Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan on meditation…

[Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan] used to teach that meditation, in aikido, could be done in various ways, but that there was one way that was specific to our practice. He said that you should sit in seiza, and allow to come into your mind whatever came, without making any judgement, and to each thought you should respond, “arigatai“. The word “arigatai” comes from “arigato” which means “thank you”, but the conjugation “-tai” means “the wish to” or “the desire to”.  One could translate “arigatai” as “I would like to thank…” So in this way, the budoka wants to thank eveything that comes into his mind.  Everything is the Way, everything is my life, happiness and misfortune, joy and suffering, peace and conflict. Everything that happens to me belongs to me, and I am responsible for it. By being thankful, the meditating budoka mentally blends with everything that comes to mind, because he knows that anything he rejects could mean possible conflict with everything that is not “him”.

This meditation is worth looking at from the perspective of interiority, because, in addition to the simple fact that thankfulness allows the budoka to blend with the world with which he has – necessarily – to be relating,  it also cuts short all discursive speculation in the conscious mind. Silence in the mind is essential for the transmission of the teaching from master to student: a large part of which takes place, in fact, in silence. This is not to say that words have no importance whatsoever, but rather, it is to assign them a very precise place and function. I have already stated how highly we value an engagement with the physical, but I must emphasize the fact that an engagement with the spiritual is all about silence. This is probably to go against the idea, widespread in the West, that contemplation is a reflective and psychological activity. [But] ‘consciousness’ is not thinking, and ‘being’  is not simply whatever you think it is. Silence in the mind is the only tool available for introducing a real dialectic of consciousness. For as long as the latter retains an attachment to an image of itself constructed according to some representation of unity provided by  some concept or theory, it is turning a blind eye to the fact that in doing this, it has to ignore that part of itself that is in accord with the opposing concept or theory.  To be thankful is to fall silent, while still talking.

– – – André Cognard Shihan  (So-Shihan of Aikido Kobayashi Ryu  and designated successor to Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan),  Vivre sans ennemi, pp.120-1

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