difficulties on the way

June 28, 2013

The difficulty in practicing Aikido lies in the fact that each of us brings the entire sum of who we are onto the mat. Nothing truly is left behind. The idea to leave behind your day and your struggles as you take off your shoes is a nice one, but is it possible, truly? Every action we have taken, every internal and external event is carried within us, perhaps even on a cellular level. We are the sum of an entirety of causes up until this moment-- and we bring all of them to practice Aikido, or for that matter, anything. A tension in the shoulder, a fear of this or that, an inability to perceive a movement or, on the contrary, an ease in movement, a certain degree of relaxation-- all these are the result of karma. I use the word karma here to mean the entirety of who I am up until now, which includes genetics, upbringing, external events, and the possibility of past lives (who knows?). Another way to put it: I bring all my resistance as well as my desire to learn Aikido. How can it be otherwise? And if this is true, what hope is there for me to learn anything? For ultimately, I will always superimpose anything given to me with my own views, biases and limitations. For myself, the only hope lies in seeing my resistance, seeing my prejudices. If I can see these often enough, perhaps I can avoid falling into the same habits. There is no easy way. There is no "I've got it." There are moments of real encounters, real letting go. And then...my resistance, my prejudice, my ego is there. It always comes back. Perhaps, in time, it will be less and less- it will soften and not be so overbearing. But for now, if I really want to practice, to learn, I have to understand my resistance, my biases. I have to see accurately the sides of me that don't want to practice, don't want to learn, and that don't want to go along with what is shown. Looking for these sides is difficult, because they don't often want to be seen, and "I" really don't want to change, do I? So let's try and take a look at this more in our practice. New York, 2013 Ryugan

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