Monday, May 28, 2012

Occidental Weekend

Last weekend Friday Saturday Sunday(May 18-20) Over 100 people gathered to study Osensei's process. This is significant because most training is around training in the technique, and some allusion to process or the philosophy of the art might be hinted at. This was a full weekend plus where the process itself was central, highlighted by some movement and technique. For those who supported the event, my deepest congratulations. Oftentimes work such as this is much past one's comfort zone. There is sometimes the feeling that just training the classes in a dojo situation, training with one's friends, studying the philosophy in a purely written form is enough to grasp the essence of this amazing art. My sense is that all of the above is invaluable, but that more is needed. When Osensei said training never ends, what he apparently meant was that shugyo never ends. This is a word that I heard often when I trained at the Shingu dojo, because apparently Osensei stressed this quite a bit.

Sometimes the dojo in Shingu would go through slow phases because of weather( classes in the coldest of winter or hottest part of summer tended to be small) or the fact that people just got very busy. So going through these slow times, one always waited for the high energy, magical class. This is where the black belts would be there and especially the shihan or senior instructors would come not just to teach, but also to train. There were times when such a class would emerge after a slow period, and I would be called into Hikitsuchi sensei's office to inhale cigarette smoke while there was a dynamite high energy class going on. I would generally not deal with this well. But I now look upon this as somewhat valuable. This was invaluable for seeing how my "I" would jump out and be negative and judgmental. How could sitting in the office while everyone else trained, got a workout, got to interact with very skilled aikidoists and teachers be fair to me at all? I realize I could get very judgmental and negative. My "I" would be screaming to go back into the class. But what if the lesson is to be here and now in a way that was not dependent on the circumstances? And being negative and judgmental is a great way to cop out on being here and now. So I did not deal with it well then, but I do now find myself somewhat grateful for the chance to see the workings of my"I". How it has a level of comfortableness. How it judges anything outside of that as negative. How it tends to label things good and bad, light and dark.........

Osensei was said to have stressed:"Ame no Uki Hashi ni tatasarete.......". " I would have you be made to stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven...."...Not conceptually be there. Not do an activity and assume the doing of it puts you there. Not purely just hanging out with your friends and assuming that is enough. But the very act of standing there. Mary Heiny upon hearing these words from Hikitsuchi sensei(who was quoting the founder) asked him the very important question, " Who makes you stand there?" Apparently he had no answer.......My sense now is that you must put yourself there.......And just by what Osensei said, I think we may surmise that it is probably not in one's comfort zone. My sense is that those of you who attended the event got a chance to stand on some level of that floating bridge. It is never easy to be in process for that long, so I'm sure you encountered what Osensei said about being made to stand there.....

Carlos Casteneda was once told by don Juan to leave the desert and go home, that his system was too open and if he stayed he would die. And once back in his world to immerse himself in is world of everyday reality. When Carlos asked for a further explanation don Juan informed him that the special people and activities in his world that would shield him long enough for his system to go back into the balance needed for the shaman's word was his path with heart. Friends and the specialness of one's world is important. But I've always been partial to the more of things as well. So to balance the time on that floating bridge(constant transformation) with one's own special world or path with heart is a constant and sometimes joyous struggle.
When I asked Anno sensei once about shugyo, he hinted that something was only shugyo if it was also joyous, ie going past the comfort zone and standing there.

In the donJuan books, one of the processes for handling the "I" or in their system referred to as self-importance, is controlled folly or seeing the agendas of the "I" and using unusual behavior to deal with it.
Tojima sensei was great at just doing something abrupt and explosive to shake up your "I"'s sense of the world. A lot of the circumstances around Hikistuchi sensei seemed to put you in a situation where your"I" was jarred out of it's comfort zone. How much of this was intentional on his part I am not sure. Not every one has access to the experiences of the early '70's Shingu dojo, but there was definitely some of that there last weekend.

I am including a photo from my trip to Kauai. Once of my favorite photos of Osensei is of him in prayer in Hawaii. So I had this picture taken thinking a bit of that photo. As I lined up to pray, closed my eyes, I felt all these forces and energies gathering and circling around. I wondered if that was the way it was for him in prayer. He was surrounded by very powerful forces. To Stand there in his rightful place among those energies was obviously a choice on his part. I was very moved by the experience.

I am including a video I posted yesterday. For those of you who have not seen it, I hope you enjoy it.


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