Saturday, May 25, 2013

Post CYO Camp musings

Last weekend was the second annual Osensei Revisited weekend held in Occidental CA at the CYO camp. Being the second, hopefully it went smoother than our maiden voyage. Classes intermixed with more training were interspersed with sessions devoted to Osensei's process work. So hopefully what was achieved was a good mix. And we have had follow up talks to(and it looks at this time there will be an Osensei Revisited III) for next year. We will try to get the date out earlier so both instructors and students can plan in advance with their schedules to be there. Possibly the Saturday evening discussion will be streamlined to give students a social night in the beautiful redwoods. So keep connected for more on that as it develops.

On a personal basis these weekends are intense and I tend to see the benefits later on down the line. The purpose of the event is to give students a chance to connect with Osensei. How many other Aikido events are there that make him the focal point of the event? I remember in Shingu Hikitsuchi sensei used to always stress that Osensei must continue to be an alive part of the aikido experience. I always had the feeling that when I was there there was a pair of invisible eyes fixed on me. That could be somewhat troubling or cause a feeling of pressure. But it was responsible for making the whole experience, as Hikitsuchi sensei used to frame it, 'shinken' or as if we were facing each other with live blades. And of course what 'shinken' meant was the chance to manifest 'makoto', ie sincerity or truth. To be real. So Aikido was seen as a process, not merely just technique and or training.

I don't want to give the impression that I am downplaying training and technique. Both are vital in our development. They also foster human bonds between students and teachers that are important and precious. But to begin to relate to what might be referred to as the 'kami' part of our nature, I feel just technique and training are insufficient. This weekend students and teachers alike got a chance to experience the body as a vibrational field using vehicles such as sound(chanting) weapons work, centering practices. And so much more. And I believe truly touching our human side means in a balanced way touching our 'kami' nature.

I have been giving more thought lately to Osensei's statement: " Aikido to iu no wa ame no uki hashi ni tatasareru koto de aru".   Aikido is a matter of being made to stand on the floating bridge of heaven.  Why must one be made to stand there? Even being made to suffer standing there? It is so easy to find a comfort zone. Daily training in Shingu was a constant spiritual as well as physical test. Often times things came up that were quite unpleasant(understatement) and how you dealt with them was seen as practice, not training in the dojo, but 'shugyo'. Shugyo involves physical hardships and training, but also must include process. What suffers when standing on the mythical floating bridge? What we call the 'I', which always has an agenda and always looks for a comfort zone. Let us take not a negative but an extremely positive term such as love, beauty, true power........If the floating bridge is as I suspect a place of deep transformation, it will take you let's say on love or beauty to a place where the 'I' is uncomfortable with these. How many people self-destruct when they are faced with the magnitude of their inner beauty or touch love to such an original sense that  they can't cope? What happens there is that we usually don't see the quality but we see its shadow. And I mean the 'I' sees the shadow. And so it is the 'I' that suffers there. My sense now is that though the bridge is a place of deep transformation, it is not solely the 'I' that is transformed there.

And bumping into the shadow of the quality is important because I believe the bridge is a place where light/dark or fire/water interface. To truly stand there is to harmonize the opposites. Now the question is who or what harmonizes ........

And I would like to thank Robert Nadeau shihan for his continuing quest to make Osensei's process available to us......

I am including a video of the recent 2013 Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival. And this includes the demonstrations by each of the instructors:


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