The courage of a master is measured by his or her willingness to surrender. This means surrendering to your teacher and to the demands of your discipline. …

Perhaps the best you can hope for on the master’s journey … is to cultivate the mind and heart of the beginning at every stage along the way. For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners.

George Leonard

Mastery – The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fullfillment

Practicing Love

One of my horsey friends, Lisa Illichmann, posted this earlier today in a discussion thread about some ongoing hatefulness or other in the popular media. This is so well stated, and relates so well to Aikido training, that I asked her if I might share it here. (And she said that I may.)

“Anger, like any strong emotion, is addictive. We actually begin to enjoy the rush of anger (which really is only a form of fear), it makes us feel right – some injustice has been done to us – and this, of course, makes the others wrong. 

Interestingly enough, the same is true with strong feelings of love. We can just as easily become addicted to the rush of love. And more interesting, both of these emotions can be trained, honed and perfected. All we need is conscious practice in order to go from fear to love. (Emphasis is on the word "conscious.”)“

For me, the dojo is the place to practice. And make a little change. And practice. And fall back into familiar patterns, and see that, under the magnifying glass of Aikido. And practice some more. ”…conscious practice in order to go from fear to love.“ So well put.

Frank Doran Sensei says simply, and to the point, "Practice kindness.”

Dave Goldberg Sensei says, in his most recent blog post, “Love is the glue between Yin and Yang—Uke and Nage. If you let the glue set and harden you lose the qualities that make your Aikido compassionate. You will not be a protector of *both* Uke and Nage. Keep the glue alive and vibrant so that it will stick to anything.”

O-Sensei is quoted as having said “True budo is a work of love. It is a work of giving life to all beings, and not killing or struggling with each other. Love is the guardian deity of everything. Nothing can exist without it. Aikido is the realization of love.”

Practice, practice, practice…

“When we live in our bodies we understand that it’s more satisfying to be than to have. When we’re embodied, love becomes more important than being right.

… To live in the body is to live truly in the condition of being human–what we know is that we’re helpless and vulnerable. We’re going to die. That frightens us. It also gives us choice. If we are someday going to die, we have a choice to live, to fully embody our destiny as human beings. …

We keep ourselves busy running from this painful recognition… To be with our desperation and need, instead of masking it with knowledge is an evolutionary choice. To live in uncertainty, but with aliveness and immediacy, demands the courage and durability of a warrior.”

Richard Strozzi-Heckler
“In Search of the Warrior Spirit – Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Military”

Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just another way in which horsemanship and Aikido are similar.

Aikido is obviously an art form that is expressed through the body, which gets information from our sensory awareness. That means feeling. … Feel what’s happening now, act on that information, and trust.

Dave Goldberg Sensei, from his blog post “The Case for More Body Awareness

There is so much of value just in this one post from October that it’s worth reading again from time to time. And if you haven’t been following Sensei’s blog, here’s your chance to start.

A thought, in appreciation of my teacher, Dave Goldberg Sensei:

“It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day – that is the highest of arts.”

Henry David Thoreau

Happy Birthday Sensei!

No classes today (Sunday, day 10 of 16).

“The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.”

Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei)
“The Art of Peace”

Create each day anew by clothing yourself with heaven and earth, bathing yourself with wisdom and love, and placing yourself in the heart of Mother Nature. Your body and mind will be gladdened, depression and heartache will dissipate, and you will be filled with gratitude.

Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei), from The Art of Peace, translated and edited by John Stevens

[A month ago I would’ve thought of this as some lovely idealistic vision, but it’s becoming my real daily experience.]