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Love does not fear or want anything.

Eckhart Tolle

Lao Tzu often speaks of getting free from desire. Most of us are being kind of halfhearted in our attempts to dig into that one. Are we making ourselves less human if we would let go of desire? We might understand the logic, but for some reason we can’t accept it completely at a deeper level? Or maybe it is just me?

I have always defined myself, both for myself and for others, by my desire. It has become part of my identity. Who I think that I am. And we can’t get rid of who we think we are, as long as that is what we think our identity is.

There is also the common mixing up of the terms desire and love. Biology and peace. They are different. However, I will not go into that in this post.

Red rose. Image taken from Wikimedia.org

Are the relinquishment of desire making us into machines? What then about fear? I guess most of us agree that fear is definitely something we can do without? It is rather obvious, at least in the study of a martial arts, that we at some point have to deal with fear on several different levels.

The most obvious forms of fear is the fear of the partner’s attack. The fear of being struck in the head with a sword; The fear of being stabbed by a knife; The fear of being punched in the face. Then there is the very similar fear of the falls. Fear of falling on our head, or the shoulder, or the getting the air knocked out by landing flat on our back. These are the most primal fears.

At the next level there is the more subtle fears. Fear of being grabbed and held by the partner; The fear of failure; The fear of loosing face in front of others; The fear of making a mistake.

Water lily. Image take from the website of Croda Personal Care.
What is fear?

Fear is a reaction manifesting as is series of emotions and thoughts triggered by our mental projection of the future event, or situation, which we are fearing. It might be something which happened to us in the past, or something our thoughts have invented from what we heard from others who experienced that event, projected into the future. We do not fear the situation we are in, but it is always a projection of the past into the future. We have a series of involuntary reactions to that thought. Thoughts happen, the thoughts trigger emotions during it’s interaction with the body, and the emotions triggers new thoughts.

What is desire?

Desire is a reaction in our mind and in our body triggered by the thought that some future event, which we wish to happen, might NOT happen. So the triggering event, from the future, which never comes, is different (and the only difference is the word “not”), but the reactions are exactly the same. Desire and fear are identical! One has a much more positive reputation than the other, but they are the same!

So we either have a fearful reaction of the mind and the body when imagining that something “bad” will come to pass in the future. Or we have a fearful reaction of the mind and the body imagining that something “good” will not come to pass in the future. Of course it is not identical, as the fearful reaction is either to the expected situation to arise, or not to arise. However the reactions of the mind and the body are identical, even though it comes from two different outer conditions.

Water lily. Image by sm jet from FreeImages.com.

This does not make any of it any easier, but at least for me, this realisation makes it more clear. At least now I will not stop myself, hesitating, wondering if I am going in the wrong direction or not.

What about the argument that we are making ourselves into machines when we relinquish emotions? Actually we are not removing the emotions from our physical form. We will have the fear present and we will have the desire present, in our mind and in our body.

We can manipulate it to a smaller or greater degree by psychological techniques, and by repetition. But it will always remain in one form or the other. And in the case that we did remove them, we would in fact make ourselves into something less evolved than what we are. But that is not where we are going on our aiki journey.

So what are we doing during our keiko, to deal with the emotions, desire and fear, standing in our way? How do we remove the problem they present in our life if we are not removing them completely from our form? We transcend them!

Photo by Joanna Andrzejewska from FreeImages.com.

Let’s take the fear of falling as an example. Or we can just as well say the desire to make a perfect fall. They are the same after all, just looking at the different sides of it, but with the same internal struggle in our mind-body system.

  1. We know that there is fear. At first we only become stiff, and have not idea why. Then we realise it is because we imagine having our air knocked out. It happened before in that situation, and we are imagining the future event of it happening again.
  2. We are admitting that there is fear. Tough guys/girls are never scared, right? If we can’t admit that we are scared, we will forever be scared.
  3. We can see the fear in a nonjudgmental way. So we admitted that we are scared. Now are we ashamed of it. Are we judging ourselves for it? After such and such many years of practise we should not still be scared of having our air knocked out of us by landing flat on our back during a fall, right? If we can’t see the fear in a neutral way, our fear and desire has slipped in the back door, and we have to retrace our steps to step number one, and start over.
  4. Finally we can transcend the fear. Because it does not matter any more. It looses it’s power over us because we are not identifying with it. It is not feeding on our energy, and eventually, with practise of course, it will run out of energy and disappear on it’s own. We are not removing it. We are going beyond it.

First we have to identify the reactions. Accepting that the fearful reactions are there. How do we see this? By observing the fear. At first we are identifying with the fear. We are the fear, so we don’t see it. Once we can see the emotion, we are not identified with it any more. We are something else looking at it. In fact we are our essence identity observing our form identity. Once we can see that situation we no longer confuse the two and mistake our form for who we are.

Photo by Jeremy Doorten from FreeImages.com.

The awareness of who we are, the one that is observing our emotions and thoughts, is a great step. So, when we see the reactions, we are not feeding them with our energy. This way the thoughts and emotions are losing their power over us. We are at the level above thought.

Desire and fear are acting in the exact same way. Both are trapping us inside our form, preventing us from seeing the person we are. And as a consequence, when we see ourselves as our body and our mind, we will relate to our partner as well as a body and a mind. So it is two machines triggering each other in different reactions. Two characters interacting, without our consent. Emotions and thoughts happening unconsciously. Sometimes there is peace. Sometimes there is war. It is just a play of dice.

The person who we are knows no fear, we are free from desire. The person just lies beyond the mind and the body. The fear and the desire is only affecting our character, the lower level, the form. Once we are aware of our own being, we can connect to our partner as well, beyond the mind and the body. And our partner has no fear nor any desire either of course, only the character might be trapped by those, not the person.

Once we are free from desire/fear we can see all the possibilities. We can communicate with our partner, person to person.

Lotus. Photo by Jin Neoh from FreeImages.com.
Hey, wait a minute! Are we just going to let go of our free will like that?

What is free will? Who decides what we think? Who gives us our opinions and mental positions? What decides what we fear? What decides what we desire?

We are conditioned by our past, our history, by genetics, by chance. Our “free will” brings us the world situation we have today. Maybe we have a hundred years more, before we make our own species extinct? Maybe two hundred? It is our will? I think not?

But we are trapped, the illusion that our will is whatever arise in our mind is sometimes harmless, sometimes disastrous.

Morote dori keiko in Hökmossen with Anders in July 2020.

What is the purpose of aikido? The Founder called it The Art Of Peace. Maybe it is one way to help us reach the next level of awareness. Maybe it will help us get in touch with our own person, and thereby getting in touch with the person inside everybody around us as well?

Presence breeds presence, and unconsciousness breeds unconsciousness. As we go from our keiko, into the world of insanity, staying present, we help everybody we comes into contact with staying present as well. Not by speaking of relinquishing fear and desire, of course. They will just think we are crazy. By staying aware, we will help those around us to become more aware, even if we don’t say a single word to them.

Of course, this is a study of an internal level of consciousness. It is not meant to imply that we should refrain from taking action in situations in the world outside. However with our newfound awareness, we do have a real free choice, and are not merely run by primitive reactions to whatever happens, inside or around us.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!