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Sojourner
07-06-2015, 07:11 AM
Does your Dojo have clapping as a part of the opening ceremony?

https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/shinto-clapping-and-aikido/

Cliff Judge
07-06-2015, 07:57 AM
Yes. You are not practicing Aikido if you don't do this.

Cliff Judge
07-06-2015, 08:20 AM
Yes. You are not practicing Aikido if you don't do this.

In my opinion, anyway. I am quite surprised to read that you find the practice uncommon in Western dojos. In my experience it is the rule and not the exception.

PeterR
07-06-2015, 08:20 AM
Yes. You are not practicing Aikido if you don't do this.
Joking right?

AsimHanif
07-06-2015, 08:32 AM
I've seen so many iterations of this. 1-4 claps, sometimes with a bow before, between, and/or after. Some people incorporate Shintoism, Buddhism, or other into their practice. To each hi/her own but I think we are practicing 'our' aikido, not O'Sensei's or anyone else's aikido, seeking to find and express ourselves.
In my dojo we have a moment of silence and a simple bow...each person in the dojo can utilize that process to do what they need to to get their head right.

Cliff Judge
07-06-2015, 09:44 AM
Joking right?

Sorry - not joking, but stating a personal opinion too heavy-handedly and non-inclusively.

IMO the little ritual before and after practice - particularly the stuff that is derived from a religion the student may not believe in - is crucial to establishing the training time as free from the mental detritus of the day, when you are open to learning new things and having new insights. Rather than bringing baggage onto the mat, you leave it off the mat and just be a part of what's going on.

I feel this way because it answers a lot of my questions about how Aikido is trained and transmitted. To me its a fairly pointless endeavor if you take the spirituality out of it.

Janet Rosen
07-06-2015, 09:50 AM
Sorry - not joking, but stating a personal opinion too heavy-handedly and non-inclusively.

IMO the little ritual before and after practice - particularly the stuff that is derived from a religion the student may not believe in - is crucial to establishing the training time as free from the mental detritus of the day, when you are open to learning new things and having new insights. Rather than bringing baggage onto the mat, you leave it off the mat and just be a part of what's going on.

I feel this way because it answers a lot of my questions about how Aikido is trained and transmitted. To me its a fairly pointless endeavor if you take the spirituality out of it.

But you don't get to define "spirituality" for me or my dojo's culture. Personally I do NOT equate a specific tiny ritual piece of a larger religion as "spirituality."

Where I train now? We Don't Clap (we bow in and sit and do breathing for a few minutes). The USAF dojos I was part of for years: no clap. The CAA dojo I was part of for a time: no clap.

If we each washed a special dish in a special sink, or told a ritual joke, it would suffice to "establish the training time as free from the mental detritus...."...ANYTHING the group does each time at the opening of class does that.

Cliff Judge
07-06-2015, 10:26 AM
If we each washed a special dish in a special sink, or told a ritual joke, it would suffice to "establish the training time as free from the mental detritus...."...ANYTHING the group does each time at the opening of class does that.

I think the part I regard as crucial is where everybody is simultaneously engaging in a physical action that produces a sound. It is the opposite of going into yourself to clear your mind in your own way or whatever...that would be bringing something onto the mat that you should be leaving off. The sacrifice of choice to the traditions of the group is important.

Being in a room where everybody is together, but each doing their own thing and choosing their experience is the default, and Aikido provides a safe alternative where you get your full integrity back when you clap out.

It's not really a big deal if you don't do things the way I have been taught, but I think training where Sensei demonstrates a technique, and everyone pairs off and tries to make it work is a bit silly if you don't view it as a group "spiritual" activity....i.e. it might be better to structure training differently.

PeterR
07-06-2015, 11:19 AM
Sorry - not joking, but stating a personal opinion too heavy-handedly and non-inclusively.

IMO the little ritual before and after practice - particularly the stuff that is derived from a religion the student may not believe in - is crucial to establishing the training time as free from the mental detritus of the day, when you are open to learning new things and having new insights. Rather than bringing baggage onto the mat, you leave it off the mat and just be a part of what's going on.

I feel this way because it answers a lot of my questions about how Aikido is trained and transmitted. To me its a fairly pointless endeavor if you take the spirituality out of it.

I see Moksu the same way - but have never clapped. I mean ever. I know some people do but ... can't be that crucial to the ritual.

Cliff Judge
07-06-2015, 12:06 PM
I see Moksu the same way - but have never clapped. I mean ever. I know some people do but ... can't be that crucial to the ritual.

Thanks, Peter. This has been a good day for me as far as learning things.

Janet Rosen
07-06-2015, 12:09 PM
[QUOTE=Cliff Judge;344142]Being in a room where everybody is together, but each doing their own thing and choosing their experience is the default, and Aikido provides a safe alternative where you get your full integrity back when you clap out. [QUOTE]

I don't think aikido is the only place in my life described by that first clause.
I'm still not getting the link between the clap per se and either group cohesion or my integrity.
However, I'm happy that you are thinking about the essence of what the clap means to YOU.

kewms
07-06-2015, 01:13 PM
"Spirituality" is such a vague and useless word....

Every group, regardless of culture, regardless of the reason why the group exists, has little rituals to signal the start of "group" activities. Athletic teams clap or clasp hands before they go on the field. Recovery groups might start meetings with a prayer. Japanese martial artists tend to bow, Western fencers salute their teacher. Business or political meetings will have some sort of "call to order," with things like introductory announcements, an agenda, and so on.

But I think it's a real stretch to say that the specific ritual that *some* dojos use is so integral to the art that you aren't practicing aikido without it, and even more of a stretch to anchor it in aikido's "spirituality," whatever that even means.

For the record, my dojo claps. Except when we're doing a standing bow at the start of a weapons class, because it's really awkward to clap with your hands full. I've been to dojos that clap more, or not at all. I've trained with koryu teachers who bow, clap, and chant.

Katherine

Peter Goldsbury
07-06-2015, 03:56 PM
I understand from the late Okumura Shigenobu Shihan that the practice of clapping in the Hombu stopped when the Shinto kamidana was removed. It continues at Iwama because the Iwama Dojo is still regarded as part of a shrine.

Hakushu is often used at the parties following a wedding ceremony, where it means applauding the bride, groom, parents, guests, whoever. The wedding announcer hired in the occasion tells the guests when to clap and how intensely to do so.

JP3
07-06-2015, 05:07 PM
In my opinion, anyway. I am quite surprised to read that you find the practice uncommon in Western dojos. In my experience it is the rule and not the exception.

Cliff, I have to say I sort of find that comment, and the first one, a bit disturbing. I mean, Shinto is a religion at its most basic definition, right? I've been practicing aikido for 20+ years now and have never been in a dojo where the clapping is part of the usual routine. Its far off the beaten path for all of the places I've trained. We've heard of it, of course, and I've observed it in films taken in schools in Japan, and in other schools operated by Japanese-birth instructors, sure, but in my mind, that is Shinto layered on the aikido. Separate things, done sort of together.

When we come together as a larger group we sometimes say a quick prayer on the mat, asking for wisdom, health and safe learning for those involved, but we're talking to the Christian God, not the Kami.

So, no, we don't do the Shinto clapping routine. But... Then we most certainly practice aikido.

odudog
07-06-2015, 05:22 PM
There are several things done in aikido that have its origins in Shintoism. It's up to you though if you want to put that spirit into the movements.

rugwithlegs
07-06-2015, 06:01 PM
From a website on Oomoto Kyo: http://www.oomoto.or.jp/English/enFaq/indexfaq.html

[I][A-They should live according to four teachings and four principles. These are fundamental to the Divine Plan and applicable to the lives of all humans. Oomoto also teaches that God gives humans freedom of choice; they have freewill to decide whether to follow these teachings and principles.

Q-What are the teachings?
A- They are: 1) Harmonious alignment with all life and the universe. 2) Revelation of celestial truth and its lessons. 3) Innate patterns of behavior for man, society and the cosmos. 4) Instinctual creative drives.

Q-What are the principles?
A- They are: 1) Purity through purification of mind and body. 2) Optimism, specifically believing in the goodness of the Divine Will. 3) Progressivism as a way to social improvement. 4) Unification or reconciliation of all dichotomies (good and evil; rich and poor; humans and nature; humans and God, etc.) The four can be thought of as a code for right living. By practicing them, humans can live in harmony with the universe and lead a heavenly life in spirit and flesh./I]

So, four festivals related to the four seasons, four principles and four teachings, and I believe I heard somewhere that the four claps are related to this.

From Lao Tzu - ritual is the husk of faith. The blog author identified as Christian. The difference between a light snack and the Sacrement of Communion, the difference between someone spilling water on me and the Sacrement of Baptism; it's belief and faith.

I asked Kawahara Shihan about the different opening rituals once. He was clear that as I was a non-believer, if I did try to perform a ritual that was completely meaningless to me, my behavior could possibly be insulting. Ordering students to follow the same ritual was as wrong as ordering an atheist to recite the Lord's Prayer. He told me O Sensei was an Oomoto Kyo practitioner, but not all Aikido people practice Oomoto Kyo.

I only clap once to end meditation or switch exercises. I follow the practices of whoever is teaching.

Gene McGloin
07-06-2015, 11:06 PM
So, why is it necessary for aikidoka to imitate any aspect of Ueshiba Osensei's spiritual practices if one hasn't delved into and seriously studied Shinto, particularly Omotokyo, and the purpose and meaning of such ritual(s)? It should be clear, by now, that Ueshiba Osensei's spiritual practices were not widely understood, even by his own students. That religious/spiritual faith has been the subject of multiple interpretations, some published, some not, since his passing. Should one only imitate the clapping ritual to the shomen/tokonoma? Perhaps aikidoka should make pilgrimage to the various jingu associated with ancient, Japanese budo so as to enhance their practice? Should aikidoka practice chanting and meditation under a waterfall? Is a cold shower good enough or is the possibility of rocks landing on one's head necessary for it to be a real, spiritual practice that will benefit one's practice? Who decides what are Japanese "trappings" or "wrapping paper" and what is crucial to good practice?

By the way, many aspects of daily life in Japan are steeped in Shinto. Most of the younger generation(s) in Japan don't even recognize the depth of Shinto influence in their lives and don't particularly care to know.

Carl Thompson
07-07-2015, 06:04 AM
I understand from the late Okumura Shigenobu Shihan that the practice of clapping in the Hombu stopped when the Shinto kamidana was removed. It continues at Iwama because the Iwama Dojo is still regarded as part of a shrine.

I had a chance to teach in our native UK earlier this year. I specifically asked Inagaki Shihan about the etiquette for the start of class. He said that the claps were for the kamidana and that in a place like a sports hall or school, a bow to a picture of the founder is usually sufficient. He added though, that I should try to fit in with the local etiquette and it turned out they were used to claps. Therefore, I did it exactly as we would to a kamidana, kind of as a rehearsal, should anyone want to visit Iwama to train.

Regards

Carl

Cliff Judge
07-07-2015, 07:22 AM
I will have to admit at this point that perhaps, as most of my Aikido experiences have been in ASU dojos with a bit of Iwama and Kokikai, that I was obviously not sufficiently informed to claim that clapping was the rule and not the exception. Very interesting. Thanks for the learns everyone.

I almost hate to say this but...Aikido is a derived Shinto practice. Shinto is not "a faith" in the sense that an Abrahamic religion is, and it doesn't require your full awareness of the ritual for your participation to be valid. Aikido is the same way.

So whether you clap or not you are all offering your training to the Kami, every time you get onto the mat. :)

rugwithlegs
07-07-2015, 06:40 PM
I would still say a quadruple amputee with meaning in the ritual, belief and faith, would do a better job of the clapping than I would with both my hands.

I believe the original blog author was partially ruminating on whether he was offering anything of himself to the Kami and that he valued his Christian beliefs. From O Sensei (by way of a few translators) - The world has 8 million gods and I cooperate with them all. The Art of Peace is not a religion, it perfects and completes all religions.

I don't read anything above that says I am involved in a Shinto ritual exclusively, or that I am participating in another religion by training in Aikido.

Not all of O Sensei's students were in Oomoto Kyo, but some were and that is the derivation of the practice I think.

Peter Goldsbury
07-08-2015, 02:13 AM
I had a chance to teach in our native UK earlier this year. I specifically asked Inagaki Shihan about the etiquette for the start of class. He said that the claps were for the kamidana and that in a place like a sports hall or school, a bow to a picture of the founder is usually sufficient. He added though, that I should try to fit in with the local etiquette and it turned out they were used to claps. Therefore, I did it exactly as we would to a kamidana, kind of as a rehearsal, should anyone want to visit Iwama to train.

Regards

Carl

Hello Carl,

Have you looked at Stan Pranin's Lost Saito Seminars, organized by Paolo C in Italy? I do not remember the beginning and end of training, but when I participated in Saito Sensei's seminars in Europe and the USA, everyone clapped.

Best wishes,

PAG

Cliff Judge
07-08-2015, 11:19 AM
I would still say a quadruple amputee with meaning in the ritual, belief and faith, would do a better job of the clapping than I would with both my hands.

I believe the original blog author was partially ruminating on whether he was offering anything of himself to the Kami and that he valued his Christian beliefs. From O Sensei (by way of a few translators) - The world has 8 million gods and I cooperate with them all. The Art of Peace is not a religion, it perfects and completes all religions.

I don't read anything above that says I am involved in a Shinto ritual exclusively, or that I am participating in another religion by training in Aikido.

Not all of O Sensei's students were in Oomoto Kyo, but some were and that is the derivation of the practice I think.

In the blog post, I detected an unmistakable note of worry that clapping may be religious in nature, and that for this reason it may be incompatible with exclusive convictions of faith that forbid participation in other religions.

The clapping has both religious and non-religious aspects to it. I do believe that it has a psychological importance as a queue but I won't argue that any further here. But it is a fact that it is tied to Osensei's religious experience, and it is clear that, to him, Aikido was inseparable from that religious experience.

I would just hate it if I held evangelical Christian beliefs and then I died and found myself in Hell because I had been seriously committing my life to engaging in a heathen practice for years. Mistakenly believing it was compatible with accepting Christ as my savior. Obviously, Aikido is not itself a religion, but surely Satan does not tempt the faithful only through organized religion. It seems exactly like him to mask a tool of corruption as a seemingly innocuous practice.

I think if one is committed to that type of belief, one should pray quite a bit about it, and/or consult with one's pastor, and be forthright with him about the origins of these practices. Perhaps your soul is safe if you steer clear of clapping, perhaps you might do better to steer clear of dojos where clapping is practiced. Or perhaps it might be safest to steer clear of the art altogether.

kewms
07-08-2015, 02:33 PM
I think if one is committed to that type of belief, one should pray quite a bit about it, and/or consult with one's pastor, and be forthright with him about the origins of these practices. Perhaps your soul is safe if you steer clear of clapping, perhaps you might do better to steer clear of dojos where clapping is practiced. Or perhaps it might be safest to steer clear of the art altogether.

I think it's pointless to speculate about what is and is not compatible with beliefs that I don't personally share. The God concept in which I believe is able to discern what is in a person's heart, and judge accordingly. YMMV.

I personally do not make any particular religious association with my dojo's opening ritual, and would so advise any prospective student who asked. Beyond that, it's a matter for discussion with one's own spiritual advisor.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
07-08-2015, 04:23 PM
I personally do not make any particular religious association with my dojo's opening ritual, and would so advise any prospective student who asked. Beyond that, it's a matter for discussion with one's own spiritual advisor.

Katherine

So what would you say to a visitor who said to you, "I noticed that when you began class and ended class, everyone bowed and then clapped twice. That is exactly what I saw people doing when I visited a shrine in Japan. I was told by my tour guide that this was an important ritual, a way of calling the attention of the god of the shrine and asking for blessings. Is that what you do here?"

Or, "that is a nice little altar at the front of your dojo, with the picture of the Founder of Aikido as its focus...are you worshipping him?"

I.e. what you say to someone who really probed you on whether the clapping was a piece of religious practice?

I find thinking about this makes me uncomfortable. I think I would have to be honest that it is absolutely a vestige of Shinto. The reason why we do it, is simply because that's what our teacher taught us (yes he is Shinto) and it is therefore an important part of our living traditions.

And then it's basically...where does the visitor want to go with that? If they press me on whether *I* follow Shinto, the truth of the matter is I feel like I do, based on what I understand of it, though I admit I may be appropriating. My teacher has, in fact, stood in our dojo and stated that our dojo is our church.

At ASD, Aikido is more credibly "religious" than most yoga studios, and there are people who avoid yoga practice because it doesn't fit with their beliefs. This isn't really a matter you can just wave away as pointless. If a visitor were to state that they might have a problem training if there were religious elements I would have to, in good conscious, turn them away.

Sojourner
07-08-2015, 07:16 PM
Once again some great points being brought out in this discussion, I tried to make a "poll" on clapping in Aikido, but it looks like the poll function here may be disabled and when I tried on "Survey Monkey" it ended up giving me more grief than what it was worth.

The Ki Federation of Great Britain does not have Clapping as a part of any of its ceremonies. We do however bow in and out to the picture of Sensei Williams and in our local dojo there is also a picture of Abbe Sensei. In my mind I don't consider bowing in or out of training in any way "religious" I have served on a Jury before and we had to bow in and out to the Magistrate along with everyone else and I see it in the same way that it is simply a show of respect and acceptance of the order of leadership in the Dojo.

Still for me if I was to attend another Dojo or another Aikido orgs seminar for example and they participated in Clapping I would probably not join in with that section of the ritual. I think that in a western dojo if a member did not wish to particpate in clapping that they would be unlikely to be forced to do that, although I stand corrected if clapping is mandatory in your dojo. If I were told that membership or attendance at a Aikido Dojo was dependant on joining in with clapping then I would not make an issue of it there and then, but I would not return to it either and would find another trianing centre. My reason is that I feel that it is a breach of the first of the Ten Commandments - "you shall have no other gods before me".

I am well aware of the differences between Buddhism and Shintoism and the fact that in Japan, Buddhists and Shinto people can cross over in ritual where neccessary. It is my view that from the point of being an evangelical that I would not participate in that, I would not visit a shrine in Japan and join in the ceremony there for the blessing from the Shinto god/s, although I would have no real problem in simply visting the places of Shinto worship in Japan as a tourist, I just do not wish to join in with them and I fully respect the right of anyone else to go there and join in, clap, pray or do whatever works for them.

I think that there is a lot of pressure on people today to conform to a view that suggests that all roads in religion lead to a first cause of the universe eventually. Personally I have no problem in people having the view that there religion or faith system is correct at the exclusion of the others. I realise and accept that O'Sensei says that he respects all of the different gods and has room for them all. Its just one of those areas where I do not agree. It is a view held strongly in religious circles, - when Jesus told the Pharisees that if they wanted to see the Father then here He was in front of them, and that if they had seen Jesus that they had seen the Father, then that got them so angry that events fell in place that led to his crucifiction. This battle still rages on today and will not be brought to any real resolution any time soon.

Still whilst I might disagree with O'Sensei on that one point, if I were a Sensei and ran a dojo I would do my best not to discriminate against anyone that wished to learn Aikido that had some religious convictions. If a student did not want to bow in for example then I would not require it of them. If I had a Jewish or Adventist student I would not require them to grade or attend a seminar on Sabbath (Saturday) for example. If I had a Muslim male or female that wished only to train with a member of the same gender then I would try and facilitate that to be the case when parters are paired up for training. I don't think these problems are difficult to overcome, but at the same time I think there is a time for common sense as opposed to rigidity because that is the way something has always been done.

kewms
07-08-2015, 08:12 PM
So what would you say to a visitor who said to you, "I noticed that when you began class and ended class, everyone bowed and then clapped twice. That is exactly what I saw people doing when I visited a shrine in Japan. I was told by my tour guide that this was an important ritual, a way of calling the attention of the god of the shrine and asking for blessings. Is that what you do here?"

Or, "that is a nice little altar at the front of your dojo, with the picture of the Founder of Aikido as its focus...are you worshipping him?"

I.e. what you say to someone who really probed you on whether the clapping was a piece of religious practice?

Again, I don't see it as such. I see it as part of focusing the mind before training. So I would tell the prospective student that. And that while the ritual did originate in Japan as part of Shinto practice -- aikido being a Japanese art -- each student is free to interpret it as they like, as well as to choose not to participate.

Beyond that, again, I don't presume to tell people what they should or should not believe. If someone decides they can't train at a dojo where clapping takes place, I'd regretfully wish them well, but I wouldn't change the dojo practice in order to keep them, either.

Katherine

kewms
07-08-2015, 10:32 PM
Still whilst I might disagree with O'Sensei on that one point, if I were a Sensei and ran a dojo I would do my best not to discriminate against anyone that wished to learn Aikido that had some religious convictions. If a student did not want to bow in for example then I would not require it of them. If I had a Jewish or Adventist student I would not require them to grade or attend a seminar on Sabbath (Saturday) for example. If I had a Muslim male or female that wished only to train with a member of the same gender then I would try and facilitate that to be the case when parters are paired up for training.

This last starts to be problematic. It affects the religious student's ability to learn, because it limits their range of possible training partners. (And of course the hypothetical Real World Attacker wouldn't respect their religious preferences anyway.) More importantly, it affects the training of other students who don't share those particular beliefs. Many Western women in particular find the Muslim (and Orthodox Jewish) practices on gender segregation extremely insulting, and would probably leave any dojo that asked them to conform.

One possible solution would be to invite the student to arrange (and fund) a gender-specific class outside of normal class times, and provide a gender-appropriate instructor for it.

Katherine

oisin bourke
07-09-2015, 03:29 AM
FWIW

The clapping has martial and conditioning applications, as does the bowing. Budo people using these things should be able to explain and demonstrate them IMO.

rugwithlegs
07-09-2015, 03:51 AM
I agree with measures for religious tolerance. It's a big part of what I think Aikido is about - reconciliation.

Is this likely derived from part of a Shinto and/or Japanese cultural ritual, yes.

Knowing O Sensei performed Misogi by standing under a waterfall, I would not decide my faith makes it a bad idea for me to stand under a waterfall, nor would I stop taking showers because it resembles a ritual that was part of his belief system.

An understanding of In/Yo or Japanese Yin and Yang has some very concrete benefits for martial artists; if a student was worried because the symbol made them think of religious Daoism, I would discourage that line of thought.

jonreading
07-09-2015, 08:27 AM
Aiki has nothing to do with religion. Aikido is a practice constructed on using aiki, so I do not believe it has a religious component. The founder was religious and used his personal experience to create a class structure. It is neither the first time, nor the last time, that religion has been the foundation of a social construct. Later, O Sensei gave us some instruction that aikido need not be a religious experience. Instead, he expressed his teaching as one of spiritual expression (the part of you that is not flesh and blood).

We clap. We do so out of respect for those who came before us who clapped as part of the ceremony of opening and closing the education process on the mat. It doesn't have religious significance because we are not Shintoist. That does not diminish its significance in creating a structured learning environment.

We do these things in the same way that we [ab]use our private Catholic schools. Does Catholic school have some relation to Catholicism? Sure. Are all students at a Catholic school Catholic? No. That does not diminish the role the Catholic Church played in helping to lay the foundation for a education process.

My aiki has nothing to do with the cloths I wear or the dojo I walk into or whether someones claps. Largely, I am training the opposite - to have aiki in everything I do, regardless of whether I am wearing pajamas or speaking terrible Japanese or in a room with mats so I can fall down comfortably.

That said, there are dojos that need to worship someone. There are dojos in which students need to know when they are expected to fall. There are dojos who do not have aiki and the pseudo-religion of aikido is a shield that buffers them from that fact.

Cliff Judge
07-09-2015, 09:02 AM
We clap. We do so out of respect for those who came before us who clapped as part of the ceremony of opening and closing the education process on the mat. It doesn't have religious significance because we are not Shintoist. That does not diminish its significance in creating a structured learning environment.

What if I told you that the act of clapping actually makes you a Shintoist, regardless of what you think is going on? :)

jonreading
07-09-2015, 10:42 AM
What if I told you that the act of clapping actually makes you a Shintoist, regardless of what you think is going on? :)

...it would certainly change the joke about atheism in a whorehouse.

As a sad observation, I think there is a component of people practicing aikido who feel they are doing aiki because they are in an aikido class. This is no more true than those of us who claimed we took geometry when all we really did was write notes to our friends during geometry class. My participation in a thing is not a direct reflection of my understanding of a thing.

Cliff Judge
07-09-2015, 10:49 AM
As a sad observation, I think there is a component of people practicing aikido who feel they are doing aiki because they are in an aikido class.

That's how we are at Saotome Sensei's dojo in DC actually. We pass on what we learn from him, and that's Aiki. Including the clapping, which is a Shinto practice though most of us don't think much about that, which is fine. :)

kewms
07-09-2015, 10:52 PM
We do these things in the same way that we [ab]use our private Catholic schools. Does Catholic school have some relation to Catholicism? Sure. Are all students at a Catholic school Catholic? No. That does not diminish the role the Catholic Church played in helping to lay the foundation for a education process.

Providing a *Catholic* education is the express purpose of Catholic schools. They expect all students to attend Mass on the premises on a regular basis, and Religion is a required subject. (Similarly for parochial schools sponsored by other religions.)

Katherine

jonreading
07-10-2015, 07:31 AM
Providing a *Catholic* education is the express purpose of Catholic schools. They expect all students to attend Mass on the premises on a regular basis, and Religion is a required subject. (Similarly for parochial schools sponsored by other religions.)

Katherine

Sure. Does that diminish the benefit of a private religious school? I don't think so.

No schools with which I have experience have ever required conversion to the religion in order to attend the school. Nor has any school with which I have experience implied my religion as evidenced by my participation in the school program. The point I was looking to make was: 1. That going through the motions does not make me a Catholic (contrary to some number of Catholics I know); 2. That components (religious in origin) do not lose their value if not observed as religion.

Going back to Shinto ceremony... I would argue the same points. My push-back is to be respectful of everyone and let those who participant decide whether they are doing something meaningful or just clapping their hands. But, we should be respectful of what we are doing and why, whether we believe it or not.

Cliff Judge
07-10-2015, 07:47 AM
1. That going through the motions does not make me a Catholic (contrary to some number of Catholics I know); 2. That components (religious in origin) do not lose their value if not observed as religion.

I actually had my Confirmation in 7th grade, my grandmother assured me before she passed away that this means I am permanently Catholic.

Some components don't even lose their RELIGIOUS value if not observed as religion.

lbb
07-10-2015, 11:12 AM
I actually had my Confirmation in 7th grade, my grandmother assured me before she passed away that this means I am permanently Catholic.

Some components don't even lose their RELIGIOUS value if not observed as religion.

So I suppose you also believe that the Church of LDS retroactively baptizing your ancestors makes them Mormon?

Cliff Judge
07-10-2015, 11:43 AM
So I suppose you also believe that the Church of LDS retroactively baptizing your ancestors makes them Mormon?

That's a good example of the kind of stuff I am talking about here. Some people are not Mormon and don't share most if any Mormon beliefs, but this REALLY offends them. So they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon, even though the rest of the faith may as well be garbage.

lbb
07-10-2015, 01:01 PM
That's a good example of the kind of stuff I am talking about here. Some people are not Mormon and don't share most if any Mormon beliefs, but this REALLY offends them. So they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon, even though the rest of the faith may as well be garbage.

They're offended, so therefore "they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon"? Based on what? There are plenty of other explanations that are equally plausible, if not more so. The outcome is not the only thing by which we judge actions: we also judge by intent. I consider it much more likely that the Supreme Being resembles a plate of spaghetti and meatballs (http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/flyingspaghettimonster.jpg) than the LDS church can "make the dead souls Mormon" by baptizing them, or anyone else who is not both present and consenting. What offends me is the sheer presumptuous crust of their thinking that they have some right to do so.

Your thinking in this thread seems much the same. You seem to think that because someone somewhere grants a spiritual or religious meaning to an action, it has the same meaning to others, including those who weren't even consulted.

Janet Rosen
07-10-2015, 11:31 PM
Your thinking in this thread seems much the same. You seem to think that because someone somewhere grants a spiritual or religious meaning to an action, it has the same meaning to others, including those who weren't even consulted.

Mary, thank you for the clarity in articulating what I have not quite been able to.

GMaroda
07-11-2015, 07:19 AM
Why do I feel like I'm stuck in an "atheists really do believe in God" argument?

kewms
07-12-2015, 12:32 AM
The group of humans who erected a particular shrine may believe that clapping awakens the resident spirit, and that a second clap receives that spirit's response back.

A tourist visiting the shrine may not believe that the resident spirit even exists. To this tourist, clapping or not clapping is simply a matter of respecting the local customs, with no religious content whatsoever. He'll clap if asked to do so, and won't think twice about it. The builders of the shrine may believe that he has paid respects to their deity, but he won't care.

Another tourist may believe that such spirits do exist, and that his own Deity of Choice forbids him to acknowledge them. This tourist will choose not to clap, will believe that the shrine builders are worshipping an idol, and will leave if told that clapping is required of all visitors.

But all of these are human beliefs. Neither the resident spirit of the shrine nor the tourist's Deity of Choice is available for direct consultation. The "right" answer is ultimately unknowable. Absent a miraculous demonstration of some kind, both the guests and the builders of the shrine will believe what they choose to believe and act accordingly.

Katherine

Carsten M÷llering
07-12-2015, 02:56 AM
A tourist visiting the shrine ...We, i.e. those who have commited themselvs to practice aikid˘, are no tourists. We have decided to not only visit the shrine, but to devote to it through our practice.
However someone thinks about aikid˘ being a religion, being a spiritual practice - or being nothing of that kind at all - there actually is a shrine: aiki jinja exists in Iwama. It enshrines the 43 (or 42, depends ...) kami of aikid˘. And it is not a historical shrine, but it is acitve, up to this it is the spiritual center of aikid˘. At least the aikid˘ that is following Ueshiba Morihei, represented by d˘shu and akikai so hombu.
Aiki jinja taisai 2012 (https://youtu.be/WN8WspDlzzk?t=37)

"aikid˘ wa misogi (desu)." You can read this as a metaphor. But misogi actually is not an arbitrary word. Ueshiba Morihei was very literate. He was well aware of other religions and of other ways of purification in other cultures. He choose aikid˘ to be misogi.

"It is said that the Floating Bridge of Heaven is the exchange of Fire and Water. Precisely in the form of a cross, it is the world of Fire and Water in harmony." This word of Ueshiba Morihei is using Daoist terminology. To be able to practice the exchange of fire and water you have to work with Daoist spirituality, if not, you will simply not get the meaning.

And so on ... it's and endless list.

I don't think, that it is crucial whether you clap your hands or not. But I think it's crucial to understand aikid˘ as a spiritual practice. Concretely coming from Shint˘, Daoism (ďmoto kyo actually is a compound of both as far as I understand) and Buddhism. It is clearly not simply spiritual in an general and abstract sense.

If this certain spirituality is not enshrined in one's practice, it may work very well and will be of great benefit! Nothing wrong with that!
But I'm pretty sure by now: It will lack the deeper layers that aikid˘ keiko is able to reveal.

mathewjgano
07-12-2015, 03:07 AM
Does your Dojo have clapping as a part of the opening ceremony?

https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/shinto-clapping-and-aikido/
Yes.

maybe I would not because again I don't want to be perceived to be something that I am not

I would find it interesting to hear how you were able to reconcile that into your training
I don't really care much about how I am perceived. I care about how I am. When I was in a Christian preschool I was taught that "He" will judge me based on what is in my heart above all other things; that my actions are only as good as the intent behind them such that even if I adhere to the forms prescribed by the clergy, it is still that which is in my heart which ultimately matters.
Speaking as someone who has been told similar things about being a "proper" Christian, as alluded to here, while also being a person who recognizes his ignorance/fallibility, I have had moments of doubt for whether or not I was somehow making the supposed source of all truth and virtue angry with me. I deferred to my lessons from preschool. I respect virtue/goodness and go about living according to that in the best way I know how. Presently that means not only clapping at a Shinto shrine, but chanting, too. A rose by any other name is still the same. I know not who is listening when I call to any given name, but my sons often call me mom; I know what they mean. In a similar way, I hope that if there is something listening, that such a being is more interested in whether or not I strive toward virtue (I mess it up all the time and ask forgiveness from whoever it may concern). This seems to have reconciled the issue pretty well for me.

JP3
07-12-2015, 09:30 AM
What Janet said, above.... ditto.

kewms
07-12-2015, 09:52 AM
We, i.e. those who have commited themselvs to practice aikid˘, are no tourists. We have decided to not only visit the shrine, but to devote to it through our practice.
However someone thinks about aikid˘ being a religion, being a spiritual practice - or being nothing of that kind at all - there actually is a shrine: aiki jinja exists in Iwama. It enshrines the 43 (or 42, depends ...) kami of aikid˘. And it is not a historical shrine, but it is acitve, up to this it is the spiritual center of aikid˘. At least the aikid˘ that is following Ueshiba Morihei, represented by d˘shu and akikai so hombu.
Aiki jinja taisai 2012 (https://youtu.be/WN8WspDlzzk?t=37)

I understand that this is what the people who erected the shrine at Iwama believe. But are you saying that the practice of aikido requires belief in those kami?

What does it mean to "work with" Daoist spirituality?

There are interpretations of, for example, Ueshiba Sensei's Floating Bridge, that are entirely grounded in observable physical phenomena. In my experience, those interpretations lead to physical effectiveness at least comparable to what those who depend on spiritual metaphors are able to achieve. One does not need to believe that storms mean the gods are arguing to appreciate the power of lightning.

Katherine

rugwithlegs
07-12-2015, 11:42 AM
The original question was about sitting in a gym, with a picture of O Sensei hung up between dance classes. No Shinto shrine is present, no religious ceremony was performed, only a picture downloaded from the Internet and printed off at the local Walmart and stuck in a cheap plastic frame. Do I clap four times as part of a religious ritual?

From Peter's comments above, Hombu Dojo does not clap, because they do not have a shrine in the dojo, but still have an alter-like thing at the front of the room. No alter, no Shinto clapping just because a class is starting.

There is an anecdote of O Sensei stopping by a roadside shrine and leaving without any ceremony saying there was nothing there - and it had been built for tourism not to enshrine a deity.

Other people want to clap in the gym above, fine. It's not a Shinto ceremony is being performed from the Shinto perspective because there is no deity present from the Shinto perspective. Meditation-is-over clap? Fine, it's not a Shinto practice.

Why are would anyone insist it is a religious practice even when the religion itself will not own the practice?

mathewjgano
07-12-2015, 03:08 PM
The original question was about sitting in a gym, with a picture of O Sensei hung up between dance classes. No Shinto shrine is present, no religious ceremony was performed, only a picture downloaded from the Internet and printed off at the local Walmart and stuck in a cheap plastic frame. Do I clap four times as part of a religious ritual?

From Peter's comments above, Hombu Dojo does not clap, because they do not have a shrine in the dojo, but still have an alter-like thing at the front of the room. No alter, no Shinto clapping just because a class is starting.

There is an anecdote of O Sensei stopping by a roadside shrine and leaving without any ceremony saying there was nothing there - and it had been built for tourism not to enshrine a deity.

Other people want to clap in the gym above, fine. It's not a Shinto ceremony is being performed from the Shinto perspective because there is no deity present from the Shinto perspective. Meditation-is-over clap? Fine, it's not a Shinto practice.

Why are would anyone insist it is a religious practice even when the religion itself will not own the practice?

The original question was (emphasis mine): "Does your Dojo have clapping as a part of the opening ceremony?" The blog's questions were:
I would love to hear your experience with clapping in a western Aikido dojo, how you find it and what your response to it is? If you choose to clap and are not a part of the Shinto religion, I would find it interesting to hear how you were able to reconcile that into your training, or if you simply don't consider it an issue at all?
In my reading of this, an "opening ceremony" could be anything from the purely non-religious, to the purely religious (and whatever points in between), so this leaves a lot of room for potential discussion, particularly since we're also dealing with individual semantics/meaning, which can vary greatly within any school's modality.
Since I train in a Shinto shrine, its rules probably have to take paramount importance for visitors. In a different setting, the rules are certainly different (based on the proclivities of the school). So training in a place without kamidana, means you might still call to whatever deity you adhere to. I would think that is purely a personal choice. Kamidana is a focal point, but it isn't the only place people can pray. Similarly, I would presume that something like a simple display of respect is also acceptible in a location that has kamidana. As one example, I know Unitarians who have taken part in (recieving) Shinto ceremonies. They do not adhere to Shinto (I spoke with one who said he didn't believe in any of it), but they took part in offering respects. To my mind it's more about what you bring than where you are and what form you're using. Sincerity and love are all that is ultimately required, in my inexpert opinion.
...I might not be speaking very clearly, because I'm multi-tasking, and I cannot stress enough that I am not an expert, but I should also add that some people do not consider Shinto to be the same kind of "religion" like Christianity is, and describe it more as akin to natural philosophy. I believe this is where O Sensei's comments about completing and perfecting religions comes into play.
“The Art of Peace is the religion that is not a religion; it perfects and completes all religions.”
I believe this stems from his views of Shinto.

Of course this says nothing about any given individual's feelings on the matter.
...I can see how Hombu might be trying to be more sensitive to people who feel uncomfortable bowing before kamidana. I couldn't speak to their purpose in this, but it would seem to make sense to me.

Peter Goldsbury
07-12-2015, 09:49 PM
...I can see how Hombu might be trying to be more sensitive to people who feel uncomfortable bowing before kamidana. I couldn't speak to their purpose in this, but it would seem to make sense to me.

Okumura Shienobu Shihan gave a fairly precise explanation about this in one of the early issues of 『合気道探求』, which is a bi-annual magazine published by the Aikikai. There were two occasions when dojo ornaments were removed because of supposed external reactions. One was in 1935, when the second Omoto incident occurred; the other was immediately after the war, when it was felt that anything even slightly redolent of ultra-nationalist Shinto (rightly or wrongly interpreted as such) would be frowned upon by the occupation authorities. It was Kisshomaru Ueshiba who made the decision to open up aikido and this was due to his desire to show aikido to the victors in World War II, on the grounds that there was still something good about Japanese culture. Since non-Japanese would not be expected to understand the prewar customs, which had ceased to be popular anyway, this was in no way thought to be problematic.

Ueshiba's comments about aikido being a religion and not a religion etc were based on Omoto doctrines and were only distantly related to Shinto as such, which is really a grab-bag of traditions, some invented some not, which were not even called 'Shinto' until much later on.

mathewjgano
07-13-2015, 09:10 AM
Okumura Shienobu Shihan gave a fairly precise explanation about this in one of the early issues of 『合気道探求』, which is a bi-annual magazine published by the Aikikai. There were two occasions when dojo ornaments were removed because of supposed external reactions. One was in 1935, when the second Omoto incident occurred; the other was immediately after the war, when it was felt that anything even slightly redolent of ultra-nationalist Shinto (rightly or wrongly interpreted as such) would be frowned upon by the occupation authorities. It was Kisshomaru Ueshiba who made the decision to open up aikido and this was due to his desire to show aikido to the victors in World War II, on the grounds that there was still something good about Japanese culture. Since non-Japanese would not be expected to understand the prewar customs, which had ceased to be popular anyway, this was in no way thought to be problematic.

Ueshiba's comments about aikido being a religion and not a religion etc were based on Omoto doctrines and were only distantly related to Shinto as such, which is really a grab-bag of traditions, some invented some not, which were not even called 'Shinto' until much later on.

Very interesting! Thank you for sharing your insights, Peter! As usual I have more heat than light to bring to the table. Is the grab-bag of traditions you're referring to the formation of the distinction of Shinto when Buddhism arrived or is this referring more to Omoto doctrines?
...I imagine the TIE articles would go pretty deeply into this...I think it's time I visited them more seriously.
Thank you again!

Cliff Judge
07-13-2015, 12:55 PM
They're offended, so therefore "they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon"? Based on what? There are plenty of other explanations that are equally plausible, if not more so. The outcome is not the only thing by which we judge actions: we also judge by intent. I consider it much more likely that the Supreme Being resembles a plate of spaghetti and meatballs (http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/flyingspaghettimonster.jpg) than the LDS church can "make the dead souls Mormon" by baptizing them, or anyone else who is not both present and consenting. What offends me is the sheer presumptuous crust of their thinking that they have some right to do so.

Your thinking in this thread seems much the same. You seem to think that because someone somewhere grants a spiritual or religious meaning to an action, it has the same meaning to others, including those who weren't even consulted.

I definitely believe this to be the case with Aikido and its religious underpinnings. You cannot choose to practice Aikido without participating in a religious activity. You can only choose whether or not it matters to you, personally. This has to do with the nature of the religion in question and the nature of what Aikido is.

Shinto is basically a behavioral religion. There is a clergy, there are various groups/cults that are more particular about how they admit members and what their spiritual journey is about, there are highly local customs and beliefs, and there are associations with ugly nationalism in modern times. But generally speaking, its a bunch of stuff you do. As opposed to the Abrahamic religions that we are more familiar with in the West and which shape our concept of religion itself even if we are not people of faith. Initiation is not important, just participation. Go to a shrine, wash your hands, lend the kami a coin, clap twice, make a wish - you are doing Shinto.

Now, when we step onto the Aikido mat the first time, do we do so with a complete understanding of what we are getting into? What is the full outline of our training experience, what exactly will we be learning, what will we come to understand later that we do not now? Of course not. We step onto the mat and begin a process that we do not fully understand, eager to learn new things. To change.

In other words, everybody gets into Aikido ASKING to participate in something they don't understand.

The koryu systems are heavily based on teaching the student in a way that their understanding of what they are doing and why is not of first-order importance. Aikido is not a koryu system but it certainly comes from the same pedagogical tradition. The student is trained to do things without the expectation that they understand exactly what they are doing. Some time after the movements are perfected, the student may begin to understand. Then, hopefully, they can apply technique freely if they're in a tight spot.

So furthermore, Aikido training requires us to engage in practice whose meaning we may not fully comprehend, hoping that it will cause changes in us that we may not be able to perceive in short intervals.

You are not required to profess a faith in Aikido or its religious underpinnings. If it is easy for you to just engage in dojo traditions without thinking about the metaphysical aspects, that's fine. (IMO good Aikido training will change you anyway.) But it also has no bearing on the simple fact that you are opening and closing your practice with a religious ceremony. If that bothers you, you shouldn't be doing it.

jdostie
07-13-2015, 05:38 PM
I definitely believe this to be the case with Aikido and its religious underpinnings. You cannot choose to practice Aikido without participating in a religious activity. You can only choose whether or not it matters to you, personally. This has to do with the nature of the religion in question and the nature of what Aikido is.

Shinto is basically a behavioral religion. There is a clergy, there are various groups/cults that are more particular about how they admit members and what their spiritual journey is about, there are highly local customs and beliefs, and there are associations with ugly nationalism in modern times. But generally speaking, its a bunch of stuff you do. As opposed to the Abrahamic religions that we are more familiar with in the West and which shape our concept of religion itself even if we are not people of faith. Initiation is not important, just participation. Go to a shrine, wash your hands, lend the kami a coin, clap twice, make a wish - you are doing Shinto.

Now, when we step onto the Aikido mat the first time, do we do so with a complete understanding of what we are getting into? What is the full outline of our training experience, what exactly will we be learning, what will we come to understand later that we do not now? Of course not. We step onto the mat and begin a process that we do not fully understand, eager to learn new things. To change.

In other words, everybody gets into Aikido ASKING to participate in something they don't understand.

The koryu systems are heavily based on teaching the student in a way that their understanding of what they are doing and why is not of first-order importance. Aikido is not a koryu system but it certainly comes from the same pedagogical tradition. The student is trained to do things without the expectation that they understand exactly what they are doing. Some time after the movements are perfected, the student may begin to understand. Then, hopefully, they can apply technique freely if they're in a tight spot.

So furthermore, Aikido training requires us to engage in practice whose meaning we may not fully comprehend, hoping that it will cause changes in us that we may not be able to perceive in short intervals.

You are not required to profess a faith in Aikido or its religious underpinnings. If it is easy for you to just engage in dojo traditions without thinking about the metaphysical aspects, that's fine. (IMO good Aikido training will change you anyway.) But it also has no bearing on the simple fact that you are opening and closing your practice with a religious ceremony. If that bothers you, you shouldn't be doing it.

I'll have to disagree with this. Intent is key in the exercise of religion.

From a Christian perspective - 1 Corinthians chapter 8:5-11 come to mind.
It's possible that this could be used as a rationalization, but I don't think so, I don't think I am participating in a religious practice, nor do I think that those around me think I am. (Present company excluded).

Moreover, if I then tell you that I am placing no religious value in what I am doing, that should hold.
Now, if, on the other hand your position is that in practicing certain traditions (clapping), the goal of the dojo is to proselytize, well, I may have to rethink quite a few things (assuming that's actually true with dojos other than your own, or ASU dojos (of which I am a member) in general).

Garth Jones
07-13-2015, 06:02 PM
I'll have to disagree with this. Intent is key in the exercise of religion.

From a Christian perspective - 1 Corinthians chapter 8:5-11 come to mind.
It's possible that this could be used as a rationalization, but I don't think so, I don't think I am participating in a religious practice, nor do I think that those around me think I am. (Present company excluded).

Moreover, if I then tell you that I am placing no religious value in what I am doing, that should hold.
Now, if, on the other hand your position is that in practicing certain traditions (clapping), the goal of the dojo is to proselytize, well, I may have to rethink quite a few things (assuming that's actually true with dojos other than your own, or ASU dojos (of which I am a member) in general).

I'll second this. If I am, say, at a wedding in a Christian church and the pastor instructs everybody to stand while he offers a prayer and I stand too, am I by definition doing something Christian? Well, not in my mind since I am not of that faith and do not believe in God. My intent, at that moment is to be polite and respectful.

Likewise, if I clap when I bow in my class and offer a prayer to the kami of the dojo, then sure, I am doing something Shinto. On the other hand, if I clap as a way to call class to order and settle everybody, and because I think it's kind of a cool tradition, then I'm really not doing anything religious, at least not in my own mind. And ultimately, that's all that matters, I think, when it comes to issues of faith.

Cheers,
Garth

Peter Goldsbury
07-13-2015, 06:09 PM
Very interesting! Thank you for sharing your insights, Peter! As usual I have more heat than light to bring to the table. Is the grab-bag of traditions you're referring to the formation of the distinction of Shinto when Buddhism arrived or is this referring more to Omoto doctrines?
...I imagine the TIE articles would go pretty deeply into this...I think it's time I visited them more seriously.
Thank you again!

Hello Matthew,

Well, yes. I have written extensively about this in TIE articles and do not intend to repeat myself here.

When considering Shinto one needs to remember several points.
1. The Japanese did not have a word for religion until after the 1850s. Religion was a new word for them, because Western powers insisted that freedom to practice what it meant was a condition for having trade relations with them.
2. Many studies of Japanese 'religion' are based on Western models of what a religion should be like. This is because much of postwar research on Japan has been led by European and American scholars, who appear to have had a certain frame of reference. Because what was called Shinto did not fit this frame, the Japanese have been censured for being confused about their religious practices.
Evidence of this confusion is sometimes cited, as, for example, the Japanese practice of following Buddhist, 'pre-Buddhist' and Christian practices all at the same time. In response to the comment that you cannot believe three religions at the same time, my Japanese students usually smile or shrug. A good example of this thinking comes in the film The Life of Pi, when Pi Patel's father talks to Pi about behaving rationally in religious matters.
3. A consequence is that Shinto is often (wrongly) called 'Japan's indigenous religion', which existed before other 'religions' arrived. This was usually done to mark it off from Buddhism, which was a 'real' religion, like Christianity and Hinduism. However, Shinto was assumed to be a 'real' religion. This way of thinking is anachronistic and makes unwarranted assumptions based on later religious models.

To argue that following a particular religious practice means that one is doing something more than simply performing an action is not correct. This depends on what constitutes a religious practice and what is the significance of that practice for the adherents who follow it. 'Intent' might be a factor here, but not necessarily.

The OP also assumes without any further thought that the clapping at the beginning of aikido practice is 'Shinto' clapping.

Best wishes,

JP3
07-13-2015, 07:24 PM
What if the class, as we do... or rather do not do to be more gramattically correct... do not clap at all?

My class is not insulted - or at least they don't express it to me - because we don't clap. I would postulate that they don't clap because I don't clap, and I don't clap as my instructors don't clap, and their instructors didn't clap before them.

As I trace my.... hmmmm lineage, if you will, from O-Sensei, there's him, the O-Sensei guy with all his personality trats which made him the person and genius martial artist he was. I presume that he clapped as described, though I doubt if anyone on this board actually "knows" that he did it all the time every time, as non of us were there. Video does not count, y'all. But let's assume it was his thing as has been reported.

So, O-Sensei claps prior to class in one manner or another. I presume Kenji Tomiki was present during this? Did he just toss it out because of the background he had when he came to train? I imagine that the phys-ed/judo stuff he had in his head when he went may have, if not conflicted with Shinto observance at least sort of strayed? I don't know, do people in gym class/judo class in Japan go through such clapping rituals prior to a standard workout? Knowing judo, somehow I doubt it.

Tomiki Sensei conveyed his art to Karl Geis personally and though various instructors (Ms. Miyaki, Riki Kogure (spelling always messes me up here) etc. I know from that group of Sensei Geis' students that they didn't do clapping..... so I didn't do clapping, so my class doesn't do clapping.

So, are we not doing aikido because we simply start class with a different sort of centering tradition to our practice?

kewms
07-13-2015, 10:54 PM
I definitely believe this to be the case with Aikido and its religious underpinnings. You cannot choose to practice Aikido without participating in a religious activity.

Sorry to be so blunt, but this is ridiculous.

A picture of O Sensei is hanging in a gym, somewhere in the United States.

None of the assembled students speaks Japanese, has ever been to Japan, or has any knowledge of Shinto practices. Neither does the teacher. The teacher bows and claps because his teacher did, and he likes the way doing so creates a "separate" space. The students do because they are following the teacher.

And yet, by participating in an activity that some people thousands of miles away consider to be religious, these people are inextricably involved in a religious practice, despite having no knowledge or intent to do so?

Ridiculous. If the gym happens to be oriented so that the students are facing Mecca, does this mean that they have become Muslims as well as Shinto practitioners?

Katherine

rugwithlegs
07-14-2015, 04:45 AM
If I cross myself entering a Catholic Church, I guess I am acknowledging a religious function though I am not Catholic. I was raised Methodist.

My parents had me circumcised at birth and I prefer my cheeseburgers and pizza without bacon. I am still not Jewish in my eyes, nor the local Rabbi's.

I'll look for the TIE articles, I remember reading one of them some time ago.

Inushishi
07-14-2015, 05:52 AM
[...]
And yet, by participating in an activity that some people thousands of miles away consider to be religious, these people are inextricably involved in a religious practice, despite having no knowledge or intent to do so?

Ridiculous. If the gym happens to be oriented so that the students are facing Mecca, does this mean that they have become Muslims as well as Shinto practitioners?
[...]

Yes, from a Shint˘ standpoint pretty much.(answer to the first question)
Atleast for Tenshin Sh˘den Katori Shint˘-ryű this holds true.
We clap and bow to a Kamidana were Futsunushi no Mikoto is enshrined.
I am pretty sure that the most people who start training with us don't know they're participating in Shint˘ until they ask. And sometimes it lasts months till they ask what they are doing.

Also facing Mecca and bowing doesn't turn you into a Muslim.
Reciting the schahada officially does.
But for Shint˘, just Ni rei, ni hakushu ippai is enough.

Cliff Judge
07-14-2015, 08:40 AM
Folks seem to be holding to an understanding of religion - in particular, that initiation and profession of faith are the core element to one's religious life - that is very Western-centric here.

None of these comparisons to Catholicism or Islam fit because those religions are based on you willfully giving yourself to them. Saying that when you do a Shinto rite you aren't doing anything religious in nature because you don't profess a faith in Shinto kami is a miscategorization. If you can't think outside of the judeo-christian box, sure it will seem ridiculous.

jonreading
07-14-2015, 11:53 AM
Folks seem to be holding to an understanding of religion - in particular, that initiation and profession of faith are the core element to one's religious life - that is very Western-centric here.

None of these comparisons to Catholicism or Islam fit because those religions are based on you willfully giving yourself to them. Saying that when you do a Shinto rite you aren't doing anything religious in nature because you don't profess a faith in Shinto kami is a miscategorization. If you can't think outside of the judeo-christian box, sure it will seem ridiculous.

I do hold a Western religious perspective, but I also distinguish faith from ritual from religion. In an earlier post, I distinguished participating in a ritual from a proclamation of faith. To your point about confirmation, presumably you willfully entered into a proclamation of faith witnessed during a ritual. Your willful participation differentiating between your confirmation of faith and simply going through the motions. Obviously, if you don't believe in God, you're not a Catholic. As I understand Shinto, it does not have a strong distinguishing element between going through the motions and professing one's faith in the religion. Rather, I think is a general point of confusion, even among the Japanese (whether one practices Shinto as opposed to simply observing/participating in ritual).

You used the term action-based to describe participation in Shinto rituals, but I am not sure participation is equivalent to a profession of faith. It may also be true that an Eastern-centric perspective on Shinto should not be applied to Western religions. For me, its sounds equally ridiculous to exclaim that participating in a Shinto ritual is a profession of faith as a Shintoist. As soon as you label something a "religion" you are juxtaposing it against the chosen religion of your students and entertaining the conflict that arises from that relation.

None of this is to diminish the relevance of religion in our lives nor the place of Shinto in Japanese arts. I think Carsten made the best point I have read - that the essential teachings of O Sensei are wrapped up in his spiritual understanding of aiki. That we should spend [more] time debating if we clap in class is maybe an observation of our priorities with regard to how deeply we want to look at spiritual commitment to our training and the crazy things the old man said...

kewms
07-15-2015, 01:21 AM
Folks seem to be holding to an understanding of religion - in particular, that initiation and profession of faith are the core element to one's religious life - that is very Western-centric here.

None of these comparisons to Catholicism or Islam fit because those religions are based on you willfully giving yourself to them. Saying that when you do a Shinto rite you aren't doing anything religious in nature because you don't profess a faith in Shinto kami is a miscategorization. If you can't think outside of the judeo-christian box, sure it will seem ridiculous.

Oh, I have no doubt that a Shinto adherent would say that I am participating in a Shinto rite. My point is that what they think is irrelevant to me, precisely *because* my understanding of religion is judeo-christian.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
07-15-2015, 12:32 PM
Oh, I have no doubt that a Shinto adherent would say that I am participating in a Shinto rite. My point is that what they think is irrelevant to me, precisely *because* my understanding of religion is judeo-christian.

Katherine

As long as you recognize the box you think in, my job here is done. :)

JP3
07-15-2015, 06:51 PM
Cliff, methinks your "job" was to simply wind people up.

Sojourner
07-16-2015, 07:39 AM
Love this Shinto picture - https://www.facebook.com/bonsaistyle/photos/a.1425851527700241.1073741829.1421724071446320/1623619647923427/?type=1&theater

Erick Mead
07-16-2015, 08:53 AM
Folks seem to be holding to an understanding of religion - in particular, that initiation and profession of faith are the core element to one's religious life - that is very Western-centric here.

None of these comparisons to Catholicism or Islam fit because those religions are based on you willfully giving yourself to them. Saying that when you do a Shinto rite you aren't doing anything religious in nature because you don't profess a faith in Shinto kami is a miscategorization. If you can't think outside of the judeo-christian box, sure it will seem ridiculous.
Hakushu is subject to a pretty wide field of intent and meaning even in Shinto (http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=800). But to a 'western-centric' such as myself -- the Church has long recognized key degrees in forms of reverence: Doulia is veneration of any person, thing, or even an occasion that is sufficiently high or worthy of an expression of deep respect and appreciation, as opposed to latria, which is worship in fact -- reserved only to God.

By expression of doulia in the Shinto context of hakushu, I give respect to those high things (kami) properly worthy of my respect -- while reserving from the occasion any sense of worship, which is not proper.

Robert Cowham
07-16-2015, 03:04 PM
I had an interesting experience with a shinto priest who was lecturing to me and a Japanese training partner about Shinto and Christianity. The Japanese guy could explain more things off the bat about Christianity than he could about Shintoism! And yet he was a believer in Shinto...

Erick Mead
07-16-2015, 04:14 PM
I had an interesting experience with a shinto priest who was lecturing to me and a Japanese training partner about Shinto and Christianity. The Japanese guy could explain more things off the bat about Christianity than he could about Shintoism! And yet he was a believer in Shinto...In fairness to the nature of Shinto -- Shinto has mythic history and experiential but not doctrinal teaching -- the tales and the rites are the thing -- not the analysis. Christianity possesses mythic history, and both doctrinal as well as experiential elements. Christianity's oft criticized and often violent debates about the finer points of doctrine -- are part and parcel of its less fluid and more stable character of development over these two millennia of many forms of dissension. Shinto has been more fluid in its development over a much shorter period of time. Feature or bug -- your call.

Shinto, as I have seen it, does not seek to proclaim an eternal cosmic truth of individual human significance -- but rather to bring what is lower into right relationship to what is higher, and to order all things in all circumstances according to their nature, irrespective of the things being viewed otherwise as good, bad or indifferent.

kewms
07-17-2015, 12:35 AM
I had an interesting experience with a shinto priest who was lecturing to me and a Japanese training partner about Shinto and Christianity. The Japanese guy could explain more things off the bat about Christianity than he could about Shintoism! And yet he was a believer in Shinto...

Christianity belongs to a long tradition that believes in categorizing and analyzing things. Shinto does not. While this makes Christianity superficially easy to "explain," there are Christian mystics, too, and they would probably agree that the pointing finger is not the moon.

Katherine

Carsten M÷llering
07-18-2015, 02:19 AM
I understand that this is what the people who erected the shrine at Iwama believe. But are you saying that the practice of aikido requires belief in those kami? Um, in the first place I'm just saying, that there are those 42 (43) kami of aikid˘. When you take a look at aikid˘ they are simply part of the picture. I think, we have to accept them in which way ever. If we only cut them out of the picture, we destroy it. Whatever that actually means.

Right from the beginning (nearly) up to this day there exists an aiki shrine. Just like there is a katori shrine or a kashima shrine we also have a shrine as the center of our ryű. aiki jinja simply is there. And it is in use, it's "active". Our d˘shu, our shihan, our sempai, maybe we ourselves attende ˘omoto ceremonies there.
It happens. It exists. Whatever that means actually means to you.

I think, we simply have to deal with this part of the picture. It is there. Whether we like that or not.
I practice with teachers who clap. And with teachers who don't.
I practice with teachers who practice shint˘. And with teachers who don't.

It is my experiences that ikkyo is ikkyo all the time. But I think there is a deeper layer of practice.
And it is my experience that what is eventually conveyed by practicing this same ikkyo depends on those deeper layers.

What does it mean to "work with" Daoist spirituality?

There are interpretations of, for example, Ueshiba Sensei's Floating Bridge, that are entirely grounded in observable physical phenomena. ....It is my experience that doing the "ten of ten" e.g. - and the body work we practice in general - does not only lead to physical effectiveness. But that it also leads to a state of inner calmness, of sereness. (I have one student who is practicing opening to six directions explicetly in stressfull situations to become calm.)

I presume, everyone who practices knowst these "sideeffects". Daoism explains why that is so. And it helps the practioner - if he or she wants to - to work with those effects. Here also a deeper layer exists. One does not need to work with that, but if one is interested to understand and to go on with that, it helps to learn about Daoism.

Well, in-yo-ho simply is a daoist term, it is daoist thinking. Moving by intent stems from Daoist thinking.
To merge fire and water is the the thema of Daoist internal alchemy.

And so on.

No. I don't think that someone has to believe in whatever to really do aikid˘.
But. I think it opens up one's world to be able to see the whole picture, to examine the deeper layers, to try to understand what they are meant to convey.
Simply that.

And then ...
... it is my experience that the ikkyo of practioners who acutally have access to those deeper layers becomes different ...
But this I can't put in clear words. Simply my experience that eventaully you can feel, experience these deeper layers very concrete.

Robert Cowham
07-18-2015, 03:07 PM
In fairness to the nature of Shinto -- Shinto has mythic history and experiential but not doctrinal teaching -- the tales and the rites are the thing -- not the analysis. Christianity possesses mythic history, and both doctrinal as well as experiential elements. Christianity's oft criticized and often violent debates about the finer points of doctrine -- are part and parcel of its less fluid and more stable character of development over these two millennia of many forms of dissension. Shinto has been more fluid in its development over a much shorter period of time. Feature or bug -- your call.

Indeed - this was the explanation - there are no doctrinal texts. And further elaborated by others - Japanese tend to "follow along" and Shinto feelings are absorbed over a period of time (osmosis).

The Shinto priest mentioned that many Japanese follow Shinto rights in early years (for example with certain children's milestones such as 5/7 years old), have a Christian marriage, and a Buddhist funeral! But they may have a Shinto shrine in their home throughout their lives...

There are pros and cons for both approaches. And I see them replayed in the world of learning aikido (or other budo).

JohnSeavitt
07-18-2015, 10:18 PM
Katherine -

Hello. I'm curious - I never trained there in Boston, but did discuss with Gleason on a couple of occasions regarding his thinking on the strength of connection between his understanding and practice of kotodama and his technique. He was quite definitive that the former was essential, at least for him. Would you care to comment on your experience in this regard? This is a bit off-topic, of course, and I'm not driving in any regard in the direction of suggesting that there's any sort of broad and mandatory co-experience of Shinto and aiki, or Ueshiba's aikido.

Regards,
John

JP3
07-19-2015, 10:35 AM
Katherine, I think I want to change my signature to: "Do not confuse the pointing finger with the Moon."

Excellent! Were you quoting Bruce, or reaching in another direction?

kewms
07-19-2015, 10:39 PM
Katherine -

Hello. I'm curious - I never trained there in Boston, but did discuss with Gleason on a couple of occasions regarding his thinking on the strength of connection between his understanding and practice of kotodama and his technique. He was quite definitive that the former was essential, at least for him. Would you care to comment on your experience in this regard? This is a bit off-topic, of course, and I'm not driving in any regard in the direction of suggesting that there's any sort of broad and mandatory co-experience of Shinto and aiki, or Ueshiba's aikido.

Regards,
John

I think Gleason Sensei's books are the definitive exposition of his thoughts in this regard. I wouldn't care to speculate beyond that.

Probably the most important thing to realize about Gleason Sensei is that both his understanding of aikido and his teaching methods are in a constant state of evolution. He's still learning and growing, and as a result anything that he tells you is subject to change as his own understanding changes.

He just taught an entire weekend seminar out here, and didn't mention kotodama once. On other occasions, he has tied specific sounds very explicitly to specific movements/energies. In my experience, he incorporates whatever tools seem to be the most effective in conveying whatever he is trying to teach to the specific group of students present on the mat.

Katherine

kewms
07-19-2015, 10:42 PM
Katherine, I think I want to change my signature to: "Do not confuse the pointing finger with the Moon."

Excellent! Were you quoting Bruce, or reaching in another direction?

I think the observation about the finger and the moon is centuries old, Bruce Lee just made it famous. But yes, that's the direction in which I was, uh, pointing.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
07-20-2015, 11:59 AM
Cliff, methinks your "job" was to simply wind people up.

I apologize for that.

kewms
07-20-2015, 02:46 PM
It is my experience that doing the "ten of ten" e.g. - and the body work we practice in general - does not only lead to physical effectiveness. But that it also leads to a state of inner calmness, of sereness. (I have one student who is practicing opening to six directions explicetly in stressfull situations to become calm.)

Calmness and serenity are measurable physical states. Brain waves can be measured. Serotonin levels can be measured. And so forth. The benefits of meditation appear to be independent of the God Concept (if any) held as sacred by the meditator.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
07-21-2015, 11:06 AM
Calmness and serenity are measurable physical states. Brain waves can be measured. Serotonin levels can be measured. And so forth. The benefits of meditation appear to be independent of the God Concept (if any) held as sacred by the meditator.

Katherine

Mind, intent, and consciousness are no more measurable than a God Concept. Calmness, serenity, serotonin, and brainwaves can all exist without anybody "meaning" them.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but you could take all the nutrients out of a plate full of steak, potatoes, and veggies and offer them, if not in powdered form, at least as some type of brownish jelly.

Fred Little
07-21-2015, 03:57 PM
And not to put too fine a point on it, but you could take all the nutrients out of a plate full of steak, potatoes, and veggies and offer them, if not in powdered form, at least as some type of brownish jelly.

Do it well, and you're Ferran AdriÓ. Of course, it's not easy to be Ferran AdriÓ. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/business/ferran-adria-the-former-el-bulli-chef-is-now-serving-up-creative-inquiry.html)

Carsten M÷llering
07-23-2015, 03:10 AM
. The benefits of meditation appear to be independent of the God Concept (if any) held as sacred by the meditator.It is my personal experience that the specific results of a certain way of meditation or more precisely of a certain spiritual practice are totally dependent of the concept behind that technique.

But I didn't mean to start a discussion whether at all there exist things that are not "measurable" in a scientific sense. If your don't need that dimension, it works for me.