About grasping by your hara
by Yasunari Kitaura
There is perhaps nothing more concrete than holding something firmly by your hand (s). But, in order to be really concrete in this act, you must do it by your hara.
In the act of holding a thing by hand (s) there coexist two very different aspects: one is, of course, the intention to possess it, to make it one’s own or to dominate it as such expression as 'get (take) hold of' clearly shows its semantic tendency; the other is the reaction against a threat of slipping away of the object held in it. In this last case the tighter is the closed hand the louder is its declaration that the thing held in it is something strange to it, that it doesn't belong to it. In this way, the hand —or more generally speaking, the body— is destined to take contact with the 'other' as an object, fundamentally alien to itself. Objectification is inevitable. Never occurs an identification. Identification occurs only in the emotional levels. However, this kind of identification is valid only in the domain of poetry, music or sentimental recollection; in the world of action it is a taboo.
What I have just said about the body can be applied more clearly about the sight and the mind. The eyes capture the thing they see not only as an object, but also always from a certain distance. Their operation consists in their denying the initial confused identification and their gradual, each time clearer differentiation. We can say the same about the mind. The person who thinks knows certainly that he is thinking about something. But the thought takes its clear form for the first time when it is objectified. As long as its objectification or conceptualization is still confused or immature, in another word, while his idea is not yet sufficiently 'clear’ and 'distinct', his task of thinking is not accomplished and he should not stop looking for more exact concepts. On the other hand, the subject who thinks never appears, never shows his own face even to himself, because once he appears he is already objectified, he has ceased to be the subject of cogito, whose existence we cannot prove, in spite of Descartes, in a direct, immediate manner. What we can know clearly and distinctly is solely the object of his cogito, its products, the trace of its movement
In short, the body, the sight and the mind grasp the 'other' each in its own way, but always as an object. All of them, without exception, act as, a subject toward an object, alien to itself.
Very different from these, hara takes contact with the 'other' through its intimate identification. Hara does not conduct in other way. Only by means of identification it can grasp the 'other', it can perceive its existence. So long as an identification does not occur, the 'other' does not exist for it. However, though paradoxical may be, the 'other' identified by hara is, at the same time, clearly detected and recognized as such by it This lucidity of hara in its act is very different from the nebulosity of an emotional act of identification. And the real integration or unification can only be achieved by this peculiar faculty of hara. One of the most concrete acts such as holding a thing by our hand(s) is supported in reality by this abstract entity called hara.
Hara, thought to be located in the abdomen, is, nonetheless, neither an organ nor a part of the body; its existence is phantasmal from the anatomical point of view. But in our action, in our sense of existence and livingness it is not only real, but also essential and vital. By hara, the core of our existence, we are really able to be, sit, stand, install ourselves in the living space, we can integrate ourselves in our own universe without being disintegrated. Besides, as I have just said, by hara we can take otherwise impossible real contact with the ‘other.' Hara, even though profoundly rooted in the body, as it is not a part of it, does not grasp the 'other' by the contraction of muscles and bones like our hand(s). Instead, it integrates it by absorbing it or penetrating into it. Thus, hara can grasp the 'other' through the hand(s) grasped by this, inverting in this way completely the situation. But, different from the sight and the mind, hara does not fix the 'other", does not take it something static. On the contrary, hara captures the 'other' in its free fluctuation, in its constant movement and oscillation, because hara itself is essentially dynamic and vital. Different from the hand(s) and the sight, but similar to the mind, hara can eliminate the distance and take contact with the 'other' distant from It is immediate directness. Hara hidden in the depth of the abdomen is also called kikaitanden, the vast sea of ki treasured in the abdomen, whose palpitation, respiration and communication with its surroundings and other animate and inanimate beings constitute our life in its very multiple manifestations.
In my opinion, one of the most attractive, interesting aspects of Aikido resides in the fact that we can personally experiment, realize and elaborate this at first sight completely irrational and fantastic idea in the most diverse, but concrete, rigorous and detailed way using our own body and that of others active in the real, living and not merely geometric space, repeating it infinitely, correcting it incessantly if necessary, each time in the manner more subtle and profound.
Madrid, April 2006