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