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torbjornsaw
09-08-2010, 10:19 AM
With the Aiki Peace Week organized by Aiki Extensions coming up I thought I write something about Peace.

Peace in the deepest and truly spiritual sense indicates an understanding that transcends even the notion of conflict. Peace in the way I’d like to present it has nothing to do with struggle. It is a joint understanding come upon through a mutual insight into the nature of life itself. Peace exists as real possibility in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. There is no time to overcome or to conquer. There is no time to negotiate, argue, mediate or compromise. Peace is absolute or not at all. Peace looks at no history, makes no plans for the future. It is truly in the now. Once you find it in yourself to hold such a absolute view you will not be able to join any opposite side. There is no more worthy cause than the cause for peace itself. No side can lay claim to it. It favors no one. Peace have no agenda but itself. Peace takes no sides.
Peace requires a direct insight into the nature of life itself. It is a spiritual pursuit into your own deepest self. Find the meaning and purpose within and you’ll solve all questions of conflict. Conflict in the world can only be dealt with this understanding. Anything else will merely scratch the surface and be hardly of any use.

In my dojo all inquiry and meditation is geared towards this direct intuitive understanding. All spiritual and human dilemma can be looked into and understood through a passion to want to know. We can solve the problems of conflict, whithin and whithout, through dialogue and joint inquiry and contemplation.

The practice of Aikido is made for this purpose; to understand Peace! Once you understand it, you can live by it. That is not an easy matter but without understanding you would not even know where to start. So look at the heart of Peace and solve it to what it means, right now, together with another or by your self. Then and only then will you bring peace to this world. What does it mean? Pursue it with your life and with a passion that the world depends on it.

Marc Abrams
09-08-2010, 02:57 PM
Bjorn:

Sounds good in theory! Unfortunately, life does not always seem to fit so neatly within our postulates. For an example, a man is running at your young child with a cleaver in his hand and is screaming that he is going to kill that devil. How do you translate your theory in practice in that moment?

Marc Abrams

mathewjgano
09-08-2010, 03:08 PM
...The practice of Aikido is made for this purpose; to understand Peace! Once you understand it, you can live by it. That is not an easy matter but without understanding you would not even know where to start. So look at the heart of Peace and solve it to what it means, right now, together with another or by your self. Then and only then will you bring peace to this world. What does it mean? Pursue it with your life and with a passion that the world depends on it.

Nicely put! I believe we generally get out what we put in...of course this gets complicated when we get a group of autonomous individuals, but if we're not trying our very best for peaceful situations I would argue we're demonstrating either apathy or cynicism; neither of which are genuinely peaceful pursuits. Some people say you have to work hard to keep others from stomping you down in life and I think this kind of attitude channels incoming events into positions of conflict. I would rather say you have to work hard to appreciate/understand where another person is coming from in order to find paths that lead to mutually benificial situations. Rather than spend energy trying to shut down the other guy, I would rather spend it on non-oppositional (e.g. mutually propelling) behavior. It just seems more efficient to me.
It's all too easy to write off the other person as somehow lacking and use that as an excuse for non-peaceful responses. Peace in the absolute (or near enough) sense is all too often a peripheral thought, an abstract notion of some far-off ideal that probably isn't very practical...a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

mathewjgano
09-08-2010, 03:27 PM
Bjorn:

Sounds good in theory! Unfortunately, life does not always seem to fit so neatly within our postulates. For an example, a man is running at your young child with a cleaver in his hand and is screaming that he is going to kill that devil. How do you translate your theory in practice in that moment?

Marc Abrams

Speaking for myself of course, the simple answer is "the best I can." Maybe another way of looking at this in terms of absolutely peaceful efforts would be to change the situation to having one loved family member chasing after another with the cleaver. Or let's begin with an operating assumption that the attacker ingested something accidentally or is otherwise acting in a way that might be described as accidental.
The question then becomes one of means and ability. A lack of peace-based effort might induce us to simply blast that person when we might have just knocked him out or otherwise eluded him.
If someone were to try and kill my child I would easily want to defend my child and not so easily want to protect the attacker. This is pretty natural, and I think demonstrates a natural hierarchy of importance, but this is where the focused effort to be more peaceful comes in (i.e. training to be successful at peaceful behavior). Where possible (and recognized as such) acting with peace in mind means providing an opportunity for the attacker to learn from his mistakes.
To my mind the practical side of this comes from the tendancy for people to listen to those they relate to; people who have been in similar situations. If I'm trying to convince a violent aggressive person to stop that behavior, I'm going to have less credibility than someone who also exhibited that behavior, but later chose more peaceful efforts. That's the "why" for me that justifies peaceful efforts in the light of extreme violence.

dps
09-08-2010, 05:00 PM
If someone were to try and kill my child I would easily want to defend my child and not so easily want to protect the attacker. This is pretty natural, and I think demonstrates a natural hierarchy of importance, but this is where the focused effort to be more peaceful comes in (i.e. training to be successful at peaceful behavior).http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6861XV20100907


If you have to make a focused effort to be more peaceful, to acquire peacful behavor, then a state of peace is not natural.

David

dps
09-08-2010, 05:08 PM
Peace in the way I'd like to present it has nothing to do with struggle.

I would rather have contentment with struggle than peace without.

Without struggle there is no growth.

David

mathewjgano
09-08-2010, 07:40 PM
If you have to make a focused effort to be more peaceful, to acquire peacful behavor, then a state of peace is not natural.

David
In a lot of human behavior, the more you express it, the more easily it is expressed in the future. I guess your sense of what "natural" means would suggest things of this variety become more natural the more you practice them. Are you suggesting that people who tend toward more aggressive behavior shouldn't try to change what is more "natural" for them to express?
So I guess the point isn't about whether it's natural or not, so much as what will lead to a happier tomorrow. Punative measures don't always seem to be the best answer to that.

Without struggle there is no growth.
I took struggle here to mean conflict, but I could certainly be wrong in that guess.

lbb
09-08-2010, 08:33 PM
If you have to make a focused effort to be more peaceful, to acquire peacful behavor, then a state of peace is not natural.

Maybe...or maybe it's your definition of "natural" that's off. I know that people commonly use "natural" as synonymous with "effortless", but the more I think about it, the less that seems correct to me.

Marc Abrams
09-08-2010, 09:38 PM
Peace and violence are simply terms that we use to describe some "frozen" moment of time that describes some aspect of our relationship with the world (internal and/or external). Peace or violence are not static goals but descriptive moments in time. I think that we do more to make our world more sane and peaceful by focusing in on how we relate to ourselves and those around us rather than trying to pigeon-hole these experiences within some artificial, opposing positions. That was why I sought to add some degree of reality to the "waxing poetic."

Marc Abrams

dps
09-08-2010, 10:44 PM
Maybe...or maybe it's your definition of "natural" that's off. I know that people commonly use "natural" as synonymous with "effortless", but the more I think about it, the less that seems correct to me.

Generally natural is meant things as they are without human intervention.

"This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind.This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature

dps
09-08-2010, 10:53 PM
. Are you suggesting that people who tend toward more aggressive behavior shouldn't try to change what is more "natural" for them to express?


No.

I am saying peace involves struggle to change the natural aggressive behavior that brings about conflict.

Peace in the way I'd like to present it has nothing to do with struggle.

Peace is the result of struggling.

David

torbjornsaw
09-09-2010, 02:23 AM
Peace may be an outcome of struggle but once you get there you can realize that it rather came about by ceasing, by ending the struggle, by laying down your arms, not by defeating or overpowering the sense of struggle or conflict.

The peace I'm referring to is an internal quality that emanates outward, touches people and overturns anger. In Aikido we use our body to speak this language of peace. It is already immanent in our actions. When we see eye to eye the struggle is seen not as the necessary prior to peace but the blind adherence to separate points of view. Therefore the struggle is not necessarily needed in order to accomplish peace but more often than not it is anyway.

But if you think you need the struggle, then you will never ever relinquish it.

Carsten Möllering
09-09-2010, 03:36 AM
Peace may be an outcome of struggle but once you get there you can realize that it rather came about by ceasing, by ending the struggle, by laying down your arms, not by defeating or overpowering the sense of struggle or conflict. [

Isn't struggle a manifestation or effect of conflicting interests?
Why do you think it to be usefull, if one party gives up to realize, to bring it's interests to effect?

In Aikido we use our body to speak this language of peace. It is already immanent in our actions.
I don't see the parallel?
aikido is budo. It is practiced to controll an attacker by using aiki.
Someone attacks - the attacker is controlled - the attacker is thrown or locked. And an attacker who isn't proficient at ukemi will be hurt. (Not in training but in "real life".)

But if you think you need the struggle, then you will never ever relinquish it.
Isn't struggle - on different planes - a motor of developement and change?

Is it helpful to try to abandon conflict, struggle ... ?
Or might it be helpfull to learn how to live and to solve conflict or struggle in helpful ways?

lbb
09-09-2010, 08:15 AM
Generally natural is meant things as they are without human intervention.

Human intervention? Have you ever seen a beaver dam?

torbjornsaw
09-09-2010, 08:36 AM
Yes isn't the most helpful way, to realize peace? If we do then we will want to learn how to defend/respond in a way that does not add to the conflict or aggression but to appease and neutralize it. This is Aiki; to blend, to harness and to diffuse the anger.

If my objective is peace foremost then my actions will follow my intention to lead others into that peace as well. That is not the easiest thing to do but why not try. O Sensei had nothing else on his mind. He wanted to establish peace in this world beginning with you and me.

dps
09-09-2010, 10:17 AM
Human intervention? Have you ever seen a beaver dam?

Yes, a natural wonder,

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/given025/architecture/beaverdam.JPG

as compared to an unnatural wonder,

http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/nevada/las-vegas/images/s/las-vegas-hoover-dam.jpg

David

dps
09-09-2010, 10:58 AM
If my objective is peace foremost then my actions will follow my intention to lead others into that peace as well. .

What if someone like Hitler, Stalin or Osama Bin Laden doesn't want to go into that peace with you?

David

jonreading
09-09-2010, 11:50 AM
I like this post, it is food for thought if nothing else.

I'll throw out a couple comments:
1. Peace s a state of being, not an emotion. We internalize states of being (peace-ful, full of peace) to express that state.
2. Peace is the absence of conflict. It does not inherently contain an altruistic connotation.
3. Harmony is the balance of two or more things in opposition. It does not inherently contain a peaceful connotation.

An earlier post referred to the rhetoric of peace to overcome conflict. I call this expression sympathy and it is a non-physical argument but and argument none-the-less. Aikido does express a sympathetic quality in aligning our attackers energy with our own. However, sympathy is not peace. I can sympathize with a friend who commits a heinous act, but I may not be at peace with that act. (NOTE: my high school English teacher hated the adjective -ful suffix and told us to image people as vessels that could be filled with hope, peace, beauty, hate, etc. - I never got over that...)

I often read about peace inherently expressing a altruistic aspect. However, there are societies under cruel dictators that are at peace because opposition is destroyed. There are murderers who are at peace with their actions. I don't give peace more credit that its due.

Finally, I see a lot of inter-changing peace and harmony. A lion eating a gazelle is a harmonious relationship, but I don't think that gazelle is at peace. A river raging through a gorge is a harmony of nature, but the water is not peaceful. Harmony is not peace, it is a balance. Balance has struggle - a equilibrium in which each opposition may not gain advantage without risk to endangering the relationship.

As I look more closely into budo, I am not sure if peace is/was the proper translation into Western culture for our expression in aikido. I think peace as a state of being is an altruistic goal we set for ourselves as the expression of our understanding of harmony.

I know a handful of individuals who have had to perform extra-ordinary feats in their life, some of them traumatic. These individuals often speak of what they did and how they feel as separate issues. "I know I needed to put down the dog, but I feel terrible about it. "I didn't want to shoot the guy, but I know he would've have hurt me." "I was just following orders, but I didn't like what I did." We read these words all the time, but to me it illustrates an action required to create harmony, and an emotional reaction.

I believe aikido is the path to understanding how to make the best decisions to create/re-establish/destroy a harmonious relationship, and how to be at peace with that action.

I think we sometimes lose focus on this concept because we are civilians and often the most difficult decision we face is which TV show to watch. However, for those who bear more serious burdens, I believe this is key to remaining intact as a person. For example, I cannot imagine what the weight of responsibility a military commander feels when she makes a decision that will end [many] lives. I think budo helps warriors come to peace with the nature of violence, conflict, and the consequences of their actions. This is the martial art I believe I am learning and the role harmony and peace have in that training.

P.S. I reserve the right to amend this perception in twenty years.

donhebert
09-09-2010, 11:58 AM
Thank you, Bjorn, for a thought provoking post.

A long time ago (in the 1980s) I once had the privilege of hosting Justine Merritt in my home. She is the woman who started the Ribbon Project which was a folk art effort to encircle the pentagon with a long ribbon constructed of fabric panels, each one made by a person or group expressing their grief over nuclear weapons. Justine was remarkable person and I was moved by her faith and deep wisdom. Despite the idealism of the Ribbon Project, in no way could Justine be called naive. She was an older woman who had seen much of the world. The Ribbon Project had brought her into contact with many world leaders and military people who held to the necessity of having nuclear weapons in today's world. During her short visit with me, she made a important comment about her experiences that has stayed with me every since. In essence she said (I am paraphrasing) that she had to learn to stop thinking she had the power to change other people. She said that her struggle was "to remove the pershing missles from my own heart. I have one for President Reagan, one for Margaret Thatcher, one for Mikhail Gorbachev..."

This struck me as profoundly honest and a difficult pre-requisite for the pursuit of peace. Statements that have to do with Aikido "providing an opportunity for the attacker to learn from his mistakes" have always seemed to me to be not only naive but putting the emphasis (and problem) in the wrong place. Peace building begins with removing the beam from our own eye before removing the mote from the eye of another.

I have long felt that once I have accepted the responsibility that comes with being brought into existence and begin to hold to certain principles of living, then I have to continue the hard work of improving myself so that I am actually competent in promoting my ideals. For example, is it not important to develop a useful understanding of what peace consists of? It is clearly more than just the absence of violence. In order for there to be peace, Franklin Roosevelt's four freedoms are a good beginning. These are:

1. The freedom of expression
2. Freedom of religion
3. Freedom from want
4. Freedom from fear

Ironically Roosevelt was making a case for war when he promoted these in his 1941 State of the Union address, but it seems to me that unless people everywhere can have these freedoms, then conflict and violence will persist. Peace may not happen if we reject the use of force from our toolkit, but it will certainly not happen if we have a narrow view of ourselves, our family, our community and the world.

A necessary peace-building skill is the ability to clearly perceive what is truly going on in a given situation and the true nature and motivations of the people involved. I find that this is not always easy (since I have been wrong a significant number of times) and begins with a trying to get a clear understanding of myself. Aikido can be a very interesting tool for self-preparation if we practice it from this point of view.

Best regards,

Don Hebert

donhebert
09-09-2010, 01:06 PM
P.S. Anyone who is curious about Justine Merrit can check out http://justinemerritt.net/

mathewjgano
09-09-2010, 02:05 PM
I believe aikido is the path to understanding how to make the best decisions to create/re-establish/destroy a harmonious relationship, and how to be at peace with that action.

I really like this! I try to be altruistic because I think it holds the greatest potential overall. That said, I'll do what I have to in order to protect myself and others. To my mind, this is the art of peace.

donhebert
09-09-2010, 02:43 PM
I really like this! I try to be altruistic because I think it holds the greatest potential overall. That said, I'll do what I have to in order to protect myself and others. To my mind, this is the art of peace.

I have to say that this stood out for me also. This is an excellent perspective.

Carl Thompson
09-09-2010, 08:23 PM
It seems to me that in the original post, Bjorn Sensei simply gave his definition of peace. Then some people described situations that are not peaceful and said "how is that peace?" Then folk started discussing how to achieve peace. Obviously we all have different definitions, but I think the original post remains an informed and valid view of it. One way of achieving peace (by most of our definitions) was shown to us by Morihei Ueshiba Osensei. I hope that the better we get at it, the less struggling is involved.

I would like to add something I heard from global educator (and a consultant for Peace Boat (http://www.peaceboat.org/english/index.html) and other projects) Kip Cates (http://www.kipcates.com/index.html):

"In order to reach peace, we have to teach peace"

Carl

lbb
09-09-2010, 09:09 PM
Yes, a natural wonder,

as compared to an unnatural wonder,

David

So let me get this straight. Because beavers are "animals", anything they do is "natural", but because humans are...um...ummmm....ummmmmmm...humans...everything we do is "unnatural".

Got it.

WilliB
09-09-2010, 11:00 PM
So let me get this straight. Because beavers are "animals", anything they do is "natural", but because humans are...um...ummmm....ummmmmmm...humans...everything we do is "unnatural".

Got it.

I didn´t.

Gorgeous George
09-09-2010, 11:28 PM
'...nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature. For instance the stone which by nature moves downwards cannot be habituated to move upwards, not even if one tries to train it by throwing it up ten thousand times; nor can fire be habituated to move downwards, nor can anything else that by nature behaves in one way be trained to behave in another.

Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.'

- Aristotle

torbjornsaw
09-10-2010, 12:28 AM
Peace is a spiritual realization of seeing the underlying reality of non-duality. Once we come upon this depth of spiritual insight or revelation and you see without doubt the oneness and unity of all mankind; that you and I are one, then your actions will be informed by this awareness.
Aikido then takes on a different quality than it had previous. We'll still defend ourselves from attacks and aggression the best way we can (say we go to war to take down Hitler) but now our whole perspective have changed. It has been informed by greater insight into the nature of non-dual reality. As such your reactions will be different and you will see your Aikido advance and maybe you will begin to see what O Sensei meant when he said all those things of being one with the world. Those enlightening moments did change his expression of Aikido.
All I'm simply saying is this, there is a reality behind the concept of Peace that is mind-blowing and profound and it is possible to acquire such an understanding through sincere and relentless pursuit thereof. It is part of the spiritual seeking that will bring you home to your self. Hopefully O Sensei leads the way to inspire us to walk this path of non-violence.

Carsten Möllering
09-10-2010, 04:06 AM
Peace is a spiritual realization of seeing the underlying reality of non-duality.
Hm, I see the underlying reality of the interexchange of yin and yang being not one and being not a duality. i.e. not being on but forming wholeness.
The dao isn't static, but it's a flow, a movement, up-and-down, come-and-go, yes-and-no.
Same with ki. Ki isn't static, but it's the movements of yin and yang, their intexchange.

Once we come upon this depth of spiritual insight or revelation and you see without doubt the oneness and unity of all mankind;
Well I'm a christian and reading the story of the creation of heaven and earth; of the world in which and with which we live; and of me and you and every other human being (and every other life) shows me without doubt the oneness and unity of all mankind.
(And the oneness and unity of all our world.)
I meet with my buddhistic friends aswell as with my moslem friends at this point.

But:
How does this insight relat to the question whether struggle is needed or not? And to the question what peace may be?

Why does seing the wholeness of creation mean to not see the diversity, pluralism, richness of our world?

that you and I are one, then your actions will be informed by this awareness. We are one. But we are not one.
Don't know the right terms in english. But learning to say "I" (ego) , learning who am I, loving oneself, and being oneself seems to be a very important aim of ones life.
"I" and "you" must not be separeted, I think. But they are not the same.

Aikido then takes on a different quality than it had previous. aikido is just doing aiki. You can fill it like O Sensei with the thoughts of being the expression of yamato damashii (before WW II). Or you can fill it with the shinto of Oomoto kyo. Or some fill it wiht zen. Or Christian beliefs.

But what you are doing on the tatami is always the same:
Practicing aiki. Connecting with the ki of the universe. Connecting with the ki of an attacker. Connecting your ki within you.

Nothing miracolous. Just practicing aiki.

It has been informed by greater insight into the nature of non-dual reality. As such your reactions will be different and you will see your Aikido advance and maybe you will begin to see what O Sensei meant when he said all those things of being one with the world.
Oh thank you.
Fortunatelly I experience my aikido advancing every day. Because it is part of me and my journey through life it isn't static and grows and develops. Like I do. Like everyone doese.
To understand the words of O Sensei it helps a lot to learn about shinto, about its cosmology and so on.

Again: Why do you think, "being one with the world" means not to struggle?
How do you achieve your aims? Don't you have some? Or do you try to practice wu wei by doin nothing? Do you avoid conflicts? ...

Those enlightening moments did change his expression of Aikido. Some of the "enlightening moments" of O Sensei often referred to, to place in 1925 and the time aroun this year. Look at how his technique was back then. Maybe read "budo" to get an impression how he understood his art back then.

All I'm simply saying is this, there is a reality behind the concept of Peace that is mind-blowing and profound ...Ok, don't know, how long you are walking your path ...?
Seems like a high flying idea. But I if that "reality" denies
human beings being different and denies conflicts as a creative action of life, it will lead to nothing.
I know that "Aiki Extencions" works with Israeli and Palestinians. Their conflict is real. And they have to live it and with it.

It is part of the spiritual seeking that will bring you home to your self. Are you aware that the spiritual seeking of different people is different?

Hopefully O Sensei leads the way to inspire us to walk this path of non-violence.
Hm: Are you a "believer" of Ueshiba Morihei? Do you follow his thoughts (and if: Which of them? And from whom do you know of them?)
Or do you practice his art, i.e. the budo he derived from Daito ryu?

Carsten

torbjornsaw
09-10-2010, 04:33 AM
Understanding Peace does not negate the yin and yang of this world but makes it come alive. Understanding Peace does not make you me but it reveals the underlying divine nature common to us all. Understanding Peace will not make you a pacifist but will inform your daily practice of aiki. Peace is a quality of being, where non-violence is understood and where love is allowed to rule.
Seeking God one seeks one thing only: Truth! Seeking Truth one seeks one thing only: God! Call it by many names, use many means, walk different paths, and the flavor is different, but seek the truth and you'll be able to meet another eye to eye. Don't stop, continue seeking till you have nothing more to surrender. Find that place where you can loose your self and trust life because you have found a Reality that stands by itself, everlasting and evolving at the same time.

dps
09-10-2010, 11:45 AM
Bjorn,

Having read your blog about your personal spiritual journey (http://naturalfreedom.weebly.com/index.html), are still a follower of Andrew Cohen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Cohen_%28spiritual_teacher%29)?

David

jonreading
09-10-2010, 11:47 AM
This is a great read.

In elaboration to my earlier post, I still struggle with some of what we now internalize as the oneness of aikido. Harmony is the state of the universe. Heck we live on a ball that would fling us into space if there was not an opposing force pulling us into the center of the ball. I am more in the camp that oneness with the universe is more of a "forest through the trees" perspective that we have in Western culture. I do believe that we are responsible for our actions and the consequences that stem from those actions. When we view our actions in a greater perspective we can more clearly see how our actions affect others, and the world around us. In that sense, we have the opportunity to become more sensitive to the world around us. I am not sure if this concept is peace, or simply the evolution of our personal responsibility to ourselves, our society, or culture, and our planet.

I also don't like the concept that peace is something that can be thrust upon me by another; I am not sure I buy the argument that peace is something that can be shared. I think we can express a state of peace but I am not sure under what authority I may enforce that state of peace upon another. My peace is mine, not yours (get your own). How does a widow share the peace he has made with his feelings for his dead spouse? How does a new mother share the peace she feels seeing her baby? How does a soldier share the peace he feels for killing another soldier? The kind of peace whereby some one tells you to be peaceful seems cheap and unearned. A good night's rest comes from a hard day's work.

Since I saw the buzzword I share my favorite description of pacifist that is one of those, "from the mouths of babes" quotes: "pacifism is what you call yourself when you can't stop someone from taking your toys.
Love it.

torbjornsaw
09-10-2010, 04:33 PM
Bjorn,

Having read your blog about your personal spiritual journey (http://naturalfreedom.weebly.com/index.html), are still a follower of Andrew Cohen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Cohen_%28spiritual_teacher%29)?

David

Hi David, no I'm not. I left the community in 2002.

RobertKent
09-11-2010, 06:29 PM
Peace is great in theory, and clearly peace is not nearly as common in practice. Each generation seems to forget the horrors of wars past and remembers only the glory - which makes it possible for this generation to make the same mistakes and start the same wars.

The one thing we can change in the vast tapestry of time and history is ourselves, and by doing so we can create something new - a willingness not to fight, a willingness not to repeat the glorification of war and a willingness to remember the tragedy of it. Most importantly, we can create in ourselves a habit (and this is what Aikido training is so good at) of seeing "the other" as part of ourselves, so that in moments of crisis we do not see them as "enemy" and respond with fear, but see them as partners and respond with compassion.

Yes, sometimes that compassion is forceful - as anyone would be with a cleaver-wielding maniac heading towards their child - but it is not angry, and it always intends to move the crisis towards resolution, rather than aiming at "victory" . . .

torbjornsaw
09-12-2010, 01:46 AM
I think that is great, but I'd like to add that we should have victory! The victory of peace! Sometimes we need to go to war to achieve that victory but like you say, we do it with a composed heart. There can be anger at the horrors seen but as long as our response is just and appropriate it does not negate the peace we strive for.
Bu in Budo is a laying down of arms. Peace is our natural state even though most people have no sense of it in their busy lives. It is a spiritual domain that is eternal and therefore is a quality of our timeless nature. It goes beyond death, strife and wars. It is what our soul seeks in earnest.
Investigate it in your self and learn about it outside of worldly conflicts. Grasp the meaning behind the word. Find the essence of peace within through dedicated interest. There is so much spiritual literature that is pointing towards this realization so it's not difficult to look. If we haven't solved the issue of peace within ourselves first how will we ever be able to understand or help others that are caught up in real struggles? Arm one and sanction the other?

Carsten Möllering
09-12-2010, 07:04 AM
Bu in Budo is a laying down of arms.
That is misunderstood I think.
武 bu/take just means "military ~". If you want to dissect the kanji you may get "to stop/halt the spear", which means the spear of the attacker. And when learning a koryu you will learn concretely how to do this with a bo, katana, yari naginate, only the hands.
O Sensei was very interested in waza to halt a spear.

budo in no sense means laying down the arms in a way you try to implicat here. This is only wishfull thinking - or bluff.
Peace is our natural state even though most people have no sense of it in their busy lives.
Well I think you sermonize in this thread.
And your assumptions may fit to you, but they cannot be seen as universal truth.

It is a spiritual domain that is eternal and therefore is a quality of our timeless nature.It is not eternal and not universal because it is not shared by every spiritual or religious movement/group/tradition.
The bible explicitly tries to explain in gen 3, why peace is not the underlying principle in our world.

If you believe in peace, that's fine. But it only can by sermanized, it can not be proved.
Just as little as I can proove my religious (christian) beliefs in a way everybody has to accept them as universal, eternal truth.

It goes beyond death, strife and wars. It is what our soul seeks in earnest.Different souls, different ways of seeking, different answers.

If we haven't solved the issue of peace within ourselves first how will we ever be able to understand or help others that are caught up in real struggles?Understanding the struggles within oneself, accepting them instead of splitting them off, helps a lot to help others to live with their struggles.

Well this is a religious debate. It's not about aikido.
And I don't like specific religious beliefs being displayed as "eternal" or "universal" truth.
O Sensei himself - and both the following doshu aswell - expressively stated aikido to be open for all person, from which religion or spiritual tradition ever they may come.
And living together without trying to proselytise people is an important part of aikido practice to me.

Carsten

WilliB
09-12-2010, 08:40 AM
Peace is our natural state even though most people have no sense of it in their busy lives. It is a spiritual domain that is eternal and therefore is a quality of our timeless nature. It goes beyond death, strife and wars. It is what our soul seeks in earnest.

Ahem... if peace was really "our natural state", don´t you think that world history would have more peaceful periods? Instead, it is a story of continuous conflict everywhere. Up to the tiniest tribes in the Amazon, who spend their non-food gathering time in fighting their neighbour tribe.

I would rather think the goal is to manage conflict, rather than to dream of natural peace.

Gorgeous George
09-12-2010, 09:02 AM
O Sensei himself - and both the following doshu aswell - expressively stated aikido to be open for all person, from which religion or spiritual tradition ever they may come.


I don't understand how this can be applied by a 'Christian': for the character of Christ is described as a pacifist - turn the other cheek, etc., whereas aikido is concerned with, as you say, 'stopping weapons'. So aikido is only open to you insofar as your pre-existing beliefs don't clash with those inherent in aikido.
I know that most Christians don't actually follow the teachings of 'Christ', so it's a bit stupid of me to bring it up....

Sorry for the off-topic-ish comment: it's just something that has been bugging me since I saw the 'Can Christians do Aikido?' thread. Carry on.

torbjornsaw
09-12-2010, 09:31 AM
There is depth of peace that can be recognized as a spiritual experience that reveals a universal truth, regardless of creed or belief structure. If you have tasted this you will understand but if you haven't you can go on arguing forever. Aikido can be part of such an understanding even when you disarm someone of their spear.
Knowing your own ideas too well leaves no room to take something new in. Insisting on your way of thinking might make you feel good about yourself but hardly helps in breaking new ground together. Knowing who's host and who's guest is essential in keeping with the rules of conduct. If you'd like to proselytize your own beliefs start your own thread.
Wanting to understand, wanting to listen is a first requirement of a conversation. No point in joining a conversation just to advocate your own views thinking you know it all already. But it is also cool to notice how this is a very culturally conditioned response. Can you see it?
A big part of peace is to see the whole picture. To see diverging views, to understand differing strongholds. To be able to hold different perspectives. It's a study of life.

Good luck

Carsten Möllering
09-12-2010, 11:12 AM
I don't understand how this can be applied by a 'Christian': for the character of Christ is described as a pacifist - turn the other cheek, etc., whereas aikido is concerned with, as you say, 'stopping weapons'.
Hm, I don't think that Jesus can be described as a pacifist in the sense we understand it today.

eg. one possible interpretation of "turn the other cheek" just means a simpel historical thing:
Don't accept to be seen as a slave, an unfree man (... Jew) who is hit with the back of the hand by a free man ( ... Roman). But turn your head, present your other cheek and make the aggressor hit you like a free man. ... Stand up for your rights.
Ever heard that?

(There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3, 28)

So aikido is only open to you insofar as your pre-existing beliefs don't clash with those inherent in aikido.
The beliefs inherent in aikido don't clash with christian theology. They would, if it was necessary to believe in the world view of oomoto kyo. But that's not the case.
I worked a lot about the theories of aiki compared to the christian beliefs during my academical training. Very interesting! But no clashes. ;)

What would you understand then as the pre-existing beliefs inherent in aikido?

I know that most Christians don't actually follow the teachings of 'Christ', ... Or what you understand as the teachings of Christ?
It's a pity that "christian beliefs" are often defined by fundamentalists.

.. since I saw the 'Can Christians do Aikido?' thread. ...Well there are some pastors like me doing aikido here in Germany. We have teachers of religious education here and so on.

Carsten Möllering
09-12-2010, 11:38 AM
... If you have tasted this you will understand but if you haven't you ...
Insisting on your way of thinking might make you feel good about yourself but hardly helps in breaking new ground together.
;) Isn't this what struggle means?
I found my way. I got my beliefs. I practice aikido. I live my life. And do it in a very spiritual way. Learnig often was very hard over all the years.
Why do you have to convince me, that your understanding of life is "better" than mine?

But I think if you believe to inherit "universal and eternal truth" and that your way is the only one, there's no reason for longer talking?

Knowing who's host and who's guest is essential in keeping with the rules of conduct. If you'd like to proselytize your own beliefs start your own thread.
Do you really understand a thread in a forum in the words of "host" and "guest" instead of communication between humans?

A big part of peace is to see the whole picture. To see diverging views, to understand differing strongholds. To be able to hold different perspectives. It's a study of life.
That's what I said. But you can't deal with a perspective wich to contradicts you?

Carsten

niall
09-12-2010, 12:05 PM
Inner peace meaning serenity shouldn't be confused with peace meaning absence of war.

Absence of war can be because superpowers have weapons of mutually assured destruction pointed at each other so that peace is in each's best interest (this is about Nash equilibrium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium). Yes, that's peace imposed with the threat of violence. Or we could have peace because it is the right - only - way to live. That day will probably come but I suspect we're still a few hundred years away. Aikidoka, for example, might have their own small parts to play in the unfolding of that future history as Robert Kent was maybe suggesting.

Let's try to keep religion out of it.

Gorgeous George
09-12-2010, 12:06 PM
Hm, I don't think that Jesus can be described as a pacifist in the sense we understand it today.

eg. one possible interpretation of "turn the other cheek" just means a simpel historical thing:
Don't accept to be seen as a slave, an unfree man (... Jew) who is hit with the back of the hand by a free man ( ... Roman). But turn your head, present your other cheek and make the aggressor hit you like a free man. ... Stand up for your rights.
Ever heard that?

(There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3, 28)

The beliefs inherent in aikido don't clash with christian theology. They would, if it was necessary to believe in the world view of oomoto kyo. But that's not the case.
I worked a lot about the theories of aiki compared to the christian beliefs during my academical training. Very interesting! But no clashes. ;)

What would you understand then as the pre-existing beliefs inherent in aikido?

Or what you understand as the teachings of Christ?
It's a pity that "christian beliefs" are often defined by fundamentalists.

Well there are some pastors like me doing aikido here in Germany. We have teachers of religious education here and so on.

I understand your interpretation - but i'm not aware of anything the character ever does which vindicates violence - or even self-defence.

It's an interesting quote - saying that the differences between us, such as nationality, and gender, are illusory and inconsequential - but the history of Christianity is one in which such differences have been emphasised; and the fact that there's the part in the story where god shows up, sees that everyone's acting a fool and killing the non-human animals, tries to commit an act of genocide against the human race (a blanket judgment against 'sinner' and non-sinner, guilty and innocent alike), fails to get people to change, and then goes 'I am sorry I have created them'...i've forgotten what my point was. Apologies.

You misunderstand me: by 'beliefs inherent in aikido' I meant such a belief as that you should not tolerate someone hitting you, and should defend yourself.
For instance, one of the times when the Germans were attacking my country, there were these Christians over here who refused to be conscripted/fight; a tribunal was called, and they were questioned on their beliefs: they said that Christ would not fight under any circumstances; they were asked 'Well what if a German was killing your mother - would you not step in and protect her?' they said that Christ would not, and so neither were they; henceforth they were excused from fighting the Germans.
Obviously their Christian beliefs directly clash with those of aikido.

Well my understanding of the character is that he was a communist, and a pacifist: the story goes that he had no interest in wealth, and didn't run away or fight when they came to kill him. I also understand that as 'the church' grew in power, those true Christians - hermits, who lived in the wilderness with no possessions; monastic orders whose sole concern was 'the life hereafter' - were either declared heretics, and persecuted/murdered; or incorporated into 'the church'.
There's also the fact that people in the west have sold out their antiquated beliefs in certain respects - e.g., hating gays; hating women; hating themselves - but hold onto the vague notion of an afterlife, etc. - they're on easy street, and I have no respect for people who don't want to take the rough, but are perfectly happy to take the smooth.
If I had such an extreme belief that there was some dude with a beard, floating about on clouds and stuff, making people, midgets, and magnetic fields, I would devote so much time to investigating it...

My apologies for going off on a tangent.

torbjornsaw
09-12-2010, 04:53 PM
Just putting your point of view across doesn't mean it's a conversation. Did you ever listen to begin with or did you opt to oppose anything but your own beliefs? Arguing points you may see as a valid way of interacting but I insist there is a different way of communicating that is free of conflict even to begin with. But since you chose not to go down that road you may open your own thread arguing as much as you like (Let's see if you find any one interested in taking you on?), but you won't find me there at all unless there's something genuine being offered. Genuine in the sense of a willingness to listen and an interest in finding out what the other is saying.
When I join a conversation I do that without having the need to hold on to my views as opposed to the other. But when I open a conversation with a view of mine with a desire to share that view I find no interest in combating my perspective against another. If you don't agree, fine. If you want to share your perspective open a dialogue to invite people to it instead of trying to hijack someones else. If you don't understand this there is not much we can do about it. Arguing on other peoples posts may seem interesting to you especially if you fancy yourself to be in the know, but it can also be seen as arrogant and proud. Now if you call yourself a Christian you should have the eyes to see this. If not, look again.

Brett Charvat
09-12-2010, 06:42 PM
"I understand your interpretation - but i'm not aware of anything the character ever does which vindicates violence - or even self-defence."

--Try Matthew 10:34. Not saying I'm a religious man, but you asked.

mathewjgano
09-12-2010, 08:10 PM
"I understand your interpretation - but i'm not aware of anything the character ever does which vindicates violence - or even self-defence."

--Try Matthew 10:34. Not saying I'm a religious man, but you asked.

As with most of the Bible it seems, this part isn't without a difference of opinion. Many folks maintain this passage is a metaphor, not a literal prescription for violence.

lbb
09-12-2010, 08:58 PM
There just ain't no war like a religious war, is there? Especially when the bone of contention is peace. Them's the best wars of all!

Gorgeous George
09-12-2010, 09:53 PM
As with most of the Bible it seems, this part isn't without a difference of opinion. Many folks maintain this passage is a metaphor, not a literal prescription for violence.

Indeed: it certainly seems that way to me -

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."

...although I think it would be a bit unfair to blame Jesus for women not getting along with their mothers-in-law.

Gorgeous George
09-12-2010, 09:57 PM
There just ain't no war like a religious war, is there? Especially when the bone of contention is peace. Them's the best wars of all!

Haha. Verily. Koran burning/mosque building, anyone...?

WilliB
09-12-2010, 11:46 PM
Haha. Verily. Koran burning/mosque building, anyone...?

Well, since you bring up the "Religion of Peace", it is also worth reminding that when discussing this, people should agree on the definition of the word. Otherwise, you talk past each other.

As Bassam Tibi points out:
"Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or House of Islam -- to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace."

akiy
09-13-2010, 12:13 AM
Hi folks,

Just wanted to step in here and request that the discussion here in this thread to explicitly include the topic of aikido.

If you'd like to discuss religion and spirituality in a context outside of aikido, please do so in the Open Discussions forum.

Thank you,

-- Jun

Carsten Möllering
09-13-2010, 03:50 AM
Just putting your point of view across doesn't mean it's a conversation.[
I didn't mean to just put my point of view across. I meant to call in question your point of view.
Nearly every sentence in my first post ended with a "?".
(This is to me how we learn aikido: Questioning.)

Did you ever listen to begin with or did you opt to oppose anything but your own beliefs?
I've gone long way by now. And I am still on my way.
What’s important to me: Everything changes. All the time.
(This is one aspect of aikido to me: It’s not static, it flows. It creates itself new all the time.)

So it is important to listen carefully to life, to be in accordance with it and with its changes.
It is important to listen to oneself, to ones own feelings, to be in accordance with oneself.
And sure it is important to listen to the people sharing ones life, near or far, to be able to live life together and not against one another.
Well, I listen a lot. And I changed a lot during life.
(Another aspect of aikido to me: Not “doing/producing” waza, but sensing, feeling, perceiving the opponent, an letting waza emerge.)

But since you chose not to go down that road you may open your own thread arguing as much as you like ... Normally I don't discuss my religious beliefs on the Internet. I live my spirituality and don’t preach it.
And when I start a thread, I'm aware that not everyone will share my points of view and that there might be contradiction.
(This is to me what Aikido is: Communication, dealing with contradiction on a physicall, corporal way.)

When I join a conversation I do that without having the need to hold on to my views as opposed to the other.
This exactly is an attitude I deeply question:
If you are not willing or not able to hold on to your views, you should change them. If they don’t cary you on, why do “have” them?
On the other side: If you know what you do and why you do it, why aren't you able or willing to hold on to your points?
(This is important to me in Aikido: To be centered, to be closed, to be grounded, to be clear. – And to controll the opponent from ones center.)

Different persons can hold on to different truths. There is not only one and eternal truth. But every person has its own truth, every life has its own. Every life creates it’s own truth.
(In Aikido: There is not only me and my center. There also is the center of the opponent …)

But when I open a conversation with a view of mine with a desire to share that view I find no interest in combating my perspective against another. Ok true: If you're only looking for someone to share your opinions and not want to be questioned I’m wrong here.
I apoligize. I’m not used to this understanding of “owning” a post and not discussing opinions.

No more contradiction from me.

Carsten

Anita Dacanay
09-13-2010, 05:16 AM
I was once part of a theatre troupe that presented at an "Arts and Peace" conference. In addition to performing a play, we conducted a short workshop about trying to define or describe "peace." It was very eye-opening indeed. We saw there, as we see in this thread, that there are many, many definitions of and perspectives on what we call "peace."

After calling myself a "peace activist" for years, I one day woke up to realize that I really knew nothing at all about peace. How could I go out into the world demanding a spiritual commodity like "peace" when I was not even sure what I myself really meant by that?

When I first encountered Aikido, it was so attractive to me because I thought that Aikido might help bring me closer to achieving, or at least defining that elusive quality - peace. To me the idea that is somewhat radical or unique is the concept that there is another choice beside the dualistic quandry of aggression versus passivity.

My intellectual understanding of the principles of Aikido leads me to envision or seek a state in which I can hold my own space, or express my own right to exist, without causing undo harm to others. My physical experience of Aikido supports this view. Aikido asks my body to move in a way that feels new and different, yet also natural and free, in a way that feels good and right to me. (Except in the moments when I fail miserably, of course.)

In the end, I don't know that the human race will ever agree on what "peace" is, let alone if we will all agree that that is what we should seek. But Aikido, like yoga, asks us to train our bodies and our beings to discover that place of peace for ourselves. Peace, I think, cannot be given to others. But I like to think that I can find it within myself; and that if I do, that that will be a good thing not only for me, but for others as well.

Gorgeous George
09-13-2010, 06:46 AM
Well, since you bring up the "Religion of Peace", it is also worth reminding that when discussing this, people should agree on the definition of the word. Otherwise, you talk past each other.

As Bassam Tibi points out:
"Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or House of Islam -- to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace."

That's a very good point - and I didn't know that about islam; it reminds me of the socialist view of peace: that the entire world must become socialist in order for peace to come about. Given such a means, the Nazis could be said to be peaceful.

Where I see aikido differing from these perspectives is that you accept others - you accept the way things are, and do not resist: you yield to them; I think this is the same in prinicple as Zen, and the reason why so much is made of the similarity between the two. And for me, this is the correct approach: I spent so much time as a youth struggling to reconcile reality with ideals, and manufactured notions of what is just, what is right, and how things should be; I finally realised that regardless of the way things should be, they will always be whatever they are (viz., contrary to what makes sense/is seen to be just).

And this is where a lot of the reproaches against these religions - such as Christianity and islam - which have given us millennia of war, persecution, and genocide are aimed: at their lack of acceptance, and focus on denial and repression.
Peace through such a system seems a bleak prospect (especially if it is achieved via the eradication of 'unpeaceful' others/anybody different).

jonreading
09-13-2010, 12:19 PM
I saw a reference to the "bu" kanji as laying down arms. Again, I am not sure that some of Aikido's [more sensitive?] interpretations may be entirely correct. I think the more militant interpretation of halting the spear may be a better interpretation of this kanji. And again, I think this term more closely implies a equilibrium of opposition, rather than a state of peace.
For example, in order to prevent the rival lord from taking my land I must match his arms to create a state of equilibrium, [then] I may correctly interpret that this action prevented war. Is this peace? Arguably, yes. Would the rival lord take my land if I did not prevent him? Arguably, yes. I think harmony is a better word to describe this tenuous relationship, not peace. Or, in modern era, was the US really at peace with Russia? Arguably, yes. Did many of us go to bed at night fearful that one government may push the button that would evaporate the Earth. Yes. Is this really "peace"? I don't buy it; peace is something that should give us comfort and put our souls at rest, it is the absence of conflict [i.e. war]. Peace is the reconciliation of emotions that accompanies decisions which establish harmony, not an action itself. I don't like the idea that [I]my peace is subject to your activities. I am looking for that [peaceful] state of being which is self-reliant, not dependent...

Gorgeous George
09-13-2010, 12:59 PM
Or, in modern era, was the US really at peace with Russia?

They were at war with Russia: it was called The Cold War.

According to Mitsugi Saotome:

'The kanji is made up of the character hoko which means "spear" and symbolizes weapons in general, and the character todomeru, which means "to stop". Thus bu means to stop weapons. [...] As the kanji implies, the original intent of bu was to stop war, to protect people from weapons.'

(Taken from The Principles of Aikido by Mitsugi Saotome; pp. 191-2)

Carl Thompson
09-20-2010, 08:10 PM
http://www.aikipeaceweek.org/

trademark8806
09-21-2010, 12:39 AM
Intresting threead .
I think peace is natureal in that I think we are bron with peace. However, it is kinda good we not always at peace other wise how would we ever desire to inprove anything.
Everyone thinks that peace is the sign of being mature porhaps luring how live with out peace always is the real sign of maturety.
Just a thought !

phitruong
09-21-2010, 07:29 AM
I think peace is natureal in that I think we are bron with peace.

"we are born with peace"? you are kidding right? most of us were nice and cozy in our mother womb, then some bugger pulled us out and smacked the daylight out of us so that we were naked, bloody, kicking and screaming. personally, i thought that was a pretty violent way of going into the world. after the violent and disturbing way that we went into the world, things started to get worst. and for some of us, we will be naked, bloody, kicking and screaming on our way out of this world. well, at least the naked part is true, since the funeral home usually striped us naked to "prepare" us, and while they are at it, they will tattoo the inscription in big bold letters on our buttock "I was here!", which nobody ever flip the corpse over and check the buttock area. :)

nope, peace is not our nature, not by a long shot.

Carl Thompson
09-21-2010, 08:27 AM
Everyone wants peace. It's just people want it on their own terms. We're just not very good at establishing accords that take everything into consideration.

Carl Thompson
09-22-2010, 10:46 PM
Just as 'wars begin in the minds of men', peace also begins in our minds. The same species who invented war is capable of inventing peace. The responsibility lies with each of us.

http://www.unesco.org/cpp/uk/declarations/seville.pdf

torbjornsaw
09-27-2010, 09:37 AM
Dive within and open your self to the absolute nature of your spirit and if you're fortunate Peace might stream through you into this world touching and affecting those around.

WilliB
09-27-2010, 09:44 AM
Everyone wants peace. It's just people want it on their own terms. We're just not very good at establishing accords that take everything into consideration.

If "everyone wants peace" depends on how you define "peace".
Be careful to project your ideas onto others.

aikishihan
09-27-2010, 10:43 AM
Congratulations to you all!

I would not know where to start in describing my amazement at how much wisdom lies dormant in the majority, and the joy of seeing it expressed so eloquently by those on Aiki Web!

Peace may not be either given or imposed on others.
It was always meant to be shared amongst men and women of good will.

I envision Peace at work, not by avoiding or eliminating strife and conflict, but rather, like the majority of well intentioned posts on Aiki Web, by the intentional and wise ordering, examining, and yielding of divergent energies towards the common goals of empathetic tolerance, greater mutual understanding, and for benefits possible from achieving social balance.

I do not envision Peace as a destination, or a goal to be negotiated.
To me, it is a kind of "way station" along the road of dynamic discovery we are all destined to travel over our lifetimes.

The Love of Aikido, then, includes the humble acceptance of what is, along with the tranquil demeanor we may assume, as we resolutely strive, singly and in tandem, to co-exist in harmony.