On our web site we have transcribed some of the more universal conversations that have taken place in our dojo. We have come to call these "Exchanges." Some of them are word-for-word transcriptions, and some are edited for the purposes of having a more universal context - so the reader doesn't feel like they walked into the middle of something, having no idea where things started and/or where they are going. Either way, we make them part of how we all learn through each other. Thus, no one really reads them as "X said" or "Y said" - we try to focus more on what was exchanged in what was said. In other words, we read them more from a general point of view.
I try to stay up to date on posting them, however, I've managed to fall behind lately. Hopefully I'll get some free time in the future so I can more accurately update our site. In the meantime, this one came up just the other day and it seems to have touched upon the practice of many folks. I was thinking that perhaps others (not from our dojo) might like to read it as well now - as opposed to some future "later" when I might get to post it on our site.
"A Deeper Togetherness"
Sensei: There are moments of solitude in our training, but these moments are not about being alone, about being without. If we have isolated ourselves from others here or there in our practice it is really only to feel more the presence of the eternal oneness of which we are a part. Thus, our solitude is really about an intimacy with others -- one that is greater than our own individuality, one that brings us closer to others.
Thus, in our training, when we are in the midst of paired practice, it is especially important that we do not shut ourselves off from the presence and essence of our partner. For if in our moments of solitude we seek an intimacy with others, how much more so should we prevent ourselves from being isolated while in the midst of paired practice? If in the midst of paired practice we seek or allow ourselves to be isolated, we would only come to self-alienate ourselves since we would be denying our part in the union that marks us both.
Deshi: It is a matter of "not doing our own thing" -- like nage forcing a technique or like uke just taking the fall they want to take -- "not doing our own thing."
Sensei: Yes, this is something we can say or should say - until we have reconciled making this union OUR own thing. Please understand: It is not that Man cannot be sanctified in isolation, but very few of us can become perfect in absolute solitude. Often, in isolation, our ingrained egoism can be a catalyst for increased amounts of rigidity and self-concern. It is in this way that most of us fail at paired practice. Moreover, no matter how great the level of acceptance and/or non-attachment needed to carry forth through the interior trials of utter solitude, these levels will always pale in comparison to the levels of acceptance and/or non-attachment that must be ours when we are in a relationship with others. You must note that a spiritual reality marks all human intimacy. It tells us that we do not truly understand virtues like patience and humility until we must posses them in the face of the most unreasonable needs and demands that others will require of us through our sympathy with them. Our paired practice is no different. It too is supported by this spiritual reality. In addition, since it is housed in violence, it too remains unreasonable. In our practice then, like the danger the hermit faces, we can allow ourselves to be out of touch with others and thus risk drying up in terms of our developing humanity -- solidifying the ego domination of ourselves via our own eccentricity. On the other hand, we can seek intimacy out in our training, refining our virtues like patience, acceptance, and humility, etc., by infusing our thought and action with a deeper sense of togetherness.