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mgreen
08-31-2004, 01:49 PM
I practice Zen, and I was wondering if Aikido is still just to preseve one's ego. I know that many of O'Sensei's teachings were to shed ones ego, but If you do so, then whoare you defending? What is the "point" of defending oneself? I personaly practice Aikido just for fun, and find It to be a good physical and spiritual activity. I do not plan on ever having to defend myself. I belive good Karma is your best defense in life. On the other hand, I guess you could look at it from the persepective that the attacker is only attacking themselves. I am very interested in other peoples insights on this topic. Zen and of other faith..... :circle:

shihonage
08-31-2004, 02:05 PM
First of all, nobody "plans" on having to defend themselves.

Second, your questions are a part of a larger question - "what is the point of living ?"
Once you answer that, smaller questions will fall into place.

Give me a call when you've found that answer.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
08-31-2004, 02:10 PM
Takashi Kushida-sensei once phrased it something like the following. Aikido's origins in bujutsu make it intimately related to self-defense, and this is correct, but it is important to realize that there is self in the other person as well. This reminds me of a phrase Joel-sensei used to explain aikido when I was beginning (not long ago) - if you are completely one with the other person (or as he might say, "Not one /with/, just /one/" it is impossible for them to attack. Hence the saying, "Aikido is where someone tries to fight you, but you don't let them."
I remember O-Sensei talking about "I am the universe" On the one hand, that's a powerful expression of self, which perhaps explains the incredible presence he was known to possess. On the other, it's a far broader conception of self than most people subscribe to. Kirkegaard once admonished readers who focus too much on "self-improvement", saying that if you place your trust there, you will only have what strength you can gather yourself, which is inherently weaker than divine or universal strength.
I'd say that if you live a selfish, ego-centered life, then your aikido will probably only be used for selfish ends. (This is not just physical self-defense, but other applications of what you will learn in aikido.) I believe the saying is "ni to, ni men" - a sharp sword has two faces. In another saying, "setsu nin to, katsu jin ken" - the killing blade, the life-giving blade - traditionally, I believe, printed on the same sword.

Qatana
08-31-2004, 03:41 PM
Matthew don't confuse the term ego as "self importance" or "self image" with ego as "identity". We are not defending our idea of who we are or want to be, we are defending our physical, corporeal bodies. If we are practicing for defense, that is.
Hopefully defense will happen if i need it!
Many aikidoists practice Zen or Vipasana, some aikido sensei- Kesho Furuya ion Los Angeles, i'm sure there are otheres- teach both aikido AND Zen.These practices are perfectly complementary.

senshincenter
08-31-2004, 05:40 PM
It is a good question, and it is not without its answers or solutions, especially since it is related to one of the main points of all Budo training.

I think a like statement would be:

"If there is no ego, who is doing the Zen training?"

Politely, the answer to that question is the same answer to your question.

dmv

Jessie Brown
08-31-2004, 06:49 PM
Paul,

Do you remember in which works Kierkegaard talks about that topic? I don't have quite all of his books/essays on hand, but I don't think I've read where he explicitly discusses that-- 'd be interested in reading that section if you would please point it out.

Thanks!
Jessie

stuartjvnorton
08-31-2004, 07:04 PM
Unfortunately, some people don't understand or respect karma.
Until they do, 1 reason I train is to help avoid, defuse or overcome them.

Jessie Brown
08-31-2004, 07:07 PM
I think there are really interesting issues here.

Concerning the reason for self-defense, I also think a good way to look at it is in a broader sense of self. In true unity with your "attacker," self-defense is equally keeping the other person from harm as much as yourself. I also see it a way to prevent bodily harm from oneself but without lowering and injuring yourself by inflicting pain on the other person. I have a more occidental philosophical frame of reference, so I think of it in terms of the Platonic dialogue "Gorgias," in which Socrates argues that it is better to suffer injustice than to inflict on another-- even if the person has already done injustice to you. That is how injurious injustice of any kind (physical or otherwise) is to your soul. Aikido, therefore, allows a third path where you can prevent the other person from doing physical harm to you without reciprocating; while also ideally stop the harm the attacker is doing to his soul by attacking you. In other words, with aikido you can take both your and his negative energy and, by redirecting it, change it into positive energy and a learning experience for both.

I do differ on the question of self-improvement. For me (i.e. making no claims that is univerally true), that is the first preliminary goal of aikido-- to improve oneself and become in harmony within oneself (masakatsu agatsu). Once you're well started on that road, I think you should then extend and harmonize with those around you... and gradually expand your circle (the universe being the goal). But that first step of self-improvement and working on yourself seems to me to be an essential first and foundational step. How successfully can you love and harmonize with others without loving and harmonizing within yourself?

Philosophical Nerd,
Jessie

mgreen
08-31-2004, 08:33 PM
Thank you all for taking intrest in this thread. It has been an issue I have been thinking about for some time. I really find the concept that the attacker has their own ego very interesting.I was always told to understand that ego only exists as what was created by society. For example, even if you hate someone, your ego cannot exist without them, because you identify yourself as not being them. That is why I think that we need to respect everyone we encounter in our lives. They are making up what we call our reality. To fight against them is to fight your own reality, and ulimately ourselves"ego". That is why I enjoy Aikido, because you are not actually fighting against them. They are fighting themselves. In Buddhism, everyone is viewed as one. I belive to attack someone is to attack yourself. And of course, there is still that whole Karma thing........and of course, there is still the option that this is all crap. hahaha. Fell free to tell me if you think so. I'll listen. :circle:

mgreen
08-31-2004, 08:36 PM
It is a good question, and it is not without its answers or solutions, especially since it is related to one of the main points of all Budo training.

I think a like statement would be:

"If there is no ego, who is doing the Zen training?"

Politely, the answer to that question is the same answer to your question.

dmv

all a very strong point... I like that a lot :)

Richard Elliott
08-31-2004, 09:51 PM
Thank you all for taking intrest in this thread. It has been an issue I have been thinking about for some time. I really find the concept that the attacker has their own ego very interesting.I was always told to understand that ego only exists as what was created by society. For example, even if you hate someone, your ego cannot exist without them, because you identify yourself as not being them. That is why I think that we need to respect everyone we encounter in our lives. They are making up what we call our reality. To fight against them is to fight your own reality, and ulimately ourselves"ego". That is why I enjoy Aikido, because you are not actually fighting against them. They are fighting themselves. In Buddhism, everyone is viewed as one. I belive to attack someone is to attack yourself. And of course, there is still that whole Karma thing........and of course, there is still the option that this is all crap. hahaha. Fell free to tell me if you think so. I'll listen. :circle:

Heck no, man, no crap here. You have summed up a lot of stuff here for me which is easy to remember as a complete block in order to think on further. Are you a teacher of some kind? I can't help but believe that whatever Oneness is it is going to be similar to what I have experience as oneness with a beloved: a unity that includes a recognition and acceptance of all the differences and diversities that exist for her as well as the sameness...well heck, I'm no Shakespeare.

Reset: Years ago I started reading about Zen, but since I decided I wasn't going to practice it in a systematic way it would probably be better not to inevitably drive myself crazy trying to understand it. I admire people who make the practice and study of Zen and Aikido a serious or "serious" (see, see, it's already started! I'm feeling quotation crazy!).

The closest I've come to emptiness or void is simply the practice of quieting my mind as still as possible for as prolonged period as possible. This also involves emptying myself of perceptions as far as possible. Not easy. Is it fruitfull? Well . . . that's a perception.

In any case, without the capacity or practice of quieting my mind I wouldn't have made the little progress I made in Aikido, I think. I wouldn't have been able to relax.

I have an admiration and respect for Buddhism and their view of desire, ego, and I guess overcoming them.

I don't know if "ego", a Freudian concept to begin with is learned and solely a product of society. It might very well be. It's an interesting departure.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
08-31-2004, 10:09 PM
Do you remember in which works Kierkegaard talks about that topic?

I could be mistaken - it /was/ several years ago. I believe it was in "The Sickness Unto Death", somewhat near the beginning. My copy's at college right now, so I can't check.

mgreen
08-31-2004, 10:19 PM
Am i a teacher? Hahaha, hardly. I dont think that anyone can be called a teacher, because teaching itself is learning. At least in my experience. And true that trying to understand some of the concepts in Zen, are very difficult. Ive only been Practicing Buddhism for about 2-3 years, and Zen, for less than 1. And as much as I think I have learned a lot, sometimes, I realize I havnt even scratched the surface. Ever see a young Zen master? Richard, that is a good point you have. When you have a close realtionship with someone, whatever level you are on, intelectualy or spiritualy, you can somehow sense that oneness with them.

SeiserL
08-31-2004, 11:44 PM
Count how many times "I" is used in these post and an idea will form regarding efforts to preserve it.

The learned identity ego is useful. Just don't take it too seriously or too personally.

Now, who ever is asking and answering, back to training.

Charles Hill
09-04-2004, 03:47 AM
I disagree with the idea that O`Sensei intended for us to shed the ego with Aikido practice. Saotome Sensei has send that we should work to improve our ego, make it bigger, stronger. (That is, if I understood him correctly) It is also important to note, I think, that O`Sensei reportedly hated Zen and would get angry if he heard that a student was practicing it.

Charles Hill

Richard Elliott
09-04-2004, 09:09 AM
Count how many times "I" is used in these post and an idea will form regarding efforts to preserve it.

The learned identity ego is useful. Just don't take it too seriously or too personally.

Now, who ever is asking and answering, back to training.

Well said, sir. Too true. Will do. :D

Richard Elliott
09-04-2004, 11:06 AM
The best of our thoughts, prayers, intentions and if possible actions could best be directed to Florida: the people, the dojos and all who are doing their best to preserve their lives and properties. We can all follow the example of those who are selflessly struggling to help themselves and the neighbors in this recent crisis and the one to come.

Anders Bjonback
10-13-2004, 07:49 PM
I don't think aikido is necessarily about preserving one's ego. For one thing, it works against our usual tendency to either to return struggle with struggle, to blindly go into a contest of egos. The way it was approached in the Aikido classes I took at Naropa University definitely showed its contemplative side. But it, like anything else, depends on how you approach it. There are some people who do aikido who are egotistical and like to harm others. Then again, there's this Buddhist monk going to Naropa's graduate program in Buddhist Studies that practices martial arts and finds it complementary to the teachings of the Buddha.

But really, Zen can be used to preserve one's ego if you're using it as a way of defining oneself. "I'm a Zen Buddhist, therefore I meditate and do these other practices and have this belief structure." Or, "I'm Zen and I believe in letting go of all belief structures." Ego is really tricky.
I remember this one adage that went something like, "Those who grasp onto existence are stupid, but those who grasp onto emptiness are as stupid as a cow."

Kevin Leavitt
10-14-2004, 12:34 PM
Thought comes to mind. Don't you have to explore both sides of things? I mean like postive/negative, light/dark, yin/yang. How do you have an understanding until you grapple with these things?

Aikido has been a wonderful practice for me to work with energy and my relationship with others. It is a wonderful physical manifestation of reconciling and cooperation. I find it very in touch with concepts of zen.

When I am in the groove and feeling good...mushin or no mind....totally focused, it is much like active meditation.

bkedelen
10-14-2004, 01:16 PM
To address the initial question:
Disclaimer: All these things have been said before, and better, by persons other than myself.
In my life, at some point, the meaning of the phrase "self defense" stopped being "to defend oneself from the world" and became "to defend the world from oneself". Training stopped being preparation to neutralize my enemies, and became a very serious form of misogi. I realized that I did not deserve to have power over other people and I decided that if the universe gave me that power anyway, I would make the conscious decision not to use it.

Anders Bjonback
10-14-2004, 05:02 PM
In my life, at some point, the meaning of the phrase "self defense" stopped being "to defend oneself from the world" and became "to defend the world from oneself".

That is AWESOME.

TheWonderKid
11-16-2004, 02:43 PM
While I'm new to Aikido, I had merely assumed that by 'ego', O-Sensei meant something more like 'pride' in the 7 deadly sin type way. Like to shed the idea that a guy is too macho to be thrown by a girl for example. Or that he should always try to overpower his nage so they can't do their technique properly in some stupid test to show supposed superiority.

My Sensei explained to me that we do breakfalls and that in the dojo to sort of beat humility into you (maybe a bad choice of words but I hope you catch my drift). Then if you got into a fight on the street or something, and you found yourself in a tight spot you could roll to safety instead of trying overpower them with brute strength because you don't want to show what you perceive as weakness by rolling.

But again, I haven't been practicing very long so please tell me if I'm way off.

Kevin Leavitt
11-16-2004, 03:08 PM
Ego,simply put, it your own self perception. It is neither good nor bad. It is something to be aware and conscious of because it can distort or "filter".

Certainly being a legend in your own mind (machismo) is a form of egotism as expressed in western terms, but that concept does not entirely frame ego.

There have been many discussions on ego here. Might want to look them up to gain some insight on what others have talked about from time to time. Welcome.

mriehle
11-16-2004, 03:29 PM
Ego is always discussed as though it's a Bad Thing. Maybe it isn't?

A gall bladder is not a Bad Thing. We are much better off with it than without it, unless it's unhealthy. Then we have to remove it because we can live without it.

You can't really just remove your ego. But some people have observed that obtaining a healthy ego is a lot more like removing the old one and replacing it with a better one than it is like working out muscles to make them stronger.

I'm rambling here, but it seems like these ideas address some of the points made in this thread.

TheWonderKid
11-16-2004, 06:39 PM
Thanks Kevin, I probably will look them up, but just starting out there's a lot on here to catch up on so that may take some time :)

Joe Bowen
11-16-2004, 08:15 PM
What a nice little thread. So many ideas and opinions are presented. Let me just address a few of them……..

I practice Zen, and I was wondering if Aikido is still just to preserve one's ego. I know that many of O'Sensei's teachings were to shed ones ego, but if you do so, then who are you defending? What is the "point" of defending oneself? I personally practice Aikido just for fun, and find it to be a good physical and spiritual activity. I do not plan on ever having to defend myself. I believe good Karma is your best defense in life. On the other hand, I guess you could look at it from the perspective that the attacker is only attacking themselves. I am very interested in other people's insights on this topic. Zen and of other faith..... :circle:…..Thank you all for taking interest in this thread. It has been an issue I have been thinking about for some time. I really find the concept that the attacker has their own ego very interesting. I was always told to understand that ego only exists as what was created by society. For example, even if you hate someone, your ego cannot exist without them, because you identify yourself as not being them. That is why I think that we need to respect everyone we encounter in our lives. They are making up what we call our reality. To fight against them is to fight your own reality and ultimately ourselves" ego". That is why I enjoy Aikido, because you are not actually fighting against them. They are fighting themselves. In Buddhism, everyone is viewed as one. I believe to attack someone is to attack yourself. And of course, there is still that whole Karma thing........and of course, there is still the option that this is all crap. hahaha. Fell free to tell me if you think so. I'll listen. :circle:

This is a lot of intellectual thought for a practitioner of Zen. :D Buddhist tradition is full of stories and examples of monks not resisting some type of onslaught and being wiped out. But, on the other hand Buddhism exists today, so somewhere along the line, some of them refused to go "quietly into the night". In fact, Buddhist monks are credited with major advances in the martial arts tradition (i.e. the Shaolin monks) and the 1st Zen patriarch in China is supposed to have developed the initial martial forms practiced by the monks in order to improve their physical health. To preserve the physical body is not necessarily the same as preserving the ego….

I disagree with the idea that O`Sensei intended for us to shed the ego with Aikido practice. Saotome Sensei has said that we should work to improve our ego, make it bigger, stronger. (That is, if I understood him correctly) It is also important to note, I think, that O`Sensei reportedly hated Zen and would get angry if he heard that a student was practicing it. Charles Hill

Not sure how Saotome Sensei is using the term ego in your quote. O Sensei's probably didn't "hate" Zen, but probably would have preferred his students to have studied Shinto or followed a religious practice similar to his own. Since when he "lectured" on Aikido most of his spiritual/ metaphysical references would have come from his own religious practice….

I don't think aikido is necessarily about preserving one's ego. For one thing, it works against our usual tendency to either to return struggle with struggle, to blindly go into a contest of egos….But really, Zen can be used to preserve one's ego if you're using it as a way of defining oneself. "I'm a Zen Buddhist, therefore I meditate and do these other practices and have this belief structure." Or, "I'm Zen and I believe in letting go of all belief structures." Ego is really tricky. I remember this one adage that went something like, "Those who grasp onto existence are stupid, but those who grasp onto emptiness are as stupid as a cow."

You're correct in that any practice can be used to bolster or preserve one's ego. I like your last quote. Most Zen practice is about striping away attachments, to include the attachment to Zen practice….

While I'm new to Aikido, I had merely assumed that by 'ego', O-Sensei meant something more like 'pride' in the 7 deadly sin type way. Like to shed the idea that a guy is too macho to be thrown by a girl for example. Or that he should always try to overpower his nage so they can't do their technique properly in some stupid test to show supposed superiority. My Sensei explained to me that we do break falls and that in the dojo to sort of beat humility into you (maybe a bad choice of words but I hope you catch my drift). Then if you got into a fight on the street or something, and you found yourself in a tight spot you could roll to safety instead of trying overpower them with brute strength because you don't want to show what you perceive as weakness by rolling. But again, I haven't been practicing very long so please tell me if I'm way off.

You're not too far off, just a little. :p Rolling is fun, and a great way to get back to your feet after you have been thrown, but if you just try to roll away from someone in a fight it is far too easy for them to just follow you and attack you again as you are trying to get up. You are correct in that ukemi is about surviving an encounter, but you just can't "roll away" from a fight….

Ego is always discussed as though it's a Bad Thing. Maybe it isn't? A gall bladder is not a Bad Thing. We are much better off with it than without it, unless it's unhealthy. Then we have to remove it because we can live without it. You can't really just remove your ego. But some people have observed that obtaining a healthy ego is a lot more like removing the old one and replacing it with a better one than it is like working out muscles to make them stronger. I'm rambling here, but it seems like these ideas address some of the points made in this thread.

All too true. From a psychoanalytical view, the ego is our organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality, and is supplemented by our id and superego. From the Zen perspective, this "reality interface" often times interferes with our ability to function properly by distorting the reality by remaining too rigid. Therefore, Zen practice attempts to strip away the interference so that the practitioner experiences a purer form of reality. Striping away the layers of the ego requires a great deal of practice and effort, and perhaps you never can quite strip it away completely, but you can work to minimize the distortion.

It is a good question, and it is not without its answers or solutions, especially since it is related to one of the main points of all Budo training. I think a like statement would be:
"If there is no ego, who is doing the Zen training?"
Politely, the answer to that question is the same answer to your question. dmv

This is a great rebuttal to too much intellectualizing. Many of the Zen Koan practice revolve around questions such as this. In the end, it is an unanswerable question. "As soon as you open your mouth to answer, you are wrong"…. :eek:


Count how many times "I" is used in these posts and an idea will form regarding efforts to preserve it. The learned identity ego is useful. Just don't take it too seriously or too personally. Now, who ever is asking and answering, back to training.

Best answer yet. Open your mouth to speak and you are actively engaging your ego in the answer. Proper response is to just keep training…….


joe

Charles Hill
11-16-2004, 08:52 PM
O Sensei's probably didn't "hate" Zen, but probably would have preferred his students to have studied Shinto or followed a religious practice similar to his own.

Hi Joe,

The quote about O`sensei hating Zen comes from Okumura Shihan so I`m sure it is accurate. The way Okumura Shihan explained it was that Zen is a "Mu" form of Buddhism whereas O`sensei`s thought was more in line with the "Yu" form of Buddhism fond in the Shingon Mikkyo sect. Also, O`sensei apparently taught that students should not follow his religious beliefs unless they truly believed them. For example, he would use the Christian Bible to explain his teachings to Westerners. To me, this is similar to the Dalai Lama discouraging Westerners from becoming Buddhists unless they really feel they must do so.

Charles Hill

Joe Bowen
11-16-2004, 10:37 PM
Hi Joe,

The quote about O`sensei hating Zen comes from Okumura Shihan so I`m sure it is accurate. The way Okumura Shihan explained it was that Zen is a "Mu" form of Buddhism whereas O`sensei`s thought was more in line with the "Yu" form of Buddhism fond in the Shingon Mikkyo sect. Also, O`sensei apparently taught that students should not follow his religious beliefs unless they truly believed them. For example, he would use the Christian Bible to explain his teachings to Westerners. To me, this is similar to the Dalai Lama discouraging Westerners from becoming Buddhists unless they really feel they must do so.

Charles Hill

Hey, Charles,

Thanks for the info, not to doubt Okumura Shihan's quote, but I still have difficulty with the use of the word "hate". But, your post prompted a little research and I found out that O Sensei studied Shingon Buddhism when he was a child. Interesting, I wonder if how that study integrated with the Omoto Kyo religious influence? I don't know enough about the Omoto Kyo beliefs to tell you. Perhaps you can educate me?
Also, thank you for turning me onto Okumura Shihan. I just breezed through a few interviews on the Aikido Journal website with him and he seems like quite the interesting teacher. Does he still teach at Hombu dojo?
From my limited perspective, there exists no conflict between the principles in the practice of Zen and the practice of Aikido. In fact the practice of Zen compliments the pracitice of Aikido.

Charles Hill
11-17-2004, 11:01 PM
Hi Joe,

I have read a lot of Omoto`s own literature and stayed at the headquarters in Ayabe and Kameoka for a short period and I still don`t cleary understand what Onisaburo of Omoto was trying to teach. What I understand seems to fit what I know of Shingon. Omoto has a nice website in English, you might try taking a look.

Okumura, in my opinion, fits in with the group of intellectual shihan that were primarily pre-war. He used to teach the beginner`s class Thursday mornings at Honbu but has long since stopped. I heard that he still occasionally lectures about Aikido theory at the Ueshiba house next door. He would bring in a chalk board into his aikido class and write stuff on the board. He had a very clear curriculum. He was also the only person I ever heard talk about O`Sensei at Honbu.

I agree with you about Zen. The history of Zen in Japan is not a good one, though, and O`Sensei may have been responding to the low quality of teaching he saw. However, Omori Sogen was a contemporary and in my opinion, a great Zen teacher as well as a sword and calligraphy teacher. I think you would find him enlightening.

Charles Hill

Joe Bowen
11-18-2004, 07:35 PM
Hey Charles,

Thanks again. I just looked over the International Zen Center's Webpage in Hawaii and read a little bit about Omori Sogen (thier center's practice is based on his teaching). Quite the interesting fellow and this bears more investigation. You are giving me quite a bit to do. My wife is going to be angry with you...good thing you live in Japan :D .

joe

mgreen
11-19-2004, 04:07 PM
Didnt O'Sensei say "My Aikido has room for all of the worlds 10,000 gods and religions?" I still dont see how he could hate. Joseph Bowen, you seem to have a lot of good insight. You are right about one thing, and that is that Zen is not an intelectual study. I need to take the middle way more often....

Gassho

Charles Hill
11-19-2004, 08:10 PM
Hi,

I found the Okumura Shihan interview from Aikido Today Magazine. I cut it out so I don`t know the date. Some quotes:

"O`Sensei hated Zen. If he found that a student was practicing Zen, he would get very angry with that person."

"If O`Sensei had heard people refer to Aikido as `moving Zen` he would have been very upset."

The reason, I believe, is that Zen is fundamentally not a Japanese philosophy and contradicts the native spirit faith of Shinto. Like other nature based faiths, Shinto emphasizes the new. As an example, Buddhist priests in Japan are often proud of how old their temple is. In contrast, the main Shinto Shrine in Ise is completely torn down and completely rebuilt every 20 years. This is also why, according to a professor of mine at Keio University, Japanese people use throwaway chopsticks.

Also from the interview. "When (O`Sensei) did certain exercises, he would invoke the God of purification, but he himself said that we didn`t have to do the same. His view was that we should be thinking about whatever God or Gods are sacred to us."

As for Zen, I have come to understand that there are no principles of Zen. As I understand it, Zen is a transmission from a specific teacher to a specific student. If one does not have a teacher who has received transmission directly from her teacher, then that person is not practicing Zen.

Charles Hill

mgreen
11-19-2004, 08:35 PM
As for Zen, I have come to understand that there are no principles of Zen. As I understand it, Zen is a transmission from a specific teacher to a specific student. If one does not have a teacher who has received transmission directly from her teacher, then that person is not practicing Zen.

Charles Hill

Zen is just a word that tries its best to name what it cant. Words are not truth.... My teacher has had "Transmission" but whoes to say she didnt buy it off some monk who needed another bowl of rice? If you live in the moment or ask yourself the questions, "what am I?" or "what is reality?", then you are practicing Zen whether or not you want to or not.......... Zen isnt in stupid ass traditions or any of that crap. Its where you are standing right now. It is you.

Joe Bowen
11-23-2004, 12:07 AM
Joseph Bowen, you seem to have a lot of good insight. You are right about one thing, and that is that Zen is not an intellectual study. I need to take the middle way more often....Gassho

High praise indeed, thank you very much……..

Hi, I found the Okumura Shihan interview from Aikido Today Magazine. I cut it out so I don't know the date. Some quotes:
"O'Sensei hated Zen. If he found that a student was practicing Zen, he would get very angry with that person."
"If O'Sensei had heard people refer to Aikido as `moving Zen` he would have been very upset."
The reason, I believe, is that Zen is fundamentally not a Japanese philosophy and contradicts the native spirit faith of Shinto. Like other nature based faiths, Shinto emphasizes the new. As an example, Buddhist priests in Japan are often proud of how old their temple is. In contrast, the main Shinto Shrine in Ise is completely torn down and completely rebuilt every 20 years. This is also why, according to a professor of mine at Keio University, Japanese people use throwaway chopsticks.
…Also from the interview. "When (O'Sensei) did certain exercises, he would invoke the God of purification, but he himself said that we didn't have to do the same. His view was that we should be thinking about whatever God or Gods are sacred to us."
As for Zen, I have come to understand that there are no principles of Zen. As I understand it, Zen is a transmission from a specific teacher to a specific student. If one does not have a teacher who has received transmission directly from her teacher, then that person is not practicing Zen. Charles Hill

Zen is just a word that tries its best to name what it can't. Words are not truth.... My teacher has had "Transmission" but whose to say she didn't buy it off some monk who needed another bowl of rice? If you live in the moment or ask yourself the questions, "what am I?" or "what is reality?", then you are practicing Zen whether or not you want to or not..........Zen isn't in stupid ass traditions or any of that crap. It's where you are standing right now. It is you.

Charles thanks for looking up the article. If possible can you email it to me? You've got me interested in Okumura Sensei. I agree with your reasoning about O'Sensei's dislike of Zen and its apparent contradiction of Shinto. Although essentially, I don't think Zen contradicts any religious belief. Funny that even though Zen is not a "Japanese" philosophy, most western folks automatically associate Zen with Japan. "Zen" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese "Chan". Zen Buddhism originated in China, but reached the US through Japan. Most people probably associate Zen with the martial arts due to the many books and writings in Japan about the two. While Zen Buddhism entails many rituals and "rites of passage", such as the "dharma transmission", Matthew is right. The essence of Zen is not about the ritual or tradition; it is about keeping our awareness in the here and now. If you get in a philosophical discussion about Zen, there are principles to be discussed, if you go to a Zen school, they will talk about their lineage, and how their teacher received dharma transmission from so and so who received it from so and so going back for hundreds of years. But, when you practice Zen, all of that is meaningless. It is very much like Aikido in this respect. Your teacher may have been taught by so and so who was taught by O'Sensei, but when you practice all that matters is the practice…

joe

George S. Ledyard
11-23-2004, 02:10 AM
I practice Zen, and I was wondering if Aikido is still just to preseve one's ego. I know that many of O'Sensei's teachings were to shed ones ego, but If you do so, then whoare you defending? What is the "point" of defending oneself? I personaly practice Aikido just for fun, and find It to be a good physical and spiritual activity. I do not plan on ever having to defend myself. I belive good Karma is your best defense in life. On the other hand, I guess you could look at it from the persepective that the attacker is only attacking themselves. I am very interested in other peoples insights on this topic. Zen and of other faith..... :circle:

One of the columns I wrote for Jun had something to say about this...

True Self Defense - Article (http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2004_05.html)