Unified Centering in the Void

Unified Centering in the Void

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 when we 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 Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 53).

Introduction

In our last on-line class we continued our series on center.  We are exploring center from several perspectives.  These include both vertical and horizontal dimensions of center.

At a basic level, center or hara is about creating a balance within the physical body and then integrating mind and body together.  As Tohei Sensei says, we are bringing into a state of unity mind and body that are already unified but are often experienced as separate.

We will continue with some basic centering practices and then use center as a “travel vehicle” or portal to finer dimensions of centered consciousness. 

These finer dimensions allow for practices in which the creation and void may be experienced in a unified manner.

Today we will explore with our centering practice a dimension of consciousness beyond the basic three of manifest, hidden and divine.  We will explore the experience of the void.  

Our Aikido technique will continue to be kata-dori ikkyo.

Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.

Five Principles for Ki Breathing

Our tip today on the misogi breathing is to experience a deep state of quiet with the exhalation, the inhalation and the pauses. 

  1. Breathe out with the sound of HA, don’t let your breath just leak out
  2. Breathe out as calmly and quietly as possible
  3. Breathe out the Ki of your head to the Ki of your toes
  4. Breathe in from the tip of your nose until your body is full of air
  5. Calm your mind infinitely smaller at the one point after inhaling
  1. Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
  • Begin with the practice of kata-dori ikkyo.
  • Get feedback on the technique to establish a baseline to use for comparison as the practice progresses.

Centering Basics

  1. Let’s start with the very basic practice of physical centering we have practiced throughout this series. First, locate where your mind is currently focused.  It is OK if is not in the present or on the body.

Before we try and bring the mind into center in the body, let’s give it a moment to settle and relax where it is.

Then we can without tension or force bring the mind to center-Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai-chi Ch’uan (pgs. 41-42). 

Notice the difference this seemingly simple practice makes.

  1. From the relaxed center let’s work with our circle center practice to focus our attention on the manifest/physical dimension.  
  • From this practice let’s go through the technique and see if our experience is different with our focus on the manifest.
  1. Next let’s transition from the manifest/physical to the hidden/energetic also using the circle center practice.

What is your experience as a centered hidden dimension being in a hidden dimension world?

  • From this practice let’s go through the technique and see how our experience is different than in the manifest.
  1. Now let’s shift our practice to the divine dimension of primal emptiness and potentiality.

To transition from the hidden/energetic we can again use the circle center practice.

Here we can use the practice to enter a state of deep quiet.  This quiet is a doorway to the divine dimension of creative emptiness.  The divine body in the divine world is like an outline of a potential body, but is still a real body with real experience. 

What is your experience as a centered divine dimension being in a divine dimension world?

 

  • From this practice let’s go through the technique and see if our experience is different than the hidden or manifest rounds.
  1. We will add to the practices we have worked within this series the integrating experience of the void.

The void is that aspect of existence which is most basic.  It is most basic in that it is the source of all aspects of the creation but is not “created” itself.  It is ever-present and unchanging.  One way to approach understanding the void is a principle called the two truths doctrine The Religion of Tomorrow Ken Wilbur (pgs. 23 and 164). 

As we move into an experience of the void at first it is an experience of the absolute unchanging state. 

As our experience of the void gets more and more full it is a state of non-duality where even the distinction between the relative and absolute realms is transcended.

Let’s continue to use the circle center practice to transition from the divine dimension to the void.

To begin let’s go back to the circle/center practice and to the place of great quiet but also emptiness.  Within that space of emptiness allow the void to fill that space.  This is a doorway to the direct experience of the void. 

It is most important to maintain your center as there are no external reference points in the void.  One approach to maintaining an experience of center in the void is that center in an infinite unchanging space is everywhere. Each point is equidistant from all other points.  Therefore every place in the void is center.  To translate this principle into experience let’s use a practice of mirroring.  All parts of the void mirror each other equally.  This allows a fullness of experience and having a center as a reference point.  To move from this experience to a practice of functionality in the void, let’s refer back to O Sensei’s description-The Secret Teachings of Aikido (pg. 53). 

This is the foundation for experiencing the seeming paradox of functionality in the void. 

  • Let’s now go back to the technique of kata-dori ikkyo from the void.
  • What is your experience? How is it unique when compared with the previous experiences of the technique?
  1. We can now move from an experience of the void as something distinct from the creation to an even more inclusive experience that transcends even the distinction between relative and absolute. O Sensei and many other spiritual traditions refer to this as the experience of pure light-The Heart of Aikido (pgs. 48-49). 

To move from the poetry of O Sensei’s description to a direct experience we can start with the experience of all parts of the void mirroring each other.  As full and unifying as this experience is we can allow it to progress still further to the point that light from the universal mirroring fills the void.  This moves beyond the movement of light between parts of the void to a state of fullness and completeness.  O Sensei called this Hikari-The Essence of Aikido (pg. 94).

  • From this place of non-dual experience let’s go back to kata-dori ikkyo and practice with the functionality provided by this unifying experience.
  • What is your experience? How is it unique when compared with the previous experiences of the technique?

Conclusion

This series of classes is focused on a multi-dimensional experience of center. 

Center is a basic practice which allows us to develop a stable basis for experiencing more refined states of consciousness without losing our reference point. 

When we lose our reference point we can become stuck, “floating” in a state of consciousness without functional capacity and emotional stability.

When we achieve a stable center it can then become a travel vehicle for moving into refined states of consciousness in a functional manner.

In this class we continued our practice using center as a travel vehicle to help us experience both the manifest, hidden and divine states of consciousness.  We then added the experience of the void. 

This is how center can be a travel vehicle or passage way to increasingly refined states of consciousness.    

Feedback and discussion.

Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilbur (pgs. 74-75).

Practice before next class:  take a few minutes before a daily life task and practice centering at this deeper level from both manifest, hidden, divine and then the void as we have done in today’s class. 

See how it enhances your ability to perform the task you selected. 

Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.

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