manifest one true nature when you see a stone; or 無

On my way to Aikido class last night I happened to be listening to a podcast from Living Zen where the teacher was talking about Case 1 form the Mumonkon. The Koan MU.

Here are a few excerpts from Living Zen-podcast Zen talks but Eshu Martin, abbot of the Victoria Zen Center in Victoria, BC Canada

Whenever we throw up a barrier that makes it "me" and "that", "inside" and "outside", "me" and "them", whenever we have solidified something and said this is what I like, what I am, the practice of mu is to burn it. Open your hand and just let that solid object flow.

Maintaining the presence of this case (mu) is a really difficult thing. But it requires we take this practice out of the Zendo into our day to day lives. Into the way we are eating breakfast the way we are doing our work. Really developing the awareness of when we grab on , when we throw up the barrier whenever we polarize, objectify, make solid anything. This is where we have to do this practice of “mu”, where we pull down the wall, open our hand, allow that solid object to flow. We step forward into the difficult situation we want to be a part of

What struck me was the part where we “step forward into the difficult situation we want to be part of” which so reminded me of Irimi Nage or Entering Throw. All the Aikido techniques are hard for me but Irimi seems particularly elusive. I heard one explanation that said something like you enter uke's attack and turn an blend into it, almost in a loving embrace

The podcast also re framed the famous koan MU to say

how do you manifest one true nature when you see a stone?

How do we acknowledge on an experiential level how do we affirm oneness?

We are (incorrectly) making mu into an object. It is a simple practice and it actually helps to be soft as we practice it. The practice of dissolution it is not a practice of punching It is not a plus activity it is actually a minus activity. We do the plus activity with ourselves, we fixate and oppose what we come up against. The practice of Mu is to catch it when we put something into a box and let it go. This is a practice of Melting

It reminded of Sensei talking about how Aikido is a reactive art, we shouldn't meet force with force, although ironically last night he told us to be the dominant part of the technique, not forceful but somehow dominant. Oh well, go figure.
The character 無 in seal script


Bob said...

Interesting post, Dave.

Laurel said...

Thanks for the post. I find irimi hard to understand, and it always feels scary because I am not "defending myself". Sometimes I get to practice bokkendori (uke comes at you with a wooden sword) and doing that I can experience the fact that actually the safest place to be is spooned up to uke...

ZeppoManx said...

"spooned up to uke"...I look forward to approaching it that way the next chance I have. I see your point about how irimi doesn't have the same defensive feel as say shiho or ikkyo, etc..

Plus with other techniques it is sometimes easier to "fake it" a bit in the dojo since you can sometimes force the technique rather than finding the perfect flow and "mai". With irimi any weakness in the overall relationship between uke and nage is more clearly exposed.