Here’s William Gleason teaching on the powerful effects of subtle changes in tension, attention and intention, from the Aikido seminar I attended earlier this month. He discusses these terms at 6:20 into the video.
From the Introduction, page 4, by David Loy in his edited collection Healing Deconstruction: Postmodern Thought in Buddhism and Christianity:
According to Madhyamika, our taken-for-granted world is mentally-constructed by our delusive attribution of self-existence to objects, which makes us experience that world as a collection of discrete things interacting in space and time; and that leads to suffering insofar as we understand ourselves to be such self-existing things, who are nonetheless subject to the ravages of time and change–who are born only to fall ill, grow old, and die. Merely by subverting such ontological claims, and without offering any views of its own, the Buddhist deconstruction of such self-existence (especially our own) can allow “something else” to shine forth.
In my recent training experience, I have the sense that Aikido is physically deconstructing my perception of an independently-acting self.
Several close friends believe we have immortal souls. Not sharing that faith makes Marci’s impending death more lonely for me, a forever loss. Far from belief in a discrete immortal soul that does not die, the Madhyamika Buddhist view is that we don’t have that individuality, even in this life. But it seems to be a view into a bigger space.
There are now brief moments of doing it right in my otherwise relatively unskilled Aikido practice, when, with no push and no pull, I move someone much bigger than myself — it happens, not often! It is without effort, but by congruence. Something else shines forth?
“Get yourself organized” means conforming with the logos.
“Not being attached to the result” means not being habituated or addicted.From lunch discussion with Sensei Gleason, Sensei Ledyard, et al.:
The vector to mastery is the spiritual quest.
Being on the vector to mastery makes endeavor worthwhile.
A teacher need not have achieved mastery to be worthwhile. But the difference between a worthwhile practice and a mediocre one is whether the channel is open in the direction of mastery, regardless of how far progress has been achieved.
Brion Toss, weapons sensei at Aikido Port Townsend, and I wondered about how you know whether you are on a path to mastery or are fooling yourself. I suspect that reality, action in the real world, provides the answer. As we experience on the mat, only good technique works, provided that the attack (the encounter) is genuine. If it doesn’t work, you know, because you fail. Reality, the organizing principle, the logos, provides the constraints that create the form of the practice and its evolution. It’s possible to be screened from reality by habits, fantasies and addictions — frequently happens. You can live in that undisciplined world so long as it is self-contained, does not contact with reality. Then reality penetrates with overwhelming power.
From previous Gleason Sensei seminars at Aikido Eastside:
Seeing him for the first time, on the video of his talk on ethics at UC Santa Barbara, I was surprised, though perhaps should not have been, to find that the Dalai Lama moves with the presence of a trained martial artist or dancer. Watch his centered hand gestures. Through them he conveys a large part of his message. Where did he learn how to do that? It reflects long, physical practice. I found myself so absorbed in his gestures that at times I didn’t hear his words, and we had to replay them. For the Dalai Lama, physical as well as mental balance is essential for his effective public leadership.
An ongoing inquiry into change and stability in nature, politics and ourselves, by Ben Shaine