“To Play or Not To Play,” by Nev Sagiba

A Buddhist friend once said to me, when speaking of a verbal attack that had happened, “I just don’t buy into it. I don’t play their game.”

Whilst some people take verbal attacks very seriously, I consider them all mild, since they shed no blood. I’m referring to people who raise their voice, press buttons and hurl insults. The problem is entirely theirs.

If a threat is evident, take note and adjust maai accordingly.

In instances of verbal venting it is indeed possible to, “Not play their game.”  The rest is navigation, a skill some fare in better than others.

Computers are a new field now taking over the world and which, because of money and other security issues such as all the other things we do, are having to be taken very seriously indeed.

But a computer can have no bearing on the rising of a tide or a falling coconut. Outside of an electric plug, all computers fail and we are faced with air, earth, temperature shifts and water or the lack of it, issues far more important to whether we live or die, that an computer.

Computers, in a smaller way mimic the natural processes, but will never significantly control them.

You don’t have to have one if you are beachcomber living on fish and coconuts and sleeping on a warm beach.

What if, as well as or without words, a person attacks you with a knife, gun, sword, spear, machete, shoe, pen, cup, ashtray, knife, branch, antenna, club, guitar, spear, cane knife, cup, saucer, machete, 4 x2, brick, hammer, axe, shovel, cell phone, paper weight, stapler, letter opener, crowbar, saw, screwdriver, coffee table, book, rock, chair, whip, bottle, drinking glass, picture frame, fence post, star picket, broom, metal bucket, saucepan (full or empty), fry pan, skillet, fork, nail clippers… and then some. Then of course, there are also projectiles which is another, no less important art form. Police have archives on the subject.

How will your computer help you then?

Would you go back to typing and make the assailant disappear thereby? We are not at that stage yet.

Suppose you have the skill, and your nice new laptop is made of titanium and not plastic, I think the answer is obvious and self-evident. Don’t you?

This is not to decry computers. We are so lazy and dishonest as species that we will go to inordinate lengths to avoid real work and choosing to be harmless in our dealings. Even so far as to work many hundreds of times harder and longer to automate and “secure” things, than simply getting to the point we originally wanted to get to. In fact, we are so immensely sidetracked we have all forgotten what that is!

So for now, we like to imagine we are avoiding work using these great toys and sweat free tools that provide RSI instead, and yet are indeed extensions of and crutches for the intelligence we already have, but at this stage don’t otherwise use too much.

In short, a real attack requires you to somehow play the game. Or alternately, choose to be seriously hurt or even die.

Is there a way to successfully defend and protect without entirely lowering yourself to the primal level of ultimate mutual destructiveness?

Perhaps there is. Good combat Aikido seems to work well because it leaves out no option. And because it chooses not to start the aggression, rather, as Budo, stop the aggression. And because of the great force multiplier called “aiki” which the lazy merely mimic and the sincere work until they find.

Upon what is this skill reliant?

Upon a computer that is said to be 14 billion years old. You can access this computer system both internally and externally. Currently even the smartest people only access about 1% or less of its potentials.

How can I access it? You have the software. It is you. The hardware supporting it is the planet and natural elements, life support systems all contained in the very thin layer of biosphere, without which you would reduce to scattered atoms. Instead you are a living, conscious, mobile, feeling body-mind complex, yet also a mere micro-pixel in a galaxy that forms part of a multitude, in galaxy soup.

You have consciousness, sentience, mobility and a few other attributes you may or may not be conscious of and which can not be found in any book.

Where are they found?

In and all around you all the time.

You are inevitably involved; and as long as you breathe, you must navigate. There is no choice whether to play or not to play.

The question is invariably how to play and how hard to play, if and when to play and what circumstances to play in, and to learn to play better.

The rest is entirely up to you to discover.

Nev Sagiba


  1. Brett Jackson says:

    Fascinating writing to read and reread. Thanks Nev Sensei! I always love the way you integrate aikido with daily living. A main part of the bounty of aikido is that it can be a great multiplier, as you so nicely phrased it. Keep going! Regards from Northern California.

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