Are you a sheep, sheepdog or wolf?
The Aiki and Zen explanation of the comparison between sheep, sheepdogs, wolves and people.
I once heard something about life that I thought was really profound.
The theme of the story was that people behave like either sheep, sheepdogs or wolves.
If you look deeper into this analogy we begin to see that it is far more complex than it would first appear.
Let's consider the sheep and the flock.
As people, we begin as lambs and then, because of a whole set of complex conditions we see how people develop into either sheep, sheepdogs or wolves.
The larger part of the population, the sheep, are honest and decent.
The predators, the wolves in society, are not.
Because they are very vigilant they can spot their prey in lots of different ways, someone´s body posture, mental confusion or weak spirit etc.
However, it isn't always the vulnerable that get targeted. The wolf will spot any gain that is worth them having, irrespective of the situation.
A wolf`s victim will be a lamb, sheep, sheepdog or another wolf.
Predators are opportunistic, not always easy to spot and come in many guises. There is no age, sex, or background etc. that precludes the wolf.
Just think of the times you have felt intimidated or manipulated into a situation where you felt uncomfortable.
Were you experiencing a wolf, or a wolf in sheep's clothing, or a sheep that is about to become a wolf?
How often have you intuitively felt uncomfortable because someone is trying desperately to get you to do something, buy something or endorse something that to you doesn't feel right?
Have you ever been somewhere and felt physically vulnerable?
The wolves will put their requirements above all else without mercy and in a human vein defend their exploitation of others or gloat on the fact that they have won.
Often in organisations where there is a predatory atmosphere, sheep will develop that predatory instinct and vindicate their actions with:
"I'm only doing my job... "
In an organisation, a department, a family or a country, the characteristics of the figurehead will manifest itself throughout.
Wolves above all else, have no empathy for their victims.
The sheepdogs have empathy.
Sometimes a decision made by a sheepdog to protect the sheep from potential danger is interpreted by the sheep as dominance.
Sheepdogs are as vigilant as wolves, and can often see potential danger.
Sheepdogs and wolves tend to have similar skills and abilities with one big difference, their spirit!
In Aiki, spirit relates to intent.
The interesting question is - are we destined to become a sheep, a sheep dog or a wolf?
Sheep often sacrifice their freedom to become secure, by being secured in a safe environment.
Zen tells us that it is not acceptable to act like a wolf, and that it is our duty act honourably as a sheep or a sheepdog and thus live a good life within the flock.
Aiki tells us to prepare for any eventuality by training the body, mind and spirit and be always aware and stop problems before they start.
Aiki and Zen teach us how we become competent sheepdogs, not just on a physical level but also on a mental and spiritual level...
Just look at today's world, there are so many atrocious things happening. Some are small things some are major.
However, bad things are bad things, at a small level, in your own community or an international level.
Aiki and Zen are as important now as they were a thousand years ago.
Zen teaches us how to become honourable and respectful sheep and sheepdogs.
Aiki teaches us how honourable and effective sheepdogs keep calm, focused and with good intent.
By incorporating the Zen moral code of clear understanding, empathy and courage we gain the ability to deal with the wolves of the world in a practical way,
The Aiki martial arts adopt the following process for countering a physical attack.
move off the line of attack
take the attacker's posture
apply a technique
apply an immobilization
apply a submission (if needed)
apply a break and disable (if needed)
You will appreciate that the process is undertaken to control any aggression the wrongdoer may have, and only damage them as a last resort.
Aiki also tells us that to control volatility we must have three essential postures.
The three attributes of Zen merged with the three Aiki postures.
The three Zen attributes are:
Humanity - understanding that some people who are predatory by nature, have the potential to become better people.
Clarity - to truly see the role that each person has played within the situation.
Courage - to master the fear which most people feel when confronted by hostility and stay calm enough to take the bad situation through to a better end.
Importantly, the Zen and Aiki concepts are not based purely on a physical response.
Aggressive and explosive situations manifest themselves in many forms and the principles of Zen combined with Aiki are wonderful strategies of reconciliation.
Both concepts enable us to recognise, the lone wolf, the wolf pack and even the wolf dressed in sheep's clothing and then either stop the encroachment before it starts or deal with it as it begins.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to spot the wolves till after they have acted, as not all wolves behave initially as a wolf and not all sheep wish for protection.
Wolves are of either sex, of any age or from any profession or class.
In each of our communities we must do all we can to stop the wolves out numbering the sheep and the sheepdogs.
Zen gives us the guide lines to make sure we fulfill our moral duty as a worthy member of the flock.
Aiki gives us the self-assurance to carry out our duty to protect the flock and its members, appreciating that a controlled, competent being gives out a signal that is often enough to deter a predator.
There are many types of predator, all looking for a target.
Don't believe everything, question to understand more, discover your own wisdom to recognise predatory behaviour.
Sheepdogs possess the three attributes of Zen. Humanity, Clarity and Courage.
Wolves possess only courage.
Sheepdogs possess the three postures of Aiki - Mental, Physical and Spiritual.
Wolves possess all three but their spirit and intent lacks empathy.
Who are the sheep, sheepdogs and wolves you know?