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Here is my secret:
I don’t mind what happens.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Tai no tenkan with Theodor on swaying footing, in Björkhagen in July 2020. Photo by Anders Lütz.

I used to watch a TV series called Babylon 5 as a kid. In one of the episodes the main plot was trying to find a peaceful resolution for two conflicting factions of a species of aliens called “Drazi”. The person in charge of the peace process tried to find out how to solve the problem, so she asked both parts to explain the nature of their conflict. Basically it was like this:

Every five years, they gathered, and put green and purple cloths in a bag. Half green and half purple, and the total number of cloths matching the number of “Drazi”. One by one they put their hand in the bag and picked a cloth and tied it to their arm, and hence became either “green”, or “purple”. Then they would fight each other until only one color was left.

Incoronazione di Spine (The Crowning by Thorns) by Caravaggio, from Wikipedia.com.

It is obvious to us that it is an insane system, in this case. However, humans do exactly the same. Our cloths are not just purple or green, but the principle is identical.

At birth we all, one by one stick our hand into the sack and pick a cloth. It decides what time we are born; It decides if we are male or female; It decides who our parents and ancestors are; It decides how our appearance will be; It decides what kind of personality we will have; It decides if we will be rich or poor, highborn or lowborn; It decides our nationality; It decides what football team we will cheer for, etc. And for the duration of our life, we will fight whoever we perceive as different from us, just like the aliens in the TV series I mentioned.

I think I might have mentioned this episode before, because I think it really clearly demonstrated the insanity of the human mind. Just look at the news, or read some of the history of human behaviour. I mean, we could blame it all on some outer devil, but for me it makes sense to think of our mind as the devil. Or rather our unconsciousness, letting the mind run the world without our participation.

As long as we identify with our mind we can only see the otherness of others, because it is how the mind works. And we do not even realize that, just as in the parable in the TV series, it was just a coincidence that we picked our cloth, and not the cloth of “our enemy”.

After a special keiko with Rado and Marius, in Sigtuna in February 2020. Photo by Jan Lien.

Do you think there is such a thing as an evil person? Do you really think so? Where do these evil people come from? The devil put some eggs hidden away in the forest and they hatch there, and just wait to attack us when the time comes. Of course not! That person ended up being born, just as we did. They did not choose the life situation they were born into. Neither did they choose their mind, no more than they chose their body. Their skill set was also randomly chosen.

We all start out in auto pilot in our lives. We follow our mind, thinking that we make free choices, while in reality the mind is merely following the programmed instructions in every situation it encounters. Reflexes and reactions to what we see around us decides what happens. Actually, most of us never realize this during our lifetime. We are not stupid, but this is something which does not depend on our mind’s abilities to think logically.

Baphomet statue. Image from The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The mind protects itself. It is a program developed over millions of years. And it has many parts. A whole myriads of entities living in there. We have one Ego for ourselves, and one for each person we ever met in our lives, and even one for each person we ever heard of. This is a collection of tags we associate with ourselves, or somebody else. The name, the profession, the family role, ownership, type of person we think this person is, gay or straight, black or white, religious belief and so on.

Just like every other life form, it does everything it can to survive. That is why it is so difficult see outside the mind. The mind can never understand what lies outside. But we can.

I will not really go into the details of how the mind works, because I do not know the exact details, and already I am probably using the wrong words for describing what I have seen. Somebody studying psychology would know, but my field of interest is actually beyond the mind. That being said. We will of course still be able to use our mind, as the powerful tool that it is. It is just the difference that we are using it as a tool, instead of being a puppet to it in unawareness.

Tai no tenkan with Anders in Hökmossen in June 2020.

At some point something might happen where we become aware of our thoughts and our emotions. Our identification is no longer with the thoughts and the emotions, but the consciousness being conscious about the inner processes of the body and the mind. And for the first time in our life we can make a choice what to do.

This affects everything. For one this renders hate meaningless.

Hate, as I used to know it, is just an interaction between two programs in my mind, my domestic Ego and the foreign Ego for the person I hate. It has nothing to do with the person I perceive that I hate. However, I probably never even met that person.

Crocifissione di san Pietro (Crucifixion of Saint Peter) by Caravaggio, from Wikipedia.com.

So how do we separate our being from the human in the human being? With consciousness. We can observe what is happening inside and outside. We see the thoughts, emotions, and sense perceptions. Sometimes we get a glimpse of that awareness, but immediately we have an opinion about what we see, and without realizing it we are identifying with our opinion right then, and we have lost the awareness, or consciousness.

Once we can see the reaction to our consciousness in addition to the stuff in the inner circle, and we have no opinion about it, we are there. We do have opinions, but they are not that big a deal. It is just an opinion, not a part of our identity, and no defensiveness should be triggered if somebody were to contradict it.

If we can see these things in ourselves, we can work on sensing the same stuff in our partner. Our partner might not be aware at the time. They might be asleep inside their character. The person is still there, even if it is not visible, at first.

Tai no tenkan with Jorma in Nyköping in June 2020. Picture by Katarina Gullberg.

The cool part of the person-concept is that everything we normally identify with is relinquished. The person has no age, no sex, no ethnicity, no personality (ironically called person-ality), no religion or nationality. The person is just the person, stripped of everything the mind has added which normally obscures the view of the person.

Very often, in tai no tenkan, to be able to do this I need my partner to really tighten the screws, and not let me move. Taking away leverage, taking away timing, taking away technical and emotion-playing tricks. What is left? We are both standing there in perfect positions, but we can’t get a millimetre, because we are two characters competing about space and time, in the manifested world.

Then it appears, once the mind stops complaining and looking for ways to make the technical parts “work”. Stillness! It was there all along, but we were to busy looking for “something” that we missed “nothing”. When we find ourselves, we find our partner. We join the partner, and we do it together.

Martirio di San Matteo (The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew) by Caravaggio, from Wikipedia.com

I used to hate bullies, and people who use violence or threat of violence to enforce their will upon others. I also used to hate historical characters like Adolf Hitler and Josef Mengele, and so on. However, this idea, or rather awareness somehow changes how I look upon even those I used to consider the most evil people in the world. Somehow, this has changed, quite recently.

The thing is, the person we think we hate is not even there. Well, maybe our character met their character, and our bodies and minds might have interacted with each other, and the interaction might have caused suffering for one or both of the involved parts. However, in an unconscious state, neither of us were making any decisions in the matter. So once we wake up, and really realize this, the hate is just gone. It is not even forgiveness, or maybe it is real forgiveness, because the crime never happened!

Maybe we still would like to hate the character, but as we realized that the character is not a person, it does not really make any sense to hate the empty shell. It does not feel “satisfying” the way it did before, and it is nothing there, so how could we hate nothing?

Tai no tenkan with Anders at Södertälje Hamn. Photo by Christian Bleckman.

So let’s finish with some concrete examples from the keiko. To make this a bit more tangible, if that is possible with such a subject. And what better kata is there to illustrate this than katate dori tai no tenkan?

We could make a movement with leverage, making us stronger, to be able to move our partner. We could use timing to trick the mind of the partner. We could also use trick movements, making the partner think we will do one thing, but in reality doing something else. We could also, by more advanced trickery, fool the perception-system of the partner into not being able to sense the technique, so that our stealth technique ensures us the better position over the partner. However, none of these are connecting with the real partner, the person. It merely tricks the character.

Only we, as a person, are able to connect to the person in the partner. The character can only connect to the character. So our first step is to find ourselves. If we do not know the difference between our character and our person, there will be no way we could identify the difference between the character and the person of the partner grabbing our arm.

Decollazione di San Giovanni Battista (The Beheading of St John the Baptist) by Caravaggio. From Wikipedia.com

Very often it is visible when seen in others, long before we can do it ourselves. This is what separates the masters from the rest of us. That stillness which are ever present in their every movement. When we are stuck we are moving the head or the hips or the hands in certain ways, because our mind is strongly connected to these parts. These excess movements pollutes the clean path of the kata.

It is also visible in our gaze if there is reflex-thoughts going on in the mind. We can hear it when listening to the they way we express ourselves. The character is battling other characters, in a friendly way on the outside, but hostile on the inside.

Once we start noticing it in ourselves we are a step in the right direction. However, it is a long way to go. Sometimes I can catch myself dozens of times just during a ten minute walk. Unconscious thoughts, unconscious emotions. Endless cycles of commentary and complaints in my head. They will not change anything, and they are distracting me from finding my way so I am constantly trying to clean up, so that I can see the road ahead.

Katate dori ikkyo with Anders in Hökmossen in July 2020.

The cool part about this is that it works also outside the dojo, with everybody we meet. Can we see the person, even if they are not present? The character will act as they are programmed, the mind is dictating everything they do. Are we able, if we come in touch with our own person, to also see the person hidden inside the character with whom we are speaking? That would be the end of all conflicts!

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!