Thursday 24 January 2013
Stillness. What is it? Where does it fit in Aikido and life? So much significance is given to this and so much is emphasized about this in the fields of meditations etc. that I feel it needs to be put into perspective.
It's something you can, and do to whatever degree, experience in your daily lives. It is a realm. Yes, spiritually it is a realm and that's why it gets so much significance put on it but as with all spiritual things it is also natural and regularly experienced.
There is no opponent in Aikido. That is a statement originating from the founder of Aikido and understood by some but misunderstood by many. This is also related to stillness.
One pointedness or keeping one point is also connected to this condition of stillness.
One of the five 'minds' of Budo is also connected to stillness and that is the 'immovable mind'. Fudoshin.
So it would be important to understand what stillness is so I shall start here with one point and focus.
When you focus on one thing you are 'keeping' one point. That's the first thing to recognise and is the one and only factor which leads you to experience stillness.
So now look at your life. When you are in conversation with another you are giving them your undivided attention. When you are doing something for example if you are an artist and you are painting a picture then you are focusing on that one activity. What happens at those times? Everything becomes still. There you are DOING yet everythingthing else around that action is still. Mind is at that point immovable. All else 'dissappears' just like the so called 'opponent' in Aikido.
So there you are, no opponent does not mean the other has physically vanished or that you are dismissing him or not taking him into account but actually that you are focussed, at one with, acting in stillness.
Notice now the difference between 'thinking' and 'contemplating. Generally when a person is thinking they are following all kinds of thoughts and counter thoughts and going over this and that so it's good to recognise that when it's puzzling or negative or uncomfortable or even annoying then it's time for stillness. It's time to find a nice place where you can be undisturbed and choose one part of what concerns you and focus only on that one thing. This is contemplating, you are now looking at this one thing from stillness. Then you can move comfortably to the next thing and so on. No panic, no worry, no internal argument just contemplation.
Thus in good contemplation 'there are no 'internal enemies' but in 'thinking' there is.
Then we can look at training. You give a person one thing to concentrate on. Let's do a technique but the point of focus is on keeping elbows in. The student practices and focuses while practicing on this one point. All else dissappears and he thus notices when he keeps the elbow in, when he doesn't and recognises through carrying on practicing with that same focus how to correct it and even what was causing it in the firat place. He is now operating from stillness. From stillness much can be learned therefor. Not operating from stillness means the enemy is you.
Saturday 12 January 2013
One of the major principles of my Aikido is the principle of Be With. Obviously as there is no against in Aikido then Be With is a natural way.
Tohei Sensei had a similar principle in Ki Aikido and his principle was 'take your partners place'. You will notice it does not say oppose or fight or counter etc. but merely take his place.
So physically how is this demonstrated in Aikido? Well, the clearest way is in the motion of Taisabaki. Turning, not to avoid but in order to be with.
A full Taisabaki is not practiced by many and I think it is because they don't know what it is or it;s true purpose. To understand this you must look from the view of a person with centre and surrounded by a circle, thus they are the centre of their circle.
So when you Taisabake you are turning into, entering, their circle, their space. Not only that but you are turning and moving into the centre of their space/circle. Thus you are taking their place. This is a complete Taisabaki. This is a magic action for what is happening when you do this completely?
Well, at the beginning of the move the other person was the centre of that cicle and now after the move you are now the centre of that circle and you entered whilst turning thus you become the centre around which anything else orbits. This is why the other flies off around you.
So you enter to be with and as they then go outwards you stay connected physically sauy by holding their wrist so you have applied be with and now you are applying the principle of staying with as they orbit you. Now, reverse the orbit, turn back and you have natural Kotegaishe.
O.k. So that's physical. That is a physical demonstration of a spiritual principle.
Be with is a spiritual principle and is a principle of love, a discipline of love.
So how far can we take this discipline? How far can we take this discipline in life? What is it's potential?
Well you have the innate capacity and ability to be with anyone anytime anywhere but are beset by a thing called the mind with ideas and false reasons as to why you shouldn't. That's why it's a discipline and the only enemy is your own mind.
When talking with another and enjoying a conversation you are being with and staying with. When arguing you are no longer being with and have turned against. So I sday once again how far can you take this principle? Well I'll tell you how far, you can Be the other person.
Aikido is about Harmony. When listening to another you are listening to a viewpoint. It is your responsibility to see things from that viewpoint in order to understand from that viewpoint for only then can you be in harmony. Thus be with to the extent even of Being. Only then can you share your understanding. Without this and thus without love their is no sharing but merely a competition of mind versus mind,a verbal fight, and what intellectuals may call a debate or argument. Polititions love this madness alas and yet they rule. Such is the state of the world.
To be with? or not to be with?, that is the question. To be with understanding? or not to be with understanding? Thus to be centred? or not to be centred? For when you understand you are cetred and without that discipline of love you cannot truly understand.
Saturday 5 January 2013
Even in Aikido I would say 90% of people search to improve their power and to learn the secrets of power.
You have sections who look for the answer by studying the old principles of internal power and internal strength. You have women who believe men are more 'powerful', stronger. Across the board you have everyone agreeing that you have to develop power and strength and backing it up with arguments about it being a martial practice.
Alas, such is the way of ego for only ego searches for such things and views things this way. Only ego believes you have to be so powerful that you can then afford to be beneficient, harmonious, kind. This way of thinking fits ego, fits the 'mind' and thus leads people off on the usual false path. Even the stellar figure of Musashi, considered the greatest swordsman in the history of Japan followed this false belief and insisted he wanted to be the strongest warrior ever only to realize the fallacy of such thinking in the end. Most people who read up on him are taken by the fights and wins and boast how he was never defeated and so in this way defend such thinking yet he was defeated many times and most tend to miss that very pertinent point. A harmless zen monk defeated him on more than one occasion and that is the one lesson of the whole story.
So let's return to this search. The search for power. Let's ask what power is. Let's also see through the illusion and look at what it is that most people are looking for.
To see through this delusion we must look from the view of cause and effect. Those who shout for power are in fact saying they want to be more cause. In fact in their mind, thus ego, they want to be almost invincible cause. So we have the call for ways to be more cause, more causitive and it all seems very logical and right for if you were supreme cause you would be very powerful would you not? Well let me also point out that this is the way of ego and arrogance and is actually the way of domination and control. So you have people studying the art of harmony practicing the way of domination and control. You couldn't get further from the way if you tried. Such is the way of deluded human intelligence circa last 2000 years.
Notice one factor seems to have dissappeared from the reasoning process....Effect.
It's all about cause and others being the effect. How about you being the effect?
Aha...now we get nearer the way of Aikido. The practice of being undisturbed effect. Think about this.
If you were able to be effect and remain as pure calmness, undisturbed, untroubled, then and only then would you begin to understand what is true power. Now of course ego, only able to look at things physically would then go into building yourself up like a tank, surrounding yourself in some inpenetrable casing. Alas the fallacy of the mind.
Now you may begin to see the importance of the principle of non-resistance, the principle of neutral. For non-resistance cannot be affected. There is no going against in non-resistance and there is no being unwanted effect in non-resistance. Non-resistance can receive anything from any cause and flow unabated. Such is the way of Ki. Such is the way Aikido. So you must practice being willing to be the willing effect in order to understand the true principles of Aikido, of power, of harmony.
When you are willing and able to receive any negative thing, undisturbed, only then are you free and only then does the negative and unwanted effect dissipate for it is only there, staying there, due to your own resistance. Small steps, long journey.
May we learn to be 100% non-resitive effect, 100% good cause and 100% harmonious beings. A devine path indeed offered by a devine martial art.
And when all is aligned then you will realize the power of power....BALANCE.
Tuesday 1 January 2013
Two facets intrinsic to Aikido, Kokyu and Koshi. The heaven and the earth of Aikido.
Kokyu is generally referred to as 'breath' and when using kokyu it is as if you yourself are a breath rather than some physical way of breathing. For once again the reality is a spiritual aspect gained through discipline. Technically you could equate it with infinite space.
Kokyu, the joining of two universal truths. The truth of love and the truth of goodness. These are the two fundamentals of yin and yang for there are no opposites in harmony but only compliments.
Love is all embracing, all sharing, all comforting and all supportive. Goodness is all welcoming, all receptive, all acceptive, all balancing. Together this is Kokyu.
This is the Fan of Aikido.
Koshi, the door at the base of the spine, the back of the hips, the entrance to earth. The entrance to the infinite 'space' below.
As you reach out into infinite space through kokyu you may find infinite volume but as you reach out into the infinite koshi you will find infinite capacity.
All negatives and physicality may enter this void and dissipate and all then will settle. Peace. This is the Bowl of Aikido. This is the bowl of faith, the well of innocence, the joining with mother nature.
Koshi holds on to nothing yet contains all.
As Kokyu contains the sun and the moon, Koshi contains the water and the tune.
Happy New Year. G.