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John Matsushima
01-03-2007, 05:24 PM
It is in obvious question that many ponder the relevance, or necessity of spirituality in Aikido. But for those who do want to include it, why do so many seem to practice the traditions of the East instead of their own? Why do people chant kotodama who can't even speak Japanese? I have seen many people bow before kamidana and shrines in their dojos, and clapping their hands before practice and not even know why, thinking that it is just a form of "respect". I don't even know why so many people in the west even have these things in their dojos if they aren't somehow rooted in Shinto or Buddhist religions.
To me, Aikido as an art would be much richer for those who include spirituality to keep to whatever faith they had before they started Aikido. For example, I would say if you are Christian, then you should say an Our Father and pray for world peace before practice and have a cross on the wall instead of a picture of "The Great Sensei". I'm not saying that I think you have to be Japanese to follow these Eastern traditions, but why not just follow your own? Instead of bells and incense and little oranges on a shrine, why not something a little closer to our hearts? Practicing a faith, one which we can trully understand and is close to our hearts, I think would bring new meaning and depth to our practice of Aikido.
This is not a question of whether or not spirituality should be a part of Aikido, but that for those who do think so, what are your thoughts ?

Gwion
01-03-2007, 05:53 PM
Having lived in Japan for 3 years and speaking fluent japanese, and having practiced at a Soto Buddhist temple, and upon coming back to the states to continue Aikido practice here, I have to say I've given this a lot of thought.

In some ways, American practice is more "japanese" than practice in Japan. I have seen much more rigidity in dojo etiquette, ritual, bowing, in Ohio or LA than I have ever seen in Tokyo or Osaka.

Part of me says, "well, this is how westerners play dress-up" they want to add this different cultural experience to their lives, and I say more power to them. So what if they overread significance of certain things and overemphasise the mystical nature of something as simple as bowing respectfully? I mean, a true and earnest handshake is just as deep and mystical if you want it to be, isn't it?

But there is a bad side, one of abuse, as can happen with all things, especially unfamiliar imports. I've seen Aiki cults in the states, and abuse of the title 'sensei' to the degree that Ueshiba-sensei would probably roll over in his grave, or stare down angrily from heaven.

I'd say, let a laisse faire attitude prevail, and let each student incorporate as much or as little of the eastern spirituality and ideas and as much or as little western spirituality as they want. No sensei is in charge of your soul. Besides, religion is the window, not the light itself, so we don't need to get too caught up in what particular frame or tint ours has. Me, I'd like to be able to just open it up and let the breeze blow in.

jeff.
01-03-2007, 06:11 PM
for me: this is the real question here:

why not something a little closer to our hearts?

frankly, i feel alienated from western religions. not that i don't think they are beautiful or whatever. but, in my heart, i feel more affinity with taoism, buddhism and esoteric shinto. i am attracted to the eastern religio-philosophical understandings / explications of reality. they tend to make more sense to me than do western ones. i have no idea why, really. its just true.

this does not mean i disagree with some of what you wrote in spirit. i think "spirituality" in aikido can come from any tradition, ultimately. but, for this reason, i think the value of using japanese forms of etiquette is as a more or less neutral center point. so we can have a unified practice. bowing in can just be about respect, or it can take on religious significance. depending on the person, and their views.

plus its fun. maybe, in that sense, it is playing dress-up. but for me, dress up has always been about trying to understand yourself and the world around you thru various lenses. so no issues there.

yup.

jeff.

Qatana
01-03-2007, 06:39 PM
How is One's "actual" religion determined? Birth or Choice? Personally, I choose choice.

Erick Mead
01-03-2007, 11:38 PM
It need not be so much of an either/or. It is true that many in the West would find themselves closer to depth in their own tradition, if they sought it out. But many are alienated from it, mainly because they have never learned what it holds. I may suggest one or two things for a few to think about.

The air of mystery that too many give to Eastern religion is more the mystery of novelty foudn in what is mere commonplace to the native participant. There is mystery there, surely, but the novelty part is not it. You have to get well past that, in any spiritual tradition, to face the depths of true mystery that lie within.

Having said that, one should not distinguish overmuch unless something is plainly contrary.Even then you should explore why it is or seems so. Paradox is a rich source of truth. Niels Bohr, quoting his father once said that "There are small truths and great truths -- the opposite of a small truth is false; the opposite of a great truth is also true." St. Thomas Aquinas said, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians, that, "All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, comes from the Holy Spirit."

People place too much weight on the externals and too little on what is going on within them, and between them and the people around them.

The Founder made connections between East and West that few have seriously explored. Take kotodama for instance: He said that ""Kirisuto ga ‘hajime ni kotoba ariki' to itta sono kotodama ga SU de arimasu. Sore ga kotodama no hajimari de aru." (‘In the beginning was the Word', spoken by Christ is this kotodama SU. This is the origin of kotodama.) " Logos. Rich stuff is there to mine, trust me, East or West.

You can explore them both together. Brush the figure of "Juji" and place it above the portrait of O Sensei on the kami dana. It is the Cross of Aiki. Read what O Sensei wrote about that. Find the connections that make sense to you. When asked if there were affinities between his art and the teachigns of Christ, he said "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my Aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian." Find out why he said that Aikido could make you a better Christian (as well as a better Buddhist, or any other honest faith).

I would recommend following where the connections you find lead. Be mindful of your purpose in doing it. I think that John's stated point of concern is echoed in O Sensei's concern also. "... give no rein to the spiritual horse.. or it will lead into a dark path." St. Paul in his letter toTitus also cautioned this attention to the interior purpose of our learning and practicing even outwardly good things. "To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted. "

The late John Paul II said that it is of the essence of Christianity to be a "sign of contradiction" or a sign that will be spoken against.

We practice Aikido. It is a warlike art that does not make war. A means of opposing violence without resisting it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that justified violence, respecting the rights of others, is carried out by those who "make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, .... [and] bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death." In Christian terms, we find spiritual poverty in war and its arts, not the vainglory or ego gratification of violent contest for its own sake.

Given the foundation of Aikido in the same love that founds the Peace of Christ -- I'll begin with the prophecy of the priest Simeon given to Mary at the Temple when Jesus was consecrated. "Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thought of many hearts may be revealed."

I wil leave it with several things Christ said about peace and violence that illustrate this profound sign of contradiction echoing within Christianity and Aikido also:

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. "

"You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently."

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."

The last one is a summation of the spirit that lies within Bushido.

And I'll close with with St. Paul: "For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?"

So, choose the rod, and train, train, train ...

Jorge Garcia
01-04-2007, 04:31 AM
It is in obvious question that many ponder the relevance, or necessity of spirituality in Aikido. But for those who do want to include it, why do so many seem to practice the traditions of the East instead of their own? Why do people chant kotodama who can't even speak Japanese? I have seen many people bow before kamidana and shrines in their dojos, and clapping their hands before practice and not even know why, thinking that it is just a form of "respect". I don't even know why so many people in the west even have these things in their dojos if they aren't somehow rooted in Shinto or Buddhist religions.
To me, Aikido as an art would be much richer for those who include spirituality to keep to whatever faith they had before they started Aikido. For example, I would say if you are Christian, then you should say an Our Father and pray for world peace before practice and have a cross on the wall instead of a picture of "The Great Sensei". I'm not saying that I think you have to be Japanese to follow these Eastern traditions, but why not just follow your own? Instead of bells and incense and little oranges on a shrine, why not something a little closer to our hearts? Practicing a faith, one which we can truly understand and is close to our hearts, I think would bring new meaning and depth to our practice of Aikido.
This is not a question of whether or not spirituality should be a part of Aikido, but that for those who do think so, what are your thoughts ?

This is a deep question with lots of answers.

In the West, we have not only a bias against our religions but in some cases even a hatred and I might add, it is a mindless one. I have friends who would never allow a prayer to the Christian God to be offered in a dojo and that would be offensive to them but then turn around and allow all kinds of Japanese Shinto practices in the dojo with no question at all. Part of this is because they lack awareness of the Shinto nature of the practices and it is their own ignorance of that which gives them a benign attitude toward it.

Also, the Japanese world view is open to many religions while the West mostly has "one true religions" so we are more sectarian than the far Eastern people tend to be. Again, this is raw ignorance.

Here's the weird part. As a Christian, it is easier for me to participate in the Japanese rituals than it may be for them to do the reverse. It is like the Apostle Paul's argument that it is OK to eat meat sacrificed to idols because there really are no other Gods (He taught there was only one true God). In other words, any Christian offended because a fellow Christian was eating meat that had been in a pagan sacrifice was in fact weak in his understanding because what he was being offended at was a myth with no fact in spiritual reality. (ICorinthians 8:1-6) If I accept the tenets of the New Testament, I know that the particular beliefs of Shintoism aren't true and that O Sensei really isn't coming back by the clapping to observe the practice or aid it in any way. It's just clapping with no real metaphysical results. In that case, because I hold to the tenets of my religion, it is easy to go along and ignore the Shinto but accept clapping as a cultural practice rather than a religious one because by clapping, I, in my heart am not accepting Shinto cosmology. I am just clapping because my teacher is clapping.

Finally, Kisshomaru Ueshiba said that the final criteria he had for the expansion of Aikido to other countries is that Aikido not be internationalized culturally. He said, "As far as Aikido is concerned, the uniqueness of Japanese philosophy forms its essence, and my conviction is that anyone who disagrees with this is no longer an Aikido practitioner. The meaning of internationalization is not that the unique tradition becomes internationalized, but that Aikido practitioners in every country should change and unite with the tradition."

So we have a compromise. Me as a Westerner not accepting O Sensei's Omotokyo or Shintoism but willing to participate in some outward forms that are part of the Japanese culture because they have no basis is metaphysical fact (in my mind). At the same time, I as a western Christian can find some commonalities where we do touch on some spiritual truths that are commonly true and I can accept O Sensei's and Aikido's overall general philosophy without having to check in my mind at the door and drink the Kool-Aid. If I can accept most of the more general philosophical results or conclusions, then I can do Aikido and promote it's philosophical "ends" without having to accept it's philosophical "means". I can strive for peace and harmony and ki- mind - body coordination - it's "end", without having to believe that when O Sensei practiced Aikido, he really stood on the rainbow bridge between spirit and matter - his "means".
Best wishes,
Jorge

guest89893
01-04-2007, 08:49 AM
To me, Aikido as an art would be much richer for those who include spirituality to keep to whatever faith they had before they started Aikido. For example, I would say if you are Christian, then you should say an Our Father and pray for world peace before practice and have a cross on the wall instead of a picture of "The Great Sensei". I'm not saying that I think you have to be Japanese to follow these Eastern traditions, but why not just follow your own? Instead of bells and incense and little oranges on a shrine, why not something a little closer to our hearts? Practicing a faith, one which we can truly understand and is close to our hearts, I think would bring new meaning and depth to our practice of Aikido.
This is not a question of whether or not spirituality should be a part of Aikido, but that for those who do think so, what are your thoughts ?

Not to sound arrogant - but know that yes some of us do in fact include our western religions and beliefs into our Aikido. Making Aikido richer...I can hope so, but if it is then- that is through the ever slow process of one student at a time, myself hopefully.
When I bow it is actually twice - first always to God (and that is what I say as I bow). At our dojo, I teach the Sunday class (God's seventh day by Christian beliefs...hmmm), Before walking in front of the class, yes a prayer and a bow with the second prayer/chant/spiritual focus etc. -"Through my sword, peace."
Because as Eric kindly pointed out in quoting Matthew, Jesus comes with a sword. Does everyone at my dojo know I put my "western beliefs" into my Aikido? Yes, but I do not expect or push it on anyone. I have included a link from our dojo website it is an article I wrote - it is not the view or opinion of our dojo, nor the dojo's head teacher. It is purely mine and I am fortunate that I can express my own perceptions/thoughts/beliefs in an Aikido article and have posted on our site as well as some others. Please understand, I add the link only to direct you to the 4th paragraph which to me more clearly answers your question of are some of us including our "western" religion/philosophy into our Aikido.
http://theaikidodojo.com/articles/irimi_tenkan.htm

Erick Mead
01-04-2007, 09:46 AM
This is a deep question with lots of answers.
....
If I accept the tenets of the New Testament, I know that the particular beliefs of Shintoism aren't true and that O Sensei really isn't coming back by the clapping to observe the practice or aid it in any way. It's just clapping with no real metaphysical results. In that case, because I hold to the tenets of my religion, it is easy to go along and ignore the Shinto but accept clapping as a cultural practice rather than a religious one because by clapping, I, in my heart am not accepting Shinto cosmology. I am just clapping because my teacher is clapping. Oh, we can give it greater depth than that and still reconcile both traditions in harmony. That is our purpose in Aikido, after all.

Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. If anyone thinks the concept of kami is necessarily offensive to revealed truth, then they have not properly understood the concept of kami. "Thrones, powers, dominions ...?"

As to O Sensei's veneration according to Shinto tradition in the dojo, in Catholic tradition, we are simply asking for his intercession in our practice to make it fruitful and acceptable to God. If we are faithful, he is merely dead -- not utterly gone.

We rely on something the Apostle's Creed describes as the "communion of saints" to support us in perservering in faith. Even in the Protestant branches, even the more Calvinistic doctrine, this is not an alien concept, either. The Westminster Confession (adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist convention in 1688) described it as those "being united to one another in love, have communion in each other's gifts and graces" by the mediation of Christ (the divine Word). We merely ask thatw e be permitted to commune with him in his art, spiritually, as we commune with one another in his art, materially.

O Sensei was clearly a man of prodigious virtue. One can debate the particular profession of Christian faith by O Sensei in any exclusive or dogmatic sense, but he clearly identified with the Divine Word or fundamental reason and will underlying creation. Christ was hardly exlcusionary in his modes of teaching. O Sensei also teaches the invocation of LOVE in accordance with that will among mankind, and specifically applying it towards one's enemies on that basis.

That hits the necessary high points of the evangelium ("good news") for me. I do not have authority to teach that he was teaching the Gospel in another form, but by no evidence I have seen am I required to assume or act as if he wasn't (and privately, I may permissibly assume that he was.) That delicately suggestive but steely ambiguity is quintessentially both Catholic and Japanese in its feeling.

It is no more impermissible nor unfaithful to observe or venerate the kamidana in accordance with Shinto ritual in a genuine spirit of faith as to the "uniting to one another in love" that occurs in the proper Aikido practice than it was for St. Paul to point out and venerate the statue of the "unknown God" for the benefit of the Athenians and in accordance with their own traditions.
So we have a compromise. Me as a Westerner not accepting O Sensei's Omotokyo or Shintoism but willing to participate in some outward forms that are part of the Japanese culture because they have no basis is metaphysical fact (in my mind). ... I can strive for peace and harmony and ki- mind - body coordination - it's "end", without having to believe that when O Sensei practiced Aikido, he really stood on the rainbow bridge between spirit and matter - his "means". You need not necessarily assume that the inward forms are at odds. The Floating Bridge merely describes the human condition, and he merely advocates that we fully realize the condition of our true nature. If O Sensei did have some "good news" to teach (and who is there to say he did not?) then you shortchange a very possibly true spiritual gift by not exploring its interior dimensions for yourself in a spirit of faith.

Masagatsu agatsu! Katsu Hayabi!
"True victory is self-victory! Day of Swift Victory!"

In twenty years of looking at it, I have not found a single essential thing in Aikido that is not a part of Truth. My own shallow dalliance early on was progressively deepened. It brought me full circle to the roots of faith expressed in tradition and scripture.

Takumi
01-04-2007, 10:17 AM
Aikido is supposed to be a martial art. Not a religion. Although it has spiritual aspects, it is not in anyway religious. O-Sensei's religious beliefs may have helped him to find the Art of Peace but he did not in anyway impose his beliefs into the practice of Aikido.

If westerners were to impose their religious beliefs to make the spiritual part of Aikido more understandable, then it would be ruining the whole practice of it.

The clapping and bowing at the beginning of class is supposed to be respect to O-Sensei and to show that your mind is ready to learn Aikido for that class. At the end of class it is a respect and thanks for the knowledge and ancestors of Aikido.

guest89893
01-04-2007, 10:40 AM
Aikido is supposed to be a martial art. Not a religion. Although it has spiritual aspects, it is not in anyway religious. O-Sensei's religious beliefs may have helped him to find the Art of Peace but he did not in anyway impose his beliefs into the practice of Aikido.

If westerners were to impose their religious beliefs to make the spiritual part of Aikido more understandable, then it would be ruining the whole practice of it.

The clapping and bowing at the beginning of class is supposed to be respect to O-Sensei and to show that your mind is ready to learn Aikido for that class. At the end of class it is a respect and thanks for the knowledge and ancestors of Aikido.

Sorry to disagree with you Dylan, but you are not correct. O-Sensei clearly was directed to start his own dojo as a part & path of his religious/spiritual beliefs. O-Sensei most clearly did impose his beliefs into the practice of Aikido. How do you think it became a "Do?" So, you can choose to see the clapping and bowing as just respect to O-Sensei, but that is not all it means or its purpose. Finally, have you researched all the meanings of the Japanese affectation (think that is the right word) for "O?"
Again, I am not telling you to follow how I approach Aikido -it is always an individual quest-but if you think how I and perhaps others are approaching Aikido is ruining the practice...well please come down and take my class or train with me here or any of the seminars I am attending. Afterwords beer,food,& coffee while we argue/discuss/share and perhaps add one more friend to the growth of peace through Aikido.
Gene

jonreading
01-04-2007, 11:21 AM
Read, "In the Dojo: A Guide to the Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts ," by David Lowery. Mr. Lowery does a great job to discussing the integration of Japanese and American influences in the dojo.

There is an old tale of a beggar who tricks a cook into letting him make stone soup. As the story goes, the beggar asks for food from a kitchen and he is denied. He lements about his hunger and begs at least for a pot in which to cook a soup, a stone soup. The cook, whose has never heard of stone soup, is intrigued and permits the beggar to use a kitchen cauldron on a fire. The beggar boils some water and drops a stone into the cauldron. The beggar tastes the soup and begins to amend the soup with various spices, vegetables and meats. Eventually, he finishes the soup and the cook is amazed how good stone soup tastes. In this tale, what once was water and stone becomes something entirely different right under the cook's nose.

I believe that aikido is Japanese, founded by a Japanese martial artist in Japan. Aikido is neither American nor European, it is Japanese. To preserve the history and culture of aikido, one must preserve its foundation. Do I blame a child that cannot add or subtract? No, I blame the education system that did not properly educate the child in addition and subtraction. Similarly, I wouldn't hold aikido students responsbile for not receiving proper education from their instructor of the history of aikido, I would fault the aikido instructor whose is ignorant of her heritage.

Qatana
01-04-2007, 12:36 PM
"It is true that many in the West would find themselves closer to depth in their own tradition, if they sought it out."

I do not have to go any deeper into the religion that my grandparents practiced than the fact that the men are supposed to thank god every day that they were not born a woman.

Kevin Leavitt
01-04-2007, 01:26 PM
I always love this discussion!

Living in Bavaria Germany for the last couple of years I have found Christian religion to be a little different here than in the states. I am judging this as an outsider, so I freely admit my ignorance on this area.

Catholicism his the dominant religion in Bavaria and is pretty ubiquitous and pervasive here. Part of your taxes go to the church for the most part, there is only one church, there are no evangilical or protestant churches in our communities, everyone is catholic, my sons "public" school did prayer, and crosses hung everywhere, they did religous ceremonies and things in the school.

It is a part of their community and ingrained, it was not thought of, nor worn on the sleeve, nor were did I ever felt judged for being a "non-christian". They do not prosetylitize, or preach, it is just there and it is apart of what you do.

I am comfortable with it, and never felt put upon. I cannot say I feel the same way back home in the states where we seem to put a great deal more emphasis on religion...yet we preach separation of church and state, where in Germany there is no separation of church and state!

I am beginning to think that the U.S simply puts alot more conscious thought or attaches criticality to religion as linked to spirituality than many other cultures in the world.

Not judging this as good or bad, as I think there are tremendous issues that go along with "group think" that can develop in homogenous societies like we learned in the past from Japan and Germany in WWII. I think we have seen this a little lately in the U.S. as well, but now I am getting into politics which is a very, very dangerous area! :)

I personally find the Kotodama interesting, as well as yoga chanting, and benedictine monks chanting as well. I find them all analogous and based on the same thing.

I personally don't put a lot of attachment to things like bowing, kami, or pictures on the wall. I do think it is possible to take an unhealthy approach to them when you attach more meaning and significance to them than is necessary.

Something about idol worship. I know from by studies in Christianity and Buddhism that both caution against it.

guest89893
01-04-2007, 03:17 PM
Nice post Kevin.
BTW I know it's a bit of a drive -but did you take your son (family) to Nuremberg (Did I spell that right?) Square to the open air Christmas market underneath the Church, -not far from the castle? It was/is one of my favorite places during Christmas time.
Grus Gott (hope I spelled it right),
Gene

Kevin Leavitt
01-04-2007, 03:49 PM
yes we go to the Nuernburg Kristkindl Markt every year...it is one of the most enchanting places you can go during the holidays. There was no snow this year, but it was warmer so we did not freeze to death. But you have not experienced Christmas until you have been to this market!

Gruess Goett would be the correct spelling without the umlaut. My computer is set up for french so I cannot do the umlaut! und meine deustch est nicht sehr gute!

Erick Mead
01-04-2007, 06:20 PM
Aikido is supposed to be a martial art. Not a religion. Although it has spiritual aspects, it is not in anyway religious. O-Sensei's religious beliefs may have helped him to find the Art of Peace but he did not in anyway impose his beliefs into the practice of Aikido. The Art of Peace is the religion that is not a religion; it perfects and completes all religions. In O Sensei's conception the practice of Aikido is a direct emanation of the "Art of Peace" that is
also transmitted through the kotodama, all of which spring from the root sound of creation "SU" (the Breath of Life, the Word of God, the Divine Logos). As such, there is nothing whatsoever remarkable, theologically speaking, about the quoted statement from an orthodox Christian perspective.

Or this one: The Art of Peace that I practice has room for each of the world's eight million kami (gods), and I cooperate with them all. The God of Peace is very great and enjoins all that is divine and enlightened in every land. "St. Thomas! Paging St. Thomas Aquinas!

Erick Mead
01-04-2007, 06:38 PM
I believe that aikido is Japanese, founded by a Japanese martial artist in Japan. Aikido is neither American nor European, it is Japanese. To preserve the history and culture of aikido, one must preserve its foundation. I wholeheartedly agree. But empty forms are dangerous because they will be filled haphazardly as easily as they are filled intentionally. Something must fill them or they may just as well collect all manner of unsavory things. Aikido practice must be in-formed.

While cannot one understand O Sensei without a Japanese context, one cannot understand him from a purely Japanese context, either. He certainly confused many of his native-born deshi on these topics. He went out of his way to draw the connections for us to very fundamental Western spiritual ideas.

He plainly did not mean to be understood solely from a Japanese context.

Erick Mead
01-04-2007, 06:55 PM
"It is true that many in the West would find themselves closer to depth in their own tradition, if they sought it out."

I do not have to go any deeper into the religion that my grandparents practiced than the fact that the men are supposed to thank god every day that they were not born a woman. Well -- that would not be terribly deep, now would it?

And Oh. I love the ones along that same line:: Q: Will you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and join the Church of God in Perfect Holiness Bible Prophecy Temple?

A: My grandparents were Catholic. My parents were Catholic. I am a Catholic.

Q: So just because your grandparents and parents were Catholic doesn't mean you have to be. What if your grandfather was a idiot, and your father was idiot -- what would that make you?

A: A member of the Church of God in Perfect Holiness Bible Prophecy Temple? --- With due apologies to the member of the Church of God in Perfect Holiness Bible Prophecy Temple.

Sorry, Sam.

Jorge Garcia
01-04-2007, 11:27 PM
Oh, we can give it greater depth than that and still reconcile both traditions in harmony. That is our purpose in Aikido, after all.

Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. If anyone thinks the concept of kami is necessarily offensive to revealed truth, then they have not properly understood the concept of kami. "Thrones, powers, dominions ...?"

As to O Sensei's veneration according to Shinto tradition in the dojo, in Catholic tradition, we are simply asking for his intercession in our practice to make it fruitful and acceptable to God. If we are faithful, he is merely dead -- not utterly gone.

We rely on something the Apostle's Creed describes as the "communion of saints" to support us in perservering in faith. Even in the Protestant branches, even the more Calvinistic doctrine, this is not an alien concept, either. The Westminster Confession (adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist convention in 1688) described it as those "being united to one another in love, have communion in each other's gifts and graces" by the mediation of Christ (the divine Word). We merely ask thatw e be permitted to commune with him in his art, spiritually, as we commune with one another in his art, materially.

O Sensei was clearly a man of prodigious virtue. One can debate the particular profession of Christian faith by O Sensei in any exclusive or dogmatic sense, but he clearly identified with the Divine Word or fundamental reason and will underlying creation. Christ was hardly exlcusionary in his modes of teaching. O Sensei also teaches the invocation of LOVE in accordance with that will among mankind, and specifically applying it towards one's enemies on that basis.

That hits the necessary high points of the evangelium ("good news") for me. I do not have authority to teach that he was teaching the Gospel in another form, but by no evidence I have seen am I required to assume or act as if he wasn't (and privately, I may permissibly assume that he was.) That delicately suggestive but steely ambiguity is quintessentially both Catholic and Japanese in its feeling.

It is no more impermissible nor unfaithful to observe or venerate the kamidana in accordance with Shinto ritual in a genuine spirit of faith as to the "uniting to one another in love" that occurs in the proper Aikido practice than it was for St. Paul to point out and venerate the statue of the "unknown God" for the benefit of the Athenians and in accordance with their own traditions.
You need not necessarily assume that the inward forms are at odds. The Floating Bridge merely describes the human condition, and he merely advocates that we fully realize the condition of our true nature. If O Sensei did have some "good news" to teach (and who is there to say he did not?) then you shortchange a very possibly true spiritual gift by not exploring its interior dimensions for yourself in a spirit of faith.

Masagatsu agatsu! Katsu Hayabi!
"True victory is self-victory! Day of Swift Victory!"

In twenty years of looking at it, I have not found a single essential thing in Aikido that is not a part of Truth. My own shallow dalliance early on was progressively deepened. It brought me full circle to the roots of faith expressed in tradition and scripture.

Eric,
You listed my quote so I will respond that of course, I was only speaking for myself and I still stand behind everything I said, for myself of course. Just for the record, I could never agree with some of your suppositions because they aren't faithful to the intent of the writers. None of the classic Fathers responsible to the Ecumenical Creeds would have accepted O Sensei's beliefs and neither would have the Westminster Divines or anyone from the Reformed tradition. Calvin nor any of his immediate predecessors would never be found accepting the Shinto or the Omoto kyo world view or cosmology. That is a certain fact without debate in both conservative and liberal traditions. Your statements may be an accurate reflection of what you believe but your post stretched all factual credibility. Sorry but you are just incorrect. I pride myself in researching the truth and accepting it for what it is but as much as I respect O Sensei, His religious beliefs were definitely NOT compatible with any version of classic and orthodox Christianity in the mainstream for the last 2000 years. Some of the things he taught and believed were in fact true but the fundamental things he held to were not compatible with Christian teaching that accepts the basis of classical historic Christianity.
Again, I respect your right to make the connections you did and your Christianity may be sufficiently diluted to accept fully all of O Sensei's belief system but it still differs substantially from all of the sources you cited without question or debate from all the important and credible sources. I would have loved to correct you point by point but I'm sure it wouldn't chnange you and you won't change me so it's wisdom to call the truce now bow out here because I don't want this discussion to degenerate into a religious argument.
I wish you the best always,
Jorge

John Matsushima
01-05-2007, 05:44 AM
I think it is not a matter of which religion you choose, or even if you choose one at all. But I think whatever we do we should act with sincerity. I think it is a mistake to chase after the Omoto-kyo practices just to make our Aikido better. If we choose religion, I think the most important thing is to follow our hearts for the purpose of being one with the universe, one with the God. Those who are spiritual, practice their spirituality in everything they do, from the moment they get up, to the moment they go to bed, not just because Mr. Ueshiba did it.
Erick gave us a lot of good information, I thought, showing that Western religion supports the same principles and ideas that Ueshiba held close to him (peace, love, harmony, etc). Reading those things, I could imagine that Ueshiba would have been the same no matter what religion he practiced. Omoto-kyo just happened to touch his heart and so that's why practiced it; not to make his budo better. Maybe someone can correct me, but I don't know of any of Ueshiba's uchideshi who became an Omoto-kyo follower. I have read that even Chiba sensei went off to practice Zen because Ueshiba's spiritual beliefs just didn't make sense to him. If one is serious about the spirituality found in Aikido, then I think it is better to practice a way which holds some meaning to the individual to bring fruition to these principles. And I'm not just talking about Christianity; if you are a Jew, Muslim, agnostic, or whatever, the point of it all is based in love and harmony.

"We must follow the way, but remember that the way is not the way."

Which leads to another important point that Jorge made as well:

"..as much as I respect O Sensei, His religious beliefs were definitely NOT compatible with any version of classic and orthodox Christianity in the mainstream for the last 2000 years. Some of the things he taught and believed were in fact true but the fundamental things he held to were not compatible with Christian teaching that accepts the basis of classical historic Christianity."

I agree with this because of the fundamental idea that while it is OK from Ueshiba's view, and from the Buddhist view to practice other religions, in Christianity it is not because of the tenant "There is only one God and there shall be no other god before me." That would make for a very interesting discussion on another thread.

Finally, for those who just like to play dress up and learn and be a part of Japanese culture, then if you are serious, then please do some research and find out more about it. I think we come to the dojo to learn and practice, not to dance around in ignorance.

Sincerely,
John Matsushima

Takumi
01-05-2007, 05:45 AM
Sorry to disagree with you Dylan, but you are not correct. O-Sensei clearly was directed to start his own dojo as a part & path of his religious/spiritual beliefs. O-Sensei most clearly did impose his beliefs into the practice of Aikido. How do you think it became a "Do?" So, you can choose to see the clapping and bowing as just respect to O-Sensei, but that is not all it means or its purpose. Finally, have you researched all the meanings of the Japanese affectation (think that is the right word) for "O?"
Again, I am not telling you to follow how I approach Aikido -it is always an individual quest-but if you think how I and perhaps others are approaching Aikido is ruining the practice...well please come down and take my class or train with me here or any of the seminars I am attending. Afterwords beer,food,& coffee while we argue/discuss/share and perhaps add one more friend to the growth of peace through Aikido.
Gene


Thank you for letting me know that. I will try to re word it.

I ment that during your practice of Aikido you did not need to adapt his religious beliefs and that you could still believe in whatever religion you want to believe in. Aikido is just a spiritual path without having to make your religion shinto, buddhism, or the religion that O-Sensei practiced (I don't remember the name of it).

I was wrong to criticize the partnership of religion and Aikido together. It would not ruin it, I just personally don't prefer it. I never was a church going fan, and if I had to say I was any religion it would be buddhist. So that is why my views are different than yours. But I also believe that if buddhism was to be integrated with Aikido it would indeed destroy it for me. I like the fact that Aikido is purely about finding the way to The Art of Peace. The religious part of any religion should stay in whatever place of worship they have. Otherwise it becomes too much of that religion and too little of Aikido. The way( :do: ) changes to a different way. But that is only my personal view on it and is also why everyone's Aikido is different. This way people find the best way to practice Aikido for themselves.

Thank you for your insight though. I think I will take you up on your offer sometime, I am really interested in seeing how it works out. :)

guest89893
01-05-2007, 08:56 AM
yes we go to the Nuernburg Kristkindl Markt every year...it is one of the most enchanting places you can go during the holidays. There was no snow this year, but it was warmer so we did not freeze to death. But you have not experienced Christmas until you have been to this market!

Gruess Goett would be the correct spelling without the umlaut. My computer is set up for french so I cannot do the umlaut! und meine deustch est nicht sehr gute!
Well meine deustch est nix. Sorry no snow - but what an enchanting site and wonderful place to experience!
I have got to get back over their with my wife and son, oh well maybe next Christmas.

guest89893
01-05-2007, 09:42 AM
Thank you for letting me know that. I will try to re word it.

I meant that during your practice of Aikido you did not need to adapt his religious beliefs and that you could still believe in whatever religion you want to believe in. Aikido is just a spiritual path without having to make your religion shinto, Buddhism, or the religion that O-Sensei practiced (I don't remember the name of it).

I was wrong to criticize the partnership of religion and Aikido together. It would not ruin it, I just personally don't prefer it. I never was a church going fan, and if I had to say I was any religion it would be Buddhist. So that is why my views are different than yours. But I also believe that if Buddhism was to be integrated with Aikido it would indeed destroy it for me. I like the fact that Aikido is purely about finding the way to The Art of Peace. The religious part of any religion should stay in whatever place of worship they have. Otherwise it becomes too much of that religion and too little of Aikido. The way( :do: ) changes to a different way. But that is only my personal view on it and is also why everyone Aikido is different. This way people find the best way to practice Aikido for themselves.

Thank you for your insight though. I think I will take you up on your offer sometime, I am really interested in seeing how it works out. :)
Ahh... I understand your point and yes it can always turn into a danger if "religion" is pushed or the main focus of Aikido. I and where I train/teach is a dojo noted for never loosing site that Aikido is a martial art.

A religion is often defined as a service or worship of God. Like David dancing up to the temple to honor God, perhaps that would more accurately describe what I am writing about to a degree. If you had walked up to the road and saw David's dance, you would simply see someone dancing or celebrating something. A deeper eye might see a person, dancing, temple ... and conclude this is for this man a religious or spiritual expression, and for someone else they may simply walk slowly and softly on the same road and for him/her that is expression to God. It is in the transformation of ourselves and the manifestation of that effect on the world that is the religious/spiritual path, the DO. Oops, okay so now I'm preaching. Sorry.

In order to get up that next level into the "Aiki" for me, I have to use the foundations that exist within my Catholic upbringing, my Christian Faith to draw the spiritual connect to O-Sensei's teachings. You must believe in something (In my opinion) in order to make that next jump. And yes, I do know or have heard of some of O-Sensei's uchideshi becoming members of his religious sect -just cannot remember the names (perhaps someone else can help here)- for I believe the very same reason. The other example given was Chiba becoming a practitioner of Zen B. -and he had explained why in an interview somewhere (I think AJ).

Oh and BTW, the offer to visit and train at Jihonjuku was real. We love having visitors come train with us on the mat and join us off the mat. Which reminds me, thanks to all who came and trained at the ASU Winter Intensive last week. It was awesome training and meeting old and new friends.
Gene

Takumi
01-05-2007, 10:13 AM
Ahh... I understand your point and yes it can always turn into a danger if "religion" is pushed or the main focus of Aikido. I and where I train/teach is a dojo noted for never loosing site that Aikido is a martial art.

A religion is often defined as a service or worship of God. Like David dancing up to the temple to honor God, perhaps that would more accurately describe what I am writing about to a degree. If you had walked up to the road and saw David's dance, you would simply see someone dancing or celebrating something. A deeper eye might see a person, dancing, temple ... and conclude this is for this man a religious or spiritual expression, and for someone else they may simply walk slowly and softly on the same road and for him/her that is expression to God. It is in the transformation of ourselves and the manifestation of that effect on the world that is the religious/spiritual path, the DO. Oops, okay so now I'm preaching. Sorry.

In order to get up that next level into the "Aiki" for me, I have to use the foundations that exist within my Catholic upbringing, my Christian Faith to draw the spiritual connect to O-Sensei's teachings. You must believe in something (In my opinion) in order to make that next jump. And yes, I do know or have heard of some of O-Sensei's uchideshi becoming members of his religious sect -just cannot remember the names (perhaps someone else can help here)- for I believe the very same reason. The other example given was Chiba becoming a practitioner of Zen B. -and he had explained why in an interview somewhere (I think AJ).

Oh and BTW, the offer to visit and train at Jihonjuku was real. We love having visitors come train with us on the mat and join us off the mat. Which reminds me, thanks to all who came and trained at the ASU Winter Intensive last week. It was awesome training and meeting old and new friends.
Gene


Oh! I understand what your point is as well. It also takes that extra something for me to understand the Aiki on a more moral and off the mat way. I personally believe (and did before practicing Aikido) in a lot of the beliefs that O-Sensei had so it is easy for me to understand.

I completly understand what you mean by using religion to help you understand the Aiki part. I like how you have made the adjustment to do so and have not lost the meaning of Aikido. I would definetly love to visit and so how this is achieved! I am very interested in this now... i never realized how differently one can percieve the :do: part of Aikido. Thank you again for your invitation, I think the next time I am around there I will definetly visit.

Erick Mead
01-05-2007, 01:46 PM
Just for the record, I could never agree with some of your suppositions because they aren't faithful to the intent of the writers. None of the classic Fathers responsible to the Ecumenical Creeds would have accepted O Sensei's beliefs and neither would have the Westminster Divines or anyone from the Reformed tradition. The intent of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church with regard to Shinto, as to which they had absolutely no knowledge, or Omoto, which did not even exist at the time, is a speculation of debatable significance. That also seriously overstates the case that I made: Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. We are not talking about professions of faith. We are talking about the practice of Aikido in the context of Western religion.

I do not take a position on primacy of anything other than revealed truth. Doctrine is not contested. I think it can be affirmatively stated that Shinto has virtually no affirmative doctrinal statements, at least not in the Western sense.
Calvin nor any of his immediate predecessors would never be found accepting the Shinto or the Omoto kyo world view or cosmology. An assumption we will never be able to test. The Good News is good for all peoples and all times, but all peoples at all times are not the same in their understanding or application of it, nor is therei need for any particular aspect of grace the same, either.

Moreover, the graces of the Church are not static, but grow in history and in wisdom, like the seed of the mustard tree. Different branches have had and do have different conceptions of stablizing doctrines in the course of that growth for their times and circumstances. The simultaneous universality and variety of those ideas of stabilizing infulences only deomnstrates the fact that the faith is a living and growing thing.

I strongly contest the inevitablity of conflict on essentials of the underlying conception of Truth expressed by O Sensei in the practices and rituals of Aikido passed down to us. NOT egaging them and examining them carefully and faithfully is a pointless and overly inhibiting objection. Semina Verbi. Seeds of the Word are everywhere. The good news is found in some capacity wherever the Spirit moves the hearts of men. The seeds should not be discarded because you find them among what you deem to be inessential chaff. Was St. Paul wrong in preaching the statue of the "unknown god" to the Athenians?

There is no difference in this context if we are to take the broadest possible and therefore least doctrinal conception when addressing a context far removed from Western ideas of doctrine and theology.
Sorry but you are just incorrect. I pride myself in researching the truth and accepting it for what it is but as much as I respect O Sensei, His religious beliefs were definitely NOT compatible with any version of classic and orthodox Christianity in the mainstream for the last 2000 years. I don't have the authority to say that they are compatible in every particular, nor did I. But then, on the other hand, neither has anyone else made such a determination as a general matter. It is quite literally an open question with suggestive things to discuss. Prejudgment has no place in religion or in any other aspect of life.
Some of the things he taught and believed were in fact true but the fundamental things he held to were not compatible with Christian teaching that accepts the basis of classical historic Christianity. In addition to Aikido training, O Sensei's root practice (his daily observance) was Chinkon Kishin. It means "calm the spirit, return to the Divine." Chinkon Kishin incoporates martial techniques of spiritual significance as well as kotodama.

If O Sensei understood his cosmology in terms of the Divine Logos (which he expressly did), how is Chinkon Kishin and the practice of kotodama anything but oriented toward "SU" "the Word," the Saving Name - "I AM"?? In it essentials, it is Christ-oriented, when observed from a Christian perpsective. It therefore cannot be condemned out of hand. That understanding is at least at the level of the God-fearers in the early Church who associated themselves with synagogues thorughout the Greco-Roman world and who formed the ready corps of Gentile converts to Christianity.
Again, I respect your right to make the connections you did and your Christianity may be sufficiently diluted to accept fully all of O Sensei's belief system It isn't and I didn't, especially not in the way you mean. The care that I put into my statements is a reflection of both my openness to the creativity of the Spirit working in the world and my deep respect for orthodoxy and the need for stabilizing authority. They are never really at odds. You really should read Chesterton's book by that title - "Orthodoxy."
... it still differs substantially from all of the sources you cited without question or debate from all the important and credible sources. I would have loved to correct you point by point but I'm sure it wouldn't chnange you and you won't change me so it's wisdom to call the truce now bow out here because I don't want this discussion to degenerate into a religious argument. I anticipated that you, or someone from your perpsective, might like to try to correct me, which is why I laid the invitation on the table. As long as we do not depart (and we have not) from the "sprirt of gentleness" counseled by both St. Paul and O Sensei, what's the problem with religious debate in reference to Aikido -- given the topic at hand?

Erick Mead
01-05-2007, 02:33 PM
It is in the transformation of ourselves and the manifestation of that effect on the world that is the religious/spiritual path, the DO. ...

In order to get up that next level into the "Aiki" for me, I have to use the foundations that exist within my Catholic upbringing, my Christian Faith to draw the spiritual connect to O-Sensei's teachings. As an example of a balanced method of approaching these issues from the West going East (although applied to a somewhat different subject, but also Japanese) is "Zen Catholicism" by Dom Aelred Graham, a Benedictine monk. With imprimatur and nihil obstat, no less. It was written in 1963, just before the Second Vatican Council reforms were decided and established.

http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Catholicism-Dom-Alfred-Graham/dp/0824514254

A prominent theme in the book is from the Psalms: "Be still and know that I am God." Hmmm. "Chinkon Kishin" is a fair translation of that text.

Also balanced but more from the East looking West (observing Buddhism more generally in connection with Christianity ) is this website:

http://www.frimmin.com/faith/index.html

A very sincere and well-thought out effort. Worth exploring and challenging yourself. The theological and symbolic observations in the movie reviews (the primary symbolic art of our time) are worth a good deal of time spent all by themselves.

http://frimmin.com/movies/

It should be noted that we owe some of our cherished traditions in many now-Christian feasts (Christmas, Easter, Mardi Gras, ) to many preserved and sacralized observances of pagan peoples that were worthy and proper in their own right.

guest89893
01-05-2007, 04:12 PM
As an example of a balanced method of approaching these issues from the West going East (although applied to a somewhat different subject, but also Japanese) is "Zen Catholicism" by Dom Aelred Graham, a Benedictine monk. With imprimatur and nihil obstat, no less. It was written in 1963, just before the Second Vatican Council reforms were decided and established.

http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Catholicism-Dom-Alfred-Graham/dp/0824514254

A prominent theme in the book is from the Psalms: "Be still and know that I am God." Hmmm. "Chinkon Kishin" is a fair translation of that text.

Also balanced but more from the East looking West (observing Buddhism more generally in connection with Christianity ) is this website:

http://www.frimmin.com/faith/index.html

A very sincere and well-thought out effort. Worth exploring and challenging yourself. The theological and symbolic observations in the movie reviews (the primary symbolic art of our time) are worth a good deal of time spent all by themselves.

http://frimmin.com/movies/

It should be noted that we owe some of our cherished traditions in many now-Christian feasts (Christmas, Easter, Mardi Gras, ) to many preserved and sacralized observances of pagan peoples that were worthy and proper in their own right.

Thank you for the recommendation of Dom Aelred Graham's book. When Jorge was disagreeing with you my mind jumped immediately to Christianizing of these Pagan Holidays to a Christian spiritual & religious connection...hmm that's sound rather familiar. But had decided to leave it be.
So instead I'll sign off with my own rather irrelevant observation:
It is not quite as important that you believe God exists as it is important that God believes you exist. ;)

tony cameron
01-05-2007, 07:15 PM
Another interesting socio-phsychological point to note concerning "Western Religion" and Aikido is that these forums are jam-packed with posts from Aikidoists of the Western (should we say 'European') religious traditions, parlaying their emotionally charged opinions/arguments/fears/insecurities/qualms/disputes regarding the compatability of their religion with Aikido. Please forgive my honesty, but i find it all extremely silly if not slightly alarming. And Aikidoists who flat out refuse to bow to the Kamiza/Tokenoma for fear that they might possibly offend God take the cake;) I think that it is a dangerous and conceited mind-set to delude ourselves that we might possibly possess knowledge of what might or might not offend the Creator of the Universe (although killing in the name of religion might be one:).

Another interesting socio-phsychological point to note is that you don't find a lot of Daoists, Buddhists, Shinto-ists, Omoto-kyo, or other Aikidoists of Eastern spiritual traditions bickering over such a beautiful Martial Art (and Master of said art) like so many children on a playground. Hmm, I wonder why that is? Please get over yourself, bow to the Kamiza/Universe with genuine love and respect in your heart, and throw people around Harmoniously!

"He who argues, does not love. He who loves, does not argue." (Lao Dzu??)

I think i had a dream once that Buddha, Lao Dzu, O Sensei, Jesus, George Carlin, and a bunch of other Ascended Masters were training on an infinite mat in the Dojo of Heaven, but that can't be right: George Carlin isn't dead yet! Is he?

Love,
tony

Erick Mead
01-05-2007, 08:30 PM
"He who argues, does not love. He who loves, does not argue." (Lao Dzu??) But... I have Irish blood. I love to argue ... So.

If I love to argue -- I must argue in love..

That's Aikido -- an argument in love...

Jorge Garcia
01-05-2007, 09:04 PM
The intent of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church with regard to Shinto, as to which they had absolutely no knowledge, or Omoto, which did not even exist at the time, is a speculation of debatable significance. That also seriously overstates the case that I made: We are not talking about professions of faith. We are talking about the practice of Aikido in the context of Western religion.

I do not take a position on primacy of anything other than revealed truth. Doctrine is not contested. I think it can be affirmatively stated that Shinto has virtually no affirmative doctrinal statements, at least not in the Western sense.
An assumption we will never be able to test. The Good News is good for all peoples and all times, but all peoples at all times are not the same in their understanding or application of it, nor is therei need for any particular aspect of grace the same, either.

Moreover, the graces of the Church are not static, but grow in history and in wisdom, like the seed of the mustard tree. Different branches have had and do have different conceptions of stablizing doctrines in the course of that growth for their times and circumstances. The simultaneous universality and variety of those ideas of stabilizing infulences only deomnstrates the fact that the faith is a living and growing thing.

I strongly contest the inevitablity of conflict on essentials of the underlying conception of Truth expressed by O Sensei in the practices and rituals of Aikido passed down to us. NOT egaging them and examining them carefully and faithfully is a pointless and overly inhibiting objection. Semina Verbi. Seeds of the Word are everywhere. The good news is found in some capacity wherever the Spirit moves the hearts of men. The seeds should not be discarded because you find them among what you deem to be inessential chaff. Was St. Paul wrong in preaching the statue of the "unknown god" to the Athenians?

There is no difference in this context if we are to take the broadest possible and therefore least doctrinal conception when addressing a context far removed from Western ideas of doctrine and theology.
I don't have the authority to say that they are compatible in every particular, nor did I. But then, on the other hand, neither has anyone else made such a determination as a general matter. It is quite literally an open question with suggestive things to discuss. Prejudgment has no place in religion or in any other aspect of life.
In addition to Aikido training, O Sensei's root practice (his daily observance) was Chinkon Kishin. It means "calm the spirit, return to the Divine." Chinkon Kishin incoporates martial techniques of spiritual significance as well as kotodama.

If O Sensei understood his cosmology in terms of the Divine Logos (which he expressly did), how is Chinkon Kishin and the practice of kotodama anything but oriented toward "SU" "the Word," the Saving Name - "I AM"?? In it essentials, it is Christ-oriented, when observed from a Christian perpsective. It therefore cannot be condemned out of hand. That understanding is at least at the level of the God-fearers in the early Church who associated themselves with synagogues thorughout the Greco-Roman world and who formed the ready corps of Gentile converts to Christianity.
It isn't and I didn't, especially not in the way you mean. The care that I put into my statements is a reflection of both my openness to the creativity of the Spirit working in the world and my deep respect for orthodoxy and the need for stabilizing authority. They are never really at odds. You really should read Chesterton's book by that title - "Orthodoxy."
I anticipated that you, or someone from your perpsective, might like to try to correct me, which is why I laid the invitation on the table. As long as we do not depart (and we have not) from the "sprirt of gentleness" counseled by both St. Paul and O Sensei, what's the problem with religious debate in reference to Aikido -- given the topic at hand?


Erick, you Wrote,
"Shinto has virtually no affirmative doctrinal statements, at least not in the Western sense...."

Response
If Shinto has many deities... the Bible proclaims one. If Shinto has non personified divinity, the Bible proclaims a personal God...

You wrote
".... Was St. Paul wrong in preaching the statue of the "unknown god" to the Athenians? ..."

Response
Paul proclaimed their unknown God to be his (the God He had from his own faith) God and them he laid out the Biblical view of God. Paul was evangelizing, not agreeing with them. Read the passage.

You wrote
If O Sensei understood his cosmology in terms of the Divine Logos (which he expressly did), how is Chinkon Kishin and the practice of kotodama anything but oriented toward "SU" "the Word," the Saving Name - "I AM"?? In it essentials, it is Christ-oriented, when observed from a Christian perspective. It therefore cannot be condemned out of hand...

Response
Here you are committing the logical fallacy of confusing things that are similar...... The Gnostic concept of emanations is not part of Christian orthodoxy.

You wrote
You really should read Chesterton's book by that title - "Orthodoxy."

Thanks for the advice. You obviously don't know who you are talking to. I've taught courses Chesterton.

You wrote
As long as we do not depart (and we have not) from the "spirit of gentleness" counseled by both St. Paul and O Sensei, what's the problem with religious debate in reference to Aikido -- given the topic at hand?

Response
This would take way too much time. I have a real life. To be here trying to straighten out someone like you Eric is way past my pay grade. You have fallen victim to the problem that "You don't know what you don't know." Your post displays a real problem in your understanding of what the Bible teaches. If you want a recommendation on a book to read, try An Introduction to Christian Ethics by Roger Crook. The section was good enough for me to use many years ago when I served as a Chaplain of the Examining Board for candidates to the ministry. Roger didn't believe that the Bible could be used as the sole source for ethics for Christians (and recommended many other preferences) but he was honest enough to at least know and clearly state the Biblical worldview in the chapter on Biblical Ethics. Even though he didn't believe what he was writing, he was clear enough to state the facts and reality of Biblical cosmology (that he didn't believe in) . In that chapter, he essentially wrote my position (as a person who didn't believe in it). That's what I need from someone I discuss with. You can disagree with me but at least be knowledgeable enough to know my position as well as yours. A really good debater knows what the brute facts are but you display a real confusion of what the facts are in the passages you quote. Can't discuss with you friend - you need some more clarity in your thought and I can't debate with someone unclear with the facts. You don't know my perspective. My best friends are people who don't agree with my positions at all but they know what the facts are so at the very least, we can talk honestly. Go back to seminary and try again. That last trip didn't work for you.
Best wishes,
Jorge

Erick Mead
01-06-2007, 01:33 AM
Erick, you Wrote,
"Shinto has virtually no affirmative doctrinal statements, at least not in the Western sense...."

Response
If Shinto has many deities... the Bible proclaims one. If Shinto has non personified divinity, the Bible proclaims a personal God... O Sensei acknowledges the One Creator. Shinto in fact has its own version of an explicitly trinitarian relation at that level in the creation story, which was also expounded by O Sensei. Shinto has the proverbial "eight million kami." Kami is not what we mean by "god," although it has been translated that way. In its narrowest sense "kami" is merely acknowldgement of "that which (or who) is above."

In Christian terms, angels qualify as kami to us. As they have many orders (so the Bible says), each ascending choir is kami of those below, as they are all kami to us. Created being cna be and are agents of Divine will, which does not make them extensions or emenations of the Divine. "Emanations" only arise if we deny the independence and freedom of Creation .If one takes the idea of the sovereignty of God to the ridiculous conclusion that there can be no spiritual or material actors in Creation between Him and us, well, then we do have some serious disagreements over scripture.

It is of course pointless to take two differently developed conceptions of the numinous reality and to try to find some consitent one-for- one mapping of them in any concrete terms. That does not mean that points of relation may not be found and made of mutual benefit. It also does not mean they are necessarily antithetical either, simply becasue they describe thing in differnt terms. If you doubt this, even in physical terms -- go ask a physicist how to define a magnetic field. He will answer that it depends on what you want to do with it.

Your argument is founded on an early and erroneous Western conception of the Japanese idea of kami. It is Westerners in the last century who translated " kami" as "gods," more as a too-easy Victorian coding to allow summary dismissal of alien religious ideas, instead of engaging, examining and sacralizing their worthy elements -- as happened with the early evangelization of Europe itself. Richard Burton (Arabian Nights) attempted to more seriously approach Islam at this same time on its own internal terms and was scandalized for his efforts.

The earlier evangelization of Japan in the sixteenth century did not suffer from those self-imposed blinders. They navigated the native culture far more adroitly. The Jesuits were even thought in some official circles early on to be a new variant of Buddhist mikkyo teaching for a while, until the evangelization became successful and it was violently suppressed as a threat to the political order.

You wrote
".... Was St. Paul wrong in preaching the statue of the "unknown god" to the Athenians? ..."

Response
Paul proclaimed their unknown God to be his (the God He had from his own faith) God and them he laid out the Biblical view of God. Paul was evangelizing, not agreeing with them. Read the passage. I have read it, many times. He was doing both, actually. (Actgs 17:23 et seq.) He commended them for their piety and devotion in their own terms. He even expressly adopted their own formula of the Godhead, "as it is in Him that we live, and move and have our being ..."

Paul's approach to the Greeks was to demonstrate that despite their commendable devotions, they had so fractured the image of God, that they had lost sight and no longer knew Him. Re-uniting the Greek conception of the Divine required this struggle to break the hold of images, a struggle that would periodically revive as iconclasm in the Greek world. This was notably absent in the Roman, Celtic and Semitic areas of Christendom.

Japan had never tried to concretize kami in the way the Greeks did with their pantheon or int he way that tranlators wrongly assumed tnathat they did. In that respect, the idea of the immanence of divine action in Japan was actually much closer to the Greek philosoophical formula of immanent Godhead that Paul aproved of than the common Greek religious practices were at the time of Paul's visit ot Athens.

You wrote
If O Sensei understood his cosmology in terms of the Divine Logos (which he expressly did), how is Chinkon Kishin and the practice of kotodama anything but oriented toward "SU" "the Word," the Saving Name - "I AM"?? In it essentials, it is Christ-oriented, when observed from a Christian perspective. It therefore cannot be condemned out of hand...

Response
Here you are committing the logical fallacy of confusing things that are similar...... The Gnostic concept of emanations is not part of Christian orthodoxy. Who said anything about emanations, or Gnosticism? I only said that "In O Sensei's conception the practice of Aikido is a direct emanation of the "Art of Peace" ..." Kami are certainly not to be understood as emanations of the Divine nature but as part of creation, like the angels and other orders of spiritual beings. I was hardly going down the road of demiurges and archons or the Pistis Sophia...
You wrote

You really should read Chesterton's book by that title - "Orthodoxy."

Thanks for the advice. You obviously don't know who you are talking to. I've taught courses Chesterton. No, I don't know you. That is why we have these conversations. Hi. Nice to meet you, too. Obviously, you differ rather sharply from Chesterton in both style and humor.
You wrote
As long as we do not depart (and we have not) from the "spirit of gentleness" counseled by both St. Paul and O Sensei, what's the problem with religious debate in reference to Aikido -- given the topic at hand?

Response
This would take way too much time. I have a real life. To be here trying to straighten out someone like you Eric is way past my pay grade. "Real life?" A minister with an opportunity to teach the faith -- you would pass that up as not rising to the elvel of real life? Why bother at all with the hoi polloi here, then? Not feeling the love, myself.
You have fallen victim to the problem that "You don't know what you don't know." Your post displays a real problem in your understanding of what the Bible teaches. Easy to assume that on the mantle of your assertion of scholastic authority, rather than demonstrating your points in any convincing way. You really don't know who you are talking to either. Are we to assume that credentialling gives one authority or wisdom in theological matters -- or does that authority actually come from another source, perhaps? In any event, it must be shown, and it may not be assumed away by merely saying so . "Not in talk -- but in power." St. Paul did some very powerful talking ...
...a recommendation -- Roger Crook. ... Roger didn't believe that the Bible could be used as the sole source for ethics for Christians (and recommended many other preferences) but he was honest enough to at least know and clearly state the Biblical worldview in the chapter on Biblical Ethics... I, of course, agree with the point that the Bible is not the sole source of ethics. There is only one such source and the Bible shows what we see of Him as a the chain of reflections in the eyes of many witnesses, as do the traditions and witnesses that framed and prepared the document, and as do other manifestations of the Spirit in the world even today. Aikido included.

I only have one principle in my ethics. It is in the Bible, but of course, it is not the sole source of that teaching either, nor, of course, is the text itself sui generis. Aikido also teaches it. Though the text may well be fullest flower of the record of the history of salvation, the actual event giving ultimate expression to that principle far surpasses it, in every respect, as a basis for imitation, in any ethical sphere.

Aikido is an expression of that same principle, and as such I deem its source to be the same. "All that is true ... "

While I have an abiding love of it, scholarly learning is NOT required in this regard. Simplicity, careful observation, faith and, most especially, love are.

Gwion
01-06-2007, 01:38 AM
If I accept the tenets of the New Testament, I know that the particular beliefs of Shintoism aren't true and that O Sensei really isn't coming back by the clapping to observe the practice or aid it in any way.


this bothers me. Are you saying that Osensei, according to biblical scripture, doesn't have a soul?

I thought it was common knowledge in nearly all religions that spirits of departed reside in heaven and watch over us. Obviously Osensei would be included in that, and if we clap from our spirit, his spirit can 'hear' us. I see absolutely no way in which this contradicts biblical scripture.

Kevin Leavitt
01-06-2007, 03:43 AM
You know actually O'sensei never really died. He exsist in spirit everywhere in aikido. In fact his KI is getting stronger with the advent of youtube.

Jorge Garcia
01-06-2007, 08:59 AM
To Erick, Wayne and Kevin,
The last three posts demonstrate something I posted on another thread. That is that the internet is a poor place for these kinds of discussions because of the circular nature of the discussion and the points from which we all are beginning. I am only working from one frame of reference and it is one that I have developed honestly while on my own path over the last 50 years. When enough points of commonality exist, then sometimes we can help each other but that is highly unlikely on this kind of a forum. When people group together in an association of learning where they have more points of commonality in worldview and cosmology and maybe even in metaphysics, then they can aid each other somewhat because some of the common reference points can touch each other without the need for extensive reeducation on the part of many to be able to have a useful discussion.
In our case, our reference points are quite separated and there are an infinite number of variables that are hidden from each other that continue the cycle of misunderstanding. The longer we talk, the worse I see it getting but I can't even type enough to mention the points of misunderstanding because the variety of them keep growing! Please understand I am not claiming any superiority here. Even my own lack of understanding is definitely in play.

Some final points,
Erick, I appreciate your genial tone in your responses to me. I don't mean to be harsh. In a nutshell what I am trying to say is that our points of commonality are few and I see that in your posts. You and I have a lot of "epistemological distance". In another venue, we could learn a lot from each other but not here. I wasn't meaning anything rude when I said I didn't have the time. It's a fact. I am always short of time from my responsibilities teaching in my church school three days a week to my private research to the 60 plus hours of Aikido I am involved and now, handling the paperwork and administration of our small but growing Aikido Association. You are a very knowledgeable person and obviously have a lot to contribute. The problem is that I am working from a few basic positions that I am not flexible on and your paradigm constantly crosses mine.
T o Wayne, in my view, his soul cannot be contacted nor can O Sensei see or know what is going on here right now. He does have a soul and he is still alive somewhere in the spirit world. I would say that covers Kevin's comment as well.
best wishes,
Jorge

Kevin Leavitt
01-06-2007, 09:43 AM
Jorge,

You bring up a good point. It is very difficult for people to discuss religion I think, especially when many have dogmatic beliefs that seem diametrically opposed.

I personally try to avoid all conversations discussing religion unless it is to identify the differences in an attempt to understand them, then discuss how we can find the commonality between them to allow them to co-exsist in harmony.

We can say "your wrong, I'm right" all day long, what is the point?

me, I pretty much reject all dogmatic ideas and concepts, but as my wife reminds me, I have the dogma of no dogma and frowns when I get critical of others dogma!'

On one hand I might see how one person might think someone was a nut for trying to contact a soul directly through a ceance, but at the same time, I could see how one might meditate or do aikido and reach a closer relationship and understanding of O'sensei. The person may express it in terms such as "I talked to O'sensei last night". He just might have in his own special way!

Figuratively I'd say that we speak to o'sensei everytime we bow to his picture and do aikido. However, it is not something that I personally place a great deal of spiritual emphasis on as it getting closer to O'sensei is not a personal goal of mine. Therefore, I might look at it differently than someone else does.

Doesn't make one of us right, and the other wrong.

Tharis
01-06-2007, 01:24 PM
As a minor point of fact (or observation), is there anything that the church has been consistent on for the last 2000 years?

Kevin Leavitt
01-06-2007, 03:02 PM
I would suppose that depends on your definition of church?

Jorge Garcia
01-06-2007, 05:49 PM
As a minor point of fact (or observation), is there anything that the church has been consistent on for the last 2000 years?

Kevin is right Thomas. What is your definition?
About consistensy, the historic church has tons of things that have been consistent or they wouldn't' be here after literally thousands of years. Continuity has to be supreme over discontinuity for that kind of survival. Of course, all living entities evolve as part of their survival so absolute consistency would be illogical to consider. If though your comment was intended to be a critical one, join the club- that is a long line indeed!

Getting to Kevin's comment , not all people are organizational in their thinking. the No-church groups have existed since Biblical times and in some measure of continuity exist all over the world. Type in the words "house church' on Google and you'll see what I mean. In Japan at the turn of the century, Kanzo Uchimura led the Mukyokai or the No Church movement. What he meant was non organizational church. Some groups like the extreme pietists believed only in the inner light and they alone were the church.
But YES, there has been a bottom line consistency in every phase, style and type of church and there is a distinction between what can be traced down the centuries and what is new or innovative in every long held traditional and non traditional expression.
Jorge

Mike Galante
01-06-2007, 08:56 PM
Guys, guys, guys, whats all the fuss?
Any "spiritual" practice, belief should light the fire of God within. This burns through everything and unites us all.
If we are not loving each other, we are not practicing anything spiritual.
Whadayathink? :cool:

Erick Mead
01-06-2007, 10:09 PM
I am only working from one frame of reference ... When enough points of commonality exist, then sometimes we can help each other ... where they have more points of commonality in worldview and cosmology and maybe even in metaphysics, then they can aid each other somewhat because some of the common reference points can touch each other without the need for extensive reeducation ... In another venue, we could learn a lot from each other but not here. Erasmus and St. Thomas More did quite a lot with far less flexibility in means of communication. I hope to aid even my enemy, and he is as lacking in points of commonality as one could hope to be. As you, Jorge, are a fellow practitioner of Aikido, we have not only one (at least) common reference but a also commont intent to resolve confict without opposing one another. Worthwhile, in my view, even in this admittedly narrow forum.
Erick, I appreciate your genial tone in your responses to me. You and I have a lot of "epistemological distance".... Maai. Merely maai -- subject to constant adjustment to maintain proper consistency of connection.
The problem is that I am working from a few basic positions that I am not flexible on and your paradigm constantly crosses mine. Like swords -- sharp things, paradigms.

Especially where great mysteries are necessarily involved, a paradigmatic approach should be used with great caution. "A person who, in any situation, perceives the truth with resignation, would never need to draw his sword in haste."

We hone a sword against the enemy we expect -- but the enemies we get, like the mysteries we find, are unlikely to have agreed to be bound by our prearranged paradigms. God surprises. Best to be prepared for contingencies. Lots and lots of contingencies. And the best holdout for any contingency in battle is to maintain connection, no matter what.

Erick Mead
01-06-2007, 10:11 PM
Guys, guys, guys, whats all the fuss?
Any "spiritual" practice, belief should light the fire of God within. This burns through everything and unites us all.
If we are not loving each other, we are not practicing anything spiritual.
Whadayathink? :cool: Three words. "Bring more wood ..."

Erick Mead
01-06-2007, 10:31 PM
... me, I pretty much reject all dogmatic ideas and concepts, but as my wife reminds me, I have the dogma of no dogma and frowns when I get critical of others dogma! There is a Zen story that speaks to the "dogma of no dogma."

There was a samurai who believed he had mastered zazen and koan but had not yet mastered the art of tea. He sought a master of tea, and took instruction.

After some weeks, he felt was doing well, but the master asked him as he was preparing to make the tea, "What does it mean to make the tea?"

Taking it as a koan, the samurai cleverly answered "Kwatz!"

The master said, "No. It means that the water has had time to boil." And he made the tea.

Sometime later, the master asked him again "What does it mean to drink the tea?"

This time the samurai looked outside at the fall weather and summoning all his hard-won koan training, he said "The leaves tremble in the wind and fall."

The master said "It means the tea has now cooled enough to drink." And he sipped his tea.

Erick Mead
01-06-2007, 10:33 PM
You know actually O'sensei never really died. He exsist in spirit everywhere in aikido. In fact his KI is getting stronger with the advent of youtube.Youtube is just shameless idolatry. Heathen, the lot of 'em ... ;)

Mark Freeman
01-07-2007, 08:04 AM
Interesting thread guys.

My position is one of a 'practicing heathen', although I definitely don't want it to be seen as a 'religion'. So my views only carry the weight of personal opinion, I have no 'book' to base my beliefs on, although dis/non believers do have a very long history, some were burnt at the stake for their troubles. I'm hoping that you guy's will not go that far in this day and age, so I should be safe. ;)

I don't see that one needs any religion/faith/belief to practice the principles inherent in aikido. If I felt that I had to surrender to a faith or belief to fully appreciate aikido, I would consider some other practice to do, ( although I can't see anything that would provide me with so much of what I am searching for ).

I can see why aikido is consistent with adherents to many/all religions, as 'peace' and 'love' are at the core of what makes aikido aikido. So it is with those of us who do not have any religion, western or otherwise. Are there any religions out there which would not find a welcome in aikido? :(

It is not quite as important that you believe God exists as it is important that God believes you exist. ;)

If I believe God does not exist and he 'knows' ( I nearly wrote 'believes' but God doesn't need to believe in anything, does he? ) that I am wrong, isn't he neglecting his duty by letting me blindly go about my business without some proof of the error of my ways? ;)

I mean no offence to any of you who 'believe'. I just have a bit of a problem when 'truths' are being offered, based on scripture/faith/belief. Too many contradictions for me to handle.

Just a few heretical thoughts. ;)

regards

Mark

Jorge Garcia
01-07-2007, 08:55 AM
I mean no offense to any of you who 'believe'. I just have a bit of a problem when 'truths' are being offered, based on scripture/faith/belief. Too many contradictions for me to handle.

Just a few heretical thoughts. ;)

regards

Mark

No offense taken mark. Erick and I have "epistemological distance". You and I would have that and also "metaphysical distance". One is a difference of understanding in how we learn and the other is a difference in our perception and belief in the nature of realty. I didn't mean to push the Bible because it doesn't matter to me what anyone else believes about it, I know what I believe. I only commented using it because an interpretation of it was brought into the discussion. In my first post, I merely mentioned that for me, it was my starting point so I described where that took me. Erick came in with interpretations of the Bible to counter my statements with specific references from the Bible.

Erick wrote,
"Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. If anyone thinks the concept of kami is necessarily offensive to revealed truth, then they have not properly understood the concept of kami. "Thrones, powers, dominions ...?"

As to O Sensei's veneration according to Shinto tradition in the dojo, in Catholic tradition, we are simply asking for his intercession in our practice to make it fruitful and acceptable to God. If we are faithful, he is merely dead -- not utterly gone.

We rely on something the Apostle's Creed describes as the "communion of saints" to support us in persevering in faith. Even in the Protestant branches, even the more Calvinistic doctrine, this is not an alien concept, either. The Westminster Confession (adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist convention in 1688) described it as those "being united to one another in love, have communion in each others gifts and graces" by the mediation of Christ (the divine Word). We merely ask that e be permitted to commune with him in his art, spiritually, as we commune with one another in his art, materially.

O Sensei was clearly a man of prodigious virtue. One can debate the particular profession of Christian faith by O Sensei in any exclusive or dogmatic sense, but he clearly identified with the Divine Word or fundamental reason and will underlying creation. Christ was hardly exclusionary in his modes of teaching. O Sensei also teaches the invocation of LOVE in accordance with that will among mankind, and specifically applying it towards one's enemies on that basis.

That hits the necessary high points of the evangelium ("good news") for me. I do not have authority to teach that he was teaching the Gospel in another form, but by no evidence I have seen am I required to assume or act as if he wasn't (and privately, I may permissibly assume that he was.) That delicately suggestive but steely ambiguity is quintessentially both Catholic and Japanese in its feeling.

It is no more impermissible nor unfaithful to observe or venerate the kamidana in accordance with Shinto ritual in a genuine spirit of faith as to the "uniting to one another in love" that occurs in the proper Aikido practice than it was for St. Paul to point out and venerate the statue of the "unknown God" for the benefit of the Athenians and in accordance with their own traditions."

That is what was unfortunate in my mind. We don't need people arguing over interpretations on a forum like this. That is fruitless. Again, I felt compelled because he was not accuartely interpreting those passages and I might add that honest interpreters of all traditions would agree, even atheists that teach the Scriptures. They might interpret it like Erick but they never would have said that the NT writers would have accepted a Shinto cosmology. That is like saying that the Founders of the U.S. would have loved the Al-Qaeda . His statements demanded a public response but I do apologize to you for the whole discussion. It never should have happened. In my defense, how to properly interpret the Bible, "hermeneutics", is a course I have taught at many levels for many years. It is such a pet peeve of mine, that I ran out into traffic to save it. When you do that, you just get run over!
Best wishes,
Jorge

Mark Freeman
01-07-2007, 09:31 AM
Again, I felt compelled because he was not accuartely interpreting those passages and I might add that honest interpreters of all traditions would agree, even atheists that teach the Scriptures. They might interpret it like Erick but they never would have said that the NT writers would have accepted a Shinto cosmology. That is like saying that the Founders of the U.S. would have loved the Al-Qaeda . His statements demanded a public response but I do apologize to you for the whole discussion. It never should have happened. In my defense, how to properly interpret the Bible, "hermeneutics", is a course I have taught at many levels for many years. It is such a pet peeve of mine, that I ran out into traffic to save it. When you do that, you just get run over!
Best wishes,
Jorge

Atheists that teach the scriptures - now you've confused me Jorge, please expand :hypno:

Also, as an 'outsider' it's the 'interpretation' of the Bible that makes my brow furrow. How do you 'properly' interpret the text, who decides what is 'proper' and what is not. It seems to me that the Bible is taken 'at face value' as 'the truth' by some, and as a collection of parables and stories to act as guides by others. Who is more right? As you have the benefit of having taught this material, my questions probably belong in 101, but questions are valid, aren't they?

It seems to me the more 'expert' one becomes in any field, the less likely we are to ask ourselves questions that may challenge our own position.

That is like saying that the Founders of the U.S. would have loved the Al-Qaeda
another confuser for me, what do you mean? My limited understanding of some of the founding fathers of the US was that they were fiercely secular.

I'm not trying to be combatative Jorge, just curious ;)

regards,

Mark

akiy
01-07-2007, 09:54 AM
Hi folks,

Before this thread goes too far astray from the original subject, may I please step in and ask people to make sure that your post isn't just discussing religion in general but explicitly discussing its relation to aikido?

Thank you,

-- Jun

Mark Freeman
01-07-2007, 10:01 AM
Hi folks,

Before this thread goes too far astray from the original subject, may I please step in and ask people to make sure that your post isn't just discussing religion in general but explicitly discussing its relation to aikido?

Thank you,

-- Jun

Sorry Jun, you are right of course, but in our defence, it is a subject that does lend itself to many views. ;)

regards,

Mark

Jorge Garcia
01-07-2007, 10:29 AM
You wer right the first time Mark, the questions go in 101. Sorry Jun, I hope you can see that I was trying to avoid this.
Best,
Jorge

guest89893
01-07-2007, 01:16 PM
Interesting thread guys.


f I believe God does not exist and he 'knows' ( I nearly wrote 'believes' but God doesn't need to believe in anything, does he? ) that I am wrong, isn't he neglecting his duty by letting me blindly go about my business without some proof of the error of my ways? ;)

I mean no offence to any of you who 'believe'. I just have a bit of a problem when 'truths' are being offered, based on scripture/faith/belief. Too many contradictions for me to handle.

Just a few heretical thoughts. ;)

regards

Mark
Uhmm Mark... you do know that line I wrote that your quoting is nothing more than a joke? Hence the smiling wink face icon after the statement.
Sorry Jun - figured I had to at least ask on that one.

Mark Freeman
01-08-2007, 05:16 AM
Uhmm Mark... you do know that line I wrote that your quoting is nothing more than a joke? Hence the smiling wink face icon after the statement.
Sorry Jun - figured I had to at least ask on that one.

Hi Gene, of course I realised, which is why I kept the smilie in your quote, and why I added one to my own.

If God does exist I suspect that he has a sense of humour :D

regards,

Mark

Erick Mead
01-08-2007, 09:22 AM
Erick and I have "epistemological distance".... Erick came in with interpretations of the Bible to counter my statements with specific references from the Bible.
"Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. If anyone thinks the concept of kami is necessarily offensive to revealed truth, then they have not properly understood the concept of kami. "Thrones, powers, dominions ...?"
...
It is no more impermissible nor unfaithful to observe or venerate the kamidana in accordance with Shinto ritual in a genuine spirit of faith as to the "uniting to one another in love" that occurs in the proper Aikido practice than it was for St. Paul to point out and venerate the statue of the "unknown God" for the benefit of the Athenians and in accordance with their own traditions."... honest interpreters of all traditions would agree, ... They might interpret it like Erick but they never would have said that the NT writers would have accepted a Shinto cosmology. ... His statements demanded a public response ... Actually, they only suggested an intensely private response -- the public part is merely bowing and clapping -- from which people will, inevitably, infer what they will, interior reality notwithstanding.

The point being whether is there an interior understanding of the external act that is honest to traditional observation and meaning in Aikido practice by bowing and clapping (i.e.-- not falsely pretended, which is spiritually dangerous in its own right) but also genuine with regard belief in a revealed faith, such as Christianity.

One does not have to establish that the Fathers of the Church would have accepted "Shinto cosmology." There is a worthy intention in the act of bowing and clapping toward the kamidana in which both the Christian and non-Christian may genuinely share and be in harmony with one another. Jorge seeks distinction, difference -- signs of external contradiction. Those tend to lead, ultimately, to a sense of external disharmony that does not exist in proper perspective. It is not the things outside us that that cause spiritual problems, it tis those within us. On this, I believe, both East and West may whole-heartedly agree.

We look, too often, for the signs of contradiction outside of us, merely to confirm a point of comfort in our interior state. We ought to look within -- where the bad things really come from, and which truth truly contradicts. If we let the interior be disturbed, by acknowledging the truth of the chaos within requiring balance, we may be moved toward both interior and exterior harmony instead.

Fudoshin.

The problem is larger than the dichotomies we use to define it. "Good" and "evil" (as men consider them, pace Job), violence and non-violence, belief and unbelief, harmony and disharmony -- it is the left leg that turns us toward the right, and vice versa. We are bilaterally symmetrical beings -- inside and outside.

The Christian understanding of this resolution is to convert the whole, not to sever the two. In doctrinal terms, the latter tendency leads to Manichaeism, an irretrievable duality. Aikido shares in this aspect of solving the problem in wholeness, joining of opposites into harmonious union that does not thereby destroy their distinctiveness. We may rightfully and genuinely do honor in the dojo to this spirit and its proponent, O Sensei, regardless of our professed religion.
In my defense, how to properly interpret the Bible, "hermeneutics", is a course I have taught at many levels for many years. "Hemeneutics" is an offense I have occasionally been accused of in this forum. Also guilty, I am afraid.

Erick Mead
01-08-2007, 10:04 AM
If I believe God does not exist and he 'knows' ... that I am wrong, isn't he neglecting his duty by letting me blindly go about my business without some proof of the error of my ways? ;) If, and only if, truth requires evidence. If Love is truth, it requires no evidence, it only requires love as a free gift, often given in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Even to one's enemies. Which is its fundamental power, that Paul spoke of.

Christ said that love is the primary (and really, the only) command and test of truth, first toward God, and then toward my neighbor as myself. He also said that in loving one's fellows, even "the least of these" without the least expectaiton of recompense, you offer love to Him also. For Christians, he exemplified the limits of that love, to exceed all evidence, all proofs and even the limits of life itself, to make possible the same for us.

O Sensei said that his art is Love, that it is a religion without being a religion, and that one must love one's enemy, not destroy him. "Jujido" [ 十字道 ] he also called the art, oddly enough -- "The Way of the Cross-Shape," and making what is a not too difficult reference to a pertinent point about the nature of Christ (the Divine Logos of Creation, that he mentions eslewhere), along the way.
The spiritual essence of the Heavens and Earth
Congealing becomes the Way of the Cross-Shape +
Harmony and Joy make up the Floating Bridge
That binds this world together. He wrote also (punning on "aiki" [合 氣 ] : The "Cross Of Aiki" [ 愛 氣 ] (Love-Ki)
Of the structure of the Great and Swift God (Kami)
The meritorious deeds (samuhara) of the
God (Kami) of the Eight Powers. The Eight Powers are the powers that give the universe life. In other words, the Kami (God) of Creation.

I bow to the kamidana, as a Christian, in reverent honor of this.

Erick Mead
01-08-2007, 10:52 AM
... love is the primary (and really, the only) command and test of truth, first toward God, and then toward my neighbor as myself. ... I bow to the kamidana, as a Christian, in reverent honor of this. It occurred to me that the topic was more broadly "Western religion." To be more responsive in that regard (not to speak too far for my Jewish brethren), Jesus, in stating the Great Commandments in the New Testament, was quoting a portion of the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:5-9, and the latter regarding love of others, from Leviticus 19:18.

guest89893
01-08-2007, 04:38 PM
Hi Gene, of course I realised, which is why I kept the smilie in your quote, and why I added one to my own.

If God does exist I suspect that he has a sense of humour :D

regards,

Mark
Right there with you on that one Mark. I know God has a sense of humor. God created "me" and God has seen me do Aikido.
Cheers,
Gene

John Matsushima
01-09-2007, 06:56 AM
Hello Erick, Happy Holidays! I noticed that you made a few references here and there regarding the role of the character "ju". Could you please tell me where these references come from? Where did you hear that Ueshiba once called his art "jujido". I never heard of these things before. I would appreciate it as well if you could point me in the right direction as to where I could find information regarding Ueshiba's thoughts on Christianity. Thanks!

Erick Mead
01-09-2007, 01:07 PM
Hello Erick, Happy Holidays! I noticed that you made a few references here and there regarding the role of the character "ju". Could you please tell me where these references come from? Where did you hear that Ueshiba once called his art "jujido". I never heard of these things before. I would appreciate it as well if you could point me in the right direction as to where I could find information regarding Ueshiba's thoughts on Christianity. Thanks! I hope you had a Merry Christmas and good New Year, as well!

The quotes above regarding "ju" and "jujido" on the "cross of aiki" and "way of the cross" of aiki come from Seiseki Abe Shihan's edition of the Doka contained in the 1936 edition of Budo Renshu, available online here:

http://www.aikidofaq.com/doka.html;

also here in Pranin's AJ version, but some different Doka were included and others not :

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=603.

In the Aikido Journal version they are numbered. The Doka quoted first was No. 49 in that set . No. 2 in the AJ set also makes reference to the "Cross of Aiki," but that one is different from the second one I quoted from Aikido FAQ.

Another Doka in the Aikido FAQ set references what Christians would understand as the nature of the Divine Word (kotodama) in terms that are similarly cognate with our theology: Shining and echoing is the kotodama
An honored form of the Holy Parent
That single, spiritual origin (of all that is) The Nicene Creed also explains that Christ, "the Divine Word" is "one in being with the Father." As quoted earlier (See http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=2) O Sensei ascribed SU to the Divine Logos of the Gospel of John. The Dobun of O Sensei reported by Takaoka Shihan (http://www.aikidofaq.com/dobun.html )also speaks specifically of the root kotodama ("word spirit") "SU" as being "born" rather than made. That is a key element of the Nicene Creed "begotten not made."

The Dobun also says that in the course of creation, that the "work" of the root kotodama "SU" "is the origin of spirit as well as substance." The Creed says of Christ that "through him all things were made," and speaks of the maker of "all that is, seen and unseen."

One other parallel from the Dobun is of interest in this regard:
Takamagahara (high planes of heaven) represents the universe. It teaches us what the law and order of the universe 'hould be and how the gods reside within it. Everyone's family represents Takamagahara and each individual has Takamagahara within him\herself. Jesus said: "The Kingdom of Heaven is within/among you." The ambiguity of the Greek preposition entos -- "within/among" has been variously translated both ways in interpretations of the Gospel.

O Sensei uses both senses to say the same essential thing.

Trinitarian elements of Creation cognate to those of Christian teaching are present in O Sensei's discussion of the Musubi ("creation") trinity of Ame no Minakanushi no Kami, Takami Musubi no Kami and Kami Musubi no Kami.
Aikido is also the working of the five voices—A-O-U-E-I. This is closely related to the combination of nigen (two origins), water and fire. In Shinto, they are the two deities, Takami Musubi and Kami Musubi. The world was built through the actions of the flow of these two deities.See http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=638

And also

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=636

And again from the Doka: The Pine, the Bamboo, and the Plum
The make up of Ki that we are training to purify
From where do they arise?
The Water and Fire of the change in the self.John the Baptist, in Matthew (3:11) said that ""I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

These parallels are not merely Western speculations, but the same observations of Shinto have been made natively in Japan. Hirata Atsutane's work in the revival of Shinto in the Kokugaku, has long been suspected of being influenced by some Christian ideas, especially in his exposition of the Kojiki, and focussing on Ame no Minakanushi no Kami. http://www2.kokugakuin.ac.jp/ijcc/wp/cpjr/kami/sasaki.html

Motoori Norinaga, another Kokugaku scholar, (and arguing the other side of things, it should be said) has objected to the kami of Shinto being given rank in order of appearance vice relation to the governing Imperial family. Basically, this was because "then the possibility exists that all kami might converge into monotheism." See citation above. Since the express purpose of the Kokugaku scholarship in reviving Shinto was to bolster the presumed status of the Emperor, the question may fairly be raised as to which possible ranking of the kami is the more balanced from the original standpoint of the writers of the Kojiki as opposed to the expressly political purposes of the Kokugaku.

There is great deal of commonality in the Japanese sources for the ideas of spiritualtiy expressed by O Sensei both in relation to Aikido (and in a larger context) with Western religious teaching that is extremely fruitful to consider, on both sides.

Guilty Spark
01-11-2007, 07:36 AM
I'm not religious at all and honestly I'm very skeptical and negitive towards religion for many reasons.

On that note Aikido has helped me get over some of my predjuices towards spirituality and I'm quite thankful for it.
eligion in my opinion is saying YOUR way is the right way and other people are wrong. It will probably sound cliche but Aikido has taught me that religion and what people believe are just different paths up the same mountian, with the same goal. People get stuck in the path directly infront of them and not whats at the end. I guess Aikido is helping me open up my mind. Thats more stemming from the origional post mind you and not how it's branched off.

Erick Mead
01-11-2007, 09:15 AM
I'm not religious at all and honestly I'm very skeptical and negitive towards religion for many reasons.

On that note Aikido has helped me get over some of my predjuices towards spirituality and I'm quite thankful for it.
eligion in my opinion is saying YOUR way is the right way and other people are wrong. It will probably sound cliche but Aikido has taught me that religion and what people believe are just different paths up the same mountian, with the same goal. People get stuck in the path directly infront of them and not whats at the end. I guess Aikido is helping me open up my mind. Thats more stemming from the origional post mind you and not how it's branched off. The key point for me is how all religion, "rightly" understood and Aikido the "religion without being religion" are on the same path. And it is quite simple. So simple, and indeed radical, that people with other agendas want to obscure it because it does not fit into their desires and schemes.

In Buddhist terms, wholly negating Self means wholly embracing Other. Whether Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto or any other religion worthy of the name -- that point is to "Love one another." In Jesus' teaching of the two great biblical commandments, the first is subsumed into the second - that you give your love to God precisely by loving the least of your neighbors as yourself.

In Shinto terms, it means honoring others as Kami ("One Above") -- as more important than oneself. Even the Emperor Hirohito, the highest living personage (kami) in Japanese culture expressed this self-negating understanding for himself -- in the previously unthinkable surrender message at the end of World War II "We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable."

Budo has therefore been recognized in Japan as among the highest expressions of this self-negating spirit of love, just as it is recognized in the West, in the eulogy honoring "the last full measure of devotion" of the slain soldier.

"Religion" in its root meaning, is to "bind together" or to "make as one." It is not far from the straightforward physical meaning of "musubi." And of course, the meaning of musubi in in Aikido goes beyond the physical.

Binding ourselves (musubi) utterly to that which is beyond us, we set ourselves free from the lonely, narrow prison of self. That is the spirit we practice to set free in aikido, regardless of our professed source of understanding as to why we do it. That is true religion -- by whatever name, or by no name -- religion that makes us ultimately one in being.

Erick Mead
01-12-2007, 06:57 PM
I pulled out Stephens' "Essence of Aikido" to find the other reference to "jujido" I did not have in the earlier post. Stephens may take too many liberties with O Sensei's text, on occasion. So I have transcribed the kanji, romaji and his translation:

天 地 の
精 魂 凝りて
十 字 道
世 界 和 楽 の
むすぶ 浮橋

Ametsuchi no
seikon korite
jujido
sekai waraku no
musubu ukihashi.
The spiritual essence
of heaven and earth
congeals as the cross of our Path.
The peace and happiness of the world
is linked to Heaven's Floating Bridge.

mwible
01-16-2007, 07:28 AM
i just figured id give you my input. since we follow o'sensei's martial art and since it is "first and foremost a martial art" maybe it isnt completely necessary to be spiritual in your studies(or atleast as far as being spiritual towards eastern religions). but if you read "the art of peace" i think this would help you alot in your thinking on this subject, o'sensei says in one a part of the book something like that the art of peace is to refine all world religions, and since he also says that we should respect everyone no matter what there beliefs id say that since we study a japanese martial art it is important to folow there customs, and to honor our dojo. and in the shomen it is very important to have a picture of o'sensei becasue again we are following his "way" in our studies so we should most definitly honor him. so i dont know all in all id just say go and read "the art of peace"(incase you havent already) because it makes what you are studying whole, rather than just the budo aspects of it.

dps
01-16-2007, 10:47 AM
Practicing a faith, one which we can trully understand and is close to our hearts, I think would bring new meaning and depth to our practice of Aikido.


Amen.

GnosticWarrior
02-10-2007, 07:19 PM
My 2 cents,

Before founding Aikido O-Sensei studied and mastered several different martial arts. He also was higly spiritual and a follower of Omoto-Kyo and studied under its leader at the time, Onisaburo Deguchi. Onisaburo was supposedly to possess psychic skills. O-Sensei must have put as much focus in his spiritual training as his martial training.

Aikido was the manifestation of his training in both fields. Aikido is based in love, and so is Christianity. The forms and expressions of love are limitless. I believe that if Jesus had the desire to become a great martial artist and with his spiritual background he could create an art which achieves the same objectives as Aikido. While the techinques may vary. The intent of the techniques would be the same.

A good teacher tries to adapt the form and applications of the content into what would be the most readily accepted by his or her students. A master, takes what he or she can use from their various teachers and discards the rest. He or she will not blame any teacher for not teaching them the "right way". I think O-Sensei realized that Aikido was not his Art, but the universe's (God's).

O-Sensei and Aikido was lucky enough to have been created in a time where their histories could be properly documented for future followers with less doubts of its accurateness. Yoga, Tai Chi, Christianity, and others where founded when no such proper documentation technologies existed. So the accurateness of the documentation that exist is in dispute and creates confusion for current followers.

If you read books by Sylvia Browne, a psychic. She claims that the original teachings of Christ believed in such things as reincarnation of the soul, and of nature as being an aspect of God. It was just suppressed or distorted by those who controlled the information. However, since you are a part of God and a part of God is within you, one does not need to rely on any such books to discover the truth. You will find that it has always existed within you.

O-Sensei would want his followers to become masters like him, a master of one's self, and find their own path, create their own Aikido. He would not care what name it would be called or what its techniques looked like, just as long it perpetuated love and harmony between men as individuals and also as a part of the universe.

Kevin Leavitt
02-11-2007, 05:25 AM
Labels, definitions, boundaries, and dogma by nature do create limits and boundaries that can keep us from realizing the truth and our potential. They also help us understand and make sense of a complex world.

I think it is important to explore and consider many things. Most importantly it is important to let go of thost attachments and figure out things for ourselves. It can be a scarey journey, but in the end, it is one we should take in order to reach a deeper understanding with the nature of our existence and our realationship with the world around us.

Jonathan
02-12-2007, 11:23 AM
Fascinating thread.

I've never had any interest in incorporating Omoto kyo, or Shinto, or Zen Buddhist religious ideology into my practice of Aikido. I hold very strongly to my biblical beliefs without significant tension between those beliefs and my practice of Aikido. Moreover, I don't think that my practice of Aikido is somehow lessened or hindered by not holding to specific Far Eastern philosophical/religious systems.

I should remark that the "all streams lead into the ocean" philosophy is, logically speaking, fundamentally and profoundly flawed. Not all differing perspectives and beliefs can be held to be correct or true at the same time. This is logically impossible. Much (but not all) of the thinking expressed in this thread, though, holds to a patchwork, collage-like, adoption of Truth. For many on this thread, there is no Truth but what the individual makes. Truth is almost completely subjective and opposing views on what the Truth is are implicitly held to be equal in value. This kind of thinking, however, is a recipe for personal, and cultural disaster. It leads, not to clarity, but to greater and greater confusion ethically, morally, philosophically, and spiritually.

I think it has become chic to doubt. Being without hard and fast answers to the big questions in life is more "tolerant", more "open", more "broad-minded". Of course, if there really is Truth out there, this kind of willful ignorance makes one blind to it. I wonder if the same thing is true in the practice of Aikido? I mean, there are those who would suggest that there is no right and wrong Aikido, only your Aikido and my Aikido. Is this a better way to think about the nature of Aikido, or is this the means to the dilution and ultimate destruction of the art? Hmmm....

Have I gone too far of topic?

GnosticWarrior
02-12-2007, 01:57 PM
[QUOTE=Jonathan Hay]Fascinating thread.


I should remark that the "all streams lead into the ocean" philosophy is, logically speaking, fundamentally and profoundly flawed. Not all differing perspectives and beliefs can be held to be correct or true at the same time.


QUOTE]

I beg to differ. Do you agree that the size of the universe is infinite? If you believe this is true, than from your perspective as an individual you are the center of the universe, but also at the same time from my perspective I am also the center of the universe. Under the laws of the universe both of our individual perceptions do not conflict.

Just as the person you excert the most degree of control over is yourself. So from your perspective you are the most powerful person in the universe, and that would be true. But, I could also believe that I am the most powerful person in the universe and this would be true too. However, where it would not be true is if I believe that I could have control over you. Which I really don't.

There are times when our individual perspectives and also in alignment with the laws of the universe. This is when we obtain true power and are the most powerful. When we take a view that is against the universe, we will come to the conclusion that we are really not that powerful.

O-Sensei, Jesus, Buddha, and others may have come to the same conclusions, even by walking different paths.

Kevin Leavitt
02-12-2007, 02:08 PM
I believe that more ignorance comes from blind faith than from doubting and seeking knowledge and understanding of the truth.

I don't pretend to know or understand completely any truth. I also try and not be critical of others that believe or the paths they are on...because that is a personal choice.

However, once you say, "I know"...I have a multitude of questions that I would ask and challenge you with, and the answers have to be more substansive than...."because the book says so", or "I was told it was so".

I have the same approach toward religion as I do to aikido and martial arts. I expect my teachers to be able to demonstrate what they profess to know, and when I ask why...they need to be able to explain/demonstrate or have the courage to say "I don't really have the answer". However, if that answer is, "because that is the way I was taught." ...I have issues.

Jonathan
02-12-2007, 10:28 PM
Marcus:

Using the term "perspective" was probably not the best way to express my thinking. Two people can witness a car accident from two very different perspectives, or vantage points, share their view of what they witnessed of the car accident and, even if they say different things about what they saw, provided they don't directly contradict one another, may both be quite accurate about the events of the accident. However, if person A says, "There were two green cars that collided" and person B says, "There were two red cars that collided," then one of the two witnesses has got his/her facts about the color of the cars wrong. They cars can't be both red and green at the same time. To hold that both witnesses are equally right in the color of the cars is to be completely illogical.

I beg to differ. Do you agree that the size of the universe is infinite? If you believe this is true, than from your perspective as an individual you are the center of the universe, but also at the same time from my perspective I am also the center of the universe. Under the laws of the universe both of our individual perceptions do not conflict.

Just as the person you excert the most degree of control over is yourself. So from your perspective you are the most powerful person in the universe, and that would be true. But, I could also believe that I am the most powerful person in the universe and this would be true too. However, where it would not be true is if I believe that I could have control over you. Which I really don't.

There are times when our individual perspectives and also in alignment with the laws of the universe. This is when we obtain true power and are the most powerful. When we take a view that is against the universe, we will come to the conclusion that we are really not that powerful.

O-Sensei, Jesus, Buddha, and others may have come to the same conclusions, even by walking different paths.

Yes, well, your words here make my case for me...

I believe that more ignorance comes from blind faith than from doubting and seeking knowledge and understanding of the truth.

I don't believe ignorance comes from blind faith; I believe it is the cause of blind faith. You make it sound as though blind faith and seeking for truth are mutually exclusive things. Why is that?

The really mature believers in the truths of the Bible that I know are not blind in their faith -- rather the opposite.

I don't pretend to know or understand completely any truth. I also try and not be critical of others that believe or the paths they are on...because that is a personal choice.

The most confused and logically corrupt people I know are those who resist the idea that there is knowable, inflexible, universal truth.

It is possible to be critical of a person's beliefs and thinking without rejecting him or her. This is the route I take; I can value a person while denying their beliefs.

If I had an Aikido teacher who said, "Do whatever you want! It's all good. There is no wrong way to do Aikido!"; if that teacher refused to correct his students' technique for fear of offending them, I'd be finding another teacher as fast as I could.

GnosticWarrior
02-13-2007, 03:49 AM
Thanks for the previous posts to clarify one's understanding. It really made me look at my labels and definitions that I have and I may have previously misused them. Religion is a complex topic.

I think Aikido is a benefical art for society and everyone here wants to better themselves as an individual in some way. As long as people don't lose focus on the self improvement, things will work out regardless of the labels or rituals that go along with the process. :)

ian
02-13-2007, 10:05 AM
If I had an Aikido teacher who said, "Do whatever you want! It's all good. There is no wrong way to do Aikido!"; if that teacher refused to correct his students' technique for fear of offending them, I'd be finding another teacher as fast as I could.

Well, you wouldn't train with Ueshiba then. I had heard that he rarely corrected students, he just smiled and said 'good', no matter what you did! Agree pretty much with your post though Jonathon (inc. the bit I've quoted from you).

I think alot of this thread brings out fundamental philsophical/religious beliefs. I think we have to accept we live in a pluralist society (at least we do in the UK) and I would hope there would never be any specific association of a religious thought with aikido. I think it's wrong to believe that omote-kyo or zen or taoism is aikido's religious aspect, just as it would be wrong to associate it with Christianity. I think you can talk about yin/yang without necessarily inferring that it is a spiritual thing. I think aikido is a physical practise ('beyond words') which enables two practitioners with different religious or philosophical backgrounds to come together with mutual (non-verbal)understanding.

Indeed, I think the core of religion comes down to the natural human compassion that is part of who we are as humans (most of us anyway). We're all humans first; the religious bit is just an add on, and often distorts the natural compassion through dehumanisation of the 'other'.

Kevin Leavitt
02-13-2007, 11:54 AM
Jonathan, you make some good points counter to mine.

If I had an Aikido teacher who said, "Do whatever you want! It's all good. There is no wrong way to do Aikido!"; if that teacher refused to correct his students' technique for fear of offending them, I'd be finding another teacher as fast as I could.

Actually, I have instructors that say Do whatever you want, and question what you are learning. They then proceed to show me options and how what I am doing is less skillful, or can be done better or differently.

my instructors never say "that is not right." they say..."consider this view point".

It is not about dogmatic correction, or saying what is or is not aikido...it is about skillfully showing another perspective to consider...making it all within the realm of aikido.

that though requires a mature, and experienced instructor to be able to define aikido this way.

to me religion works the same way. Looking for the truths, one should not constrain or limit their view of the world, or not expose themselves to experiences that fall outside of the dogma of their particular afinity.

Kevin Leavitt
02-13-2007, 12:01 PM
Kevin, I agree aikido is not a religion if religion is defined as belief in a deity.

However religion can be defined in a multitude of ways. Some believe that aikido is a practice that can help one reach a deeper understanding of harmony/peace.

It is a practice that has a goal to move to a better place in life for many.

Viewed as a religon or a religous practice in that light...it is one whose goals are completely compatible and not in conflict with other commonly agreed upon established religions.

Calling aikido simply a martial art is like saying Fine Cooking or Culinary Arts is all about basically nourishing the body to help it survive.

To many making wine, beer, cooking, and many other pursuits is more than the atoms and molecules...

Money or the pursuit of it is a religion for many.

I think the discussion of religion and aikido to be very relevant and worth discussing as it helps us better understand what makes people and the world tick.

Kevin Leavitt
02-13-2007, 03:25 PM
I think it sounds wierd to you probably because you don't view it that way...and that....is Okay.

God I sound like that old Al Franken character Stuart Smiley or something like that! :)

Jonathan
02-13-2007, 03:53 PM
Ian:

Thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, I've read several times now that OSensei was a --- problematic teacher. Especially concerning his religious ideas, many of OSensei's students seem to have either largely ignored them or spun them in whatever way suited their thinking. Nothing I've read about how OSensei conducted his teaching suggests to me he was a particularly good teacher. That is, his capacity to pass on knowledge uniformly and clearly and foster the development of the ability he possessed was not well accomplished.

Indeed, I think the core of religion comes down to the natural human compassion that is part of who we are as humans (most of us anyway). We're all humans first; the religious bit is just an add on, and often distorts the natural compassion through dehumanisation of the 'other'.

Hmmm...as I think on what you've said here it occurs to me that most religions are trying to correct human behaviour, the assumption in this being that human beings, for a variety of reasons, do not naturally follow compassionate or right motives in dealing with one another.

Kevin:

Actually, I have instructors that say Do whatever you want, and question what you are learning. They then proceed to show me options and how what I am doing is less skillful, or can be done better or differently.

Isn't this just a more oblique way of saying that you are, in fact, doing it wrong? It seems like it to me...

my instructors never say "that is not right." they say..."consider this view point".

What do you think your instructors would do if you outright refused to hear, let alone consider, their offered point of view?

It is not about dogmatic correction, or saying what is or is not aikido...it is about skillfully showing another perspective to consider...making it all within the realm of aikido.

I don't mean to be obnoxious here, but this sounds like semantics.

to me religion works the same way. Looking for the truths, one should not constrain or limit their view of the world, or not expose themselves to experiences that fall outside of the dogma of their particular afinity

What if you find Truth that is constraining and limiting to your view of the world? What if you find Truth and it prohibits certain experiences? Would you embrace it because it is Truth or ignore it because it infringes on your "freedom"?

Erick Mead
02-14-2007, 09:55 AM
Labels, definitions, boundaries, and dogma by nature do create limits and boundaries that can keep us from realizing the truth and our potential. They also help us understand and make sense of a complex world. The purpose of today's training ... is to defeat yesterday's understanding. Frank Doran used that in an AJ article, so I won't take credit for the research on that one. :D

Erick Mead
02-14-2007, 12:52 PM
Kevin, I agree aikido is not a religion if religion is defined as belief in a deity.

However religion can be defined in a multitude of ways. Some believe that aikido is a practice that can help one reach a deeper understanding of harmony/peace.
...
I think the discussion of religion and aikido to be very relevant and worth discussing as it helps us better understand what makes people and the world tick. "Religion" means "that which binds together." "Musubi" is actually very close in root meaning. On those grounds aikido qualifies as a religious practice, but not as a religious doctrine.

Today's insistence on religion as an individualist pursuit is a novel, and oxymoronic, approach to the search for meaning. Largely this is becasue there is a misunderstanding between the respective purposes of religious practice and religious doctrine.

From my experience, proper religious practice is always effective to accomplish its purposes. I have experienced this same essnetial thing in contexts as far ranging as the muezzin at dusk in Jerusalem, the DaiButsu in Kamakura, the Grand Canyon, Eucharistic Adoration, Mozart's Requiem Mass, in just plain sitting, and yes -- also in the practice of aikido.

If a Universal Truth is indeed truth it must be everywhere the same, or it cannot be true. If it is universal, yet it must also differ in its particulars of expression, or it cannot be found expressed in all different perspectives. Doctrine is a means to teach affirmative concepts about the deeper meaning, but always comes from a particular perspective. Practice should invite us to the universal that is found in but is not of the particular means of its expression.

How we affirmatively understand that paradox of purpose and meaning may therefore differ very widely because affirmation implicitly negates or distinguishes what is not affirmed. Practice just IS. By practicing in the proper spirit, you get it. By practicing in the wrong spirit, you don't.

At least that is how I see it from my little corner of the universe.

It all about Ki-Musubi. The Spirit that binds us all together.

Mark Freeman
02-15-2007, 11:57 AM
At least that is how I see it from my little corner of the universe.


The universe has corners Erick?? :freaky:

the multiple posts above maybe proof of the multiple universe theory that the quantum folk are talking about at the moment;)

regards,

Mark

Kevin Leavitt
02-15-2007, 12:07 PM
lol! seems like Aikiweb was in a universe of it's own in the last 24 hours!

Good post Erick.

Just one comment. Many will agree that there is universal truth...but that their version of the truth is what is universal...not yours!

Good post Erick.


Good post Erick.

Good post Erick

:)

Erick Mead
02-15-2007, 08:43 PM
The universe has corners Erick?? :freaky:

the multiple posts above maybe proof of the multiple universe theory that the quantum folk are talking about at the moment;) ...Or evidence of multiple bounce glitches to the Aikiweb server ...

Nah. I go for the quantum thing myself...

And corners. Never trust those universes with the seductively smooth surfaces ...

Angela Morton
02-25-2007, 09:16 AM
you can choose to see the clapping and bowing as just respect to O-Sensei, but that is not all it means or its purpose.

Aikido in its creation was taking aspects of something else to suit a new set of needs. If a bow is what we need to do to show our respect for the man who founded the thing we love, then that should be accepted as aikido. It is adaption of something to suit new needs, and needs which are honest in the hearts of western practitioners. As long as we're honest in our hearts what we do is fine, wether we fully understand eastern or western religious ideas. I think everyone has different religions anyway. No one will see the bible in the exact same way as another. As long as the thoughts in our head are honest we should act as we wish, even if we act in a traditionally eastern way.

On paper i'm church of england christian, but i disagree with much of christianity. There is something about aikido and puting my left then right hand in a bow on a mat that effects me in a way that putting my hands together in a church never did. I don't have to understand what it is to appreciate it. Should we use western ideas because we are western, or experience and learn about eastern ones to discover if it's closer to our hearts?

All religions and spiritual beliefs adapted and develpoed overtime, slight adaption now doesn't make what e do wrong, or every religion and spiritual belief would have to be dismissed as wrong.