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dps
12-28-2009, 08:25 AM
Raul Rodrigo quoted TK Chiba in a post on the thread, "Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life}".

Nevertheless, the Founder always emphasized the importance of spiritual discipline ("religious faith", in his exact words) and the practice of farming along with martial discipline, if one wished to achieve one's goals. "

1. Religious faith
2. Farming
3. Martial discipline

What is the importance of farming to the practice of Aikido?

O'Sensei thought it was important.

David

Abasan
12-28-2009, 10:11 AM
farming - food for the body.
aikido - food for the soul.

Osensei wants us to nourish our body and soul.

Shadowfax
12-28-2009, 10:43 AM
Everything is connected in some way. Farming might seem be a lowly lifestyle and it may appear on the surface to be unconnected to many other occupations and trades. But it is important to remember... without farming no one eats. If we don't eat we don't live much less have the energy to put into such things as aikido.

In today's world the vast majority are so far removed from knowing the origin of the food that sustains us. We maybe know in a vague sense that milk and meat comes from cows and vegetables form the ground but have we seen the birth of a calf that will later feed us or have we tilled and prepared the earth which will produce the vegetables? Do we feel the connection with the very things that give us life? From one who has been a part of this lifestyle I can speak to the fact that it does deepen our connectedness to the earth, the world around us and to the entire universe.

Since connection with the universe was a key factor in Ueshiba's life and aikido I can totally see how he would place importance on farming.

Linda Eskin
12-28-2009, 10:50 AM
As someone who has done a lot of food-based gardening (too small-scale to properly be called "farming" I think, but the same idea), I'm very interested in this question.

In my experience, farming is food for the soul. Being in nature, observing natural processes, helping them along, seeing things grow, observing the cycles of the seasons, accepting what you get and working with (not struggling against) it for a better outcome, all seem very compatible with Aikido.

Besides, using hand tools (rake, shovel, manure fork) is great jo practice.

I'd be very interested in hearing about anything O-Sensei said about how farming and Aikido are related. Also, does anyone know if he had experience with either food animals (pigs, chickens...) or draft animals (horses, oxen...)? I would assume that would've been part of his farming life, but haven't heard anything about it.

Charles Hill
12-28-2009, 04:33 PM
Morihei Ueshiba got his agricultural ideas from Omoto-kyo (I'm like a broken record these days!:)) They didn't keep animals and had to develop sophisticated composting systems After the war, Ueshiba used to hold farming technique "seminars" for the local people in Iwama.

Peter Goldsbury
12-28-2009, 05:38 PM
Morihei Ueshiba got his agricultural ideas from Omoto-kyo (I'm like a broken record these days!:)) They didn't keep animals and had to develop sophisticated composting systems After the war, Ueshiba used to hold farming technique "seminars" for the local people in Iwama.

Yes. And Omoto got their ideas from the kokugaku nativists like Hirata Atsutane, who wanted to return to a pure Japan, uncorrupted by Chinese and especially western ideas. Good sources for those who cannot read Hirata in Japanese are Peter Nosco's Remembering Paradise; H A Harootunian's Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in Tokugawa Nativism (a little difficult, because of his writing style); and Mark McNally's Proving the Way: Conflict and Practice in the History of Japanese Nativism. Shimazaki Toson's novel, Before the Dawn, is a fictional depiction of Shimazaki's own father, who was a largely misunderstood follower of Hirata.

Once again, all the best for 2010.

PAG

BlueDevilfish
12-28-2009, 06:41 PM
I am thinking that while it may have been important to Ueshiba in his time and social context that it is probably not very relevant to most of us in our current time and context. In this day and age I can't imagine too many aikidoka participating in farming just because it was important to Ueshiba in his day.

RED
12-28-2009, 08:13 PM
I think the relevance to farming lied in the natural process of it. He believed the ultimate goal was to be in union with the universal creative force. Farming was a spring for that universal force.


Personally, I kill anything green I touch. :(

Linda Eskin
12-28-2009, 09:48 PM
Thank you Charles, and Professor Goldsbury. Yay! More interesting reading. Much appreciated.

I think, whether or not we can actually particpate in farming, some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial, even if it's just noticing the phases of the moon, so we know when we will have light for a late-night walk, or darkness to see the stars better. Tides, seasons, weather, decay and sprouting, predation, planting and harvesting, etc. all feel to me like the same circling, flowing energies in our techniques.

gdandscompserv
12-28-2009, 10:13 PM
Does this count?
http://www.furcommission.com/farming/index.html
:D

lbb
12-28-2009, 10:20 PM
Four different things:

1. Why O-Sensei farmed.
2. Why O-Sensei thought their was a connection between aikido and farming.
3. Whether O-Sensei thought that connection applied to anyone but himself.
4. Whether you think there's such a connection, or should be, to your practice.

Not everything has to be connected to everything else. Maybe there is a connection, but as P-Funk would say, "if it don't fit, don't force it."

Keith Larman
12-29-2009, 12:11 AM
Now here's something I was trying to allude to in another thread. Dr. Goldsbury posts a rather intriguing post pointing out that Omoto was influenced by a Japanese nativist movement. But it is followed in subsequent posts by rather conventional interpretations that things like gardening / farming was therefore about becoming "one" with nature and the like. I enjoy gardening for my own food for those very reasons myself. But my (very limited) understanding of the nativist movement was that people like Hirata Atsutane were vastly more involved in a more nationalist pride/good old days/etc. slant and it had little if nothing to do with "being one with the nature". It was more about not being one with the perceived foreign influences on Japanese culture. Which had a lot of less than pleasant results in the ensuing years.

Of course I could be wrong as well. But my curiosity is piqued. Soooo, I'd love to hear more, Dr. Goldsbury, if you have the time.

Better go see if I can find a copy of one of the referenced books...

John Connolly
12-29-2009, 12:14 AM
Hey Ricky,

That is murderously opposite what Ueshiba meant, and so viciously a perversion of nature and farming, it would be like asking (even in a joking way, you see?) if the Final Solution is representative of the ideals of Socialism as a social construct. Not same and not funny.

Abasan
12-29-2009, 01:05 AM
Besides farming, Osensei asked his students to reflect in nature a lot if they want to understand Aikido.

It may not be relevant to the fast paced world you live in today, but farming is just an idea or aspect. There are other ways to learn gratitude and servitude.

Charles Hill
12-29-2009, 02:20 AM
But my curiosity is piqued. Soooo, I'd love to hear more, Dr. Goldsbury, if you have the time...

Hi Keith,
Check this out, especially 4. The Answer Lies in the Soil
http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14610

Peter Goldsbury
12-29-2009, 05:35 AM
Of course I could be wrong as well. But my curiosity is piqued. Soooo, I'd love to hear more, Dr. Goldsbury, if you have the time.

Better go see if I can find a copy of one of the referenced books...

Hello Keith,

The column that Charles called attention to was my first stab at discussing the general cultural background of Morihei Ueshiba and farming / nature. Since coming to live here I had received two important items of information relevant to aikido. (1) O Sensei believed that farming and budo were very closely related. (2) The Japanese have a unique view of nature, shared by no other culture.

We can deal with (2) first. I came across a book, written in Japanese with a parallel English translation, written by a man named Isamu Kurita. The Japanese title of the book was 『雪月花の心』Setsu Getsu Ka no Kokoro. (Basic translation: The Spirit of Snow, Moon and Flowers). The English title of the book, however, was: Japanese Identity. The book was concerned to explain the unique Japanese concept of nature and to show that unique Japanese culture was also rooted in this concept. Kurita's central point is that 'western' views of nature are based on the doctrine of the Fall, as expressed in the early chapters of Genesis. The idea is that Original Sin set up a fundamental conflict between Man and Nature, such that the latter was seen as hostile. The Japanese view, on the other hand, is that there is no such conflict and therefore--this is important--that Japanese, being fundamentally of a piece with nature, can treat it as they wish. Kurita's view leads him to make some very unusual assertions. Here are his thoughts about Japanese as "worker bees", quoted from Page 33:

"The Japanese have for some time been labeled "worker bees" or even "workaholics". This view, however, is a misconception based on cultural differences relating to the concept of labor.
As is frequently pointed out, in the West, labor is considered as a kind of punishment. This view traces back to the days of Adam and Eve, when man became compelled to undertake labor after being chased from the Garden of Eden.
In Japan, by contrast, labor was from ancient times interpreted as a human commitment to join forces with nature in the creative process, whether it focused on agriculture, mining or pottery making.
In later days, when organizations or modern factories came to replace nature as the creative dynamo, this view of nature manifested itself as joy in committing oneself to the creative efforts of the group. Even in a daunting environment of heavy snow, there is joy to be found in labor."

I hope you are as skeptical as I was, on reading this. There are so many things wrong even with this one paragraph that I could devote an entire column to Japanese Myths Concerning Nature and Labor. Kurita ignores the fundamental economic structure of Japan from the Heian Era onwards, namely, that rice was produced by peasants, who were taxed with variable degrees of severity by those were not producers. The Tokugawas sanctified this economic structure with four social classes: samurai, peasant farmers, artisans, merchants. Kurita's talk of the 'joy in committing oneself to the creative efforts of the group' is an expample of an invented tradition, in Hobsbawm's phrase, and has to be balanced by the exploitation of the peasants and the uprisings that this led to. However, the more important question (1) was: to what extent did Morihei Ueshiba share in this 'joy in nature as a creative process' mythology?

There is no evidence that O Sensei considered budo and farming to be related until after he met Onisaburo Deguchi. His father was a peasant farmer, who had made his family quite wealthy. His other relatives were involved in trade, so they would have occupied the fourth level of the Tokugawa social structure. There is zero evidence that Ueshiba did any farming at all when he lived at home in Tanabe. However, from the accounts given by his son, he became good at farming, probably from sheer necessity and bitter experience, when his family lived in Hokkaido in the early 1900s. In Hokkaido winters the cold comes directly from Siberia: there is nothing in between.

After Ueshiba moved to Ayabe and became a student of Deguchi, he organized a kind of farming commune, which was repeated later, when the Takeda Dojo of the Budo Senyokai was opened. In his creation of Omoto doctrine, Deguchi trawled very widely and in his later period (after the 1921 suppression), he borrowed from Hirata Atsutane and the Nativists and strongly supported a return to traditional Japanese roots and extolled the virtues of the cooperative creation of growing rice, always under the benevolent but absolute rule of the Emperor: the Chief Rice-Grower himself, who was directly descended from the Sun Goddess.
In 1942, with the move to Iwama, Ueshiba occupied himself in farming and after Japan's defeat and the severe economic hardships that this caused, the vegetable farming in Iwama became a lifeline, but Kisshomaru Ueshiba still had to take a 'secret' job in Tokyo (secret because he kept it from his father), in order, as he himself put it, that the deshi could survive.

So, when someone like Chiba Sensei used to tell me that O Sensei believed that there was an essential connection between budo and farming, I was extremely skeptical, as I still am, that this had any relevance to anyone except O Sensei himself.

Best wishes,

PAG

Edit: I should add, that my sister breeds horses and all the family can ride them. My niece's husband is a farmer. His family has run several large arable farms for generations in rural Nottinghamshire (UK). The lands he farms are leased from the Crown (= the Queen). The countryside is beautiful, as is the countryside around here during the summer. However, it is an easy temptation to regard Nature and the Soil as exclusively benevolent and to forget the heavy toll that even a 'joyful' Japanese conception of nature and labor can exact.

gdandscompserv
12-29-2009, 07:06 AM
Hey Ricky,

That is murderously opposite what Ueshiba meant, and so viciously a perversion of nature and farming, it would be like asking (even in a joking way, you see?) if the Final Solution is representative of the ideals of Socialism as a social construct. Not same and not funny.
Hey John,
Put myself through college 'murdering" mink. Handling mink and breaking their necks during pelting season is real good for one's grip. I've also been known to 'murder' cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and even turkeys!:p

Linda Eskin
12-29-2009, 08:45 AM
Thank you, Professor Goldsbury. <rei>

I don't know that I would say I find "joy" in cleaning the horse pen or tending our small collection of fruit trees. ;) But there is (for me) a deep satisfaction in caring for animals and plants, and observing and working with natural processes. In my case that might mean being out late at night, flinging manure under trees before the first big rains hit, or refraining from mowing while the ladybugs are in their larval stage on the grass and weeds. Certainly "going with" nature works out better than struggling against it. I could see a that a certain budo-like sense of "if you fail, you die" could exist for some farmers, too. Certainly if you fail your plants and animals could die. Even on a small scale, there's a serious sense of commitment and discipline, IME.

Shadowfax
12-29-2009, 08:50 AM
Hey Ricky,

That is murderously opposite what Ueshiba meant, and so viciously a perversion of nature and farming, it would be like asking (even in a joking way, you see?) if the Final Solution is representative of the ideals of Socialism as a social construct. Not same and not funny.

Hmm had a look at some of the information there and I don't see anything vicious or a perversion of farming. I see very responsible practices and very high standards of care. Everything that lives dies and nature is often far more cruel than this.

Regardless of whether one takes up farming or not it certainly should be recognized as necessary and important. But I do think that nurturing a living thing be it a dairy cow, pet dog, field of corn or houseplant, has a benefit for those who do so.

How Ueshiba really viewed it maybe died with him. Maybe it was personal and important only to him it matters not all that much. What really should matter is how we view it and whether we choose to make it a part of our own development and growth. I don't think there is a right or wrong choice here.

Personally I find it vastly beneficial to have had the experiences I have had. Raising animals from birth to maturity knowing that they would be feeding and or clothing me gave me quite an appreciation for them. They have died in order that I might benefit and live. It makes one far more aware of the circle that life is.

chillzATL
12-29-2009, 09:04 AM
So, when someone like Chiba Sensei used to tell me that O Sensei believed that there was an essential connection between budo and farming, I was extremely skeptical, as I still am, that this had any relevance to anyone except O Sensei himself.


This was my initial feeling as well, but I do leave some wiggle room based on ideas others have raised from reading Ellis Amdurs Hidden in Plain Sight.

Perhaps O'sensei found some parallels in the Daito-Ryu aiki training methods and farming methods? I've never done hard manual farming, but what extended garden/yard work I've done makes it obvious to me that anyone who did that extensively would quickly learn more physically economical ways to get things done than simply using their muscles. You would likely develop unique body postures and movements and ways of generating energy through those movements so that you're not relying on pure strength. Also, the type of strength one gains from doing those things is quite different than simply putting on muscle.

On a similar line of thought, maybe this was just something he was doing at the same time that he really developed his aiki ability and it, along with his spirituality, were things he gave the bulk of the credit too for those abilities.

Keith Larman
12-29-2009, 09:50 AM
Thank you Dr. Goldsbury. That was exactly what I was looking for. I must admit my first thought with the nativists had been the notion of well-off comfortable people waxing nostalgically about things they chose to see in a self-satisfying way (which immediately brought up thoughts of Yamamoto Tsunetomo). It did seem rather naive to my understanding considering the heavy burden (physically, economically and socially) placed upon farmers throughout Japanese history. So considering Morihei Ueshiba came from a rather wealthy family, the family's wealth due to the farming "industry", and then the Omoto influence leaves a lot of possible "lens" through which to view his ideas about farming. And all of them have their own "tint" (to abuse a concept from Bertrand Russell).

Thank you again. Time to read some more...

OwlMatt
12-29-2009, 10:14 AM
Two things:

First, in the feudal days of Japan it was considered a virtue for the samurai to be close to his land. The Emperor himself even maintained a small ceremonial rice paddy. This made pretty good sense then, since a samurai's political and economic power was more or less measured by the agricultural output of the lands he controlled. Without trying to read O Sensei's mind for deeper meaning (though I suspect he might have had one in mind), I venture that he might have been trying to keep alive the traditional warrior virtue of understanding the land.

Second, if you're looking for a good read on the spiritual benefits of agriculture, I suggest Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening by Eastern Orthodox theologian Vigen Guroian.

Anjisan
12-29-2009, 10:24 AM
I am thinking that while it may have been important to Ueshiba in his time and social context that it is probably not very relevant to most of us in our current time and context. In this day and age I can't imagine too many aikidoka participating in farming just because it was important to Ueshiba in his day.

I believe that connecting with living things is important in any age. I think that the disconnect that we often experience in modern society (fast paced life with technology being a blessing/curse) is a major problem and contributes to apathy towards our fellow man and the world around us in my opinion.

Further, that sense of connection with other living beings (in Aikido practice-- people) is cited as one of the reasons to train. In my case this is coming from someone who cites self-defence and practical Aikido as pillars. While I completely agree that "farming" is not realistic for most of us, the lessons from doing such work could be gleaned from caring for plants, landscaping on your yard, or in many other ways.

It seems intuitive that if one one desires to be in harmony with nature there needs to be some connection to it. It seems that aspiring to protect livings things--beginning with ourselves and then if possible our attacker/s is a central tenant of Aikido so to have a connection with nature and the beings within it seems to logically follow. If not, then maybe we should all be doing Systema and skip the connection stuff as well as ethical aspirations.

Keith Larman
12-29-2009, 10:37 AM
I think there are two issues here. One is what we think today, what we need today, and what we may get from our beliefs today. That's cool. But this is the problem of history -- determining what someone/something meant *then*. In context of their world, society, norms, etc.

I think that people surely gain a lot of insight into life, living, etc. by farming/gardening. Lord knows I come from a long line of farmers who worked in less than hospitable areas. My great grandparents and grandparents worked *very* hard on farms and I have memories of both the wonders of it all but also the extremely hard work.

That said... There is another issue and that is to tease out what Morihei Ueshiba meant when he made statements about farming and Budo. Here we have a choice as to how to proceed -- do we interpret it through what we find meaningful or missing in our lives today or do we try to understand the world he was living in, the context he experienced, and the social/cultural/intellectual underpinnings he was experiencing these things from. The former is perfectly fine for each person who is striving to find meaning in what they're doing. That's great -- you're applying things in a new context. But that's not really learning anything about what Morihei Ueshiba was saying but more about what we feel is important today in our context. If his words inspire things today, that's great, but the historical question still remains -- what did *he* mean by it. How did *he* understand it. Asking those questions in no way diminishes the value that someone may gather from the inspiration of his words in today's context even if they go very far afield from the "reality" of the history.

Michael Hackett
12-29-2009, 12:03 PM
My dad was raised on a series of Depression era tenant farms in the rural south and spent most of his pre-war years working his tail off as one of eight kids, trying to eke out a life. Many years later, as a skilled craftsman, he retired as the Maintenance Foreman of a large, family-owned agricultural business. I remember him telling me that "There's never been any bad lovin', or any good work on the end of a hoe." It might have been tough living in Hokkaido, but O Sensei never picked cotton in the Mississippi Delta.

Peter Goldsbury
12-30-2009, 01:57 AM
That said... There is another issue and that is to tease out what Morihei Ueshiba meant when he made statements about farming and Budo. Here we have a choice as to how to proceed -- do we interpret it through what we find meaningful or missing in our lives today or do we try to understand the world he was living in, the context he experienced, and the social/cultural/intellectual underpinnings he was experiencing these things from. The former is perfectly fine for each person who is striving to find meaning in what they're doing. That's great -- you're applying things in a new context. But that's not really learning anything about what Morihei Ueshiba was saying but more about what we feel is important today in our context. If his words inspire things today, that's great, but the historical question still remains -- what did *he* mean by it. How did *he* understand it. Asking those questions in no way diminishes the value that someone may gather from the inspiration of his words in today's context even if they go very far afield from the "reality" of the history.

Following on from this post from Keith Larman, I did a little research about what Morihei Ueshiba actually stated, or meant. Here are a few results, and those AikiWeb members who wish to can check the references and add more information if they wish.

I have found nothing related to budo and farming in any of Ueshiba's published discourses (though I have not gone through the Japanese text of Takemusu Aiki). However, there is some mention of the relationship in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography: 合気道開祖植芝盛平伝, translated into English as, A Life in Aikido.

Kisshomaru mentions the topic first on pp.82-83 of the Japanese text and, by coincidence, the translation is also on pp. 82-83 of the English text. The discussion starts with one Kurahashi Denzaburo, who was a military veteran from Kishu (= Tanabe) who settled in a veterans settlement in Hokkaido. Kisshomaru then mentions a very important matter, 屯田兵制度: tonden hei seido, which was the resettlement of samurai who were left without employment after the abolition of feudal domains. These veterans formed a military reserve, but in peacetime they lived by farming. Kisshomaru adds: ー言にしていえば、「兵農一如」実践を主旨とした。"In other words, they embodied the concept of heino-ichinyo (fighting and farming are one), the integration of the military and agricultural lifestyles" (p. 83, both versions).

Kisshomaru does not explain the provenance of the phrase 「兵農一如」and I can find no reference to it in the absence of the other concept, of 屯田兵制度: tonden hei seido. So, the suspicion is that this is an 'invented tradition' (in Hobsbawm's sense) and that the integration of fighting and farming has meaning here only in the purely practical sense of providing a means of livelihood for displaced veterans.

Kisshomaru adds that Morihei Ueshiba took up a similar ideal 「武農一如」(which is translated as 'the integration of the martial and agricultural lifestyles'), when he moved to Iwama in 1942 and, since K Chiba spent some time in Iwama recovering from a back injury, it is probably here that he would have heard O Sensei talk about this. Kisshomaru is in no doubt, however, that the origin of both ideas was the practice of settling retired veterans.

Kisshomaru then adds some history and for me this puts a slightly different slant on the matter. Kisshomaru notes that when Enomoto Takeaki surrendered to the new Meiji government, such settlements were organized for ex-samurai. Kisshomaru is actually discussing the Boshin Civil War, when samurai loyal to the Tokugawa shogunate were hunted down by an army composed mainly of Satsuma and Choshu veterans. Enomoto was one such samurai leader, but there were others, including samurai from the Aizu domain, where Takeda Sokaku was born. The Aizu samurai were also offered similar settlements, but as a punishment, and their form of 「兵農一如」led to starvation and death.

In Kisshomaru's biography, there is more mention of 「兵農(武農)一如」on pp. 257-260 of the Japanese text and pp. 267-271 of the English translation. On p. 267 of the English translation, there is a note explaining Heino-ichinyo / Buno-ichinyo:
"The first of these terms denotes the integration of agriculture and the military, and originally was applied to a Meiji-era program of relocating samurai families to the Hokkaido frontier for both farming and national defence; the second term denotes more particularly O Sensei's own concept of the close and necessary relationship between agriculture or farming and the martial arts, Budo."

The problem here is that there is no explanation in either the text or the footnotes of what this necessary relationship consists in (other than the rather obvious connection of a dojo surrounded by land which has to be farmed). Now it might be that Morihei Ueshiba was indeed thinking of Hirata Atsutane and Omoto, and Kisshomaru mentions that he did, also, farm in Ayabe and Takeda. However this connection is not made clear and it seems that Kisshomaru also believed that this was a personal belief of his father. I think it is significant that this seemingly necessary relationship ceased to exist with the Second Doshu, who was the one who wrote the biography.

There is quite a lot more that could be discussed, but I think this is enough for the time being.

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
12-30-2009, 06:31 AM
I think, whether or not we can actually particpate in farming, some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial, even if it's just noticing the phases of the moon, so we know when we will have light for a late-night walk, or darkness to see the stars better. Tides, seasons, weather, decay and sprouting, predation, planting and harvesting, etc. all feel to me like the same circling, flowing energies in our techniques.

Hello Linda,

Have you ever seen the film (movie :) ) Tuck Everlasting? It is about a family who breaks the cycle of nature by drinking from a magic spring, which stops them from aging. Together with Benjamin Button, it is a very interesting meditation about linear and cyclic conceptions of nature. I use both films in my classes on comparative culture. Actually, Benjamin Button is quite relevant here, because David Fincher agreed to shoot the film in New Orleans--and change the story from Scott Fitzgerald's original setting--because it offered a chance for New Orleans to recover from Hurricane Katrina. I have never experienced a hurricane, though I have experienced a major typhoon, and none of the doors fit in my traditional Japanese house because of all the earthquakes. So I have experienced nature in ways that I would not like to repeat too often, and with which budo has no relationship whatever, other than the obvious ways of being prepared--as one might be with a possible plane high-jacking.

One of the problems in discussing O Sensei and Nature is that the experience of all who discuss this appears to be so different and selective. The OP talked of Chiba Sensei, who discussed O Sensei and farming. I was once quite close to Chiba Sensei and we used to discuss such questions in some depth. He once took me to meet a 'renegade' Jesuit priest, named Fr Oshida, who was chaplain to a farming commune (of nuns, I believe) in a remote part of Japan. The meeting was at the Buddhist temple in Kannami-cho, run by Chiba's friend Hogen Yamagata.

The problem for me with these discussions was that there was too much of the Bucolic and the Pastoral involved. Nature was always benign; never too raw to touch. It was always presented in the same way that Isamu Kurita (see earlier post) presented the joy of cooperative labor in the process of Japanese car production, or coal mining. Michael Hackett mentioned picking cotton in the Mississippi delta. The foundress of Omoto, Nao Deguchi, had a terrible time because of the failure of crops and there are vivid accounts of the horrors that this led to. These problems are somehow forgotten in contemporary discussions about aikido and farming.

So the major issue for me is that these discussions about O Sensei and the importance of farming seem to share the same romantic mythology as Kurita's discussions--and this includes Chiba Sensei. Chiba was a 'city boy' and never experienced farming in the raw. And--and this is telling--none, absolutely none, of O Sensei's immediate deshi ever took his supposed injunctions to heart and followed his example in establishing 'farming' dojos. Can you really imagine Yamada Yoshimitsu Sensei as head of a 'farming dojo' in New York City? If farming was so essential to O Sensei's vision of budo, why was it never replicated outside Iwama?

O Sensei came from a wealthy family and was supported by a large group of supporters, even in Hokkaido in the depth of winter. His father could afford to send him to Hokkaido, to help him to do something useful with his life. His teacher, Takeda Sokaku, was a samurai and had no time for such ephemeral pastimes as relating budo to farming.

So, people read about O Sensei, usually at second or third hand, and in translations that sometimes do not convey all the sense of the original, and announce that, This is 'What (I feel that) O Sensei Said', or usually 'Meant' (which is much easier to justify). It is about as compelling to me as biblical inspiration based on false texts.

This post was prompted by your earlier remark: "some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial" and my immediate reaction, based on living here for 30 years, was, How about typhoons and earthquakes? Of course, this does not mean that I have no time for dojos that are intimately connected to farming. But these have to be exceptions to the general rule, as Iwama also was.

Best wishes for 2010,

PAG

Keith Larman
12-30-2009, 09:29 AM
Thank you as always for great research. Your posts would make a good read for the "mythology" thread as well.

Again, thank you for your time.

raul rodrigo
12-30-2009, 09:48 AM
Thank you for your inputs, professor. There is indeed a romantic idealization of nature in the equating of budo and farming that Chiba talks about. And so you do us a great service in enabling us to make these distinctions; farming is not a necessary condition for studying aikido. I live in a country that is often visited by typhoons, suffered a terrible flood just this September, and is going to be struck by a major eruption at Mayon volcano any day now. So in our context, any talk about the uninterrupted benevolence of nature would be something to be taken with a grain of salt.

Demetrio Cereijo
12-30-2009, 04:38 PM
This post was prompted by your earlier remark: "some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial" and my immediate reaction, based on living here for 30 years, was, How about typhoons and earthquakes?
They are beneficial too.