“Self Preservation,” by Nev Sagiba

Which “self” is it that we are preserving in the event of an imminent threat?

The average Jo Blo simply follows his instincts, poor as these unconsciously accumulated millions of years of ancestral experience may be, he sometimes succeeds and at other times fails. He puts the outcome down to the mythical entity, “luck.”

The more sophisticated and virulently ill in the mind, tend to imagine threats that do not in fact exist and then set about complex and devious plans to harm the world to feed their unfounded fears. In so doing they succeed in manufacturing very real threats that did not previously exist. This does no one any favours.

Self-preservation, so called, is a valid instinct when it does not become rampant, predatorial and a harm causing pathological state addicted blindly to vampiric habit tendencies.

Conversely, the overly pious, in their imagination, have been heard to propound “self preservation” as somehow, “bad,” on the basis that there may be a measure of fearful roughness and discomfort involved. But when the chips are down, these have been noted, just like everybody else, to either seek to run, or to stand up and fight. Albeit mostly too late from lack of preparation.

Why is all life universally driven, and this strongly, to try to live the full span allotted?

Perhaps each form has a task, a “Creative mission of in life..” as Morihei Ueshiba and others have suggested.

When thoroughly analyzed, neither of the two extremes, that of the unwarranted predator, and that of the career victim, have a valid case to put forward. Both are doomed to their own trajectory of failure and something not worth aspiring to.

Now, this brings us to: a) the validity of defence, and b) the modus for implementing it.

The validity of defence.

What is we are defending? This gives rise to deeper questions, such as: Why are we here? If there is a “why,” indeed, and we take a serious look at ourselves as a species, it would appear that we may be here to learn something. As evidenced by the universal thrust of repeated evolutionary process of trial and error, it would suggest that we have not yet “got” whatever it is that we come here to learn.

But notable throughout the aeons is the fact that when we strive to alleviate suffering, and look up from our trivially oh-so important legion of self-obsessions, just long enough to attain some measure of awakening, that things, for a while, appear to facilitate conditions to go better for all concerned. Less suffering equals increased harmony.

Perhaps then, we are protecting an opportunity, an opportunity for a portion of the universe itself, no matter how small this may be, to experience the fruit of this mission. On this basis, it could be construed that we may have a sacred trust, a duty of care apportioned to that portion of time and space that we occupy. And that by default, we naturally owe it to afford other portions of the universe, all life, that same respect.

On this basis, I would suggest that this creative mission of service is fundamentally two pronged. One part being: Alleviation of suffering, ours and that of others. And the other part being: Awakening or clarifying the mind to notice the obvious, (the now largely uncommon) common sense, from the brainwashing that greed, fear and perplexity give rise to. In other words, to form core values based on life and not inane fantasies! Natural boundaries exist for a reason.

The modus for implementing defense

Now, I think we can safely say that the indisposition of the unbalanced, be these aggressive predators, or sheep like herds of the dumb and unconscious, are not a trajectory to be chosen; and are not enjoyable in their ultimate result. If you have any doubts, feel free to disagree, test run the predispositions and find out where you end up. When you arrive at the logical conclusion, you may speak from there. Assuming you still can.

We are still left with the necessity to protect and defend.

Whether imminent danger is a natural disaster or a man made one, is largely irrelevant. When foresighted maintenance fails, we are left in either a surprised daze, dead, or striving to patch up and mop up and wishing we had addressed our common duties and humane responsibilities with clear vision in advance.

Now, there are various ways to implement defence. The dumbest is by destructive means. This means the tardy that arises from irresponsibility. Since it is the nature of the universe to sustain life at all costs and since that which you resist not only persists, but like the hydra’s head, multiplies with spiteful reprisals, it soon becomes self evident that destruction begets more destruction and escalates until pretty much everything is destroyed.

Problem is, you cannot talk sense to a tsunami, or an earthquake. Nor to a crazed man with a gun or other insanities.

How can you effectively enact the ideal of Aikido, harmless defence?

When it’s too late, you probably can’t. Again, this answers itself in the words: Advanced Creative Maintenance. As Ueshiba would say: “Caring, nurturing and protecting the family of life..”

Remove the reasons for violence in advance. The “reasons” are not living beings, but the results of their actions such as that which leads to inequity, poverty, abuse, domination and exploitation in all its forms, the various injustices.. and those things that cause harm whether overt or covert.

Damaging actions arise from damaged thinking processes. Reconciling the damaged is not always an easy task. But it is a necessary one.

The conundrum is that when any law is broken in order to impose it, it then becomes invalidated by that action. Were all participants to self-awaken, and to notice the just and the true of their own ability instead, it would then form a democracy of souls, as it were, who silently agree to simply do what is right, for no other reason, than simply because it is the right thing to do.

There is immense power in this and it’s all that is holding the balance for the human species right now.

From this, it can be seen that harmless defence is a creative mission of maintenance where suffering is deliberately alleviated, instead of manufactured. Such skill can only arise from self-motivated desire to awaken oneself out of the quagmires and entrapments that mental and emotive delusions engender.

This is the meaning of that all time favourite of Master Ueshiba: “Agatsu Masagatsu,” True victory is victory of oneself.

Self-preservation begins here, not as a brawl of any kind; and the real and truest sophistication any human being can achieve is not in better weapons, but better attitudes. The “self” so called is not inside any sack of skin, faeces and bones, but rather in consciousness itself. And this is a universal, all encompassing essence, a current not cloistered, but equally available to all life freely and without charge. It is akin to autonomous electric current which can feed one, seven billion, or trillions of “light globes” without loss. This perennial current continues to flow, with or without the individual globes, feeding them all dispassionately, but more so through those who are properly maintained with filaments intact and properly maintained.

Too bright, unmodulated, it blinds. No person can be an island. We are all interdependent.

As humans today, we stand at a threshold of immense potential and inevitable change. We can have a bright world of great light, or we can allow ourselves to collapse into cold, possibly permanent darkness. The Self of humanity and life on earth is right now at a crossroads. All of it.

We can choose to go back to sleep. Indeed it is anyone’s prerogative to do so, but a choice most likely made by those not understanding the nature of consequences and their inevitability. Or, we can choose to change even one small thing in our own valid jurisdiction, a word, a gesture, an attitude, a new constructive habit, a refusal to cow-tow to tyranny and injustice, to find a way to clear the mind, learn new skills and so on. The possibilities are indeed vast and endless.

There is not much to debate, but a fair bit of work to do.

This can only be achieved one step at a time and not entirely alone as an island, but rather co-creatively with the understanding that all life is related and that to protect one life, carries immense power to protect all life.

“Anyone who harms or kills a human being … it shall be as though he has harmed and killed all of mankind. … When anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he has saved the lives of all of mankind.”
From the Qur’an

Nev Sagiba


  1. Socrates Andersson says:

    Well worth the read.
    And I don’t even study Aikido…

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