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…Guy Debord / La Société du Spectacle(22)…

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  • It is the essential gesture of these performances and images to capture as performance and image everything that, as human activity, exists in a fluid state, in order to own it – to make it property – in a frozen state, in the shape of things that have finally become society’s sole source of value: by formulating themselves as the imprint: the negative image, as it were, of value as it can actually be lived. In this essential gesture we recognize our old enemy, who knows so well how to appear at first glance something trivial and perfectly natural, whereas on the contrary it is in fact something tremendously complex and full of metaphysical subtlety: consumer goods.

* – * – *

In the English-speaking world, money was first used to escape from social obligation – to buy out one’s social obligations… This was the reason it first became widely used.

But as we learn in budo: if you escape a social obligation, then you also don’t have – you don’t get to acquire – the experience of performing that obligation. And so you have no idea of the real value of performing that obligation…

And as we can see, increasingly, today… and this is becoming more and more visible: by definition, the “imprint” is made by people who are under pressure, under compulsion… in a hurry.  So they h a v e no real sense of value.

And consumer goods are the comforting short hand, the abbreviated avatar of their guilt – for the social relations escaped from.

So, in the English-speaking world, when the pre-Reformation abbeys, convents and monasteries were abolished – they became big, fancy houses for rich merchants and nouveaux riches… with no chapel.

Whereas in a recusant household, the chapel would still be there: still the beating heart of the household… and they would sing the old music – and play it on viols – wood and gut and voices raised in sweet harmonies, making the air dance all together.

And often, today, we see something that originally was religious – pantheistic or animist, rooted and local – and many-layered – for sale in a simplified form. A form that you  c o u l d  still use to build a deeper understanding – but no-one has the time or the know-how. So its monetary value is a wish based on a distant memory of its real, experienced value.

That wish is how the keeping-you-always-wanting-more works!

So the thing to do is: take the time. Take the time to add your own activity and attention to any object. Actually read that book over and over till you know what’s in it! And add repetition of movement… And just as you can discover that the standard conservatoire breathing exercises of English-speaking theatre are actually energy work from centuries ago – they are alchemical and they go back to central Asia – so, simply by enjoying your story of time, and being gently inquisitive, you can get inside, and understand…

…it’s an active kind of observation.

And for us, that takes some doing, because part of your brain wants to capture that frozen ‘image’ of a thing: commit to memory certain things, as we practise. Which is fine. But it may get in the way, eventually, of actually observing. Because what you’re seeking as feedback only goes one place. it doesn’t go to the next place.

So, we try to get to where the way-we-watch changes. And when that happens, events lose habitual perception. You’re not observing them from a habit, like: “it means this.” “That means that.” And that’s that thing where you discover that there’s far more going on there the thing you’re trying to expect.

Then, when we have our conversation about what just happened
it’s not about “Oh, did I do it right?” It’s about timing and energy and movement… And also I notice that when you guys are doing it this way, you laugh.

There’s a kind of a joyous laugher to the brain going “Ooh, that was different.” Everything is sweet and easy: it’s weird – but it’s easy.

So my wish is that I could somehow help you own that: that condition of mind.

So that it’s yours.

And, yes, budo and farming: you can see how being a teenager and having a 160 lb pig come down the chute and having to do kansetsu on them would help… how that was a great education… one pig after another… it’s a continuous drilling of that kansetsu.

Over and over. And it’s the same timing each time. Yep.

And even a bale of hay, which is just heavy.

You’ve all done stuff up at the cabin where you have to use your whole body, and you have to relax, and you have to use the energy that’s coming, and you have to get it to go to the right place… the word irimi comes to mind…

And you can’t be aggressive. You have to stay soft.

The bigger the animal, the softer you have to be.

And that’s how many-layered this is!

read more:

Peter has two shows playing with his sound design:

Oslo, playing in the Vivian Beaumont Theater at the Lincoln Center, March 23 – June 18…

…and the Shakespearience touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream touring Idaho and neighboring states February 13 – April 14…

Michio Hikitsuchi Shihan remembers…

He also told us to have a sense of gratitude. Be thankful for others and to nature. Without gratitude we cannot become true human beings. The power of nature, the sun, gives us everyhing. When rain falls, the field produces rice. Fruit and grain grow. This is the gift of the earth. Therefore the keiko is very important.

– – – in Remembering O-Sensei, ed. Susan Perry, p.101

O’Sensei no kuden: peace in the world (5)

It is absolutely not through a struggle against cosmic conditions that an  organism grows and preserves itself, but on the contrary, by adaptation  and harmony with them.

– – – recorded by André Nocquet Shihan,  reported in Aikido: Heart and Sword tr. Stanley Pranin,  p. 11

Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan and André Nocquet Shihan…

HKobayashiANDNocquetCROP

– – –  Bu-Iku: Ritterlichkeits-Erziehung,  Yasuhiko Kunimoto,  tr. Kiyoko Furumoto ,  p.42

Shinken Shobu…

…once you have gotten to a certain degree of relaxation and ki-flow, then you become aware that, when you pick up a live blade, the attention that you give that blade is a very particular  ki-flow, and imagining that live blade as your spine or central channel creates that same ki-flow and is actually an aid to relaxing the other two center channels.  Te-gatana is this same ki. And always practising as if you had a live blade is about this same ki-energy in this same place.  Aiki-myo-kenAme-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi…the sword that

SUSANO-NO-MIKOTO

found in the tail of the eight-headed dragon…the purifying jo of the esoteric Kuki priests of the Kumano shrines… Samadhi… the Dragon King….

A change of optic:

Aikido is a gem of many facets – sometimes it seems that every one of O’Sensei’s students remembered a different teacher, and of course, many, many different styles have been preserved and developed – but here is one facet that clicked into focus for me recently:

what if O’Sensei spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo coherently pursuing what he felt to be his “mission in life”?…

what if he spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo creating and nurturing a network of dojos run by Omoto-Kyo, ex-Omoto-Kyo and Ko-Shinto believers ( hand-picked deshi,  some of them raised, almost, as members of his family) – – – and ex-Kamikaze pilots, too (!) – often with his own name on the sign –  in places – and close to shrines – that had been important to the  Omoto-kyo,  and to his own life, and that were a continuation of his activities in the late twenties and early thirties (which is to say:  the projects of his first enlightenment experiences) ?…

what if he made several of these dojo-cho tenth dan, and told them “there is no iemoto system in aikido”?…

asked one of them to write a book on kokyu?… and asked said dojo-cho’s brother to write his (O’Sensei’s) biography?…

and told one of them “you are a [/the ?] true successor to me”…

and to another – who studied with him from age 14 to age 45 – gave transmission scrolls…

what if O’Sensei was more relaxed with, and spoke more deeply and openly to these dojo-cho than to other aikido-ka, and was such a powerful influence on them that frequently their thoughts echo his own?…

…such as the thought, expressed by Seiseki Abe, that the doka are O’Sensei’s writings that most reliably survive transmission – because you cannot edit a very strict poetic structure (waka) without that being immediately obvious?…

and, of course,  what if he felt the CENTER of this network – old school – to be his spiritual practice in Iwama, where he build a dojo that looked very much like a Temple or a Shrine…

and what if Omoto-kyo was in many ways not what we would call “a new religion” (that’s a government label) – but rather preserved a body of traditional (pre-Meiji) Japanese thinking (harmoniously blended Shinto, Esoteric Buddhism, Taoism, and Idealist Neo-Confucianism) and practices in a transformation that was both competitive with and influenced by Christianity, and adequate to the wider world – and wider religious perspective –  beyond Japan, opened up by the Meiji restoration?…

and what if O’Sensei’s very personal blend of Omoto-kyo and Ko-Shinto thinking preserves a body of traditional Japanese thought (harmoniously blended Shinto, Esoteric Buddhism, Taoism, and Idealist Neo-Confucianism) and practices in a certain rapprochement with Christianity that is – just as he believed –  entirely adequate to the global culture and the realities and challenges we now all face?…

and what if O’Sensei’s synthesis of Omoto-kyo and traditional thinking  was integral to his understanding and work with ki and kokyu?  – –  –  a continuation and development,  in fact,  of  traditional higher-level budo thinking – or rather: practice, just as Jigoro Kano noted 1)…

and what if O’Sensei remained loyal his entire life to his family’s Ujigami – the gods of the three Kumano mountain shrines, in both their kami and buddha aspects – their shrine still visible in the garden of O’Sensei’s birthplace when Nidai Doshu went to gather biographical material – and what if O’Sensei returned to those three mountains for guidance in times of crisis, was friends with the Guji of the head shrine, privy to that family’s esoteric, Ko-Shinto philosophy, and attempted to bring said Guji into the network that he considered his “life mission”?…

indeed, what if O’Sensei created the shrine(s), farm, and dojo at Iwama as an improved version of what he had had at Ayabe – and later at the Budo-Senyo-Kai’s Hombu Dojo at Takeda?… and if, post-war, for real, and for more than half a decade, that  farm and dojo – his Aiki-En –  were operating largely outside the money economy,  feeding and housing his dojo “family” – and were, in fact, at that time, the “hombu” dojo  –  and sending rice to feed the dojo in Tokyo? …

and what if his opinion of Tokyo – and all things Tokyo – was colored by, for instance, the interrogations that attended his attempts to move there in 1925 and 1926 2) – not to mention subsequent events affecting the Omoto-kyo?…

…so that, after the war, rather than promote an “Ueshiba” dojo in Tokyo, he encouraged a long-time deshi with family ties to the army and the wartime cabinet to open a dojo there?

and what if O’Sensei saw cultural affinities between, out of all the western nations,  France and Japan, and worked on having the Hombu – and other – deshi with most affinity to his “life mission” sent to France?…

and what if he chose out foreign uchideshi and deshi for their perceived affinity to his “life mission”?…

and what if his “life mission”,  given to him in a vision in 1940, was not so different, after all,  from the one bestowed on him by  Onisaburo  Deguchi?…

…and so what if we stay aware, at the least, when we hear the stories about O’Sensei – and read the writings and quotes that have come down to us – of which dojo, which city or town (and look at the map!), which deshi 3), which shrine and what year? …

…the eccentric, inexplicable old man in one place; the serious, sometimes severe, farmer and budo master with a rigorous spiritual routine in another; and elsewhere the relaxed and wise old sage, talking religion, philosophy, and old times with his favorite long-time students, and practising calligraphy….

– – – – FastSlow   (August 2013)

1) “We have to leave techniques like those of Mr. Ueshiba to future generations. The old traditional jujutsu was the same as his style, but it is difficult to find out how to practice them systematically” Jigoro Kano to Kenji Tomiki Shihan in March 1936, cited in Aikido Tradition and the Competetive Edge, by Fumiaki Shishida and Tetsuro Nariyama, p.29
2) Remembering, too, that this was a man whose family had spirited him off to Tokyo after he agitated against the Fishery Acts of 1901, and to Hokkaido after he joined Minakata Kumagusa’s movement to oppose the 1906 Shrine Consolidation regulations.
3) …and pay attention, too, to which deshi got to eat their meals with the Ueshiba family…

…Fourth of July Jinja-Mairi!!!…

…appreciation…

SenseitoSenseiCROPThis summer I was able to visit Tsubaki America Shrine for my O-Mairi.  It has been many years since I was able to go,  so I was really happy to be there and experience the transformative atmosphere of the Shrine,  and even more:  Guji-San’s amazing talent as a shrine-keeper.  We were able to visit a little bit, but it was a very busy time for him, too. So, all the more, we enjoyed so much his hospitality, and hope to return soon.

We are hoping to collect a group of dojo-members who might be  interested in experiencing shrine technology and take them up for a little trip.

I want to extend my incredible gratitude to Sensei for the years of work that have created this Shrine.  He’s one of the few people that I’ve ever met who have that level of commitment that they can make something that everyone says is impossible  actually happen, and happen in a bigger and more incredible way than anyone could have imagined.

– – – Kimbal Anderson Sensei,   August 2014

KimbalSenseiinfrontofShrineCROP

AME-NO-UZUME-NO-MIKOTO ZOU…

Kimbal Anderson Sensei’s gift to Tsubaki America O-Kami-Yashiro is now completed and polished…   …waiting to make that roadtrip to Granite Falls, in the mountains outside Seattle…FINISHEDin DOJOCROP

Gozo Shioda Shihan on Kokyu…

..by combining a certain state of mind and rhythm with focused power, what you get is kokyu power.

What I mean precisely by “state of mind” is that you have to achieve a state of emptiness, or nothingness….then you will start to have complete faith in yourself and you will achieve a state of serenity.

Once this happens, you will be able to read the movements of your opponent’s mind. You  won’t perceive how he is going to advance in your head, you’ll sense it in your skin. It will be as if the so-called “mind’s eye” or sixth sense is at work.

– – – Gozo Shioda Shihan,  Aiki Shugyo  p. 92