The Aikido Koan

A Mini-Workshop w/ Miles Kessler

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?

A Koan is a zen riddle that cannot be answered through logical reason. None the less, when your teacher presents you with your Koan you are meant to dive into to the riddle with all the logical reason you can muster to try to find the correct answer. The idea is that only when you thoroughly exhaust logic and reason will your mind be able to discover the correct answer, and to awaken to your true nature.

So too with “The Aikido Koan.” Your normal, built-in “survival operating system” only see threat in the middle of conflict, and only reacts from fear. Such reactions only serve to perpetuates conflict. From this perspective you’ll never “get” the mystical core of Aikido, which is the resolution of conflict.

“The Aikido Koan” is a riddle you work with to exhaust your options for dealing with conflict. It will exhaust your ego-driven perpetuation of conflict and the creation of more separation. So when you find yourself in conflict your job is to work with this riddle. To stay with it, no matter how difficult, until a shift occurs… which will given enough time and attention.

“The Aikido Koan”

There are 4 parts to “The Aikido Koan.” It is deceptively simple, yet it’s power in it’s simplicity. There are 4 phrases to be repeated to your self when you are in the middle of stress or conflict. These 4 phrases are similar to a mantra, in which recite inwardly as a reminder of Aikido’s higher potential of conflict resolution.

Practice this Koan and you will experience a transformation in the way you respond to stress and conflict. Here’s “The Aikido Koan”:

  1. I’m not passive.
  2. I’m not aggressive.
  3. I’m not passive-aggressive.
  4. What am I? (Who an I?)

As I said, “The Aikido Koan” is very easy to learn, but not so easy to “solve”. It is meant to be an experiential exercise that will shift your consciousness, and change the way you see conflict.

If you apply “The Aikido Koan” to your life, then for sure you will cook. For sure you will grow. And for sure, you will create better relationships,  a better life, and a better world.

Check out this short Facebook Live work-shop video I recently did below.

Question: How do you see Aikido Koans in your practice? Watch the above Facebook Live replay and join the conversation by leaving your comments below!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.