Aikido practice, in Japanese, is called keiko, which can also be translated as “meditating upon the elders.” Today was the first practice of the spring semester at Taiwan University for me. I practiced with the teacher. It was a strenuous practice. He told me later – “thank you – the more I teach, the less I practice – the older I get, the weaker my body gets.”
“It happens to everyone.” I said.
As I folded my hakama, I thought about the elders – all those who came before. All my old teachers who were once young. The teachers before them, who have passed. Once, I wanted to lean Aikido to be strong and to be able to fight. Now, it is enough for me to be connected to this stream of history, and for me to use it to develop and maintain my body.
Much of the jazz music I listen to is by musicians who have passed on.
Many of the books I read are by authors who have passed on.
Jazz, aikido, dance, food, sleeping, then waking with coffee. I love all of this. How could I ever give it up? But there have been many before who felt the same way. All of us, briefly joyful.
People come and go.
For love of music, we are here.
Tomorrow we go back to fight it out with the world.
Home gives us strength and love.
Let us shelter each other here for a song.
Simple in giving.
We give each other this dance.
From different places.
To different places.
Here now together at a beautiful and fragile intersection of dreams.
Supporters of Donald Trump see themselves as reasonable people. They take instances of the extreme left, label it liberalism, put all liberals together there, and then say, that’s not who we are.
Liberals need to be careful that they are not doing the same thing with conservatives.
It’s time to stop name-calling, time to talk about issues and their effects. Time to remember democratic principles of non-violence for which Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Once summed up by my Psychology teacher Mark Cunningham has the One Asshole Rule: if the other guy is being an asshole, let there be only one asshole.
To listen is to close the mouth, open the ears and eyes, and to see. It is to quiet the mind, to breathe and dwell in this moment, to study what is before you, as well as the breathing and sensation of the body you inhabit. In doing so, to touch the oneness from which things were born.
In this silent breath there is not only receptivity, but also action.
Zhuangzi wrote that the experienced butcher hardly needs to sharpen his knife because its edge moves through the spaces between the bones. From the parable「包丁解肉」the butcher says:
“Now, I see with the spirit and not my eyes. My senses and thoughts stop – I move with the spirit. In line with nature, I cut in the big spaces.”
In Japanese, “to ask,” “to listen,” “to effect,” and “to be effective” are the same word.
When we quiet our minds, perception and action become two aspects of the same thing, just as we breathe in and out.
This is a picture this morning of a tree growing from the fourth floor of an apartment near where I live. Note the person on the ground, for scale. I have a line of sight to this tree every time I enter or leave my apartment.
Not a bush. A tree. Apparently, despite my walking by that apartment every day for the past half year, I had not looked up.
Yesterday I had martial arts and dance practice. I was so happy going home that I must have been looking up. Walking differently, carrying myself differently
How simple is the communion of two people engaged in Aikido or dance. It is pure individualized giving – irreducible, clear, truthful, creative, playful, and utterly fleeting. For a time, we can raise each other up to where timing and place are perfect, where mind and body are one, and help each other to be better, fitter, happier people.