Back on Track…Targeting the Source of the Problem

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This entry continues to lay the foundation for how Aikido training works, and we will begin to go into the actual training itself next.

So the first step in determining how to find happiness through Aikido training is to figure out the source of the problem.  An inspection of the simple sentence, “I wish happiness,” identifies the problem.  What is this “I?”  If we don’t understand that which we would like to be happy, how can we affect it?

It would seem we are born with an innate assumption that we are our body in some fashion.  Intellectually, we might have some other ideas, but imagine your arm is suddenly amputated.  Your instinctive reaction would not be passive disinterest.  From this reaction we know that any ideas we maintain are purely intellectual, and deep down on an unconscious level, we really relate to ourselves through our body.  At the same time, we have an underlying belief that we are independent, unitary and permanent.  Think about it…when you think of yourself, is this not what you somehow imagine?  Yet this does not fit the description of our body.  If we existed independently of everything else, we would never need food or water.  If we were unitary, we would be represented by our entire body, even if part was amputated.    If we were permanent, we would never die.  So we have an unconscious idea of who and what we are which is completely unrealistic.  Then when we face the reality of our mortality, we become frightened because we think this false idea of ourselves will suddenly turn from something to nothing.  When we try to make this false notion happy, obviously it could never work.  In this way we discover that ideas we have within ourselves are inaccurate and obstruct our ability to find happiness.

Based upon these false ideas, we then go out and engage the world in search for happiness.  We look for a very limited form of happiness through the senses.  For example, we think our favorite ice cream is a cause of happiness, but if you consume it nonstop for 24 hours, you would probably find it to be a cause of misery.  Even if we only have it for a few enjoyable minutes, the joy goes when we stop having it.  We cannot find a permanent source of happiness through our bodies.  Yet to get the ice cream, we may wind up doing all sorts of negative things to other people, which deep inside will cause a much more lasting form of misery.  To solve the problem, we need to go within and correct these false notions.  Aikido is a practice that targets our unconscious ideas of how we relate to our bodies so we can stop defeating ourselves and ultimately find happiness.  Tamura Sensei explained it very well when he said the point of Aikido training is to destroy illusion so we can directly perceive the truth.

The next basic step in the search for happiness is to be certain that it is physically possible to achieve the goal.  Otherwise, why waste the time when we can just all be miserable together?

To start out, let’s consider two extreme states of mind, hatred and lust, which represent the basic ideas of pushing away and pulling towards oneself in the search for happiness.  Something is uncomfortable, so we push it away.  Something is enjoyable, so we seek out more of it.  Short term we think the pleasurable physical states will bring about happiness, but we know this is not a permanent solution.  We can do the same analysis with pleasurable mundane concepts such as fame.  Eventually we will wind up with something we don’t want and become miserable again.  The search for happiness through this medium can never work permanently.  When we have great hatred or great desire, is that a genuinely enjoyable state?  If you look closely, I think the answer is that it is uncomfortable…not peaceful.  If you begin to release your attachment to the body as “I,” you will reduce the hatred and lust.  That frame of mind is more comfortable…peaceful.  Imagine effecting this reduction so that the hatred and lust we experience is zero.  If we can reduce it somewhat, logic dictates that it can be reduced to zero through practice.

So we can conclude that it is possible to find happiness…obviously it is worth the effort, so we are ready to embark upon the task of searching for it through practice…




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