Welcome to the Brooklyn Aikikai web log. Our purpose is to provide to our community and beyond an online account of weekly articles, thoughts, and community happenings. The web log is moderated by Ryugan and Kate Savoca. We welcome any submissions in regards to Aikido, Zen, Misogi and Iaido or weapons study. We would also be interested in receiving any thoughts on cultural activities or practices that support a healthy, organic lifestyle with particular emphasis on their relation to the above mentioned arts. Please send only serious submissions – we reserve the right to edit articles for content or length, however, we will work with authors to preserve the integrity of their thoughts. Thanks for visiting and please check back regularly!

-R. Savoca

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Quote For Discussion and Thought From Sensei

From Sensei: "The following is a quote from Taisen Deshimaru, a Zen Master. Please read and discuss."

"Sometimes people ask why I bow in front of the statue of the Buddha in the dojo. I am not bowing to a piece of wood, I am bowing to everyone there with me in the dojo, and to the whole cosmos as well. All these gestures are extremely important because they help us to acquire correct behavior. They develop dignity and respect, they help to create a normal condition in us. Nobody today is normal, everybody is a little bit crazy or unbalanced, people's minds are running all the time. Their perceptions of the world are partial, incomplete. They are eaten alive by their egos. They think they see, but they are mistaken; all they do is project their madness, their world, upon the world. There is no clarity, no wisdom in that! That is why Socrates, like the Buddha, like every wise man ever, began his teaching with "Know thyself, and thou shalt know the universe." That is the spirit of traditional Zen and Bushido; and in studying that spirit, it is very important to observe one's behavior. Behavior influences consciousness. Right behavior means right consciousness. Our attitude here and now influences the entire environment; our words, actions, ways of holding and moving ourselves, they all influence what happens around us and inside us. The actions of every instant, every day, must be right. Our behavior in the dojo will help to condition our everyday life."

-Taisen Deshimaru


  1. A Mahayana Buddhist nun once told me - well, she told me many things, but this particular thing that I remember is that everything we can see that has been created by man begins with a thought. The most beautiful, the worst genocides...thoughts create, and if you believe in spirit and energy, then the thoughts themselves, even unacted upon, have power and influence. If you ARE your thoughts, if you have to be responsible for them, what would you choose to think?

  2. Yes, that seems right. So the question could become: how can I see how I am, how my behavior is, how my thoughts are, right now? What would enable me to see how my thoughts are, or how my general attitude is at this moment?

  3. It’s a cycle isn’t it? Even thinking about it, my ideas cycle around.

    Since no one else has commented, I will jump back in.

    If you have “right consciousness” then of course your actions flow correctly. That's one way to begin the cycle. Sometimes, that right conscious simply comes in a realization; meditation of course can be very helpful to allow for the quiet space to observe one’s thoughts.

    As for action, though, it’s interesting to me. Sometimes right actions don’t change consciousness. Think of the man who is prone to anger, who wants to let go of it and so when he is angry, he doesn’t act in anger. But he still continues to feel anger arise, and he still wrestles with it in himself. This is better than acting on his anger of course, but it is not true change, because that would be to transcend anger, to rise above it and never feel it in the first place.

    But then there is the example of how right action can create an unexpected kind of right consciousness. For example, in the dojo, everybody cleans. We learn: clean until everything is clean; everybody cleans, there is no one who is above it. What I notice is that cleaning creates community. New members come in, having never cleaned before, and soon they are looking out for each other, looking to see what else they can do to help, and this translates into a community that looks out for each other, volunteers to help each other move, cooks for new parents, etc. long after the cleaning is done.


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