Over the next few months I hope to discuss some thoughts that come from training, on aikido and its underlying philosophies, just generally on life and its challenges and on how trying to have a Buddhist and compassionate approach to life can be a challenge.
To start, I would like to give a great thanks to Sensei Les Baker and also to my good friend Sensei Carl Hughes and to all the students at North West Aikikai for putting up with me and being willing to train with a person like me who can’t always be a great uke.
So “Domo Arigato Gozaimashita”
Anything I write is my own thoughts and I would never be so arrogant as to think they are any more valid or better than anyone else’s.
To paraphrase Socrates, “If I know one thing it’s that I know nothing”.
“Sit still, please don’t fidget”
When we train we are trying to discipline mind body and spirit to be able to focus on what we are doing in the here and now. The dojo is an excellent place to develop that skill though it’s not easy.
There is a story of a Samurai who had a house cat. “This samurai enjoyed contemplating in his garden and loved to watch the wild birds that came and went. However, the cat would pounce and often kill one of the birds. The Samurai started keeping the cat on a lead so when the cat was out in the garden, it was unable to reach the birds. Over time the cat became trained to let the birds be. Eventually even without the lead the cat had mastered his impulses and was able to live in harmony with the birds”.
When we first begin to train in any art, in my case Aikido, our mind wanders as does our body. Sensei will often ask one of us to sit still, not fidget etc. This in effect is similar to the lead on the cat. Not for us to be controlled by someone else but as a reminder for us to apply our self-control and strive towards mind body and spirit discipline. Eventually we need fewer reminders from Sensei as our own awareness of what we are doing takes over. Ultimately we aim to take control of our thoughts, feelings, emotions and body, to know ourselves better and be able to behave. Not just in the dojo as compassionate loving human beings as O Sensei would want, but in life as well.
It is something I aim for but I am still a long way off, but just being aware of that is the first step.