View Full Version : Religeon and Aikido
04-03-2001, 10:34 AM
One of our usual Monday night sensei's was out of town abroad, and one of the higher ranking students was instructed to teach the class.
On Monday nights, we usually dedicate our time to KI training, and last night was no exception. The topic was on thinking of KI as love, and directing this to our partner when we did the technique. This was all fine and quite helpful, (and worked REALLY well by the way) however the acting instructor kept using references to "Christian Love" as a defining point on how to view KI as love. He also mentioned that viewing KI as Christian love can enhance one's spirituality, and he also mentioned that he read his Bible often, and did we?
Now, personally I really like the guy, as he is really a great example of both an Aikidoka and wonderful human being. But I think he crossed the line by infusing his personal beliefs into the class.
I myself am a buddhist, and I am very tolerant of other faiths and in fact I always welcome exchanges of ideas. As I always say, there are many paths to truth. However, there were a few younger people in the class, and especially they were white belts. I just feel that they may have been confused by this association of his spiritual views and what constitutes Aikido.
I want to be clear that while I do not think he did anything "wrong" I do think that perhaps it was inappropriate for an Aikido classs. He had also later admitted that this was so, but he also made sure that everyone knew that these were strictly HIS views on the subject.
In any case, I think that he may want to adjust his wording, but no one can force anyone to do so.
What do you think?
04-03-2001, 10:46 AM
i think that O Sensei brought his own very personal religious beliefs to Aikido. I am not bothered by an instructor who speaks of Love as Christian Love, anymore than bowing and clapping in a manner used in Shinto, or listening to Buddhist instructor relate circular movements in Aikido to his personal beliefs, or the Muslim or Jeswish instructor who doesn't bow, etc. I would rather they speak sincerely from than heart, and let me see the meaning they are expressing. I don't have to focus on the words to see their conviction, and i don't think most white belts have any more problems than this one.
04-03-2001, 11:35 AM
I believe that it is inappropriate for an aikido teacher to make any references to specific religious beliefs during a class. As O Sensei stated, Aikido is not a religion. I would be very disenchanted if I were in a class in which a teacher mentioned Christianity or any other religion. I would be disenchanted NOT simply because I am not a Christian, but because Aikido should be open to people of all beliefs/non-beliefs. A teacher's exression of a particular belief links Aikido to a religion and runs a serious risk of alienating at least one student in the dojo. Keep religion off the mat.
04-03-2001, 12:21 PM
I personally don't feel that your sempai did anything wrong -- especially because he stated very clearly that those were his personal views.
Your concern for the less experienced members of your dojo is admirable, but probably misplaced. You said:
However, there were a few younger people in the class, and especially they were white belts. I just feel that they may have been confused by this association of his spiritual views and what constitutes Aikido.
So, what constitutes Aikido? Does the practice of Aikido preclude his views? I don't think so. In fact, there's a lot of evidence that O Sensei did, in fact, view his Aikido practice as a religious activity. He did not expect his students to view it that way, but for him it was deeply religious.
Please read the following article over at Aikido Journal's web site:
The author, Peter Goldsbury, is the International Aikido Federation chairman, and a scholar. His article is very thought provoking.
04-03-2001, 04:07 PM
. . . the acting instructor kept using references to "Christian Love" as a defining point on how to view KI as love. He also mentioned that viewing KI as Christian love can enhance one's spirituality, and he also mentioned that he read his Bible often, and did we?
. . . I think he crossed the line by infusing his personal beliefs into the class.
Tomu, I agree that your instructor crossed the line. I respectfully disagree with Drew Ames's statement that your instructor "stated very clearly that those were his personal views." It sounds to me from your original posting that your teacher mentioned that the Christian views were his views LATER, not during class.
The article from Aikido Journal is interesting, but after reading it, I still don't think that it's appropriate to talk about Ki as "Christian Love", and it's especially inappropriate to ask students if they read the Bible!
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with a person incorporating Aikido into her personal religious practices. I think the line is crossed when a person DISCUSSES his personal religious beliefs in Aikido class in a way that makes others think that a particular religion - Christian, Muslim, Omoto-kyo, or any other - is necessarily a part of Aikido.
04-03-2001, 05:56 PM
As O Sensei stated, Aikido is not a religion.
Yes, however, Morihei Ueshiba (O-Sensei) also stated that Aikido is "The completion of all religions." The cornerstone of AIKIDO is the Kototama--which is, in it's most philosophical aspect, beyond religion. Its origins are nature-based. Thus, this is why O-Sensei constantly repeated our duty to protect the environment. Remember, O-Sensei didn't subscribe to any particular "organized" religion. His spiritual beliefs were grounded in a reclusive "esoteric Shinto" sect, as well as his earlier encounters with Buddhism. As far as Christology, it's been said that O-Sensei entertained Gnostic literature. He spent much time laboring over different Philosophy texts and enjoyed conversations with Christian missionaries as well. O-sensei stressed Love--which is a common denominator found in all the world religions.
After studying the Kototama (the energy of life and creation) I can understand O-Sensei's parable: [B] "We cannot put our lives in the hands of Christ, The Buddha, or the teachings of Confucius. The age of religion controlling our lives is finished. We are now living in the time of actual training. Aikido is the best way to practice the Kototama. It is the means by which one realizes his true nature as a god and finds ultimate freedom."
04-03-2001, 10:12 PM
Hmmmm, let me tell a story. I teach beginner's Aikido classes for a local Youth Center. There is another instructor who teaches a different martial art at the same center (it doesn't matter what art really, OK you pulled my leg, it's Kempo Karate). About two or three weeks after both of our classes started, the youth center director visited my class and told me that he had several students that were interested in transfering from the Karate class to my Aikido class. I wondered why. It turns out that during the beginning of the Kempo class, the instructor leads the students in a prayer that is very similar to an "Our Father" crossed with a "Hail Mary". It seems that the parents of said students were not all that happy about the prayer. In fact, I've had some parents ask me about "Meisoho" and exactly what type of "meditation practice" it really is.
So, what do I think? I don't think an Aikido dojo is the proper location for discussing religious views or beliefs. Students come from many different religious backgrounds, by discussing your personal views or beliefs with them, especially in a learning environment such as an Aikido Dojo, you may be inadvertently dismissing their own beliefs. As an Aikido instructor, you must remain professional at all times; students come to you so they can learn Aikido, not your personal thoughts on religious practice.
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