When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way.
Like the body, the mind and spirit also need an immune system. But unlike, the body, it is not biological, with t-cells and macrophages to attack foreign bodies and other invaders. Rather, the immune system of the spirit is ki. By deeply developing one’s ki, the spirit can be immune from ills and cease to be subject to mental and spiritual “viruses” and other ailments.
This immunity comes in two parts I believe. First, it comes through the state of complete relaxation more commonly felt through the taking up of ki slack – sometimes also considered as allowing the ki of the universe to enter and flow into our one point when it is fully relaxed.
The second component is extending the ki wherever it wishes to go, and as far as the spirit believes is necessary at the moment. At rest, ki should extend slightly beyond ma-ai, maybe a few inches or so; with a bokken or Jo, a few inches beyond their reach when fully extended. Not at rest, well, the reach is as far as ones spirit chooses – the end of the universe – infinity – being a good starting point.
On the question of the one point, one should consider that it is not fixed, nor is it self-defining. One’s ability to position it, and extend it, is defined through the extent of one’s training and practice. A safe assumption is that the one point defaults to the seat of the hara, at which time it is infinitesimally small, but no less effective. With practice, the hara can be put to any place within the body – and without – or be asked to expand and envelope the whole body, mind and spirit.
Such an enveloping and flow of ki I experienced some months ago. I awoke one night and found myself being enveloped by a glow that was like my one point had expanded and become the corona of my dynamic sphere. Within that sphere, I felt not only space and light, the flowing of ki like a warm stream, but a calmness and peace that allowed me to observe a mental state that had possessed me for quite some time – a hungry ghost. This ghost, emerging from the darkness just outside the visible horizon, took the form of an eight legged creature – not surprising given my fear of spiders – incessant in its hunger to attack my spirit and mind. Within my sphere of flowing ki, made slightly larger with a bokken at my side, a fully relaxed one point gave me the basis from which to take a quick upward stroke with the bokken to stop the beast in its advance. Complete calmness was required to allow the creature to get close enough for a bokken. A rapid downward stroke severed the creature – which I now saw as the ego, the hungry ghost, the shadow which had haunted me, and would likely be forever a part of my existence. As such, just beyond the horizon, another creature emerged – another upward strike followed by a downward strike – another kill. And another, and another. For several minutes, the creatures emerged from all directions, quicker, larger, more determined. Maintaining the expanded one point of flowing ki gave me the space to simply accept, wait patiently – then strike. Another upward stroke, another downstroke for the kill, and another, and another.
In the silence, I reflected on what had just occurred. I noticed that the courage, ability and strength to draw the bokken came from a point of peace and love. I reflected on the observation that if I had drawn the sword from a point of physical strength and energy, of fear, I may have succeeded in striking the first few creatures, but I would not have maintained the stamina to withhold the repeated onslaught. Only from the one point would the energy and space emerge to repeatedly strike the creature – the shadow, the ego, the hungry ghost.
The eight legged creature has been my own archetype for my worries, fears and phobias – a symbol of an enemy, a foreign body after not my body, and not really my mind, but more specifically after my spirit and my essence.
In the moment described above, the flow of ki, from a one point enveloping my whole being, became my protector.
Aikido, the art of peace, was my spiritual immunity.
Your spirit is the true shield.