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The art of love… in context

Posted by Erik on March 1, 2009

Layers upon layers upon layers upon…

I came across a blog post the other day referring back to a video of a talk that uses a Shinto reference (the periodic rebuilding of the Ise Grand Shrine) as a metaphor for the role of technology in society; the blogger then circled back round again, and used the speaker’s metaphor to ask questions of the modern conservation movement.

I, in my turn, would like to add my own layer to the conversation. For me, the key sentence in the blog post is this:

…he returns to the metaphor to say: “Perl is a Shinto shrine. Perl exists not as an edifice but as an act of love” and continued to talk about Perl hackers saying “they love Perl, but more importantly, they love one another in the context of Perl.”

Tangenting off from the central point of the other post, I was immediately struck by how truly that last phrase reflects my experience and practice of Aikido. I have written before about trust and commitment on the mat, and relationship off it, but had touched only tangentially on the term “love”, even though O-Sensei used it repeatedly in describing our art… mostly because I was not sure of the nuance he intended and how I was receiving it. Now, I think I have more of a framework – “love-in-context”.

All of us who train together are there because we love the Art, and in that context I think we do indeed exhibit love for each other, because our fellow students are, for that time and in that place, the physical manifestation of the Art for us, as we are for them.

And this love shows in how we train together; we go at it hard, but not uncaringly so (and I’ve trained, as briefly as possible, with people who obviously didn’t care about their uke; believe me, it always shows). We know each other’s limitations – my ukemi is still quite weak in spots, one lady has an artificial shoulder, another guy has a bad back, the usual stuff – and we adapt as necessary to allow our partners to train as hard as they can.. and more importantly, as safely as they can.

In the moment of the encounter, my partner’s welfare is as important to me as my own; and that seems to me to be as good a definition as any of love in context. The true test, of course – and the real goal toward which O-Sensei was pointing – is to carry this love-in-context principle out of the dojo and into the rest of my life.

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