Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good and Evil, Revisted: Who's the Good Guy?

I conducted the following demonstration in an Aikido class: I held a tanto---a traditional wooden practice knife---and asked a student to grab my arm and prevent me from cutting him. He grabbed morotedori---two hands securely holding my knife-wielding arm. We scuffled a bit, and then I pinned him to the ground, retaining the tanto.

The class was confused: This was not the outcome they came to expect.

I asked, "Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?"

Some thought it was obvious that I was the bad guy because I had a knife. Some thought it was obvious that I was the good guy because I was the teacher. Together, we dreamed up different scenarios explaining how one, the other, both, or neither was the "good" guy in this situation.

But, in the moment, inside that scuffle, there was no good guy and there was no bad guy. Who knows how we arrived in this situation? Yet, there we were, connected in a brief encounter that had to be resolved one way or another.

O-Sensei said,
Practice the Art of Peace sincerely, and evil thoughts and deeds will naturally disappear.

I suspect there might be an albeit less marketable corollary:
Practice the Art of Peace sincerely, and good thoughts and deeds will naturally disappear as well.

Within each encounter, inside each moment, the sincere practitioner has no room for either.

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