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“Why a Lifetime Study of Kuzushi?” by Nev Sagiba

From time to time I am beset with the realization at what a wonder of nature it is that a handful of dust, only a few litres of water and mostly air has been able to evolve and combine into an instrument of consciousness, sentience and mobility with warmth, feelings, understanding, the ability to be variously creative, make decisions and engage actions that lead to outcomes and consequences both wonderful and also stupid, self defeating and destructive as well.

That this could happen with four supportive posts is which may also provide better balance as well as mobility is easier to understand. Even easier to understand is those which crawl, slither or get about in various levels of aquatic environments.

But upright! Vertically balanced! Now that is some feat!

Learning to walk takes immense persistence for a human being. A process of alternating balancing and unbalancing to provide forward motion which speed may be modulated from a walk to a run. Every single one of us have been through this apprenticeship of a hundred thousand steps and falls before attaining the goal sought: Mobility. Then we spend the bulk of our waking life walking. Some more than others. Once having attained this skill we take mobility for granted and go through life variously useful or otherwise utilizing this ability to convey a head that hopefully thinks with some modicum of clarity balanced on a thin neck on a body most of us fail to care for as well as we devote to the four wheel buckets of rust, plastic and toxic fumes we too often use to convey this marvel of creation. We all too often neglect, abuse and misuse our primary vehicle. This body contains the navigation system – the five senses. The senses are the navigation system for that small portion of the surface of a planet we are privy to. The senses are limited windows having adapted from the Original full spectrum vibratory range (Kotodama) which whilst it embraces the Universe, we are mostly not conscious of, but which enables us to sustain a vast array of functions which allow life; body temperature, breath, sleep and other essentials for life suitable to this fragile surface environment.

Appreciation for this temporary gift is mostly attained by those who lose it. Remember the Big Yellow Taxi song?

In dotage, the reminder then returns like a nemesis, “From dust thou came and to dust thou shalt return.” This skill of balancing upright then becomes a burden and Nature begins to reclaim Her own, landed to us mostly unappreciated as we again begin to meet the Great Earth Mother with regularity. In life were too busy with “me” and other mindless roller coaster rides to care when it was possible to do so safely and to practice this skill as a personal discipline that will serve us in times to come: Ukemi. Time and gravity, the great juggernauts bring about our judgement during our seeming departure.

In the course of time Nature fully reclaims every atom, recycling the particles which had been loaned and spreading them far and wide back into the environments we most fail to appreciate if not desecrate. The sheddings of our ancestors we walk on, breathe, eat and drink whilst failing to realise or appreciate their once living struggles which enable us in this day.

Where did the sentience go?
Where did the consciousness go?
Where did the intention that provided the mobility go?
Where did the opportunities we kept postponing each time a door opened go?

Some make the assertion it was merely, “a few neurons firing,” that was the cause of the personality, uniqueness and warmth of the person you once knew. As well as the contrariness, disagreements and clashes that came alternate to the accord, cooperation and the winning of life battles together. Not to mention the often scintillating foresight, intelligence, appreciation for beauty as well as the ability to make mistakes. Human relationship in its various modalities is a wondrous, multifaceted intangible.

Certainly these neuronal functions and mechanisms did enable that Mystery to take place. There is no disputing that. It is their job to do so. The Mystery on the other hand cannot be reduced to a test tube analysis!

“Our best,” are wont to describe mere effects in their attempts to ascribe causality to something they fail to understand and in blind arrogance assert this as, “scientific” in other words “knowing.”‘ This is considerably strange from a species who know but a fragment of 1% of the vast existence that supports this galactic vessel Earth and who are mostly responsible for all the destructive technologies that are right now threatening this planet.

For some there appears to be cause for debate whether, “the environment” should be cared for, the infrastructures that temporarily support these columns of dust, and many of these effects of nature are still wondering and doubting whether it is important to maintain the support systems without which there would be no life possible!! Astronauts and people in glass bubbles reveal an extremely brief duration to this sophisticated living mechanism which took 4.6 billion years to evolve to what we are now when removed from its sustaining symbiotic natural infrastructure. Without breath we cease to exist. Breath is first and last in a body and continues throughout a life.

Put succinctly:
We, as species, are a minor product of the ecologies that sustain us.
We don’t have a say in the matter and it is not debatable.
These are the natural support systems which if we fail to maintain will cease maintaining us.

Back to the title, Why study kuzushi? Why practice toppling something that stands, so that it can stand up again? Why stress these “mindless neurones,” merely firing as an “accident of nature”?

There is more to all this than we like to keep telling ourselves in so many strictured ways as we distract with mundane self-made problems which will all be forgotten when we are dead. There is more to Creation than a few quasi-superstitious barely understood descriptives which constitute little more than perhaps some of the noticed fragments of this less than 1% of Creation.

Ultimately the living research is up to each individual by the only real means: Experience! Sure there will be mistakes on the Way and these will constitute the beginnings of learning curves, springboards and launch pads into the Cosmos.

To suggest that all this is an “accident of nature” coming from the very people who take themselves ever so seriously as if they are somehow above it all, is not only insulting, but also suggests that they are conceptually playing with themselves. They are no more capable of ascribing causality to the effects they describe than they are of understanding true science of seeing beyond the veil of the very appearances that stricture them to the materiality they exploit with clumsy lack of skill in harmonising with the greater existence that sustains all of life as we know it for the time being.

If you and I and the ones who suggest it is so, are merely accidents of nature, it does not explain why we, and especially they, take themselves so seriously. Nor why we are able to FEEL so many nuances of an infinite spectrum, whilst alive and breathing.

In the true meaning of the word, there is nothing remotely “scientific” about giving something an ambiguous label, then setting about merely describing a sequence of events which are nothing more than effects but do not have a remote semblance of a clue as to causes. Anyone with a modicum of observational abilities (another set of “accidents of nature” no doubt) can do this. You don’t need a “degree” of anything more than simple commonsense and the ability to notice sequential concatenations.

The best that “our best” have been so far able to come up with is to exploit some of these ‘sequences of events’ out of context and often at odds to the whole picture, the holistic integration, excluding the “unseen” other 99%plus of Creation ignored. And it is this that damages our life sustaining ecologies. Consider: Are the trade-offs worth it? Toxic air, toxic water, toxic food, toxic relationships fomented by toxicity damaging our organs and those very neuronal functions.

No amount of theorising serves to explain why those who practice the misogi of Aikido, or any of the related Do’s and Jutsu’s by stressing the faculties of BALANCE go home happier, mentally clearer and physically buoyant than those who do not so practice?

There are considerably more questions to ask. I’ll allow you to ask these questions yourself as a koan of sorts. The answers when they come will at first appear surprising.

The essentials that enable these “accidents of nature” are posture, mobility, body-mind connection, ki-intention.. in other words action. Conscious action.

BREATH, BALANCE and HARA or CENTRUM. The refined essence, the distillation which motivates HARMONIOUS INTERACTION is something else altogether, yet requiring these primaries as a foundational base.

Why so? Well, can it be any other way? Who are we to guess otherwise? It is as it is.

So why do we practice the repetitive toppling of balance in order to reclaim it?

Why this struggle with gravity which has been going on since the dawn of time? This very same “force” it is that holds the island universes together and stops them from fragmenting, maintains the galaxies in place and in motion, keeps the solar systems functioning well, and us “accidents of nature” from disconnecting from earth and fragmenting into outer space.

Gravity, along with electricity, magnetism and a vast range of natural phenomenal features still not yet truly or fully understood by the subscribers of the “accidents of nature” fantasy. The best our “best” can do is to measure effects and take notes, which whilst a modest progress per se, does not constitute the EXPERIENCING of the Nature of the Universe.

So why bother? Why put ourselves through it? Why do we train? Why are the practitioners of Aikido so hooked? What is it they are progressively finding in their practice?

The cycles of Eternity, the Universe, Nature, our own births and deaths, and those of kusushi and ukemi, irimi and tenkan all contain a common thread. What is it?

Nev Sagiba