Friday, January 02, 2009

Most of the Time

Communication is never pure. Steve points out that everyone brings their own axes and there is no guarantee that they are really listening when they are grinding them. He has a way with words, that writer.  I see it in reviews of the book (I haven't done this enough that I don't bother to read them) and it is amazing what people have chosen to read. People who have never felt my fa-jing assume that I only do or understand 'external' styles (hint: you want to see some awesome internal power principles, play with a world class judo guy. Odds are he can explain it better, too.  Oooo, is that sound I hear panties twisting?) Despite a quarter of a century, most of that in the most traditional of the traditional, I have contempt for traditional training. Or so I have read.

Everybody is wrong pretty much most of the time.  On complex issues, anyway. There is a default assumption that if two people are arguing one is right and one is wrong.  The more complex the subject (say religion or politics or violence) the more possible answers there are. If there are a million solution, then 999,999 of them are wrong. Or at least not as right as the other one. Or at least not as right for that particular person... and you add another layer of complexity which from one point of view makes all the answers "right" (but it becomes a pretty weird definition of right) or all the answers wrong.

That's OKAY.  We are just people stumbling through life. We don't see everything, we don't know everything. Most of the things (like religion and politics which are classic for 'the less you know the more rabid you tend to be' syndrome) aren't actually that important. Yeah, I said it. Even assuming that the purpose of religion is to make people more civilized (and I don't think it is) I haven't seen a religion or the absence of a religion that accurately predicts the morality of the person I'm talking too.  What conservatives and liberals believe about each other is harsh and dogmatic, but they way they actually act and think are not as different as they seem to need to believe. Just my experience. Go talk to someone you disagree with. Better, listen to one at least as smart as you are.

Anyway, there's one of these big things that has been popping up lately- a growth and truth thing and reality thing. I'm going to be vague here, because I don't want to talk about the thing itself- that is usually pointless. You can substitute "martial arts mastery" if you want- something that is rarely defined well, may mean nothing but a lot of people have a lot of identity invested in the quest.

There are stages, maybe, or definitions, but at the highest (non-faked) level I have seen it is very ordinary. So ordinary, in fact, that many of the searchers dismiss it, "A martial arts master in blue jeans? Preposterous!" One of the things that when you grasp, you become very concerned for the searchers because it both isn't anything like their image and it isn't fun, or happy or comfortable.

They describe it though, even if they have never seen it. They are sure of what they will be when they get there. They measure others by how closely they fit their mental image of what a "martial arts master" should look, act and talk like.  This isn't Disney- someone who is at that level can choose to become an ice cold murdering sociopath at will.  A choice. Then switch back.

That doesn't fit with most people's image of kindly Master Po or whatever.

Of course, like everyone, I could be wrong most of the time.


Anonymous said...

I have heard stories of a man named Lono Ancho, a Vietnam Vet, and martial artist. I am told that most of the time he was very warm, friendly, and outgoing, but that once, in class, he "turned on" with the words, "I could kill every one of you on the spot." It was felt, and understood. It was meant as a demonstration of what I would call "intent to kill".

I've seen other sources, including your writings, Rory, that convince me that such intent is quite real, and immediately perceived.

I don't think the ability to turn that intent on or off at will is unrelated to gentle master Po at all. I think it's part and parcel of the harmony sought by Ueshiba.

Anonymous said...

Folks will percieve this jeans samurai.....master Po? is really too big a subject to let folks dwell on.and it is all based upon your life experiences .and for martial artists ...your expectations...but I'm rambling..and it's your blog.........

Irene said...

Rory, have you observed that true MA 'masters' have that switch so internalized that it is innate, not a conscious switch? I would think that once those behaviors have become truly internalized, it could become difficult, or impossible, not to use them. This is part of what makes people at that level so dangerous - if presented with a threat they may react physically before the higher-order cognitive functions have a chance to kick in. It's not exactly a issue of intent or capability, but more an issue of 'what action is this person likely to perform in response to a perceived threat'.

Rory said...

Jay- the thing with Ueshiba is that everyone remembers the sweet old man and not the vicious, effective young man. And I'm not talking about Ueshiba (or Po), I'm talking about the students who blind themselves to the dark/hard aspects of that level.

Anon- Yeah, you're rambling. But you see it.

Irene- One of the things with deep integration is that conscious or cognition is not the same as most people understand it. The voices in the head weighing options and telling you what is and isn't right and what your mother would think are gone. It takes work to communicate in words because you don't really think in them- so it is a conscious decision, in many ways more conscious than one that has been agonized over, but very, very fast; not always easy to understand to anyone else; and often not tied to words.
People sense that you think differently- different=unpredictable=scary and tend to get very weird, which may be why so many either avoid people altogether or cultivate a stereotyped peaceful, loving exterior.

Just thinking out loud, sill

Master Plan said...

I thing I have noticed. In group therapy. Mixed (social) group settings. And most particularly on internetz and such.

A lot of the time people seem to be expressing themselves and not...anything else really.

If they are talking about how you don't respect "traditional" training or styles (whatever the fuck those are (to them))then it's just them expressing how they feel. It doesn't even have to do with them feeling that you don't respect that kind of training.

More like an assertion of their own identity\values than actually grinding an ax.

I think the liberal\conservative divide is a great example. Most of the time it's a chance to talk about what they believe about an issue, not to actually talk about the issue you understand, just *what *they* believe* about it.

Don't know if that makes any sense, or relates, but I think there is this issue of talking past each other which often occurs for this reason. Each side thinks the other side is constructing a valid argument, when in fact each side is simply asserting their personal identity, and real communication is occurring. Particularly once an emotional triggering threshold has been reached.