"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates
Lets sum up where we are in our search for Humans.
First, knowledge of self or who we are and how we got here is critical both for improving our own self image, understanding our actions, reactions, provocations and responses and then using that knowledge of self to gain a better understanding of others and why they are who they are, all of which lifts us out of the rut of just being a drone and enables us to better communicate with others, most especially our students,
Second, how we present ourselves to others has impact on their opinion of us and by extension, our opinion of ourselves; after all, if others view us as ignoble slobs who dress like a chimney sweep on a windy day, then we likely will not have a high opinion of ourselves either, our self-image being dependent upon how others act towards and treat us. Once we understand US, then we should use our new understanding of image and presentation to gauge how others (including our students) view themselves as portrayed by their public presentations (do they have elegance or view/dress like they have zero self-respect with that lack of self-respect translating to lack of respect for others)?
Socrates' quote is pretty indicative of much of his life philosophy and teachings and should become a part of who you are if you are to excel in life and in Aikido and as a Sensei. Oh, and just because you do not run your own dojo does not mean that you, as a senior Yudansha in whatever dojo you train at, are not a Sensei if not an actual exemplar.
The kohai look up to you so if you have no self-respect, present a slovenly image and allow your internal insecurities to flow across the tatami like a garden hose left on high in the front yard then guess what; they will parrot your low-class, pedestrian example and will become less than the Budoka that you claim you want to portray. In a very real sense they will become (the lesser and pedestrian) you; instead of surpassing you as all parents should desire for their child and all Sensei should desire for their students.
A life lived shallowly and only on the surface with no recognition of what is underlying (much less any degree of understanding that could actually lead to ...... gasp! ...... CHANGE FOR THE BETTER) is exactly how the vast majority of people (pedestrians again) live for their entire lives.
Socrates was right. Each of us has a responsibility for examining his/her own life and heeding that higher call to look deeply at ourselves such as;
- What are our motivations?
- What are our fears and are any of them even rational?
- Can we tell the difference between right and wrong and how do we make the decision of when to be judgemental (in making that determination of right vs. wrong) and how do we act upon it?
- What makes any individual special?
- What are our personal core values and do we follow them in our actions with ourselves and towards others, or do we talk a good game but never follow the game plan?
- What mistruths and logical fallacies have we had programmed into us by others (our family of origin for example) and of those which have value, and which should be discarded as fast as we can walk to the trash can to pitch them in?
- How do we determine what about us needs to be changed, or left as is?
It is my firm opinion that none of us will ever complete this task but that we should attempt it nonetheless. To do otherwise (to not make that painful effort) menas that not only are we not human but that we do not need to be a Sensei or an exemplar and lead others into a live lacking introspection and personal growth.
A very old, very country but very real phrase and one that my prime Sensei used many times was, "A pigs' eyes weren't made to gaze upon the stars". How true (unfortunately) for only a larger view, accompanied by a serious life-long effort to look at and understand the stars will enable us to become more than we are and one must become dis-satisfied with our current lot in life before we can begin to lift our gaze.
Here's a book you may find helpful; it did me.
The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations by Robert Nozick
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudokan, Houston, Texas