You may love Aikido now but you are headed for a crisis. And when yours arrives you will probably quit. So there you go. The hard news is out and you can’t say I didn’t tell you so.
You might say, “I’m ready… bring it on.” But here’s the thing; your crisis will be uniquely yours, tailor made and targeted right at your blind spot.
Damn! If only you could learn this without any of that. It’s such a beautiful art, so noble and high minded, wonderful ideas to hear and think about. Embody? Even better!
The traditional way of organizing around this practice is so orderly. Lining up in straight lines, the rituals, the forms, can give the idea there is a promised land where all things are as they should be and all peoples and problems understood. The Zen metaphor of rowing to this other shore is a nice one but it’s maybe not as neat as all that.
Picture this: Yes, some guys are rowing but for a host of reasons some are not. Some are exhausted and doing their best. Some are injured and can’t help as much as they want to. Some have been thrown overboard, either by themselves or by their captain, and a few of these, still determined, are swimming along side. Some have grabbed onto ropes hanging off the bow, unable to swim but refusing to give up. Add to this that instead of one boat there is a whole fleet, some insist on rowing alone, while others work together, lots of boats, lots of ropes, lots of swimming… chaos!
When you reach the point in your training where you see more, when things are not as simple as they used to be, it’s natural to long for the days of innocent practice. Back when someone could tell you how to do it right and you could look forward to the day when you’d be able to do it.
Now there seem to be as many ways of doing ikkyo as there are arms in the world and technique feels ambiguous, subject to doubt, and full of uncertainty. The slow minutes of class and this bozo you’re training with can make you wonder just where your love of the art went.
Reaching the stage of Ha is really an achievement. It’s pay dirt for all of your hard work but it doesn’t feel that way. Suffering has many forms and when it comes as confusion its pretty unsettling. Check in with yourself and listen. Confusion should not be mistaken for being off track. There’s a difference and knowing what it is, is so important as to be the central issue of our lives.
Hanging onto a trailing rope, the idea of letting go comes to mind. It takes no effort, you release your grip and the noise of all the boats, all these people, move away and you float peacefully in the water.
Getting some distance from the clamorous noise, being free of the boat people is a solution and may be what’s best for you.
Being with and free is possible too.
You see, the Boat has already landed and really, it never even left.