“The awesome Spirit of Ueshiba Aiki, and of “ageru”, was wondrously demonstrated by the Founder when he visited Hawaii in 1961…”
A “gift” may be “something that is bestowed voluntarily and without any thought or expectation of compensation, gain, or return”. It may also be “an act, right, or a power of giving”, an independent act of generosity wholly and unselfishly initiated by the giver. The act of unconditional giving is totally free from any expectation, requirement, or need for reciprocity on the part of the recipient.
Whenever we perform a favor, or simply share something of value, we may well have any number of reasons or purposes to choose from. The intentional act of giving without any hidden or unrevealed purpose, may well represent the highest form of respect, regard or genuine affection of one person for another. Such a gift then becomes priceless.
In discussions with other folk, whether in person, email, or on an online blog situation, we can come to truly appreciate how well we understand the spirit of gifting to one another, affording the full opportunity to allow for a more complete explanation, and perhaps an actual demonstration of the original intention. I am reminded of “jam sessions” in music, where each contribution is accepted without judgment, prejudice, or arbitrary application of rules. What can result is an easy and joyful atmosphere of simply enjoying each other’s gift of spontaneity and the originality of each others’ company.
Arguments certainly do have their value, and are usually governed by clear guidelines and established standards of tone, structure, design and overall purpose. Still, the simple gift of allowing each contributor an opportunity to deliver interesting perspectives is appreciated by all who honor such moments.
Even the seemingly simple gift of folding the hakama for another person can afford yet another magical opportunity for the giver, irrespective of who the lucky recipient may be. In that case, it becomes totally irrelevant as to whether it is the hakama of a sensei, a sempai, or a complete stranger. It is, after all, fully in the power of the giver to decide. Voluntarily folding a hakama for someone you like and respect isn’t such a big deal, now is it? Can you think of other simple tasks or favors you may want to do for those in your respective spheres? After all, courtesy has many facets, forms and faces.
In the course of regular Aikido practice, equal time and a uniform emphasis on skills development may be based on an easy agreement of both nage and uke, to actively develop such skills, avoiding any risk of injury or intimidation. Nage agrees to perform the technique fully, and with reasonable regard for the Uke’s well being, while the Uke agrees to follow Nage’s lead, and allow for every opportunity for Nage to complete each movement without opposition. This mutual exchange of respect and restraint forms the basis for progressive and safe development of useful skills for both Uke and Nage.
The awesome Spirit of Ueshiba Aiki, and of “ageru”, was wondrously demonstrated by the Founder when he visited Hawaii in 1961, for the formal dedication of the new main dojo facility in Honolulu, Hawaii. After the formal ceremonies were completed, and with the assistance of a Shinto priest, the Founder then began to pour sake for each and everyone in attendance. His was a humble gesture of generosity, but also an important lesson in how an accomplished master “walks his talk”. He was smiling, and congratulating everyone in attendance, thanking them for their welcome attendance, and for making the occasion a truly successful one, and by enjoying himself immensely.
In terms of the truly unique and selfless gift of training with one another, the attitudes and expectations we bring to the mat may well influence the quality and the outcome of the practice. It can also serve as a foundation for the continuing growth of interpersonal relationships as well. Let us not forget that partners, not opponents, practice the Art of Aikido.
Being physically prepared for the rigors of training is one thing, and having the correct frame of mind, and equanimity of spirit, is another factor entirely. Even as we strive to remember to wear clean gi’s, and to bring washed bodies to practice, let us not forget to also have honest intentions and transparent motives as well, even as we train. This is Aiki in action, and it is not necessarily defined solely by the quality of the techniques demonstrated, or effectively executed. Let us preserve the dojo environment as a true proving ground, for technical excellence, for etiquette, and for the joy of training.
From Hawaii, we call it the “Ohana” Spirit, where the ideal family architecture strives to give each member the opportunity to be safe, to be treasured, and to be encouraged in their respective growth towards their respective destinies.
And, from Jim Elliot, “No fool he, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” It is only by freely giving, do we gain the capacity to receive.