I appreciate everyone participating in this new format and welcome to everyone coming for the first time. We are working to keep our regular class schedule going so it will be easier to return to our training together.
Please share any comments, suggestions or questions.
This difficult time; while we wish it was not going on, is an opportunity to deepen our practice by appreciating what is really important to us and what we can let go of-The Essence of Aikido by John Stevens (pgs. 33-34).
In our last on-line class we continued our series broadening our focus from the individual harmony of the I and the unit to a more universal perspective and experience of the I and the unit.
One reason that this shift from the personal to the universal is especially valuable at this time is the world’s unified focus due to the virus.
In the quote we just heard O Sensei talked about what in our forging practice we call the I and unit.
The most original I he referred to as Haya-Takemusu-Okami-Swift Valorous Creative Spirit. This is the I at a level of universal or most original consciousness.
The universal unit he called Ryuo-the Dragon King. The energies that mixed up the universal unit he named Kuki-the Nine Fierce Spirits. Nine is a version of three which is a number of change and growth that can be a harmonious agent for change or a force for chaos. This depends on our ability to mix a functioning unit as opposed to contributing to chaos and disarray. The numbers two or four are numbers of stability and balance. Both types of numbers are needed for growth to occur but to occur in a balanced way. O Sensei referred to this as orderly creation.
What we refer to in our forging practice as the alive space he calls, in this formulation, Samuhara-the Cold Plain. All the elements in our forging practice are represented in this seemingly cryptic ancient Shinto formulation but on a universal rather than a personal level.
O Sensei repeatedly referred to human beings as mirrors of the cosmos. Practices that provide both an individual and universal experience of both growth and development as well as balance and harmony are needed. This is because the individual and the universal complement (mirror) each other.
This understanding allows us to take O Sensei’s formulation from the realm of esoteric Shinto tradition into both a general understanding and much more importantly, a universal and REPEATABLE experience of I and unit.
Many spiritual traditions teach that the creation is made up of two fundamental energies, for example yin and yang or in and yo in Japanese.
O Sensei often talked about the two basic universal energies symbolically manifested as fire and water. Fire and water are used in this same way in many traditions that practice inner alchemy such as Taoism and certain schools of Buddhism. We have used the same formulation in our forging practice for many years.
We will start with our standard forging practice on an individual level to get an experiential base for the interaction of fire and water.
Then we will use the basic questions with which we started in our earlier classes to expand our perspective from the individual to the more universal.
Our Aikido technique for today will continue to be ten-chi nage, the heaven and earth throw.
Our practice today will be largely the same as we did on Tuesday because this is a big shift in consciousness. We want to take it slowly and allow time to make the shift with a minimum of stress and confusion.
Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.
Five Principles for Ki Breathing
Breathing tip of the day
Our tip today on the misogi breathing is to visualize exhalation and inhalation as mirroring each other.
- Breathe out with the sound of HA, don’t let your breath just leak out
- Breathe out as calmly and quietly as possible
- Breathe out the Ki of your head to the Ki of your toes
- Breathe in from the tip of your nose until your body is full of air
- Calm your mind infinitely smaller at the one point after inhaling
- Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
- Begin with the practice on ten-chi nage.
- Get feedback on the technique to establish a baseline to use for comparison as the practice progresses.
The Forged One Standing on the Floating Bridge
- Let’s begin with a basic round of forging at the individual level. Our call off continues as ten-chi nage. We will then move to an alive space; an embodied functioning unit of the technique and the wholeness of the I. Let’s pay special attention to balanced mixing of the energies of the unit. At a more universal level this is the job of the Dragon King/Queen.
Now that each part of the system has had a turn on the lineage established by the technique; in the space; I and unit come together at hara. One becomes fire and one becomes water. Through the interaction of fire and water with each other, at hara, a refined steam like energy fills your entire system with a sense of health and wholeness; aliveness and wellbeing and brings all the parts of your system together birthing you as the forged one of the ten-chi nage.
- Let’s return to the technique to see how this round of forging, at an individual level, has enhanced our performance of the technique.
- Let’s now go through the forging process on a more universal level. Our call-off with ten-chi nage can move from an individual Aikido technique to standing on the floating bridge of heaven Ame-no-murakumo or the Billowing Clouds of Heaven. We can follow the same basic technique we have just used in our regular forging practice by visualizing from both the awareness and experiential perspectives how we will look and feel standing on the floating bridge. Since this is a big move from individual to universal, we can use the mountain echo to help us make this move.
- We can then continue on to the alive space with again the same practice we use in our regular forging practice-center and circle interacting with each other but on a universal level. We can also use the mountain echo to help us here.
- Now let’s take a little breather here and return to the technique and see how this partial universal forging is reflected in your technique?
- Let’s now turn our attention to the mixing of the universal unit, the Dragon King/Queen. The energies of the unit are Kuki, the Nine Fierce Spirits. Here we will use the kuji kiri practice we learned from Stevens Sensei. This will be instructed orally and not be in the notes or on the video. We will go through the kuji kiri three times. Our objective and hoped for result is to bring the energies of the Kuki, the Nine Fierce Spirits together into a unit of universal perspective. This universal unit will have all the skills and abilities needed to allow us to stand on the floating bridge of heaven.
What is your experience as the Dragon King/Queen? While we are seeking the experience of a universal unit, the experience is still you. Each person’s experience even on a universal scale will be unique.
As in previous classes you don’t have to know the answer in advance, allow the principle of the mountain echo to work. Maintain a fullness and presence and allow the answer to form experientially.
This type of practice can be especially useful in times of turmoil either personally or in society.
It is at these times that the energies can indeed turn fierce and seem like chaos rather than orderly creation is inevitable.
- Now let’s return to the technique and see how this practice has impacted our experience of the technique. What is its more universal manifestation?
- The next step in our process of universal forging is to experience the I or Haya-Takemusu-Okami-Swift Valorous Creative Spirit as the most original I. We will as we have throughout this class use the same practice of each part of the I mirroring its other half to bring about an experience of wholeness on a universal scale. Our question here remains what is the experience of each part of the I mirroring its other half on this most original level? Once again as this is a big step, use the mountain echo practice to help you make this big move.
What is your experience as the most original I?
- Let’s now complete the forging process. On this universal scale; on the lineage of standing on the floating bridge; in the universal space; as the Dragon King/Queen; experiencing ourselves as the most original I; I and unit come together.
One becomes fire, one becomes water and through the interaction of fire and water with each other at the universal center of SU the most refined energy fills your system with an experience of health and wholeness, wellbeing and aliveness and birthing you as the forged one standing on the floating bridge.
What is your experience as the forged one standing on the floating bridge?
- Let’s go back to ten-chi nage and to experience the technique on this universal scale.
This series of classes is designed to help broaden our perspective from individual harmony to a more universal harmony with the great energies of creation. The unit and the forged one that comes out of this broader perspective will be more universal in scope.
In this class we continued using a formulation directly from O Sensei to help us experience universal consciousness directly and in a functional and repeatable manner.
In the classes that follow we will continue to work through this process to help make it more familiar and repeatable. I am indebted to Jack Wada Sensei for making this connection to the Dragon King as one of O Sensei’s universal manifestations.
Feedback and discussion.
The Essence of Aikido by John Stevens (pg. 21).
Practice before next class
Repeat this practice using daily life task as your call-off.
Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.