1993. Interview of Robert Nadeau.
What do you think O’sensei’s message was?
I think he was saying there is a process through which people can realize the “more” of themselves, and so function better. He was trying to get people to realize that they are much more than they are aware of.
Self-actualization. Increased self-awareness. Increased self-awareness opens up not just the sensations and experience, but helps you notice how much and how little you can do, how much and how little time there is, how you are and aren’t, and how connected to the world, people, yourself in the moment.
I once asked Endo sensei something like did he think he would get to where O-sensei got. My question as it was voiced included, implicitly, did Endo sensei even think in those terms and how would he interpret those terms when they were presented to him. The gist of sensei’s answer was, O-sensei was very good at being O-sensei. So what Endo sensei aimed for, for himself, was to be very good at being Endo sensei.
Many people say that, if you try to make discoveries of this sort without a teacher to help you, it’s very dangerous. What do you think?
Well, if you’re going to bullshit yourself, you’re probably going to bullshit yourself, no matter what. If you need a teacher, somebody will be there for you.
It’s important to be as open and as honest as possible. The system is smart. If you tell the system when you’re afraid and that you don’t understand, it will clarify. People think that their conscious minds are all that is intelligent, but we are dealing with an intelligence here beyond that.
My conscious mind is just the beginning of me – just the tip. In meditation, space opens. Energies talk about themselves. There is a lot of dialog going on in there by these different energies, if we allow it. Eventually the energies coagulate and create another level of us.
“If you need a teacher, somebody will be there for you.” This issue has been in my recent past. There’s a certain amount of faith or hope in the possibility that you will encounter this person who you need, whether it’s fate or how the universe functions or whatever. There’s also getting out of your house and seeking, voicing your questions. In the real world, if someone has been thinking about similar questions, then it’s likely that they’ll respond in some way. That someone may be a person in a very similar situation to yourself, they may be a person who knows of a group or person who has been making similar inquiries, or they may be someone who will eventually be your teacher.
“It’s important to be as open and as honest as possible.” “There is a lot of dialog going on in there by these different energies, if we allow it. Eventually the energies coagulate and create another level of us.” One piece of this is, internally, if you start to be honest with yourself, then you start to disclose to yourself, you take down or look behind various “curtains” and “dams” within. The “coagulation” that then happens can be imagined even in a physical way. Like if you suddenly became able to use a muscle you hadn’t used before, what combination of the other muscles in your body would start to be used differently? If you suddenly were missing a muscle, would it simply be the case that one other muscle would do more work? Of course not – different muscles would be affected – some may have less or more work to do, and they might not even be immediate neighbors.
“So, we finish the meditation feeling nicer, calmer, stronger.” This can be framed as, an equilibrium is reached. All the work the various dams have been doing is deactivated, and all of the potential energy of the waters behind those dams is released. You are holding yourself down, or back, less.
At one level, there are certain things that one has to learn. Good. And there is a certain demeanor one has to develop, a physical presence. Good. And of course one has to learn a variety of techniques. Good.
But there comes a time when people want to get more out of the art of Aikido than they are getting; they look for something more. And I would like them to know – that there is the potential for something more. If I can say that without putting anyone down art without saying that what others are doing is wrong, that would be great.
This is sort of like the flipside of needing to hit “rock bottom” before really starting to address one’s substance abuse. People can go for extremely long periods repeating the same patterns of approaching and backing away from that proverbial point. In the case of getting more out of aikido, life, etc., unfortunately there’s usually less urgency. But for some, reaching that point feels more like a crisis – something by which the person will do that which he/she has not done before. But what, exactly? That “potential for something more” is what such a person would benefit from. Otherwise, not knowing what kinds of “whats” are out there can be perplexing.
One rub is that one may presume that the “potential out there” is really out there somewhere. Sometimes, maybe even many times, it is the very thing you’ve already been doing, just more deeply. So there’s a trick to convincing yourself that maybe you haven’t really been going deep all this time, convincing yourself in a way that isn’t beating yourself up or diminishing your hope or enthusiasm. In a way, it’s like convincing yourself there’s a treasure chest in your room – your room that you’ve been using all this time.