the words "serious" and "mastery" above, but I would not want to limit such a reflection to these two types of training only. They were used here as extreme cases for magnifying the topic at hand. Really, we are talking about an awareness of (and the ensuing repulsing emotional response) any discrepancy, contradiction, and/or inconsistency between where we are and where we think we are (i.e. between our true selves and our sense of self). We do not need to be serious and/or master of anything in order for such awareness to remain relative. Therefore, I would like to suggest that we think of things in this way and not become caught up on the words "serious" or "master" and start talking about the vagueness of such terms and/or the impossibility of the latter.

In problematizing the Modern tendency to always stay positive, I have attempted to question the validity of such a position. In particular, I have raised issue over how closely such a tendency is to a need to engineer delusion. In a similar way, other religious thinkers throughout time have connected a capacity for shame to clarity of mind -- or a type of wisdom that sees things more clearly. For me, because of the relationship between Modernity's tendency to keep things positive and its supporting need for delusion to be manufactured, the positive route is not only often NOT the shortest, it often goes nowhere. For example, in the example brought up by Ron, a thing we have all experienced, we may want to say we can just concentrate upon getting better. We then go on to assume that this is all we need. However, we often do more than this. We also often go on to believe that this is exactly what we are doing -- when we are in fact not. Consequently, we create delusions, through which we can allow ourselves to interpret reality in such a way that it reflects our positive tendency more than it does the Truth. In the end then, we end up justifying more a will to do nothing than our original will of doing the best we can. A good example of this is when we connect our will to do the best we can with a notion that progress is restricted to a distant future (which we know is a time that never arrives). Along the way, we support this odd coupling with bits and pieces of conventional wisdom (e.g. "There are things other than Aikido that are also important." "To train maturely is to train without a preoccupation for progress." "No one can ever master the art." Etc.) I think we have all done this in one way or another. What we do not all realize is that through these conventional wisdoms, when they are coupled with the notion that only the distant future holds our improvement, we have basically justified our inaction -- in that we have for all intents and purposes equated non-action with doing our best.

At times like this, what the ancients knew, and what we seem more and more incapable of understanding, is that this cycle of non-action and/or wrong action needs to be broken at the incapacity to see things clearly. A prime way of coming to break this incapacity to see things clearly is to be pushed (repelled) out of our self-manufactured and self-serving delusions. How does this happen? Or, how can this happen? Either we or someone else goes right to the heart of the matter (i.e. the discrepancy between our true selves and our sense of self). For example, we say, "There are things other than Aikido that are also important." They or we say, "Yeah, but are you capable of treating those things as if they are significant or do you dabble in everything as you do in Aikido?" We say, "To train maturely is to train without a preoccupation for progress." They or we say, "Yeah, but the key word here is ‘train,' and you do not do enough of it to progress -- let alone to be preoccupied with progress." We say, "No one can ever master the art." And they or we say, "Then you might as well quit now since you have robbed yourself of the one goal that might have had you training throughout the hardships and changes of your life," or "Yes, the point of mastery is that it is unattainable -- for we can only chase eternally after something that is eternally beyond us. We do not use ‘mastery' to train less, we use ‘mastery' to train more." Through these honest self-reflections (again borrowing Ron's phrase), we cultivate clarity. Through such clarity, because we are being repulsed from our self-serving positive-oriented delusions, we experience a sense of shame as the contradiction between our stated desires and our unstated desires become known to us. With this sense of shame, our future actions, our redirections, carry with them both a repelling inertia and the capacity to bring us a keener "eye" -- a mind less prone to creating, falling for, and/or needing delusion.

This is just more of what I am thinking with all of your help.

david

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-01-2005, 01:42 PM   #33
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Thanks Ron for the answer. I love the blend of directness and compassion. Great story.

Chuck, if you will allow me to say, excellent post! Thank you so much - that's the ticket: "Try reaching out and finding out what aspect of shame might be valuable in budo practice instead of immediately going to the far end."

david

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Old 08-01-2005, 02:44 PM   #34
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

David,

Thank you for starting this thread. I believe I'm getting somewhere in begining to understand what's been said. Out of curriosity, I went to www.dictionary.com and found the following:

shame ( P ) Pronunciation Key (shm)
n.

A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.

There is also the contextual idea mentioned later about feeling surpassed in one way or another.

All of which can be motivators for change. I'm struggling just now to decide if Political Correctness etc. is what makes me shy away from this kind of terminology, or if there is something else.

I do know that in my own background, my mother especially used/uses shame extensively to condition me to her will. So I have my own personal reasons for avoiding it like the plague! I do not think of what Kondo Sensei did in the same way at all...nor what my own teacher here in the states (also japanese) does either.

Best,
Ron (enough psychoanalysis from me)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-01-2005, 02:50 PM   #35
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Rob Liberti wrote:
"budo" probably does require shame. But, our version of it, might not "require" it. The problem, as I see it is that we inappropriately shame children so much that that's the hammer and everything looks like a nail. Maybe if we tried "respect"?! - Rob

Chuck Clark wrote:
Why do you immediately think that shame and respect are in opposition to each other? Having respect for someone else or yourself can happen at the same time as feeling shameful. Try reaching out and finding out what aspect of shame might be valuable in budo practice instead of immediately going to the far end.

Okay, fine, but I elaborated since before your reply. I'm not saying that it is disrespectful to feel shame yourself (maybe it's disrespectful to yourself, but I wasn't saying that!). The intent of my message was not that shame and respect were opposites but rather that shaming someone else was not respectful. Of course I would rather be saved by criticism than ruined by praise. I feel that is plenty respectful and compassionate. It just seems like being a leader, you should go for charismatic power and offer constructive criticism. Our culture can be very direct with people, so we can say things like 'I see a lot of patterns of movement which are just bad habits and have nothing to do with what I'm showing you today. If you think this doesn't mean you, assume otherwise!'.

Here are two quick stories, the second one is funny (to me at least), and this one is just a good anecdote about when I first started thinking about all of this stuff. I remember Saotome sensei giving us a berating, and after it, I got up and practiced in my typical fierce-joy way with someone who immediately matched my feeling (as opposed to the general feeling of the room - most everyone else practiced in a very low-trodden energetic way - like abused children or something). I was way in the back of the room and he made a bee-line over to me in seconds flat. He actually took ukemi for me to shut me down and make the point a different way. I got the second attempt at the lesson, but I still refused to give in to what he was trying to get the entire room to feel. He punched, I got out of the way, and sure I didn't take his balance (I was going a bit too far to the side and not making enough connection to that punch) but I was out of the way and as safe as I could get - which was probably level appropriate at the time. I knew I wasn't doing what he wanted (and no one else was either just in a different way) and that must of frustrated him, but my feeling is my feeling and no one else is in charge of it. I practice that too.

The funny story is that another time Saotome sensei berated us for not paying attention to what we were doing. He yelled for a very long time and then told us to practice in Japanese - but I think the translation was something like "same, please". So I got up and started yelling at my partner! I said "You know Paul, I'm sick of you!" while most people were standing up asking what the technique was to each other. Hey I know I'm a stinker, but I got a lot of satisfaction from that and I got away with it in the confusion! I actually started valuing his teaching later, so I wouldn't do something like that now, but at the time, he was just another yeller (and I had no chance of seeing anything he was doing at that level).

Great topic David!- Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 08-01-2005 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 08-01-2005, 03:21 PM   #36
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

David, I am still digesting. I have some notions of "duty" and "responsibility," and shame as something measured against "what could be" rather than "what should be", but I can't get a handle on it.
Let me just answer this for now: I agree that not everything should be "good enough" (at least that's what I understand you to say at this point). I have a child, and that is what keeps me wondering about and examining everything. I may indeed dabble in aikido, and that's good enough for my purposes; I do not dabble in parenting. This is a conscious choice I am making that is relevant for me and my situation. It is not a choice that everybody makes. Indeed, not everyone makes a choice.

As to the notion of "true self" and "sense of self" - the distinction confuses me: we all know the person who lacks situational awareness and who may well think they're God's gift to mankind while everybody avoids them, but where lies the "true self" in that? To compensate for the "bad things" that you don't understand and do not have the tools to change by glazing "good" over it makes for basic survival - I think - and is a fairly common strategy. Can you live with yourself if you're an asshole? I don't know how, but people do it all the time. Why people are unable to see it, or unable to affect change if they do, is not, I think, tied to a lack of concern or shame, but rather the lack of impetus and the tools to do so. This is not a problem of modernity, it's a matter of circumstance. How you as "the other" choose to deal with it is the other side of the coin, of course. I think that's why I've got "responsibility" on my mind - to yourself and others. Let me think some more...

How this relates to budo/training I am not sure. All I know is I would not be as happy with my dojo if there was an overt expectation that I use aikido to examine myself and my motives directly. For me, that is just not the setting. That we do pick up on things and discuss such issues periodically and generally - such as impatience - is a benefit, but it is subtle and not directly pursued in class. Training to me is energy and joy, it fuels my day. My child gives me energy and joy and anxiety and thoughts and wishes and ideals and lots of things to struggle with and discover.
Okay, that was longer than I intended. I've printed out your last post and will study it further. Great mind-mover, this one.
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Old 08-01-2005, 04:23 PM   #37
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Not to beat a dead horse, but another aspect of this is that so many people were shamed by their parents that they join martial arts to be shamed because that's how they are comfortable. Read Ellis's stuff about this...

Rob
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Old 08-01-2005, 05:21 PM   #38
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Great reply Camilla, I will do the same in regards to your last post. There's a lot there. It makes a lot of sense and I agree with much of it.

Rob,

I wonder if that kind of shame is not something else. I wonder if that kind of shame is not something more related to an excess - and in that sense, like an over-reaching pride, also equally prone to delusion (i.e. a lack of clarity concerning what is). I am tempted to make a distinction between "good shame" and "bad shame" or a distinction between accepting what is/clarity and excess/delusion, but I'd rather not because I think what we are really after is more akin to what Camilla is saying in regards to her role as mother. And I do not think that what Camilla is getting at can be covered between two opposed ideas and/or some Utopian middle that is supposed to exist between the two.

I think what is going on when we are dealing with shame is a matter of investment, but in that sense we are forced to talk about investing in the right things, with the right things, and in the right way. If you can do that, you can experience shame, in my opinion, without an opening for abuse, without any notion that great amounts of shame can only lead to depression or a loss of self-worth. In short, I suspect that what is really going on in these other cases (i.e. the shame/abuse cycle) is really an excess of pride and/or an excess of concern regarding things more material and/or superficial (i.e. investing in the wrong things, with the wrong things, in the wrong way). And thus, we can also say we are looking at a lack of tools for properly penetrating the body/mind and all of its workings (something else Camilla suggested) when we are seeing folks come to dojo to continue their abusive cycles and/or their habitual tendencies to suffer abuse.

Alas, I should say, it is everyone's involvement that is making this thread great/interesting - not me. I did nothing worth mentioning. With that, again, I thank you all.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-02-2005, 02:09 AM   #39
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

One of my teachers once said something along the lines of:

"In the old days, we beat students into proficiency. We believed it was critical for them to learn hard lessons fast. Today, we praise students toward proficiency. It's not necessary in modern times, to pound students down in order to build them up. In fact, given the luxury of praise rather than punishment, praise works better ..."

(the other) Chuck

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Old 08-02-2005, 07:04 AM   #40
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Thanks Chuck! I understand your first post better now.

Best,
Ron

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Old 08-02-2005, 07:04 AM   #41
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Positive reinforcement is great. No doubt about it. But shame is not only something that someone else can do to you as a means of control, etc.

There have been times in my life that it would have been very easy to quit if I was the only one that would be let down. There are ideals that I decided to live up to and people that I did not want to think of me as a quitter that helped me motivate myself and do what needed to be done. What it comes down to is I decided that I didn't want to be ashamed of myself.

Our sense of shame that comes from within ourselves can be a powerful self motivational tool that we use in hard times.

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-02-2005, 07:58 AM   #42
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I don't have any real particular argument with "shame" being okay when someone applies it to themself for motivation. However, I go swimming to get wet, not to avoid being dry. And I do the right thing because it is important to me to do what's right not to avoid being ashamed of failing to do what's right (for myself, as well as for others).

Regardless, I think that shame _can_ be used as a tool, but it _should_ be more of a big gun, as opposed to the default if it is going to be used at all. I'm very grateful that things have progressed since the old days! On the other hand, I really have no problem with a drill-sargent type of trainer who gets faster results _provided they do not just assume the level of trust required for that is a given_. The student and teacher need to build that level of trust. Optimal teaching requires constant judgments.

Rob
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Old 08-02-2005, 02:30 PM   #43
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

(long - for my own reflections)

Well I wonder if those days too have not passed -- the days of being able to use praise to gain proficiency.

I remember, somewhere, hearing that one of the common traits for children that are prone to commit acts of extreme violence is an overblown sense of self. Some experts in the field attributed this to the common trend to offer praise at all times. In a way, praise became a kind of prize such children expected at all times and for all reasons -- including the wrong ones. Slowly the child developed an overblown sense of entitlement that, when not confirmed, acted as a catalyst for frustration, anger, rage, violence, etc.

To be sure, this is an extreme case, but what was most interesting was that in nearly every episode the child also demonstrated a huge lack of awareness (prior to the act) that what they were doing was wrong. When that fact hit them, they were nearly at a complete loss toward understanding it and/or grasping the reasons why. In a way, they are very much taken by surprise. We may want to lump this with a child's inability to understand mortality. However, mortality has been a difficult topic for children since the dawn of human history and it has not been until recently that children have become so prone to both committing these acts of violence and to experience this total surprise (at least not on this scale) in regards to such acts.

For me, this goes right back to awareness issues -- goes right back to how relative shame or a sense of shame is to awareness. Also, therefore, it is very related, for me, to how dependent our desires to stay positive are to a need to create delusion. Please allow me hear to draw a distinction between two kinds of acts that may lead to a sense of shame and/or that we may like to think are related to shame. What I am referring to throughout this thread is NOT the act of a teacher who may look at a student and just yell, "Jesus, you suck!" Any deshi that might feel shame at this remark is NOT a deshi that has understood how to invest in their training in the right way, with the right things, etc. Rather, this, in my opinion, is a deshi that is more interested in superficial things -- things material. They are interested more in cultural forms of power, institutional capital, and social influence, etc. We know this, I feel, because if such a deshi had no investment in cultural forms of power, institutional capital, and social influence, and therefore no desire to possess these things, such a statement would have absolutely little or no influence over them. It is true, this is an attempted act to shame someone, but it is not a given, in my opinion, that one can be shamed by such things. In a way then, shame, like honor, is only a thing we can do or give to ourselves. For me, any shame that can come from outside of ourselves is a somewhat false-shame. I say this because shame cannot exist outside of ourselves unless we allow it -- making it dependent upon us for its existence -- and because such external shame can only exist for, what by contrast can be called, material reasons.

The shame I wish to demarcate here is that which comes to us by seeing clearly our distance from our internally held ideals. Earlier I gave a few examples of what this might look like. I would like to work off of those examples below -- by providing a variation of them.

Imagine if you will, a teacher and student talking. The teacher is looking at the student and not seeing the kind of training investment necessary to attain the stated goals the deshi holds for him/herself. Nor, when looking at the deshi, does the instructor see those goals upheld by the dojo itself. There are many ways to handle this -- of course. Actions on the teacher's part can of course range from not caring about the students progress -- just getting that much needed "paycheck" from them each month; to saying, "Jesus, you suck!"; to saying, "Come on, you are doing great, just keep going and you'll improve."; to saying, "You cannot really improve in Aikido under your current rate of investment."

To be sure, many of us have known, have been, and even actually prefer the kind of teacher that says nothing -- we deshi exchanging our money for their (the teacher's) silence over certain topics. The obvious attempt to gain power over another, in the second sample response, is a game we may want to play -- as both teacher and as deshi. However, it remains precisely that -- a power game -- not a matter of spiritual cultivation. In truth, therefore, we should opt not to play such games since such games do not even deliver the great power they appear to promise. For what true or great power comes from manipulating those that are prone to manipulation, and/or what true or great power comes from gaining the respect of those that see such little power as a great thing? So let us only look at the last two examples.

Very quickly, the third example can have us as teachers adopting the first position. In fact, we are almost contradicting our own intuition regarding the student's level of investment and their distance from their own ideals and those of the dojo. The whole reason the instructor was prompted to say anything was that he/she saw a discrepancy between the two things (i.e. the students desires and the student's reality). Now we are here saying, just keep going, all will be fine. If that was true, why say anything at all? Why not just exchange the funds for the silence like the first instructor that could not even care less? We have this cultural sense that somehow saying something positive, "Just keep going, all will be fine," is better than saying nothing at all. The downside is that we today are capable of feeling this way even when wisdom is telling us that they are indeed the same -- that saying something of this nature may exactly amount to saying nothing. More than this is going on however.

There is this silent agreement on both the part of most teachers and most deshi. The agreement is over the fact that we should avoid shame like the plague. For this reason, a teacher may actually come to feel a pressure toward not saying things as they are (i.e. speaking the truth) because in doing so they would risk breaking the silent agreement -- they would risk causing shame in the student. We see this in many ways -- not just in our desires to say only positive things. We see it in the teacher that says nothing; in the teacher that has his/her close students that receive the truth (whereas others do not); we see it in teachers that speak the truth and then feel compelled to apologize for having done so; we see it in the existence of uchideshi and kenshusei programs -- which are spaces reserved for the truth; etc. Whereas the first teacher that just exchanges money for silence may not be so acceptable to us, today, these latter examples are all perfectly acceptable ways in which we seek to avoid the truth for sake of avoiding shame.

Now let us go to the final example: Here a teacher tells a student they cannot progress at their current rate of training, etc. Such a conversation might look like this one…

Sensei: You have gained some proficiency in the core basics. However, in order for you to develop them you are going to have to put in more time into your training. This is a fact none of us can escape.

Deshi: Are you saying I have to train more or I will suck?

Sensei: I am saying that training obeys its own natural laws. "Suck" is a relative term. The requirements of progress are not so open to interpretation. If you want to progress beyond this point, you will have to commit more time to your training. If you want to remain where you are now, you can continue to train as you do now -- sort of. The real questions here are "What do you want?" and "What can you have?" Right now, it seems you want what you cannot have -- you want to progress without increasing your investment.

Deshi: Well I think such a thing is possible.

Sensei: It is, but only up to a point. There are after all contrary forces that one must deal with. These things too are part of the natural laws of training. Doing the same, or doing nothing, may actually result in a negative movement since one is not acting to counter these contrary forces.

Deshi: What are these contrary forces?

Sensei: On the physical side there is age and there is injury. One's rate of moving efficiently is not only challenged by age and injury, but, more importantly, such things also challenge acquiring the skill of moving efficiently. With the luxury of youth, you can more forgivingly suffer the trials and tribulations that come with learning to move efficiently. Without youth, age makes such things more strenuous at the same time that it requires more greatly that you move efficiently. In the same way, injury too can act as a contrary force. The more skilled you are, the less injuries you suffer, the less injuries you suffer, the more skilled you can become. Thus, training two days a week while you are in your early thirties will not be like training two days a week when you are in your late thirties. Things like age and injury act like a current, if you will, and you will need to be moving forward just to stay still. If you seek only to tread in place, you will actually be moving backwards. On the emotional side, there are even greater things to suffer. There is frustration, jealousy or envy, anger, impatience, depression, etc. These things come to you as you come to unfairly compare yourself to others that have not opted to "tread in place." They will also come to you as time passes and as you come to gain a sense of entitlement that should not be yours since you spent that time only allowing it to pass and not making the best use of it that you can. They will also come to you when such a training model prevents you from moving beyond what you are doing -- such as when classes will have to be restricted from you for the simple reasons that they are not safe for you.

Deshi: Well, perhaps that is all true. However, I am not here to "master" Aikido.

Sensei: That is fine. However, are you here to practice things contrary to your desires? Are you here to set yourself up to fail in the commitments you do hold between you and your Aikido? Are you here to train so that in five or eight more years you are only going backwards in your Aikido -- so that you prime yourself to feeling frustration, envy, anger, impatience, and depression every time you think about the mat?

Deshi: You sound like you are trying to make me do something I do not want to do.

Sensei: I can concede that that may be true. Only I imagine you believe I want you to train more, when in fact the thing I want you to do that you do not want to do is to acknowledge the natural laws of training more accurately. I gain nothing by you training more. I gain nothing by you training less, or by you not training at all -- I gain nothing. The inverse of these things also do not bring me gain. It is like this for the dojo as well. Like a great system of nature, the dojo benefits from all that come to it -- both great and small, both good and bad. What I am asking is that you accept what is before you -- either way. To accept one of these things, one of which will be your course of action, you need to see things more clearly. Our conversation here is about this clarity. It will be fine to realize that to progress you will need to invest more time. It will be fine to realize that should you not invest more time, contrary forces that are present in the training will come to move you "backwards" -- as in a current that is moving while you are treading water to stay still. What will not be fine, for your person alone, is to deny these truths -- these natural laws - for the sake of some immediate satisfaction that can exists only on the surface of this first denial.

Deshi: I am just not ready to deal with this right now.

Sensei: Acknowledging this fact is part of dealing with this. So you must be kind and patient with yourself as you are indeed already penetrating your training more with this admission. Along the way, should you find a need, you must feel free and encouraged to lean upon your fellow deshi, your senpai, and my person. If you feel we can help, or if you are not sure what you are feeling, you must take advantage of the community that surrounds you -- we support each other.




For me, such a conversation is no different from offering forces that are more realistic during a modified kihon-waza training and/or during a spontaneous training environment -- having come from forces that are more cooperative in strict kihon-waza training. It is about staying in tune with the Truth, with what is real, with what wisdom is pointing out, and then acting accordingly as our heart/minds are directing us through our own human nature (i.e. the emotions that make us human).

The reason I feel shame is central to our training is because how prone we are to self-delusion when shame is thought to be outside of our training. To obtain clarity, we must risk shame. And to risk shame we must find a way to capitalize upon the repulsing energy it brings to our person, to our heart/mind. To resist against that energy, to suggest we can do without it because it is often too great a beast to deal with, somehow, does not appear very Aiki -- right?


dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-02-2005, 04:53 PM   #44
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

David, good post. Again, this is a very good subject for discussion. Thanks.

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Old 08-03-2005, 12:44 PM   #45
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Certainly in the ideal situation, no deshi would be emotional scarred by an instructor yelling at them. However, I think the _default_ should be the old saying "if you have anything to say to me, say it with ukemi". If you really want to talk to someone about it, make sure you know them well enough to judge if talking about it -especially in a shaming way- is going to help them at all.

I certainly agree that we should pay attention to our desires to stay positive while avoiding delusion. I think "entitlement" is most often a form of delusion. I think we should specifically (without loss of generality) avoid the feeling of being entitled to try to shame others - especially juniors that have no chance of benefiting from the action (since the typical result in such a situation is that another got pushed down to elevate yourself). Otherwise, we as instructors fail to "do no harm" and fail to at least "do minimal harm" (which is another topic all together!).

Rob

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Old 08-03-2005, 04:53 PM   #46
Mike Sigman
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Not necessarily. But it requires the ability to know when to be ashamed. An often missing quality.

Mike
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Old 08-03-2005, 05:46 PM   #47
Roy
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Well ? To use your Aikido with excessive force in a conflict would be shameful. Or, someone abusing there uke, would also be shameful. Doing Aikido to learn offensive combat skills is shameful (With respect to Ueshiba vision). I also think that learning a martial art, without a harmonious atmosphere or side to it, is shameful. Or, someone teaching you defensively-useless Aikido is shameful also.
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Old 08-03-2005, 08:22 PM   #48
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I don't know about that Roy. Think of the situation where someone is attacking your child, and you know aikido very well. I think aikido is a complete art. I think if aikido were purely defensive, it would be all yin, and no yang. My opinion, is that it just takes a whole lot longer to be able to use aikido principles effectively in a more offensive-oriented way. Come to think of it, for almost every "defensive" situation (being studied in class) I work on how to initiate given that situation. I agree that learning defensively useless aikido is shameful.

Rob
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Old 08-03-2005, 08:28 PM   #49
Roy
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Rob,
I agree! I would not hesitate to drop someone attacking my child!
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Old 08-04-2005, 07:16 AM   #50
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

How do you think you might use aikido to do that? If you don't know, I think it would be a good idea to think about. I have a feeling some people would try by saying something like: "Hey there, grab my wrist and don't let go no matter how much pain I cause you. No wait, you're open. Switch your feet and make sure that there is no space between your palm and the back of my wrist. Oh wait, start over I wasn't ready. Hey relax that shoulder there, I haven't started yet... Hey why are you letting go?!" and I suppose the average attacker might decide that this person is so crazy they had better run away. (And that person's sensei can hear about the story and feel a sense of shame.)

Rob
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