“The ego in Aikido” by by Henrik Beyer

Firstly, a comment on the article “Perceptions and Deceptions” by Stanley Pranin. Pranin writes “that there is no direct correspondence between reality as it is perceived by the individual and reality as it is.” Continuing Pranin also writes that “the world around us is nothing more than an abstraction based on the sum of our subjective perceptions.”

Allow me to agree and expand on these statements in the context of my experience as a two weeks old Aikidoka.

To me our individual and collective egos are the basis of Pranin’s argument. We very often enter the dojo with our individual egos in full action. Our egos are powerful and we are to be aware of them in order to be successful in Aikido, and in life. My interpretation of the spiritual aspects of Aikido is the necessity to dismantle our egos when entering the dojo and work on doing the same outside the dojo. Our egos consist of our individual subjective perceptions and life experiences which basically have their basis from our thoughts. This package is supposed to represent us as individuals. This is me, that is you, and so on. But I would like to say that this is only our external selves. The dojo offers an opportunity to dismantle our formed perceptions which often tend to control us. To me Ki represents our awareness and knowledge of our physical energy and our ability to be fully present in the now. We are all to a certain extent knowledgeable of our physical ability. But I would like to be so bold to claim that we are less able to be present in the now and even less generally aware. For me, being present in the now and awareness to go hand in hand. What if we could take the opportunity to be lose our ego and be fully present in the now when we enter the mat! Then our perceptions would not deceive us. Practicing Aikido presents a unique opportunity to practice awareness and in the Now. As we need to be prepared at all times.

For the two weeks that I have been an Aikidoko I have had what I presume are normal thoughts of a newcomer to martial arts:

“My sensei is an extraordinary individual.” “I would also like to be at Shoden level very soon” “I have to make sure that I practise rigorously and show my skills.” “I have much to learn before I will get there.”

I have since I was a teenager had the dream or a may I call it a thought that getting a black belt in a martial art would be cool. What did I really want? Did I want praise from people for having a black belt? Did I think that I would become some great individual with extraordinary skills? In these thoughts there seem to be a certain degree of seeking myself through further experiences or so called accomplishments.

However, I have learnt that I will never get there, I can only be there. What I am trying to portray is how my mind pretends to show me the truth via thoughts which are shaped from my subjective experiences which in turn becomes Me and my ego. When I step onto the mat my mind feeds me all these thoughts. Knowing my physical ability and being aware and fully present in the now is the key in Aikido. My practice should be free of all that other ego based nonsense thinking. After all, Aikido offers us a rare opportunity to show respect towards each other and provides a practice platform where no individual is more or less but in the end only a part of everything. Therefore, as wise men may have said: “I am nothing as well as everything and that is all.” Most of all as an Aikidoka.

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