Editors note – This is part two of a two part series. If you haven’t read the first part, you can find it here.
Divine Dimension of Consciousness
The divine dimension is a place of primal emptiness but full of the potential energy that is manifested in the hidden and manifest dimensions.
Prof. Cheng in Thirteen Treatises calls this the Heavenly Dimension, the place of perfect clarity. Shankara calls it the Causal Dimension. It is place of total emptiness and freedom in which all possibilities reside.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead calls it the place of Pure Light.
O Sensei’s last calligraphy before his passing was Hikari or Pure Light.
O Sensei describes an experience of the Divine Dimension: Above all, you must find the exact place where the void (shinku no ki) and emptiness (ku no ki) reside. (Page 53 The Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens)
In our most recent series of classes we practiced Aikido techniques from each of these dimensions. We started with a basic such as shomen-uchi ikkyo as a baseline of experience and then progressed through manifest, hidden and divine dimensions using the technique as a reference point of comparison to see how the same technique was experienced differently in each of these dimensions.
To highlight the differences we also focused on the practice O Sensei called takemusu. Takemusu is the moment to moment birthing of each of our experiences. It is when all of the energies of our system come together and “birth” each technique and every other event of our lives as a unique moment in time and place.
If we can allow this birthing to take place without effort or trying to force it but with full consciousness a vivid and pure experience results.
John Stevens in his book The Heart of Aikido defines Takemusu:
Take stands for valor and bravery; it represents the irrepressible and indomitable courage to live. Musu typifies birth, growth, accomplishments, fulfillment. Taken together, takemusu aiki is “the life-generating force capable of unlimited transformations.”
For O Sensei, takemusu aiki is code for ”the boldest and most creative life possible.” (page 141)
Our goal in this series of classes was to highlight the differences between these dimensions and how each offers unique benefits both in the practice of Aikido and life in general.
These benefits are most realized in that takemusu moment, especially if we can maintain our centers.
Here are some examples.
Manifest offers us a structure and predictability of experience we can rely on from moment to moment and day to day. Gravity and the other material forces are there all the time. The Apollo Astronauts were asked on their way back from the moon “who is navigating? They said Newton.”
From a place of centered takemusu the structure of the manifest can be a source of guidance and support in how we can best function. In an uncentered state this same structure can be a source of perceived limitation and frustration.
The hidden dimension offers an opportunity to experience a place with fewer structures and limitations. The distance between thinking of something and manifesting it are very small in comparison with the manifest. When you are dreaming the distance between thought and manifestation is almost nothing.
In a centered state this allows a tremendous experience of creative power. Our ability to manifest our thoughts is almost effortless. We experience this in daily life when we accomplish tasks with ease. In Aikido, techniques emerge with so little effort we wonder how they happened.
In an uncentered state this creative power can produce nightmares instead of paradise. Our best intentions, that don’t come from a place of center, can have difficult unintended consequences. We see in the news where someone who suddenly won untold wealth from the lottery, a few years later their life is in ruin. The lack of center coupled with the freedom of great wealth caused them to make bad choices in how they used the creative power made available from their windfall.
The experience of the divine dimension from a centered perspective offers the opportunity for an almost unlimited expansion of consciousness with the experience of freedom and bliss. This is due to lack of structures which are strongly present in the manifest dimension and are still present to a lesser degree in the hidden dimension.
From an uncentered perspective it is easy to get lost and drift in the divine. Carl Jung is quoted by Joseph Campbell that the difference between the mystic and the psychotic is that the psychotic drowns in the waters of the unconscious (divine dimension) and the mystic swims in those same waters with delight.
If you look at the films of O Sensei from the earliest to latest from this perspective you can see how these three dimensions come into increasingly balanced interaction to produce the remarkable Aikido he displayed.
These areas of training were the focus of our most recent series of classes. The feedback from the students suggest they were beneficial.