Saturday, 20 November 2010

Shen-tu


I was re-reading the other day of blending with your opponent like blades of grass in the wind … controlling but never retaliating. Something that the author had attributed to So in Shin, Gyo So. (look it up). And that got me thinking about thinking and practise. And the conclusion that I arrived at is that we are lazy i.e. we do not extend even our meagre talents to what is before us and how we should thereby proceed. This is sad as a life unexamined is not worth living and as a Fighter it is inexcusable, that is if you are not already dead. We have forgotten the art of contemplation. So let us use this statement of Blending like the wind and the grass to examine this by asking the following –
What is your understanding of Blending like the wind and the grass? Answer right now! Say your understanding out loud so you can hear it.

“I do not enlighten those who are not eager to learn, nor arouse those who are not anxious to give an explanation themselves. If I have presented one corner of the square and they cannot come back to me with the other three, I should not go over the points again.” Confucius Analects 7:8.
How satisfied are you with your understanding. Remember for us it is a matter of life and death. We have lost our acquaintance with Nature, wild Nature, our Nature and thereby are ability to describe and feel the real heart beat of what things mean. We need to, not only, look deeper but get down and get dirty – feel it, smell it, live it. Get critical.

Meditation, say the saints, is the seeking, discussing, ruminating and chewing of divine food. And if this food is always ruminated, if it is perpetually chewed, it remains in the mouth and is never swallowed. Thus it cannot be quietly held and digested in the stomach and it brings no life or nourishment to a person…
Miguel de Molinos
So the grass blends with the wind and the flow is endless and in a multitude of directions. Spontaneous immediate appropriate – marvellous but no miracle nothing that when we practise we could not emulate because we have look into the body mind and spirit of the question at hand.
“When anybody asks if my Aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say “No.” My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion.” O Sensei
But this is great we have made great strides and advancement but we neglected to go deeper. We have left out the other side and it has remained dark. What is the state when the wind doesn’t blow? We have forgotten the state of Rest and therefore it’s true or full meaning. So we have filled our lives with yet more things to do, more techniques forgetting that tranquillity nourish the root of activity and activity is to put tranquillity into action.
My house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest.
Every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before,
Undisturbed by the affairs of the world I live at ease,
Woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
While the sun stays in the sky, I mend my torn clothes
And facing the moon, I read holy texts aloud to myself.
Let me drop a word of advice for believers of my faith.
To enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.
Ryokan
Thus we have the complete dynamic (Yin Yang). Seen and unseen; manifest and mysterious, omote and ura (surface and depth). Where being flexible means not being obstructed by things, flowing, not “Stopping” the mind. This is fuelled by what Toaists call the Valley Spirit. The lowest point the point of quietude (hesychia) of stillness of complete rest and attentiveness (nepsis). Chapter Six ends ”Uses it and you will never wear it out.”

If you want what visible reality
Can give, you’re an employee.
If you want the unseen world’
You’re not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish, but you’ll be forgiven for forgetting
That what you really want is
Love’s confusing joy.
Rumi
All of what is done is known as knocking on the door with a title. I suppose that in olden times to get admittance to the house you need some form, some capacity of knocking on the door. But once you gain entry into the House then there is no need to carry the title anymore. The So of Shin Gyo So (look it up) Otherwise you will be as Meister Eckhart says “These people are called holy because of what they are seen to do, but inside they are asses,” And you will know yourself to be one and those that know will know. And one a small child will point at you and ask her mother ”Isn’t that person an ass mother?” And the mother will reply “Yes dear they are but don’t point it’s rude.”

“A mind to serve for the peace of all human beings in the world is needed in Aikido, and not the mind of one who wishes to be strong or practises only to fell an opponent.”
Shen-tu
“Self-watchfulness when alone”

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Words, bugger!

Words, bugger! As an example - Silence is an ocean. Speech is a river. When the ocean is searching for you, don’t walk to the language–river. Listen to the ocean, and bring your talky business to an end.” (Rumi) lovely, yes but unless you live this statement, unless you have a practise that brings you close to this truth then you will not know the ocean is searching for you and why or how to bring our talky business to an end. These always express practise and principle. We miss the point of how useful, relevant; necessary they are to our lives. This life right here as you live and breathe. But that is OK as they are not going anywhere at any time but we think we are and that the truth is far away, what a pity. But then we will die, and as we are so stupid and lazy hopefully our genes will not be passed on to future generations. Because we fail to read, acknowledge, embrace what is given and “As lions, elephants and tigers are tamed very slowly and cautiously, so should prana be brought under control very slowly in gradation measured according to one’s capacity and physical limitations. Otherwise it will kill the practitioner,” the Hatha Yoga Pradipika warns but we will not repeat the words; have only paper tigers, not the glory, the fearful symmetry; not the caution or the very slowly and it will kill us.

We practise a Martial Way. Lack of vigilance in body, mind or spirit will lead to real consequences, history bitter reminders. But how do we civilians, summon up the necessary energy that exceptional situations demand.

“If you train in such a way that every encounter is seen as a major crisis, that is, true Shugyo or as a vitally important trial, then you can go back and forth between the arenas of the living and the dead and it becomes possible to transcend the very idea of life and death. The main thing is to attain the “Way” which opens up [reality] calmly and clearly, just as in “every day” situations, no matter what kind of terrible crisis or dangerous events you may face.” O Sensei’s Budo Renshu

But then how can we do that. Are you serious? Also draw near those that do.

There are “Clouds of Witnesses” in all serious endeavours.

Meister Eckhart in “How we should remain at peace when not confronted with the outward oppression which Christ and many of the saints endured, and how we should follow God.”

“Many people are daunted and trouble by the toughness and severity of our Lord Jesus Christ’s life and that of his saints, as they are by the fact that they lack the strength to emulate them and are not called upon to do so. Seeing themselves as unequal to the task, many thus regard themselves as being far from God, whom they are not strong enough to follow.”

“If he cannot remain within, then he goes no further than the door.”

He concludes “Sometimes it is more difficult for us to endure a single word of insult, which is insignificant in itself, than a heavy blow for which we have prepared ourselves, and it is far more difficult to be solitary in a crowd than it is in a desert, and it is often more difficult to give a small thing than a big one, or to perform a small work rather than one which we regard as major. Thus we can easily follow our Lord in our weakness, and we neither can nor should believe ourselves to be distant from him.”

Mother T when asked how to continue her work says “Smile at your spouse”

So in reality as in martial situations there is no escape, no backing down, and no giving up. No blame or pity on anyone else. So these writings should act as a warning or encouragement stick for us to wake up “Examine these writings and train well.” This leads us to Shen Tu, practise when no one else is watching you.

So I apologise for my inept poetry - Chortle; is a word made up by Lewis Carrol of the Looking Glass. The Looking Glass where not one speck can reside was a famous poetic dual to establish a Zen Lineage of Masters from Hung- jen and Hui-neng the Rice –pounding Monk. Eating and shitting (is a sword cut if you take your blinkers off and practise) and I remember, I hope, Kyudo Roshi when asked by H.M. Customs what he did for a living replied “Part time monk. Full time eating and shitting.”

Non Merci (or gramercy) is the wonderful repeated retort of the character Cyrano de Bergerac, swordsman and philosopher, when asked to be a court poet.

We have forgotten how to be natural. Quiet. When in Nature we no instruction we become tranquil, suntanned from the inside out, we need to be reminded.

Rumi

“You’re not garbage! Pearls want to be
like you. You should be with them
where waves and fish and pearls and seaweed and wind
are all one. No linking, no hierarchy,
no distractions, no perplexed wondering, no speech.
Beyond describing.

Either stay and talk or go there and be silent.
Or do both, by turns.
With those who see double, talk double-talk.
Make noise, beat the drum, think of metaphors!
With friends, say only mystery.
Near roses, sing.

A Roshi would only say when asked a question continue continue continue

This is the way we live our lives. Please try harder.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A riposte to someone chortling at my words… Tom Helsby Sensei

Chortle! Chortle! Non Merci!
Don’t be fooled. This stew is obviously of my own recipe, my own, not some orthodox fare. It is steeped to make you gurgle, to get your juices flowing.

But chortle, Non Merci!
These people express the Way beautifully, being portals to be looked through deeply, as on this looking glass not one spec of dust can abide.
So chortle, non merci

This life of eating and shitting is, if we would only realise it, the dynamic life of receiving and giving back with no holding on to anything
“ to sing…dream…laugh…move on…be alone…have a choice”
So chortle, non merci; non merci
Non merci.

I was sleeping, and being comforted
By a cool breeze, when suddenly a grey dove
From a thicket sang and sobbed with longing,
And reminded me of my own passion.


I had been away from my own soul so long,
so late-sleeping, but that dove’s crying
Woke me and made me cry. Praise
To all early-waking grievers!
Adi al-Riga

Practice:
Buddha proclaimed countless teachings,
Each one revealing the purest truth.
Just as each breeze and every drop of rain
Refreshes the forest,
There is no sutra that does not lead to salvation.
Grasp the essence of each branch
And stop trying to rank Buddha’s teaching.
Ryokan

This is not mere theory it is to be practiced…
A half understood martial art is a dangerous thing. The demands of any serious endeavour are universal, requiring exhaustive practice, training, discipline and forging, because simply your life and that of others is on the line.

It is inconceivable that people placed with such a duty do forget or are small-minded. It is the ability to transcend aiuchi (mutual killing or striking down) to that of ainuke (a term created, by Harigaya Sekiun, that expresses “going through” unhurt).

In Zen training if you think everything is dualistic (self and other), there will be tension, and you will never be able to achieve enlightenment. You must transcend dualism and enter the realm of ainuke. But there is a problem. It is no good just to intellectualise about this realm of ainuke. This is a very important point. If you do not have the background and strength of aiuchi, you cannot enter the realm of ainuke. Your Zen will be empty. If you have not mastered aiuchi, it is impossible to learn ainuke.
Omori Sogen p73.

The Way of Strategy employed for one, is employed for many. This is no small undertaking. Win first, fight second. We have to commit Body, Intelligence and Spirit (Shin, Gi, Tai). The secret of fulfilment is also universally acknowledged - constancy and sincerity.

“Whatever man is desirous to attain skill in any art, unless he observes the rules and orders of the best masters of that work or science, is indulging in a vain hope to reach by idle wishes any similarity to those whose pains and diligence he avoids copying.”
John Cassian, Christian monk (ca. 360-440)

A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all around him.
p106

Our being is not to be enriched merely by activity or experience as such. Everything depends on the quality of our acts and our experiences. A multitude of badly performed actions and of experiences only half-lived exhausts and deplete our being. By doing things badly we make ourselves less real. This growing unreality cannot help but make us unhappy and fill us with a sense of guilt. But the purity of our conscience has a natural proportion with the depth of our being and the quality of our acts: and when our activity is habitually disordered, our malformed conscience can think of nothing better to tell us than to multiply the quantity of our acts, without perfecting their quality. And so we go from bad to worst, exhaust ourselves, empty our whole life of all content, and fall into despair.
p108 Thomas Merton “No Man is an Island”

“Go and sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.”
Abba Moses, one of the early Desert Fathers of Egypt.

To be continued…

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Backround Notes to Practice: 2 - Tom Helsby Sensei

These Notes are to develop, broaden, and amplify our discussion. (Bunbu Ryodo)
I use the words and cases of giants as - the topic under discussion is deadly serious.
I am not wanting to be ambiguous, mysterious or put forth an entertaining medley; they “have stolen all my best ideas”; I am getting my own back; I am dyslexic and many words confuse but their brevity and poetry is purely, addictively inspiring.

“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts and lead you to read the author’s works.”
- W S Churchill

One engraved on my memory is the reply of Ch’an master Ta-wei when asked by master Hsiang-yen for help ”Unfortunately, I cannot say anything for you. Maybe later you would resent my having done so.” Beautiful. These expressions will need further interpretation, like also “not slandering the sky by looking at it through a pipe.”

Not hard if you actually hold it up to examination but you must examine these well. One that always makes me smile is:
This is standing by a stump waiting for a rabbit.

“This refers to a story of a man who saw a running rabbit happen to collide with a tree stump and die; the man took the rabbit for food, and, thinking to obtain another rabbit, he foolishly stood by the stump, waiting for it to catch another rabbit for him. This is used to describe those who cling to words or images, thinking them to be a source of enlightenment.”
- Thomas and J.C.Cleary The Blue Cliff Record Vol.1 p52 note h.

Shugyo: the deepest level of training in the Way.
“The everyday life of the patriarchs is nothing but drinking tea and eating rice.”

“This is not mere theory it is to be practiced.”
Shugyo is the highest possible spiritual training. Zen illustrates this as –
A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not depending upon letters,
Pointing directly to the Mind (literally “human mind”)
See into Nature itself and attain “Thusness”.

“This is the moment of our final destination, the ultimate goal of all creation,
the conclusion of all history and all life: and at the same time a step of the eternal process of life’s way. In the kitchen, at your work, wherever you are, you have arrived at your final goal. Intellectually you may think of some future tomorrows, but in reality, this encounter is our whole life. You are the way of true life and have nothing more to seek.”                        
- Hogen Yamahata

Rinzai’s “The True Man of No Rank” (Mu No Shinjin) when “Bodhi and Nirvana will be like hitching posts for asses.”

“This instant of revelation of reality, I do not understand it, nor do you, nor does anyone else. Not even the Buddha vision see it, so how can it be fathomed by human calculation.”           
- Dogen

It is the life of a genuine person, or individuated ego, working in the service of the Self in and through common, daily activities. Moving from an egocentric life (jiga) of Eros to Agape (jiko) our true original self. The classic dying of the old encumbered self, the dropping off of mind and body, to live magnanimously. This then is being in and through wisdom (prajna) and one pointed ness (samadhi) – no-mind (mu shin); no thought (mu nen); no-hindrance; ultimate transcendence and freedom in everything to share the Way.

“The Way is essentially perfect and exists everywhere. There is no need to seek or realise the Way. The Truth, which carries us along, is sovereign and does not require our efforts. Need I say that it excels this world? Who can say that the expedient of (mirror) wiping is necessary? Essentially the Truth is very close to you; is it then necessary to run around in search for it?

Even so, if there is the slightest error, there is a gulf as great as that between heaven and earth.”
- Zen Master Dogen - General Recommendations for Doing Zazen - Fukan Zazengi

The smallest creaturely image that ever forms in you is as great as God is great. Why? Because it comes between you and the whole of God. As soon as the image comes in, God and all Divinity have to give way. But as the image goes out, God goes in.
- Meister Eckhart

We only usually experience such a purgation of self when we are close to death, when the whole thing could turn to ashes in our mouths, when we have nothing left, no more strength, no more intellect, no more anyone to save us. Shugyo is this complete poverty, which is sought through years of austere purification practices (misogi). But this sanctity is the exact opposite of suicide and with regard to its excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it.
Mother Teresa call herself “God’s pencil stub” I cannot imagine Mother T putting it like the following but D. T. Suzuki considered “The Record of Rinzai is a book that should be regarded as one of the greatest analects of the Orient – no, of the whole world.” When you read this or look into the face of MT and do not laugh and cry you need to, want to, seek help to be beaten till you do. There is a saying that the lion’s roar will shatter the brains of little foxes. (fox spirits – don’t go all fluffy on me)

"Followers of the Way, you take the words that come out of the mouths of a bunch of old teachers to be a description of the true Way. You think, 'this is a most wonderful teacher and friend. I have only the mind of a common mortal, I would never dare to try to fathom such venerable ness.' Blind idiots! You go through life with this kind of understanding, betraying your own two eyes, cringing and faltering like a donkey on an icy road, saying, 'I would never dare speak ill of such a good friend, I'd be afraid of making mouth karma!'
Because it is the original wish of life: of Self realising itself. Because we need to breathe fresh air. Because there is no self-preservation and right now suffering cascades down from us doing nothing to a tidal wave of raw obscene violence that sweeps away all we hold dear and love. “Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?” Because you know!  Because it is thereby making us live in a state of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “Cheap grace” Christians should not take the consolation of Christianity without being prepared to accept the challenge of it. Because Rumi reminds us. Because “A prince is just a conceit until he does something with generosity.” And I pour contempt on all of my Pride.

Hogen (Daido) Yamahata points directly. “The problem is that we have not felt enough pain and awareness of our insensitivity to practice correctly. We urgently need to feel this.” So a lifetime of learning, or is it unlearning, a continuous prayer; watchfulness (nepsis - in the hesychia tradition). It goes deeper and deeper, from discursive thought or indeed any internal dialogue, to loosing oneself in action,
(ji-zanmai – limited samadhi),

A certain person asked what the state of samadhi was. Shozan unsheathed his sword and held it in the seigan no kamae (the middle position) and said, “Well, do you understand? If you understand this, it is the easiest way for a samurai to achieve samadhi. That is so, but why can’t the samurai understand Zen? Because when they lay their swords down, the state of samadhi is lost.”
- Suzuki Shozan from Omori Sogen The Art of a Zen Master

Any gnosis to a continuous state of  oo-zanmai (the great samadhi) which is one’s “Birthright” every individual posses from the very beginning, belonging to no one else. Each person contains a boundless treasure within do not be one who always counts another person’s treasure. Give up the old ways of enmity and fear.

“The intellect sees neither itself nor anything else in a material way. On the contrary it is often drawn away even from its own senses by the light acting within it: for now it grows immaterial and filled with spiritual radiance.”
- St Gregory of Sinai

To appreciate it’s relevance in the martial sense, not that with Bunbu Ittoku we should make any distinction, please read Takuan’s Letter to Yagyu Tajima No Kami Munenori on The Mystery of Prajna Immoveable. (p 95 D. T. Suzuki’s Zen and Japanese Culture or William Scott Wilson’s “The Unfettered Mind”)

O Sensei would say that practice is misogi to ”settle the spirit and collect the mind” (Chinkon-kishin) There are many techniques, but all must match with the principles of the Universe. All techniques that do not blend with the truth of the Universe return to destroy one’s own body. This is because these are martial techniques that cannot be linked to the Universe and are, thus, not the Take of Take-Musu  Aiki (Infinite Martial Creation of Aiki) to “return to the Divine” (kishin) is “to repose in the holiness of life”
Read John Steven’s “The Essence of Aikido” and look deeply into the pictures.

The Zen master Yuan-chih (Ta-an) of Chang-ching Hall in Fu country once addressed the monks in the Dharma hall: “For thirty years I live on Mt. Wei and during that time I ate the monastery’s rice and gave it back in the latrine.  I did not learn the Zen of Master Wei-shan. All I did was raise a water buffalo. When he wandered from the path into the grass, I pulled him back: when he ran amuck in someone’s garden, I chastised him with a whip. Now he has been tame for some time. Unfortunately, he use to pay too much attention to what people said, but now, however, he has become a pure white domesticated bull. He is always right in front of me wherever I am, dazzling white all day long, and even if I try to drive him away he will not go.” We should pay careful attention to this story. The thirty years of arduous practice with the patriarch (Wei-shan) consisted of eating rice, and there was no other consideration. When you realise the meaning of the life of eating rice, you will also understand the deep meaning of raising the buffalo bull. Dogen’s Shobogenzo Kajo “Everyday life”

“You have to live your Love or else you’ll only end in words.”
- Rumi

This life of Eating and Shitting is not mere theory….

Practice:
“Whatever man is desirous to attain skill in any art, unless he observes the rules and orders of the best masters of that work or science, is indulging in a vain hope to reach by idle wishes any similarity to those whose pains and diligence he avoids copying.” John Cassian, Christian monk (ca. 360-440)

A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all around him.

Our being is not to be enriched merely by activity or experience as such. Everything depends on the quality of our acts and our experiences. A multitude of badly performed actions and of experiences only half-lived exhausts and deplete our being. By doing things badly we make ourselves less real. This growing unreality cannot help but make us unhappy and fill us with a sense of guilt. But the purity of our conscience has a natural proportion with the depth of our being and the quality of our acts: and when our activity is habitually disordered, our malformed conscience can think of nothing better to tell us than to multiply the quantity of our acts, without perfecting their quality. And so we go from bad to worst, exhaust ourselves, empty our whole life of all content, and fall into despair.
- Thomas Merton “No Man is an Island” p108

 “Go and sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.”
- Abba Moses, one of the early Desert Fathers of Egypt.

To be continued….

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Background notes to practice - Tom Helsby

“This is not mere theory it is to be practiced.”

These articles arise from the desire to give background, or larger discussion, to our practise and I was asked. We cannot be small minded and lazy, an impossibility in any serious endeavour where your life and those of everyone you say you love depended upon your actions to uphold the freedoms that we hold dear. We must use completely and with valour the Spirit, Intellect and Body (Shin, Gi, Tai), which mutually support and educate each other in this interdependent life. It is no secret that a life worth living is demanding but satisfying and if complete has a true sense of repose. We “Explore the old to better understand the new.” and invigorate practice (keiko) with all we have to understand this one time / one meeting life (ichigo ichie).

“One of the moral disease we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask.” Thomas Merton.

“To grasp the Dharma, look into things near at hand and examine your heart.”
Yamaoka Tesshu

“Even though you know principle, you must make yourself perfectly free in the use of technique. And even though you may wield the sword that you carry with you well, if you are unclear on the deepest aspects of principle, you will likely fall short of proficiency.

Technique and principle are just like the two wheels of a cart.” Takuan Soho

“Study it (the way to be sincere) extensively, inquire into it accurately, and think over it carefully, sift it clearly, and practice it earnestly. If there is anything not yet studied, or studied but not yet understood, do not give up.

If there is any questions not yet asked, or asked but its answer not yet known, do not give up. If there is anything not yet thought over, or thought over but not yet apprehended do not give up. If there is anything not yet sifted, or sifted but not yet clear, do not give up. If there is anything practised, or practised but not yet earnestly, do not give up. If another succeeds by one effort, I will use one hundred efforts. If another succeeds by ten efforts, I will use a thousand efforts. If one really follows this course, though stupid, will surely become intelligent, and though weak, will surely become strong.” Doctrine of the Mean

I am sure these notes will stimulate legions of response and energetic reply all of which I do not want to hear. Tesshu when asked to explain a point of dharma put on his kit and went to the dojo. We must discover our own self our boundless treasure store and not keep counting another person’s treasure. We are in the business of taking heads off (not adding more). Finally as all serious work demands rigorous research I must admit to being ashamed that my words do exceed my deeds. So here this reckless amateur enters where the prudent scholar fears to tread. I hope you’re satisfied.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we began
And know that place for the first time.” T. S. Eliot

Loose list of subjects to be, in the fullness of time, addressed:

Reigishaho – good manners, etiquette, propriety, form

Shen tu – practice when alone

Makoto – sincerity, genuineness, true, real

Shin , Gi , Tai – Spirit, Intellect, Body

Bun Bu Ryodo – Letters and Martial as One

Keiko, renshu, kunren, tanren, kufu and shugyo. The first four of these perhaps can be translated as practice, training, discipline and forging

Shisei – posture “First you must build a unified body.”

Hammi - sankaku tai allows dynamic stability; minimal muscular tension

Irimi issoku - entering

Masakatsu – correct win / Agatsu – self win / Katsuhayabi – win-quick-day

Enten no Ri – Principle and practice of circles and spirals

Maai – time / space

Metsuke – Focus

Ukemi – the art of letting go, fearlessness, the power of Listening

Sen – initiative

Reigisaho - form, etiquette, propriety
“True Budo begins and ends with Reigi”
“This is not mere theory it is to be practiced.”

This practice of how we show our respect and appreciation for all things demonstrates our fundamental understanding of what we are truly about. It is complete Budo in Shin Gi Tai. It has no openings and has no trace of inattention.

It is a “Horizontal-ling of the ego mast”.

"The body is a devise to calculate the astronomy of the spirit.
Look through that astrolabe and become oceanic." Rumi

“The just person seeks nothing through their works, for those whose works are aimed at a particular end or act with a particular Why in view, are servants and hirelings. If you wish to be formed and transformed into justice then, do not intend anything particular by your works and do not embrace any particular Why, neither in time nor in eternity, neither reward nor blessedness, neither this nor that; such works in truth are dead. ….
Enter your own inner ground therefore and act from there, and all your works shall be living works.” Meister Eckhart

“Not knowing how close the truth is we seek it far away what a pity.” Hakuin

“The only devils in this world are those running around in our own hearts,
And that is where all our battles ought to be fought.” Gandhi

Practice:
“Explore the old to better understand the new.”
“This is not mere theory it is to be practiced.”

Keiko, renshu, kunren, tanren, kufu and shugyo. The first four of these perhaps can be translated as practice, training, discipline and forging the last two present something far bigger than mere accomplishment.

Aiki being a living, Martial Creative way requires, as in the best of all martial traditions, that we use only the appropriate means / strength to reconcile the situation thereby affirming not destroying life. This requires the greatest skill / power of all – that of Listening (Mushin).

This demands shugyo the rigorous clarification of the self –

Body (sankaku tai) stable - stillness and movement as one - dynamic

Mind (Fudoshin) imperturbable - an unconquerable position

Spirit (Muga) selflessness – unfettered - not selfish – no enemy

This is serious. Any possessive idea fixates us, you and the other person and because one is not open you will not hear everything; hence your understanding will be one-sided.

“Thus it is said that the one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes be victorious, sometime meet with defeat. One who does not know neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement.”

“Now the army’s disposition of force is like water. Water’s configuration avoids heights and races downward. The army’s disposition of force avoids the substantial and strikes the vacuous. Water configures its flow according to the terrain; the army controls its victory in accord with the enemy. Thus the army does not maintain any constant strategic configuration of power, water has no constant shape. One who is able to change and transform in accord with the enemy is termed spiritual.” Sun Tzu

“Give up the old ways – passions, enmity and fear.

Know the truth and find peace. Share the way.” Dhammapda – chapter 1.

This skill is universally acknowledged and admired; so in the following just read Aiki for Indian music -
“A note by Yehudi Menuhin
It is the immediacy of experience, the electric instantaneousness which fuses cause and effect; a sensation shared as in a flash from the first impulse to the last effect, bypassing all middlemen, all theories, interpreters, all rituals concerned with formal exposition of a studied script; it is these “living” values, expressing an immediate spiritual and physical state of being together with the moral and physical dedication inherent in the art, which distinguish Indian music.” Sleeve Notes from Menuhin meets Shankar CD

Kufu

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Rules for Training

This list of rules was allegedly posted by
O Sensei at the original Hombu dojo:

O Sensei's rules for training Aikido


1. Aikido decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor's teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest.

2. Aikido is the way that teaches how one can deal with several enemies. Students must train themselves to be alert not just to the front, but to all sides and the back.

3. Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.

4. The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versatile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training.

5. In daily practice first begin by moving your body and then progress to more intensive practice. Never force anything unnaturally or unreasonably. If this rule is followed, then even elderly people will not hurt themselves and they can train in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.

6. The purpose of aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums.

Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba's addendum to the rules
1. Proper aikido can never be mastered unless one strictly follows the instructor's teaching.

2. Aikido as a martial art is perfected by being alert to everything going on around us and leaving no vulnerable opening (suki).

3. Practice becomes joyful and pleasant once one has trained enough not to be bothered by pain.

4. Do not be satisfied by what is taught at the dojo. One must constantly digest, experiment and develop what one has learned.

5. One should never force things unnaturally or unreasonably in practice. One should undertake training suited to his body, physical condition and age.

6. The aim of aikido is to develop the truly human self. It should not be used to display ego.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba visting UK

This weekend brings the visit of Doshu (head of Hombu dojo, Japan see here for Doshu lineage). I know at least two from Airenjuku are attending, perhaps we can get a write up arranged.

http://www.doshu.co.uk/

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Morihiro Saito Sensei 9th dan Aikikai demonstration

Saito Sensei in quite an old demonstration of aikido principles with and without weapons.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Some quotes for your consideration.

“Even though you know principle, you must make yourself perfectly free in the use of technique.
And even though you may wield the sword that you carry with you well, if you are unclear on the deepest aspects of principle, you will likely fall short of proficiency.
Technique and principle are just like the two wheels of a cart.” 
Takuan Soho

“If your vision is narrow, your courage will be narrow. Always try to keep your thoughts universal.” Bukko

“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”
Krishnamurti. 
"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man whom you have seen, and ask yourself if the step that you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj (self rule) for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away."
Gandhi

If there is anything not yet studied, or studied but not yet understood, do not give up.
If there is any question not yet asked, or asked but it's answer not yet known, do not give up.
If there is anything not yet thought over, or thought over but not yet apprehended do not give up.
If there is anything not yet sifted, or sifted but not yet clear, do not give up.
If there is anything practised, or practised but not yet earnestly, do not give up.
If another succeeds by one effort, I will use one hundred efforts.
If another succeeds by ten efforts, I will use a thousand efforts.
If one really follows this course, though stupid, will surely become intelligent,
and though weak, will surely become strong.”
Doctrine of the Mean