Mechanics of Denial: Seduction of Attachment

I am throughly drenched in having my body back and pounded soft on the tatami releasing whatever it is that gets released in such concentrated efforts. The weekend was once more fantastic, not better than others, not worse, it cannot be compared. It is Tuesday already.

Sunday before leaving Chris Mooney Sensei gave me a hug and told me to take care of myself. I answered in kind. Somehow we both remember our first conversations a few years back when I first started Aikido. Now I wonder what happened between then and now and how we got to where we are. Yesterday I felt like I had discovered totally new aspects of Aikido and wondered if it was Aikido that had changed or I, or possibly both, and that the question was possibly totally irrelevant.

A few months ago I had planned to have taken a test this weekend. At Easter I got sick, and then reboot 9.0 and being in Copenhagen for a few days took its toll on my training time. When I returned from Copenhagen last week, it was evident that I was not ready for testing. Barbara Sensei and I exchanged a few words on the matter and offered her wisdom while I observed how my big and ever more docile ego would have loved to be tested. I did test this ego of mine, I took it gently and had it meditate on the insignificance of rank.

This past weekend had all the flavour of the experience of going beyond one’s limits. Still, I must confess to have been on both sides of my limits. In some things I was well contained within those limits, and in others I reached out an entered new ground.

For the brave ones, below the fold, you will find a long post on what it was like to be back on the tatami and what is currently on my mind.

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I am totally bogged down and swamped with the thing that I sometimes call work and have a tough time defining. What is this bit of being a writer all about? What is this bit of being a scholar about? What is this bit of being a philosopher all about? What about politics, what is my relationship to the political world?

Still, after the training was over yesterday and a few of us were sitting out in the rock garden of our dojo with Chris Mooney Sensei and were discussing this matter of Zazen, the bows, the ritual and the discomfort that some people feel around such practices. We also discussed the very discomfort of just sitting in Zazen. I think that it is impossible to explain what Zazen is unless you have experienced it. Each person will describe it differently, each person will experience it differently, and somehow once you have experienced it and share with each other in either a verbal exchange or a presence exchange of some sort, there is something that you know and that those who have not gone through the experience do not know. Some sit, suffer, resist and fight and then abandon the practice with all the beautiful rationalizations that men can conjure up, but I doubt that they will have known what it is that we know when we sit in Zazen. Then it could be that they know and tasted what it is to sit in Zazen and decided to abandon that path anyhow. One aspect does have to do with one’s own limits and going beyond the physical discomfort, going beyond discomfort.

Zazen is not about physical discomfort, it is about sitting. Given the mechanics and limitations of our bodies, one eventually ends up dealing with the discomfort and one eventually learns to relax into that discomfort, like one learns to relax into pain. There was something perversely beautiful about cycling to the dojo both Saturday and Sunday shortly after 7 AM to go sit with Chris and a few others. I found myself really looking forward to it, just looking forward to sitting. Just to sit, that is one form of my happiness. On Sunday I had my treat. Instead of seating on my own Zafu, I ended up sitting on another that was much lower and that put me into a position that I am not too used to sitting in. I had had a chance to correct the situation, but decided against it, after all, sitting is sitting, Zafu is Zafu. Perhaps I wobbled a bit more than usual, but somehow once I truly embraced the fact that I was going to sit on another Zafu, it was time to release it all. It felt good, my mind was busy, all these thoughts kept coming and going, and somehow none of them stayed too long. Today I can not really remember any of those thoughts, and that is just fine. Today I did however have an attack of emotion, tears came to my eyes and something got released.

Back into the dojo’s rock garden on Sunday I voiced my own opinion why it is that sitting in Zazen continues to be uncomfortable in some perverse happy way. As far as I can figure it, that is because time is an illusion. All there is is now, and each time you sit, you sit into the now and by then your body, mind and spirit have long forgotten what the history of the whole thing was. Clearly this will make no sense to anybody else. Did you ever see that smirky smile on the face of most Buddha statutes?

Of course the thing with now and the whole of psychology – the intellect’s preoccupation, if not fixation and infatuation with meaning – is something interesting to look at, and to me it is the whole source of drama and comedy in this event that we call life. In this event – life – story telling is the fascination, and games are the structures of play. Oh… I am starting to drift! It is time to get back to work.

On the tatami the training was a lot about relationship, as it always is. Aikido is about relationship, and martial arts are about relationship. The locus of the relationship is an event of conflict. What I saw, as though for the first time, was the experience of relationship being about contact and energy, not about being involved. Relationship going beyond the locus of contact and extended to the whole of the activated being is for me a new perspective to think from. The moment that I become involved with my training partner I start to anticipate his reaction, and as a consequence that is not relationship, there is involvement and fragmentation of the integrity of my being. For all the looks of it, involvement then looks like anticipative codependency, it is something disjointed and fearful and lacking in aesthetics.

We got to do lots of nage techniques, irimi nage, kokyo nage, kokyo ho and the pictures will give you a bit of an idea of what went on. I will later when I get a chance still upload a few more shots.

  • Why the seduction of attachment in the title?

One form of denial has to to with wanting to be attached and holding on to the locus of conflict. That locus of conflict that can be anything from the wonders of desire to the violence of hate, from pleasure to pain, from lust to fear. The attachment has something to do with giving that locus a particular meaning and being pulled into a psychological abyss of attachment. I am still thinking about this, I do like the whole picture very much. Let’s think about it.