Surrendering to the Art of Peace

I just checked the last time I posted something. It was in September of 2013. It’s been a really long time since I’ve written publicly but I have a few things on my mind and wish to share. I had a beautiful eye opening experience this weekend with my wonderful partner and it’s given me impetus and the willful intention to share and express love in all things that I do. I want to start by sharing some thoughts out loud.

In May of 2008 I wrote my first blog post titled “Surrendering to Center“. That phrase was mentioned in Aikido class by one of my dojo mates and it really helped give me a mnemonic reference to always come back to center, regardless of what external events are happening. I wrote the following in one of the paragraphs:

“Surrendering to center” means that all i can do is my best when I’m throwing or being thrown. If my partner is uncooperative, inexperienced or over-experienced, these elements of my training are out of my control. I can only do the best that I can with the tools that I have. Everything else that happens will happen the way it was meant to. The lesson I can take off the mat, that seems to be repeated in my life is sometimes I have no control over other peoples actions, but I do have control over mine. “Surrendering to center” allows me to do this, to blend and become ok with the inevitability of life, the future and whatever good or bad things will come my way.

In my Aikido training I often use what happens on the mat as a microcosm or model for dealing with things that happen around me. With so much tumult in the world I am now taking a step backward and evaluating what more I, one simple person, can do to bring about a better world. I can start by looking at Aikido principles and using them right here and right now to evoke a better world. Aikido is an art to help mankind, and now I feel that in order to do my part, I must use these principles in my daily life.

The founder of Aikido, O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba said, “I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind.” So, the first thing that I have to do is remember that I do not and cannot control the actions of others. I must surrender to the fact that I am only in control of my actions and rather than attempt to correct, I can act to bring about peace and love in some little way.

We have so much to hurt in the world today. There are so many bitter words, bitter relationships. We see so much inequality and hatred. It makes my heart heavy on a daily basis. One thing that I am realizing is that by participating in the “us against them” rhetoric contributes to the noise. There is no sense arguing points that will not ever get resolved. I feel strongly about some things, and others feel equally strongly about the opposite. Posting info graphics on facebook, deriding others in conversation do not help and seek to provide simple answers to very complex problems. So to “correct my own mind” I can start by not being a part of this conversation. If someone I know communicates on social media solely with the use of infographics, memes, I can and will choose to simply remove contact. This goes for people that even think alike as I do politically and socially. The world has given us an illusion that we have to choose sides. We have forgotten that we are simply, “WE” and that the thing that we all seek most is love and acceptance. We have divinity in all of us and the lie that told us we are separate also told us that we are not a part of the divine. We are!

So, I will surrender myself to remind myself daily that there is no us and them. There is no liberal, conservative, black, white, muslim, christian, buddhist, atheist. There is only WE. We are one, and although I may not want to believe this at times, we are all connected. We feel, bleed, cry, laugh, stomp our feet, eat, go hungry and die. Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting my own mind. So, I must correct my mind that there is a wall between you and I. There is no wall.  The conversations I will contribute to are the ones that paint the picture of universal love.

O Sensei also said “Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat an enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.” We are almost 7 billion on this earth now. What can I do? I am one man, 1/7,000,000,000 is such an insignificant fraction of humanity. But given that I do connect with people in my home, at my work, in social situations, at the market, I do have a tremendous opportunity to spread love. This is not hard to do. I can simply be kind. I can show patience. I can give to someone that I do not know the same amount of respect as an old friend. If I see someone hungry on the street, I can spend 5 dollars on a sandwich and a bottle of water and feed someone. If I have something to give that will alleviate someone else’s suffering, I can do that, even if it’s just a smile or a kind word. These are small simple acts that I can do daily.

There are many things that I can start to do, but the first thing is to cut down on the noise in my head that says that we are separate. The first quote in the book “The Art of Peace” reads, “The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all than you encounter.”

So I can surrender my ego. I can and will be kind, patient and loving. If I hurt someone I can say that I am sorry. The only way light gets brighter is if more people shine their light. The only way people shine their light is if we show them that it is in fact ok to do so.