There are many paths to the top of the mountain.
We are drawn to study Aikido for many reasons. A lot of people that study Aikido love the philosophical area of the art. Some are drawn to the founder’s teachings and beliefs on unity and world peace. Others still again believe in Aikido as a martial art and train the battle field techniques closely related to jujitsu. Others again are drawn to the health benefits that regular exercise and deep breathing and stretching the body give to a balanced lifestyle.
None of these reasons taken in the context of that reason, and promoted as such is a wrong path. But promoting yourself as a martial art and then presenting your teaching as a wellness/lifestyle system is misleading and dishonest. If you teach martial arts or budo, and promote yourself as such, then be what you teach. If you promote lifestyle spirituality and health benefits then be what you teach. But don’t confuse the two.
One can contain elements of the other, that is the paradox of the study of Budo, that it can lead to spiritual realisation. There are many examples of this, including the life of the founder of Aikido. But it doesn’t work the other way around. If you spend a lifetime focusing on just the health, peace and harmony dimension, you will not have created within the body the physical attributes that are necessary for survival in battle. Sure the mind may be serene, and perhaps the spirit ready for death, but the physical body will not be tempered for the heat of the forge that real confrontation needs.
One of the great things about Aikido is that there is a school for everyone.
In our school, our teacher encourages us to rediscover the teachings of the founder of Aikido through physical practice. The words Tanren and Misogi Harai are supposed to be the defining philosophical attributes in dojo that follow our way. This is daily training, both in technique and in ukemi. One is encouraged in this way to discover for themselves their own Aikido.
A teacher can only point the way. A student, free of preconceived ideologies is encouraged to overcome the fears and anxiety that have clouded their spirit since childhood, making the dojo quite literally a place of rebirth and growth.
Spiritual conditioning through physical conditioning.
The dojo is not a place for long winded spiritual discourse. It is not a place for blowing your own trumpet, pushing misconstrued pseudo Japanese/westernised philosophical dogma, nor a place for selling snake oil. It is a place to study the way.
To work it out by working out…….
Through the process of training in this way, perhaps we will come to a realisation that to find my own aikido is not just about a path to find technique, but rather the journey to discover the true self.
Aikido can be the vehicle for this self discovery, if we surrender our ego to the process. This is the founders definition of love devoid of ego. True love is not a specific man made emotion. True love, universal love is unconditional. This love is about discovering for yourself your purpose in this world. Once this self discovery takes place, we have achieved our goal as a human being. To do this is truly love unconditional, as we begin to live our life not as our ego intended, but as the universe intended.
Overcoming the self, letting go of the self and discovering the self.
Find your own Aikido, and in finding your own aikido you will find the love, peace and harmony that the founder intended.
“The journey to the true self, is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, of what you are forever.
It is a journey without distance, to a goal that has never changed..”