We worked in our last class with a focus on experiencing levels of consciousness in the divine realm using the kokyuho undo exercise.
Today we will continue this emphasis on states of consciousness working with the interaction between the manifest and hidden realms-using with the ikkyo undo exercise we practiced with the manifest dimension. We will use the ikkyo undo exercise as our focus on the manifest and to experience how bringing in the hidden dimension experience benefits the manifest dimension and improves functionality.
Before we go on, let’s review the manifest, hidden and divine dimensions we worked with in our three previous classes.
O Sensei spoke of three basic dimensions of consciousness: manifest; hidden and divine- The Secret Teachings of Aikido (pg. 22); The Heart of Aikido (pg. 136) and The Art of Peace (pg. 87).
As we discussed previously, one of O Sensei’s greatest insights is that these basic structures of consciousness are of equal value. This is a distinction from many traditions which regard especially the manifest dimension as a place defined by suffering and difficulty that we want to get out of. O Sensei saw each of these states as part of a unity that was seamless and necessary for an experience of our own wholeness The Heart of Aikido (pgs. 78-79).
Everyone experiences these three states on a daily basis. The manifest is the physical dimension experienced during our waking state as we go through our daily activities. The hidden dimension is the realm of subtle energies which are familiar to Aikido students as ki. Everyone experiences the hidden dimension in the dream state. The dream state is not the hidden dimension but is one way we commonly experience it.
The divine dimension is more difficult to describe but is a place of pure emptiness in which creation is present in its potential form. Everyone experiences this when in a state of deep dreamless sleep. But it can be experienced consciously, with practice.
This seamless aspect that O Sensei emphasized can be directly experienced when we feel the mutual benefit and support that each of the dimensions provide to the other as part of the whole-The Heart of Aikido (pgs. 101-102).
In a very advanced state all three can be directly experienced as a whole-Integral Spirituality Ken Wilbur (pg. 74). This may start to show through in today’s practice but the focus will be on the interaction between the manifest dimension and how it is enhanced by the experience of the hidden.
This “map” of consciousness is not unique to O Sensei or Japan. It goes back at least as far as India-Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination (pgs. 45-49). We also find it in similar forms in Tibet-The Three Levels of Spiritual Perception by Deshung Rinpoche (pg. 9) and China-Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan (pgs. 75-81) and many other traditions East and West.
Ken Wilbur in his book, Integral Spirituality, also describes in a very clear manner this structure (pgs. 16-17 and 74). There is also a helpful diagram in his book Integral Meditation (pg.90).
The Aikido of Petaluma website has more information on this in recent blog posts and some videos.
Before we begin to work with the interaction between dimensions, let’s bow in and start with a little bit of stretching and then misogi breathing.
Let’s begin with a round of ikkyo undo six times on each side. As we do it try and remember your experience so we can refer back to it as our practice progresses. In this first round we are using the practice to deeply experience the manifest realm.
- Feedback on the first round of practice.
Now we will go through a process of experiencing the hidden dimension and then going back to ikkyo undo and see how our experience of the hidden dimension has enhanced our functionality in the manifest.
At each point there is a sense in which you become a different person, there is a shift in identity as we quoted Nadeau Sensei in the previous classes.
- Feel your hands and fingers as energy flows back and forth between them. What do you notice, to where is your attention drawn?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the hand energy focus change your experience? Did you feel an enhanced capability in doing ikkyo undo?
- Next open the hands and arms to include your whole body, an exercise called the Universal Post.
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the whole body energy focus change your experience? Did you feel an enhanced capability in doing ikkyo undo?
- Now expanding our awareness let’s include legs, feet and arms. In Tai-chi the focus is on the relationship between the bubbling wellspring in the front of the foot to the lao gung point in the palm of the opposite hand (Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai-chi Ch’uan pg. 78). Does adding the focus to the legs, feet and arms change your experience? The great Chinese sage Chuang-tsu taught about breathing from your heels (Chuang-tsu The Inner Chapters pg. 114).
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the legs/feet and hands energy focus change your experience? Did you feel an enhanced capability in doing ikkyo undo?
- Next feel your energy going to hara, your center. What is your experience?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the focus on hara change your experience?
- Moving to the spine from the low back to the top of the head. What does this focus bring in that wasn’t there before?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the spine focus change your experience?
By using a process of including more and more of the hidden body in the hidden world experience in relationship to the manifest dimension we have gone through enhanced layers of a functional experience of the manifest dimension.
Here is a dramatic example from Saotome Sensei-A Light on Transmission (pg. 1).