Evangelical proselytizing about Aikido, and also against it, seems to abound.
Why was Ueshiba so fanatical about his art and its relatively undefined spiritual/ethical/philosophical difference to mere jutsu arts? Why and how indeed did the Do emerge from the jutsu, long before Ueshiba?
Why are many practitioners equally, if not more staunch about the difference of Aikido, notwithstanding most practitioners cannot fight their way out of a paper bag in a fit, even if they had to?
What’s so special about Aikido, or what we think or imagine may be Aikido?
Will it make a difference that will benefit life on earth? Or are we all delusional?
Vague references to an “aikido philosophy” are sometimes alluded to, but no one has defined it with any degree of finality; and, thank the Kami, it has not deteriorated sufficiently and politically for anyone to have attempted to write a dogma about it.
Is there a fundamental shift inherently possible, both internally and externally, as a result of regular Aikido practice?
If so why? And if not, why not?
Despite the sometime air-headed ideologies and dreams about “nature’s harmony” coming from people who’ve never been swept away by a large wave, sunk and lost at sea, attacked by a large predator, human or animal, got cornered in a fire or buried in an earthquake and so on, or by the overprotected who’ve never fought in a war where lives, limbs and minds are lost, crippled or bent forever, despite all that, WHAT IS NATURE’S HARMONY?
Everything eats. At this precise moment the sun is reclaiming the subatomic particles on loan to you that make your structure. Or you may have recently sat down to a streak or burger someone else killed for you.
Where is the “harmony”?
Predators incur energy debt. In the end the hunter becomes the hunted or simply fails and is eaten. Whether big and little fish, or jungle animals or nations composed of human beings, this seems to be the pattern. A struggle for survival, oft riddled with errors and then invariably followed by a decline.
We all die and the components return to dust, atoms and disappears forever in the great ocean of, no not Zen, matter, the spent nuclear waste that formed us temporarily and came out of galaxies forming.
If you want to be romantic that’s “stardust” to you and we are all extraterrestrials connected to the stars and so on. Also as true as you want it to be, because it is as it is.
The universe is in debt and incurring it by the milliseconds as it expands. One day it will collapse. Here, today, in the microcosm, as a result of mass misplaced trust in financial predators, some who imagined themselves brilliant geniuses capable of forever lying and cheating, we are globally experiencing financial collapse. In the great scheme no one gives a damn if the whole planet disappeared tomorrow despite our self imagined importance.
Some cannot cope with such a reality, so they follow dreamers and exploiters of dreams into all manner of cultish “chosen one” scenarios who like to “believe” things that have no empirical evidence. Such dreams sustain them in this brief life.
One thing is measurable, since the very beginnings all life forms have to struggle for survival. This is indisputable and measurable.
The birth of violence and related skills was born here. In fire and battle against odds, elements, beast of prey and others who look like us and are prepared to kill us to steal our believed to be meager resources, because of their bereft and insecure vision.
Survival against adversity and challenge is hard wired into the deepest core of our being. As are the abilities to undermine and imagine gain by cheating, lying and stealing.
It appears however that there is also a spark that feeds ideals and thinking, wishing, hoping and even fighting for such ideals.
But where do such ideals come from?
The, as we know it, golden rule, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Jesus (Matt. 7: 12. Deliberately enacting harmony is here said to sum up everything and makes all other rules and messengers subject to itself.
Mutual harmony is held out as the keystone that differentiates the true human being although animals too know how to show courtesy and respect.
Why? What is it about treating others as we; if we are sane, prefer to be treated? What is it about empathy that departs from the self serving predator?
Such names as Jesus, Hillel, Akhenaton and Confucius used it to summarize their ethical teachings.
The HINDU belief systems includes it severally. For example:
“This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.”
BUDDHIST sutras include:
“Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.”
JEWISH traditions taught:
“What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”
The MUSLIM writings:
“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”
The BAHA’I faith teaches:
” He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil.”
The Book of Certitude
There are many sources alluding to this principle such as:
“Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by.”
“Tzu-kung asked, ‘Is there a single word which can be a guide to conduct throughout one’s life?’ The Master said, ‘It is perhaps the word “shu”. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love” Lao-Tzu
Even the most evil sometimes have empathy for at least their own children if not those of others.
We don’t really need a book or scripture to tell us what we all, already know as innate. I suppose it is helpful to be reminded by tribal or community leaders when the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” may tend to blind our minds somewhat and cause us to revert to more primitive, reptilian, modes of reactivity and become victims of not only circumstances but actions arising of blurred consciousness.
Why has this, with its underlying ethic of purposeful and deliberate harmlessness and respect been held highest for so long among the clearest thinkers and visionaries?
This ethic has always marked the birth and ascent of human civilization whereas the departure from it always hailed the decline and fall. We still have some unrevised histories to study if we care to.
Why did Ueshiba infiltrate the principle of harmlessness (ahimsa) or minimizing harm to an art, which originated for purposes of war, killing and all that comes with it?
What is it they identified? Could it be sustainability as results from fruitful exchanges adding value to value instead of pillaging from existing value?
Could it be simply this; when you minimize the energy debts that follow lying, cheating, deception, and habituated underhanded machinations tend to support criminal activities.
The sum total of repeated crime invariably leads to meltdown much like a cancer in the body of humanity and are therefore not conducive to lasting health of the whole which supports us in the interconnected web of life.
No man is an island. Even the sick predator has to find victims and therefore, at the lowest level, is bound by the fundamental law of existence, unity.
Budo, farming and trade, SUSTAINABILITY. Education and cultural exchange.
War is expensive. At every level. It is not conducive to sustainability. No violence is.
The question is: are we willing to consider the long term sustainability of our humanity and the life forms which support it? Or are we merely processing machines who don’t care what harm we bring about so we can scratch a few itches in the short term?
An ideal of Aikido is to eliminate the bully and victim symbiosis by being neither, but a constructive and creative contributor to the common wealth and greater good, and one with courage, integrity and individuality sufficient to see through that which corrodes all that is good, beneficial and true.
We seek, indeed work hard at not adding to harm and also to open the eye of the mind to notice viable, result getting alternatives to bad manners, pillage and destruction. And also valid and functional methods of defence which do not add to harm.
If the goal of Aikido were merely a parochially “superior” method of destructivity, whether for individual ego or battle strategy for a particular clan’s tribal domination, it would have no purpose. The techniques and other strategic formulae would be carefully guarded “secrets” instead. In today’s world, better methods of violent destruction already exist which require no retraining of the human being. These have been tried repeatedly and consistently fail in the long run, as history nauseatingly shows. The attitudes of violence are the disease of the soul. Conflict wastes time, resources and potential. Like blind corks drifting in chaos, such trajectories have led to burdensome all-lose scenarios which become increasingly difficult to sustain until they inevitably collapse, finding it too hard to run counter to the laws of harmony which sustain the economy of nature and the universe.
The goal of Aikido is different. Its purpose is to
restore the damaged human psyche to full function and a different way of looking at things and a different attitude. It achieves this by healing the inner circuitry of the body-mind complex and subjugating the reactive reptilian tendencies by reviving our innate, superior and more superior response abilities. This of course requires appropriate work in regular training on the Way/ Path or Do/Michi before it can become actualized. Mere talk, wishful thinking, ideas about things or intellectualizing is not enough. It is not always easy to get up and purposefully make yourself confront the pain of personal change.
Why do we take this personally transforming training so seriously, despite the relative austerity it demands? In a dojo you soon learn deep empathy, if even often the hard way. We also, hopefully rekindle the contributive communal capital which served to ascend us from the caves and jungles of cannibalism.
Why do we take it so seriously? Probably because we love our kids and don’t want our species to become extinct.
So we strive to improve ourselves and our clear noticing and thinking abilities in the hope of becoming enabled to indeed make a difference, no matter how small.
Many small changes, whether harmonious or discordant, add up to great change, and so we have made the choice.