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DGLinden
05-19-2003, 08:14 AM
This question came up after class. Since the spiritual mandate in Aikido requires us to '"Foster and protect all life", OSensei', and despite the varying degrees of interpretation, (Please save the spirtual discussions for that forum) can an individual who is essentially an evil person, and I mean a bad guy, come on the mat, gain rank, start a dojo, and be considered to be doing Aikido? We're talking no morals here. Steals from his students, trys to bed all the women students, likes to hurt people. A bad guy. Is what he does on the mat, Aikido?

It is a question.

jaxonbrown
05-19-2003, 08:24 AM
I'd say the training is aikido technique but it's not aikido spirit and thus not "the way." So i guess it IS aikido but it's NOT aikido. Does the flag move or the wind move?

<ponders>

MikeE
05-19-2003, 08:31 AM
We have discussed this at length with my aikido compatriots.

Have you ever noticed that some people's aikido is bright and vibrant feeling and looking, some is utilitarian, and so on, and so on. I have run across people (2 of very high rank) that have sapped the energy from me (the energy vampire) and their aikido felt dark.

It may not be "The Way". But, it seems to be a way.

happysod
05-19-2003, 09:01 AM
If what they do on the mat are recognisable aikido techniques/applications then yes, she/he's doing aikido. I

(Thanks for keeping the question confined to within a dojo situation)

taras
05-19-2003, 09:17 AM
Aikido changes people. It is hard to tell if an 'evil' person is trying to brcome better. He or she might have been a lot worse when they started the practice. All people are different but Aikido, without a doubt, helps on the way to become a better person.

Hanna B
05-19-2003, 09:25 AM
Without a doubt? Is that so?

I must respectfully disagree. Plus, the ugliest acts in aikido I have seen was in an environment where people belived that "development in aikido is to improve in attitude towards all kinds of people one meets on and outside of the tatami". Big warnings signs for people who confuse aikido and religion.

opherdonchin
05-19-2003, 09:37 AM
I've come across the sentence: "A person's progress in Aikido's path should be judged not by any absolute standard but relative to what they would have been if they had not taken up Aikido." Of course, you can't know, but I liked the idea.

DGLinden
05-19-2003, 11:42 AM
Ian,

Thanks for finding this point and bringing it forward. Is Aikido 'technique', or is it the combination of technique and a particualar cosmology framed in ethical standards? Sorry, but if we insist on naming and defining it I am curious where we can place the black and white line.

I've known despicable individuals who taught Aikido, but did they practice it?

Dave Miller
05-19-2003, 01:03 PM
By what standard would you consider a person evil? How many "bad things" does a person need to do before they are called "evil"? What seperates that "evil" person from you and I? I know that you said to leave the "spiritual" discussion to that forum but you asked a spiritual question. Before we can even begin to discuss it, we have to know what you mean by an "evil person" and why that person is different from you an I (assuming that we're not "evil").

Don_Modesto
05-19-2003, 03:26 PM
...can an individual who is essentially an evil person, and I mean a bad guy, come on the mat, gain rank, start a dojo, and be considered to be doing Aikido? We're talking no morals here. Steals from his students, trys to bed all the women students, likes to hurt people. A bad guy. Is what he does on the mat, Aikido?
Hi, Dan!

We pardoned R. Nixon--are we a nation where all are equal under the law?

We convened a war crimes tribunal (against Churchill's preference for executive decision in the execution of the criminals), tried and executed Yamashita for horrors commited by his subordinates and Tojo for crimes against humanity. Nobody above Lt. William Calley went to prison or died for My Lai; Kissinger remains unindicted for the illegal killings of thousands in Laos and Cambodia. Are we a law-abiding nation?

Is this kind of question really even answerable? The horror: "No cat! No cradle!"

shihonage
05-19-2003, 03:27 PM
Poop.

Hanna B
05-19-2003, 04:02 PM
can an individual who is essentially an evil person, and I mean a bad guy, come on the mat, gain rank, start a dojo, and be considered to be doing Aikido? We're talking no morals here. Steals from his students, trys to bed all the women students, likes to hurt people. A bad guy. Is what he does on the mat, Aikido?

It is a question.Yes.

DGLinden
05-19-2003, 04:58 PM
Hi Don,

Really, why don't you quit pussy-footing around and tell us what you really think.

Look, we know what bad means. We see a guy, likes to hug all the girls... girls (women)leave the dojo crying, money disappears, bones get broken with the response, 'Well if you could just take the time to learn how to take ukime..." .Words mean something and actions mean as much or more. That being said...

How about if the guy screws his Sensei for big money (Your Sensei)? How about if he brings the Law into the dojo (charges of rape or sexual assault)? How about permanent damage to someone's body (broken bones or worse)? Still doing Aikido?

Or is the question this...

Whatever a person does on the mat, done in an Aiki-like mind, does this mean that he is a person who is capable of teaching Aikido? Regardless that his intent is to use the dojo for a source of ill-gotten money, gullble women who can be taken advatage of, and available bodies to abuse in training and to practice on with disregard to their feelings and level?

Clear now? If what you say is true Hanna,

Then where is the spirtual mandate?

Hanna B
05-19-2003, 05:42 PM
If what you say is true Hanna,

Then where is the spirtual mandate?For me that is simple: I do not believe there is one.

Having that said: let's take a priest who abuses children. Horrible actions, yes. But can you or me say for sure that God did not choose this person as his tool concerning other parts of this individual's doings?

(In worst case, I have now destroyed this thread completely... with the tons of angry comments I will get.)

DCP
05-19-2003, 07:26 PM
Everyone is evil. Everyone is good. Most are able to contain evil thoughts before acting on them. Others are not. We are all on a spectrum with nobody on either end (nobody is absolutely one or the other).

If someone is brutal, takes money, and does other horrific things while doing aikido-like techniques, let's just call it hapkido (I am only joking here).

Seriously, can we fall back on the seven virtues as the benchmark of a "real" aikidoka? Or is this too subjective as well?

Jeff R.
05-19-2003, 08:59 PM
I have to go with what Dave said in post #9. How does one measure evil and good? Evil to one is good to another etc., so what is the template? What is that thing against which we can determine who is good or evil, and therefore, who is practicing the true virtue of Aikido PHILOSOPHY?

The techniques may appear similar--good or evil behind them--but without the philosophy in practice, they are not the same. In fact, MikeE said it beautifully in post #3. Without understanding the philosophy behind the techniques and applying it accordingly, there is no positive "magic" in them. It's important to remember that Aikido isn't just something to do after work, if taken seriously, it's a way of life.

So I would have to say "no," he is not doing true Aikido, but only some semblance of Aikido techniques.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-19-2003, 09:49 PM
I recommend reading the linked E. Amdur article in another current thread, if people haven't. What he said resonated with me. I think blowing up Aikido into something too big creates a climate favorable to what is here being cited as an 'evil' abuse of authoritative positions in the hierarchical structure. If so, those who categorically eschew such behavior as not Aikido or not "the Way" may be unwittingly participating in what they are trying to condemn.

Personally, I have always run into serious frustration and emotional trouble when I tried to blow Aikido up into something of too much import or significance in my life. Right now, I have a much less satisfying Aikido situation in a small club than I used to have when I was at a thriving dojo with high-ranking instructors. Yet, I feel much better about it and what it means in the larger context of my life because I am not overly attached to it. I find it interesting that the word "hobby" was coming up in my own mind in a non-derogatory way, just as Mr. Amdur has described it.

I'm not sure how much it has to do with Aikido, but I have found a sort of equanimity/neutrality/libertarianism of spirit rising in my life in the past couple of years that has made most things in life more satisfying, including Aikido. As subjects or situations become more abstracted from my own experience or personal involvement, they become more just something to be neutrally absorbed, and those that are immediate are more subject to appropriate and passionate improvisation.

So, in the case of the terminological distinctions regarding the hypothetical individuals involved, I have no opinion. If you make it specific, create a scenario and put me there, maybe I'll have one. Show don't tell. The real question is not about linguistic hairsplitting or making judgements, but when you are on the scene, what are you going to do about it? Does percolating elaborate plans or postitions prepare you to respond more appropriately? If not, why bother?

shadow
05-19-2003, 10:18 PM
evil and good are only relative. someone i consider evil may be considered good to someone who is infintely more evil.

someone i consider good may be considered evil to someone who is infinetely more good.

how can we define evil and good actions?

we have a set of morals on which we place the terms evil and good, but these terms are broken in the natural environment. can we see animals as being good and evil? for we are only animals with behavioural charactersitics and morphology that causes us to be a different species.

i saw a documentary in which two male adult dolphins attempted to rape a female calf of a different species. is this evil? .... it is evil by our standards, but by the dolphins standards it is a natural part of life.

other species kill for food, or even kill their own species for a mate.

we think we have a choice when it comes to being good and evil, but perhaps these good and evil parts are just characteristics imbedded in our animal behaviour? too often we consider ourselves above the animals yet this line of thinking is wrong.

i have no answer to share but my own personal opinion which i have humbly learnt only exists in the realm of me and my universe, which is not the same as yours.

Misogi-no-Gyo
05-19-2003, 10:31 PM
I think that we may not all know what "good" is. However, we all know what bad is. Bad is present when you notice that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you meet up with something that is simply "WRONG." It doesn't matter what anyone tells you, or tries to sell you on - you know that it is still WRONG.

O-Sensei said that there are no techniques in Aikido, but rather that Aikido is a set of principles through which all techniques manifest themselves. Takemusu Aiki would be the "spiritual" interpretation of this understanding. With that in mind, it is easy to see that I can slap a person in the face, knocking them down and bloodying their lip, and it may or may not be from a place of aiki. There are absolutely no absolutes. However, there is really no way to interpret the thinking behind an action unless you understand the heart of the individual in question.

On my last visit to Japan, this past November, Seiseki Abe Sensei spent a considerable amount of time trying to impart, on a very deep level, an understanding of what O-Sensei meant was and still is Aikido. My understanding is that seeing into the heart of your partner, opponent or enemy is where to begin looking. Without this component in one's training, aikido simply does not exist. For example - A compulsive thief steals. However, this person may truly want to stop and still be at a point where he steals, cheats, lies, ...etc. As aikidoka, our hope lies in our ability to seek, discover and nurture this individual's desire and ability to be at and act through his highest intentions. Call it what you like, but anything less is spiritually empty, new age packaged Ju-jitsu, nothing more.

If those of us who claim to lead others along on the path simply spent our time with only the morally correct individuals in our society, who, then, will reach out and into the hearts of those less bound to our way of thinking. All we would then end up with is more crime, more fear and more prisons - or in other words our current state of affairs.

Jeff R.
05-20-2003, 07:51 AM
evil and good are only relative. someone i consider evil may be considered good to someone who is infintely more evil.

someone i consider good may be considered evil to someone who is infinetely more good.

how can we define evil and good actions?
I agree.
we have a set of morals on which we place the terms evil and good, but these terms are broken in the natural environment. can we see animals as being good and evil? for we are only animals with behavioural charactersitics and morphology that causes us to be a different species.

i saw a documentary in which two male adult dolphins attempted to rape a female calf of a different species. is this evil? .... it is evil by our standards, but by the dolphins standards it is a natural part of life.

other species kill for food, or even kill their own species for a mate.
The thing is in Nature, there is no good or evil. Good and evil are only human concepts. In nature there are only positive, neutral, and negative, but they do not necessarily imply good or evil.

I highly doubt that the dolphins were attempting to "rape" the calf--a common habit of humans is to assign our own values and definitions on other animals and things in order to personify and aid in identifying similarities.

There was a documentary a long time ago that spoke of "homosexuality" in wolves, because males would mount other males.

It turned out that it was simply part of the hierarchal development--a dominant male subverting an inferior male. No "homosexuality;" just another personification.
we think we have a choice when it comes to being good and evil, but perhaps these good and evil parts are just characteristics imbedded in our animal behaviour? too often we consider ourselves above the animals yet this line of thinking is wrong.
I totally agree here, but in a spiritual way. There is positive energy and negative energy out there, and it has to be split into billions of entities--including humans. It makes sense that some may have more of one than the other.

And we are definitely not above the animals; they have many attributes far superior to ours. We are only different.
i have no answer to share but my own personal opinion which i have humbly learnt only exists in the realm of me and my universe, which is not the same as yours.
Your universe is just as big as mine, though.

DGLinden
05-20-2003, 08:32 AM
Shaun, this was beautiful

"My understanding is that seeing into the heart of your partner, opponent or enemy is where to begin looking. Without this component in one's training, aikido simply does not exist. -- As aikidoka, our hope lies in our ability to seek, discover and nurture this individual's desire and ability to be at and act through his highest intentions. Call it what you like, but anything less is spiritually empty, new age packaged Ju-jitsu, nothing more."

and as for all those individuals who believe that there is no moral imperative - no truly good or evil persons - I hope you never encounter a Ted Bundy. He believed that there is no goodness or evil, as well.

Jeff R.
05-20-2003, 08:37 AM
As long as we constantly and consistently express unconditional love, how can we go wrong in our Aikido?

kung fu hamster
05-20-2003, 08:46 AM
Well, this brings up something that I've wondered before and never really got a very satisfactory answer - probably because one doesn't exist... O Sensei said don't teach these techniques to hoodlums (or something to that effect), I wonder how many sensei's say to themselves "This person is obviously a hoodlum and s/he doesn't belong in here... I'm going to tell them to get out and not come back." I was a little concerned because I wondered if some teachers may be willing to turn a bit of a blind eye in order to bring in many students and pay the bills, that sort of thing. My teacher said hoodlums aren't attracted by aikido, it takes too long to get good at it and usually they want something quick and 'easy'. And who's to say who is a hoodlum? (perhaps not the same thing as the sort of guy Daniel is describing...but still I keep wondering).

Don_Modesto
05-20-2003, 12:29 PM
Really, why don't you quit pussy-footing around (1)

tell us what you really think. (2)
1)Can't be pussyfooting...no cat!

2) Two issues: Definition and contradiction.

Definition--You mean to ask whether bad people in the dojo are doing aikido. Is aikido just technique? Yes, he’s doing it. Is aikido an aspiration? Yes, he could be doing it. Is aikido proper action? No, he’s not doing it. Decide that and you decide your answer. It’s not a question of action; it’s a question of meaning.

Contradiction--So we decide that aikido means restricting our impulses to hurt and use others and then someone does it. Is this person then doing aikido?

Aikido here is only a pretext then for approaching an issue which we find around us all the time. As above, are we indeed a nation where all are equal under the law, as we like to see ourselves, when power is so barefaced in protecting power? Same problem--delineating meaning--different guises. How do you answer these other problems? We don't give up on our country when it flags in performance so isn't the miscreant doing aikido? (Along the lines of Shaun's determination to work with the bad-doer.)

Ellis Amdur’s Dueling with Osensei and his interview at Shindai puts aikido’s feet to the fire very nicely in this regard, but rather like Dr. Johnson (“How do I know a stone exists?! Why I’ll kick it!”), he seems more interested in action--walk away from bad people--than meaning--what it is you may be walking away from. The head of a needle is for stitches, not angels.

YMMV.

PeterR
05-20-2003, 07:09 PM
Aikido in itself is not moral, it certainly is not more moral than any number of martial arts. It is however a path and one can say a less enlightened person is a little less further along the path than someone with my perfection ;). Yes that last bit was a joke but also meaning to highlight that applying our standard of what is good or bad or worse moral to others is not the best indicator.

Rank in Aikido is primarily based on skill level. It is hoped that maturity both in life and Aikido will mellow most of us to the point that we become human beings by the time we become teachers. Certainly us younger types that have responsibility thrust upon us should concentrate on the technical and in other spheres lead only by example and not worry too much if were followed.

Jeff R.
05-20-2003, 09:06 PM
Techniques aside, as there are only so many ways one can twist a wrist, I think that Aikido may not make a very useful [barometer] relative to morality, but at least a practical foundation anyway.

If we can find the purity of the philosophy without tainting it with interpretations, then we have a morality to strive for. For example--once again for those keeping up with the spiritual threads--Preserve all life is one of the most significant of the doctrines. There is no interpretation needed, no reading between the lines. If we live by the purity of the teaching, then we are living by the true meaning of Aikido. And if this Way is valuable enough for us to endeavor, then it is worth the effort to uphold it's philosophy. Why do anything if we're only going to do it partly?

Purity is relative to the purest things in the Universe--and the purest spiritual manifestation is unconditional love--no good, no bad--absolute unbiased love.

Aikido is definitely viable as a foundation for morality, but whether we are ready to embrace that morality or not, only time will tell.

PhilJ
05-20-2003, 11:08 PM
I'll sound off for a bit...

We're talking about "good" and "evil", but as adults, we know this isn't obvious, and certainly not a realistic assessment. The people I meet are more shades of gray in-between.

Life has a way of sorting some things out for us. So does aikido, I think. Classes attract people who are like the teacher, not "evil" or "keen" people -- our students are the "worst" reflections of ourselves.

We can't treat aikido as a filter of absolutes, because we don't practice that way. We practice in reality, practice dealing with reality, and living in the moment. Aikido deals with reality folks, I believe it's the people who look through the filters and apply perceptions and judgement.

*Phil

DGLinden
05-22-2003, 08:02 AM
Does anyone have a problem with my quoting you in an article? I have found many comments insightful and intelligent. If you would prefer not to be quoted, please e-mail me directly.

thanks

Don_Modesto
05-22-2003, 09:05 AM
Does anyone have a problem with my quoting you in an article?
No problem for me (I already published it here.)

What's the topic of your piece?

Where are you publishing it?

Peter Goldsbury
05-22-2003, 09:27 AM
This question came up after class. Since the spiritual mandate in Aikido requires us to '"Foster and protect all life", OSensei', and despite the varying degrees of interpretation, (Please save the spirtual discussions for that forum) can an individual who is essentially an evil person, and I mean a bad guy, come on the mat, gain rank, start a dojo, and be considered to be doing Aikido? We're talking no morals here. Steals from his students, trys to bed all the women students, likes to hurt people. A bad guy. Is what he does on the mat, Aikido?

It is a question.
Hello Dan,

In some way, I am surprised that you are asking this question, after 30-odd (?) years of training. Since you have simply asked questions and not volunteered any of your own thoughts, I wonder what you yourself think. Could it be that the thermometer is not functioning properly. If so, this would not be surprising.

For me, aikido is morally neutral: it is not a 'thermometer', or barometer, or a means of measuring anything, unless it is the quality of your irimi-nage (when I am uke). It is a complex set of activities/habits/dispositions we become involved in for a huge variety of reasons. And I think it is pretty pointless to quote the Founder here without putting his words into some sort of cultural context.

Like you, I face my students in the dojo week by week, but there is no question of measuring anything from a moral viewpoint. The dojo population is a cross section of Japanese society as a whole and I assume that they find the training enjoyable in some sense, but the entire operation could be analyzed in utilitarian, even Hobbesian, terms.

On my own experience, I think that aikido training is a great leveller. There is sometimes a hidden 'dark' side to the most charismatic of instructors, who have produced excellent students who are far better moral exemplars than these instructors. But if you ask whether these instructors were 'really' 'practising' 'aikido', then I think the question becomes like a medieval disputation, turning on definitions.

I think there is an assumption lying behind the original questions which is culture-based, and I suspect is in some sense Puritan. By this I mean something like the idea that an action should carry its moral credentials on its sleeve, so to speak. Thus you can place something like aikido on a moral graph and read off the daily progress you are supposed to be making. I have called this culture-based because I suspect this way of thinking is quite prevalent in the US. It is not at all prevalent in Japan.

So I have come to believe in the value of Ockhams's Razor when discussing the moral/spiritual/religious value of aikido.

Best regards,

Jeff R.
05-22-2003, 09:52 AM
For me, aikido is morally neutral: it is not a 'thermometer', or barometer, or a means of measuring anything, unless it is the quality of your irimi-nage (when I am uke). It is a complex set of activities/habits/dispositions we become involved in for a huge variety of reasons. And I think it is pretty pointless to quote the Founder here without putting his words into some sort of cultural context.
So where do morals come from? What does one use as a frame of reference for morals? And if we have morals, how do they apply to the philosophy of our Aikido?

Should all of mankind have a consistent set of morals and ethics in order to establish a unification of our world? And, if so, what is the thing that cannot be biased but that we all must accept in order to establish that code?

Aikido may not establish morals, but I think it could be a useful tool in finding the frame of reference for establishing that code.

mike lee
05-22-2003, 10:29 AM
Morality is one of the most basic components for anyone who is engaged in following a “Do” in any form. Since “Do” is the final character in aikido, I would think that an aikido practitioner would want to know what following a “Do” involves and would begin to master those components in his effort to fulfill his mastery of his art.

Perhaps morality, as one of the most basic components of a “Do,” and by inference aikido, has been taken for granted for so long that some have long forgotten about its importance and significance as a basic foundation and building block for good character.

In fact, during the course of my training, morality was never discussed, but I think that over the long-term its development has always been expected.

So I would think that it would be reasonable for students of a “Do,” or a Way, to expect an instructor to be of sound moral character. It should be one of the most basic of requirements.

Peter Goldsbury
05-22-2003, 05:15 PM
Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) stated:

So where do morals come from? What does one use as a frame of reference for morals? And if we have morals, how do they apply to the philosophy of our Aikido?

PAG: It is not my place even to attempt to answer these questions, and certainly not for the students in my dojo. My system of moral values was in place well before I discovered aikido and the frame of reference for this system was the entire spectrum of human activity, including aikido training.

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) stated:

Should all of mankind have a consistent set of morals and ethics in order to establish a unification of our world? And, if so, what is the thing that cannot be biased but that we all must accept in order to establish that code?

PAG: I have no deep interest in establishing a unification of the world and this is certainly not why I have a life-long commitment to aikido training. So, likewise, I have no interest in giving mankind any moral recipes or such like. Training might help students to find such codes for themselves, but there is no obligation for them to do so.

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) stated:

Aikido may not establish morals, but I think it could be a useful tool in finding the frame of reference for establishing that code.

PAG. Well, as Mike Lee has stated in his post, aikido is a DOU (with the same Chinese character as TAO) and the 'way', especially of the warrior, is a very powerful motif (a metaphor, perhaps) used in religious systems. John Bunyan is a good example here. In Christian terms the road can lead upwards or downwards, depending on other choices made.

Best regards,

Dennis Hooker
05-23-2003, 08:25 AM
On September 11, 1998 President Clinton promised the "most ethical administration in the history of the country." What was his definition of ethics?

Ethics is important in all areas of all societies. It is critical when educating young people that they receive values that provide lasting benefits. Morals are the rules and ethics are the measure of those rules. They are concerned with the human action and the judgment of the goodness or badness of that human action and character.

They are concisely expressed precepts or general truths and may change according to cultures.

In American society morals and ethics are habits and rules of conduct, especially of sexual conduct to which you allude. They refer to references to standards of right and wrong. We used to use phrases such as "a person of loose morals; a decline in the public morals." That seems to be changing now days and what was once considered unethical and immoral is now simply a "life style". I think there is no longer "A set of principles of right conduct." Or "A theory or a system of moral values" “ It seems very true in Aikido that "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain” (Gregg Easterbrook).

My ethics and morals, and those of my generation, culture and ilk are under attack. Aikido like many things today is a study in the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a teacher. In many instances we are considered moral philosophers, like it or not. In the since that every man and woman outside a sociopath has moral and ethical choices then I would say that even those who make choices that rub against the grain of our moral fiber are still doing Aikido. When dealing with a sociopath or a person devoid of a since of right and wrong then I would say they are not doing Aikido.

Dennis Hooker

www.shindai.com

happysod
05-23-2003, 09:32 AM
Dennis, interesting that you brought up the sociopath as I was wondering along those lines as well. I would agree that a sociopath couldn't practice aikido, but an "evil" person may be quite capable. This is because (as already mentioned) morality may depend on your cultural referents, but at least there is normally a societal code acknowledged, even if it is ignored.

Whereas for a sociopath (or equivalent, may be a better term people?), the idea of any code which includes others doesn't exist. So, in effect, a sociopath is always "playing with dolls", not practicing aikido. (Am I making any sense or is it just end-of-day babbling?)

DGLinden
05-23-2003, 09:38 AM
Gentlemen,

Thank you so very much for your insight and skill at unraveling this subject. Yes Mr. Goldbury, you noticed. And no, my thermometer works just fine, thank you.

Mr. Lee set the stage and Mr Hooker finished both asking and answering. So... The real question then is, if an individual is not following the 'way', is he, not his students, practicing aikido. And the answer is, of course not. Without the benefit of the 'way' in aikido, we are merely training at aiki-technique, or worse.

So then, the moral obligation to lead a life 'on the path' is part of the the path - the 'do' and must be observed or one cannot be 'on' the path.

I have asked students to leave my dojo because I found that they were cheating on their wives. Asked others to leave because they have lied, been found duplicitous, or have done things I found not to be of the 'way'. My students were wondering who is responsible when an alleged 'sensei' acts this way. I confessed that I didn't know. As it does not concern me directly, I'll leave it to wiser heads than mine. After all, if it is only semantics, and no one cares - then what is the purpose of the path? What is its value? Why do we bother?

Peter, I know why.

Thank you Mike, Dennis, et al.

Jeff R.
05-23-2003, 09:51 AM
Well, shoot. Apparently I was VERY wrong, and I apologize.

According to the majority of responses I've received in the Spiritual threads, Spiritualism is garbage, Aikido has little or nothing to do with spirit, Ki is something to be analyzed in order to be understood, and living the Way means kind of doing things that O'Sensei defined as "The Way," as long as they fit into our lives, or just leave them out and practice the techniques.

So, no. Aikido cannot be used as a barometer, thermometer, sphygmomanometer, tachometer or otherwise.

Sometimes, however, I think a good "crapometer" would be handy.

DGLinden
05-23-2003, 10:11 AM
What the...?

Jeff R.
05-23-2003, 10:28 AM
:freaky:Yeah, I know. Go figure . . ..

Don_Modesto
05-23-2003, 12:25 PM
Gentlemen,

Thank you so very much for your insight and skill at unraveling this subject.
So, what is your article about and where are you publishing it?

Thanks.

Misogi-no-Gyo
05-23-2003, 04:33 PM
Well, shoot. Apparently I was VERY wrong, and I apologize.

According to the majority of responses I've received in the Spiritual threads, Spiritualism is garbage, Aikido has little or nothing to do with spirit, Ki is something to be analyzed in order to be understood, and living the Way means kind of doing things that O'Sensei defined as "The Way," as long as they fit into our lives, or just leave them out and practice the techniques.

So, no. Aikido cannot be used as a barometer, thermometer, sphygmomanometer, tachometer or otherwise.

Sometimes, however, I think a good "crapometer" would be handy.
Tending to agree, I liked your post. I have come across many who devoid there aikido of "spirituality" however, there always seems to be something incredibly lacking in their techniques. This is regardless of rank. However, it is just as likely to find empty technique in those who spend way too much time delving into matters of the spirit. Certainly, it comes natural to those who seem to just be of a spiritual nature.

I wanted to clarify a statement from my other post. So here goes...
As aikidoka, our hope lies in our ability to seek, discover and nurture this individual's desire and ability to be at and act through his highest intentions. Call it what you like, but anything less is spiritually empty, new age packaged Ju-jitsu, nothing more. Call it what you like, but anything less is spiritually empty, new age packaged Ju-jitsu, nothing more.
It is important to understand that the second statement relies upon the first. However, just as important is to realize that this could take place on a solely physical level - devoid of a "spiritual" meaning or effect, altogether. When I say highest intention, it can be restricted to apply to "survival" only.

The most important thing is to realize that there is nothing wrong with practicing Jujitsu, of a new age, or any other. However, doing so may mean that you are not practicing aikido, regardless of what it says on the brochure, sign or website.

For me, connection is the key to "KI" - and Kokyu is the method of connection. However, what I am connecting to is as complex as the connection, itself. The person on the other end is not a simple set of mechanical actions/reactions as some would have us believe. There is any number of other things going on with the person on the other side. This could be on the level of personal belief system, thought, emotions, etc.

As aikidoka, we can better control a purely physical confrontation if we hold the strings tied to each of these factors. Our path is made up of milestones which mark

1. a point when we uncover them within ourselves

2. figuring out how to connect to them within another

3. discovering ways in which to apply them at points of high stress.

Then we have the long plateaus that we spend searching for other levels of interrelatedness that can be discerned and deciphered, only to start the whole process over.

Usagi Yojimbo
05-23-2003, 06:19 PM
By definition, no. He may practice the technique, but not the art. Art is what makes the spirit of something, and thus, how we are able to fully understand and to utilize such a thing. The art or spirit of such a thing is a necessity and may not, can not, be simply tossed aside for one's own personal goals and selfish desires. They may master the technique, but there will always be someone better, because there are always those who just fully understand the technique, as well as the art.

Peter Goldsbury
05-23-2003, 09:05 PM
I see that Mr Linden asked for our opinions in this thread, and I assume by this he meant our own, unglamorized, personal opinions.

I began aikido relatively late, at the age of 25, after having spent a number of years in a monastery (which I assure you is an excellent place for pondering the issues raised by this thread).

All my teachers without exception have been Japanese and I became aware at a very early stage that there was a gap, if you like, between what one might call 'moral' teaching or awareness, sometimes preached from the tatami, and actual behaviour.

Some of these teachers would have been asked to leave Mr Linden's dojo and according to other contributors of this thread, were not even teaching the 'art' at all; they were teaching mere 'technique'. Well, they are still at it and appear to be producing excellent pupils, proficient both in technique and art.

Mr Linden began the thread by asking about a really evil person practising aikido. Who is such a person and how would we recognize him/her? I suppose a good place to start would be the New Testament, but a more graphic presentation can be found in Milton's "Paradise Lost" or in Tolkein. It is a pity that no one has done for Milton what Jackson did for JR Tolkein, because Tolkein has the same Christian roots as Milton. It is also important to see that the presentation is sterotypical and that, if the NT is to be believed, a really evil person does not exist. And if the person did exist, then, again if the NT is to be believed, that person is to be tolerated and forgiven.

So I am not in the business of making judgments about the morals of my own students outside the dojo. I myself happen to believe that aikido training is an intensely moral activity, but this is because I believe that life in general is an intensely moral activity, not because I believe that aikido is intrinsically a 'moral' martial art.

As for the spiritual dimensions of training, I would prefer not to discuss this. I think it is too private a matter for discussion on a bulletin board such as this.

Yours sincerely,

Jeff R.
05-23-2003, 10:24 PM
Hello, Shaun. Thank you so much for the new info.
The most important thing is to realize that there is nothing wrong with practicing Jujitsu, of a new age, or any other. However, doing so may mean that you are not practicing aikido, regardless of what it says on the brochure, sign or website.
I do agree.
For me, connection is the key to "KI" - and Kokyu is the method of connection. However, what I am connecting to is as complex as the connection, itself. The person on the other end is not a simple set of mechanical actions/reactions as some would have us believe. There is any number of other things going on with the person on the other side. This could be on the level of personal belief system, thought, emotions, etc.

As aikidoka, we can better control a purely physical confrontation if we hold the strings tied to each of these factors. Our path is made up of milestones which mark

1. a point when we uncover them within ourselves

2. figuring out how to connect to them within another

3. discovering ways in which to apply them at points of high stress.

Then we have the long plateaus that we spend searching for other levels of interrelatedness that can be discerned and deciphered, only to start the whole process over.
This is fascinating, but it seems like it moves to a different level from the base relationship with Uke (or the attacker). If someone pops out of an alley and tries to mug me, I want to lose all sense of ego, all sense of bias and emotional connection, and have only a connection of pure, universal movement with the attacker. I want to reflect his movements and enter with no fear. This unconditional connection allows me to interact with this person in the unconditional way that natural forces interact with nature.

If I try and find connections on an emotional level with someone, there is the risk of offending, embarassing, or hurting them, or myself. This is something that I think should be attempted in a very careful and deliberate manner when utilizing this set of Aikido principles in relations. I think I see how it can be useful and successful, especially in more familiar relations, and even more so in--actually, in a forum such as this one!

;)

Thank you very kindly, Shaun

otto
05-24-2003, 01:06 AM
A person by my standards is measured and defined by its acts...so in any case an "evil"person would be one whose acts and behavior can or could be described as "evil"....

I highly doubt such and individual would reach a high level of proficiency in what we call AiKiDo , much less the title of Sensei-Teacher-Instructor.

Naive?....I hope not.

Plus KI!.

Hanna B
05-24-2003, 01:30 AM
Peter - applause.

Shaun Ravens: I have come across many who devoid there aikido of "spirituality" however, there always seems to be something incredibly lacking in their techniques.

This is not my experience.

Ottoniel Ojeda: A person by my standards is measured and defined by its acts...so in any case an "evil"person would be one whose acts and behavior can or could be described as "evil"....

I highly doubt such and individual would reach a high level of proficiency in what we call AiKiDo , much less the title of Sensei-Teacher-Instructor.

Naive?....I hope not.

I have met more evil in the aikido world than anywhere else. I do not think that aikido people are more evil than others; probably I have met evil in the place and activity where I spend a big amount of my free time.

mike lee
05-24-2003, 02:37 AM
So, if a student or a teacher cheats on his or her spouse, are they "evil" and should they be banned from aikido?

Personally, I'd say Hitler was evil, but a wife beater is bad and needs counselling. A cheat needs some guidance.

But that's just me. Every culture, society, religion and individual has different standards and levels of tolerance.

jss
05-24-2003, 08:03 AM
It turns out that Buddhist really are happier:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3047291.stm

Or you can read 'Zen and the Brain' by James H. Austin (a physician and a zen meditator) who shows that meditation will change your brain on a physiological level and for the better. You become less self-centered and more compassionate.

The most stupid experiment he talks about shows that if you are to find a (planted, for the sake of the experiment) dime in a phone boot, you are for a brief period more likely to be kind, helpful and see the brighter side of things. Just by finding one lousy dime!

Since aikido is in several though not all ways zen in movement, aikido should make you a better person. Of course the real world is much more complicated. The point I'm trying to make is that everybody is going into deep philosophical arguments and as a philosophy student I know what a total mess the academic philosophical discussions are about ethics and about meta-ethics even more so. Aikido is fun and it makes me feel good, so it does make me a better person. If aikido has advantages in that respect to other activities, is quite a complicates discussion. So I'll go no further than saying I think it has.

Jeff R.
05-24-2003, 12:33 PM
If a man cheats on his wife (or vice versa), the vows are effectively broken, and the marriage no longer exists.

If a priest molests a child, he is no longer a priest.

If we don't practice the philosophy of Aikido outside the dojo, are we still Aikidoka?

Once again, Aikido is a Way. You either live it, or you don't. Techniques don't mean crap, even if they look beautiful.

I built a beautiful shelter once (in fact my teacher writes about his same experience in his books) and though it was aesthetically pleasing, I froze that night because I missed the point of the construction.

The techniques of anyone can look hot, especially in the dojo, especially with a good Uke, especially when we are exercising cooperation to some degree in order to grasp the techniques. But it's pretty plain and simple: if you don't have a spiritual grasp of a life threatening situation, if you can't connect with the attacker, if you get too caught up in emotions at all--your beautiful techniques will be but a fleeting glimmer of what you wanted to do before you were beaten down--or worse.

Don't believe it? That's fine. Don't worry about the spiritual "garbage." You can only find the truth of it all yourself.

The only exception to the above seems to be:

If we do horrible, rotten things all week, we can still find forgiveness as long as we make Sunday Mass.

Don_Modesto
05-24-2003, 02:50 PM
If a man cheats on his wife (or vice versa), the vows are effectively broken, and the marriage no longer exists. (1)

If a priest molests a child, he is no longer a priest. (2)

Techniques don't mean crap, even if they look beautiful. (3)

Once again, Aikido is a Way. You either live it, or you don't. (4)
1) In a vacuum. But in the real-world? Some are more forgiving than a person embracing the opinions you post here. Perhaps it is not the only function of "marriage" to prevent infidelity, but to provide a bond in spite of it.

2) "Priest" is a position and thus less subject I think to romantic disclaimers about "essence" (as I'd expect to hear if I noted that city hall still recognizes a marriage as such, howsoever adulterous, until a divorce). As the church's scandal shows, the pedophilic priests are, indeed, still priests.

3) Unto themselves, I agree. They probably provide grist for reflection for attentive individuals, though.

4) Don't agree. Life is more an issue of gradations than pat pronouncements. Confucius himself, a bastion of morality as some would have it, confessed that he was still suffereing urges which went against law and nature until he was seventy.

Don_Modesto
05-24-2003, 02:52 PM
As for the spiritual dimensions of training, I would prefer not to discuss this. I think it is too private a matter for discussion on a bulletin board such as this.
This term gets thrown around and I fear I don't even understand what it means, Peter. Obviously it's something different from morality, which you don't deem too private to discuss. What does "spiritual" even mean?

Thanks.

Jeff R.
05-24-2003, 03:35 PM
1) In a vacuum. But in the real-world? Some are more forgiving than a person embracing the opinions you post here. Perhaps it is not the only function of "marriage" to prevent infidelity, but to provide a bond in spite of it.

2) "Priest" is a position and thus less subject I think to romantic disclaimers about "essence" (as I'd expect to hear if I noted that city hall still recognizes a marriage as such, howsoever adulterous, until a divorce). As the church's scandal shows, the pedophilic priests are, indeed, still priests.
Actually, I agree here. I posed these circumstances more for a rhetorical purpose.

I think society places a lot of labels and ideas on things in search of an ideal. But then we prove over and over that one's ideals may be another's bane.

However, I think there is a large difference between the ideal or defined, and perspective. For example, though by definition the priests who molest children are still priests, they have committed a crime which renders their position as representatives of 'God' to be devoid of clout. Who's really going to trust a priest with such lack of integrity, morals, and respect? So, a priest by definition? Perhaps. But in essence? No way.
4) Don't agree. Life is more an issue of gradations than pat pronouncements. Confucius himself, a bastion of morality as some would have it, confessed that he was still suffereing urges which went against law and nature until he was seventy.
True. However there are two issues that I think we can pull from this.

1. Aikido being a Way unto itself.

2. Attending these urges and tempering oneself through Aikido in the search for spiritual purity.

We all have urges, habits, and crutches that should be attended. Aikido is one method that offers a way for us to at least begin the tempering process. In order to temper ourselves, we need to find the middle ground between excessive emotion and desires, etc. Once again, the only consistent and pure frame of reference all humans (all life) have is Universal Truth. Anything else is subject to interpretation. Universal Truth simply 'is.' Energy and matter being UTs are pure. Uncoditional love, another UT, is also pure. Aikido gives us a way toward discovering these things so that we can reach spiritual purity.

As for #1., Only by living the principles of Aikido, on and off the mats, can we actually reach that purity. Life exists outside the dojo, so only applying the Aikido philosophy inside means we leave it behind when outside. How then do we progress spiritually? The dojo is a place for training; outside is the place to do it.

O'Sensei (and Jesus and all the other spiritual leaders) may not have said outright, "Go live in huts; go save the animals; protect the earth," but their messages were:

Preserve all life, for all of creation is cherished;

Blend with the Universe.

How can we do those things without purity of spirit? How can we purify spirit without a template and a method to follow and identify that template? How can we uphold those very important aspects of the Way if we don't apply them to our lives?

How can we being doing Aikido if we don't follow the tenets of Aikido? O'Sensei never said we had to follow his religion; only that doing Aikido means DOING AIKIDO. It's not only a martial art, it's a way of life a way that leads to connection anywhere in the Universe. You either live it, or you don't.

If people don't care about the spiritual aspect, they may as well buy a baseball bat and a bullwhip and do some fancy a@@ whoopin', because that's what empty techniques boil down to.

Peter Goldsbury
05-25-2003, 01:58 AM
This term gets thrown around and I fear I don't even understand what it means, Peter. Obviously it's something different from morality, which you don't deem too private to discuss. What does "spiritual" even mean?

Thanks.
Hello Don,

I think there are two aspects to this question:

(a) Does aikido have a spiritual dimension (to put the question in as general a way as possible) and, if so, what is this?

(b) Is such a question worth discussing on a bulletin board such as AikiWeb?

Some posters see this in fairly cut and dried terms. (a) Yes, there is a spiritual dimension; it is such-and-such and (b) infinitely worth discussing. Some would go even further and say that any conception of aikido which is not 'spiritual' is simply wrong and quote M Ueshiba and whoever.

I do not see things in this way. The longterm relationships I have had, and still have, with my own teachers have enabled me to see aikido in cumulative terms, as enriching layers of psycho-physical possibilities which one can grasp, or not, when one is ready. This is part of what is meant by a Way, in my opinion.

I do discuss this from time to time with my own students individually, especially with those in the lower dan ranks, who have learned from their own training that aikido is not really about mere physical strength. But a bulletin board is a harsher environment and sometimes words take on meanings and contexts of their own, which were never originally intended.

So I ask you in turn. Both Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru had a fair amount to say about the spiritual dimensions of aikido. It is perhaps anathema to say this, but it would not surprise me to hear that you found what they said lacking in some way. Would I be right? If so, why do you think this is?

Best regards,

Jeff R.
05-25-2003, 09:30 AM
Some posters see this in fairly cut and dried terms. (a) Yes, there is a spiritual dimension; it is such-and-such and (b) infinitely worth discussing. Some would go even further and say that any conception of aikido which is not 'spiritual' is simply wrong and quote M Ueshiba and whoever.
I know! Why would anybody quote any spiritual leaders? They didn't know what they were talking about. Especially Ueshiba with that concept of "Aikido?" What the heck was he thinking???
I do not see things in this way. The longterm relationships I have had, and still have, with my own teachers have enabled me to see aikido in cumulative terms, as enriching layers of psycho-physical possibilities which one can grasp, or not, when one is ready. This is part of what is meant by a Way, in my opinion.
Psycho-physical?

You're not talking about mind and body unification, are you? 'Cause that wouldn't be spiritual at all . . .



What determines when one is ready? Is it when they've memorized the hollow movements with no essence behind them aside from physics? Or is it when they've embraced the techniques and their application on a level beyond the physical? Or otherwise?
I do discuss this from time to time with my own students individually, especially with those in the lower dan ranks, who have learned from their own training that aikido is not really about mere physical strength. But a bulletin board is a harsher environment and sometimes words take on meanings and contexts of their own, which were never originally intended.
I have to say that I concur here in a big way. And it is unfortunate that we cannot read each other's body language and true intonations in these posts. (The reason for the smilies.)

But it's hard to make a spiritual connection without being in some real contact aside from the digital world. In live conversation we much more easily send and receive "vibes" which help to identify intentions and emotions and allow us to empathize or sympathize, commiserate, etc.

It's kind of like Aikido. The techniques can be as devoid of spirit as the words on the screen, their only indications of emotions, as with sentence-structure and punctuation, is in the movements used [hard or soft], or in their intensity.

Or, it can be a much deeper, intimate application, as in real, face-to-face conversation when we learn how to make that connection. And by whatever scientific term you want to call it, a connection with another person beyond the physical is spiritual. Why would we not pay attention to the methods of spiritual awareness provided in order to hone our abilities to allow for pure, effective connections?

So I ask you in turn. Both Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru had a fair amount to say about the spiritual dimensions of aikido. It is perhaps anathema to say this, but it would not surprise me to hear that you found what they said lacking in some way. Would I be right? If so, why do you think this is?

Best regards,
I have to wonder if, in this text, the definitions of spirit and religion are being applied synonymously, as it often happens. Religion being a method of worship, created by limited interpretations and perpetuated with ritual, dogma, doctrine.

Spirituality being an awareness of our presence beyond physical parameters, and recognizing that that presence is part of the energy of all that exists, and learning to hone that awareness in order to make a pure connection.

Spirituality is the foundation of all religion, but is often lost for prevalence of ritual.

Peter Goldsbury
05-25-2003, 09:52 AM
This term gets thrown around and I fear I don't even understand what it means, Peter. Obviously it's something different from morality, which you don't deem too private to discuss. What does "spiritual" even mean?

Thanks.
Hello Don,

In my opinion Mr Rychwa has seriously misunderstood both the content and purpose of my posts in this thread, but I do not have the time or energy to go through the arguments again line by line.

If you want to have more discussion on the issues you raised, perhaps you would like to contact me privately.

Best regards,

PAG

Jeff R.
05-25-2003, 10:15 AM
Hello Don,

In my opinion Mr Rychwa has seriously misunderstood both the content and purpose of my posts in this thread, but I do not have the time or energy to go through the arguments again line by line.

If you want to have more discussion on the issues you raised, perhaps you would like to contact me privately.

Best regards,

PAG
Oops. Sorry, sir. You're right. I am definitely missing the point of things like:

Putting "Protect all of creation" into a cultural context. I was under the impression that creation was creation regardless of culture.

And quoting anybody enlightened is pointless.

Not to mention that discussing something like spirit, which is fundamental to our existence, and especially in an Aikido forum, would better be left to private speculation. We wouldn't want to unify the world now, would we? ;)

Don_Modesto
05-25-2003, 01:51 PM
...enriching layers of psycho-physical possibilities which one can grasp, or not, when one is ready. This is part of what is meant by a Way, in my opinion. (1)

So I ask you in turn. Both Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru had a fair amount to say about the spiritual dimensions of aikido. It is perhaps anathema to say this, but it would not surprise me to hear that you found what they said lacking in some way. Would I be right? If so, why do you think this is? (2)
1) Hmm!

2) Now that you pin me to it, I suppose the first I couldn't understand: "Reconcile the universe"? Twisting arms?! Andre Breton used to take his fans out on rock hunting expeditions. They'd go with a question and then the rock (size, shape, constitution, color...I suppose) was a framework with which to answer the question. Is aikido Osensei's rock (MISOGI)?

I don't recall now UK's book on the spirit. I'll have to take a gander before writing further. I think I did hilight it quite a bit. I think the clearest statement of spirit I've seen is Saotome's. He's very down to earth. He speaks of one's body as the universe in microcosm; of submitting to pins and learning empathy; of needing strong attacks to conquer complacency.

I think I've probably hoisted myself on my own petard. Just as I wrote Dan that his question depended very much on how he defined aikido, I could say the same to myself I suppose concerning spirit.

I don't mean to be obtuse nor to importune, but as spirit is the "chestnut", as it were, of aikido, why do you prefer not discussing it?

As always, thanks.

Ellis Amdur
05-25-2003, 03:07 PM
It is my understanding that Shinto is a religion that is not overly obsessed with morality. It focuses on ritual impurity, cleansing, and paying respect/recognition to powers greater than humanity. Its myths carry no particular moral teachings. That is one of the major reasons that Buddhism and Confucian ideology were so avidly accepted by the Japanese. Shinto did not offer a system of organizing society, nor a morality that would function in a society larger than a village.

Ueshiba Moriheifs religious sensibilities were primarily Shinto, albeit his own personal adaptation of Omotokyo. Therefore, moral preaching and teaching was not a big part of his curriculum or probably even his attitude. Terry Dobson told me two important things about his practice. First, similar to what others have described, he said that when he traveled with him, Ueshiba was up in the middle of the night  praying. Every night. Second  Terry stated that in all his years in aikido, he only saw Ueshiba M. ONCE step in to take a moralistic stand. One of the uchideshi, he said, broke a twelve-year-old childfs arm during practice, something Osensei saw. He called the uchideshi into his office, and Terry stated that for a long time, there was only silence. The uchideshi later emerged, white as a sheet. (However, his later actions, Terry said, were unchanged).

Sugano Sensei pointed out during an interview that, in his opinion, Osensei was NOT talking about the harmonization of humanity, in the sense of world peace, pacifism, etc. He was, Sugano asserted, talking about the harmonization of man and kami  in essence, then, aikido is a form of misogi. I think it is a fair speculation his view was that were aikidoka successful in this vast project of misogi (which is similar to kotodama, as described by Nakazono sensei  enough voices chanting pure Japanese syllables will usher in a Golden age by that energy), then the world would likely be at peace. In short, line up with the gods, and peace and harmony will occur. The details will take care of themselves.

Many years ago, I was at a presentation where an earnest young man asked Doshu how old Osensei was when he fully embraced pacifism. The meaning of this question took some time to get thru to Nidai Doshu, and when it finally did, he started laughing and said, gMy father was not a pacifist.h When the young man persisted, asking about aikido as being non-violent, Doshu said, that aikido wasnft non-violent either. Having as much difficulty clearly explaining this as anyone else, he said aikido was outside the dialectic of violence and non-violence.

Almost Nietzchean, isnft it? Beyond Good and Evil. Which leads then to the more general philosophical question, gIs there morality in spiritual practice?h It is my understanding the answer of many is gno,h that spiritual doesnft mean warm feathery thoughts while musing on divinity or nature; it is simply the focusing on something/anything more transcendent than base material existence. That for many, spirituality is not synonymous to ethics brings into play the cultural relativism argument that many have brought forth. It is my understanding that Buddhism, in general, does not define Satori as gmoral,h but that morality is required, because gtrueh morality is gselfless and hence non-attached. In a sense, the Bodhisattva ideal is a rejection of Satori in favor of a moral choice that gIh will not become enlightened alone  everyone/everthing must come along. One chooses gattachmenth in the service of true non-attachment, and the modus vivendi towards this is morality. The psychopath can have peak experiences, but is essentially self-involved/attached. (Hence, Ted Bundy was quite distressed when he was about to be executed, althof he could verbalize quite clearly how trivial in the large scheme of things was one [other] human life.

Ethics, in Western philosophy, has become an inconvenient stepchild. In defining gexistence,h what role can moral rules about what is gevilh play, as one culture, it is claimed, sees things so differently?

An interesting area of inquiry is Emmanuel Levinasf philosophy, which is based on the concept that, as humans, we are fundamentally required to be ethical  by definition  and that existence only follows this ethical primacy. Not that one has to be nice to exist  that the demand to ethics is what makes existence possible. Primal ethics is a demand that others make to us, by virtue of their existence, that gthou shalt not murder me.h This, he claims is baseline  that morality, in pure form, is a demand placed on human beings by the otherfs vulnerability (something, by the way, which can be embodied in the relationship of uke and nage in aikido). His philosophy developed as a reaction to the purely, amoral spirituality of Heidegger. Ethics, for Levinas, is not the rules humanfs create to live together in whatever community they have. This, he calls gjustice,h the attempt at reconciling competing ethical demands, because one cannot offer a full ethical response to more than one being. (Ie.,, what is the ethical response to a starving child in Ivory Coast, when one the way to save that child, millions of other starving children gdemandh your help as well?)

So where, then, is aikido in terms of morality? Osensei distilled something out of older bugei, something that is inherent in all of them, that one protects onefs uke (in one manner or another) in the service of training, of a ggreaterh goal. This, Ueshiba M. made reciprocal and at the heart of what aikido training is supposed to be.

Osenseifs aikido made it possible for war criminals and thugs to practice, as a matter of course, on the same mat with such sterling individuals as Shirata Rinjiro or Kobayashi Yasuo, or any one of the estimable ordinary folks in dojos around the world. Were aikido a mere moral teaching  as in, gWe have taken brutal old martial arts and turned them into something nice so that we can defeat evil and make friends by the redirection of aggressive energy,h it would be a sappy cultish activity. It would never have fascinated and caught many of the remarkable (and sometimes remarkably skewed) human beings that became ensconced within it.

It is the question it poses  highlighted in all of itfs contradictions, including itfs less than comprehensive martial practice  that nags at so many people. Aikido distills something inherent in any cooperative martial practice. The interplay of uke and tori does not prescribe a PARTICULAR morality, doesnft offer answers, but it allows us/demands us to face the hardest question it is possible to be asked. What is my responsibility to the other given my possession of power? Whether we respond is a second, open question.

Don_Modesto
05-25-2003, 03:44 PM
Terry stated that in all his years in aikido, he only saw Ueshiba M. ONCE step in to take a moralistic stand. (1)

(However, his later actions, Terry said, were unchanged). (2)

harmonization of man and kami  in essence, then, aikido is a form of misogi. (3)

I think it is a fair speculation his view was that were aikidoka successful in this vast project of misogi (which is similar to kotodama, as described by Nakazono sensei  enough voices chanting pure Japanese syllables will usher in a Golden age by that energy), then the world would likely be at peace. (4)

Nidai Doshu...started laughing and said, gMy father was not a pacifist. (5)

Is there morality in spiritual practice? It is my understanding the answer of many is gno,h that spiritual doesnft mean warm feathery thoughts while musing on divinity or nature; it is simply the focusing on something/anything more transcendent than base material existence. That for many, spirituality is not synonymous to ethics brings into play the cultural relativism argument that many have brought forth. (6)
1) Yes. One of the most compelling images of Dueling with Osensei was Arikawa standing over a gaggaing Dobson whom he had just smacked in the Adam's apple with a knuckle punch and Osensei saying, "Carry on, carry on..."

2) Not very effective teaching, let alone "O"-teaching...

3) MISOGI as opposed to epiphany? (A reference to a previous post by Prof. Goldsbury.)

4) That big a project? Saotome speaks of the universe as one's own body; could peace be peace of mind?

5) LOL. (That young guy...was he kinda tall?)

6) Yes. Even within our own culture, I think Mr. Rychwa was being a little idealistic. Ghandi slept naked with naked little girls. Do I regard him now with less reverence for his accomplishments or Michael Jackson with greater compassion? Peter's point about bringing someone around is most pertinent, here, "if the NT is to be believed, a really evil person does not exist. And if the person did exist, then, again if the NT is to be believed, that person is to be tolerated and forgiven."

Thanks, Ellis.

Ellis Amdur
05-25-2003, 04:21 PM
Don - Regarding the young man with the earnest question, do you mean me by the "tall" question? I was as far from that those days as one could get! I started to write a story or two, and then thought they'd be better left for beers and face-to-face. That way they can change and get better over time.

Ellis

Jeff R.
05-25-2003, 06:01 PM
Oops. Sorry, sir. You're right. I am definitely missing the point of things like:

Putting "Protect all of creation" into a cultural context. I was under the impression that creation was creation regardless of culture.

And quoting anybody enlightened is pointless.

Not to mention that discussing something like spirit, which is fundamental to our existence, and especially in an Aikido forum, would better be left to private speculation. We wouldn't want to unify the world now, would we? ;)
This is very bad form, I understand. I do apologize to Mr. Goldsbury, and anyone else who takes offense.

I would appreciate clarification, however, as it has been said that I am misunderstanding content and purpose, and that my perspective is idealistic. In fairness, though my highlighted response was assinine, it does not necessarily discredit or subvert the standpoint--it just happens to make me look like a hypocrite.

Anyway! Regardless, there are points that I have made previously that have not been studied, only addressed as I've stated above for needing clarification.

Please enlighten.

DGLinden
05-26-2003, 09:41 AM
Ellis,

Thank you for those stories. You said,

"What is my responsibility to the other given my possession of power? Whether we respond is a second, open question."

That is the heart of this thread. Does the power attained force/require us to behave morally? And is that moral imperative the heart of the 'do'? And does an individual who behaves badly - (forget the word evil, most don't seem to accept the idea of its existence) fulfill the requirements of the 'do'.

This was never meant to embarrass anyone. I've had several private messages concerning my implication of one Sensei or another - when there was no one I had in mind. Surely all of us are human and are daily battling with our desires, needs, and egos. Except Peter, and me, and I don't know, maybe you.

What wonderful responses. Except you, Jeff. Ha! Just kidding. You've been the burr under the saddle.

mike lee
05-26-2003, 09:55 AM
I think that one of the biggest mistakes we could make on the issue of morality would be to reach a conclusion.

Jeff R.
05-26-2003, 10:07 AM
burr under the saddle.

:rolleyes: 'Figures.

A burr under the saddle means no mental naps for the horse and a ride the cowboy will never forget.

Jeff R.
05-26-2003, 11:38 AM
Humans are riddled with bias, as we are a group that is very subjective in interpretations. One person's bad may be another's good.

If a "bad" person practices Aikido without attention to spiritual purity, then that person has a relative advantage or power over some others. For example, if a "bad" Aikidoist decides to sleep with another man's wife, the other man has cause to respond in one way or another to both the wife and the Aikidoka. If the Aikidoka is attacked, and he applies the principles of Aikido, then for all intents and purposes he should be in control of the situation, keeping himself from being affected by the man's attacks. The Aikidoka may see nothing wrong with is actions, and feels justified in subduing the man who was [wronged?] affected.

This seems to call for great responsibility on the part of Aikidoka. If we study the Aikido with regard to morals that are culture-based or personally motivated, then inevitabley in some place we will cross a line where our interpretation does not coincide with another's. But having the application of effective techniques, we may rule by default rather than by virtue. It's similar to might makes right.

If, however, we find a common thread, a universal truth that binds all humans and all life then use that as a foundation and template against which our morals are tested, then no matter where we go, the morals apply and we've taken responsibility for the power of our Martial Way. To wield it blindly or by personal standards is to limit our application to the rest of humanity. One person's way cannot be justified as acceptable merely because they are happy or satisfied with their own philosophy. Otherwise vigilantism and ruling with an iron fist would be rampant justice.

What I'm trying to illustrate is that the only thing that can bind all peoples' morals is a common truth, something we can all accept without biased interpretation. Religions, politics, laws, all subject to interpretation and not stable enough for unification.

That we live and breathe; that nature exists and gives us life; that there is energy in many forms surrounding us and within us; these are things that are truths that all people identify. When we begin to label and analyze, we again create bias in interpretations.

Maybe O'Sensei did some stuff that we may question. Regardless, I believe that the principle of Aikido is sound, whether its creator was an enlightened saint or a miscreant. Preserve all of creation and blend with the universe, as we are one, small point in it, and we embody it all at once.

This, to me, says that there can be no boundary in our moral definition or application. And since the only truth is life and nature, then it seems that the only way to live out the Aikido is to get back the connection to those truths that we had centuries ago, and apply this new Way to that connection and bring humanity to a new perspective.

It is also important to realize that our decisions and dilemmas will impact our grandchildren. Our moral integrity should go beyond what we hope to gain in our own personal searches, but should extend toward preserving a viable, stable, and peaceful existence for them.

Idealist? Probably. Realist? One can only hope. But just imagine the possibilities.

SmilingNage
05-26-2003, 11:59 AM
Morality is really the manifestation of humans needing to group and label the world around them. Morals( acceptable actions by a particular group) are used to establish "Us /Them" relationships. In this manner groups can break actions down into "If/ Then", their action and our reaction to their action. So is Budo useful for gauging morality and being a moral barometer. I would say no based on the above model.

If Budo is compared as a journey up a mountain, and Do is the path/paths that cross both up and down on the mountain, Then a better picture of responsiblity, and enlightenment can be painted. There are infinite number of paths up this mountain. A person who abuses his power gained thru training could be viewed as an individual whose Do/path is taking the long(long long long) way up the mountain in most cases.

The question that would be asked next is what is atop this mountain? Enlightenment, Truth, etc. The "path up the mountain" model would represent that thru training and the lessons learned thru training would lead one atop the mountain. I would say its not important to know what is at the top of the mountain or even get to the top. To learn and understand the path/choices you have made on your way up the mountain is the importance/lesson of climbing the mountain. So I think Budo is about understanding and recognition. Enlightenment is understanding what you have have done and where you are now.

Now back to the person who abuses his power. From the mountain view, he is on really long journey. So while he mires about in his state of perceived power, I hope he will see the path he has chosen as learning experience but there are more peaks on this mountain to explore with much better views.

(But I hope I get ahold of him and throw him so darn hard that he blows snot bubbles out of his nose before he chooses to move on. As you can see I still have a long climb ahead for myself lol)

Peter Goldsbury
05-27-2003, 07:20 AM
I don't mean to be obtuse nor to importune, but as spirit is the "chestnut", as it were, of aikido, why do you prefer not discussing it?

As always, thanks.
Hello Don,

Well, I am not entirely happy discussing morality, either. As I stated earlier, Mr Linden posed the question whether a really bad/evil person could be said to be practicing aikido. As the question stands, the answer has to be yes, for Morihei Ueshiba explicitly warned against allowing such persons to practice. The passage is in the Japanese edition of Moriteru Ueshiba’s latest book and not so long ago I translated this into English and posted it, I forget where. In this thread, others have suggested that immoral or amoral people cannot really be said to be ‘practising’, or practising ‘aikido’, but I personally find this hard to accept. (NB. This is my own private opinion and is not something I would try to force on others.) At least, if what we actually mean by aikido training is partly up to us to work out for ourselves, then I myself think the best place to start is Morihei Ueshiba’s own writings, especially the ‘douka’ and the discourses produced in “Takemusu Aiki”.

I think that before one is in a position to discuss the moral and spiritual aspects of aikido, a study of the life and thought of its creator and main exemplar is of some importance, but this is something I have discovered since coming to Japan. Of course, this raises an issue. How much do we need to know about him? People who do not read Japanese have a problem here and have to rely on such translations as have appeared, or what their own teachers said about him. This is something that people have to work out for themselves, but I personally thought this was insufficient, since what my own teachers said conflicted. This was one of the factors behind deciding to come and live here and study the culture more directly.

Perhaps my earlier posts were too brief. Ellis has pretty well covered much of the ground I would have covered in a more detailed answer, so I will add a few thoughts from another direction.

As I suggested earlier, my 'pre-aikido' life afforded ample opportunity to study things spiritual, in an extreme Christian setting, so when I chanced upon aikido, it was not the spiritual aspect that was primarily of interest in the first instance. Successive teachers emphasized, respectively, the Shinto aspects of aikido (as explained via M Ueshiba's own life, for all my teacher were his direct students), or as a new form of budo strongly tied to zen meditation, or as just practice, with no other implications drawn whatever. However, for all the teachers I encountered, the primary focus was the dojo, how you practise the waza with a partner: how you commit yourself, as uke, unconditionally to him/her and also cope, as tori, with the other's supposedly unconditional commitment to you.

An immediate concern here was learning to distinguish between supposedly beneficial ‘hard training’ and the occasional spite and vindictiveness displayed by instructors and advanced students in the dojo towards ukes and partners whose commitment was perceived as not quite as unconditional as expected, or required. This was a serious issue for me. Here was aikido, which was supposed to be a martial art, but based on love (again, this is a rather loose translation of something M Ueshiba used to say, but has been taken out of context somewhat). The question for me was how a ‘loving’ relationship, of the sort I thought I was familiar with, was to be expressed through shiho-nage or kata-guruma, or whatever.

In an earlier post I mentioned the gap between what was sometimes stated by shihans in the dojo and what actually happened outside the dojo, but this never became an issue till I had trained for several years and first surfaced in the US. This was also a serious issue for me. Instructors taking sexual liberties with their students or with the wives of their male students was a denial of moral principles with which aikido was not supposed to be in conflict. I have not changed my mind about this since living here, but I have discovered that the Japanese do see sexual mores somewhat differently.

Why am I reluctant do discuss such matters? Well, for a start, the moral and spiritial dimensions of aikido are very personal building blocks in the creation of one’s own aikido, not ‘our’ aikido, but ‘my’ aikido or ‘your’ aikido. Such matters are best discussed in face-to-face encounters. On a bulletin board it takes so much time to establish acceptable parameters of interaction, that the real substance of the interaction is often lost sight of. This is partly because people here are really individuals, with different life histories and different ‘ideologies’ based on these life histories. In fact, aikido is a supremely individualist art, despite the fact that it needs a partner. Not selfish, by the way, but individualist, even solitary. This aspect has to be respected.

All the best,

happysod
05-27-2003, 07:56 AM
I'm getting a bit lost on this one, so I'm going to have to ask a dumb question (mainly of the "yes" vote).

Supposing you don't know the person, can you tell from their aikido techniques on the mat whether they're a good'un?(which is what I read from the initial post)

The reason I'm getting lost is most of the answers seemed to presuppose a knowledge of the person and their life in it's entirity. So in effect are you applying your perception of the philosophy behind aikido as a filter on the person's life rather than actually relating it to their ability in the dojo?

mike lee
05-27-2003, 09:15 AM
Evil is often found where one least expects it. Evil is insidious — that's what makes it so bad! :D There are no pat answers or formulas. If there where, criminal psychologists would be out of a job. :blush:

(Should I stop using these face thingies? :freaky: )

P.S. I'm evil and I know it. evileyes But now, suddenly, I have the advantage! :p

Don_Modesto
05-27-2003, 12:32 PM
Supposing you don't know the person, can you tell from their aikido techniques on the mat whether they're a good'un?(which is what I read from the initial post)
Wish I had a scan to upload... Remember the Far Side 'toon with two police butterflies leading another from his apartment with butterfly specimens pinned and mounted in their glass boxes? The horn-rimmed landlady was incredulously speaking that inevitale cliche re: serial killers, "He seemed like such a nice guy. Polite. Kept to himself."

Whether you like Clinton or not, compartmentalization seems to be the human order of the day and virtue here will hide horror there. Hitler didn't cheat on Eva; Churchill and Roosevelt did cheat on their wives. Who was vituous? Even as he led folk from a corrutp church, Martin Luther was unleashing ferocious slanders against the Jews. Who can be virtuous unconditionally? It is ironies like these which led me to recoil from the absolutism of Mr. Rychwa. I hope this helps him understand why I, at least, demurred from his point of view as "idealistic."

Dennis Hooker
05-27-2003, 02:42 PM
I believe there is one truth to this and that is we as individual teachers will in the end apply our values to the art. If we as teachers are teaching more than the applied mechanics of physical technique then our teaching can not exclude our social, cultural and moral underpinnings. Even those teaching only physical mechanics of technique are governed but how much violence is acceptable. They yield to the moral codes of law governing our society. Now as Mr. Linden teaches in a family dojo located on his property and is a part of his everyday living environment I believe it is necessary to set up a rigid set of codes to live by. Just as my children had to live buy my code of conduct when they came of age or move out, so must my students live by my rules in my dojo. I believe no one with a sustainable dojo can say "we have no rules". When you have rules you have ethics and morals. We are only discussing the degrees of difference and what a teacher will tolerate, that is all. Aikido in the end belongs to each of us and we mold and shape to fit the collective social animal we have become. My spiritually is individual and not a copy of someone else's and I sure as hell can't teach it to anyone. By living by the codes I have embodied I may set an example (good or bad) that people can follow. I believe there is no definitive Aikido. However I believe that all the various Aikidos must have some degree of social controls applied or the anarchy would soon burn its self out. I think you could not get any two Shihan to agree on what Aikido is, but every one will tell you what is not.

Erik
05-27-2003, 02:44 PM
Supposing you don't know the person, can you tell from their aikido techniques on the mat whether they're a good'un?(which is what I read from the initial post)
In every human activity there have been those who have risen to the top levels who were not decent people by most moral standards. People rise to the top levels because of ability (much more of a prerequisite than we admit), determination, luck, coaching, and other traits. We have tons of examples of teachers, coaches and the like who produced exceptional students despite their failings.

Aikido is not so special that only 'good' people can obtain skill.

Is there a price for moral failings? Inherently no, however, in reality there is. If I killed someone I'd likely wind up in jail which could seriously curtail my mat time. Drug use has ruined more than a few professional athletes.

Can you tell if someone is moral by their technique? Maybe and maybe not. I have a video of Bruce Klickstein along with Robert Nadeau, Frank Doran and Bill Witt where he easily outshines them in my opinion. He clearly had skill, he was charismatic and he had his supporters. I have also felt sensei's who were remarkable human beings, in my opinion, whose aikido didn't taste very good as they were rough and somewhat harsh in the application of their technique.

On the other hand, how many people did Bruce Klickstein send to the hospital?

A few years back I visited a dojo and found myself in a very strange confrontation with the sensei. It felt like I was competing with this guy which is very strange because he had mucho notches on the belt. At one point he started yelling at me in the middle of class which was so strange I didn't even register it. Fortunately, this never manifested itself in technique and I lived to never go back. Over the next few years a ran into some of his ex-students. The story was consistently the same and my experience was not unique. The guy had driven many of his students away but technically he did aikido.

I guess my only point in this is that you can't be precisely sure just by technique. It can perhaps be a barometer (broken arms, concussions, which some would still debate) but I don't think it stands by itself.

shihonage
05-27-2003, 03:14 PM
I don't like the fact that a thread with this title exists at all.

ikkainogakusei
05-27-2003, 04:47 PM
I don't like the fact that a thread with this title exists at all.
Why?

mike lee
05-29-2003, 10:05 AM
It may be interesting to note at this juncture that “evil” individuals often do not believe that they are evil. They often offer up a host of “reasons” for their actions, which are generally in the form of some “ideal.” (The early “Christians” and their crusades are a good example of this phenomenon. This also indicates the hazards of what psychologists call “group think,” that is, entire groups of people acting in concert, regardless of whether their actions are right or wrong.)

“Bad” people generally like to go quickly into denial. A womanizer, for example, may gloss over his immoral activities by simply saying that he's “fulfilling his `natural' urges” or “sewing some `wild oats' before settling down.” He may also add that, “everybody does it, and that it's all in the name of `love.'”

It's been said that “A man reaps what he sows.” [Galatians 6:7]

Therefore, it would be hazardous to continue to fool ourselves about our negative actions. This is why, I think, the concept of spiritual purification is important.

A person needs two basic elements in place before successfully undergoing purification. First, one needs to know how to undergo the process, whichever process that may be (Native American sweat-lodge, fasting, religious retreats, etc.) The basic process can often last anywhere from one day to 40 days. (It's my belief that one should use some method of purification on a daily basis.) Whatever form one uses, it's best to first place one's self under the direction of someone who's very knowledgeable in the process.

Secondly, one needs to know why one's going through the process of spiritual purification. This explanation is hopefully making this clear.

The concept of spiritual purification has been around for a long time and can be found in many cultures. O-Sensei even talks about its importance in some of his writings.

Unfortunately, it appears that in this modern world, the concept and value of spiritual purification is being lost. This is a tragic mistake, because as I said at the beginning of this essay, people often prevent themselves from being consciously aware of the fact that many of the things they are doing are wrong.

Generally accepted “cultural norms” are no excuse, because sooner or later, they will need to pay the piper. That's what the Buddhists call “bad karma.”

Kevin Wilbanks
05-29-2003, 01:02 PM
ML,

It must be nice to have it all figured out, not only for yourself, but everyone else as well. Personally, I find the kind of smug, moralistic certitude you express here extremely distasteful, although not as bad as your usual drive-bys. If you are the exemplar of what all that spiritual purification and enlightenment comes to, I, for one, hope it has nothing necessary to do with Aikido whatsoever.

Admittedly this is an ad hominem retort, but I believe the sanctimony and judgementality of the post invites it.

opherdonchin
05-29-2003, 03:11 PM
Ouch.

And so unnecessary.

Misogi-no-Gyo
05-29-2003, 04:30 PM
ML,

It must be nice to have it all figured out, not only for yourself, but everyone else as well. Personally, I find the kind of smug, moralistic certitude you express here extremely distasteful, although not as bad as your usual drive-bys. If you are the exemplar of what all that spiritual purification and enlightenment comes to, I, for one, hope it has nothing necessary to do with Aikido whatsoever.

Admittedly this is an ad hominem retort, but I believe the sanctimony and judgementality of the post invites it.
I re-read Mike's post, and found it to be very thought provoking. I did not read into it, in the manner of, "Well, he should talk about himself." or "He is telling me what I should do." I found that he offered a way that, perhaps, a “person” could improve himself. He then gave an opinion that he felt that this path is somewhat ignored, of late, and I would agree with that statement with the caveat that there are always those that seek enlightenment via ascetic practices (Misogi being one that O-Sensei prescribed to), however, they are not, nor should they be, the norm in society.

I for one don't believe that society will necessarily improve from everyone achieving enlightenment. I believe that as individuals, we improve at certain points along the path, only to discover that to be "human" is to revert back to the way we were before enlightenment - thus creating the value and the necessity of continued training.

I will say that I thought that your post was not only smug, but offered neither anything in terms of your own opinion of the subject, or some form of additional method that may be the way that you seek a higher plain along with an idea about why you prefer that method.

Dave Miller
05-29-2003, 04:47 PM
Personally, I find the kind of smug, moralistic certitude you express here extremely distasteful...It's a general loathing to allow for "moralistic certitude" that allows a lot of nonsense to continue in our world. You talk like morality is such a fluid thing that no one has the right to make a factual statement concerning morality. However, I doubt very much that you actually practice such a relativistic view. If someone broke into your house and took your posessions, I suspect that you would not hesitate to impose upon them your moral conviction that stealing is wrong and have them arrested and punished.

;)

Kevin Wilbanks
05-29-2003, 06:30 PM
It's a general loathing to allow for "moralistic certitude" that allows a lot of nonsense to continue in our world. You talk like morality is such a fluid thing that no one has the right to make a factual statement concerning morality. However, I doubt very much that you actually practice such a relativistic view. If someone broke into your house and took your posessions, I suspect that you would not hesitate to impose upon them your moral conviction that stealing is wrong and have them arrested and punished.

;)
The idea that there are moral "facts" is simply absurd. Morality most certainly is relative, as there are almost as many different profiles of moral beliefs and positions as there are people on the earth. If there is any fact about morality this would be it. Everyone has their own subjective moral beliefs, which are really not much more than a bunch of made up thought patterns, sometimes rigidly structured, sometimes not. What these have to do with anyone else is beyond me. The fact that they have no real reference except the person's own mind and experience doesn't make them invalid for them.

People are just like other animals, except with an extra layer of brain slapped on top. Appetites, desires, and instincts are what comes first, and consciousness follows, which I have no problem with. Nothing about this precludes one from defending one's life or property, or doing pretty much anything that even seems based upon principles.

The problem seems to be that some people can't be content with this simple reality, and need to have their actions sanctified by something higher and grander than their lowly gut. So we end up with Gods, religions, "objectivity", fancy codes of repression and proscription. Whatever. To me the 'truth' value of all this elaborate thought structure is uninteresting, because it is all so obviously a bunch of made-up nonsense.

What is interesting is what the person actually does, and how it effects what other people do and want to do (especially me and people I know personally). If I don't like what someone else does, nothing in what I'm saying precludes me from doing something about it, but I'm not going to delude myself that it comes from anything more high-falutin' than just me.

Personally, I have found much liberation and life improvement in putting immediate experience, perception and emotions first, and relegating most thought that isn't directly practical to the status of optionally entertaining mind chatter (like this activity I'm doing now).

otto
05-29-2003, 07:55 PM
No morals "standards" Mr.Wilbanks??..I certainly wouldnt like to live in such a World.

What about respect (not to say love) for human life? , or the ever popular social rule "Thou wont steal"??

Arent those worldwide recognized social/spiritual/moral guidelines that most humans beings on earth "at least" recognize?

I certainly agree with you that definining hardcodes of moral or ethics are certainly a waste of time (especially in absence of beer :)) but i personally think you've gone a lil bit too far on your considerations about morality standards.

Lastly I would like to mention , that someone who lets his life be lead by his emotions and desires is by my standards a weak individual.....something I somehow have trouble associating with you.

Just some sincere thoughts and ideas..please be gentle :D.

Plus KI!.

P.D: by the way the HIIT routine is giving some very good results..

Kevin Wilbanks
05-29-2003, 08:43 PM
No morals "standards" Mr.Wilbanks??..I certainly wouldnt like to live in such a World.
That's too bad. I'm sure you'll be missed. Have you settled on a method yet? I believe massive quantities of dynamite would be a rather spectacular and painless way to go... Seriously, though, stick around. You're still young. You may come to like it after all. Personally, I don't think the fact that few people agree on anything whatsoever is cause for despair. It's actually fun in a zany, nihilistic sort of way.
Lastly I would like to mention , that someone who lets his life be lead by his emotions and desires is by my standards a weak individual.....something I somehow have trouble associating with you.
I contend that everyone is led by their instincts and emotions, and differences in ideas and the seeming character of various people is all about which feelings and drives they tend to gravitate towards, and what kind of BS thought structures they use to rationalize them.

When I see someone who adheres strictly to an elaborate code, I see a structure based on fear, and a lack of trust in the seething cauldron of animal impulses beneath. When I see a sanctimonious moralist, I see indulgence in a certain sensation of powerfulness as their favorite flavor... the whole 'self-over-other' trip. These people seem to be particularly down on the ones who emphasize sex and pleasure drives, which kind of pisses me off, I admit. The pleasure-oriented, of course, are having too much fun most of the time to care... I'm working on joining them, but recovering from life as a philosopher is a difficult road.

Glad to hear about the HIIT.

PhilJ
05-29-2003, 10:43 PM
I like some of what's being said, Kevin, that morality as a global definition can be like nailing jello to the wall.

But also like you said, we do differ from animals with that extra layer of brain. I think what separates us is the fact that we can make choices about our impulses (genetic malfunctions aside). Our morals and beliefs and words don't make us who we are, it's what we do, isn't it?

For some, following morals and beliefs make those choices easier. Look at religions, the samurai, the militaries of the world. Some folks need that kind of guidance. Does needing guidance make you weak? I think it makes us fallible humans, nothing more or less. In aikido, we can't afford to judge people on things like this, it slows us and stops ki.

Needing guidance makes us human beings, because we are aware we have the power of choice. Kind of like having parents, right? Some folks who didn't have parents may see guidance as a sign of weakness, but that too is just a perception/judgement that only hurts the wielder, not the recipient of that judgement.

Morality or not, here we are, and we interact with others every day. Our beliefs and personal 'codes' guide us, but what makes us what we are is what we do, not what we believe in.

My $.02, thanks for the chance. :)

*Phil

otto
05-30-2003, 08:32 AM
Have you settled on a method yet? I believe massive quantities of dynamite would be a rather spectacular and painless way to go...
That's so old fashioned...havent you heard about nuclear fission? :)

Pity you didnt posted your thoughts on my question..
...can be like nailing jello to the wall.

LOL where do you guys get those methaphores. :D
...what makes us what we are is what we do, not what we believe in.
Amen to that Brother.

Plus KI.

twilliams423
05-30-2003, 09:59 AM
While I am loathe to opine on the topic of morality, I can say one thing about the notion that the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" is a universally accepted moral/spiritual truism.

Having had the opportunity to serve in the Peace Corps, I lived for a couple of years on a small Polynesian island in the So. Pacific. I learned a whole lot about moral relativism here. The concept of stealing is quite unlike anything we are used to in western society. Communal societies, at least the neighborhood in which I lived, have more of what you might call a "pro-active sharing" policy. Anything that is in my possession can become yours if you can find a way to get it and visa versa.

Also, I found that there is a difference in the way that we in west experience guilt about our moral failings because we believe the act is intrinsically wrong. Other cultures scan be more shame oriented, as if its only bad because you got caught and it reflects badly on your extended family.

Tom

opherdonchin
05-30-2003, 11:36 AM
The idea that there are moral "facts" is simply absurd.I'm afraid I can't agree with this statement. Well, I'm not sure what you (or anyone) means exactly when they say 'moral "facts,"' but I can't think of any understanding of it that I would agree with.

If you mean 'facts about morality' (which is what makes the most sense to me), then I would venture that there are some quick ones I can come up with.

1) A persons moral code is probably more correlated with those of his social group than with the moral code of others.

2) The correlation between answers to yes/no moral questions given by different people will be well above chance, even if they are taken from vastly different cultures.

I could come up with more, but these two seem like the ones most central for trying to understand what morality is.

I'm not sure why this is such an important point, or why Kevin's rhetoric is extreme on it. I just thought that this one point was probably overstated.
Personally, I have found much liberation and life improvement in putting immediate experience, perception and emotions first, and relegating most thought that isn't directly practical to the status of optionally entertaining mind chatterOn the other hand, this is a statement I completely agree with.

Dave Miller
05-30-2003, 02:01 PM
The idea that there are moral "facts" is simply absurd. Morality most certainly is relative, as there are almost as many different profiles of moral beliefs and positions as there are people on the earth. If there is any fact about morality this would be it. Everyone has their own subjective moral beliefs, which are really not much more than a bunch of made up thought patterns, sometimes rigidly structured, sometimes not. What these have to do with anyone else is beyond me. The fact that they have no real reference except the person's own mind and experience doesn't make them invalid for them.Is that a fact? Then please explain how in canibalistic cultures that certain kinds of killing is still considered murder and condemned and explain how even in polygamist societies that marital fidelity is still valued? All this talk about moral relativism sound fine untill someone "cheats" you.

The fact that we all know that murder is wrong and that we all know when we're being cheated (and respond accordingly) suggests that there are indeed commonly accessible moral facts based on a moral code which is both beyond us and known by all of us. Whereas cultures may differ in the details of what this code means, the large concepts are agreed upon to an astonishingly high degree.

I hear lots of people talk a big talk about being moral relativists but the talk ends when things don't go their way and they're the ones getting cheated or taken advantage of or wronged in some way.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-30-2003, 02:27 PM
For some, following morals and beliefs make those choices easier. Look at religions, the samurai, the militaries of the world. Some folks need that kind of guidance.
So, morality is a tool used by those more powerful and who presumably know better to control the herd? Now we're getting somewhere...

Opher,

I was addressing the idea of moral 'facts' such as a particular proscription being correct, or specific actions being wrong. I don't think moral facts were being talked about in the descriptive, sociological sense that you describe.

Obviously, some moral beliefs are more popular than others, both within and across cultures. Off hand, I'd say that it's the result of the fact that all humans are pretty physiologically similar. Fear of being killed, for instance, is pretty common, so proscriptions about killing are common. Nothing mysterious about that to me.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-30-2003, 02:47 PM
Dave,

See what I wrote above. Similarities in made-up thought patterns arising from similarities in physical constitution imply little about higher powers or objective truths.

As far as how this all plays out on a personal level, I think you are missing the big picture. If someone tries to kill me or take my stuff, why do I need to refer to some objective moral code to take care of business? I contend that I will be better able to deal with these situations by just being present, keeping my mind empty, and trusting myself to improvise. In this case, it's just simple, immediate self-interest.

It doesn't prevent me from doing so-called altruistic acts either. If I happen to really like dogs, and decide to give a bunch of money to the humane society, run a dog shelter, or go out and round up strays, I can do that. I don't have to think treating dogs in certain ways has been decreed wrong by Allah or prohibited by some glimmering absolute code floating out in infinite space somewhere. It could be that I just have a personal emotional connection with dogs, and don't like seeing them treated in certain ways, so I do something about it.

It's simple and personal, no extraneous high-falutin' nonsense. No matter what you do or why, it's you who are doing it and who decided to do it. Adding all that stuff about morality and absolutes just seems like arrogance to me. We are all just small neotonous ape-like creatures of no grand significance in any way to anyone except ourselves and a handfull of other creatures who interact with us.

Dave Miller
05-30-2003, 03:50 PM
If someone tries to kill me or take my stuff, why do I need to refer to some objective moral code to take care of business? I contend that I will be better able to deal with these situations by just being present, keeping my mind empty, and trusting myself to improvise. In this case, it's just simple, immediate self-interest.But the problem comes in two forms:One, we make a point of saying that that person has wronged us by trying to steal our stuff or cheating us. This is what we mean when we talk about "fairness", being treated as we "ought" to be treated.

Second, we don't just act in self-interest but we act in morally justified self-interest. The reason we work to get our stuff back and don't think it wrong is because we are working to correct a wrong, specifically that our stuff was stolen or we were cheated.If all this talk about moral relativism has any substance then why do we get all worked up about things like cheating and stealing and fairness? It's much more than simple self-interest.

Consider the concept of justice. We all know when an injustice is done. Why do we know this? Because such a thing as justice actually exists. Granted, it may exist as a fuzzy, Platonic concept but it still is there, whether we want to admit it or not.

PhilJ
05-30-2003, 05:56 PM
So, morality is a tool used by those more powerful and who presumably know better to control the herd? Now we're getting somewhere...
No Kevin, that is your perception of what I wrote, but isn't what was typed. Just like most arguments in life, your angle is experience-based. Events in your past push you to think that, same as they do everyone else.

I wrote:
For some, following morals and beliefs make those choices easier. Look at religions, the samurai, the militaries of the world. Some folks need that kind of guidance.
That's it, nothing more. You see it as point of manipulating others, some see it as a need. Aikido sees it as a matter of fact. The glass isn't half-empty or half-full, it's both. Aikido recognizes the symbiosis and necessity of BOTH sides of the coin. Never is there a one-sided quarter, right? There is no "good" side or "bad" side to the coin or glass of water -- it simply _is_ .

I believe Aikido reflects the truths of the universe, not the subjectivity of it. This is why I don't believe that aikido was meant to be a tool for judgement of others or morality. It's just a pair of clean glasses, no smudges of experience, no stains from the past, just clean, clean glass.

*Phil

Kevin Wilbanks
05-30-2003, 10:21 PM
Dave,

You may make a point of determining how wrong things are or qualifying moral justifications on some absolute scale but I don't see how this is necessary, especially since I seem to do fine without such machinations. As I've said, this seems like adding an extraneous and arrogant layer of importance to what is in fact a quite simple situation. Why not invoke the interventions of Hermes, Zeus, and Hera while you're at it? People seem to have an impulse to see themselves reflected on some grander level, but that doesn't make it true.

Your 'arguments' are all either bald assertions or of the form "people believe it, so it must be true". Not convincing. Sounds like a bunch of made-up stuff to me.

Phil,

If it's not an issue about manipulating others, then to whom is the adherence to some rote moral code a "need". I suspect that out-of-control people not following moral codes is much more of a problem for those in power and/or others around them than it is for them.

As far as all the grand pronouncements about what "Aikido" does... sounds like a bunch of made-up stuff to me. I can't even begin to assess those peculiar collections of words, but it looks like you are having a problem with improperly anthropomorphizing 'Aikido' for starters. It's a noun, but not that kind of noun.

opherdonchin
05-30-2003, 10:52 PM
People seem to have an impulse to see themselves reflected on some grander level, but that doesn't make it true.Actually, I'm not sure about that. After all, who determines the 'grandness' of the scale? Why, people do. I people say (or feel or see or think or whatever) that the scale is grander, who could possibly gainsay them. Indeed, since they made up both the notion of grandness and the notion of scale, I'd say that it's their right to assign grandness to scales in any way they like.If it's not an issue about manipulating others, then to whom is the adherence to some rote moral code a "need".I read Phil to be saying that the need was internal to the people seeking the guidance. I feel a strong need to feel loved, other people feel a strong need to feel like they fit into a clearly articulated scheme of things. Perhaps this internal need can be manipulated by the powerful and cynical, but the need must be there (at least in rudimentary form) before it can be maniuplated.

Actually, reading Phil's post again, I'm not so sure Kevin and Phil disagree.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-31-2003, 12:26 AM
Actually, I'm not sure about that. After all, who determines the 'grandness' of the scale? Why, people do. I people say (or feel or see or think or whatever) that the scale is grander, who could possibly gainsay them. Indeed, since they made up both the notion of grandness and the notion of scale, I'd say that it's their right to assign grandness to scales in any way they like.
Sure, people are free to be legends in their own minds. I figure pretty prominently in my own mythology. Once again, however, you seem determined to confuse the actual evaluation of a particular proposition with some sort of meta-level analysis about the subject, proposition, and overall situation. If someone wants to think that their last bowel movement was the evinced by the gods of earth and thunder, that's fine, and the meaning of the incident may be of interest to the academic/analytical-minded. However, if this person tries to convince me to believe in actual gods of earth and thunder, outside the realm of their own little mental playpen full of made-up stuff, then we have a problem... Any scale beyond the immediate reality of a naked ape with relatively ordinary physiological urges and processes is pretty evidently grandiose to anyone not directly involved, and probably to most who are.

opherdonchin
05-31-2003, 01:02 AM
Once again, however, you seem determined to confuse the actual evaluation of a particular proposition with some sort of meta-level analysis about the subject, proposition, and overall situation.I don't know if I'm 'determined to be confused,' or if I just find the two levels confusing. I'd say we should give me the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not sure which way it would go.

I see your point, though. I guess what I'm still confused about is whether the use of a 'morality' is supposed to be personal (in which case it is only my role in my own internal 'morality play' that matters) or extra-personal. That is, why am I trying to convince you about my view of morality in the first place.

As I understand things, if it's just personal than we both agree that some people might find it useful (although you say you don't and I don't think I do very often, either). In fact, some people might find it so useful, they feel an urge to share their view with others in the hopes that others will also find it useful. That's a legitimate hope, I think, and spills the personal morality over into extra-personal space in a potentially useful way. Of course, that potentially useful way also has the potential to be annoying or even destructive.

There is also the truly extra-personal understanding of morality which has to do with people making an effort to control each other through social contracts and legal systems and the like. I think it's likely that our personal sense of morality evolved to facilitate this since societies would be unmanageable without it.

So, I'm still confused about where it is that morality doesn't 'exist.' I'm sorry if I'm being dense. I'm not trying to be.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-31-2003, 10:05 AM
Doesn't exist? Uh oh. I'm not sure I want to get into that. That would depend on what kinds of things you think exist. It depends upon how you view thoughts. If you're with the semiotics people, morals or systems of morality might exist. If you're some kind of a Platonist, and think thoughts only refer, and it is the referents which exist, then maybe not. Then the whole of morality might be a bunch of empty thought-patterns which have no real references. For instance, does Santa Claus exist? In what sense? I used to have a professor who argued that you cannot think about Santa Claus, as there is no Santa Claus to think about... and to think I quit philosophy.

"As I understand things, if it's just personal than we both agree that some people might find it useful (although you say you don't and I don't think I do very often, either). In fact, some people might find it so useful, they feel an urge to share their view with others in the hopes that others will also find it useful. That's a legitimate hope, I think, and spills the personal morality over into extra-personal space in a potentially useful way. Of course, that potentially useful way also has the potential to be annoying or even destructive."

This is an awfully benign-sounding account of proselytization, which I think annoys almost everyone who doesn't do it at the very least. Morals and religious views are by their nature extremely individual and personal, and it seems to me the whole idea of trying to alter someone elses in any way except by exemplary action is inherently flawed. The 'urge to share it with others' is the crux of the problem, and in fact an automatic boundary-transgression with anyone who isn't completely floundering and labile. Acting on the basis of one's made-up moral thoughts, yes; trying to convince others to abide by those thoughts, no.

The problem again, is that moral proselytizers don't present their views to others as a humble suggestion, based upon the practicality and usefulness of those views. It's not like "try this new vacuum cleaner, it really works!" On the contrary, they try to pursuade based upon the content, which is usually sancified as absolutely true by the authority of gods and sacred books. Unfortunately, the content is usually also a bunch of unbelievable, unnecessarily oppressive nonsense that would require anyone who thinks to abandon the habit before proceeding any further. Hence, whatever practical value adherence to the beliefs might have is lost, anyway.

PhilJ
05-31-2003, 01:14 PM
The problem again, is that moral proselytizers don't present their views to others as a humble suggestion, based upon the practicality and usefulness of those views. ... On the contrary, they try to pursuade based upon the content, which is usually sancified as absolutely true by the authority of gods and sacred books. Unfortunately, the content is usually also a bunch of unbelievable, unnecessarily oppressive nonsense that would require anyone who thinks to abandon the habit before proceeding any further. Hence, whatever practical value adherence to the beliefs might have is lost, anyway.
Kevin, do you see how you're putting yourself in this very group of people?

Opher, I can't tell if Kevin and I agree or not because his words are too big. :) Honestly, it isn't a matter I'm concerned about because I'm not looking for consensus.

My point was that I believe aikido, as an evaluator-of-morals and "good" vs "bad", is not an accurate reflection of what Osensei taught. We can diverge all we want, and some folks will inevitably use it as a tool for manipulation or preaching. The responsibility ultimately falls upon the user and not the art itself. Aikido itself has nothing to do with morality... the folks who use it, however, may impart those moral values through teaching, and that is when the aikido stops and preaching begins.

(BTW, I don't mean to imply preaching morals is inappropriate int he general sense -- I have selective hearing.) :)

*Phil

opherdonchin
05-31-2003, 01:19 PM
The 'urge to share it with others' is the crux of the problem, and in fact an automatic boundary-transgression with anyone who isn't completely floundering and labile.One could argue that here you are both expressing a morality you feel transcends your personal made-up thoughts and sharing it with others in the hopes that it will be useful to them. I have to admit to personally finding it very useful.

I agree that proselytizing can be abusive and abrasive. On the other hand, it's clearly wrong to say that it annoys almost everyone. If that were true, it wouldn't work very well when, in fact, it often works and the proselyitzed and the proselytizing (which of them is the proselyte?) feel they have benefitted. Most people who take up a new religion do so because of encounters they've had with people willing to share their experience of that religion. Most people who take up a new religion feel they have benefitted by doing so. There is something going on here that transcends the notion of 'made-up thoughts.' You can say that it has an explanation in terms of the physiology, psychology and sociology of human beings -- that it has 'scientific' explanation. I personally would say that while that's probably true, it misses the point.

opherdonchin
05-31-2003, 01:21 PM
My point was that I believe aikido, as an evaluator-of-morals and "good" vs "bad", is not an accurate reflection of what Osensei taught.I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this.

PhilJ
05-31-2003, 03:23 PM
Opher,

Like using a yardstick to measure how long it takes to bake a lasagna, or, using an electric screwdriver to hammer in a nail.

Osensei taught how we are part of the same "bigger thing", and that aikido is just manifestations of that universe, right? How can the universe possibly be moral or have moral values?

Granted, people have those beliefs and values. But the universe doesn't share our viewpoint most of the time. My thought is that we can have good morals, be neighborly, etc. outside of aikido -- we're people, and that's what separates us from the emotionlessness of "the Big Thing". Aikido nurtures and encourages morality along the way, but never judges it.

Now, if I can just practice this daily myself, I'd be content. :)

*Phil

happysod
06-02-2003, 05:14 AM
Phil, have to disagree with the absolute nature of your post re aikido nurturing morality, I think several posts have mentioned not only abusive senseis but also competiive dojos etc. Also, this presupposes that the morality aspect is actually taught/alluded to in some way, not my experience in many of the dojos I've been to.

Opher, Kevin, enjoying the dialogue, have either of you come across the model which likens all philosphies and religions to a virus? Interesting analogy as it does cover the main points of both, needs a carrier, some are more suceptible that others and an excess can be damaging to the host body. I've considered aikido and how it fits and decided it's more of a mushroom (departing student = spores etc. :D )

PeterR
06-02-2003, 05:42 AM
Ian - inadvertantly I'm sure - provides a good example as to why Aikido can not be a moral thermometer.

If we could all get togeather and decide what constitutes abusive behaviour we would probably agree that it is immoral.

However, do you consider competition to be immoral? It might be against the tenents of the Aikikai but immoral?
Phil, have to disagree with the absolute nature of your post re aikido nurturing morality, I think several posts have mentioned not only abusive senseis but also competiive dojos etc. Also, this presupposes that the morality aspect is actually taught/alluded to in some way, not my experience in many of the dojos I've been to.

happysod
06-02-2003, 06:42 AM
Peter, whatever are you alluding to, I've never been indavertant in my life and anyway, all charges were dropped..

Do I consider competition immoral? That would depend on the prize and means used to win. My main reason for including the competitive dojo was the gist of the original post was they were not "nice" (horrible word) and seemed hardly suitable for teaching the aikido morality that many seem to profess.

Get together to decide on what constitutes abuse? Can't think of an easier way to start "sensei wars" offhand, could be fun for a while but I'll pass and stick with my own egotistical decisions on a situational basis. (If you're referring to the "slapped" thread, we're at odds anyway - I can't see me ever tolerating or using that sort of behaviour from/on anyone)

Dave Miller
06-02-2003, 09:18 AM
The problem again, is that moral proselytizers don't present their views to others as a humble suggestion, based upon the practicality and usefulness of those views. It's not like "try this new vacuum cleaner, it really works!" On the contrary, they try to pursuade based upon the content, which is usually sancified as absolutely true by the authority of gods and sacred books. Unfortunately, the content is usually also a bunch of unbelievable, unnecessarily oppressive nonsense that would require anyone who thinks to abandon the habit before proceeding any further. Hence, whatever practical value adherence to the beliefs might have is lost, anyway.And yet, in the name of "moral relativism", you keep making absolute statements about how we who believe in moral absolutes are absolutely wrong morally. You make these silly statements about how accepting sacred books and such requires a person to check their brains at the door. If you are so above the fray intellectually, then prove it. Offer up for us the definitive knock-down, drag-out historical argument that once and for all dispells the "myth" of my christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ. Can you do that? To date, there hasn't been one that has survived critical scrutiny. Or is such an excercise beneath you because only a silly, uninformed, non-thinking person such as myself would choose to believe in such an outrageous idea?

The simple fact is, it's a lot easier to believe yourself an "authority unto yourself" rather than admitting that without some authority greater than yourself you can't really justify any moral proposition with anything other than a flimsy utilitarianist argument. Of course, the problem with utilitarianist arguments is deciding who's best interest is most important. You seem to think your's is most important but how are you morally justified in putting your well being ahead of anyone elses? I would suggest that to do so is completely arbitrary and selfish and does not reflect even the spirit of Aiki, which is unconditional love towards you fellow man.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-02-2003, 12:11 PM
And yet, in the name of "moral relativism", you keep making absolute statements about how we who believe in moral absolutes are absolutely wrong morally. You make these silly statements about how accepting sacred books and such requires a person to check their brains at the door. If you are so above the fray intellectually, then prove it. Offer up for us the definitive knock-down, drag-out historical argument that once and for all dispells the "myth" of my christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ. Can you do that? To date, there hasn't been one that has survived critical scrutiny. Or is such an excercise beneath you because only a silly, uninformed, non-thinking person such as myself would choose to believe in such an outrageous idea?

The simple fact is, it's a lot easier to believe yourself an "authority unto yourself" rather than admitting that without some authority greater than yourself you can't really justify any moral proposition with anything other than a flimsy utilitarianist argument. Of course, the problem with utilitarianist arguments is deciding who's best interest is most important. You seem to think your's is most important but how are you morally justified in putting your well being ahead of anyone elses? I would suggest that to do so is completely arbitrary and selfish and does not reflect even the spirit of Aiki, which is unconditional love towards you fellow man.
I would suggest that your emotional and histrionic post doesn't express much meaningful content that I can respond to. From a logical/philosophical point of view it's mostly a collection of gibberish.

As to the last bit, I put my wants and desires ahead of everyone else's because I'm me, and so do you. Selfish, yes. Arbitrary, no. Self-interest is probably the most automatic, least arbitrary fact of animal behavior.

PhilJ
06-02-2003, 03:26 PM
Phil, have to disagree with the absolute nature of your post re aikido nurturing morality, I think several posts have mentioned not only abusive senseis but also competiive dojos etc. Also, this presupposes that the morality aspect is actually taught/alluded to in some way, not my experience in many of the dojos I've been to.
You're right, Ian. People take out of aikido what they're looking for. I'm not trying to state that "aikido makes people nice". I'm saying it encourages examination of yourself to understand your attacker -- it doesn't guarantee it, but the underpinnings are there.

So, I'm not saying that it teaches us how to be moral. Aikido encourages looking at everything without bias, to see something for what it truly is.

Again, though, I agree with what you said relative to my paragraphs above... this is what "PhilJ" gets out of aikido. Aikido might be perfect if it weren't for the people. ;)

*Phil

opherdonchin
06-02-2003, 04:00 PM
Well, I'm not going to be as harsh about Dave's post as Kevin, but I also felt like it was carrying things a bit too far. You make these silly statements about how accepting sacred books and such requires a person to check their brains at the door.
I, personally, feel that there is a sense in which accepting sacred books does, indeed, require people to "check their brains at the door." Accepting seems, to me, to be the opposite of 'subjecting to critical scrutiny.' And subjecting to critical scrutiny is part of your brain. Perhaps it isn't the most important part, but it's certainly an important part. Of course, some accepting of something is clearly necesssary for anyone who wants to get on with the business of living, but that's a different and more subtle issue. Scientists wrestle with this issue (from which they are in no way immune) by using anotion of 'tentative' or 'conditional' acceptance. Something like, "I'll believe that for now, because I feel like it, but I'll try to remember to question it again soon."

Unless, of course, you meant 'accept' in the notion of 'agree that it exists.'
The simple fact is, it's a lot easier to believe yourself an "authority unto yourself" rather than admitting that without some authority greater than yourself you can't really justify any moral proposition with anything other than a flimsy utilitarianist argument.All right, that was a little convoluted. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that Kevin needs an authority greater than himself to justify any moral proposition (why?). In order to avoid that premise, he can instead reject the possibility of moral propositions and accept, instead, that he is the highest authority on what is right. Is this different than what Kevin himself is saying? If so, I don't see how.

What is especially unclear is whether you think the rejection of the premise of greater authority is a bad choice because it is an easy choice (why is it easy? why are easy choices bad?) or because the need to have some non-utilitarian justification for morality is just obvious. The last bit is exactly what Kevin seems to be rejecting: he doesn't seem to see a need for moral codes at all, and thus would not be concerned about whether they are justified by utilitarian arguments or others.

I may have completely misunderstood you, Dave, so feel free to give it another try.

Dave Miller
06-02-2003, 04:07 PM
I would suggest that your emotional and histrionic post doesn't express much meaningful content that I can respond to. From a logical/philosophical point of view it's mostly a collection of gibberish.

As to the last bit, I put my wants and desires ahead of everyone else's because I'm me, and so do you. Selfish, yes. Arbitrary, no. Self-interest is probably the most automatic, least arbitrary fact of animal behavior.Let's see, I ask a fairly straightforward question, asking for an historical apologetic and you say that I'm being emotional and histrionic? This suggests several possibilities to me:This is a question to which you have never given any great thought so you're not prepared to answer it. "Emotional and histrionic" is simply an easy way to marginalize my question.

You have given it some thought and know that it's actually a very challenging question, from an historical perspective, ergo the marginalization strategy.

You have decided a priori that such a thing couldn't possibly have happened and so dismiss it uncritically.So which would it be, Mr. Kevin? Or do you have some other reason for dismissing me so flippantly?

In terms of putting my wants and desires ahead of others', you're assuming that I'm anything like you, which I'm not. There are people, believe it or not, who make a regular habit of trying to put others before themselves. This, afterall, is part of what it means to love unconditionally...

Dave Miller
06-02-2003, 04:18 PM
I, personally, feel that there is a sense in which accepting sacred books does, indeed, require people to "check their brains at the door." Accepting seems, to me, to be the opposite of 'subjecting to critical scrutiny.' And subjecting to critical scrutiny is part of your brain. Perhaps it isn't the most important part, but it's certainly an important part. Of course, some accepting of something is clearly necesssary for anyone who wants to get on with the business of living, but that's a different and more subtle issue. Scientists wrestle with this issue (from which they are in no way immune) by using anotion of 'tentative' or 'conditional' acceptance. Something like, "I'll believe that for now, because I feel like it, but I'll try to remember to question it again soon."I will admit that there are people who "accept without critical scrutiny" sacred texts and such. I can assure you that I am do not fall into that category. I have subjected, and continue to subject, the christian scriptures to critical scrutiny. All I was suggesting of Kevin is that he employ some critical scrutiny as opposed to dismissing it out of hand and condemning those who accept it as true as silly, uninformed folks who check their brains.

As far as needing an authority greater then ourselves to make moral pronouncements, one of the basic principles of authority is that it is something bestowed, not taken. An officer in the military has authority because he is under the authority of his commanders. His commanders have authority because they report to their commanders and to the secretary of their particular branch. The secretary of that branch has authority because he is under the authority of the Commander in Chief (the President). The President has authority because we, the people, have installed him in office and granted him authority.

In the same way, to simply make moral statements without having the authority to do so is like trying to, as a civilian, give a soldior an order. You have no position from which to do so. Therefore, the best one can do is make a utilitarian argument.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-02-2003, 05:34 PM
D,

Opher is right: I need no arguments because I am making no moral statements, invoking no justifications. I do things because I want to, and that's that. Everyone does, by definition, it's just that some require a lot of fancy window dressing that I consider delusional. "Putting others ahead of oneself" is an interpretation of the value and purpose of an action. You decided to take that action, and prioritize those values. Unless those "others" are somehow occupying your subjective conscious states and manipulating your body like a puppet, that is...

As far as checking the brain at the door goes, the astute reader will have observed that you are going a long way toward proving me right. Ditto the point on the association between moralist tendencies and a taste for the sensation of power that goes with judging others and striking righteous poses. You know virtually nothing about how I associate with the people except as a discussion board persona, yet you have no problem making a whole slew of denigrating judgements about me.

As to the question of proving that a particular human was not 'resurrected' two millenia ago, I'm sorry, but I'm not a logic/critical thinking tutor. The major issue is of course that one cannot readily prove a negative unless one has access to an infinite set of data/observations. Secondary and tertiary issues, include the lack of any reliable data whatsoever, and the lack of clearly defined language, for starters. Or, as I said before, the question is gibberish.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-02-2003, 08:49 PM
Just passing through again, and noticed that I misspoke. One only needs an infinite data set to prove a negative generalization (i.e, all swans are white). Not applicable to the question at hand, but near-omniscience of some sort would be needed to prove such a vague and old negative. In any case, the question is parlor sophistry. If one is proposing that something opposite to anything ever observed and verified by anyone is true, the burden of proof is upon the claim, not the negative. Different fish, similar smell.

mike lee
06-03-2003, 03:14 AM
I don't think that it's necessary to "believe in" the resurrection or holy books in order to grasp the importance of having a moral compass. The Bible and the Buddhist sutras contain invaluable information that can help to set one out on the right path. But one also has to learn to cultivate what the Buddhists call "right view," otherwise, one's approach, although morally correct, is not spiritually correct.

By grasping the concept of "cause and effect," one can begin to understand the reasoning behind the importance of morality.

Dave Miller
06-03-2003, 09:40 AM
As to the question of proving that a particular human was not 'resurrected' two millenia ago, I'm sorry, but I'm not a logic/critical thinking tutor. The major issue is of course that one cannot readily prove a negative unless one has access to an infinite set of data/observations. Secondary and tertiary issues, include the lack of any reliable data whatsoever, and the lack of clearly defined language, for starters. Or, as I said before, the question is gibberish.K,

You dissappoint me. As someone who talks as if they're fairly informed about major issues in philosophy, you seem to be unaware of the crucial nature of this question in a debate on moral absolutes. Even a cursory survey of the debate over the nature of the historical Jesus will show that not only is this question not gibberish, it has been one of the more hotly debated questions in philosophy and history for several centuries.

As far as proving a negative, it's not necessarily all that hard. In fact, this is one of the things that science does on a daily basis. To disprove the proposition "All swans are white", all one need do is find one non-white swan. To disprove the geocentric universe, all one needed to do was show that something revolved around a stellar body other than the Earth (namely the sun). In this case, in order to disprove the resurrection of Christ, all one need do is produce an alternative explanation for the facts surrounding its supposed occurrance. Several such scenerios have been suggested and all have failed to survive critical scrutiny.

With all due respect, sir, I suggest you do some homework before you call someone's question gibberish. If the best you have is to continue to attempt to marginalize my question, then perhaps I have over estimated you.

;)

For Mike, notice that I'm not talking about simply "believing in" something (certainly not in a blind, naive sense) but am basing my assertions on the authority of a unique historical event. If this unique historical event were shown to be false, then the very authority of the christian scriptures, especially their moral authority would suffer a death blow. The christian scriptures themselves attest to this. Paul told the church in Corinth that if Christ did not indeed raise from the dead, then christians are above all men the most pitiable. This is the challenge that I have offered to Kevin. Unfortunately, he seems to have failed to grasp its magnitude.

opherdonchin
06-03-2003, 09:52 AM
I have subjected, and continue to subject, the christian scriptures to critical scrutinyI would argue, then, that you do not accept them, unless it is tentatively. Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by 'accept.'one of the basic principles of authority is that it is something bestowed, not taken. ... In the same way, to simply make moral statements without having the authority to do so is like trying to, as a civilian, give a soldior an order.That is, we as moral agents have the ability to 'bestow' moral authority on anyone (or anything) we choose. For instance, I can bestow moral authority on my Rabbi and choose to believe that his word reflects the good. I can also bestow it on a scripture, if I choose to do so. Similarly, Kevin can bestow it on himself although he will not represent a moral authority to anyone except himself. On the other hand, following your logic, nobody -- not even god -- can claim moral authority simply by claiming it. If I do not bestow moral authority upon god, or the scriptures, or whatever, then it simply doesn't apply to me.

It's funny how, reading your posts carefully, I always seem to find you saying things that are very similar to what Kevin is saying. Either I'm not understanding you very well, Dave, or I'm not understanding Kevin, or something is going on here that's very interesting.

Dave Miller
06-03-2003, 10:13 AM
I would argue, then, that you do not accept them, unless it is tentatively. Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by 'accept.'Most people seem to be reading 'accept' as "choose to believe uncritically". I take 'accept' to mean "take as true based on survival of critical scrutiny".

You are indeed right in that my acceptance of the christian scriptures is tentative. All it would take is someone to finally and completely discredit the Resurrection of Christ and I would be the first one "out the door". This is the crux and seat of christian teaching and without it, christian teaching is devoid of moral authority by virtue of its own criterium.That is, we as moral agents have the ability to 'bestow' moral authority on anyone (or anything) we choose. For instance, I can bestow moral authority on my Rabbi and choose to believe that his word reflects the good. I can also bestow it on a scripture, if I choose to do so. Similarly, Kevin can bestow it on himself although he will not represent a moral authority to anyone except himself. On the other hand, following your logic, nobody -- not even god -- can claim moral authority simply by claiming it. If I do not bestow moral authority upon god, or the scriptures, or whatever, then it simply doesn't apply to me.

It's funny how, reading your posts carefully, I always seem to find you saying things that are very similar to what Kevin is saying. Either I'm not understanding you very well, Dave, or I'm not understanding Kevin, or something is going on here that's very interesting.I am suggesting that no mere finite person can claim moral authority for themselves. God, however, as an infinite being who, according to the christian scriptures, created the universe and therefore established the rules that govern it, is in a position to function as a moral authority unto himself.

This is simple causality. For every effect, there must be a cause. However, an infinite regress of secondary causes is logically not possible. Therefore, there must be a primary cause, a "prime mover" as Aristotle suggested. Without such an overarching, transcendant moral authority then Kevin is indeed correct and there is no moral truth. In that situation then I have no moral authority to tell anyone they're wrong about anything, we have no moral basis for our legal system, no sense of what defines "fair play". "Justice" becomes a pipe dream at best.

What Kevin is doing is arrogating himself to the position of being a moral authority unto himself (and, based on his appearant denial of a transcendant authority, rightly so), claiming that no one else has the ability to tell him that he's wrong. You will notice, however, how quick he is to point out how other people are wrong. It always puzzles me when so called "moral relativists" try and assert that other people are wrong while asserting that there are no moral truths. Afterall, if there are indeed no moral truths, how can one be considered "wrong"?

;)

Kevin Wilbanks
06-03-2003, 12:04 PM
D,

You misunderstand the point about proving a negative, which is different from disproving a positive, and has to do with inducting backwards. As I've said, that isn't relevant to your supposedly important question, I brought that up mistakenly.

As for debate about whether someone was 'resurrected' being a major question of philosophy - what a laugh. Perhaps among theology schools, but it's nothing any philosopher or philosophy school I know of would have more than a passing interest in. There are no facts to dispute, no carefully recorded independently verified observations. There is nothing but heresay that has been relayed hundreds of times (ever play the 'telephone game'?). If you call that 'fact' then virtually anything would qualify. There is no basis for a dispute, because people who accept heresay as fact are simply playing a philosophical game that has no common premises with those who pursue philosophy with honest skepticism and intellectual rigor. I did not study, nor have I heard of anyone who is considered of any importance in the history of philosophy for the last three or four hundred years who would consider you question important.

Dave Miller
06-03-2003, 01:27 PM
There are no facts to dispute, no carefully recorded independently verified observations. There is nothing but heresay that has been relayed hundreds of times (ever play the 'telephone game'?).I would suggest that you go back and check the historical record for there are indeed multiple independant eye-witness accounts, many of which were offered in the presence of hostile witnesses who could have put an end to it right then and there. The record is not based on hearsay at all but on good, historiography recorded both by the biblical record and outside the biblical record.

As for the "telephone game", that, my friend, is the laugh. If you would discount the new testiment account as simply the "telephone game" then you have just excluded the whole record of antiquity. There is no other document in all of antiquity that is even in the same league as the new testiment in terms of how well it is attested by manuscript evidence. Not only that, but the documents are indeed of sufficiently early authorship to be eye-witness accounts and not merely compilations of "heresay that has been replayed hundreds of times".

As for who might have considered this question important, Kant and Hume come to mind as philosophers who dealt with this question, at least implicitely. Kant dealt with it by assigning it to the pneumena (sp), thereby placing it outside the realm of objective knowability. Hume dealt with it by attempting to show that miracles simply don't happen.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-03-2003, 02:03 PM
Whether or not an event happened two millenia ago is simply not an intrinsically philosophical question, no more than is the question of whether it rained last week. Because the event in question is so old, arguments about it may raise philosophical questions about epistemology, standards of evidence, etc... You apparently consider two thousand year old literary accounts of events - i.e., "good historiography" sufficient to call something a fact. I could make a list of hundreds of points of practical skepticism about such 'evidence', and thousands more of a philosophical nature. To purportedly subject such "facts" to rigorous standards of proof is either disingenuous due to belief bias, or massively ignorant of basic epistemological issues. In short, there is no argument with anyone outside theological circles (like me for instance), as there are no common premises upon which to debate. The question is simply uninteresting. I am only pursuing this because I find your righteous moralistic attitude irritating, and others might understand what I'm saying.

opherdonchin
06-03-2003, 03:00 PM
Kevin,

I still feel you reach for pejorative and denigratory language ("either disingenuous due to belief bias, or massively ignorant") or contemptuous style (harder to quote). I wish you wouldn't; it doesn't make your points more convincing and that's a shame because they are generally very interesting.

As far as the relationship between philosophy and fact, I find myself somewhere between you and Dave. I'm suspicious of a philosophical position that depends on a single 'fact'; particularly one that happened so long ago and that certainly many people question. On the other hand, in principle (and the principled argument seems important to you) Dave is right that a single event could shed light on ontology in a way that might have profound philosophical implications.

I guess the most interesting question for me is this:

Dave, if it were to be incontrivertibly proved that the resurrection did not happen, what sort of changes would you make in how you live your life?

mike lee
06-03-2003, 03:07 PM
In the long run, I don't think the concept of "moral authority" and the resurrection are all that significant. Similar teachings as those found in the New Testiment can be found in various other religious and philisophical teachings worldwide. Such teachings do not need a "resurrection" to make their lessons meaningful or valid — just a small dose of common sense. Many of these teachings even exhisted before Christ.

Of special significance in Christ's teachings were lessons in how to maintain our link with the Spirit. He often pointed out that a solid moral foundation was vital ("I did not come to destroy the law ..."), but also taught on "right view." ("The one who is without guilt, cast the first stone.")

I think that getting bogged down in philisophical debate simply clouds the issue, which was perhaps someone's intent.

Ultimately, maintaining a sense of moral integrity is a personal decision, not an institutional one.

Dave Miller
06-03-2003, 03:22 PM
Whether or not an event happened two millenia ago is simply not an intrinsically philosophical question, no more than is the question of whether it rained last week. Because the event in question is so old, arguments about it may raise philosophical questions about epistemology, standards of evidence, etc... You apparently consider two thousand year old literary accounts of events - i.e., "good historiography" sufficient to call something a fact. I could make a list of hundreds of points of practical skepticism about such 'evidence', and thousands more of a philosophical nature. To purportedly subject such "facts" to rigorous standards of proof is either disingenuous due to belief bias, or massively ignorant of basic epistemological issues. In short, there is no argument with anyone outside theological circles (like me for instance), as there are no common premises upon which to debate. The question is simply uninteresting. I am only pursuing this because I find your righteous moralistic attitude irritating, and others might understand what I'm saying."You apparently consider two thousand year old literary accounts of events - i.e., "good historiography" sufficient to call something a fact."

So do you also doubt the historicity of the Atilla the Hun, the Trojan War or the rein of Julius Ceasar? These are all events that occured at least 2000 years ago. The manuscript evidence for these events is orders of magnitude inferior to the accounts of the New Testiment.

"I could make a list of hundreds of points of practical skepticism about such 'evidence', and thousands more of a philosophical nature."

This is one of the things I have asked of you and you have thus far refused to do so. This leads me to wonder whether or not you actually can.

"To purportedly subject such "facts" to rigorous standards of proof is either disingenuous due to belief bias, or massively ignorant of basic epistemological issues."

First of all, there are much older historical accounts that are subjected to much less rigorous standards and considered genuine. A good example might the Iliad. Secondly, a person could be negatively biased just as much as positively biased by their beliefs. Your refusal to examine the subject but dismiss it out of hand suggests such a bias on your part. You attempt to cover it up by calling it an "uninteresting question" but your bias seems fairly clear. Finally, you should really take some time to examine the issue, the people writing about the issue, etc, before leveling such absurd charges as their being "massively ignorant of basic epistemilogical issues." Many of these folks are scholars at major universities such as Princeton and Oxford and Cambridge. I seriously doubt that people who were "massively ignorant of basic epistomological issues" would survive long on the faculty of such schools, much less earn tenure.

The fact is, the person and resurrection of the historical Jesus has HUGE philosophical implications, especially in regards to our current debate.

Dave Miller
06-03-2003, 03:27 PM
Dave, if it were to be incontrivertibly proved that the resurrection did not happen, what sort of changes would you make in how you live your life?I would be forced to abandon christianity as a moral foundation for my life. In some respects, I would probably be much like Kevin. ;) I would also be forced to re-think many of the things I hold to be true philosophically, theologically and scientifically. As far as a more specific answer, I'm not entirely sure how it would look but it would certainly be different on a fundamental level.

akiy
06-03-2003, 03:31 PM
Hi everyone,

It seems as though the discussion here has drifted off of the original topic which centered around aikido. I may be moving this thread to the Open Discussions forum soon...

-- Jun

Erik
06-03-2003, 04:57 PM
So do you also doubt the historicity of the Atilla the Hun, the Trojan War or the rein of Julius Ceasar?
I'm a little lost here. The Illiad and the Trojan war were clearly myths. Lumping them in with Julius Caesar and Attila (who came along 450 years later) makes no sense to me. Am I missing something?

On the bible, to say it's a rock solid matter of historical record seems strange to me. Near as I can tell, we don't even know who wrote it.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-03-2003, 07:31 PM
No historical accounts can be considered facts beyond doubt even in a practical sense, particularly when all the witnesses are long dead and no sensory records of any kind survive. Any subjective witness accounts are dubious on a variety of levels. On a practical level - Did they record what they saw honestly? From what perspective did they observe? Did they observe carefully? Did they remember correctly between observation and writing the account? What were their conscious interpretive biases? Subconscious? Have the writings been transcribed or translated? Etc.... On a philosophical level, there are more fundamental doubts to be considered - Is an objective assessment of an event even possible? How does one proceed from particular observational perspectives of any number to such an assessment? Is there even any such thing as an objective event? Is an "event" itself in some sense determined or changed by observation? Etc....

As far as the event in question, I don't know much about the accounts, or find the subject interesting. Even if someone died and came back to life, I fail to see any philosophical import to this. This implies nothing in particular about gods or devils and has no effect on my minimalist epistemology.

All kinds of events and phenomena occur that are outside the realm of what can be explained via empirically-based perspectives, science, or common-sense. Knowledge is inherently limited by subjectivity, which was my original point. The only thing I can truly know is that which I directly experience as it happens. Once I get to remembering things that I experienced, even a few moments ago, doubts arise. Any kind of information communicated to me describing the experience of others, or derived therefrom is even more dubious - in a strict, radically empiricist sense, this is already heresay. To some extent, even the fact of the existence of 'others' is doubtful, as it may be a false interpretation of what I experience.

Of course, I tentatively believe in the existence of external events and objects, but on a philosophical level, if we're talking about The Truth, I even doubt that there are any hard divisions in what 'really exists'. I think there probably are no discrete objects or events in any objective sense. We are severely limited in what we can perceive or even conceive, not only by the limited structure of our brains/minds, but by the nature of our perceptive organs, our physical scale, and the rate at which we percieve the movement of 'time'. We divide the world up into various opposites, we divide areas of space into 'objects', we separate time from space, we arbitrarily deliniate 'moments' or 'periods' of time... all this seems like structures we impose out of interpretive convenience, and the inherent limitations of our ability to think and communicate through language. Whether any of even these seemingly obvious and fundamental aspects of our experience are really objective features of 'reality', or even have more than a mildly arbitrary relation to 'it', seems very dubious to me. What difference could some guy who seemed to come back to life 2000 years ago possibly make to me? Why would I care?

PeterR
06-04-2003, 12:22 AM
So do you also doubt the historicity of the Atilla the Hun, the Trojan War or the rein of Julius Ceasar? These are all events that occured at least 2000 years ago. The manuscript evidence for these events is orders of magnitude inferior to the accounts of the New Testiment.
Why is it that Christianity always creeps into discussion about Aikido spirituallity.

Aikido is all about [insert Judeo/Christian concept here].

By the by.

The Trojan war was considered myth until they discovered a totally burnt out city with the ash layer at a convenient depth. Most consider the site to be a very good candidate for Troy but don't put a whole lot of weight on the historical accuracy of the account of the war. I would consider the reliability of this account to be about the same as the New Testament. Probable historical base, altered to make a very good story.

Julius Ceaser left documents, coins, personal written records and accounts written by people when he was alive. A lot was know about this man before and after he became top dog in an empire positively anal about writting histories and recording important events.

Atila the Hun, left coins with his image and accounts written by people when he was alive - including the above mentioned record keepers.

Jesus - no images, the first written accounts at least 60 years after his death and most much much later. And get this - the Roman's make no mention of his trial and execution. Something that would certainly have occured if he was causing all the trouble attributed to him. Christians are of course mentioned by the Romans along with several other new sects.

The purpose of the bible was to provide a frame of reference for a new religion. Like I said - probable historical base altered to make a good story. Even within there are contradictions or at least different emphasis.

It did its job but an order of magnitude more reliable than the imperial record - hardly.

opherdonchin
06-04-2003, 04:14 PM
It seems as though the discussion here has drifted off of the original topic which centered around aikido. I may be moving this thread to the Open Discussions forum soon...Why don't you break it in two? There used to be an Aikido-related discussion buried in here that was pretty interesting and there is no reason it should get lost? Can you do that, with a link to the new, non-Aikido, thread?

opherdonchin
06-04-2003, 04:18 PM
I would be forced to abandon christianity as a moral foundation for my life.I was having a talk with a friend of mine who is a Christian. She said nicely what I felt about this:
Instead of trying so hard to believe (in the resurrection and other mandatory teachings), I just try to enjoy my "relationship" with God outside the realm of "belief." As you suggested one time, it is my trust in God's love and redemption that is the important thing; if it happened by way of the crucifixion and resurrection (and I often believe it did, more or less), fine. And if it didn't, the reality (for me) of God's love and redemption remains constant. What a pity that someone would be "out the door" without the resurrection. That would be sort of throwing the priceless baby out with the bath water (sorry for the cliche).

Alfonso
06-04-2003, 06:07 PM
In any case, If Morality exists it is in the realm of the interpersonal and cultural. So how can Aikido be a moral thermometer? Perhaps in the relationships that are carried in the dojo, and in the judgement of the people who practice there.If you reach a moral conclusion about someone in the dojo, why is that wrong?

Is Aikido an intrinsically moral practice? For some moralities sure why not? For some others perhaps less clear.

Remember the discussion about touching women in the dojo?

PS - Kevin , it seem you're having philosophical fun. You surely recognize that the word moral exists, and it has a use and people put great stock in their idea of morality. So, in a sense, morality does exist even if it isn't a rock..

I happen to think Aikido is more basic than ideas , like Saotome sensei says, it's "skinship", it involves real things, real people.

unless it's virtual Aikido..

Dave Miller
06-05-2003, 05:00 PM
The Trojan war was considered myth until they discovered a totally burnt out city with the ash layer at a convenient depth. Most consider the site to be a very good candidate for Troy but don't put a whole lot of weight on the historical accuracy of the account of the war. I would consider the reliability of this account to be about the same as the New Testament. Probable historical base, altered to make a very good story.

Julius Ceaser left documents, coins, personal written records and accounts written by people when he was alive. A lot was know about this man before and after he became top dog in an empire positively anal about writting histories and recording important events.

Atila the Hun, left coins with his image and accounts written by people when he was alive - including the above mentioned record keepers.

Jesus - no images, the first written accounts at least 60 years after his death and most much much later. And get this - the Roman's make no mention of his trial and execution. Something that would certainly have occured if he was causing all the trouble attributed to him. Christians are of course mentioned by the Romans along with several other new sects.Your info on the date of authorship of the NT is a bit out of date, I'm afraid. The first book of the New Testiment was written about AD 40, less than 10 years after the events in question and the entire New Testiment was completely written by around AD 96. In fact, an entire copy of the New Testiment can be assembled from manuscripts of various ages with the oldest (not an original but a later copy) dating to no later than AD 125. This means that the historical portions were written and circulated at a time when hostile witnesses could have put an end to the "very good story" if it were not true. And yet they didn't...

As for historical records, the history of the Trojan War is recorded primarily in the Iliad. In terms of reliability, the Iliad is by far the most reliable document from antiquity, almost a benchmark of sorts, with the exception of the New Testiment. The New Testiment, as a docoment of antiquity is orders of magnitude more reliable. It would be a lengthy post to fully explain what is meant by this so I won't explain it unless asked.

As for there being no Roman records, many of the official records were lost or destroyed. As a matter of fact, Pontius Pilate is not mentioned in any Roman records and yet we know he was indeed the governor of Palastine at that time based on other documents.

At any rate, this discussion has drifted waaaaay beyond the original topic and waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond Aikido.

:)

opherdonchin
06-06-2003, 12:22 PM
As for historical records, the history of the Trojan War is recorded primarily in the Iliad. In terms of reliability, the Iliad is by far the most reliable document from antiquity, almost a benchmark of sorts, with the exception of the New Testiment. The New Testiment, as a docoment of antiquity is orders of magnitude more reliable.That's a strange comparison, Dave. The Trojan War and the brith of Christ happened in two very different times. Calling them both 'reliable records of antiquity' is already a little strange. It wouldn't be hard for me to believe that the New Testament is 'more reliable' than the Iliad. I would say that neither of them strikes me as particularly reliable. In any case, the time of the birth of Christ is a time where history has already begun to be documented as it happens and there are other sources to go to for corroboration. The time of the Trojan War is a time when we are lucky to even have the Iliad, unreliable as it is.

What does 'orders of magnitude' mean when judging historical accuracy, anyway?

Dave Miller
06-06-2003, 05:12 PM
Opher,

Reliability, in this context, refers to the degree of confidence that what we have today agrees with what was actually written. It is a function of three things:1) The number of copies of a document that still exist today.

2) How long after the original these copies were made.

3) How consistent are the copies?

In terms of ancient documents, the Iliad is nearly without pier. Many of the events it cronicles (such as the Trojan war) were thought to be purely mythic untill archaeology provided some support, such as the location of the city and artifacts from the city. In terms of the document itself, there are over 900 copies of the text in existance today. The earliest of these copies is something like 1000 years older than the original date of authorship. The copies have an internal consistency of around 45%, if I remember correctly. BTW, this is outstanding for ancient documents of this type. Many ancient documents of this type have only a few fragmentary copies still in existance.

When you compare this with the New Testiment, the phrase "orders of magnitude" becomes clear. Like the Iliad, many of the personages, locations and events mentioned in its pages were thought to be mythic. Recent discoveries in archaeology have continued to fill in these gaps, providing proof for such ellusive persons as Pontius Pilot and Caeiphus (the high priest). In terms of the document, there are over 25,000 ancient copies in existance. The earliest of these copies dates to within 100 years (actually much less) of original authorship. In fact, a complete copy of the New Testiment can be assembled from these copies with the oldest being no older than around AD 125. In terms of internal consistancy, it is way over 95%. It is indeed without pier in terms of ancient documents. Nothing else even comes close. When someone contends that the contents of the New Testiment have been altered in order to "make a good story", the burden of proof rests squarely on their shoulders.

opherdonchin
06-07-2003, 02:50 PM
"peer" and "New Testament"

I see what you mean, although I'd still quibble with the term 'orders of magnitude,' since I don't imagine how even these quantifiable measures can be combined to make a reasonable measure of reliability where an 'order of magnitude' difference in the index would have any meaning.

In any case, you will note that your three criteria don't include anything like 'historical accuracy,' although you did partially address that in your discussion. What you are measuring is the extent to which our version of The Iliad and the New Testament reflect the documents originally written down. No one doubts that the Iliad was 'altered to make a good story.' The New Testament could be very reliable by your measures -- even including many real historical characters -- and still have been written down with the purpose of story telling rather than documenting history. For instance, think of the movies made about historical events in these times. From Pearl Harbor to JFK to Thirteen Days. These are all off-the-scale in terms of reliability by your standards, although they vary wildly in their historical accuracy.

Dave Miller
06-08-2003, 09:54 PM
Parden my spelin'. That's never been one of my strong suits. :blush:

You make a good point in that historical movies about current events often get distorted in order to make for a better story so how can we trust any historical document to be any better. There are several reasons why this argument fails to work.

First of all, when you think about historical movies of any kind, whenever gross inaccuricies are introduced to "improve" the story, there is always someone fussing about it. We just don't always hear about them. I'm sure that there were plenty of historians from both England and Scotland who complained about various issues in Braveheart. Besides that, every time a challenge has been leveled on an easily verifiable historical detail, such as the existance of personages such as Pontius Pilot and Caiaphus (both recorded nowhere else in history), the text has been vindicated as historically accurate.

Second, whenever one is dealing with truly sacred historical subject matter, it is rare that the scribes charged with chronicling the information feel the freedom to "embelish" it. Of course, the Greek myths are always brought up. The difference, of course, is that these are clearly mythical accounts. C.S. Lewis, the famous literary professor from Oxford and Cambridge, noted that the thing that drew him to the gospel accounts was that they did not read like myth at all. This, combined with the fact that secular historians recorded many of the details mentioned adds to their genuine historicity.

Third, you have to keep in mind that not only were the books of the New Testament written and in circulation early enough for there to still be friendly witnesses present, there were hostile witnesses present as well. Imagine, for a moment, how the "story" could have died had some Jewish leaders challenged the claims about Jesus' "supposed" resurrection. The disciples would certainly have challenged them, either explicitely or implicitely, to produce a body. If there had been a body to produce, they would certainly have done so, thus putting an end to this "nonsense". And yet there has never been one shred of evidence, capable of surviving critical scrutiny, to show that such a body existed. The body of Christ has never been accounted for.

Paul himself said that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then Christianity is just a bad joke and we, as christians, are quite a pitiful lot. And yet, nearly 2000 years later, Christianity is still alive and well, despite this obvious, self-described, death blow, just waiting for someone to exploit.

DGLinden
06-24-2003, 01:32 PM
Gentlemen and Ladies,

Thank you so much for all your contributions to this thread. I have been out of town for the last several weeks and was thrilled to see the extent of the discussion. I would like to use this discussion for a chapter in a project I am working. If anyone specifically does not wish to be quoted, please e-mail me. Those I do not hear from I will e-mail a release to you and ask you to sign and return.

Again, thanks

PeterR
06-24-2003, 08:41 PM
Hi Daniel;

The whole discussion?

By the by - although I doubt I would ever refuse being quoted. For publication the usual practice is to individually request permision - being clear what will be quoted. This is opposed to a catch-all posting.

Carol Shiffet (sp?) who wrote a couple of books on Ki Exercises used quotations gleamed from aikido-l did it the individual way.

As a scientific writer I don't ask individually but refer to published articles were the assumption/hope is you will be quoted. The forums are different at least with respect to publications.

Good luck with the book.

PeterR
06-24-2003, 09:52 PM
Those I do not hear from I will e-mail a release to you and ask you to sign and return.
Sorry don't know how I missed that - you are doing it right.

I just came back to correct the spelling of Carol Shifflett but was too late to edit.

I would still prefer knowing what would be quoted before giving permission which would in all likelyhood not be refused. I am assuming that something I spout off on has some value to someone else.