Aikido: a spiritual perspective
As we emerge onto the Aikido scene, this community, the EAC holds a certain perspective as inherent in the art of Aikido, the spiritual perspective. What do we mean by “spiritual”? Essentially it refers to the understanding of self, other and the world. Fundamentally, the understanding of self, is primary for this question.
Our conditioned belief structure has us holding onto a limited and separate sense of “me”. But what about the spiritual question? This belief has us measuring the “me” against others as a way to understand who we are. If my wealth is greater than yours, I am more than you. If my strength is greater than yours, I am more than you. If your strength is greater than mine, I am less than you. You get the idea. We measure the “me” by how much it has. How much money, how many friends, how much power, how many possessions, etc.. All of these questions point to a greater me or a lesser me. We are what we have, we are what we possess, we are what we own. This has been how we have navigated life for the last few millennia.
This too can lead to a materialistic relationship to life, how many spiritual retreats have you been on, how many blessings from a Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche have you had, how many minutes can you sit in meditation, how many dan ranks in Aikido do you have? Anything can be made to be a possession by that limited sense of “me”. These spiritual possessions are not really any different than any other possession. We are still measuring ourselves by the amount we feel we possess. But the problem with this approach, is that possessions are limited, limited in size and limited in lifespan.
The “me” is a limited object and it refers to itself with limited amount of possessions. The authentic approach to the spiritual question, or “who am I?”, is one that points to an experience of no limitation. To a recognition that I am part of something Universal.
I am not an object possessing other objects, but I am that which is awake to the objects, I am awareness, consciousness, I am life. This is the statement made by O’Sensei when the he awakened to a greater understanding of self. When he made the statement, “I and the Universe are one.” This statement didn’t mean that he had found a way to possess the Universe and he owned it,rather this statement points to an awakening to truth, a realization that changes the understanding of self, it is a realization that is inherently true for all. It is true for him, for you, for us. Whether we awaken directly to that realization or not, doesn’t change the fact that it is true. Awakening to this understanding, changed O’Sensei’s relationship to the question of martial arts, budo, and conflict.
This understanding changed everything. How do you fight another aspect of your “self”? How do you resolve conflict within a system that is one? Where is the enemy when you are one with it all? This is what struck O’Sensei as being the question of that moment. And Aikido became the answer. Aikido is the answer to the question, “when I see that I am one with all, how do I respond to violence, aggression and conflict?” What is my intention? What is the path that can honor the truth of this being one and still face the very real violence that exists in our experience? This is the essential doorway of Aikido. The approach that offers the ability to respond to violence without becoming violent. The path that responds to conflict without being in conflict. The art that expresses freedom for oneself, and power that honors the whole. In this way, Aikido is a completely new approach. This question has never been answered until now. At the physical level, can we meet violence effectively without creating separation. Can we express the truth, “we are not separate”, while being attacked from someone deeply invested in the belief of separation? That is the spiritual nature of Aikido… the challenge to embrace the world as one, while meeting the very real violence that still exists. It is not an easy path, or a clear approach, it is new, and we are building the tracks into a different world of being and responding…