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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 70 continue to change dramatically, but fighting and war can de- stroy us. What we need are techniques of harmony, not con- tention. The Art of Peace is required, not the Art of War. Morihei wisely prohibited any kind of competitive matches or juried contests in aikido. Each and every practitioner takes turns practicing the techniques—which stress ki blending, tim- ing, breath power, and smooth, flowing movements over brute strength—to gain experience being the “winner” and “loser.” Since there are no organized competitions in aikido, men and women, young and old, train together. Training with all kinds of people—some very strong, some not; some flexible, some stiff; some tall, some short—and learning how to apply just the right amount of movement and control is an invaluable lesson in how to deal with different kinds of personalities. The emphasis in aikido is on “crossing the goal line together, hand in hand.” We train not to learn how to win; we train to learn how to emerge victorious in any situation. And the en- emy we need to defeat is not an opponent who faces us but the demons of hatred and contention within. Morihei stated that it was not necessary to perform misogi in a waterfall if you prac- ticed aikido. The techniques themselves are vehicles of trans- formation, and sincere practice will bring out the best in you by uniting your spirit with that of the Divine. JOHN STEVENS is a professor of Buddhist studies and an aikido in- structor at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, Japan. He was written more than thirty books on various aspects of Asian culture and is one of the world’s leading authorities on the practice and philosophy of aikido. Above: Stevens executing the kaiten-nage technique with partner Peter Abrahamsen. In aikido, the aim is to perform techniques that are true (effective), good (no one gets hurt), and beautiful (lovely to behold). Trulkhor: The Magical Movement of Tibet BY M. ALEJANDRO CHAOUL TRULKHOR, OR “MAGICAL WHEEL” or “magical movement,” is a distinctive Tibetan practice of physical yoga in which breath and mental concentration are integrated with particular body movements. In contrast to Indian styles of yoga, in which the practitioner aims to hold a pose with the body still and the breath flowing naturally, in trulkhor the practitioner holds the breath still while the body moves in such a way as to guide the breath, which in turn guides the mind. Tibetan religious traditions have employed trulkhor as part of their spiritual training since at least the tenth century. Although trulkhor is found in all five Tibetan spiritual tradi- tions, it is most prevalent in the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Bon schools. While trulkhor may have been practiced much earlier and preserved only as an oral tradition, written texts point to the practice of trulkhor by famed yogis of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries such as Marpa, Naropa, and Drugyalwa Yungdrung, among others. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, who teaches trulkhor at his Lig- mincha Institute, says, “Trulkhor is a wonderful daily practice, especially to control and handle the stress of our modern life in society. It has the power to balance the energies of mind and body, and it also helps enormously to support one’s meditation practices.” Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, who teaches trulkhor under the Sanskrit name of yantra yoga through his Dzogchen community, describes the practices as a tool to understand one’s own true nature more clearly. Within trulkhor there are practices that work specifically with the energetic or subtle body. This is composed of channels (San- skrit: nadis), vital breath currents (prana), and essential spheres (bindus), providing the landscape where the mind and the physi- cal body connect with each other. The Bön Mother Tantra, among other tantric texts, explains that the mind rides on the vital breath (or energy) currents like a rider on a horse, and the two travel together through the pathways of the channels. As the breath Right: Stevens demonstrating a “breakfall.” His training partner here is Anna Schneider, whose blindness did not prevent her from earning a black belt in aikido. PHOTOSBYSCOTTAITKEN