Aiki Surfing

This article began as a lightweight mental MDL analysis of a post from Ania Small in the Aikido Book Group on Facebook, and then a full writeup emerged. Further MDL analysis of the post is in the Analysis section below.

What O-Sensei has insight into is true, it absolutely is; the benefit to the world is tremendous.

Remedy Doubt

No doubt about it. Many years ago, a personal teacher, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche said, “[<other-view|self-view|]your[>] biggest obstacle is doubt, study remedies doubt, must study everything,” and he enumerated an entire syllabus of peak teachings for the lineage in less than two minutes. Now it must be shared that the core category of the biggest obstacle varies between beings (there are four other categories in this lineage), and change as time progresses. After pointing out doubt, Rinpoche then walked to a short book shelf and pointed to many books. Straight to Mahamudra. As the Seventeenth Karmapa says of it, “the heart of all Kagyu traditions” (Namgyal, 2019), straight at stainless meditation, insight and tranquility, gone beyond. Rinpoche never doubted potential, and it was tremendous. Nobody in that group doubted potential either, there was little “we can’t…” or “we aren’t…”. Rinpoche advised, “everyone here is very smart, so intelligent… quick understanding.”

Every book, line and letter pointed to real bonafide nature, raw samsara, beyond the words. Go look!

Surfing is Effort

Jim Alvarez of Aikido of Livermore mentioned surfing in an Aikido Book Group’s Zoom meeting coordinated on Facebook. Yes, so valuable is this connection with water as a principle, to experience, know, and manifest manifold fluidity, after all, is in a class of objects, categorized as kasina. So a memory is recollected surfing while graced with an opportunity to live in Laguna Beach, California after a month long expedition to help package selling assets from one company to the next, before finally moving there.

In Laguna, I learned to surf one day under the instruction of a very skilled surfer in the community, Danny Marriner, the son of the former company’s CEO Mike Marriner, a third generation Laguna resident well connected to the local action sports industry.

I would gear up, change into woofy inky black surf suits that can barely be gotten out of. It took courage to walk down to the ocean geared up amongst the tourists, and locals. It was also being armed with an embarrassingly long pop-out board recommended to me by a local shaper. So, down to surf before returning to work, mustering courage to overcome Embarrassment Avoidance (Miller, 1986), this is training too!

One of the most significant learnings was that the paddling out, is harder than the surfing in. Catching the first wave, and standing, was surprisingly easy, surfing it to the shore all the way, and then bailing before the rocks could scrape the bottom of the board and tear out the fins. I even tried walking the nose since I was riding a long board. The feeling of seeing just water ahead without sight of the nose of the board is exhilarating. Yet back to the paddling, the technique to paddle the board efficiently requires continuous simultaneous independent control coupled with heightened sensitivity over discrete parts of the body, and there seems to be an unspoken relationship between the paddling out and surfing in. The basics of surfing, I would attest are actually in the paddling.

Danny Marriner’s Lesson

Before the aforementioned, the first day of Danny’s guidance made the largest and most profound impression. Danny didn’t teach form, the ocean itself already provided the form, and it was changing, continually, just like samsara. Danny taught principle and wisdom the same way Sensei did; respectful of agency. He saw a wave approach and told me to dive under and sit on the bottom of the ocean. He took me under the water to sit on the sand, you could feel the sand move about below, and feel the currents on the skin, and across the hairs as waves. To think that life literally evolved out of this ocean, and brought the salt water with it, this is striking. Sitting on the bottom of the ocean reconnecting with the ancestral home of the entirety of most land living life.

Life literally evolved out of the ocean, and brought the salt water with it.

These mo|ve>ments will be maintained in neural loops in this very body the rest of this life; the sitting on the bottom of the sea awoke something primal. It got to a core of what surfing means to so many, especially after losing balance, and sending a sack of biological fluid around bones <in|to the greater ocean of fluid to acquire the feel. I already gained skill in direct perception of chi (earth element); it occurred late one evening, long ago in the dusty loft of the Shobukan Dojo. Reciprocal connectivity with an entire ocean, beyond conception; an illuminating direct perception of sui (water element).

A fraction of a dial turn down from direct perception of Sui, and conception could perceive an entire field of fluid dynamics, the moon bright of permutations of vector topologies. Dialing it down just a hare more, generalized angles favorable or unfavorable for generating good surf to ride and train.

Up on the wave, catching it, to kick the board and pop it, it takes effortsurfers don’t just ride waves, they shape the surface of water while riding them empowered by joy of flow, like super bikes through the barrels, corners, and straights of tracks. Each generation shapes, makes, and delivers new things, an innovation continuous.

A small kid looks at one of our company’s advisors, a seventy year old surfer doing amazing tricks all over the water and goes, “look at that old man!!!,” and then they rush out, and walk back to the shore having done something barely noticeable to most, yet the seventy year old can see.

Micro-innovation is difficult to see without having done the work to approach a narrowing of direct perception; enter microscopy. If there is correction during this moment, it can be tremendously damaging. Just look at how long it took to realize the weak force of gravity, and it happened while Newton was idle at home. Just like the micro-currents seen by the macro-beings with a limitless sea.

“The Dude Abides”

So please don’t walk away thinking, the fruition should be effortless which is exactly formless, yet duct taping over mouths with form. Even Buddha “efforted”, post enlightenment, even the prophets worked after revelations, and I don’t mean practice, I mean abiding, “the dude abides,” as is said in the Big Lebowski (Coen & Coen 1998). This is the part near masters miss, the nuance between practice and abiding. You’ll know it when you see it, there is no doubt. There is an expression, in Tibetan Buddhist lineages, “you can stand in front of a bodhisattva and not even see them,” such is abiding and absorption (dyana, jhana).

In abiding, prompting to produce accompanying prompting to learn has evaporated, all that’s left is clear sky, and this is evaporating too. There is just natural conversation, promptless. Chop wood, carry water; love brings solutions of warmth to the cold, and brings solutions of cooling to the hot. There is peace, here things just happen (vipaka), things are learned yet only in service of peace, and it is not an easy concept to relate to if a tranquility and insight hasn’t penetrated the very foundational principles of every cell of being. Yes, self-view, essence-view, permanence-view IS the obscuration, and conception the veil, the near occasion of enduring view, suffering.

There is empirical data to back up selflessness and joy, where joy proportional to flow, it was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the team he worked with, the environment in support, and the behaviors at work, that discovered that there is an absence of the perception of “me” in flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 231). Masagatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi is true.

Of Course It’s Work

One day I was using Japanese saws to cut mortises and tenons in wood to build the shoji transom across the back deck at the DC Dojo to block security lights from being visible by students sitting on the dojo mat. A comment slipped, “wow this is a lot of work,” and Sensei didn’t skip a beat, “of course it’s a lot of work,” in the same intonation as, “summer hot; winter cold.” It’s just a fact, and sometimes work is intense, between longer spans of rest, just like living at the dojo.

Some interesting points on effort, in the aforementioned surfing. Surfing is indeed hard work, research (Farley et al., 2017) has shown that “physical demands of surfing are similar to that of mainstream team sports (i.e., Rugby, AFL, and Soccer)” (p. 261). Amongst recreational surfers, time spent paddling during training is ~46%, stationary is ~38% (p. 263), and actual wave riding? About 7%, that means if someone surfs for an hour, at most 4 minutes would be riding waves (p. 263). There is more to surfing than riding the waves, something to think about.

“… if someone surfs for an hour, about 4 minutes would be riding waves.”

(Farley et al., 2017, p. 263)

I must tell you it’s easy to effort, one just needs to find a door to compelling enough to need to walk through, this teaching is only for those with a little dust in the eyes (Rajagrha Council, 2013), it is these beings that Gotama Buddha assents to teach after initially being asked to teach. I am sure the same is true of all of his caliber.

Walking is effort, and breathing, oh yes, breathing, is lots of effort, and if this effort is seen truly, deeply, intimately, then perhaps one will bear witness to the fruition of a movinglessness of wisdom, yes Fudoshin. Now there is more effort at Fudoshin, because breathing can come to a complete stop, and there is profound tranquility, greatly abundant, it is here that rebirth as a lord of death could occur if not careful, the arbiter of universal justice. Everyone can realize this. Now that finding the door, it can truly be perceivedlifetimes, it requires searching, and you will not search for the door, unless you need a house, and you will not need a house, until you need the shelter, on and on.

The Bitter Pill of Re-Ligion

The only suggestion I’d offer here is to reread ancient insights of those that have went before have shared, and I know that reading is like surfing and standing on the board, yet rereading is like surfing and performing all kinds of tricks — yet the bitter pill to swallow, and yes it is bitter, and it is the hot iron ball, and every ounce of habit wants to spit it out, get ready, airplane spoon, whirrrrrrr, orange cough medicine incoming! Brace!

This re-reading (cough, zanshin), this thing that seems so common and obvious, this is the spiritual world O-Sensei realized must be illuminated, it must be innovated. This… is… the mission. Period. Full stop. Yes. No kidding, it is the very word… religion. Religion literally means re-read, and that is the baby [principle] that might not be a good idea to throw out with the bath water [of form], and the limitless forms of re-, the bio-feedback, of Aiki, is right here, and it has gone beyond the palms of these hands.

Shooting the arrow of wisdom at ignorance, yet arriving in the heavens, only to take the arriving as self, the departed as other, and the completion as permanent, and the environment of heavenly beings as we, only bends the arc back down to fall from grace, and yet perhaps rise again. Just realize, see directly, this is truly wisdom, at play.

The Off Ramp of Safety

And here’s the Oracle moment from The Matrix, because the paddling is complete, the south swell comes, and the wave is caught… and here is the stand… As <self-view|other-view> clings to stopping, and thinking, there is obscuration of truth, stopping is not self, obscuring is not self, it’s true, and there is refrain…

“… As soon as <<you|other-view>|self-view> step <outside|inside> <that|this> door …<<you|other-view>|self-view>ll start feeling better. <<You|other-view>|self-view>ll remember <<you|other-view>|self-view> dont believe in any of this fate crap… <<you|other-view>|self-view><re|upādāna> <in|out> control of <<you|other-view>|self-view><r|upādāna> life, <here|there> <take|have>[,] a cookie… <I|self-view> promise, by the time <<you|other-view>|self-view>re done eating it <<you|other-view>|self-view><’ll|kamma> <feel|vedana> right[,] as rain| of wisdom>.” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999 Bold added to show original text, Inline MDL added for analysis).

It was not the form of religion, do not mistake correlation for cause. Enlightenment IS Re-Ligion; night vision, ignorance vision. Just as form is an abbreviation for each class of object of sense, it is an interchangeable indicator, and as such, the better indicator is Form. And what is Re-Form? Cognition. And what is Cognition? Perception. And what is self-view? A mistaken perception. And what is unmistaken perception? Direct perception. And what is direct? Illuminated. Katsu Hayabi.

Hence why enlightened governance restrains from recognizing a <state|fixed> <sanctioned|authorized> form, of religion, so that limitless permutations of beings can join as friends, in the pursuit of a more perfect union, in ever increasing flow: of joy celebrating love which alleviates suffering so that compassion has more time and space to solve valences suffering1, and equanimity abides in the accomplishments of these.

And now a song…

For limitless lives, I is exactly mistaken,
yet wisdom is not mistaken.
wisdom is not self,
it is not other.

Do not mistake what is joy…
as pride.
Joy is not self,
it is not other.

Do not mistake what is love…
as attachment.
Love is not self,
it is not other.

Do not mistake what is compassion…
as aversion.
Compassion is not self,
it is not other.

Do not mistake what is equanimity…
as apathy.
Equanimity is not self,
It is not other.

Do not mistake what is enlightenment…
as impossibility.
Enlightenment is EXACTLY not self,
Enlightenment is EXACTLY not other.
Enlightenment is Illuminated Probability.
Superpositional Superconductivity.

Samsara is EXACTLY Nirvana.

It’s gone beyond, “right here”.
It’s gone beyond, “right now”.

For the benefit of limitless beings,

MDL Analysis

The following is analysis is recorded using Multi-Dimensional Linguistics (MDL) for the purpose of communicating aspatial and atemporal processing.

So here is how this passage was read… as a shravaka, and that is the principle of a hearer in ancient traditions, where a hearer puts what is heard into practice immediately upon hearing.

Source Text

“If you want to take a step closer to O’sensei, pay attention to what he said. “Aiki was born of the form and heart of kami”, O-Sensei said. Make this your central focus as you practice.  Think of all the powers of nature as the heart of kami.  Make a deep study of what has brought these forms into being. Then you can express that perception in your practice of technique.” (Holiday, 2013, p. 130)


[[ HOMAGE ]]
[furitama t.. d…] step closer…
[great being that went before]…

[Take]… make…

this [is] [view] central…
[renounce gaussian blur] focus…
[pr-]act[-ice] act…

[[ TRUTH ]]
[perception] think[ing]
[[eight power]][field exchange] powers…
[samsara] nature…

[shin, kokoro] heart of kami…
[take] make deep
[kan] study… 

[[[[ EMPTINESS ]]]]
[su] what…
[take musu] [<to bring|bring|brought>]…
[STATIC] [form abbreviation for all sense objects] forms… being …

[[[ REDACTED ]]]
[four [wisdom [ka[|]mi] monarchs] brahma viharas sans atta]

1 Where suffering valences are [redacted].


Coen, J., & Coen, E. (1998). The Big Lebowski. Gramercy Pictures (I).

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Berlin: Springer.

Farley, Oliver R.L., Abbiss, Chris R., Sheppard, Jeremy M. (2017) Performance Analysis of Surfing: A Review, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: January 2017. 31(1). pp. 260-271

Holiday, L. (2013). Journey to the Heart of Aikido. Berkeley, CA: Blue Snake Books.

Miller, R.S. (1986). Embarrassment. In: Jones W.H., Cheek J.M., Briggs S.R. (eds) Shyness. Emotions, Personality, and Psychotherapy. Springer, Boston, MA.

Namgyal, D. T. (2019). Moonbeams of Mahamudra: With Dispelling the Darkness of Ingorance by Wangchuk Dorje, the Ninth Karmapa (Elizabeth M. Callahan, Trans.). Snow Lion. (Original work published between 1565~1577).

Rajagrha Council (2013). Samyutta Nikaya: Ayacana Sutta (The Request) (SN 6.1). (B. Thanissaro, Trans.). Access to Insight (BCBS Edition). (Original work published [unknown]).

Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.