Sitting on the Fence

Fortitude Valley Aikido a view from the floor
Fortitude Valley Aikido

People quite often say there are two sides to every argument. That sitting on the fence is a bad thing because you are not committed to either side. If the glass is not half full it must therefore be half empty.

Then imagine the view from the inside of that glass. Being small enough to be able to stand on the meniscus of that fluid. The glass at your back, the water looking like an ocean spreading away from you. The half empty glass towering above you and a weird giant figure that looks exactly like you starting down at you.

There is always more than one point of view, with many subtle shades in between. Just because you can not see it or comprehend it does not make you or it right or wrong it is just the limits of your own understanding and creativity.

Adversarial politics and the polarisation of thoughts and people is also not the way. To know yourself is to know the truth of it all. The glass is half full and half empty simultaneously. Both statements are both correct and also incorrect simultaneously. There is no glass or fence it is all just a metaphor to open your mind.

Passionately neutral and doing aikido on a metaphorical fence. Balance is harmony between two equal and opposing forces.

By Lee Hampson

No Enemy

Respect and love your enemy until there is no enemy at all

Sun Tzu states in The Art of War (Chapter 3) “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles;  If you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one;  If you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle.”  

At the moment we live in a time of relative peace.  In a country far removed from a long history of violence and hate.  That is not to say that it has never happened or will never happen but the great wars for the most part were fought away from our shores.  Human nature can often mean the strong dominate the weak.  The opinion of the masses out way the opinion of the individual.  Right and might.  Bully or be bullied.  

To paraphrase Koichi Tohei Sensei‘s rules for Aikido Disciplinants “The martial arts begin and ends with courtesy and Even a one inch worm has a half inch of spirit. Every man respects his own ego.  Do not, therefore, slight anyone, nor hurt his self respect.  Treat a man with respect, and he will respect you.”,  “The mountain does not laugh at the river because it is lowly, nor does the river speak ill of the mountain because it cannot move about.  Everyone has his own characteristics and gains his own position in life.”  Speaks directly about respecting the person in front of you.  Wether they are your mother, lover, friend or enemy they are so because of the journey you and they have taken.

The bully or the enemy is to be respected and loved and not feared.  Could you be someone else’s bully if circumstances are or were different?  Respect for yourself is allowing yourself not to be consumed by hatred and becoming the hated and is about forgiveness.  It is very difficult and violence and fear will always be a part of human existence.  Acceptance, respect and forgiveness are virtues to strive for.  Understanding yourself is the first battle and is the key to understanding others.   

 

Fortitude Valley Aikido Student Guide P17 by Lee Hampson

 

 

Four Kinds of Horses

It is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones and bad ones.  The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left at the driver’s will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first ones does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the forth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.  You can imagine how difficult it is for the forth one to learn how to run!

When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse.  If it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best.  This is, I think, the usual understanding of this story, and of Zen.  You may think that when you sit in zazen you will find out whether you are one of the best horses or one of the worst ones.  Here, however, there is a misunderstanding of Zen.  If you think the aim of Zen practice  is to train you to become one of the best horses, you will have a big problem.  This is not the right understanding.  If you practice Zen in the right way it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst one.

P38 Zen Mind, Beginner’s mind by Shunryu Suzuki