Saturday, January 19, 2008

aikido and enlightenment

I want to take this time to urge everybody to catch the Mary Heiny seminar class at our dojo Wednesday February 6th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. There is a $30 workshop class fee. If that is economically challenging for you don't let that stop you from training. See me and we can work something out. Mary sensei is an old friend from the time I trained in Japan in the '70's. We've known each other for over 30 years. Since I first knew her, she has gotten very deeply into meditation and Tibetan Buddhism. She was around during the last few years of Osensei's life, training at Hombu dojo in Tokyo. She was the first foreigner to establish a major relationship with Hikitsuchi sensei and the Shingu dojo. It was through her I was accepted for training at the Shingu dojo. It is amazing how time flies. And it is wonderful to have friends who have been there literally decades.

The major topic of this blog is the subject of aikido and enlightenment. Through Hikitsuchi sensei, I learned that Osensei stressed that there are 5 steps to enlightenment(satori):

1.kairimiru(to reflect)
2.hajiru(to feel shame)
3.kuiru(to repent)
4.osoru(to feel fear/awe)
5.satoru(to transcend)

It is interesting that I've never run into this in any book about aikido or any book or article even by Osensei himself. I once asked Hikitsuchi sensei if it should be done daily, or say, before one goes to bed. He rather pointedly told me that it was a constant practice, always what he termed "shinken shobu", literally as if facing an opponent with a live blade.

So it is obvious that Osensei viewed aikido as something much more than just the techniques. In the following video, Tojima sensei, during a class on the UC Santa Cruz campus in May of 1979, goes through these steps in a lecture. Pictured is Robert Frager sensei at the beginning. The translation is by Linda Holiday sensei.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

aikido and music

When I was in Shingu there were, I think, 2 occasions that Hikitsuchi sensei played the classical Japanese koto for me. On the second occasion I had enough Japanese down that I could ask him what I thought was a meaningful question."What is the relationship 'between music and kototama?'" I asked him. Now kototama is literally translated as 'word soul' or 'word spirit'. Osensei's chanting is called kototama. A lot of senior people refer to the magical aspects of the founder's aikido as kototama. Hikitsuchi sensei had recently taught a chanting class in which he taught us the basic kototama chants. So I anxiously awaited his reply. "Beat", is what he said. Just the one word. No further explanation.

The past year has brought to me an interest in music. I did the soundtrack for the "Secret Agent Gal" video(which is just about to go over 10,000 views on youtube). In doing that I indirectly got an interest in Chet Baker's music. Initially I really liked the vocals and began to sing along in the car to his cds. Since I played the trumpet over 40 years ago in Middle school and high school, in May I decided to give it another shot and rented one. I started to do the vocals with some musical dojo friends and then we started to jam in some instrumentals.

As we continued to play I asked Maurice Gregoire if we might audition to play before the seniors at his resident care facility, the Peninsula Regent, in San Mateo. To my surprise he just said he would book us in and we agreed upon a date. So that is how on Thursday, November 29th, 2007, Marianne Messina, Peter Skilj, and I did this "gig". Maurice was kind enough to have the whole thing shot with a camcorder and to help me reduce the files enough to get it uploaded to youtube.

So the following video presents Marianne Messina on keyboard, Peter Skilj on electric guitar, and me on trumpet and vocal. I want to thank them both for giving me a chance to play, and hopefully to evolve. Of course, thanks to Maurice for setting the whole thing up. And special thanks to Chet Baker, who has left such a beautiful legacy in the universal field of music with his singing and playing.