(ed. note: the following blog submission was trapped in software limbo for an unpardonably long time, we apologize to the author for the extraordinary delay.)
Do you want to know a Secret?
An offering for thought and consideration.
At all levels there are secrets for good or evil. . including some that can never be told. The founder was known as the great teacher, but I ask you, ‘Do you know anyone, living or dead that reached the same level as O-Sensei? So, if he was the great teacher, why couldn’t anyone else reach his level, despite their commitment to follow his path, to study his techniques and to abide by the principles? Perhaps, what he knew at a deeper esoteric level, he could not teach and paradoxically it may have been his very mastery of the art that prevented him doing so. If the secret is embedded in a person’s own ability, how can it ever be yours?
Many believe that O-Sensei was the benevolent guardian of the great secrets by which means he achieved what he did. In fact, he tried his best to share them but often left his students puzzled. Many follow in his footsteps hoping that they too will find this illusive ‘magic’. Is it a path to within self or to somewhere far beyond? How much of it is physicality, how much, the application of mind. How much is of the spirit?
We happily use the words harmony of spirit to describe our art but do we really understand what spirit is? Without knowing what it is, how can we then find harmony? Are we tripped up by the invisible?
In searching the path I am sure you discovered many answers, perhaps on occasions to questions you had not yet considered. But the great secret still eludes you.
Lesser secrets which are merely something known to the initiated may be yours if you can prove yourself worthy; For example, a password to an account of some sort, the key code to the dojo perhaps, a counter technique, etc. The feelings you experience on gaining such secrets can be quite euphoric, as if you were the only one. Even if millions had known this before you, it still feels like your discovery because, in part, it is just that.
It is human nature to seek something that is normally kept secret, hidden, or concealed. Of course, as it is a secret, how will you ever know what to ask for, how will you know when the secret is yours to hold? How many times has someone confided in you with their secret and you thought, ‘I knew that already but just hadn’t made the connection.’
At an Aikido seminar back in Sept 2009 I was fortunate to meet two teachers. One told me, ”There are secrets, then there are secrets that you are told, but they remain secrets because you don’t understand them.”
The implication of a secret is that it is something being withheld from you by another, yet all unknowns are secrets. Some unknowns will stay that way for eternity.
The other teacher showed me a man who had sought the secrets for and by his self, he was invincible, finding his freedom had led him to places where for a while energy became visible to him, even the strongest man present could not hold him; he was at peace with who he was and where he was. His freedom to experiment, study and practise without constraint led him to understand what others see as secrets.
Despite the need for a teacher, it can be the shadow of the teacher that shackles you to a certitude which prevents your own discoveries. You can never know his secret; you can only find your own.
So, finally there is the secret, a true secret that is beyond ordinary human understanding.
It may be stumbled upon and may be recognised for something special or perhaps the finder remains unaware of what they found. For sure it will be something which cannot be taught, nor even explained in words. As O-Sensei said, “The Gods will not allow it.”
“Inward truths and mysteries are inevitably secret for those who lack the faculty to perceive them.” W.Wilmshurst.
Become calm, become quieter, and all that was always known to you will be revealed, and when it is, you will never explain it, for such words do not exist in the thinking world. Remember, the Gods do not allow it.
Hence the old sayings, “He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.” And, “Seeing is not seeing.”
How often have you entered the dojo just in time to hear the teacher loudly say, ‘and that, is the great secret of Aikido.’ We smile and know it is said as a joke because we weren’t there in time for the lesson, and we all so want to know the secrets, don’t we?
A true secret is exactly that … something you will never know you have nor can you share.
It is what makes Aikido so interesting; it is a journey of discovery that never ends.
Perhaps that is the secret !