Heart of Aikido Bjorn Saw
Heartland Many times I thought I could feel. My head was telling me that visual clarity imparted feeling. Seeing clearly, objectively, gave me a false sense of being in touch on a heart level. I thought an empty mind equaled equanimity of feelings. And yes, a still and peaceful mind does aďŹ€ect the heart and its emotions but it doesn't become the heart. The heart I have come to find, exist almost independently from the mind, just as the mind can function just fine without interference from the heart. Both having their domain in the body, co-existent and co-dependent on each other. Many times have I confused the diďŹ€erent signals coming from each center, mingled them or interchanged them, causing me to think my mind has a problem when my body is speaking and vice-verso. Each center; body, mind and heart, have distinctive features that address their own issues in respective areas. Each center can be seen in a positive or negative light. The body can be filled with energy, springing to life, expressing movement and
strength. Or it can drag us down, lethargic and heavy. It can be an asset or a weight, depending on how we view it. Our mind can enlighten us, fill us with hope and confidence, or sadly close in on itself and turn dark and weak. Our heart can become big, filled with love for all things, or we might loose ourselves in emotionality. This threefold being of ours is like a double edged blade; it can cut both ways. For better or worse. Therefore let's cultivate the positive aspects, strengthen the good values and guard against the egoistic selfish tendencies in all three fields; body, mind and heart.
Long time ago when this weighted heavy on my mind, I thought I had no heart and was missing out on the things that really mattered; feelings. I took my question to Swami Brahmananda in the Shivananda ashram in Rishikesh and asked him, I see with my mind but can't feel with my heart. He simply said; ‘They come from the same place’. This was an awesome reply to my question of not being in touch with my heart, thinking I was missing out, as I thought the heart must be real while the mind not. This answer equated the heart to the mind, not making them the same, but yet under the same authority, issuing from the same source. This completely took away my doubt and settled my confusion. I had this experience of all senses merging at an
entry point right in the middle of the chest. It was like a wide big hole opened in the chest area, through which all information were passed directly into myself. All experience was seen from this one place in the heart, and it felt like I had no more need of the separate sense organs like eyes, ears, skin, tongue and nose. A unified entry point made all distinctions arbitrary and secondary. Heart and mind now existed in the same place; diďŹ€erent aspects of the same event. An awakened conscience now works together as one unit, as one holistic self.
Surrender Its Majesty And Its Difficulty The kingdom of God, Heaven descends. Secret of secrets. Nothing else I ever wanted. Fear of dying. Have to go. No choice any more. I want to scream, to shout with joy. I am so lucky. I am so happy. Cloud formations lit up by
light descending to Earth in front of me, God speaking, inviting me, ‘do you want to take part?’ I saw myself being flung out of this solar system, away from this planet, alone and leaving everything and everybody behind. I felt like a lamb being picked up by strong arms and carried away to slaughter. Its throat was going to be slit as a matter of course.
Surrender to the Guru, to the one outside of yourself. When you see all things as your Guru, whatever you lay your eyes on, whatever you feel inside, is your Guru, is your Refuge. You only need to think of Him and He will be there with you. Mention Him by Name and He will Appear. Consider your Guru in All Things. When the unseen God is Seen in all things, all things take on the quality of the Unseen. Love and Light is That Quality. The Substratum of All Things.
"We were walking along the Ganges to the second bridge and as we were just to come upon the junction where the trail meets the paved road we passed three people. A boy laying casually by the root of a tree and two grown-ups talking with each other, one being a Sadhu and
the other a layman. At this point the path had come into a small clearing and I was taken by the blessedness of the scene. The whole area was pervaded by sheer brilliance. My friend didn't seem to notice it. This brilliance was coming from the boy, not directly but it was because of him. I just knew it. The boy just didn't do anything. But I caught the Sadhus' eye and I felt that he knew this too and that he was a protege of the boy. My friend and me didn't pause and walked on as nothing had happened and I didn't mention to him my experience. I had felt that I had walked in the presence of God and that, as I walked away, I didn't leave this space. â€¨ He was God incarnate, Baghvan himself. Only because now when I remember this meeting I am filled with confidence and with the mystery of God and am beyond this world and its concerns. Now I only need to remember him and the glory of him is with me. Remember Baghvan. Only him, only him."â€¨
Give up your Past and your Future. Go over what belongs to your past and what belongs to your future and see if you are ready to part with it all? Step by step examine each thing separately. Consider its importance in your life and see how willing you are to let it go. Weigh it up against
your prospect of Freedom and Truth and see which takes precedence. Examine your ideas of what you think Liberation, Truth and Freedom is. Realise that they are only ideas, not the real thing itself. Question your motivation, and ask yourself how serious you are. Knowing that the eﬀectiveness of Surrender depends on your sincerity. Why do you need to Surrender? Find the reason and articulate it. Examine this reason and look at its root. Where does it come from? What is the benefit of leaving yourself behind? What do you stand to gain? When you know exactly why you are pursuing spiritual liberation and surrender, then you can consciously engage in your own dissolution, knowing that you'll have nothing to gain and everything to loose.
"My eyes repeatedly opened and closed, spontaneously clearing a way. Sri Sri Anandamayi Ma, the Universal Mother, came to me in the night. I held out my hands saying, 'don’t come close, I’m dirty'. She embraced me, loving me like a mother loves her child, and I knew that if she would come into my life there would be no more fear. She came and the whole universe followed as her shadow. I was staying alone in the Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh
and was meditating in the evening in my room but found it very diﬃcult to concentrate. I was at a loss of how to proceed and felt unable to muster up the energy needed to pursue my spiritual practice. I felt desperate, sick and disillusioned with my weakness and I cried out for help silently within, almost in tears I fell asleep. Not long time after, I awoke, my eyes repeatedly flicking open and closing automatically. I was conscious that a path was being opened, when Sri Sri Anandamayi Ma suddenly came to me. She flowed forward towards me in her elderly female form and I held out my hands saying, “don’t come close, I’m dirty”. I saw her flowing into me and over me with an overwhelming sense of love, and trailing behind her was the whole visible universe, revealing her own shadow-body. How blessed I was. I had cried out in spiritual agony to no one in particular in this little room and she came in person to bless and help me. In stark contrast to the the divinity displayed my own insignificance was evident yet Anandamayi Ma didn’t hesitate."
Once you've given up your past and future, can you proceed to surrender your personal life? To stop living solely for yourself? To hand over your life for a greater good? This takes courage. This choice depends very much
on where you want to be, where you'd like to engage. Maybe in a cause, or in a relationship? Either way, you'll have to give up your private life. If you are mature then this has probably already happened. Your life no longer being solely about yourself. Next step, are you willing to stand up to scrutiny? Are you ready to face yourself in the mirror? Too see it all, warts and all, facing everything, avoiding nothing. Once you surrender your vanity of being someone, you will fear nothing. Having nothing, knowing nothing, and being nobody becomes your standard. Final Surrender. Ultimately you will have to surrender your Self, your will and your life. You must think it over, consider it and prepare yourself to give your life away. This is real and must be done with utmost sincerity. In war, when one side decides to surrender, they have been under incredible pressure and see no other way out, hoping that their lives will be spared having no other option. It is the last battle and only unconditional surrender is accepted. With no control they surrender their lives, with no idea of what will become of them, at the mercy of their captors. This is the scenario of giving up your life unto another. You must have trust then, that you may dare. You
must trust the other impeccably with your life. Otherwise you may as well die fighting. Surrender, even though asked of you on a daily basis, Final surrender is an absolute thing. In war, it marks the end. It is Final. Once you've handed over your life it would be nonsense to surrender it again. It's a one-time oďŹ€ering, a final capitulation. You will know it, and the Victorious will know it. Its date and place will be written down in the history books for you to remember it by. "The life in the community became a tug of war between Andrew and me. His relentless call to give everything pushed me to leave twice. Too immature to understand the demands of genuine spiritual life I opted to bail out when the going got tough. But I came back. I knew that we had unfinished business to take care of. I knew that I still hadn't surrendered my life to him. I had given up everything in my life to be with him but was still was holding back the ultimate sacrifice; my self. This would take two years of serious thought and much soul searching to come to terms with. All doubts lifted when I saw clearly that Andrew only wanted me to be free and nothing else. I was now going to give him my life.
We had all come to Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, for the winter retreat. I was full of confidence as I had decided that this would be the place where I handed him my life. The two weeks were filled with unbelievable events, experiences relating to surrender filled my heart and I was coming to an end. One early morning as a few of us were chanting together I experienced that my spoken words turned into flames, the letters I read caught fire. In my whole inside there was a wild fire burning, coming out of my eyes and out of my mouth. This raging fire would burn anything in its wake. I found Andrew communicating directly into my heart as white heat filled my chest. Andrew gave me a treasure to safe keep. To honour this treasure was to be true to it, wanting to keep it pure. In the last days Andrew met with us and he straight away asked me what had happened. My inside was about to erupt; he knew what was happening, so I blurted out, you already know it! With his sweet smile he still asked me softly if I wouldn't mind telling us a little. I could only shake my head, as it was too precious, too tender to speak. Then he asked me what I was going to do and I thought, but you know, my life is yours. He insisted and at last I understood that he needed me to speak it out, to say it, so it becomes real, not just a silent understanding. I said; my life is yours! And as I spoke I felt
as if I was handing him my life with my hands, and just as I let it go into his hands, he gave it straight back to me. That took me totally by surprise. He handed it right back to me, not hesitating one second. What a lesson, what a secret, what a wonderful truth; he never wanted my life, but in order for him to give it to me, I had to give it to him first. It all made perfect sense. Afterward as I walked down to the river the saying in the Bible came to me; "and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever". I looked upriver and saw my future stretch out into infinity, wide open.â€?
Hearing, Listening and Atoning When you have ears to hear with, you are in fact listening. But listening is not enough. Unless you come to see the truth inherent in the worded message you still have not atoned to its meaning. When you recognize the truth of any given proposal, in order to elevate it you must verify it
within your own experience. When we do so, we will submit unconditionally to the truth presented and change accordingly. It's not enough to listen with an open mind, taking it in and shelving it, but to advance and to take it to heart and conform accordingly. This requires a great heart, a submissive soul, and the humility to surrender oneself in the fire of truth. â€¨
What will be the standard to which we judge what is applicable or not? Love is the greatest of all standards. Nothing exceeds the norm of love. It's a personal standard as well as an universal one. It works equally well with the small as well as with the great matters. Nothing can exist outside of the framework of love, and by its scales we can see things clearly. A little probing, that is all that's needed and all will be revealed. Listen then well, and see if it rings true. If it does, verify it within your own being and come clean. Atonement is this wonderful quality of coming clean, of making up with God. It cleanses you and refreshes you. You come back to an original state, unburdened and light. You share no thoughts of resentment nor harbor ill-will towards anyone.Â
We must be ready to elevate truth. If we do not, we are like beggars refusing a gift. We must honour truth wherever and whenever it appears, otherwise we act like misers and cheapen it. We must learn to take it from anyone at any time. This is the test and by it we reveal who we are.
Hidden Among The Leaves What hides better than one of the same? One individual leaf among many others. If you don't stand out, if you're just plain normal, like all the other ones, you'd never be found. There's a beautiful truth inherent in this saying, "hidden among the leaves". For a long time I wondered what it was that was hidden. Maybe a jewel, a precious thing, hidden among the ordinary. But that never satisfied me as it would be easy to see, easy to find. Anything diďŹ€erent from all the leaves would be found even if hidden underneath. Autumn leaves all display a beautiful array of individual colours and each one is unique. Here lies the mystery I think; to be same yet diďŹ€erent. This quality stems
not from mediocrity nor from ordinariness, but from a recognition that we all are the same. There is no need to be diďŹ€erent, superior or inferior, to anyone else. â€¨
Hagakure is the name of the classical text depicting the way of the samurai in feudal Japan. Translated "Hidden among the leaves" the name carries a hidden meaning. Humility is a core value, or virtue, among the Japanese, and as such we can realise the beauty of blending in, of not pretending to be anything else but ourselves. Forging ourselves through daily life, reaching maturity, being a treasure to be found among all others.
Soft eyes A genuine interest in the other opens a window for communication. Paying attention, wanting to know, means you lay down your own bias in order to follow the other; physically in Aikido or mentally in dialogue. Aikido is, after
all, a relationship based on oneness. Blending, merging with the interaction. Sensing, feeling and hearing the other. Soft eyes relay a quality of non-confrontation, of acceptance and of care. Caring eyes are not sentimental nor judgmental. They bestow a quality of sameness, of a recognition of unity. Already, even before any thing have been said or done, they see only oneness. Out of this non-separateness, action follows eďŹ€ortlessly. Staying with the other, being conscious throughout the engagement, lends itself to a unified system being self-aware of itself where the appropriate response happens naturally. No need to think of what to say or do but trust the right thing will occur. In this relationship there is no right and wrong, but there is infinite room for learning and exploration. Sharing this quality brings joy and communion. Looking deeper, within yourself as well as in the other, reveals a way to comprehend the spirit. Turn your gaze around, look inwards. Where is our vision coming from? Introspection and inquiry is literally the way to see into yourself. Discover a revolutionary vision where you become aware of an objective view, seeing things just as they are, free from distorting images, ideas or prejudices.
Awaken yourself to an underlying current of consciousness that runs through everything we experience. Soften your eyes to engage wholeheartedly, remain conscious in your relationship and let go of yourself.
The River of Time Is there such a thing as absolute stillness? It seems to me that everything moves due to the virtue of time. Nothing could ever come to a standstill. Not even death can cheat its own continuation. It's not even biological, it's the passing of time that makes it impossible to stop. Nature is allowed to expand and grow only because of time. Time gives us new space to fill, to grow and to expand into. Time and space don't need us to colonize this universe but we do. Our thoughts go out to the extreme limits, wanting to map it all. We're forever trying to keep up with the newness of things, yet since it expands infinitely faster than we can comprehend we are left trailing hopelessly behind. The seen universe is but shadows of the past. We're lucky to catch a
glimpse of our history while the future is vanishing in front of our eyes even before we know it. How fast this movement of time is. Keeping up is the constant illusion of the now. Losing time we lose our bearings. Thus gone, or thus come, is how the Buddha described it. How do we then appear? Having entered the stream, the river of time, we may return once. Bodhi svaha.
A Masquerade Sometimes it's too much to bear.. I hear the utter falseness in their voices. Every sentence is fake and even worse than being merely superficial, they trust it to be real. They believe it to be sincere, even important. I see in their faces that they're honestly believing in their own lies. People have lost their language and substituted it with empty gibberish and high sounding pretense. They do not know how to hold a simple conversation any more. They can't relax enough to be normal. Anger and fear rush in to defend their defenseless positions. Humility is lost in the
safety in numbers of the social masses. There seem to be no trace left of any sense of truth, of any real maturity. People look dumbfounded when confronted and challenged about their authenticity. They really have no clue, no recognition of anything real and bare-to-the-bone true. Silliness and childishness takes the part of sincerity and responsibility. Life's purpose and meaning is simply watered down to suit ones own feelings and to fit social convention and justified thereafter, fiercely defending their blind ignorance for having no depth whatsoever. Death strikes them with tremendous fear but the notion of honour comes to their rescue. SuďŹ€ering is swiftly covered over with its antidote; heroism. With superstitious ideals they pin medals on men's chests. All engineered to escape real life, real suďŹ€ering and real death. Heroes, the ghosts of our boy soldiers, live to keep the empty charade alive. Duty and honour justifies all wasted lives, all severed limbs. For Queen and country keeps us afloat, above the cruel world out there. How deep does this ignorance go? How far away has humanity departed from the true? Is there a way back? For all of us? Tremendous strength is needed to be the example, to set the standard, to simply be real and honest. Without a language they can't express themselves. Instead they rely on clichĂŠs and words they've heard others use.
They mimic sounds and sentences they don't know the meaning of. They pretend to understand but fail to reach anyone. Since they don't make sense, nobody knows what there're on about. People speak at each other and no one gets it but nobody wants to be the fall guy so the pretence goes on. Fake smiles all around. No wonder aggression and despair abound. Anger and sadness builds up, causing untold harm and misery. Nobody knows how to escape so the parody continues. Some, awake and aware of this masquerade react with cynicism and vulgarity, proving their own inability to mature beyond the norm by falling into scathing criticism and loathness. Debase superiority and self-righteousness abound where maturity should take hold. Glancing at the problem will not solve it nor make it go away. Be the solution. Be real and true. The accusing finger is pointing right back at myself.
Homeland Where do you belong? Where is your home? Are you a stranger in your own land? Many of us here are immigrants, foreigners and of mixed race. Does that make you uncomfortable? Is your identity being threatened? Who are you in this border-less new world? Can we exist without belonging anywhere? Where are your roots? Who will you side with? Not subscribing to any set religion, political agenda or cultural identity? Rootless and homeless, where do we fit in? Can we find a homeland in the heart? In human values that are rooted in the spirit? Can we belong without owning this Earth? Can we find a space within ourselves that bring us home. Rooted in being itself. Free from nation, creed and colour. Can we come home? We shall inherit this Earth. Not a particular place, not a certain land, nor any private property, but planet Earth itself. Not just a piece but the whole of it. This will be our responsibility, the whole lot. Can you feel at home with that?
Leaving everything else behind means just that; no history, no religion, no country, no father and no mother. Leaving everything behind you inherit the whole. You become the caretaker of the planet and of everything in it. This is truly awesome and overwhelming.
Cosmic Sexual Union Can we be born again? In life we procreate by coming together, male and female. Natural attraction and desire drives us together. Biological processes seek to fulfill a meeting in order to give birth to something new. The Yin and Yang, the polar opposites, blend to create anew. Inherent and as a central part of the life process, the evolution of all things, this cosmic union serves as the great motor and generator of life itself. O Sensei spoke much about the union of water and fire. The mixing and blending of the forces already in existence in our being. Generating and creating Kokyu power, or the
concentrated power of Ki, propelled by the constant flux of the breath. In Aikido we can practice and train our breath power by aligning to the earth beneath our feet drawing strength from the ground, and by extending our reach, stretching and expanding our mind's context. Balancing and focusing our center in our Hara, our center of gravity in the lower abdomen. Here the two forces meet and balance; the gravitational pull connecting us endlessly to the ground, and the uprising life-force that makes us get up, stand up and walk. Water and fire that combine to make us mobile human beings. Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.' This drive, this life force that compels us to seek out each other physically, also works within us as individuals. We must deal with our inner world of waking up spiritually, of wanting to be born again, to realize who we are. We are looking at a transformation, a change and of a deliverance.
We are seeking something, desiring something, biologically moving toward something, so spiritually we also seek communion, union and oneness. Yoga means to join, to unite. Tantra; tan literally means to stretch, extend, and expand, tra means liberation. Aiki means to blend or match, to become one, in body, mind and spirit. Religion and spirituality is all about union with the Godhead. The relationship between father and son, husband and wife, is a relationship of two becoming one. This relationship is tense, is not without friction. Fire and water when mixed is not a placid thing. We are generating heat and steam. Therefore the Japanese Kanji character for Ki is represented by cooking rice with steam rising. Ki means life force, energy and spirit. Spirit is always associated with breath or wind. We fan the flames to heat up the fire. Boiling in order to cook food. We prepare something, we create and give birth to something new. Can we enter the womb a second time? he asked. The womb of the Tathagata, or the womb of the Buddha, refers to an embryonic spiritual state out of which we may be born anew. It's like the larva spinning the cocoon in which it transforms into a butterfly. As if we unconsciously seek out where we originally came from and want to recreate the
birthing process, again and again. So this evolutionary drive, impersonal and universal, aďŹ€ects us on a physical plane as well as on a spiritual plane. The same mechanism is at work, just more subtle. This desire to come back to where we came from, in order to give birth to something new, to be born again. Is this why saints and mystics throughout the ages have seeked out isolation in caves and in remote areas? To withdraw into a womb-like pre-birth state of being, in order to realize, to aďŹ€ect, a new emergence? "I woke up at two o'clock in the morning into a realization: Life was celebrating life itself. A joyous dance for itself. It turned into love. All-love penetrated and pervaded all things, all mankind and all nature. Love is truth and truth is love. Nature was a never-ending spring, gushing forth new life incessantly. Man and woman in cosmic sexual embrace. Suddenly a vision appears before me; flowers and leaves falling slowly over me from a clear dark-blue night-sky. So beautiful I look up. Then an explosion that rocked the very bottom of my being. I exploded and the whole universe exploded from deep within, opening a rift in the firmament for a split second. An opening, a chasm revealing another universe beyond."
This revelation showed the sacredness of sexual union, of pro-creation. It reveals our basic instinct to be part of a greater module driving the whole universe and its evolution. Treat then your life as an inner journey of discovery where all ingredients are already present. Simply by breathing in and out, we disclose and experience the two natural forces that make up the dynamic relationship that makes life possible. Being born, we breathe in..
Gender Differences Spiritual liberation, IE. liberation of the human spirit in men and in women, is no stroll in the park. It takes guts and determination to sort out. Male and female idiosyncrasies, their respective dichotomies and traits, if left unquestioned, will run our everyday relationships, social and intimate, in habitual and blind ways. Spiritual investigation begins with yourself. It begins with you, and is always measured in relationship.
Gender diďŹ€erences are to be recognized, as well as national traits, cultural ethics, generational gulfs etc etc. Everything can and should be looked at. We need to be able to address our own patterns of behaviour, from an impersonal objective view with the help and cooperation of others. Male arrogance and pride cause so much pain. This must be taken into consideration when we look at the way we treat each other. Female insecurity and struggle with confidence needs to be openly discussed in order to bring clarity and understanding. To meet separately in gender groups is very helpful and conducive to throw light upon general and certain aspects we face as men and as women, and how we face them together with others, how we respond to each other, and how we recoil from, or reject, others. Unity does not do away with diďŹ€erences. Unity consists of a multitude of nuances, shapes and sizes, all distinguished and unique. But left unquestioned, dismissed and over-looked, they become blind-spots where our ignorance take root. Trust is needed to build confidence. Men can be bullies and often are not aware of the untold damage they cause, especially to the opposite gender. If we
want to learn, if we want to improve our understanding of human behaviour and see how our own shortcomings aﬀect those around us, we must begin at close quarters, here at home first. Men and woman need to delve deep into the workings of our fears and wants, separately and also together. There are many ways to achieve harmony and understanding but the truth and honesty of a situation must be in the foreground of any investigation.
Your Sister’s Keeper How often do we bitch about the other? How we undermine and sow seeds of resentment among our own gender group. How we judge and qualify what is appropriate and right. When was the last time we stood up for our own kind and set aside our diﬀerences in order to truly meet?
Unity begins at home, at your near and dear ones. Then it extends to friends, colleagues and social groups, into life in general. Where do we resonate? Where do we find our inspiration and allegiance? Among our own? Where can we draw strength from? Where do we find comfort and consolation? Where do we discuss our diďŹ€erences and our similarities? Where do we share? Groups do not divide, they are individual cells, part of a greater organism. In harmony among themselves they can work with the rest. Bonding is a natural coming together in resonance of shared similarities, of shared identities. Enlightenment comes with the exposure of hidden agendas, of seeing blind adherence to norms and ideas. Together we help each other to see. To see a greater picture, a larger context, in which we all fit perfectly, each and every one of us. Will we, as men, support women's liberation. Give them the freedom to share on an equal basis? Can we dare to see our own part in this? Can we let go of the need to control their destiny? Can we listen to what they have to say? And face up to the equal massive challenge we as men have in exposing what stands in our way of moving forward? Can we swallow our pride and sit down to discuss
what really matters? Without the jargon of already knowing and aloof superiority? Will you be your sisterâ€™s keeper?
Teacher/Student Relationship In a committed spiritual relationship with a teacher, the students conduct will be on the line. Why? Because understanding Truth reveal that our words and actions mean something. There is an underlying spiritual dimension that if aware of, will eďŹ€ect our way of being. It throws light upon our attitudes and exposes our selfish motivations. It makes it very hard to remain unseen, to go unnoticed. Our life will be laid bare, and if you are committed to living a life in truth, the absolute truth of being itself, then you will be held to account by your teacher. Trust and confidence goes hand in hand. If you trust your teacher then you will not fear his or her
admonitions. You will be confident that the truth itself will set you free. Because Truth will set you free! That is the whole idea behind seeking and finding the absolute truth. In order to accomplish this we must surrender our will; our ego-driven personal wishful thinking. When we get stuck, hardened by resentment or anger and fear, we usually close down, withdraw into ourselves and then our actions will reflect our state of mind. This usually cause suﬀering and pain in our encounters, even if not intended, and if clung to, will cause separation. This is how Karma is described, cause and eﬀect, perpetuating Samsara, the wheel of life and death. When we come into a relationship with a teacher that profess to uphold this standard, the standard of truth revealed in everything we say and do and we want to learn about, see and experience for ourselves this radical lens of awakened consciousness, then we must have the willingness to measure everything we do and say according to the standard of truth. The teacher might point it out to you, but it’s up to you to recognize, confirm and acknowledge it within yourself. To verify the state of your own being.
Therefore, humility is the only approach. But freedom is the result. Freedom from fear and anger. The teacher is only acting upon his own inner ear, on his inner experience and to what he sees and hears. If awakened it will stir him, and it cannot but stir him. Anything partial grates the wrong way, it upsets and it forces him to act. If there is a relationship based on trust and friendship then he dares to approach the student. Itâ€™s not always easy to hear. Itâ€™s diďŹƒcult to take criticism even if handed gently and lovingly. Therefore love must rule our engagement. Love for the student and love for the truth. Truth, after all, is Love itself.
The Divine Mother The Universal Feminine Principle. The Sacred Goddess. The Holy Mother. She is known under many names, especially in Hindu culture; Durga, Parvati, Kali, among some. Less pronounced in other religions but familiar to Hindus. Avatars, or incarnations of this female quality are not uncommon in India. Women saints light up this
ordinarily male dominated spiritual sub-continent with profound wisdom and compassion. One that stands out in history is Sri Sri Anandamayi Ma (1896 â€“ 1982). Born a saint, she lived a remarkable life, well documented and witnessed are all her transformations, miracles and teachings. She embodied the qualities and principles that are absolute feminine; like motherhood, sisterhood, empathy and compassion. Love is her essence and it is demonstrated through a female vehicle, through a woman's body and feeling. She could be a daughter, a sister and a mother to all that came to her for consolation, help and advice. Her life was a life in service, service of mankind. She is the manifest part of creation. She is the form of this universe, of every blade of grass, of every tree. She is the river running through the valley. She is the sun and the moon, and sheâ€™s the stars far beyond. She protects and serves, she nurtures and provides. She is the harvest, she is the crop. She is the lamb that is slaughtered for our meal. She is my mother, my sister and my child. She is Krishna. How can we honour her? How can we repay her kindness? If not with kindness toward our own loved ones, our sisters and friends, our brethren. How can we dance the Lila that is the very passion between man and woman,
unless we honour her fully. We have to become more, more than mere men. We must rise to meet our own potential as human beings. To allow them to be who they are, we must become who we are. Super human eﬀort. Anandamayi Ma, came to me in the night. I held out my hands saying, -don’t come close, I’m dirty. She embraced me, loving me like a mother loves her child, and I knew that if she would come into my life there would be no more fear. She came and the whole universe followed as her shadow. She is truly everything and the only one. I was staying alone in the Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh and tried to meditate in the evening in my room but found it very diﬃcult to concentrate my mind. I was at a loss of how to proceed and felt unable to muster up the energy needed to pursue my spiritual practice. I felt desperate, sick and disillusioned with my weakness I cried out for help silently within. Almost in tears I fell asleep. Not long time after, I awoke, my eyes repeatedly flicking open and closing automatically. I was conscious that a path was being cleared and opened, when Ma came to me, she flowed forward towards me in her elderly female form and I held out my hands saying, “don’t come close, I’m dirty”. I saw her flowing into me and over me with an over-whelming sense of love and trailing behind was the whole visible universe,
revealing her own body. How blessed I was from this. I had cried out in spiritual agony to no one in particular in this little room and she came in person to bless and help. In the contrast to the the divinity displayed my own insignificance was so evident yet Anandamayi Ma didnâ€™t hesitate.
Hanuman I thought I write something about men, just to appease those of you that might think Iâ€™ve neglected you with all the recent writings about women. Hanuman is the monkey king, just like you and I. He is the perfect devotee. He lives to serve God. He has Sita and Ram enshrined in his heart, just like we can have God reside in our chest if we devote ourselves enough. Hanuman is Shiva in disguise, the transcendent absolute Godhead. Therefore is his devotion unsurpassed. He is an example to all of us what perfect service consists of. Fearless in his eďŹ€orts to be of help, no matter what
dangers stand in his way. In India, the Hanuman Chalisa; the hymn, the story and adventures of Hanuman, are revered as the most powerful of all Hindu stories. He is like our present day superhero and his stories are like comic books, filled with marvellous feats and extraordinary adventures. Hanuman makes us believe itâ€™s possible to rise up, to advance and evolve. To become strong and powerful for the sake of the good, for the sake of the betterment of mankind. He is the strongest by far, yet he is mild and gentle. He never neglects his duty and if ever Ram needs him, he is there by his side at once. Never prone to anger yet he slays evil without hesitation.
Awakenings When you suddenly see things diďŹ€erently, when you realize that whole segments of society are lost in illusions of professed reality. When you have seen through the
superficial layer obscuring the underlying causes to all division, whether that be male/female conditioning, white v/s non-white racial segregation, lingering colonialism over former subjects, or extreme religious sentiments fueling fanaticism, you will awake to a truth that stares you straight in the face; people believe their prejudices are real and justified. You come to see and realize that much of what you yourself exhibit and demonstrate is completely false. As scary and shocking as it is, it wakes us up. It jolts you upright. What I believed to be right is seen as narrow and biased, completely conditioned by the society Iâ€™ve been brought up in. My father and mother believed in it, as did all my friends. My government believes in it, and so do you. We pit each other against each other believing our side to the story, defending it to the death. Everybody falls in line, from the biggest to the smallest. The schoolyard hierarchy is replicated and seen through our nations. We got the big bully, the sharp ones, the boys, the girls, the geeks, the sporty, the quiet ones, and the trodden-on. Alliances and groupings happen naturally as everyone seek to find their place in the whole. And all,
everyone of us, see the whole from our specific point of view, from our personal perspective.
Directed Inquiry What is the diﬀerence between a guided dialogue and an open debate? Many times the diﬀerence is blurred and not fully appreciated. Sitting down together with a sense of camaraderie and friendship, we don’t impose our own opinions and views onto others but we’d like to leave it open and free for an exchange of ideas to form the conversation. This is letting the conversation unfold naturally without imposing any given direction. One thing lead to another and the flow is spontaneous. It can go up, it can go down. No one is restricting the end result. An open conversation could happen in this manner as long as we are prepared to listen to all inputs. The more mature the nature of the conversation is, the more satisfying the result. There is a
mutual learning happening when information and experience is shared equally among all participants. Debating diďŹ€erent proposals, advocating one view over the other, lends itself sometimes to inspired dialogue, sometimes to heated exchanges of opinions and facts. This is when we pit one against the other, trying to convince and surpass the other. Each party advocating their own stance without listening much to the other, except for finding flaws to bolster their own agenda. This is the political game, one side versus the other. One right, one wrong. Mutual inquiry and general investigation lends itself to a diďŹ€erent kind of exploration and conversation. Now in the service of finding out. We come together to learn about something specific. We probe the meaning and truth of a subject matter. Weâ€™re trying to come to terms with, and understand, a very specific problem or issue. Many times we need expertise to help us understand. It will guide us through its field of knowledge, leading us into the realm of understanding. In a spiritual setting where we inquire into the absolute Truth together, it is of paramount importance that we do not take opposing positions but are open to follow a directed inquiry. We are trying to funnel an investigation
into a one-pointed flow towards insight and understanding of something universally true, something that transcends the personal and can be experienced by all participants. The goal is specific and clear. Our exploration has an end result in mind. We are dismantling our ego structures in order to come to a unified perspective. We are endeavouring to reach a common understanding, a unified vision of oneness. In order to do this we must be ready to question our psychology in regards to our understanding of views, opinions and held ideas. Can we see something objectively? Direct without any interference from our mind, and without laying claim to it afterward? Can we follow a line of investigation that takes us away from mental understanding toward an intuitive grasp and a direct experience? Can we learn to see with the eyes of others? Can we take on a universal lens in order to see the truth objectively? Directed inquiry is essential spiritual practice. It is sustained contemplation of diďŹƒcult matters. It requires much listening and opening up. It demands that we give up our position in order to reach a common understanding equal to all participants. This is no debate over whatâ€™s right or wrong. Itâ€™s coming together under what is absolute true; universally true, independent of the individuals involved. Finding the truth, the absolute truth underlying our very
being, will set us free. It will give us the freedom to understand ourselves from a much larger perspective. It will show us our unity we have together simply being human. We will realize our real nature as an integral part of all life. It’s already in place. Oneness is already the very fact of being. So simply stopping insisting that we are separate will bring us back to normalcy. Simply stop viewing your own mind as something separate and personal will free you from your ego identification. It takes practice and skill to develop unity consciousness among us as it is not very common in our exchanges unless we are ruled by love. Love breaks the separation we assign to things. Love breaks the man-made values we pin on each other. Yet love is not blind to the pain of separation or to the violence committed by it, but it oﬀers a way out of isolation and fear. But since it’s universal it does not belong to anyone special. Not to one country or culture, nor to one race or another. It does not reside in one religion as opposed to another. Unity means there’s no other.
Under Standing, Bowing Down "But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister" Shomen is the front of the room; sho means “true” and men means “face”. In traditional dojos, the kamiza (miniature Shinto shrine), is placed at Shomen, thus making it into a sacred area. Bowing is a Japanese custom for displaying respect, humility, and lack of arrogance. We are not bowing down to the wall, not to the kamiza, nor to the picture of O Sensei, but we are bowing down to something bigger than ourselves. Out of respect and humility we humble ourselves. We recognize that we are but a part of the whole and we realize the natural order of how things fall into place. We understand, we stand under and find a natural way of being, inherent in submission. We surrender our ego motivations and selfish desires for something greater, something more encompassing.
We bow all the way down, touching our forehead to the ground. We have trust and we fear nothing. We bow to something before us, beyond us. We acknowledge that something conscious sees us and knows us. We surrender our life to God, knowing very well He will rise us up. "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." This is a conscious experience, one that makes perfect sense. Bowing is a beautiful expression of your self in conformity to the truth. Being nobody we express gratitude and joy, revealing our true face. The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Immanent Presence Body conscious, or aware of the body, feeling it like we’ve animated the flesh, made it come alive. As a new experience, we marvel at the life-flow we feel running through the limbs. As such we are somewhat the witness within the walls; the conscious being experiencing our body for the first time. We animate ourselves, we make come alive. This is our body and mind relationship. Who rules this creature? We do, yet like wild horses it behaves. The body have muscle memory, a nerve system and programmed automatic sensory responses. It self-manages and survives pretty much by itself, but if you can get into the drivers seat you can rule and guide this beast. How well we learn to drive this vehicle demonstrates your capacity to live this life. Yet that’s not all there’s to it. The body/mind harmony is but a prerequisite for a greater union; one that will fulfil and satisfy your spirit. As you animate your body, something else wants to animate you. When you have looked outward you’ve seen and felt your
own body, yet if you look within, inwards, youâ€™ll find a mysterious unknown entity ready to animate you. Immanence, or a presence already within, can, if you allow it, overwhelm your entire being; body, soul and spirit. Turn your gaze around, look deep within, and allow for that devastating force to come through you. See through yourself, into this world of being and act from this knowing and presence of the unborn. It dislodges your previous sense of who you were, it unifies all the layers of the self, it makes you straight. It embodies the body, it clears your mind and opens a channel to the deepest part of yourself, allowing free access to flow back and forth. Falling within describes this resting in the unknown. Like a spring, it bubbles to the surface. It expresses itself in peace, in stillness and in gentleness, yet not without power. It is bold and overwhelming, timeless and still. This immanent presence that is at hand.
The Magic Touch When we meet, do we instil a sense of peace? Or do we give them our worries and concerns that we’ve been carrying around? Do we oﬄoad to lighten our own burden? Do we share our problems all around? How would it be if we could keep it in, and let someone see our conundrum and letting them dispel it through a magic touch; a hand on the shoulder, or a hug? A handshake is meant to calibrate the energies coming together, it’s meant to neutralize any tension. It’s a gesture of friendship, of a sense of equality. When two forces meet how do they blend? When two tributaries flow together how do they react? In a confluence of two becoming one there’s a natural and spontaneous adjustment to each other. This is the chemistry of a real handshake, where we meet as two human beings and see no diﬀerence between us. The touch confers the genuine transference of non-aggression. Therefore we are minutely sensitive and perceptive to the quality of our meeting the other.
In Aikido, when we grab a wrist or meet in Shomenuchi, are we keenly aware, sensitive to the touch? Or do we treat it like an enemy, reacting to, and resisting the encounter? The distinction is crucial of how your Aikido is going to unfold. From the strongest to the softest, can we adjust naturally and smoothly to what’s being presented to us? Can we meet it half-way. Can we treat it like a magical touch, where we take the aggression out of the attack? Can we dispel the confrontation by blending with the force, neutralising it? Can we lay our hand on the other in such a way that instills peace and a sense of well-being? Can we take away the worries of the other by mere touch? A friendly hand on the shoulder that aﬀects the inner turmoil of the other. Can we calm the storm by caring and oﬀering our peace. This is what all religious hand transfer of spirit is all about. We lay hands. Healing hands that transmit the power of the holy spirit. But not in our own name, it is not done out of selfish motivations, but given from genuine concern and love. Love then, has its own power. When we see and feel separation and want to dispel this unnatural division we oﬀer our peace into the other, as to share in equal measure the abundance of this force we call love. Its nature is to heal
rift, to unify what is apart, and that is what Aiki is all about. This is O Sensei’s concept of love. Union upon touch. And when you can heal even before touch you’re a good step on your way. So now, when we meet, we must take care of this at once. There is no time to wait. Acknowledge this ability upon touching the other, upon meeting the other.
Eye of Ra The sun god Ra have as his feminine manifestation an eye. The red sun fireball itself is often pictured on top of the head of the deity. The eye have the creative power of a new dawn or a new beginning. When we open our eye we see things afresh, new and unspoiled. Seen from within the sun this eye is like fire, it burns everything in its wake. Undisturbed vision cannot behold anything false. It’ll burn it upon contact. Pretense and illusion are done away with, they can’t occupy the same space. The fire of the sun is all consuming. Flames are seen emerging from the eyes and
the mouth, disclosing any and all misgivings. This is the power inherent in seeing the truth; of acting and speaking unhindered from the truth. Intuitively responding from within a sacred fire comes from abandonment of self, from negating any kind of ownership, and only ascribing authority to the divine, to truth itself. It is the most contradictory of stances; you must give up yourself in order to function naturally. We must be able to rely on, and trust the fire within. Almost waiting for it, holding back your own instant reaction in order for the perfect response to emerge. Waiting then, is only the egoâ€™s submission, your patience and trust that truth itself will have an answer to all things. A natural, free expression, that completely match the situation. But more than just matching what is being faced, it will expose any and all falsehood, any distortion to the truth. That is its function; to reveal, disclose and expose all superficiality. To lay bare the naked landscape of absolute purity. There is a way of being that is unspoiled, untouched by human nature. We can see it as we open our eye for the first time. Nothing has moved it, nothing is distorted. Like on a winter morning when the freshly fallen snow has not yet been touched. Pure and fresh it leaves all marks clearly
visible. Every step, every trace is seen. Beholding this pristine beauty is only half the story, we need to access and give free rein to the instantaneous response called for. As all situations and circumstances are in constant flux and things change on an ongoing basis, we need to be receptive and flexible in our ability to give an appropriate answer, a perfect mirror response to what is happening. The eye of Ra can never be seen in isolation without its source, the sun. It is the fire of the sun that drives the whole enactment, without which the eye would simply just be an empty lens. Therefore seeing is not enough, we must act upon what we see. Or rather, there is an inherent response in the seeing itself and if you purify the vision the more precise the response will become. It can be fierce as it wards of evil, disclosing truth. Yet it can be gentle as it embraces pain and suďŹ€ering.
Don’t Touch It! When, in the end of the ten ox-herding pictures, the accomplished Zen person enters the village and mixes with the locals he dares not mention the Dharma. His very being acts naturally and so does not stir what is already in place. He took care of what needed to be cared for. He did do what needed to be done. He accomplished what needed to be accomplished. Now his life manifests normalcy and all things are blessed. You won’t notice him as he melts into the crowd but he’ll lend a hand if you need his help. “I’ve spent my time selling water next to a river.. said an old monk summing up his life, wholly without merit”. This recognition of the nature of things leaves you with the question whether or not to interfere. Don’t fix what is not broken, they say. Be with, and leave it alone. So how can you be with, and let things unfold naturally? Stay with me. Don’t leave your beloved. Stay with what is. In the commotion of the market place, the world is moving on. At peace with all things we join in and don’t
look back. Happy to be content among fishmongers and retail peddlers. Itâ€™s a personal path but a with a communal ending. Ask and it will be given.
Never Trespass In a state of obedience you won't exceed your authority. Your 'shugyo', or your level of achieved ability, your range and display of spirit will determine the scope of your interaction. Never underestimate nor overestimate your capacity. Be truthful and honest to yourself. Sense and find the point that aligns your perception with reality. Dare to stand up for who you can be. More often than not we lessen our own value. Be courageous and independent. Yet never overstep the mark. There's a constant change of circumstances so our sense of being will always have to adapt and match what it meets.
Never trespass but always stay on the limit of your shugyo/spirit. Now the trick is how to include others eďŹ€ortlessly while not losing yourself. No duality and no separation. Your spirit has to blend with others without causing a stir. No threat and no imposition. This is how we match in Aikido. By remaining open we allow in even overwhelming power without fear, just like in a confluence of two tributaries the river blend naturally upon coming together. Relax and let the force move you, changing and evolving as two becomes one. Coming together naturally adds weight and mass to your field of activity and you gain each others experience, doubling it and extending it beyond your personal self. By joining to another we add their spirit to ours and we gain access to a much larger sense of self. This is how we find being part of something bigger adds and enriches us. As our field of experience grows and extends beyond our personal borders we follow closely behind, yet still without trespassing past our range. Itâ€™s a fluid situation and as such we must keep an unfettered mind in order not to get stuck.
The Miracle of Christmas This time of year many of us get excited. It’s a long awaited break after a dark and rainy autumn. We’re physically and mentally tired and we can’t wait for the holiday to commence. We look forward coming together with relatives and loved ones, eating good food and having a welcomed drink in good company. It’s a festive occasion and we all, old and young alike, look forward swapping presents and gifts as a token of our love for each other. Some of us stop to reflect upon the reason and origin of this celebration and we remember the birth of Jesus. There is no shortcut in understanding the mystery surrounding his birth, life and ultimate death on the cross, and not to forget, his resurrection, yet we all, believer or not, share in his legacy, on his eﬀect on our Western civilization and culture. We all get to share the fruits of his labour. We all get to partake in Christmas. Like it or not, it is a joyous expression of love, of communion and of family values; of sharing and participating.
When we look closer, when we want to find the source of this event, the birth of Christ, we involve ourselves in a deep mystery. We dive into the very fabric of humanity and discover the core principles and laws governing our very existence. It takes time to contemplate and extricate the detailed information contained in the story of nativity but even at a glance we can appreciate the scenario, of the hope it conjures up. It is a mystery because we all keep asking, what does it mean? Do treat it like a mystery to be solved and not like a children’s fairytale that has no inherent meaning nor purpose. Keep probing, reading, studying the texts. Contemplate and inquire, sit with it, meditate upon it and let it infuse your being. Be patient and don’t forget to smile. It’s a joyous occasion, it’s a season of hope and of new beginnings, and you might discover and unwrap the biggest present there is; Jesus Christ is born a baby today. Celebrate and give thanks, share your love with your friends and neighbours alike. Christmas takes place in your heart.
Skyfall When your experience becomes free flowing like a waterfall, it runs oﬀ you with nothing to stick to. In a free flow of mind with no breaks in a seamless stream there’s nothing to cling to and it slips oﬀ immediately. Unable to stay you’re not trying to hold on. Like rain it falls. It’s like sitting by the window watching the downpour outside. All things thoroughly soaked yet you remain dry with this wonderful feeling of comfort. How easy and restful to watch all things run like water oﬀ a window. There is no ‘I’ to cling to, no self that try to keep the experience, you have let go of control. Skyfall is a Swedish word for a large downpour or rainstorm. Usually we find shelter, get underneath cover and wait it out. In monsoon season the heavy rainfall last usually only a short time and we stop everything we do and wait it out. The rain clears the air, washes everything down and leaves everything refreshed. Take a moment to go quiet inside, listen to your experience of the constant flow of events. Let it run by you
and see how time never stops. Let go of control, release your hold on things. Experience all things begin to fall. Let the ground underneath you disappear. Donâ€™t be afraid.
Absolutely Normal Spiritual accomplishment involves experiencing subtle levels of consciousness. There are refined states of a seriously heightened awareness that makes us minutely sensitive to all phenomena; to all things and to all beings. With these penetrating eyes we see through the superficial layers of ego and personality. We see things as they really are; unadorned and disclosed. We feel empowered by this vision with its accompanying knowledge, and sometimes this would lead us to believe that we know more than the other. Some take refuge in this kind of accomplishment and derive their power from it, yet it falls short of the mark. Taking a position in this kind of realization lends itself to an inflammation of their ego, making them believe in their own infallibility. Only when all is lost, and we stand there
with nothing to support our cause can we truly say that we can meet the other. It is in the absence of pretence we find what is absolutely normal. Not even spiritual insight can lend us this achievement. Having nothing means just that; nothing to cling to, nothing to claim. Who do think you are? Leading others it's important to have insight and wisdom but not to use them to find identity in. In the end, everything has to go, even spiritual pride. Even all things that have come before. Nothing remains, nothing to sustain you, nothing to justify you. This is the norm, the standard of truth; all is scaled back to absolute simplicity. We become completely normal. No superpowers, no tricks, just plain simple. And with that we can be just as we are with each other. Simple, clean and normal. But mind you, this is no easy achievement. God bless.
Stand Alone Can we stand all by ourselves without relying on anyone? Can a Christian give up his dependence on Jesus?
Can a Moslem surrender his reliance on the Koran? Can a Jew dis-identify with being Jewish? If you can't, I would say you don't trust your God enough. Are you willing to seek out the truth without using your prop? Can you stand alone in the truth? If you do trust your God, truth itself, then you would not have any qualms leaving him aside for a moment, while you ask and seek the truth for yourself in the knowing that he will be there waiting for you once you rediscover the truth for yourself. Once awakened to the spirit within there would be no fear of leaving all points of references behind in order to realize a direct and ongoing relationship with the divine in all the encounters we have. With nothing to support you, you'll be available to meet others without relying on a fixed belief system or faith. If the God you believe in is Truth supreme then you would not be afraid to find out what that truth is, with or without his or her support. The truth will set you free regardless of professed faith. Now there are always diﬀerent points of views and diﬀerent perspectives depending on the context we choose to inquire from. Knowing and understanding diﬀerent levels of truth is essential in order to discriminate between various faiths. There must be room enough to be able to distinguish their diﬀerences and assess their value within its own context. Can we navigate outside of, and in
between, various perspectives, while remaining open to an absolute truth that will bring unity among all who profess faith in an Absolute Godhead. A living, ever evolving revelation of truth itself. A faith that is being enacted as we meet each other, with nothing in between us and with no need to hold on to a mental prop of a belief-system for selfassurance and confidence. Can we stand surrendered together?
Faith How can we reconcile a firm belief system with an open inquisitive mindset? How can we remain open to the living truth yet without needing to compromise our convictions and chosen spiritual path? How does our Faith remain alive when we question everything in the light of truth? How does our faith evolve without loosing its foundation? How do we reconcile the fact that diďŹ€erent religions and spiritual ideologies diďŹ€er in their theology? Can we refrain from using the easy way out, throwing them all in together
saying it's all the same in the end? Can we take the time and make the eďŹ€ort to diďŹ€erentiate and qualify each to their own. Can we hold a big enough space open in our heart and mind to clarify each and draw out its essentials? Can we in the end, give credit where credit belongs? To honour the truths discovered and revealed in an ongoing and living relationship between us. Do we dare to remain open to question ourselves and our motivations? Can we challenge ourselves and others to be transparent to seek out the truth together, across all borders?
The Culture Club I'm baďŹ„ed every time I come home. I see the conditioning ever more starkly. Is it me or are people regressing? Having lived abroad for so many years I can't identify with my own countrymen any more. Their unashamedly superficial jargon and attitude smacks me in the face wherever I look. On the television the presenters seem to compete to outdo each others stupidity. Their
shallowness is painful to see. Whatever happened to all the real people? Has jargon and fake attitude taken over our society? Nuanced language is lost with everyone using minimal vocabulary of catch-phrases and smart remarks. Nobody seem to know how to hold a normal conversation any more, while swear-words fill the need to express emotions. The silence of their souls is deafening. How can they live this charade? Nothing but a facade, a resemblance of structure but with no substance. What's scary is that most seem completely unaware of their own emptiness, while the suicide rates at least point to a recognition of this state of aďŹ€airs. Putting a brave face on it is deemed heroic. Melancholy and depression is a national trait and is completely misread as deep by some foreigners. Strindberg and Bergman were champions conveying the Swedish soul to the world. Dark and mysterious we can't understand it and therefore we make it our own myth. We live in the shadowland of our own making, pretending we got it all together really having no clue whatsoever. Strangely, as a people they metamorphose into the fabric of the land, they naturally conform and adapt to the conditions and become part of it. Their soul is unmistakably 'Swedish'. Many become a genuine expression of the nation and they thrive being themselves, never questioning their code of conduct.
They are strong and unapologetic. Within their domain they are complete and rule their land as part of themselves. They've created their own species and they rule their habitat by virtue of occupying it over time. The strongest force bends the culture their way. They demand the rule of law by creating the culture of the land and if you don't fit in you are abhorred. You're not trusted until you've shown compliance. No wonder civilisations clash. One way of living as opposed to another. A culture under pressure resisting change grasps at what remains. Holes and cracks appear in the social fabric. Outside influences slowly breaks the mould. The hip hop culture set out what is cool. Wicked and fat the new lingo. The more shallow the more venerated. Virtual realities more safe than natural landscape. Online and mobile the strategy is complete. A brave new world indeed.
A Culture of Being What is our part in changing things for the better? Do we know that we, yes us, can be the ones that provide a platform for the younger generation? Do we realize that it is up to us, collectively, to create a positive context for our young ones. We have to be able to see the larger picture, how our influence is necessary and needed. The dojo is such a venue; a training ground for how to be, of how to relate. It is a place to cultivate sincerity. Not just for ourselves but for others to see as well. We are trying to establish a culture of being together. A culture for the society at large. The dojo can be a small island of peace; a refuge and a sanctuary for sanity. But it's not a place where we hide out or rest. It is a fertile ground to cultivate a real culture of being. We should be an alternative to all that is superficial, cynical and egoistic. This takes work and thought. We need to question many things. Reflect on and challenge our attitudes. It is a personal reckoning but with the larger picture in mind we do it out of concern for the whole. Doing it together helps. It makes our personal battles less suďŹ€ocating, as we all have to deal with the same
fundamental ignorance that we all share. This culture is active, productive and healthy, keeping everyone on their toes. Welcome to a new year of learning.
Eternal Life Reincarnation is a popular notion, especially in the Western new-age movement. Of course the philosophy stems from Hinduism where we all return based on our karma; on our actions and will. We move up or down in the evolutionary chain depending on what we believe and desire. Our sense of identity plays a key role. Who do we think we are? Yet reincarnation has no place in Christian theology, nor was it given much leeway in traditional Buddhism. One of the fundamental tenets of the Buddha dharma was 'Anatta' or not-self; there being no personal self that transmigrates from one life to the other. The gist being that all things/phenomena are 'Anicca', impermanent, especially
the sense of 'I', me or mine. Neither has it any place in the Hindu Advaita tradition. The philosophy of "neti neti", not this, not this, advocates the emptiness, or unreality of all phenomena. All things are non-existent and unreal except the singular notion of an absolute 'I'. An identity in a timeless and space-less 'I' render all changes in time meaningless. Since the absolute Self exist independent from, and free from this world and its evolution in time and space. In fact this world is seen as an illusion and not real at all. From a Christian perspective, an eternal life signifies a life lived in the spirit. Once we wake up to Gods kingdom we become conscious of our fundamental spiritual nature and realize eternity as the very fabric of our true divine self. Gods kingdom has no beginning nor end but if we'd like to assign a starting point it must be the day we wake up. Once our eyes are opened to the underlying spiritual nature of our being we become conscious of the deathless realm. We realize the unborn quality of our real nature, here and now; always so, always true. This immediately dismisses all significance of reincarnation and render it unfit for deep spiritual contemplation.
On a superficial level we may still entertain the notion of transmigration but from an absolute point of view it falls way oďŹ€ the mark. It in fact detracts from a real understanding of self, soul and spirit. It caters to our ego, ensuring its survival through time, guaranteeing that we can remain with our time-bound individual identity forever. It may serve as an eye-opener into the spirit world to loosen our fixed ideas about subtle realms and may be helpful and a healing for many. Yet it still does not address the core issue. This was the Buddhas objection of the prevalent Hindu philosophy of his time; it didn't challenge people to question their identity from an absolute, truthful realization. Eternal life is freedom here and now. It's a quality that overrides any notions of a limited self. We taste Heaven even now, we don't have to wait till death to realize where we're going. Eternity stares us straight in the face, now and forever more. Eternal life blesses us with a present conscious experience of fulfilment, of completeness. The whole of Time takes on this quality of eternal presence. A grandiose scenario that makes all things holy, from the beginning of time to this very present moment.
Making the Effort When seen from a larger perspective, your participation in life shows you that you’re part of a connected network of situations and experiences all linked together with other people. This suddenly reveals the fact that you now have responsibility for that reality, meaning you will have to take into consideration others when choosing your way forward. Always consider the context in which you find yourself in. What is demanded or asked of me in this situation? How can I help and support the whole? How can I be there for the purpose of making any situation the best by being personally responsible for the whole event? How can I lift any given situation by thinking more of the complete picture then merely about what I personally can get out of it? We have to be able to make a choice each time we face a new situation. Will we in this situation give less then we could? Should we then be there? Sometimes it’s better to step away if we’re not able or willing to contribute fullhearted. Because if we’re not able to be fully there, we will
inadvertently detract from the full potential of any given experience. Once you’ve realized the beauty of surrendering to the situation you will be astounded of how much you’re able to give. Your experience will be one of merging with the whole of the event and you personally will be part of creating something extraordinary simply by being fully there. When you begin to see how essential your contribution is, then you wouldn’t want to compromise any part of it. This would mean that instead of selecting bits and pieces, trying to fit everything in, you’d be much more discriminating, enabling you to be more present once you decide to join a certain event. This is not a critique. It is about coming to terms with our role in participating in any kind of social situation. Do we give to the whole or not. If we choose to be there, why not give all of ourselves to it? This is a spiritual matter. Because when we wake up to the wholeness of life, we can’t but see the eﬀect our actions and choices have. The more we’re able to be responsible for, the more will we feel in harmony with any particular situation. We’re actually just taking on what it means to be a human being. Fully participating, fully responsible. No hiding, no selfishness.
Gut Reaction It is interesting, really fascinating. It is revealing and educational. Our unpredictable gut response to new and confrontational situations. We react out with a visceral ‘no’. Our body clams shut. Or, ha ha ha, we laugh it oﬀ as if it doesn’t concern us (still with a knot in our belly). We make a blanket statement dismissing the whole thing as insignificant and irrelevant. We take the whole thing personally. I’ve been thrown a curve ball and I don’t like it. We quickly try to find the high ground where we can breathe, and now the whole justification process begins. We explain and make up stories, we twist and turn, add and edit as we like. We read into it our own fears and wants, our ideas and beliefs. Once exhausted we may listen to the other side of the story. Oh really, you didn’t say that. Yes now I understand, why didn’t you say so? Wrangling to get a handle on it. Yet another way of damage control. But fair enough, better late than never.
But isn’t it so interesting to begin to look at it from an impersonal perspective in order to see our gut reaction as one of many ways to protect ourselves from something unknown, of something new being introduced. To see how we immediately put up a defense when faced with an unknown. It’s humbling to realize that this happens faster than we have time to think about it. It’s quicker than our common sense. Why is this a spiritual contemplation? Because we begin to realize that these knee jerk reactions cause harm and dissonance. We learn that biting our tongue is a first start trying to control oneself. We stop our initial feeling getting the better of us. We can listen, open our heart to a larger context, entertain new possibilities beyond our normal range. We allow a benefit of doubt to linger, we may even sleep on it. We engage in conversation with others. What do they have to say. What do they think. Everyday we face these situations and every time there’s an opportunity to question our own convictions, our own ideas. Spirituality; love and meditation is not always about peace and harmony. It can cause volcanic size eruptions, anger flared out of nowhere, arrogance and aloofness, or a ‘I don’t care’ attitude. But the important
thing is to look at it, look at our gut reactions. Then weâ€™ll learn, we will begin to see it everywhere. It becomes so fascinating and so interesting to talk about. We disarm the danger, we take away its power. It becomes our daily meal. Our bread and butter which we feed our spiritual hunger. It becomes the sustenance for spirit growth. Samsara turn into the fertile ground of Nirvana. No more the culprit but now the very food we need for our development as human beings. How interesting, how fascinating..
Gender Identity It is natural to question who we are. Where can we find ourselves? In our self? In our gender? In our religion, race or nationality? Who are we actually? Are you female? Are you male? Trans-gender doesnâ€™t mean from one sex to the other. It means beyond gender. Or rather, prior to gender. Who were we before we became a boy or a girl?
Who are you now, before designating a specific identity to yourself? Before name, gender and age? There is no specific answer to that question except the sensed notion of ‘I am’. Once we scale oﬀ all said identities, even down to our physical birth form, we’re left with a timeless sense of self, the ghost in the shell if you like, and if we’re persistent enough we might die to that very self. All our accumulated and arbitrary forms will take second place to the one and only true reflection of who you are. This real self is free. Free from conformity. In it, we don’t take sides. Love is what rules this entity. Love has no gender and as such makes no distinctions. When will we men grasp this truth? Maybe because they are so afraid to let go? Fear of falling in-between. Not being this nor that. What will my wife say? Can you see it being played out all around? Who am I then, if I’m not a man nor a woman? How about being human?
Fear of Death Do you rebel at death? Are you afraid? Fear makes us angry. Fight cancer or embrace life? Look a little closer and you'll see they're not the same. The 'macho' approach is to arm yourself with attitude, muster up your last bits of strength and make a heroic final stand, giving the finger to your nemesis. Well intended for sure, not going down without a fight, refusing to give up. But is there a diďŹ€erent way to embrace our own mortality? Can we face the fear death conjures up? Can we see beyond our physical condition and go deep inside the very thing that is killing us? David Bowie made his own death very personal. He prepared his own music. Smiling on the last photos in public, still working for his art, keeping his condition a secret. This is not to say it's going to be easy. Far from it, it will challenge us to the core of who we are. For the first time we must deal with the reality of dying. We must face death in whatever form it takes. Face the fear and face our
loved ones. Can the love that Life bring overcome the disillusion of your self? Can love itself be the ultimate healer? Can love be found in death?
Sorrow Grief is but a natural outpouring of love. At deaths release the spirit is set free. This is what we feel. Unbeknownst to us we are touched and with no control we cry our heart out. Loves release. It's beautiful and comforting. Sitting quiet watching the snowfall in the streetlamp outside, I feel my father inside. 'He is here', I tell my mother. She looks at me and nods. The whole room is filled with his presence. He has entered my heart and reassures me that all is fine. He returned in a dream one year later. I grabbed his shoulders so to make sure it was real. I thought ‘you can’t trick us like this’, how will I explain this to mum? He
embraced me and nothing could have been sweeter. His body was full, complete and at peace. Our hug was mutual, a soft embrace so loving Iâ€™d never experienced anything like it before. He smiled as I tried to usher him inside. Do not resist the grief, the pain and sorrow. A watershed of the heart opening up, it purifies the soul. It humbles us in order for us to meet the spirit of our loved one. Its love burns away all the egoistic hardness of the soul. For once we get to experience the relief of humility. Do not mistake it for sadness this grief, it much more than that; itâ€™s a doorway to the holy, to the sacred realm of the spirit.
The Love Of SelfRealization Thereâ€™s an immediacy to self-realization that must be enacted as we speak about it. It is a perspective that you hold, a suspension of beliefs, that render you open and
susceptible. It opens a pathway between us, a clear and direct connection, from spirit to spirit. From true self to true self. In this meeting eye to eye thereâ€™s transmission. When all the obstacles that prohibit a free passage are removed we will enjoy the free interchange of information that will flow between us. Information, or knowledge of the Self, will be transmitted, just as if you would look in a mirror. Your own Self will be reflected back to you without interference from thought. It is a silent transmission that happens naturally once you suspend the filtering process of your mind. Suspend your thought activity and allow your vision to become non-dual and deep. In this room thereâ€™s space. You will find that we share this space together, not as two individuals but as one being. Every time we meet this process must be taken up. We must recondition our way of being with each other, from being partial and separated to being non-dual and One. This is very much a choice, a perspective you choose, a way of seeing the world holistically. The deeper you take this inquiry the more profound your vision will become. Train yourself to fall back into your Self, to immerse yourself in your Self. Before thought and before feeling you exist as that. From this perspective you can feel deeply the other.
We now see no diﬀerence between us, and our identity can be equally shared. I am you and you are me. Once you’ve learned to open your self to the influence of others there won’t be any more obstacles in your way. Because now you’re able to amass experience, learn and grow without the filtering process of your mind. You readily take on what reveals itself as true while naturally avoiding falsehood and confusion. Self-realization implies waking up to who you are in every instance, in every moment, and from there interact with the world around you. As long as you harbor any question about the absolute nature of your soul, spirit and self you must pursue it till you become completely convinced of your non-dual absolute nature of your own true self. You must come to see the absolute non-diﬀerence between you and me, and act from that self-reliance in your every encounter. Dare to face yourself in everyone you meet. Now this vision does not only confer insight into others but into yourself as well. You’ll have to stand the immaculate brightness of the mirror quality as it renders you naked and lays bare all your flaws, and to be true to your nature you will have to owe up to all of it without flinching. This is the raw process of self
discrimination, yet without the clear eye of self perception we wouldnâ€™t be able to face it. Weâ€™re all in the same boat. Meditation is a way of falling back into your Self, to rest in yourself as That. It is to acquaint yourself with your Self, to grow accustomed to the still sense of being itself. Interaction, on the other hand, lends itself to an active engagement, to open yourself up to situations without fear. To share this unified vision in relationship is dynamic and uplifting. In Aikido we practice to engage this selfless nature physically, moving in unison, blending and matching whatever comes our way. The true binding quality of any engagement is love itself. Love is by nature non-dual and universal and is the very basis upon which Self-Realization rests.
What is Spiritual about Aikido? Why is Aikido said to be a spiritual martial art? Because it corresponds to spiritual principles and values. In all religions and in most spiritual philosophies there is the common understanding of the unity of Godhead, of the oneness of all existence. They also all favor the essence of that Godhead or Absolute Truth to be Love itself. Love and Truth then, stands for the prime principle behind all religious and spiritual claims. Now itâ€™s important to understand that this principle must be a reality, a truth and a fact. Universally applicable and absolute in its nature. To penetrate and to realize this truth is the domain of all spiritual seeking and only when we gain an understanding of this will we be able to see how it relate to our lives. And only then will we be able to act in accordance with the principles of truth and love, in general but also in the practice of Aikido. All spiritual principles stem from the oneness of all things, and the love connecting all of us serve as the
medium for interaction. Aikido use these natural, universal and spiritual principles in the way we interact and in the way we train. We do not intend to harm, to divide or to win. We act and move to the best of our ability to blend and to absorb any engagement. Non-violent and non-combative we strive to join, match and guide. To defuse and neutralize any aggression before it gets oďŹ€ the ground. Responding out of oneness where there is no conflict we bring this peace to bear on the aggressor by drawing him into a relationship of unity without inflicting unnecessary pain or overbearing dominance. Aikido is spiritual only in as much as itâ€™s able to work within a unity framework. Only when we view the other as oneself will we be able to act and respond in harmony with the prevalent situation. This takes training. Lots of it. But nevertheless, the principle applies whether or not we have mastered the art. So we can practice the principles from the very beginning.
Consciousness is the Heart of Aikido 'Aiki no kurai' is the term O Sensei used to describe the conscious aspect of an Aikidoka's mental framework; his attitude, his view and his outlook. It is an expanded sense of self, a larger perspective where we are able to see more than just the individual in front of us. It is a holistic, inclusive picture where all things are seen as one unified expression of life. Having this vision enables us to move and respond in harmony with the changing circumstances. O Sensei described it like this: "If you wish to understand aiki no kurai, study the world of nature. Think of how an eagle, flying high in the sky, is able to catch fish which swim beneath the water's surface. From the shore, where we must stand, the current of the ocean distorts our view; yet from high aloft the eagle sees the fish, indeed, the shadows of the fish, as if they were reflected in a mirror. The eagle plucks the fish from the water as easily as we might pick up a stone on an open plain. Likewise, the eagle cannot match the swift-footed rabbit on the ground, but
from the sky he easily follows the rabbit's course. Aiki no kurai is not only a teaching of the martial arts, but a lesson of nature itself. Nature is also our dojo. The intricate variations of the seasons, the beauty of the flowers in the field are our teachers, and they lead us to the highest consciousness of aiki. Any serious student of Aikido must observe the phenomena of the universe in motion to find the meaning of their study. As you come to understand these phenomena, you must apply your understanding to your practice of budo. This is my teaching." This overreaching awareness brings about a change in your relationship. Suddenly you enter the natural flow of how things move. You become part of a bigger self, a larger sea of consciousness that knows how to act without thought and without hesitation. You are no longer merely yourself but indeed the whole universe itself. This is the true spiritual conscious aspect of your very own being. Awake and aware to the pulse and rhythm of the never ending movement of life itself. This is why Aikido can be called a spiritual path. Thank you O Sensei.
If you want to find Peace, go inside. When you go quiet, silent within, and you stop your motion and sit still, you'll discover that the space inside is larger than the space outside. In fact, your interior contain the outside within itself. This is meditation, to turn inside out what is your experience. There is no other way to find Peace than to slow right down. You can't 'do' peace. You must allow yourself the time to rest and to be still. Sit in nature, allow everything to be as it is. Give it a chance to aďŹ€ect you. The more time you spend in this space the more it will aďŹ€ect you. Calibrating your soul back to its default position of peaceful harmony. Once your mind release its grip you'll be able to relax completely, now feeling the wind in the trees, the rain against your face, the warmth of your blood running through your veins. As when ice thaw, you'll regain the mobility of your body. Natural and as if regaining consciousness your body recharges and self-heal.
Phoenix Out of nothing comes something.. Rising out of the ashes, a new creation, something the world has never seen. Something that never have existed before. Our Aikido can be like this. In a state of readiness, alert and conscious, we often find that even then it can be diﬃcult to deal with an aggressor. How not harder will it be then if we are caught unaware, oﬀ guard? Often when we train we assume a ready stance, a kamae, to be able to blend with uke, our attacker and partner. We prepare and connect mentally and physically. Spiritually we blend as one. Our ma-ai, our sphere of influence naturally form a unit. Now having said this, what would you do if caught napping? If when you wake up find yourself bound? Is it too late? Are we in the grip and control of the other? It’s important to train this because we are not meant to be in a constant state of high alert, always awake, always on and ready. Even if you live your life highly attuned and conscious of all things around you and you have learned to handle anything coming your way, you still have to sleep.
Meaning there will be times when our guard is down, lights oďŹ€ and in a state of rest. This now is the real test, how to rise from nothing from within a restraint? Sometimes we find ourselves under pressure, under circumstances that overtakes us, situations out of our control. To this we canâ€™t but resign, give in and accept. Because fighting the grip only strengthens it. Reacting to it only cause its opposite to kick in. This is when the principle of Aiki comes alive. Can we find a way to rise within the situation, in harmony with it? To blend by giving in. To accommodate the grip or attack. Allow the full force of the constraint to be there without opposing it. We can practice this and see what occurs once you surrender your own will and feel the other as yourself. You may find a natural movement occurring, a motion and a flow of energy that canâ€™t be trapped. Tap into a holistic system that knows and feels everything. A system that is never static. Is there a way our Shugyo, our developed spirit field, can respond by itself? Even from the darkest place? Is there a way out of darkness without a fight? Can we turn the lights on within a dark room? Can the light itself dispel all darkness? Can consciousness itself be the solution. By becoming extremely aware of the totality of the situation, of the circumstance to be with it and bring consciousness to
your limbs, body and soul. Something new can then happen, a generation of a quality that becomes the situation, a motion of care and of softness. A phoenix, a new being, coming alive out of the fire of destruction, out of the pit of death, out of nothing.
Heart of Aikido
ÂŠ Aikido Alive 2016