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Following the Narrow Path: Choosing Correctly

right-wrong-good-badMy Aikido teacher, Yoshioka Sadao Shihan, used to describe the path that one takes in the martial arts to walking on a road. The road was shaped like the back (Mune) of the Bokken, or wooden practice sword. Close to where your hands grip the sword the Mune is wider and all the way down at the tip it gets very narrow. When you begin training you start on the road but are able to wander back and forth while you make mistakes. As you progress and get more senior in your training, you don’t have as much luxury of wandering back and forth as the road gets narrower. You have to make correct choices and avoid doing bad things. He described to us that in life we always have 4 different choices that we can make:

  • a choice that is both Right and Good
  • a choice that is Right but perhaps Bad
  • a choice that is Wrong but Good
  • a choice that is Wrong and Bad

An example of each of these choices:

  • Doing the Right action by taking extra time to assist with a volunteer organization as well as making a significant monetary donation. This helps you both with your spiritual and mental well being as well as being a benefit for you when you pay your taxes (Good).
  • Doing the Right thing by helping an elderly person finish their shopping and then escorting them back to their home which ends up making you very late and you have to a miss a planned meeting (Bad).
  • Making a decision to call in sick for work when you are not truly ill (Wrong) and using that time to take a young child that you mentor to a baseball game (Good).
  • Taking credit for a project at work that wasn’t really much of your doing (Wrong), then when your co-worker who came up with the idea for the successful project in the beginning is blamed for problems at work that were actually your fault, you stay quiet and don’t say anything (Bad).

As you read these examples, you may come to the conclusion that some of the points made could be seen from another viewpoint and perhaps the Good or Bad might be reversed. This may be the case but generally there isn’t much flexibility when it comes to Right and Wrong. The longer that you practice, the narrower the road you travel becomes. As a practitioner of the Martial Ways it is your duty to try and always find the Right and Good way.

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