And this just in….
Archive for October, 2008
Historical first – Aikido demonstration and children’s class in Bethlehem.
On Sunday, Oct. 19th, 2008, “Aikido Without Borders” conducted a historical first aikido demonstration and children’s class in Bethlehem
A.W.B. is a fledgling N.G.O. primarily working in Israel/ Palestine that is dedicated to bringing the practice of aikido to troubled areas where borders, both real and imagined, perpetuate a culture of separation and conflict. Since 2005 we have been active in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. For the Bethlehem demonstration we had A.W.B. students participating from Ramallah, Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Japan and the United States.
The demonstration and class were held at Bethlehem’s SOS Children’s village. SOS is an international NGO that has children’s villages in 132 countries and territories around the world. They have been active in the field of children’s rights, needs and concerns since 1949. SOS’s activities focus on children without parental care and children of families in difficult circumstances
After the demonstration the members of “Aikido Without Borders” gave an aikido introduction class for the children of the village. There were about 50 kids who participated in the class and it was lots of fun. Once we got into the “ukemi” (rolling practice) the kids were able to get their first experience of aikido’s “art of falling”.
I was happy to lead the class together with a special guest from Japan, Makiko Sakurai who is a visiting student at Tel Aviv university. Makiko san is a 4th degree black belt out of Hombu dojo in Japan who also has a professional background in social work with disadvantaged children.
Makiko lead the kids in basic aikido movements and also taught them how to count and say thank you in Japanese. Arigato gozaimashita Makiko san!
I want to give a big thanks to all the students form Ramallah and East Jerusalem as well as Deborah Hyams for helping set up this event for the kids.
Aikido Without Borders will be starting a regular Aikido Kids project at the SOS school in Bethlehem. O’sensei said that “aikido is for the whole world”. By crossing borders, going beyond the walls, and meeting on the mat through this art, it is easy to understand how we truly are all part of one world.
It isn’t every day that a true leader comes along. Certainly not at the level of what we are witnessing today. There are many “leaders” in many aspects of our society but I’m speaking about something different than the conventional leader. I speaking about that rare individual whose ideals, abilities, words and actions all line up and consistently show a higher level of development. There is something about such a person’s character, something in their body language, something about their total package that serves as a shining light and an example of our very own potential both individually and collectively.
Through almost two years of close scrutiny under a campaign spotlight Barak Obama has consistently shown balanced calm, grace under fire, poise in battles both lost and won, and an equanimity that would make a Zen monk jealous. He connects, he listens, and he includes in a way that makes you feel, well, included.
At the outset of the U.S. presidential race Barak Obama was some 30 points behind in the polls. Now he is very probably set to become the next president of the United States. How did he do this? Through inspiring leadership Barak Obama built what is likely the most effective political organization in history.
Garrison Keillor (of lake Wobegon fame) recently summed it up beautifully in the New York Times:
“….Barack’s cool poise in the face of blather is some sort of testament to American heart and humor. The man has walked tall…Onward, America. We’ve all seen plenty of the worst - the sly cruelty, the arrogant ignorance, the fascination with trivia, the cheats, the weaselish and piggish and the buzzardly - but we can rise above it if we will only recognize a leader when one comes along and have the sense to let him lead.”
“If we can only recognize a leader when he comes along and have the sense to let him lead”…..Indeed!
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Here is a video of Barak giving a talk to his team at his Chicago HQ after gaining the democratic presidential nomination. You can see that here is a man who is totally in his element, acknowledging good work done, preparing for what is yet to come and, in his cool and natural way, inspiring others to be responsible for change. After 10 min.s you are ready to follow this man anywhere. For those interested in leadership, this is a must see.
Creating new habits in consciousness and culture
Ultimately this is what it means to be on a “path”, or to walk as a “conscious practitioner”. By taking on a “path” practice we intentionallyy choose to hold a higher discipline in two ways. One way is by overcoming negative tendencies, dysfunctional patterns and “bad” habits that hold back growth. The other way is by developing new capacities, perspectives and abilities that become our new “good” habits as we grow. This applies both in the individual self (our consciousness) and in the collective world (our culture).
I just received this video from EnlightenNext of a dialogue between spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen and Evolutionary Biologist Rupert Sheldrake where they explore the issue of “habits” in consciousness and culture.
Rupert lays it out succently:
“The good news is that we can change. The bad news is that we are all gripped by unconscious habits we’ve inherited from the past.”
And Andrew puts us in the context:
“What does it mean for the human being who’s passionately interested in the evolution of consciousness and culture to deliberately and intentionally chose to create new habits individually and collectively?”
Check out their dialogue about how habits effect our lives. It is very good.