Do you see defeat as a good or bad? If you’re like most, defeat is something you would probably rather avoid. In fact, in some cases, the thought of defeat can be so unacceptable that you’d rather not participate. But even though defeat may feel completely undesirable, what are the possible upsides to defeat? What did the mystic poet Rainer Maria Rilke mean when he said: “the purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”
What is your relationship to conflict? Is it something you prefer to avoid? Or do you like to lean into a good fight? Recently, Diane Musho Hamilton and I held our 3rd Community Call in our “Dharma & The Evolution Of Conflict” 3-part series. In this call, together with the global sangha, Diane & I dove into this very topic as we explored “Embracing Conflict As Path.”
There are no two ways about it; from time to time, life can be tough. Creating the skill to work with life’s arising challenges is essential. Meditation, for example, is a sort of “superpower” that gradually increases your capacity to hold and be with life’s challenges. It will help you to weather the storm. But you also need to develop competencies to skillfully work with, and discover the inherent potential in difficult moments.
The main focus on this blog is the exploration of what it means to “Walk A Higher Path Of Practice.” All “higher paths” are teachings, practices, or methodologies that progressively lead you, in one way or another, to the awakening of spirit absolute. Aikido, meditation, yoga, and the many other disciplines that come out of the spiritual traditions are all examples of higher path practices towards awakening. All such practices for awakening will progressively lead you forward through a process called “the 3 shifts in awakening.”
How do you see the relationship between unity and diversity? For millennia spiritual traditions have pointed to the spiritual truth that we are all One. Yet, we live in a world of diversity. A diversity which most of us celebrate as a rich tapestry of humanity. It is at this very junction of unity and diversity that Diane Musho Hamilton & I continue our “Dharma Bite” series on “Relating As One Living System.”
Zen Buddhism has the practice of “Koans.” A practice which is meant to transport you beyond concepts, penetrating into the true nature of reality. “Reality” meaning a perspective that is hidden from the ordinary mind, never to be understood through concepts, logic, and reason. Just like with Zen, Aikido’s true nature is also hidden from view of the ordinary mind. Even more so in the middle of conflict. So what is “The Aikido Koan” that will reveal the mystical nature of conflict?
Aikido is unique among martial arts as it is simultaneously “martial” & “spiritual”. This means that even though Aikido engages conflict (as all martial arts do) the intention for doing so is the resolution of conflict and restoration of harmony. How can this be? Engaging conflict (in other words, fighting) is zero-sum, with one winner and one loser. From beginning to end, it perpetuates separation. But “the way of harmony” is none other then a unifying practice. In order to understand this apparent contradiction you need to look at the art from the perspective of “Aikido & Non-Duality.”
How good are you at taking the perspective of others in the middle of a conflict? Is it even something you consider important? After all, isn’t it basic human nature to protect your own point of view (not to mention your own body)? How does your basic survival instinct stack up with the higher intention of Aikido? Is Aikido’s central principle of “awase” (blending with another) still important to you when the chips are down and the conflict is on? What does “Getting The Other’s World Through Aikido” actually mean? Do you even care?