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Andrew Macdonald
09-29-2012, 01:48 AM
ok this is kind of a general question

how much spirituality do you see in your dojo? do you try to find it just thorugh the techniques or is there focused mediatation practice.

did you join aikido for spirtual practice? if not are you interested in it now?

Pauliina Lievonen
09-29-2012, 04:53 AM
As a non-native English speaker, the word "spiritual" continues to puzzle me, as I don't have a word to translate it to in my own language (Finnish). Or rather, I have two, so I wonder which one you have in mind, or is it maybe a combination of them, or something else?

I can think of "henkinen" which roughly has to do with cultivating your mind....that usually gets to be used in connection with stuff like literature, art, music. I guess doing aikido could be said to cultivate your mind in some ways. That wouldn't so much be anything that is explicitly taught in our dojo, more something that happens if you practice a while.

Then there's "hengellinen" which is a word used in context of religion, cultivating one's soul. I'd only use that word for dojo or people who combine their aikido practice with a religion (like shinto, I think some dojo do?). Our dojo doesn't.

There are some qualities that I think doing a martial art will help develop, like tenacity, mental toughness, patience, that kind of thing. Those to me don't quite fall under either category. And again, they're not something that is explicitly taught at our dojo, more something people develop (or not) as they progress.

As to the last question - I started aikido because it looked cool, and I wanted to learn how to fall. :)

kvaak
Pauliina

Carsten M÷llering
09-29-2012, 06:33 AM
how much spirituality do you see in your dojo?
I understand "spirituality" as connected to religious practice. During discussions here on aikiweb I learned that it also can be understood in a wider, and different sense. But nonetheless I see no spiritualtiy in our d˘j˘.
It is even demanded by some of the teachers to not have it. We just want to practice aikid˘.

... or is there focused mediatation practice.
There is no meditation practice in our d˘j˘.

did you join aikido for spirtual practice?
No.

if not are you interested in it now?
I have a rich spiritual practice. (And had it long before I started aikid˘.) But it is in no way connected to my aikid˘-Practice.

phitruong
09-29-2012, 08:16 AM
i was going to say "i see dead people!" but i'd refrain myself. :)

hey! this forum required 60 seconds between posts! i can't refrain myself that long! my spiritual needs cannot wait for such length of time! i need it now, damn it! :D

aikishihan
09-29-2012, 09:24 AM
All any dojo will ever require for its need for "spirituality" is to have Phi Truong as a valued member.

Spirituality is an intensely personal quality. It may be detected in a dojo or training venue, but not essential for its membership to fully enjoy training and its benefits.

Dave de Vos
09-29-2012, 09:48 AM
For me, the distinction between spirituality and religion is not entirely clear. From what I find, distinguishing between spirituality and religion seems to originate in 20th century America (for example here (http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Books/2002/07/Spiritual-But-Not-Religious.aspx?p=1) or here (http://atheism.about.com/od/religionnonreligion/a/spirituality.htm)). I have no idea whether my teacher is religious himself. I know of one hindu student and one atheist and there are probably christians in our class. The teacher of my teacher is a zen abbot.

I do think that our dojo tries to instill a specific mental / emotional state where aikido seems to work better. I understand that practise like that may seem similar to some spiritual practise and that it could be percieved as promoting some specific morality. But I don't see it as something spiritual. Anyway IMO this topic touches what Carsten adressed here (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=316052#post316052). I also am not aware of social, political or religious views being adressed in our aikido classes.

Does meditiation have to be spiritual? To me it seems more like mental practise.

Diana Frese
09-29-2012, 09:56 AM
I was hoping someone would recognize Phi's great contributions to the general tone of these forums, and there in the very next post Francis put it into words. So in this thread, this topic I come up with the following: True spirituality means you have to be able to smile at least once in a while.

And I like the rest of Francis post too. And dimensions added by Paulina and Carsten's personal impressions they are kind enough to have shared on this thread.

Forgot to log out yesterday, found this thread first and still logged in so I guess spiritually speaking, I just had to post. Maybe just coincidence. I have to think about that!

Diana Frese
09-29-2012, 10:16 AM
Hope I'm not slowing down the thread, but I feel I should share the moment I first started teaching in our local YMCA. My dad had given me the advice: don't try to teach the philosophy, just teach the exercise. Or something like that, it was years ago.

I felt I should keep his advice in mind by going straight to the students who showed up to the first class. So dad's advice helped me be smart enough to ask them why they wanted to study Aikido.

They said they wanted to learn to be centered. Not sure if I was qualified to teach that specifically, only through the actual techniques and some related things I could pass on to them that could be related to breathing, balance, movement and centering exercises I think you could call them.... some probably call some of these practices "ki exercises" anyway anything I could remember I would pass on to them...

But their request kind of made me smile, so I had to be candid. ' Well, if the teacher is centered, it is possible that the student may not learn to be centered, and if the teacher is not centered it is still possible for the student to learn to be centered. I can't really tell you which kind of teacher I am ' (Because I don't know)

Actually, this topic is huge, I hope many others add to this thread. There is so much available in Aikido of a spiritual nature, for those who wish to learn that aspect. But not necessary, even some of O Sensei's students have said, possibly meaning that it is only necessary to practice, the rest will come naturally? You can look up their writings and interviews on the subject, I'm just mentioning it for your further research.

During meditation in your dojo, if they have it formally, say, before class, it is an opportunity to relax your mind before practice, or there may be some directions given as to the type of meditation the teachers want you to do. But there are many kinds of meditation! Like, when you are outside viewing nature or people, your mind can calm itself, you can practice compassionate thoughts, or actions, for example.

As for myself when I was teaching, I tried to share anything of what I had been taught that I thought might be helpful. Just by practicing with my students and being open minded I learned a lot just from their general, receptive attitudes. Not the least was..... their ability to ..... smile.

Diana Frese
09-29-2012, 10:29 AM
Oops, I just noticed Dave had posted while I was writing. Great post, and I will look up the links he was kind to add....

Dave de Vos
09-29-2012, 11:03 AM
Oops, I just noticed Dave had posted while I was writing. Great post, and I will look up the links he was kind to add....

Thank you :)

This thread did make me think about how I view my own "spirituality". I'm an atheist and a real sceptic when it comes to anything supernatural. So I don't see myself as a spiritual person and I assumed that the term "spiritual" could not apply to me.
But I think there's more to it than that.
Now I think the concept of Secular Spirituality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_spirituality) fits fairly well to describe my spirituality. I realize that this contradicts my previously stated link between religion and spirituality. I think I understand the distinction a bit better now.

But still, I think you'd have to look closely to even find "Secular Spirituality" in our dojo.

lbb
09-29-2012, 02:13 PM
We don't promote anything called "spirituality" in our dojo. Our sensei are not spiritual teachers or qualified to teach esoteric practices, and they don't pretend to be. We have members who follow many different spiritual traditions: various flavors of Christians, observant Jews, Muslims, a couple different flavors of Buddhists. By that I don't mean that these people are nominally members of some religious denomination; I'm thinking specifically of people who have a conscious and deliberate spiritual practice, not just those who show up at a house of worship and expect something to happen. So, as a dojo I guess you'd say that we have an established practice of pursuing spiritual paths outside the dojo.

I didn't join aikido for spiritual practice; like others in the dojo, my spiritual practice is elsewhere. I'm of the belief that if you want to get to Los Angeles, your best bet is to get on a plane or a train or a boat or a bus that's going to Los Angeles, or point your nose in that direction and start walking or bicycling or roller skating or whatever...not to head for London and hope that gene pirates cosh you on the head in Heathrow and stuff you into a suitcase that's going to Krasnoyarsk, only it gets stolen by Catalan separatists who believe that it's a shipment of uranium, and when they discover you they dump you out of a helicopter somewhere over the Mediterranean, but you're saved by dolphins who convey you to a Carnival Cruise liner that is wrecked on the reefs of Bermuda when the captain tries a close pass while showing off for his girlfriend, and you're rescued by a tramp freighter out of Hamilton harbor whose next stop just happens to be Los Angeles. I would not go to a dojo looking for something other than martial arts training, no matter how many movies I'd seen that suggests that such things could be found there.

lbb
09-29-2012, 02:14 PM
As a non-native English speaker, the word "spiritual" continues to puzzle me, as I don't have a word to translate it to in my own language (Finnish).

Not to worry, Pauliina, most native English speakers have no idea what they mean when they use the word. :D

Marc Abrams
09-29-2012, 03:00 PM
All any dojo will ever require for its need for "spirituality" is to have Phi Truong as a valued member.

Spirituality is an intensely personal quality. It may be detected in a dojo or training venue, but not essential for its membership to fully enjoy training and its benefits.

X2!

Spirituality is the not the exclusive domain of any religion or esoteric practice. That intense, personal experience in which there is an awe and appreciation for that moment can be expressed in any aspect of our lives. It can be experienced taking that first sip of a properly decanted, well-aged red wine (must wait until I leave my office and go home...... patience grasshopper). It can be experienced at that moment when the nage is off-balanced and you can easily crush that person and instead you choose to guide the person to the ground in a graceful manner. It can be experienced when you do a body parts check after your teacher has nuked you in a manner that has you smiling all the way to the ground. The more that I can stay in and appreciate the moment with the laughter that Phi refers to, to the awe and appreciation that I can experience, the better my day is. The more that I can have those experiences in my dojo, the richer an opportunity my dojo becomes for myself and my students.

Spirituality is never a requirement for a dojo, because spirituality is a distinctly human experience that exists in a moment in time. You do not need spirituality, but it certainly makes the journey that much more enjoyable.....

Marc Abrams

Dave de Vos
09-29-2012, 03:42 PM
X2!

Spirituality is the not the exclusive domain of any religion or esoteric practice. That intense, personal experience in which there is an awe and appreciation for that moment can be expressed in any aspect of our lives. It can be experienced taking that first sip of a properly decanted, well-aged red wine (must wait until I leave my office and go home...... patience grasshopper). It can be experienced at that moment when the nage is off-balanced and you can easily crush that person and instead you choose to guide the person to the ground in a graceful manner. It can be experienced when you do a body parts check after your teacher has nuked you in a manner that has you smiling all the way to the ground. The more that I can stay in and appreciate the moment with the laughter that Phi refers to, to the awe and appreciation that I can experience, the better my day is. The more that I can have those experiences in my dojo, the richer an opportunity my dojo becomes for myself and my students.

Spirituality is never a requirement for a dojo, because spirituality is a distinctly human experience that exists in a moment in time. You do not need spirituality, but it certainly makes the journey that much more enjoyable.....

Marc Abrams

I think this describes the "numinous (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numinous)".
In fact I only know that term since today ;)

graham christian
09-29-2012, 04:03 PM
ok this is kind of a general question

how much spirituality do you see in your dojo? do you try to find it just thorugh the techniques or is there focused mediatation practice.

did you join aikido for spirtual practice? if not are you interested in it now?

100% spiritual in my Aikido. The Aikido we do is meditation, moving meditation.

I joined Aikido as a teenager looking for spiritual practice or as I put it then "that chi thing to do with harmony"

Peace.G.

hughrbeyer
09-29-2012, 10:30 PM
Fascinating to find out that Finnish has no single word to translate "spirituality."

I know people who are very adamant about the difference between spirituality and religion, but perhaps that difference really only matters in the context of Western monotheism. The Western idea of an omnipotent, immanent, omnipresent, yet personal God has no real analog in the Eastern context. So when Westerners start to talk about that stuff those Eastern folks do, it becomes necessary to come up with a new term. What is it that Zen mediation practices? It's not glorification of some sky-daddy god. Yet it is working on the human self, the human spirit. So I guess it's "spiritual."

My own engagement with Aikido is very much because of its spiritual dimension, but from my point of view that dimension does not need to be explicit to be active. We train the body to train the mind, treating the body and mind as a unity--something that Zen overlooks. I could go practice karate, and I'm sure there are high-level karate teachers who talk about spiritual dimensions of karate in similar ways--but karate does not train my body, hence my mind, in ways that I find enriching. Ditto boxing, the "noble science" to some--I do not want to spend much time training my mind to adopt the attitude boxing teaches.

But because Aikido teaches the spirit through the body, spiritual teaching does not need to be explicit in Aikido. In fact, few of my teaches have spent much time at all on the mat discussing spiritual issues. Which is just fine with me. When I'm on the mat, I want to train.

aiki-jujutsuka
09-30-2012, 05:33 AM
I want to echo what others have said about spirituality being a subjective thing. My instructors never speak of spirituality within the dojo or when we are training. Technique and application are the priority. I think this is in the line with the Dentokan mission statement as if they began teaching 'eastern' philosophy or spirituality they could alienate others who do not agree with such beliefs.

The Dentokan mission statement is as follows:

"To preserve and teach the traditional martial arts of Japan (including Okinawa). We strive to accomplish this in an environment free of intimidation, politics, and other distracters. We further seek to foster a spirit of fellowship and understanding, welcoming all like-minded individuals, regardless of race, gender, ethnic background, religion, national origin, or physical handicap."

The dojo is a place where people from all walks of life should be able to come and to learn the martial arts and through that practise internalize and develop the inner self. I think this is the aim of Dentokan too:

the Dentokan vision statement says:

"Build healthy minds, bodies, and spirits through the study of traditional martial arts."

Implicit in training then is the development of the spiritual self. The martial arts do contain a spiritual element that helps the person to grow as an individual. So Dentokan members should be well-rounded, respectful and to a certain extent spiritual people. The dojo is not a church or a temple or a mosque, it is a training hall: a training hall for the body, mind and spirit through the practise of martial arts.

SteveTrinkle
09-30-2012, 07:25 AM
aikido is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality to paraphrase carl sagen

graham christian
09-30-2012, 07:46 PM
Just watched the Ryder Cup. Mmmmm. Kami.

Peace.G.

Andrew Macdonald
10-01-2012, 02:13 AM
it is interesting that many of your don't and didn't do aiki for the spiritualside. I my self have no intrest in the ramblings of an aikido teacher on the subject of spirtuality. Ijust want to trainin. i have seen and heard of a few instructors that seem to want to set themselves up as some sort of guru just becasue they wear hakama.

robin_jet_alt
10-01-2012, 04:58 AM
it is interesting that many of your don't and didn't do aiki for the spiritualside. I my self have no intrest in the ramblings of an aikido teacher on the subject of spirtuality. Ijust want to trainin. i have seen and heard of a few instructors that seem to want to set themselves up as some sort of guru just becasue they wear hakama.

I agree. I just want to train, and while my teacher is very very good, I don't think he has any sort of spiritual superiority.

JJF
10-01-2012, 07:28 AM
I myself am probably more an atheist than anything else when it comes to categories - however I do firmly believe in some rules for how to behave towards each other, and I guess my aikido teachings has some values in common with basic christian belief. Compassion, forgiveness - and in the rare case walking on water - (sorry..bad joke.. I know). I just never point this out - it is up to each of my students to put whatever value into the things we do that they see fit based on their own way of life.

We have a short meditation before and after keiko. It is never EVER presented as being in any way related to religion or any type of deity. I encourage proper sitting, balance and breathing as far as I am able to teach this, and then I suggest that everybody use this moment to focus themselves on what they are about to do so that they can do it wholeheartedly. If for some reason they use this moment to connect with some sort of deity is their own responsibility - as long as they take care of each other and practice with a sincere effort and good mental attitude.

I guess I like to believe I create a lot of spirituality, but sort of with a 'void' in it where each student can put in whatever they believe to be true.

JJ

lbb
10-01-2012, 08:55 AM
We have a short meditation before and after keiko. It is never EVER presented as being in any way related to religion or any type of deity. I encourage proper sitting, balance and breathing as far as I am able to teach this, and then I suggest that everybody use this moment to focus themselves on what they are about to do so that they can do it wholeheartedly. If for some reason they use this moment to connect with some sort of deity is their own responsibility - as long as they take care of each other and practice with a sincere effort and good mental attitude.

I have to say that I don't really see the sense of the "let's all close our eyes" moment before class. I don't think it's harmful, but it may be...misleading, perhaps? Certainly if you poll a class of martial artists you'd get several different answers as to what they're supposed to be doing during this "meditation", and what it's supposed to lead to. Again, probably not harmful, but in terms of doing something good, it's kind of random, isn't it?

There are many different meditation traditions, and they're not all seeking after the same thing -- not in the immediate sense, and not in the larger sense either. I'd guess that pretty much all of them have some usefulness to an individual, and some are particularly useful to martial arts practice -- I'm thinking here specifically of some of the Buddhist meditation practices. But they're practices, just like when you practice waza: if you want to get to the usefulness part, you have to learn them correctly, from someone who knows what they're teaching, and you have to practice them diligently. And what they teach is to focus on what's happening right now. Focusing on what you want to be doing in a minute, once class starts, goes completely against the point of those practices. I use this example not to say that one way is right and one way is wrong (although I have my own opinion about which is more valuable to a martial artist), but to point out just how fuzzy all this undefined "meditation" stuff is. Superficially similar methods, diametrically opposed goals...widely varying results, no?

JJF
10-01-2012, 09:45 AM
I have to say that I don't really see the sense of the "let's all close our eyes" moment before class. I don't think it's harmful, but it may be...misleading, perhaps? Certainly if you poll a class of martial artists you'd get several different answers as to what they're supposed to be doing during this "meditation", and what it's supposed to lead to. Again, probably not harmful, but in terms of doing something good, it's kind of random, isn't it?


Very well put Mary. I agree that there are many different interpretations, and that the 'meditation' we do is probably more tradition than an exercise with at specific purpose. However I have found that as time passes some of the things we do suddenly appear to become meaningful as I learn new things, so I'm not going to discard it as of yet.

Right now - to me - it is a perfect opportunity to practice just 'sitting' and feeling how my body falls into place / balance - and I love to spend this brief moment to contemplate the concept of why we study Aikido. Also for the children's class it is excellent training in being quiet ;)

Great day to everybody

JJ

Mary Eastland
10-01-2012, 10:21 AM
ok this is kind of a general question

how much spirituality do you see in your dojo? do you try to find it just thorugh the techniques or is there focused mediatation practice.

did you join aikido for spirtual practice? if not are you interested in it now?

I see some. Everyone brings who they are and takes what they need. Some people practice in an inrospective, spiritual way and others train in other ways.

mathewjgano
10-01-2012, 11:22 AM
ok this is kind of a general question

how much spirituality do you see in your dojo? do you try to find it just thorugh the techniques or is there focused mediatation practice.

did you join aikido for spirtual practice? if not are you interested in it now?

I see quite a bit of spirituality at my dojo, but I also train at a Shinto shrine and my teacher is a priest. I think this tends to attract people who are looking for a spiritual practice or who otherwise seek that kind of environment, but not everyone fits that description. I would describe many of my fellow students as being pretty spiritual, but my sense of the word is based on having a sense of deep awe for nature and an effort to connect with that awe throught one's activities...so it's pretty open-ended.
Speaking from my own sense of the word, and from what I understand of Shinto, any activity can be "spiritual," but we do have focused meditation times. Saturdays, for example, people can do misogi no gyo, daily Shinto ceremony (chyohai), and formal Chinkon no gyo before Aikido practice. After each practice session that sensei leads there is an abreviated Chinkon no gyo.
I started Aikido because I wanted to learn something meditative that also included some kind of "martial" training. So per my own sense of spirituality, yes I joined an Aikidojo for the spiritual practice and continue now with a similar sense of purpose. My spirituality is based very much on the concept of self-improvement and being the best person I can be and the concepts of gyo/discipline and "self victory" I see in Aikido are big parts of that for me.

Conrad Gus
10-01-2012, 11:39 AM
I see quite a bit of spirituality at my dojo, but I also train at a Shinto shrine and my teacher is a priest. I think this tends to attract people who are looking for a spiritual practice or who otherwise seek that kind of environment, but not everyone fits that description. I would describe many of my fellow students as being pretty spiritual, but my sense of the word is based on having a sense of deep awe for nature and an effort to connect with that awe throught one's activities...so it's pretty open-ended.
Speaking from my own sense of the word, and from what I understand of Shinto, any activity can be "spiritual," but we do have focused meditation times. Saturdays, for example, people can do misogi no gyo, daily Shinto ceremony (chyohai), and formal Chinkon no gyo before Aikido practice. After each practice session that sensei leads there is an abreviated Chinkon no gyo.
I started Aikido because I wanted to learn something meditative that also included some kind of "martial" training. So per my own sense of spirituality, yes I joined an Aikidojo for the spiritual practice and continue now with a similar sense of purpose. My spirituality is based very much on the concept of self-improvement and being the best person I can be and the concepts of gyo/discipline and "self victory" I see in Aikido are big parts of that for me.

Matthew,

I've trained around a little bit, and I've never seen anything that comes close to your dojo. It's very, very special.

I'm sure it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if a person is interested at all in integrating spirituality with their aikido practice, Kannagara Aikido is worth checking out. I wish I could train there more -- it's been far too long.

Conrad

Chris Evans
10-01-2012, 12:11 PM
i wish to see zero "spirituality" in my dojo unless it's a show of gratitude (respect) and kindness.
i hone my "spirituality" at a zendo and at home where i "zazen (shikantaza)"
i do like to see combative/fighting spirt in a martial arts dojo: that's a the kind of "spirituality" that ought to be blended in with gratitude and kindness.

aiki-jujutsuka
10-03-2012, 04:37 PM
i wish to see zero "spirituality" in my dojo unless it's a show of gratitude (respect) and kindness.
i hone my "spirituality" at a zendo and at home where i "zazen (shikantaza)"
i do like to see combative/fighting spirt in a martial arts dojo: that's a the kind of "spirituality" that ought to be blended in with gratitude and kindness.

agreed. well said Chris :)

OwlMatt
11-03-2012, 01:51 AM
ok this is kind of a general question

how much spirituality do you see in your dojo? do you try to find it just thorugh the techniques or is there focused mediatation practice.

did you join aikido for spirtual practice? if not are you interested in it now?

The level of spirituality at my club varies from student to student, which I think is as it should be, and there is no formalized meditation at my club, which I think is also as it should be.

Aikido, like any activity, is no more and no less spiritual than one makes it. I do look for opportunities in aikido to face my fear, my pain, and my insecurity, and to better understand how I interact with others. I do think these opportunities can provide me with tools for spiritual advancement, but I've never gone looking for any specific kind of "spiritual practice" in the dojo, and I think I'd regard any instructor as a quack who claimed to offer it.

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 01:45 PM
I see quite a bit of spirituality at my dojo, but I also train at a Shinto shrine and my teacher is a priest. I think this tends to attract people who are looking for a spiritual practice or who otherwise seek that kind of environment, but not everyone fits that description. I would describe many of my fellow students as being pretty spiritual, but my sense of the word is based on having a sense of deep awe for nature and an effort to connect with that awe throught one's activities...so it's pretty open-ended.
Speaking from my own sense of the word, and from what I understand of Shinto, any activity can be "spiritual," but we do have focused meditation times. Saturdays, for example, people can do misogi no gyo, daily Shinto ceremony (chyohai), and formal Chinkon no gyo before Aikido practice. After each practice session that sensei leads there is an abreviated Chinkon no gyo.
I started Aikido because I wanted to learn something meditative that also included some kind of "martial" training. So per my own sense of spirituality, yes I joined an Aikidojo for the spiritual practice and continue now with a similar sense of purpose. My spirituality is based very much on the concept of self-improvement and being the best person I can be and the concepts of gyo/discipline and "self victory" I see in Aikido are big parts of that for me.

I am not familiar with your dojo, but it sounds as a good and interesting place to practice Aikido. The study of Shinto and practicing Shinto does in my experience enhance a deeper understanding of Aikido and the teachings of the founder of Aikido. It also brings changes to the body and mind that helps in daily life and in practising Aikido. A sense of deep awe for nature becomes part of that. Just as a feeling of connection with the community. There are not many dojo in the world where one can practice Aikido and Shinto - you are very fortunate!
Tom

mathewjgano
11-12-2012, 11:30 PM
I am not familiar with your dojo, but it sounds as a good and interesting place to practice Aikido. The study of Shinto and practicing Shinto does in my experience enhance a deeper understanding of Aikido and the teachings of the founder of Aikido. It also brings changes to the body and mind that helps in daily life and in practising Aikido. A sense of deep awe for nature becomes part of that. Just as a feeling of connection with the community. There are not many dojo in the world where one can practice Aikido and Shinto - you are very fortunate!
Tom

Hi Tom,
I don't have much of a frame of reference, but I do think it can help add to an understanding of Aikido...and I do feel fortunate: it's a very rare mix, even more so outside of Japan. It's definately an interesting and beautiful place and I appreciate the atmosphere for helping to instill a certain mindset. I'm a big believer in the impact our surroundings have on our state of mind and I really like the idea of cultivating sacred space for potentially adding to "deeper" interactions/operations. For example, I find the awareness of the centerline running through the jinja has a direct impact on how I pay attention to the centerline running through my own body.
Also, the fact that sanpaisha will occassionally ring the bell and pray at the entrance during keiko, which demands we completely avoid the centerline, adds to the demands for awareness and consideration of our surroundings in general.
...Of course that can be found where ever we put it, not just in a jinja, but that's what I find to be reinforced in what little I understand of Shinto and Aikido.
Take care,
Matt

Tom Verhoeven
11-13-2012, 09:00 PM
Hi Tom,
I don't have much of a frame of reference, but I do think it can help add to an understanding of Aikido...and I do feel fortunate: it's a very rare mix, even more so outside of Japan. It's definately an interesting and beautiful place and I appreciate the atmosphere for helping to instill a certain mindset. I'm a big believer in the impact our surroundings have on our state of mind and I really like the idea of cultivating sacred space for potentially adding to "deeper" interactions/operations. For example, I find the awareness of the centerline running through the jinja has a direct impact on how I pay attention to the centerline running through my own body.
Also, the fact that sanpaisha will occassionally ring the bell and pray at the entrance during keiko, which demands we completely avoid the centerline, adds to the demands for awareness and consideration of our surroundings in general.
...Of course that can be found where ever we put it, not just in a jinja, but that's what I find to be reinforced in what little I understand of Shinto and Aikido.
Take care,
Matt
Bonjour Matt,
I really like the example that you give here.
I am not familiar with a prayer during practice - but I can imagine that it will highten everyones level of awareness.
It really sounds like a special dojo - will have a look at the website (it does have a website?).
kind regards,
Tom

Cliff Judge
11-14-2012, 09:10 AM
I think we do this well at my dojo. Aikido works well as a spiritual practice when it is not engaged in for that purpose.

The instructors clap us in and improvise variations of standard Aikido forms, illustrating whatever point they feel is important. Then students pair up and do whatever they think they just saw. From time to time someone needs to get very technical, other times you are worried about how something feels. Then - at intervals - Saotome Sensei visits the dojo and gives us a fiery "What kind of art you practicing here? You look like modern dance!" lecture and we all try to figure out what that means.

The combination of extemporaneous form and stern, direct, but extremely general guidance from our leader makes day-to-day practice an exoteric component to an annual ritual. It is a mass ritual, to the extent that it is meant to transform each of us at an individual level, that is not a consciously-directed process. I think maybe the overall thing is supposed to bring about stuff that is above the realm of personal transformation on an individual level though. For that reason it is actually pretty inclusive - you don't need to think too hard on it, you just have to show up and do your best, whatever that is.

mathewjgano
11-14-2012, 10:39 AM
I think we do this well at my dojo. Aikido works well as a spiritual practice when it is not engaged in for that purpose.

The instructors clap us in and improvise variations of standard Aikido forms, illustrating whatever point they feel is important. Then students pair up and do whatever they think they just saw. From time to time someone needs to get very technical, other times you are worried about how something feels. Then - at intervals - Saotome Sensei visits the dojo and gives us a fiery "What kind of art you practicing here? You look like modern dance!" lecture and we all try to figure out what that means.

The combination of extemporaneous form and stern, direct, but extremely general guidance from our leader makes day-to-day practice an exoteric component to an annual ritual. It is a mass ritual, to the extent that it is meant to transform each of us at an individual level, that is not a consciously-directed process. I think maybe the overall thing is supposed to bring about stuff that is above the realm of personal transformation on an individual level though. For that reason it is actually pretty inclusive - you don't need to think too hard on it, you just have to show up and do your best, whatever that is.

I really like this! That was beautifully put. Just wanted to say thank you, Cliff!

Bonjour Matt,
I really like the example that you give here.
I am not familiar with a prayer during practice - but I can imagine that it will highten everyones level of awareness.
It really sounds like a special dojo - will have a look at the website (it does have a website?).
kind regards,
Tom
Bonjour Tom,
The web site is http://www.tsubakishrine.org/
And I just wanted to make sure I was clear, the prayers are from people who happen to be visiting the shrine grounds, just as when folks visit a jinja in Japan, offer a few coins, and pray. We just have to ensure there is an unobstructed line between them and the honden.
Take care!
Matt

Tom Verhoeven
11-14-2012, 11:49 AM
I really like this! That was beautifully put. Just wanted to say thank you, Cliff!

Bonjour Tom,
The web site is http://www.tsubakishrine.org/
And I just wanted to make sure I was clear, the prayers are from people who happen to be visiting the shrine grounds, just as when folks visit a jinja in Japan, offer a few coins, and pray. We just have to ensure there is an unobstructed line between them and the honden.
Take care!
Matt

Hi Matt,
You meant the bell outside! Got it - already imagined someone praying inside the dojo during practiced. I am used to prayer before class. And in Zen-practice the teacher holds up a small bell, thought it might be somewhat like that. Thanks for clarifying.
And thanks for the link!

Tom .

Edgecrusher
11-16-2012, 08:10 AM
If one is looking for spirituality in the dojo I train at then, you will find it. We do not overemphasize it and it is usually practiced on the mat before class starts or not at all. The atmosphere is relaxed and turns intense based on what we are learning and the willingness of the mudansha. I do not want to turn this post into a "in Tomiki we do things differently" reply however, it is all I know. While practicing outside of the dojo spirituality should thrive and be practiced regularly.