Philosophy is essential for understanding the eastern arts of Aikido and Zen Brush. There is a balance in the connection between thinking and doing: if one only thinks there is no agency and if one only acts the agency is thoughtless and uncultivated. But what most of us are after is thoughtful agency. After all, Socrates said the un-examined life is not worth living.
At her students' requests, Dr Perry agreed to offer one class a month to help students digest
the deep philosophy of Aikido. The first text read was Takemusu Aiki translated by John Stevens. Before acting on the students' request to read the Kojiki, we read several books on Shinto. The students persevered and we are beginning the fourth year of this class, still reading the Kojiki, a tome worthy of working through especially because it was such a reference book for O-sensei the founder.
Receptive Landscaping is a term I have created to name the practice of altering the landscape by harnessing the natural tendencies of nature to do the work rather than taking shovel to the ground. For instance, to create some flatter places suitable for outside Aikido training, the use of cut timbers (by the forest service) strategically placed as guiding structures encouraged the heavier elements of rocks and soil to stay on the upper-side of the timbers during rains, winds and snowmelt. As the elements move downwards, then, a flatter plain is created by the collection of debris on the up side of the timbers while the lighter elements continue to flow downwards as they should.
Also, we have collected pine cones from the ground and, making "seed balls" we can help populate the barer areas of the mountain.
At the end of 2018, by tying Japanese bamboo twine around a massive tree stump that was disintegrating, we managed to save it and its massive roots which hold the mountainside intact. Thus we work to stem the erosion of the hillside.
These are just a few of the ways we are studying the natural movement of the elements and educating ourselves in ways to work with it. When you watch the powers of nature the principles of yin and yang become evident. Finding ways to work with these forces are another aspect of Aikido study which I view as a kind of Practical Philosophy since we examine the theory by observation and experimentation in the natural world. S. Perry