View Full Version : How in depth is it 'spiritualy'?

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06-25-2002, 09:26 PM
I have been looking for a martial art to join for quite some time. Aikido looks like it would be an interesting and enjoyable one to join. But I have a religion already and was wondering what is meant by "spiritual". Is it just meant that it will help you become a more peaceful person? Or is it about worship ect? Please help me.


06-25-2002, 09:58 PM
No worries Jarret;

The philosophical underpinnings have their root in the religion of the founder but are not restricted to it. I am pretty sure you wont find anything that contradicts your own beliefs and for many of us the religion of the guy has no bearing on our practice.

The bow is not worship but a sign of respect - in Japan it's like shaking hands.

I would suggest taking a look at http://www.aikidofaq.com

06-26-2002, 01:35 AM
Originally posted by Rakarth
... I have a religion already and was wondering what is meant by "spiritual". Is it just meant that it will help you become a more peaceful person? Or is it about worship ect? Please help me.

Don't think about it too much.
Just visit a dojo, take a beginner's class.

The bowing is a part of protocol, not unlike salute is in the army.

06-26-2002, 11:11 AM
I have no problem with bowing, I was in Judo for 5 years.
Thanks for the help.:)

06-26-2002, 11:50 AM
Originally posted by Rakarth
I was in Judo for 5 years.

Then you'll feel right at home, I suppose.

06-26-2002, 11:59 AM
IMHO, spirituality and religion often have very little to do with each other. I see nothing in the practice of Aikido, even its spiritual aspects, wich are in conflict with the dogma of most religions I know of. In fact, many find that Aikido actually puts their own religious beliefs more into practice and it has greatly enhanced their personal religious and spirtual expereince in the world.

On the other hand, many people practice Aikido and never get into the spiritual aspects. Just show up, suit up, relax, breath, and enjoy yourself.

Until again,


Bruce Baker
07-01-2002, 09:33 AM
It is my experience that we practice on the mat, and each of us seeks the spirituality of Aikido in our research, studies, and in our own way.

You can practice what you are shown or learn from instruction, or you can add an addendum of outside research, or study to increase your knowledge and understanding of Aikido.

Whatever peace you find will be because that is what you are looking to find.

Whatever knowledge you gain, on or off the mat, will be because you want to find more than the face value of what you see.

With Aikido, I have found a deeper need to return to older studies with new vision, which in turn renews my interest for Aikido.

Funny how the circle connects me to other martial arts with Aikido practice?

07-03-2002, 07:12 AM
remember that the founder, Morihei Ueshiba was into Neo-Shintoism but i think what he wanted to bring accross to aikido was the idea of peace and respect for other ppl which you'll find is in every religion anyhoo, i'm sure you dont have to worry about "false Idols, and other deitys" each to their own gods of course ;)
i'm sure Danu will not mind me doing aikido, after all we must respect our ancesters and elders, and O-sensei is an elder who was most wise ;)

07-20-2002, 07:59 AM

"When anybody asks is my Aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say "No." My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion." Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei from The Memoir of the Master.

07-20-2002, 08:07 PM
i agree...religion and spirit are totally different things...

I think the spirituality part of aikido begins at the black belt level

07-20-2002, 10:06 PM
i agree...religion and spirit are totally different things...

I think the spirituality part of aikido begins at the black belt level
I do not agree. Why? Well, I know many people who are lower ranked than me but are very very spiritual in their Aikido practace and life:) hope that helps:) Spirituality and religion for me are very seperate things!

07-23-2002, 11:07 PM
what is it? Do I kill threads?

07-24-2002, 07:11 PM
To me, the problem here lies on Separativenes Ilussion, thats why we discuss things Like "Spiritualy and Religion" "True Budo and Aikido" "the soul and the flesh", "the mind and the heart", things like that, and seems like we bounce to often between this states, just as humanity, look up the dark era, a bunch of Fanatism, Ignorance, Romanticism and Supersticion. Take a look of us now, Cyber, Scientific, Skeptical, faster, faster and less and less room for those who does not follow the system, a diabolical crazy race for productivity and monopoly, it seems that Tech Is Not solving global problems such as Hungryness and Intolerance to say a very few. Just to turn on the tv and been aroused by Tons of publicity and news, everyday every time, and to grab your shoe and trow to the tv screen in not enough, "Its a matter of Individual comprehension, Humanity is Not something that is different than us, God is Not something that is far away apart from us".

Probably Integration, Unification, Blending, all those things we train daily could help us in a significative manner.


Kevin Leavitt
07-27-2002, 04:34 PM
Like Lynn i believe religion and spirituality can be two separate things.

As a Buddhist, it is hard for me to really understand religion in the traditional sense. Buddhism is non dogmatic so even though it is considered a "world religion", it really doesn't necessarily fit the traditional definition of religion...it is more of a philsophy or methodology for attaining enlightment or true happiness.

It does not ask you to accept a particular dogma, or believe in a diety. Most world religions have a profession of faith or creed that has the words "I believe".

Aikido could be defined, much like Buddhism as a religion if you define it as a path to spirituality. For me, Aikido is a path to spirituality. But that path should not be in conflict with any religions because aikido, last time I checked, doesn't have a creed, or dogma that requires you to "believe" in anything other than "peace and harmony". All major world religions believe in peace and harmony...so Aikido can really supplement your "religion".

Many sects of major world religions can get very literal or fundamental in their beliefs. Some to the point of having very strict rules or boundaries about what they can or cannot do. To "fundamentalist" it may be hard to reconcile many of the customs and courtesies in Aikido.

This conflict becomes a personal issue with for that individual-One that they must resolve if they want to study aikido. Some are able to reconcile there conflict- some cannot.

As aikidoka, we should all try and respect their beliefs and help guide them while trying to reconcile their conflict. Eventually they will make a decision to either stay and accept Aikido, or they will move on!

Deb Fisher
08-05-2002, 11:23 PM
The word spirituality seems to screw things up sometimes, and perhaps this is just me being overly semantic, but I tend to think about the 'spiritual' component to aikido (as well as other stuff I've got more experience with, like yoga) in terms of existentialism, not in terms of spirituality.

I mean, we've each got this body, which is our primary interface with the universe. And this incredible gift, this body that tells us everything we know, is marching every day closer to its anihilation. While it is not particularly insane that this happens - we know that everything dies - it is completey insane that humans have such an intense awareness of it.

I do budo because I want to reconcile the conflict: I love and need my body, which will ultimately betray me. I want to know what to do with my body, I want to conquer my mind, which is full of fear. I don't bow in thinking about being in some O'Sensei image cult, or shintoism, or even buddhism (although I am I suppose a buddhist) - I am bowing in to resolve at least a small part of the existential question.

The word spirituality tends to push the matter off onto who-said-what, onto dogma and concepts, when IMHO, this isn't about anything but my own fear of death.

So to answer the question: yeah, in my experience aikido has helped me answer questions about my life, just like anything else can.


08-06-2002, 02:28 AM
I have no problem with bowing, I was in Judo for 5 years.
Well , I'm pretty sure that if you didn't have any ideological issue about religion during your Judo practice , Aikido practice won't be any different.


08-06-2002, 09:23 AM
IMHO, spirituality is more about the person than the act or art. The question may best be how in depth are "you" spiritualy?

IMHO, bowing is greeting and gratitude towards each oher, Sensei, and the founder. It is a means of humility for me personally. I like that part.

Until again,


Kevin Leavitt
08-06-2002, 07:04 PM
Check out the article I posted as another thread last week from beliefnet. It talks about spirituality vs religion indepth. It is labeled Spirituality VS Religion.

There is no statement of dogma or belief required in any dojo that I have been in that contradicts with any major world religion.

Each person has to decide for his/herself what defines religion and spirituality.

It depends on what value or emphasis you replace on bowing, medidation, etc. Really an individual choice. No one will probably make you sign or take an oath about anything.

Keep in mind that most all martial arts came from the far east and there are many cultural things that are done in most dojos. Many may have stemmed from the "religious" culture of that society. Most are harmless customs and courtesies that help us work in harmony and respect with one another.

Again, it is something you have to make your own mind up about.

Deb Fisher
08-06-2002, 07:34 PM
Amen to Lynn's comment about gratitude. I like that part, too.

George S. Ledyard
08-09-2002, 08:16 AM
I don't think there is even any real agreement about what Spirituality is, forget if Aikido is a Spiritual practice.

Usually religions (I include archaic spiritual prcatices here) are broken down into three general categories: Faith based, Devotional, and Insight oriented (those geared to produce direct perception of the Truth). Most reiligions fall into one of these categories as a primary designation but will / may contain aspects of the other elements.

Amida Buddhism and most of modern Christianity are examples of Faith based practices. In other words you have Faith and you will be "saved". In Christanity it can get more complicated because in many denomainations there isn't actually any direct link between being saved and ones Faith. Being Saved is an act of Grace which comes from God and isn't influenced by your actions.

The Hare Krishna folks are a good example of a devotional religious group. They desire to merge with the godhead by loosing themselves in devotional exercises.

Most of Buddhism is representative of religious poractice that is designed to develop direct exeperience of the Truth through ones own actions. You do the practice, you can get Enlightened. The Native American peyote religion would be agood exemple of archaic religious practice designed to do the same thing.

So what does this have to do with Aikido? If you look at it from the Founder's point of view Aikido would primarily be a practice designed to offer direct experience of the Truth while containing aspects of a devotional nature. But O-Sensei's Aikido was a mix of equal parts martial arts practice, farming, and esoteric Shinto practices. There is virtually no one around who is doing Aikido in the way that the Founder did it.

Most of what people refer to as Spirituality in Aikido has more to do with morals and ethics than religion. In most modern Aikido there is virtually no aspect of the "religious" left in the practice (maybe you clap when you bow in and out). The practice is seen as developing character and producing a more harmonious person but isn't really seen as something that will produce anything like what the Buddhists call Enlightenment.

This is where I take issue with many folks in Aikido. They believe that the practice of Aikido makes you better. It may do that in the way that working hard at any activity like sports etc can build character and develop values that are postive. But I don't myself call that spirituality. O-Sensei's moral and ethical ideas were a result of his or his teacher's spiritual experiences in which they had direct apprehension of the Truth or Kensho. Values proceed from Insight.

Sprituality should by definition contain some force for personal transformation. I would maintain that Aikido for most people is not a way that is geared towards personal transformation on any but the most superficial levels. It is largely about developing positive self image, nice but not very deep spiritually.

I believe that Aikido can and should be more than that. Aikido is a form of moving meditation that should develop Insight. It should have a transformative aspect. If you don't develop something of a sense of the Universe being "magical" through your practice then something is missing.

For me the martial side of the art is important. This is where the real personal transformation takes place. It isn't about personal affirmation, it doesn't matter if you feel good, it is about being present and perceiving the nature of that present Reality in this instant or dying. O-Sensei repeatedly said that Aikido was a life and death issue; for him it held that kind of importance and intensity. If one approaches ones prctice in that manner you begin to feel the energy inside you come forth. You can have experiences of profound connection. You can begin to experince directly those truths that O-sensei talks about but people mostly just parrot without understanding them.

So I guess I believe that Aikido can be a deep spiritual practice, just that for most folks it isn't. They won't push it hard enough, make the sacrifices required, and will shy away from the transformation that is possible becuase it is too frighteneing to make that change. So Aikido is then an interesting form of exercise and group communion without any deep transformative power. I think it is all in what we want and how we choose to practice.

Chuck Clark
08-09-2002, 01:33 PM
Great post, George.


Kevin Leavitt
08-10-2002, 11:18 PM
Loved your post George.

I agree Aikido itself will not make you a better person.

And in some ways it can be a devotional practice. Many may feel that by simply showing up wearing the hakama, and acting "aiki" that they will become a better person. I don't subscribe that it will do anything other than make you feel good about yourself temporarly.

I agree that it can be a wonderful tool or methodolgy for personal transformation, but the way it is practiced in the United States is incomplete.

I started martial arts 10 years ago. It has been a wonderful journey that has broadened my mind in many ways.

It led me into the Army and into the brotherhood of the elite Army Rangers. It then has led me onto the path of Buddhism and onto the path of true personal transformation for myself. I am hoping that through the study of budo/aikido, coupled with medidation and a few other things, that I will be able to be a better human being and help people to see the path to peace.

Deb Fisher
08-11-2002, 11:28 AM
Thank you, George Ledyard - that post is going on my refrigerator.