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Jenn
08-15-2005, 10:51 AM
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith. The teachings the Baha'i Faith focuses on unity and peace, and is also a religion with firm laws and obligations.

As someone who originally came from a completely non-religious background, I embraced my religion on something of an intellectual and emotional level - the meditative and "formal" qualities of my religion have been somewhat awkward for me to embrace. In the six short weeks I have taken Aikido I have felt enhanced in my religious life.

My dojo actually offers seminars on things like non-violent communication with Aikido principles. My schedule doesn't permit me to attend them but, interesting! My religion has teachings on the same topic, as most religions do I imagine.

James Davis
08-15-2005, 11:18 AM
I'm catholic, and I find that aikido coincides with my religious beliefs quite nicely. :) Going about my business not being paranoid, but more aware of my environment, allows me to function at a more relaxed level. This allows me to be nicer to people. :) Aikido also puts into perspective what things are worth fighting for. I let a lot more things slide now, but I'm more assertive with the things that matter. When people know what you're about it makes it easier for them to function too. ;)

aikigirl10
08-15-2005, 03:07 PM
I'm catholic, and I find that aikido coincides with my religious beliefs quite nicely. :) Going about my business not being paranoid, but more aware of my environment, allows me to function at a more relaxed level. This allows me to be nicer to people. :) Aikido also puts into perspective what things are worth fighting for. I let a lot more things slide now, but I'm more assertive with the things that matter. When people know what you're about it makes it easier for them to function too. ;)

Same here. I'm Catholic too and i couldnt have said it better my self.


Jennifer,

What is Baha'i? I dont think i've even heard of it. I'm just curious, could you tell me more about it and what it is based on? Thanks.

-Paige

Dirk Hanss
08-16-2005, 01:45 AM
What is Baha'i? I dont think i've even heard of it. I'm just curious, could you tell me more about it and what it is based on? Thanks.

-Paige

Well, I do not think, we should present here all kinds of religion. You can find a lot under www.bahai.org or www.bahai.com.

As I understood Baha'i was founded in the second half of the 19th century in Persia (IRAN). The idea of equality of all people, global peace, and love to all mankind seems to be quite similar to Omoto-Kyo. So it is not surprising that aikido fits well into Baha'i.

Jennifer, if you found your way, it is fine. And yes, I guess aikido is one of the martial arts that fits well to the ideas of Baha'i. Maybe both can help improving the other. So be welcome.


Peaceful greetings Dirk

Mark Uttech
08-16-2005, 08:25 AM
catholic aikido is similiar to catholic gardening. you still have to do the work.

Erick Mead
08-16-2005, 12:41 PM
Greetings all,

Many who practice Aikido shy away from this subject because they sense conflict. Some fly at it like moths to the flame, heedless of the burning. But neither is true Aikido. We must address the sources of conflict on their own terms, not try to deny them, and certainly not try to foment them. We must also not try to destroy the expression of the conflict, or worse, pretend that conflict does not exist or that the causes are somehow not significant or capable of merely being ignored.

As Catholic and a lawyer I like to define terms, and sometimes I get a better understanding that way. (Sometimes I understand better by shutting my mouth, but this is not one of them -- I hope-- or if so, I am sure I will discover that too, in due course.)

I always make distinction (as does my Church) between things that are of the Spirit and those that are of Religion.

The difference is the distinction between faith and religion: one is a state of mind, the other is an outward, usually communal, expression.

Religion is a Latin word coming from religere -- to bind, or fasten together. It is therefore the exception to the rule of the practice in most religious traditions to do so without some reference to other persons (even when they are not actually present) to whom we are bound in fellowship.

Spirit is also Latin, coming from spiritus -- breath, breathing

Spirit both directly denotes and connotes the same meaning as Kokyu.

A technique applied limply, without projection of one's center (esse -- being), lacks kokyu, it is an action without spirit.

Kokyu is the expression of ki, which also means breath in another sense.

Aikido, as practiced, is therefore inherently spiritual.

In a practical sense, religion is the outward expression of inwardly perceived truth in forms that are commonly understood by the adherents (-- "those who stick to") a particular religious system.

Religious acts are communal and expressive acts. Acts of faith are solitary and ineffable (-- "not expressible"). And yet faith cries out for expression in external forms, some of which engage our conscious minds and some of which do not.

Most religious acts occur in a system of doctrine, which is necessary to give expressive actions a material foundation that can be commonly understood.

Some religious acts are not doctrinal and therefore are not outwardly indicative of nor dependent upon a particular system of religious doctrine.

A good example is contemplative meditation. The act is essentially the same across religious traditions, including the several variation of methods used to focus awareness. The physical disciplines to achieve appropriate mental awakening and alteration of perceptive faculties are well-understood, empirically proven on a neurological basis, and materially effective in practice, both objectively and subjectively. It is a practice directed at the conscious mind, but to calm, rather than to excite, the desire for expression. When given a particular form of expression and focus, such meditation is by all means religious, but it is not doctrinal.

Doctrine is an unavoidable cause for religious conflict. The various cords that people have throughout history chosen, in their respective times and respective places, to bind them together in a common expression of sipiritual feeling, vary as widely as historical experiences among human beings. To reach common understanding it is necessary to have common references, and to a great extent the selection of these references simply happens. The depth and richness of religious imagery, paradoxically, depends upon its more particular cultural circumstance, rather than upon its more universal charatereistics.

Doctrine is both indispensable and yet also incomplete by reason of the historical accidents that give rise to particular accretions of religious concepts. Doctrine is necessary to enlighten and to exercise the conscious minds, to aid understanding, and to put into application respective attitudes of faith. Doctrine is therefore an indispensable element of all religions, and yet is also, for the same
reason, an unavoidable cause of conflict among them.

Religious actions that do not depend upon doctrine, such as meditation, are an opportunity to join together (religere) beyond the bounds of our particular religious community, in a common action with religious significance but not bound by doctrinal teaching of a particular religious tradition.

Aikido is religious in this latter sense. It lacks any doctrine. It is an outward expression of an attitude of faith that is experienced communally according to forms of action that are empirically valid, and both objectively and subjectively effective. It is directed at and engages the conscious mind through the instrument of the body. Practice of aikido quells desire for self-directed focus and the desire for predetermined action or result. Practice does not destroy aggression, which is a fundamental and indispensable human trait, but transforms it into something nobler, greater and worthy of our time and attention.

Speaking to Christians now (especially Catholics), Aikido is an opportunity to become both a witness and participant, directly, in certain material aspects of the transformative mystery of the Incarnation.

I cannot speak to Protestants as they are all apostate heretics and doomed to . . . .(Oh wait a moment, I've got this silly doctrine thing in reverse.... ;-} )

Speaking to Taoists, Aikido is just walking -- you know, with strong feeling about it.

Speaking to Buddhists, Aikido is a means to show the causes and a means to aid cessation of suffering for all sentient beings.

Speaking to Jews, Aikido is an expression of the Law of God to train in righteousness and to spread righteousness among the nations.

Speaking to Muslims, Aikido is a means to do the will of the merciful and compassionate God in a mutual struggle (jihad) to find true freedom (ijtihad).

Speaking to Shinto-jin, Aikido is kannagara, the path of kami, to seek harmony with the opening and eternal chord of creation.

Aikido is all this, ... and less, ... and more ...

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Jenn
08-16-2005, 02:22 PM
Paige - indeed the www.bahai.org web site Dirk sited covers all the basic information about the faith and is the same one I was going to cite.

It is interesting that so many of you are Catholic.. my husband is a man of Catholic upbringing (he is non-practicing right now, but has a positive association with the Church) and intends to start the next Aikido class begining in September. I will be interested if it at all raises some spiritual awareness in him.. part of the non-practicing part stems from his disassociation from spiritual matters. I think Aikido will be quite good for him both physically and spiritually.

Very thoughtful post, Erick. I can tell you are a lawyer. ;) Of course, everything is a cause for conflict - not just religious doctrine. Marriage, work, parenting - and even the "solitary" acts of faith can be a source of conflict, as any introspective religious person knows. It's like the pigeonholed conflicts of storytelling - Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Nature (or Supernature/God), etc. Conflict is not an unhealthy thing - on the contrary it is quite healthy and often necessary. It is a matter of handling conflict harmonsiously in a way that fosters growth. Conflict does not contradict peace - it is often the path to peace - the trick is to follow a path to peace that going to involve some conflict without devolving into chaos (mental, spiritual, or physical.) That is what seems to me to be the philosophy of Aikido.

I guess really it *is* the internal religious conflict that makes me find Aikido resonate with me spiritually. Most of the time I feel like I am a flailing and failing believer of religious teachings I'm not entirely equipped to live up to. Without getting too much into my personal diologue with God, somehow the physical act of Aikido seems to give that diologue, that conflict - a less chaotic tone.

aikigirl10
08-16-2005, 04:21 PM
Thank u Dirk and Jennifer.

Erick Mead
08-16-2005, 04:23 PM
I highly recommend for your husband, if he is at all so inclined, Dom Aelred Graham's "Zen Catholicism." My wife decribed me as a Zen Catholic before she or I knew the book existed.

It is a rigorously orthodox examination with a delightfully welcoming approach to the intersection of the two disciplines. Fr. Robert Kennedy, S.J. (Jesuit, and a Catholic priest for the non-canonical among you) and also a holder of the Dharma as Roshi has also written two well-reputed books on the same topic, one titled "Zen Gifts for Christians" I think, which I, sadly, have not yet read. He has a zendo in (of course) California. Morningstar, it's called.

I love the quote of Fr. Kennedy's teacher on his website.

"I am not trying to make you a buddhist. I am trying to empty you in imitation of your Lord, Jesus Christ."

Cordially,
Erick Mead

xuzen
08-17-2005, 12:25 AM
Greetings all... <snip>...

Speaking to Taoists, Aikido is just walking -- you know, with strong feeling about it...<snip>..

Aikido is all this, ... and less, ... and more ...

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Amen Erick,

That, I can relate to. Yes, it is just walking ;) . I like that definition. Aikido can be as spiritual or secular as one makes it. It is all in one's mind.

Boon.

Satyre
09-05-2005, 09:06 AM
I am an atheist.

Most of the time.

Occassionally I quietly tend towards being an agnostic. That which moves me most, which was my first love, best friend and confidante for many years and remains the wellspring of my inspiration is the ocean.

I've practiced meditation since I was about 11 or 12, believe deeply in love and the rightness of harmony.

Aikido has enhanced that, funnily enough the physical component above all. "I" as person has been extended (no Cartesian puns intended) by "I" as a body. Aikido gives me a physical means of expression.

Practicing Aikido, both the technical and ritual aspects, brings me joy, the dojo brings me peace and I am looking forward to one day discovering the movement and flow of ki...


In all this I feel no conflict between atheism and spirituality.

:ai:

SeiserL
09-05-2005, 10:02 AM
IMHO, while Aikido comes with an Omoto/Shinto religious source, it is spiritual enough the include and embrace all religious faiths.

Mark Uttech
09-05-2005, 12:14 PM
For what it's worth, I heard that an atheist is someone that G-d does not believe in, not the other way around.

Satyre
09-05-2005, 04:42 PM
Mark:

I have also heard that Elvis is alive.

Your comment got me to thinking: Off topic reply here:
Paradox: God & Belief (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=116645#post116645)

Chuck.Gordon
09-06-2005, 03:11 AM
For what it's worth, I heard that an atheist is someone that G-d does not believe in, not the other way around.

"To YOU I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition."
-- Woody Allen

If a non-existent god can choose not to believe in me, more power to him/her/it. We are then in agreement.
cg

Satyre
09-06-2005, 03:31 PM
Any chance of us getting back in topic?

This has been an interesting thread so far.

One thing that I have noticed at the club that I belong to is the way-above-average number of really good people there. Nice people. Interesting people. With an astounding lack of ego.

Pierre Rood
10-02-2005, 02:02 AM
I started Aikido because of a long time interest in the mysterious movements and the scent of tradition in the wearing of the hakama. Also the interest in Japanese culture played a role.

But soon the mystical and psychological aspects grew more important, and these are now the main motivation to do Aikido. The idea of soluting conflict by ways of not getting harmed while not harming the other is fascinating, because it stands alone in a world where destroying the other, mental and physical, is prominent.

For me the fighting aspect of Aikido and the 'Art of Peace' aspect are validating eachother. They make eachother real in a sometimes bad, sometimes good world. Aikido kan hold itself against anything because of those two, both concrete, dimensions.

Now for me Aikido is a great way of implementing the Christian principle of loving your neighbour, but also of loving your ennemy. And I feel a lot of ennemies may turn into neighbours along the way.

mathewjgano
10-02-2005, 10:21 PM
Now for me Aikido is a great way of implementing the Christian principle of loving your neighbour, but also of loving your ennemy. And I feel a lot of ennemies may turn into neighbours along the way.

I rather liked that! Thank you.
Take care,
Matt

Trish Greene
10-04-2005, 05:35 PM
But soon the mystical and psychological aspects grew more important, and these are now the main motivation to do Aikido. The idea of soluting conflict by ways of not getting harmed while not harming the other is fascinating, because it stands alone in a world where destroying the other, mental and physical, is prominent.

For me the fighting aspect of Aikido and the 'Art of Peace' aspect are validating eachother. They make eachother real in a sometimes bad, sometimes good world. Aikido kan hold itself against anything because of those two, both concrete, dimensions.

Now for me Aikido is a great way of implementing the Christian principle of loving your neighbour, but also of loving your ennemy. And I feel a lot of ennemies may turn into neighbours along the way.

Pierre,
This is exactly what I have been feeling about Aikido. I just started learning last month but I am finding the philosophy behind the training just as intriguing as the learning the movements!

tderham
10-12-2005, 09:15 PM
Hi,

I was just wondering if anyone knew of any good Aikido-related Zen texts (or Zen-related Aikido texts).

Regards,

Tristan Derham

phangoh
10-29-2005, 04:05 AM
Hello,

I am Buddhist and an atheist as well since Buddhism has no concept of God. What I find interesting about the spiritual aspect of aikido is just as its name described--the path to harmonize ki or energy. In practicing aikido, we engage on the path to harmonize energy with our ukes or opponents and extend that connection with the energy of the universe. Because of its "art of peace" philosophy, aikido techniques can teach us how to harmonize negative energy coming our way, but to extend that connection with the energy of the universe, that requires certain level of meditation practice.

The object of zen meditation is to "illuminate the mind and see our true nature" and to see our true nature is to know ourselves absent of delusion. In achieving this, we can cultivate the four sublime states through meditation and they are lovingkindness (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). In brief, lovingkindness is extending our love toward all beings; compassion is having empathy for all beings that are suffering; sympathetic joy is rejoicing in others' success, welfare and happiness; and equanimity is seeing and treating all beings equally.

So how do these four sublime states related to the spiritual aspect of aikido? In simple terms, if we learn to cultivate these four sublime states, we will learn to see things as they truly are not how we perceive them to be. With our visual eyes, we can see the ukes, see the techniques that are coming, but in order for us to feel the energy, often we have to join the uke's attack. But as one practice meditation regularly just as O Sensei practice meditation on a daily basis, one can develop a high level of concentration such as one-pointed focusness and develop what we called the “third eye”. So when an uke moves toward us with an attack, we can sense the motion of energy before the attack, connect with the uke’s energy, and execute the technique by extending the energy with our surrounding. Energy is gathered through our toes and extended upward toward our “dantien” (two inches below our naval) and from there, channels throughout our body and extends toward our fingers and out, connecting with the uke, and dissipates in a radius that depends on our level of meditation training. We know we are extending the energy with the surrounding if in a randori practice situation, we are executing the technique on one attacking uke, yet, all ukes that are within the circumference of our energy field can feel our energy and are affected by it. O Sensei developed the third eye because not only can he sense the opponent’s approaching energy, but he can also see the energy motion as a streak of white light and see the movements of the uke in slow motion so that by the time the uke executes his technique, O Sensei has already completed his defensive technique and the uke is down on the ground and can not see what technique O Sensei just executed.

So through meditation (develop Concentration), we can cultivate our mind to see our true nature and once we see our true nature, we can see the true nature of everything else that are around us (develop Wisdom) and be able to connect with them in a cosmic sense. Then, we can truly achieve the spiritual level of aikido or any other peaceful martial arts such as tai chi.

Mark Uttech
10-29-2005, 09:07 AM
I don't mean to argue, but I think O'Sensei just kept his two eyes.

phangoh
10-30-2005, 01:58 AM
Hahaha...indeed :D

No argument at all, just sharing of thoughts and personal experience here and that is always welcome :)

Kevin Leavitt
11-21-2005, 12:44 AM
Great post Michael. Many people feel this way! Thanks for your thoughts!

Erick Mead
11-21-2005, 08:32 AM
I believe religion is what you make of your own spirit. I like to believe there's a God or someone/something watching over me. ..... This is why I stray from a religious group and believe what I want to believe, and feel what I want to feel. ... In aikido, all your confrontations will be different, and to feel out what someone else is feeling, is to me, a great key in understanding how to control the situation without having to cause any serious harm.
Dear Michael:
I am not a doctrinaire sort of person, but It is in my estimation, dangerous to dispense with doctrine. Doctrine, and I speak of any humane tradition, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Shinto, Islam or others, is the compilation of witnesses to aspects of truth. We cannot hope in one span of life to encompasss what they have learned, however imperfectly, and tried to pass on (however imperfectly, for the good of their posterity.

That does not mean that doctrine must not from time to time be quesitoned, examined and renewed in its applicability, and interpreted for one's own situation. Imperfections do exist in the accumulation of wisdom. It is our role to find and purify them, rather than to dispense with the whole enterprise.

Such a man was O-Sensei, although his art was about as non-doctrinal as one can hope to see. In grappling with doctrine, we are doing the same as grappling with an opponent in aikido. Uke is not our enemy, he is our teacher, and most especially so, when he opposes our will or desired outcome.

So with doctrine. As we must confront uke/nage in training, we must confront the truth of ages, as appropriate to our own upbringing and traditions, to make it real in our own lives. I, for one, am too feeble of mind to outmatch the mountain of wisdom that has been piled up for me to climb. Newton lauded the giants whose shoulders he stood on to see farther. The mountain is both an obstacle and ladder.

Your tradition, whatever it may be, is your lifeline, your ground and firm foundation. Improve it, build upon it, find links to bring other tradition closer together to build with broader foundations. Do not abandon a treasure given you for free.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Kevin Leavitt
11-21-2005, 01:20 PM
Erick,

I agree with you, however I would choose not to use the word doctrine, but words such as "history", lessons, experiences. We cannot throw away those things that are vital to our humanity and our growth.

We are but what our forefathers left for us, we evolve and grow based on those experiences.

as you state, we must interpret them for ourselves and look introspectively to find the truth and meaning that allows us to escape the confusion, road blocks, assumptions, emotions, and paradigms that get in the way of us discovering "the truth".

I agree just simply don't like the word doctrine as it has so many negative conotations with it.

Erick Mead
11-21-2005, 11:47 PM
Erick,
I agree with you, however I would choose not to use the word doctrine, but words such as "history", lessons, experiences. ...
I agree just simply don't like the word doctrine as it has so many negative conotations with it.
The word "doctrine" means "teaching" as the word "doctor" mean teacher. The root Latin is in common with "-duct" as in "conduct" and "induct" which has the meaning "to lead."

As to negativity, the negative aspects of having a length of wood swung at my head are very great, but also very persuasive in getting my head out of the way. and quickly, too. :D

Doctrine per se has the advantage of a well-thought out structure, which may be a cause for disagreement, but the argument is more profitable (and more broadly comprehensible) working from the structure as a template. even for strong criticism, than in abandoning it as a common source for useful discussion.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Leon Aman
11-22-2005, 12:13 AM
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith. The teachings the Baha'i Faith focuses on unity and peace, and is also a religion with firm laws and obligations.

As someone who originally came from a completely non-religious background, I embraced my religion on something of an intellectual and emotional level - the meditative and "formal" qualities of my religion have been somewhat awkward for me to embrace. In the six short weeks I have taken Aikido I have felt enhanced in my religious life.

My dojo actually offers seminars on things like non-violent communication with Aikido principles. My schedule doesn't permit me to attend them but, interesting! My religion has teachings on the same topic, as most religions do I imagine.

I’ve been practicing aikido for about 5 years and the way I understand the principle and practice of this art has nothing to do with the enhancement of my spiritual life. My constant practice developed my balance and timing which in my part is the best important factor in my aikido training in order to achieve the effectiveness of the execution of my technique, while the rest is secondary. My spiritual progression still lies on my thinking and my conviction to myself. The act of discipline I express on dealing with my fellow aikidoka and senseis while in the dojo is to give myself the chance to express my thinking as a disciplined practitioner . So to conclude if aikido has something to do with my religious life is absolutely not accurate but practically a common adroitness of physical pursuit as any other martial art.

:ai: :ki: :do:

mathewjgano
11-26-2005, 02:08 AM
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith.
I would say Aikido is highly compatible with religious/spiritual intentions. I was attracted to Aikido because it seemed to embody my spiritual and ethical convictions. The ideal of connecting to things in a meaningfull way and blending with them to create something which benefits all that's involved was very attractive to me. Aikido, in my opinion, has something to offer anyone, whether they're Strong Atheists or any given spiritual practice. At the very least it will teach them things which can protect them physically and allow them to continue living and learning.
Take care,
Matthew

Charles
11-26-2005, 07:30 AM
Myself, I find Aikido completely incompatible with my religion and dealing with that has been an interesting struggle.

The goal of my religion is nicely summed up in the title of a book by Thomas A'Kempis, "The Imitation of Christ". Or to put the question in contemporary terms, Would Jesus practice Aikido?

Let's start with the dojo fees and ancillary costs. We live in a world of hunger and want amid plenty and followers of Jesus are explicitly called to give everything that we own to the poor. "So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." (Luke 14:33) We can't afford Aikido if we don't have any money left.

And we're on this Earth only a very short while. There is too much to do serving God and God's people to spend time at the dojo.

Refusing to see the attacker as the opponent, that's right on from the Christian perspective. But then what? In Aikido we make certain that nobody gets hurt. In my religion we're supposed to sacrificially allow the other to hurt us. We're supposed to follow an all powerful God who let himself be crucified. Jesus wouldn't, and didn't, practice Aikido.

That said, or written, I'm not going to come anywhere close to imitating Christ. The money that I spend on Aiido I'm not going to give to the poor. But the practice of disciplining the body does also discipline the mind and the spirit. And who knows, perhaps that discipline might strengthen me enough that one day I can give away all that I have.

Erick Mead
11-28-2005, 05:11 PM
Myself, I find Aikido completely incompatible with my religion and dealing with that has been an interesting struggle.
The goal of my religion is nicely summed up in the title of a book by Thomas A'Kempis, "The Imitation of Christ". Or to put the question in contemporary terms, Would Jesus practice Aikido?
I suspect that Thomas á Kempis would say "Yes."
In the Imitation of Christ, he wrote:
" The Voice of Christ - MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed. Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.… Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle."

A Christian statement more consonant with the practice of Aikido I cannot imagine -- except -- perhaps these:

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." St. Matt., 10:34

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." St. John, 14:27

It is no concern whatsoever that the source of the teaching and practice of Aikido is not explicitly Christian.

"All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit." St. Thomas Aquinas, cit. 1 Cor. 12:4-11.

In this context, compare the above statement in the Imitation of Christ with the words of O-Sensei:

"The Way of the Warrior [budo] has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.
Morihei Ueshiba, 1942.

There are many struggles for us in the world, I agree, but your concern over such a struggle between Aikido and Christian teaching is not among them.

Pax Christi,

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Chizikunbo
12-02-2005, 09:30 PM
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith. The teachings the Baha'i Faith focuses on unity and peace, and is also a religion with firm laws and obligations.

As someone who originally came from a completely non-religious background, I embraced my religion on something of an intellectual and emotional level - the meditative and "formal" qualities of my religion have been somewhat awkward for me to embrace. In the six short weeks I have taken Aikido I have felt enhanced in my religious life.

My dojo actually offers seminars on things like non-violent communication with Aikido principles. My schedule doesn't permit me to attend them but, interesting! My religion has teachings on the same topic, as most religions do I imagine.
Hello Jennifer San,
as my frist post here I hope I dont brake any rules :-)
O'sensei once said that
"Aikido is the religion that is really no religion, it perfects and completes all religions."

You see, Aikido does nothing but enhance my spiritual and physical life. I am not what you would call a "Christian" perhaps, but I dont really fit into any catagories. Budo is my way of life, and I know it does nto contradict any religion except maybe extreme christianity. Aikido is a way to develope peace, harmony, and compassion in your life so as to live in those concepts, having them you pass them on to the rest of the world, creating a better world, aikido teaches us to respect life, and nature, and to love all living things. The highest level of Aikido is such where you will not need your hands and fist to defend yourself, but your mind, heart and spirit. You will beable to avoid a physical encounter, and is it does come to that, you will be able to defend both the life of yourself and the life of your opponet whihch is how things should be done. In this way you fight the fire of hate, anger, and fear, with the water of compassion, love, and kindness. Your two bodies become one and the motions flow outso you treat your opponet as your own body with respect and love, so you put out the firse before it comsumes the situation. In this way you spread the love of Aikido, and better the world, and our personal community.

This is the highest spiritual leval in Aikido in my eyes, realizing that true defense and strength does not lie in agressive actions, and harfull course of action but rather in the true path of love, kindness compassion and respect. This is the way of the warrior, and the spiritual side of Aikido that enhances all of our lives consciously or sub-consciously.

Truly yours in :ai: :ki:
--joshua paszkiewicz

Chizikunbo
12-02-2005, 09:35 PM
Hello again,
after further reading through the posts the issue of christianity comes up again and again. i would like to address "would Jesus practice Aikido?" Who knows...but they do fit together. Jesus always acted with compassion, love, kindness, courtesy, and humility. These are both the basic and most advanced princibles in Aikido. O'sensei once said "Aikido is the manfestation of love" I know this in my heart and soul to be true. Aikido is what you ,ake it to be from the teaching that is there. What I mean by what you make it to be is that it is an endless path, and we choose how far we continue up that path. But there is definatly no conflict with christianity.
Truly yours in aiki,
--Joshua paszkiewicz

Erick Mead
12-08-2005, 09:20 AM
"would Jesus practice Aikido?" Who knows...but they do fit together. Jesus always acted with compassion, love, kindness, courtesy, and humility. These are both the basic and most advanced princibles in Aikido. ... Aikido is what you take it to be from the teaching that is there. --Joshua paszkiewicz
Thanks Joshua.

I was struck in rereading this, that the Doka for today (thanks, Jun!), speaks to this quite eloquently.

The Pine, the Bamboo, and the Plum.
The make up of Ki that we are training to purify
From where do they arise?
The Water and Fire of the change in the self.

Two observations:

This doka resolves objections that aikido training (or any work of self-improvement) creates spiritual value in itself. O-Sensei makes clear that spiritual value is there all along, untouched, in all things (symbolized by the three trees) We simply have to clear away the rubbish for it to shine out in its original brightness.

The last line shows how to grasp this value by twofold means, a dual baptism, of both water and fire. (This is too explicitly Christian in feeling to need much further comment, even though the symbolism is quite universal.)

Whether a person or sword, water covers, cleanses and tempers; fire makes dull iron bright and lumninous, sharing the nature of fire, destroying its impurity and without changing its own nature.

And, oh yes -- as to both people and swords -- much beating is also required.

Let the beatings continue, then ...

Cordially,
Erick Mead

IlyasDexter
12-23-2005, 09:39 AM
I started Aikido shortly after found Sufism(Esoteric Islam), Aikido definitely provided me with a good foundation particularly in the practice of ettiquette and many other priciples they are only different by degree not kind. When i'm at the dojo training it is like prayer because of the postures that we use are virtually identical to those in the Islamic method of prayer, ie Shizentai(natural standing posture) the standing bow,Seiza (sitting) and the seated bow.
Consider this:
"As long as people are alive, human relations is an important matter. If respect and affection towards others are lost, then we are just like animals. Hence, "bowing" etiquette is important. Just as the character [Chinese character] indicates, the left half symbolizes the "gods" and the right half symbolizes "a religious offering". In an agricultural society an offering was made to the gods at the end of the harvest as appreciation and to pray for further divine protection."
The Way of Seiryoku Zenyo-Jita Kyoei and Its Instruction
By Shinichi Oimatsu (Kodokan)
The Bulletin for the Scientific Study of Kodokan Judo, Volume VI, 1984

As for the question would Jesus Peace be upon him practice Aikido? Of course he does. Harmony of spirit is his way.
Peace be on you all,
Ilyas

ken king
12-27-2005, 01:31 AM
Allah'u'abha Jennifer,
seems you and i are in the same boat. i feel that aikido compliments being a baha'i very well. aikido seeks to eliminate aggression and violence, while at the same time promoting love and harmony. sounds like a match made in heaven to me :)

6th Kyu For Life
12-29-2005, 12:41 AM
Hello all-

Let me first say that this has been a very interesting thread to read so far. It seems that almost everyone on these threads has seen Aikido as a complement or as a conflict with their proclaimed religion. Some people may deny that Aikido is anything more than martial arts, and that the philosphical and spiritual aspect is just something vestigial to training. Others may lavish in the spiritual and philosophical aspect, and see this as the true foundation of all Aikido, and of their own personal beliefs. For some people, Aikido bridges the gap between Western thought and religion, and Eastern thought and religion. Possibly it is a way to "keep" the religion you may have grown up with, and exercise an interest in Japanese culture, religion, and thought.

In short, Aikido is either a manifestation of another religious doctrine (as I might classify Erick Mead's perspective), or of an innate spirituality that hasn't really fallen into a specific religion (like Joshua Paszkiewicz). But what if we say that Aikido is religion? I'm not saying that Aikido should be made, or has been made into some sort of weird cult. All I'm saying is that what we do, what Aikido has always been, is a form of religious practice, and is therefore religion. Look at what we do--is a dojo really so different from a church or temple? On the mat, don't you respect your sensei with similar reverence as a priest? Don't you connect to the people at your dojo just as you might with the people in a church community? Wasn't that first roll a sort of "leap of faith?" You wear your nice pants to do Aikido, and your other nice pants to go to church. My point is, Aikido is inherently religion, we just don't call it that, and we do it very differently. The foundations of our religion is getting sweaty and smacked around, while manifesting peace and harmony. The foundation of one school of Buddhism is sitting on your butt for extended periods of time, while manifesting compassion and wisdom.

Of course the upshot of all this is that Aikido is not just religion, nor is it just some sport. Anyone can say that a sport is a "way of life." Before I did Aikido, skiing was my "way of life." So to fully realize the depth and breadth of Aikido, we have to strive to fully understand the mundane, everyday side. How do to Ikkyo, how to apply atemi, how to roll. But we also have to fully consider the "big idea" philosophical side. What is peace, really? Why not use force? How does this apply to my life? But you can't have one without the other; Aikido provides both the questions and the answers.

So I'd encourage people who've been struggling with this issue to see that Aikido is, for each and every practitioner part of their lives, and by being part of their lives, it's also an intrinsic part of their individual spirituality. How you deal with it is up to you.

Peace,
Tom Newhall

Kevin Leavitt
12-29-2005, 04:28 AM
Tom, Thanks for your thoughts.

I think there is a distinction that can be made between religion, spirituality, and ritual.

Capitalism can be argued to be a form of religion as you believe in it, practice it,and it does have a dogma. Many would argue that it to is an opiate that distracts us from happiness.

You can go into many, many examples.

Point is, what one person labels as religion the other says "no" it is not. We'd be here all day.

What I think is important is the underlying dogma or manifesto that restricts, or does not restrict your practices.

Aikido philosophy does not exclude or require you to profess any particular believe or renounce any. Therefore it can be applied universally.

If it is accepted or not, it up to the individual. Each person must make his/her own religious or spiritual choice as to if aikido detracts, or adds to their practices.

Thanks!

Mark Freeman
01-18-2006, 06:14 AM
Hi,

I am pleased for all those who's practice of aikido enhances their religious life.
Personally I see some fundamental differences between aikido and religion. While I agree with Tom that similarities can be drawn with some of the rituals, that doesn't make the repeated behaviours any more religious than say putting your rubbish out for collection on a set day.
The main difference I see is one of 'faith' in that to practice aikido you don't need any ( I do and I don't ), to practice a religion you do. Early on in my aikido practice my Sensei said " Don't 'believe' what I tell you, do what I show you, and decide for yourself! " Now some aikido students may have the same reverence for their Sensei as a member of a congregation has for their priest, I can't imagine a priest saying those words.
Aikido is a practice, a 'do', a 'way'. The founder was not a deity and didn't make any claims as such, he founded a system he called "the art of peace", which has spread worldwide and is practiced by many people of different 'faiths' and 'creeds'. It seems to me to be all inclusive, there are folks who do it for mainly physical reasons, some for the spiritual aspects, some for the mental development, and many do it for all three. Ultimately I see it as a way to hone oneself as a human being, and for that to happen I must practice overcoming 'my own' issues that may impede my progress. To achieve this I do not need an afterlife punishment/reward system, a doctrine, a book, or any other trappings ( apart from kit and a mat ). But hey, thats just me.

I love the idea of peace and goodwill to all men, if only it were so.

If God created all men in his own image, why did he create atheists? perhaps to give himself a challenge?

Erick Mead
01-18-2006, 09:41 AM
...If God created all men in his own image, why did he create atheists? perhaps to give himself a challenge? "To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition."
Woody Allen

Personally I see some fundamental differences between aikido and religion. ... The main difference I see is one of 'faith' in that to practice aikido you don't need any ( I do and I don't ), to practice a religion you do. ... Religion does not require faith, which is perhaps one of its blessings for those who doubt they will ever find any. Indeed, a particular religion may be practiced without much faith at all to speak of. Amongst modern Jewry this is not uncommon, and an atheist Jew is not a contradiction in terms in today's world. It is not too dissimilar in many Christian communities. This same sensibility in religious observance is virtually endemic in Japan.

Ultimately I see it as a way to hone oneself as a human being, and for that to happen I must practice overcoming 'my own' issues that may impede my progress. To achieve this I do not need an afterlife punishment/reward system, a doctrine, a book, or any other trappings ( apart from kit and a mat ). But hey, thats just me. Religion is not necessarily about life after death. Religion has a function apart from metaphysics. It happens that this also serves its metaphysical function, but in does so whether you choose to "believe" this, that or the other thing.

"Religere" is the Latin root, which means "to bind together." That is what religion does -- it binds individuals to one another in a way that both celebrates the fact of individuality while diminishing the pain of separateness. Religion makes concrete the reality of "Tat tvam asi" "This thou art."

The recommendation of practice and observance over "faith" is a constant, whether you be Catholic, Methodist, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jew. Not so different after all from what Mark's Sensei said: "Don't 'believe' what I tell you, do what I show you, and decide for yourself!" Faith is not required, only practice. Practice is good, useful and requires work. Plowing will not make seeds sprout, but it makes it more likely than on hard earth. Faith will look after itself if the work of practice is done.

Aikido is just such a practice. If try to avoid the word "religious", we fear a vibration in the air. To fear a word is mere superstition of magic. Aikido helps to bind and connect us to one another in an exceedingly concrete way. I agree that faith is not required, but I disagree that religion is not involved.

Religious practice makes us realize we are one, even when we are at odds and in actual physical struggle. That is Aikido. If we realize this fully, we are enlightened -- in every sense of that word. If we live our lives in such practice we are saved -- from the false sense that we were ever truly alone.

Northern Europeans had a different sensibility of faithfulness, fate, nobility and obligation to forebears in their religious thought that still survives in Christianity today even in the context of salvation theology. It echoes in a different tone and flavor the ethics of bushido that Aikido exemplifies.

He "saw in his thought the brave men of old
walking under the vault of heaven
upon the island earth beleaguered
by the shoreless seas and the outer darkness,
enduring with stern courage the brief days of life,
until the hour of fate,
when all things shall perish,
light and life together."

J.R.R. Tolkien, Preface to Beowulf

And yet that precise sensibility was the predicate for a glimmer of joy in an unlooked-for hope:

"From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring,
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king."

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


Aikido is that glimmer of joy found underneath the falling sword.


Cordially,
Erick Mead

thisisnotreal
01-18-2006, 12:45 PM
[snip]
"Religere" is the Latin root, which means "to bind together." That is what religion does -- it binds individuals to one another in a way that both celebrates the fact of individuality while diminishing the pain of separateness.
[snip]



Is religion not more about 'binding' ourselves to God/Source (and the question of origin, purpose, etc) than 'binding' ourselves to each other? Yes, church binds the people together but I see religion is the linking of God/Source to the individual.

Christianity posits one such explanation. Outlining Jesus as *The* way.

Aikido (even the words Ai Ki and Do) seems to posit another explanation. *This* way seems to provide a *way* or path to union with Ki (understood as *The* Source) or Aiki. If that's the heart of it, then Aikido would be seen as a religious practice, no?

What u say? :rolleyes:

FWIW

Mark Uttech
01-18-2006, 03:47 PM
God doesn't believe in atheists

Erick Mead
01-18-2006, 04:31 PM
Is religion not more about 'binding' ourselves to God/Source (and the question of origin, purpose, etc) than 'binding' ourselves to each other? Yes, church binds the people together but I see religion is the linking of God/Source to the individual.
Christianity posits one such explanation. Outlining Jesus as *The* way. ...
What u say? :rolleyes:
There is no difference in Christian thought:

"Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'"
St. Matthew 25:34-40

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mark Freeman
01-19-2006, 03:12 AM
God doesn't believe in atheists
Does that mean we don't exist! :eek:

Mark Freeman
01-19-2006, 04:13 AM
Hi Erick

Religion does not require faith, which is perhaps one of its blessings for those who doubt they will ever find any. Indeed, a particular religion may be practiced without much faith at all to speak of. Amongst modern Jewry this is not uncommon, and an atheist Jew is not a contradiction in terms in today's world.
Now I'm confused here Erick, Religion does not require faith, and an atheist Jew is not a contradiction in terms. I realise you are a lawyer, and from your posts a very erudite and eloquent one at that, so I'm sure you will advise me further on how you can be a fully functioning and practicing member of a religious community and not believe in the reason for the religion existing in ther first place? And if faith is not required to believe in the existence of God ( in light of there not being any evidence that the atheists of the world can see ) then what is?

Aikido is just such a practice. If try to avoid the word "religious", we fear a vibration in the air. To fear a word is mere superstition of magic. Aikido helps to bind and connect us to one another in an exceedingly concrete way. I agree that faith is not required, but I disagree that religion is not involved.
I agree that the practice of aikido helps to bind and connect us to one another as does belonging to a religion (your own), but so does supporting a sports team.
I have no fear of magic, and I do see how parellels can be drawn between aikido and religious practice. However, I'm sure my problem is that I have so many views of fundamentalist religion and all the negative actions that are carried out in the name of it, that I would rather like to continue my aikido practice and develop my own mind body and spirit, without any connection to even the idea of it being 'religious'. There is no reason for me not to.

I like the passages from Tolkien, thanks, I never expected to see him quoted on an Aikido forum.

My experience in the past, has led me to realise, that a discussion between a believer and a non believer is one destined to be long, drawn out, and usually frustrating for both sides. So I wish you well in both your aikido and religious practice. You seem to be from the moderate and reasonable end of the spectrum, but probably not as far to the left as an atheist catholic though!

Cheers,
Mark

aiki-jedi
01-19-2006, 06:57 AM
God doesn't believe in atheists


Did you hear about the dyslexic atheist?

He doesn't believe in dog.

Wow...my first post is a joke. Quite the auspicious beginning. Back to lurking. :D

Chris

Russell Robinson
01-19-2006, 10:57 AM
I have often found that a discussion about religion and/or politics, after the lengthy comparisons, examples, refutations, etc. boils down to a fundamental difference that can never be reconciled. That doesn't mean they can't be extremely interesting and engaging though! In these cases I can't help but think it's the journey, not the destination. :p

Thanks,
Russ

jonreading
01-19-2006, 12:50 PM
As an instructor, I hear this question alot. As a Christian, I hear this question alot. A couple of things help me answer from both ends of the spectrum. O'Sensei never professed that Aikido was a religion; he was a [zealously] devote follower of Omoto Kyo religion. However, he did structure the teachings of Aikido as complimentary to many religious teachings, and he spoke openingly about Aikido as a suppliment to religious beliefs.

Aikido is a tool to to improve your life. You may use it or not, but it will only ever be what you make of it. Some people do not want to include Aikido beyond physical training, others do. In any case, everyone has the choice to include Aikido in their life and use it how they see fit.

As a Christian, I believe that Aikido is a tool to strengthen my body, my mind, and my spirituality. Aikido does not interfere with my religious beliefs, but it strengthens my resolve in those beliefs. I do not fear false idols or misleading paths because my Christian faith guides my beliefs, aikdio gives me the strength to support those beliefs.

Tough question and everyone has to deal with it in their own way.

Erick Mead
01-19-2006, 01:42 PM
how you can be a fully functioning and practicing member of a religious community and not believe in the reason for the religion existing in ther first place? And if faith is not required to believe in the existence of God ( in light of there not being any evidence that the atheists of the world can see ) then what is? Oh, I don't know that I would recommend it -- but it is a fact. It does not do to overburden rationality in religious decisions. Existence and contentment predate rationality. That is perhaps the best ad hoc argument against atheism. The rational argument is Gödel and Heisenberg. But that gets us nowhere.

We are in this age, a very few of us excepted, uncomfortable with things unseen. The hazards of an instant video era, among other things. "It's not real unless its on tape" There are many levels of irony contained within that statement.

At the same time we hesitate to believe what we see. At a vicsceral level, we sense an increasingly constructed reality, increasingly rational, and yet very unsatisying and suspect for that same reason.

Perfunctory religious observance is common in the modern world. The point of practice is to assist a person, even absent conscious perception of the faith that practice represents for oneself. So many different practices may be adaptable to diferencet trafditions during such a time of instability. The cross-pollination of Zen and yogic practice into western religion is occurring today, as Western religion was earlier crosspollinated into Pure Land Buddism in the post-Hellenic period in Asia. Aikido, and the ideas of budo more generally, are becoming yet another graft onto the stem of Western culture.

I like the passages from Tolkien, thanks, I never expected to see him quoted on an Aikido forum.

Tolkien is moving to believer and non-believer alike, as is Aikido. I think, if my intuition holds true, that what motivates most atheists or agnostics is a kind of iconoclasm, a deeply felt need to make no image or statement and to attempt no description of that which cannot be described or defined. Carl Sagan, as vehemently reductionist and empirical as his philosophy was, wrote about the beauty of universe he could describe with a spirit that denied his words. This sensibility too has a long tradition, both East and West. I am not offended by what an atheist may think or believe. It is what we do that defines us.

I can respect this -- as long as they do not disrespect Tolkien or O-Sensei. :grr:

"Renewed shall be blade that was broken." A resonant Aiki sentiment, to my mind. Tolkien deserves more credit, and he is beginning to receive it. His example showed how moving religious feeling could be expressed in non-religious contexts. His work bears much reflection. He, while exceedingly devout in his own habits, deplored the kind of literalism and dogmatism that is so prevalent and deadening to both non-religious as well as religious life today.

Tolkien's method, as you will see from the question below, I think has much in parallel with that of O-Sensei in an utterly different medium. Both transmit an intentional religious sensibility without any direct or even allegorical religious statement.
My experience in the past, has led me to realise, that a discussion between a believer and a non believer is one destined to be long, drawn out, and usually frustrating for both sides.
You are so right. The splashing is wildest in the shallow end of the pool. I prefer those who will quietly contemplate and when prompted by someone else's desire for it, discuss the effects of faith, not its presumed content, which, frankly, is not describable. On this, I and any atheist would agree.

So I wish you well in both your aikido and religious practice. You seem to be from the moderate and reasonable end of the spectrum, but probably not as far to the left as an atheist catholic though!

A good bit further right is fair to say. If I may ask, and I will not pursue where the discussion is not wanted, I wonder a couple of things. Some thoughts from those on the committed secular side may help others, both secular and non-secular.

I will not use the terms atheist or agnostic (a quick philosophy dig -- atheism is defined by something that it claims to have no existence, thus an atheist has a kind of second order non-existence). The problem is truly broader than that.

O-Sensei's spiritual sensibility was important to him. This much is clear. He had no concern about the particular spiritual sensibilities of others as to their aikido practice. But he also thought that aikido was a good adjunct to the practices of any religious person.

Mysticism across the globe has the flavor of faith without conscious content. Aikido as taught by O-Sensei was in this vein. These practices have very similar reference images and effects on adherents, across many cultures and religious beliefs.

So-- the question.

If one is without faith, how does one fit the groundwork for the moral elements of aikido, which are closely woven into its practical elements, without taking on board the mystical side? I have met very few second dan or above, and none that I can recall fourth dan or above, who did not take that side very seriously, although there are wide variations in emphasis, surely.

I wonder what is the experience of others in this regard.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mark Uttech
01-19-2006, 04:23 PM
My experience is that 'everything is as it is'.

Erick Mead
01-20-2006, 02:46 AM
My experience is that 'everything is as it is'. Just so. Then an atheist mystic exists, after all. ;)
To see things as they are, and not as we wish they were.

Most people are not content to be as they are.
They desire to seem as they are not. In fact, they often work quite hard at it. In some cases, what is not becomes what is.

Aikido is about becoming, however, not being. To imagine what is not is the soul of creativity. In application, Aiki cannot be limited to what is, since properly applied Aiki technique will change what begins as highly negative, and neutralize or even convert it to positive. Aiki is an act of spontaneous imagination within a form, like a metered poem. Creative Art happens in every encounter. Wide variations in nonetheless effective technique attest this.

So seeing things as they are is good, but creativity requires more.
In my experience, effective Aiki requires more. Certainly, it requires more of me.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mark Uttech
01-20-2006, 06:07 AM
Of course, 'everything as it is' includes omote and ura. Aikido actually is the discovery of 'more of me.' On the one hand, Budo is translated as "to stop the thrusting spear" and on the other hand, it is translated as: "hey you! stop thrusting with the spear!"

Ron Tisdale
01-20-2006, 10:52 AM
Hmm, no offense, but...

Though I am not professional like Chris Li, I spend a lot of my time translating and interpreting from Japanese to English and vice versa. I see this mystification all the time, especially with Japanese, which has semantic features which are quite different from those of English. As a linguist I really do not believe that the 'stopping spears' stuff stands up to close examination and I have one dictionary which states that this explanation rests on a mistake (p.1279 of Tetsuji Atsuji's Gendai Kanjigo Jiten, published by Kokogawa Shoten).

From http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=34631&highlight=budo+definition+goldsbury#34631

Best,
Ron

Erick Mead
01-20-2006, 05:44 PM
Of course, 'everything as it is' includes omote and ura. Aikido actually is the discovery of 'more of me.' On the one hand, Budo is translated as "to stop the thrusting spear" and on the other hand, it is translated as: "hey you! stop thrusting with the spear!" A good counterpoint, in that the boundaries of "I" are expandable to include our seeming enemies. O-Sensei surely taught that. The subjective "I" is the omote to the ura of the objective "you." And vice versa. (perhaps infinitely regressed).

If a card-carrying atheist said that, though, I would wonder... :eek:
Ex. 3:14 and Matt. 16:15-16 suggest themeselves to me. Or the Dhammapada 1:2-5, if you prefer:

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mark Uttech
01-20-2006, 06:22 PM
Why would you wonder if a card-carrying atheist said that?

Erick Mead
01-20-2006, 06:40 PM
Hmm, no offense, but...

Quote:
Though I am not professional like Chris Li, I spend a lot of my time translating and interpreting from Japanese to English and vice versa. I see this mystification all the time, especially with Japanese, which has semantic features which are quite different from those of English. As a linguist I really do not believe that the 'stopping spears' stuff stands up to close examination and I have one dictionary which states that this explanation rests on a mistake (p.1279 of Tetsuji Atsuji's Gendai Kanjigo Jiten, published by Kokogawa Shoten).
From http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=34631&highlight=budo+definition+goldsbury#34631
Best, Ron
My non-western language training is in Chinese. The kanji character -- Japanese "bu" 武 Chinese "wŭ" is indeed formed of two radicals. When decomposed into these two stand-alone characters, they do carry a meaning in Chinese of "stopping spears," or a like command as Mark suggests.

止 zhĭ = halt, stop, desist, detain
戈 gē = halberd spear lance

Compare:
兵法 bīng fǎ = strategy (Suntzu- "art of war" lit. - soldier-method)
where 兵 bīng is composed of two radicals that mean, respectively, hand and axe.

But false folk etymologies of this sort abound in Chinese, and kanji, as an adapted system, is fertile ground for more.

Cordially,
Ercik Mead

Mark Freeman
01-21-2006, 05:28 AM
A good bit further right is fair to say. If I may ask, and I will not pursue where the discussion is not wanted, I wonder a couple of things. Some thoughts from those on the committed secular side may help others, both secular and non-secular.

Thank's Erick you have just given me a new title to go by, from now on I will no longer think of myself as an Atheist ( it has such negative connotations! ). I now want to be thought of as a "Committed Secularist" I do no want to sound facetious, I'm genuinely pleased, as a little research turned up this definition: Secularism - The state of being secular; applied by G J Holyoake to an ethical system founded on natural morality as opposed to religious education or ecclesiasticism.
So-- the question.

If one is without faith, how does one fit the groundwork for the moral elements of aikido, which are closely woven into its practical elements, without taking on board the mystical side? I have met very few second dan or above, and none that I can recall fourth dan or above, who did not take that side very seriously, although there are wide variations in emphasis, surely.

It's easy really, us 'committed secularists' do not need faith to be moral, come to that, we do not need aikido, it is just that as very moral people we are drawn to aikido as a practice that fits in with our morals. I was a non-violent pacifist before I discovered aikido. I regard the teachings of O'Sensei and the Art he created as a fantastic practice for human beings in the modern world. A superb tansformation of past 'Martial' ( ultimate killing machine ) ways to a future " Loving protection of all things" mentality through practice of the Art of Peace.
I do not think there is anything 'mystical' about Aikido and I take my practice very seriously. I come from the Ki Aikido end of the spectrum so my practice has 'ki' built in ( ki developement exercises )and I can see plenty of opportunities for people to mystify (glorify?) and generally bamboozle.

I believe the universe and all thats in it is the most fantastic, beautiful, complex system. And the more we discover about it the more of each of those things it becomes.

Mysticism - is for the gullible and the controlling, a co-dependant relationship made in heaven or hell depending which side you are on. :hypno:

Just my humble opinoin, but you did ask the question.

Regards,
Mark

mathewjgano
01-21-2006, 05:49 PM
Mysticism - is for the gullible and the controlling, a co-dependant relationship made in heaven or hell depending which side you are on
Actually, isn't it the "revelation" mode of thought which fits this description and not the "mystical"? My understanding of the term "mystical" demands that all experiences are deemed rational or irrational by my own personal experiences above all others.
"Mysticism...is the pursuit of achieving communion with or conscious awareness of God (the divine ultimate reality) through direct, personal experience, intuition or insight." (Wikipedia)
Also, it may have been posted already, and if so I'll find it soon I'm sure so please don't feel obliged to answer my question, but what exactly is "natural" morality? This word seems to imply an objective concept of what is and is not moral (ie- a "true" morality next to which all other morality is supposed to be false or inferior) which, in my experience, is the very mechanism people seek to control each other by.
Take care!
Matt

Mark Freeman
01-22-2006, 09:10 AM
Hi Matt, good response, in my mind the term mystic, mysticism and mystify sit very cose together ( next to each other in my dictionary ). And while your definition is correct, in part, my dictionary says: Mysticism - The doctrine that man may by self-surrender and spiritual apprehension attain to direct communion with and absorbtion in God, or that truth may be apprehended directly by the soul without the intervention of the senses or the intellect.
Now my problem is, that for this to make sense, there is a presupposition that a) God is the supreme ultimate reality, and b) there is a God.
What happens if neither is true ( as is possibly the case! )
I also note that mystic is: adjective- Pertaining to or involving mystery or mysticism; occult, esoteric; allegorical, emblematic. noun- One addicted to mysticism; a support of the doctrine of mysticism.
Which when coupled with - mystify : To involve in mystery; to bewilder, to puzzle to hoax
You may be able to see why the 'committed secularist' tries to steer clear of this little minefield.

Let me make one thing clear, I think people should be free to practice any belief system they want as long as it doesn't impact negatively on others. Unfortunately in my experience this is not the case for many. The list of examples would be too long and too depressing to contemplate right now.

As for "natural" morality I'm not sure where that phrase arose from. My position was / is that man does not need religion to act in a 'moral' way. In fact what leads me to that conclusion is that some of the most despicable acts carried out are by righteous religious men against believer and non believer alike.
The US Constitution is a pretty fantastic document, and I believe the founding fathers did a brilliant job of putting in place a system that has held up well for it's citizens so far. One thing that they made clear was that it recognised every man's freedom to worship as they chose. They also made it very clear that the Church and State (secular ) should remain separate, please correct me if I am wrong.
Would you not agree that inherently this document is a moral one?

The fact that the US now has a president with "a direct line to God" is enough to make the rest of us feel very worried, especially when words like 'crusade' start appearing in his language. :(

I realise that doesn't have much to do with aikido, but if some of our leaders tried to use some of the principles of aikido in resolving conflict, they might get a little further than trying to 'smash' their enemies or 'break' them, it only seems to make them worse.

My feeling is that next to global warming the biggest issue in this century is going to be ideological. Christianity and Islam are both 'guilty' of harbouring fundamentalist, people who will stop at nothing to 'win' their deluded argument. Unfortunately the rest of us will be caught in the crossfire. :(

From a committed secularist , ..peace! :)

Mark

Erick Mead
01-22-2006, 05:13 PM
Thank's Erick you have just given me a new title to go by, from now on I will no longer think of myself as an Atheist ( it has such negative connotations! ).
Mark Glad to be of service. Words like that have a tendency to cause people to revert to template. That is anathema to real discussion.

It's easy really, us 'committed secularists' do not need faith to be moral, come to that, we do not need aikido, it is just that as very moral people we are drawn to aikido as a practice that fits in with our morals.
Mark I agree that faith is not required to be moral. But to survive profound immorality -- there's the real test. It is a test whether we are its source or its object.
Too many witnesses in far sundered religious traditions attest that despair and fundamental doubt are the desolate soil in which powerful faith sprouts.

And how is one to be certain of one's morality? It is a perilous thing to believe that one is doing good.

Such a cry echoes in many traditions as with St.Paul's experience "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. ... So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand." Rom. 7:19, 21. The juxtaposition of Tolkien's poetry earlier cited has this feeling in a Northern European idiom. Gautama Buddha's own experience exemplifies it, as does his teaching:

"Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil. Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.
... Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the results of evil deeds. Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one will not be overcome by death."
Dhammapada, 9:121-122, 127-128.

The carnage of the twentieth century's incessant and grandiose "best intentions," is apalling to the point of near moral numbness. It is fatefully predicted above in both Christian and Buddhist tradition. Being moral by one's own lights is not enough, and is in fact downright dangerous.

Mysticism - is for the gullible and the controlling, a co-dependant relationship made in heaven or hell depending which side you are on. :hypno: To the contrary, the mystical experience is empirically real -- even if its object cannot be identified empirically. I have addressed it in this forum elsewhere, but the references are still valid: see http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8831&page=3&pp=25
Current research has found empirical neurological evidence that meditation does indeed involve an other than ordinary experience at aneuorlogical level. See for instance:
http://www.shinzen.org/shinsub2/_disc1/0000003c.htm
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, undertook a radilogical examination of the neurological basis of mystical experience. Subjects included a Catholic nun and a practioner of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. He later wrote a book outlining called "Why God Won't Go Way"
Lest anyone think this a crock or one- off study, other studies have found similar brain activity changes in religious and mystical experience.
http://hendrix.imm.dtu.dk/services/jerne/brede/WOBIB_22.html The experience quoted by one of Dr. Newberg's test volunteers in the first cited report of his study closely matches the descriptions of O-Sensei's three ecstatic visions, and in several pertinent points, the conversion visions of St. Paul.

An identifiably similar description of experience, so widely reported over so long a period of time has proved to have an objectively measurable presence. It therefore has some definitive referent in reality. Mere gullibility it is not.

I have read that some of O-Sensei's closest students confess that they did not understand this aspect of his experience or his teachings on the topic. I have heard none of them say he was gullible.

If mysticism (substitute conscience, if you prefer) gives a guide to the perilous grounds of whether we act for ultimate good or for evil, drop by drop, then any tradition collecting the benefit of mystical or religious learning should be given due weight.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

6th Kyu For Life
01-23-2006, 01:31 AM
Erick-

as Western religion was earlier crosspollinated into Pure Land Buddism in the post-Hellenic period in Asia

On the surface, Pure Land Buddhism does look a lot like Western religion, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that it was influenced strongly by it. The strongest influences of European culture on China happened first before the fall of Rome (when Christianity was not very prominent, and there were certainly no missionaries spreading it in China), and then during the age of imperialism and exploration, long after Pure Land Buddhism had emerged. So, just for the record, Pure Land Buddhism was not significantly influenced by Western religion.

Peace,
Tom Newhall

Edwin Neal
01-23-2006, 03:57 AM
I believe you may be incorrect in your statement that pure land buddhism was NOT influenced by christianity... I do not have the sources at hand presently but from my studies I "seem to recall" a distinctly chinese variety of christianity, i just can't remember what it was called and it's not coptic, but i believe it starts with a "C"... and one could say that both christianity and buddhism(some forms) both derive some of their beliefs about devotional grace (faith) from Hindu and other even more ancient religious beliefs... damn I wish I could remember what that sect of christianity was called, but it was more or less contemporary with gnosticism and the coptic tradition in egypt, and thus "travelled" over time...

cut this from a google search I think it was the second that i was thinking of...

Nestorians.--In A.D. 631 the Nestorian Church introduced Christianity into China, under the title of "The Luminous Doctrine;" and in 636 Nestorian missionaries were allowed to settle at the capital. In 781 the famous Nestorian Tablet, with a bilingual inscription in Chinese and Syriac, was set up at Si-ngan Fu, where it still remains, and where it was discovered in 1625 by Father Semedo, long after Nestorianism had altogether disappeared, leaving not a rack behind.

Manichaeans.--In A.D. 719 an ambassador from Tokharestan arrived at the capital. He was accompanied by one Ta-mou-she, who is said to have taught the religion of the Chaldean Mani, or Manes, who died about A.D. 274. In 807 the Manichaean sect made formal application to be allowed to have recognised places of meeting; shortly after which they too disappear from history.

My main point is that (I believe) there was MUCH more interaction between ancient cultures than most modern scholars believe... remember we are looking back a long time and have little evidence to go on so it is understandable that most scholars are "conservative" in their estimates and beliefs

the "dates" of pure land buddhism in china run from about the first century c.e. thru the 6th c.e. with reference to it originating in India...

Personally I think it all got mixed together both going east and west...
just my two cents

Edwin Neal
01-23-2006, 04:01 AM
WOW this thread has really gotten out there into the fringes... ;-))

Mark Freeman
01-23-2006, 04:59 AM
WOW this thread has really gotten out there into the fringes... ;-))

So far in fact I'm about to fall off. :eek:

Being moral by one's own lights is not enough, and is in fact downright dangerous

I'm not sure how you can come to that conclusion. As already mentioned I feel that the opposite is the case. By having a 'higher' morality to refer to has allowed men to carry out appalling atrocities. The Bin Laden's of this world carry out their deeds safe in the knowledge that they are morally right, they'll even be rewarded for being so 'moral'. Personally I'll stick to being responsible for my own actions and being judged by what I do by those around me.

I've yet to be convinced that those of 'faith' act in a more moral way than the rest of us.

I count myself lucky that I live in a country where religion is practiced by a minority, and that they have complete freedom to do so.

Many of my generation have grown up watching the awful spectacle of sectarian violence taking place in Northern Ireland, some of us being innocent victims in the bombing campaigns on the mainland. I'm sure seeing this rediculous hate filled feuding between religious believers, turned many of my generation away from the church for good.

Where did the morals of a catholic IRA man come from when he blew up a group of unsuspecting innocents?

I've fallen off the edge .............

Peace

Mark

6th Kyu For Life
01-23-2006, 06:24 AM
Edwin-

Wow! I'm surprised someone bothered to look into this issue further. You're absolutely right about the Nestorians and Manicheans. These now-dead branches of Christianity did have an impact in China, but just as you said, to what extent we aren't able to know. The mere presence of Christianity in China must have influenced Chinese thought and religion, and therefore Pure Land Buddhism also. But in the two centuries of these religions existing in China, it's likely that their fellowship did not extend much outside the original immigrant communities, not enough to profoundly influence Buddhism. Basically, yes, Christianity must have had some influence on Buddhism simply because it had some presence in some parts of Chinese history. But there is really no substantial evidence (that I know of) that links Christianity in China to Buddhism in China.

To paraphrase my religion professor: "The only reason anyone ever talks about Christianity in China is because we come from a Christian background. If you were to see how the Chinese write their own religious history, Christianity would just be a footnote."

Finally, regarding the dates and origins of Pure Land Buddhism. It has kind of dual origins in both China and India. Two of the core texts of Pure Land Buddhism (The Larger and Smaller Pure Land Sutras), have sanskrit predecessors, which were written between 252 and 713 ad according to this source (http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe49/sbe4925.htm). But Pure Land Buddhism was never an independent school of Buddhism in India, as it was in China.

Yeah, this thread has really taken a detour.
Hope that helps.

Peace,
Tom Newhall

Erick Mead
01-23-2006, 11:25 AM
To throw Mark a rope .. common heritage and resonance between faith traditions must be examined and promoted. Those who exploit the differences will prevail if we merely we do nothing.

O-Sensei had some hopes for aikido as a mediating vehicle on a host of such fronts. Certainly, it has affected me in this way. Aiki has taught me that belief is not opposed to belief, however it may appear that way, just as uke is not opposed to nage regardles how strong the attack.

In confilcts bweteen persons we must correct ill- considered conflict with good technique. In conflicts between traditions we must correct ill-considered conflict with good history.

I believe you may be incorrect in your statement that pure land buddhism was NOT influenced by christianity... My main point is that (I believe) there was MUCH more interaction between ancient cultures than most modern scholars believe... remember we are looking back a long time and have little evidence to go on so it is understandable that most scholars are "conservative" in their estimates and beliefs
...
the "dates" of pure land buddhism in china run from about the first century c.e. thru the 6th c.e. with reference to it originating in India...


Christian trinitarian thought had pagan antecedents in Hellenic Greek philosophy, which developed in Christianity contemporaneously with similar ideas in Pure Land Amidisim (Trikaya theory) that developed along the Silk Road and its side routes into India, also heavily Hellenized in the two centuries before Christ. Bamian, in Afghanistan, where the giant Buddha statues were tragically destroyed by Taliban barbarians was one of these Hellenic-Buddhist centers.

There is a good source for the later Silk Road interactions (ca. 650- 850 a.d.) puts Christians, Shingon and Tendai Buddhism as active contemporaries in Chang'an, the Chinese T'ang capital.
See : "The Jesus Sutras" by Martin Palmer, with good historiography and scholarly primary source translations of Chinese Christian works spanning that period. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345434242/002-2807862-8956818?v=glance&n=283155
The extent of interaction seen in these tyexts from the Christian side in using Buddhist concepts as evangelical material cannot be denied. The suggestion that the same occurred on the Buddhist side is thus bolstered in plausibility if not yet in direct proof.

Some suspect direct interaction between these religious scholars in translating Christian and Buddhist works late out of India, which was at that time simultaneously a Buddhist source region and a Christian source region for the Church of the East cutoff from the West, first by the Byzantine-Persian wars, and then the Arabization of the Islamic conquest.

This discussion is NOTtoo far afield. Shingon was one of O-Sensei's early major influences, and which was deeply involved in the development of Ryobu Shinto cosmology, that underlies the entire doka cycle and O-sensei's more esoteric discussions, which are directly relevant here.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Erick Mead
01-23-2006, 11:45 AM
Edwin-
To paraphrase my religion professor: "The only reason anyone ever talks about Christianity in China is because we come from a Christian background. If you were to see how the Chinese write their own religious history, Christianity would just be a footnote."
Tom Newhall
A professor who said such a thing does not understand the concept of ura, or the operations of latency and contingency in history. It is like saying that Irish culture has no influence anymore because so very few Irish speak Gaelic.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Erick Mead
01-23-2006, 11:56 AM
So far in fact I'm about to fall off. :eek:
... The Bin Laden's of this world carry out their deeds safe in the knowledge that they are morally right, they'll even be rewarded for being so 'moral'. Personally I'll stick to being responsible for my own actions and being judged by what I do by those around me.
...
Where did the morals of a catholic IRA man come from when he blew up a group of unsuspecting innocents?

From the same place as those of BinLaden's own moral echo chamber. One's own opinions or those closest to you are not a safe enough guide. Traditions winnow things like this to give more relaiable counsel. Bin Laden, and the IRA have each departed far even from their own moral traditions.

Aiki requires us to meet and respond to the forces of those in confilct with us, but not by breaking them in the process. If we begin with the mindset of Aikido that people make mistakes in both beginning conflict and in continuing it, then we try to ameliorate the error, rather than to eliminate the one mistaken.

Technique gives us means to do this. Tradition tells us how far they should be applied.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

George S. Ledyard
01-23-2006, 01:22 PM
It's always difficult to tell what influenced what in the ancient world. Every culture has started with with certain common set of myths and symbols which seem to go back so far that there's no telling when or where they actually originated...

If one reads the works of someone like Mircea Eliade on archaic religions one can clearly see that there is a common set of shared myths and symbols which get incorporated in virtually every faith. Carl Jung accounts for these by talking about the "collective unconscious" and this is probably as good as any way to describe the various stmbolic structures which we all seem to share and which, I believe, actually give much of religion it's transformative power.

Myth and ritual, are on some level, the "machine langauge" of the Mind. Every spiritual system has relied on this to "transform" it's adherents. Anyway, we have a shared symbolic structure which is cross cultural. As the various modern religious traditions developed they picked this up and then transformed it according to the culture in which the new faith was developing.

This is why it's so difficult to tell at a later time, what influenced what... In many instances they started with w shared set of symbols and even similar myths lomd before any contact was made.

Toaday one can see how powerful this underlying symbolic and mythic structire is... as the great Religions have revealed their various weaknesses and people have fallen away, especially in the West, people are constantly re-inventing thier faith by appropriating the symbolic structures of our previous traditions out of contect to create satisfying new traditions of spiritual practice. One can see this in recreations of Native American or shamanic traditions, recreated Celtic / Pagan traditions, etc We often laugh at these people and see their efforts as unauthentic. We consider extreme examples of these to be "cults", a word that now has all sorts of negative overtones that were not there in its original usage.

The desire to impose a spiritual structure onto Aikido is completely understandable. It was there at its start and has been removed by many people passing on the mechanics but not the internal content of the tradition. For those looking for something beyond mere self defense this is essentially unsatisfying and people will automatically start reinserting those spiritual principles into this vacuum. It is my preference to try to discover and pursue the knowledge that was already there at the inception rather than re-invent them on my own but one way or another people will be inventing, re-inventing, or re-discovering all sorts of spiritual and even religious principles in connection with their Aikido practice. This will happen automatically and inevitably as long as people believe that Aikido is something beyond a weird, dancelike set of movements for self defense.

As for the gentleman who said he was an Atheist and that Buddhism contains no concpet of God, this isn't true. Buddhism accpeted the entire pantheon contained in Hinduism. They also accpeted the Gods and Goddeses of every culture into which they moved. Like the Greeks they had Divine Beings but they didn't look at these divinities as the source for all knowledge, all moral distinction, etc. The reason Buddhism doesn't talk much about the Gods is not that they rejected them but rather that Enlightenment has nothing to do with them. The Gods themselves can be as "Ignorant" of their True Nature as any mortal. So Buddhism simply addressed the Four Noble Truths:
1) the Existence of Suffering
2) the Origin of Suffering
3) the Cessation of Suffering
4) the Eightfold Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering

This is not in any way Atheistic, it just doesn't look to a God (s) for salvation.

Erick Mead
01-23-2006, 04:39 PM
So Buddhism simply addressed the Four Noble Truths:
1) the Existence of Suffering
2) the Origin of Suffering
3) the Cessation of Suffering
4) the Eightfold Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering
An observation of which I am fond, and speaks to both Buddhist and Christian (particularly Catholic) traditions:

"Suffering is but the bite of chains binding us to this world."

Buddhism accepted the entire pantheon contained in Hinduism. ... The reason Buddhism doesn't talk much about the Gods is not that they rejected them but rather that Enlightenment has nothing to do with them.

Hindu teaching shows Brahman identifying with Creation in a fundamental manner -- "Tat vam asi." This thou art.
Christian ideas of Incarnation are not so far removed.
Tantra, from that Hindu tradition, speaks of the nine billion names of God, which is essentially every possible name.
Jews scruple with even writing the Name of God, which is: "I AM."
The Way that can be named is not the eternal Way.

Definition on our part is an imposed limitaiton and accommodation to a reality profoundly beyond us. We should explore freely the spiritual traditions of the world, whatever our own tradition, without abandoning the special meaning our own tradition has to us and the crucial foundation that such familiarity allows. The unfamiliarity of many today in their own tradition, or any tradition, is unsettling and dangerous for them.

I for one am fascinated by the circumstantial evidence of connections between different systems of spiritual understanding historically. But, Christianity is an historically mediated faith. This is understandable from that context. Other traditions will approach from a different perspective and further enrich understanding.

Thus, it is important to restore relevant connections that help me and others to grasp more of of O-Sensei's own understanding of the often quite esoteric things he related. That these ideas they are difficult, recondite, even, is but a challenge, not an excuse. If we dismiss them, we dismiss him, and the power and durability of his physical Art, even after passing through many hands, demands otherwise.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

mathewjgano
01-23-2006, 05:05 PM
From a committed secularist , ..peace! :)

Mark
Hi Mark! Thanks for the reply. It cleared up my questions very well and it appears we're of like minds in this matter.
Take care!
Matt

Edwin Neal
01-23-2006, 05:26 PM
this thread has started to get too broad, but as to "trying to understand the deep and esoteric" things that Osensei taught well... most people tend to go overboard... his message at its core was simple... we are all interconnected... when we realized this then we act in a spontaneous and powerful way... this leads us away from conflict and toward peace... all the other stuff is just ways to explain or illustrate it for different people ie skillful means for all you buddhist scholars...

6th Kyu For Life
01-24-2006, 07:00 AM
Erick-
A professor who said such a thing does not understand the concept of ura, or the operations of latency and contingency in history. It is like saying that Irish culture has no influence anymore because so very few Irish speak Gaelic.
I don't feel a need to defend my religion professor, as I'm sure he can do so on his own, but those are my words not his. I'll take the blame for any misconstruction of his lectures.

Regarding "Ura" I've never seen that terminology before. Is this a concept presented in Palmer's book? I did a google search for it, but no luck. Just a bunch of acronyms... Unless of course you mean Ura as in Omote and Ura?

While I haven't seen Palmer's book, (and I am currently pretty far from a library) evidence of Christianity in Buddhist sutras is not really that surprising. Considering the vastness of the Chinese Buddhist canon (100 volumes), the mistranslation of early Indian texts into Chinese, and the interaction of religious traditions that happened along the silk road, there is definitely quite a bit of "borrowing" in what became Chinese Buddhism. Of course, "borrowing" is kind of the essence of the development of religion. It seems that this is more a question of "to what extent did Buddhism borrow from Christianity?" From what I know of Buddhism, the answer is "not much." However, my studies in Religion have focused on China, Japan, and Buddhism, without venturing too far into the realm of Western Religion, and I also haven't read Palmer's book.

Peace,
Tom Newhall

Mark Freeman
01-24-2006, 07:39 AM
From the same place as those of BinLaden's own moral echo chamber. One's own opinions or those closest to you are not a safe enough guide. Traditions winnow things like this to give more relaiable counsel. Bin Laden, and the IRA have each departed far even from their own moral traditions.
Hi Erick
I guess you cannot recognise that it is possible for a man to be 'moral' without some belief/faith in some 'higher order' as that is your experience. One a number of occasions you have tried to explain that relying on my own sense of 'morality' is not enough, "One's own opinions or those closest to you are not a safe enough guide"
My point about the Bin Laden's is that they get their morality from a book that they insist gives them the right to kill 'non belivers'. That is not them sitting quietly meditating on themselves and their relationship with their fellow man, it is them acting out of blind 'faith' in the 'teachings' of their sacred texts, made worse by the belief in a specific reward in 'heaven'
To re emphasise my point - for the last time - if the text or the belief in such did not exist, then the excuse to slaughter people that have done you no harm, does not exist.
They may as you say have departed from their own moral traditions, but on Friday and Sunday, you'll know where to look for them.

Aiki requires us to meet and respond to the forces of those in confilct with us, but not by breaking them in the process. If we begin with the mindset of Aikido that people make mistakes in both beginning conflict and in continuing it, then we try to ameliorate the error, rather than to eliminate the one mistaken.

We agree on something :)

Peace

Mark

p.s. in post # 67 you start "To throw Mark a rope" do think that I am drowning?? :(

Mark Freeman
01-24-2006, 07:42 AM
Hi Mark! Thanks for the reply. It cleared up my questions very well and it appears we're of like minds in this matter.
Take care!
Matt

Cheers Matt, I sometimes think I am the only one! :eek:

Mark

IlyasDexter
01-24-2006, 09:37 AM
Some words from the Sufis:

"Describe an existance as you will; if you wish,you can say it is creature; if you wish, you can say it is God; and if you wish, you can say it is God-creature; or else, if you wish, you can say that it isn't God in every aspect and that it isn't creature in every aspect; or yet again you can speak of perplexity." IBN ARABI

" 'I' and 'you' are but the lattices,
In the niches of a lamp,
Through which the One Light shines.
'I' and 'you' are the veil
Between heaven and earth;
Lift this veil and you will see
No longer the bond of sects and creeds.
When 'I' and 'you' don't exist,
What is mosque, what is synagogue?
What is the Temple of Fire?" SA'D AL-DIN MAHMUD

crbateman
01-24-2006, 12:53 PM
Would this be a bad time to suggest that the only real truth is BEER? :D

Mark Freeman
01-24-2006, 01:28 PM
Would this be a bad time to suggest that the only real truth is BEER? :D

I'll have a pint of Guiness Clark, thanks for offering :D

Mark

crbateman
01-24-2006, 08:43 PM
Cheers, mate! :p

malc anderson
01-29-2006, 06:08 AM
Hi ya, I am not religious but there's no reason not to have a religion and still be an Aikidoka, I have been practicing Raj Yoga for 30 yrs and Lee and Yang Tai Chi forms for 7 yrs, my perspective is that O'Sensei was practicing meditation, we only have to read ‘The Art of Peace' to understand that physical techniques were not the only things that the Great Man used,'
10
All the priciples of heaven and earth are living inside you. Life itself is the truth, and this will never change. Everything in heaven and earth breathes. Breath is the thread that ties creation together. When the myriad variations in the universal breath can be sensed, the individual techniques of the Art of Peace are born but as with Religions when the master dies the students start to have there own ideas about the way forward for their particular system. This has happened again and again then arguments begin
11
Consider the ebb and flow of the tide. When waves come to strike the shore, they crest and fall, creating a sound. your breath should follow the same pattern, absorbing the entire universe in your belly with each inhalation. Know that we all have access to four treasures: the energy of the sun and moon, the breath of heaven, the breath of earth, and the ebb and flow of the tide.
This is a standard Yoga technique, the Pranayarma . this is fundamental to accessing the inner realms. Until we have entered in and experienced Kensho we will never truly understand what the Great Man's perspective was. Aikido has, as with many religions started to split into different groups because the captain of the ship has gone, arguments as to the course have begun. Although it seems that even during Osensei's life time students couldn't grasp his teaching, i.e.
Several times in his final years Morihei sadly reflected," I've given my life to opening the path of Aikido but when I look back no one is following me."
Once an American disciple said to Morihei," I really want to do your Aikido." Morihei replied," How unusual! Everyone else wants to do their own Aikido."
So we must ask what is this extra dimension that to day seems lacking? In the past The Masters who came to teach Love to the world came across the same difficulties as O'Sensei and when they died religions were created. We only have to look at the Aiki beer drinkers association to see that the inner realms are not understood i.e.
14
Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, and take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your own door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything - even mountains, rivers, plants and trees - should be your teacher.
The Sufi Poets of Love, which Llyas tried to give voice to, were experiencing the inner realms, and their words are like water in the desert to a seeker of truth. To enter and experience these inner realms will take Love, a love of union with the great power of Life itself, because intellect can only process things it knows and our everyday life is totally controlled by this ‘best friend' and ‘worst enemy' it has become the barrier to our true inner selves i.e.
‘ Aikido is truly Budo - a martial Way - rather than simply a bujutsu (martial technique) or bugei (martial art). When martial training is undertaken not simply as a means to conquer others, but as a means to refine and perfect the self, this can be said to be Budo. The famous motto of O-Sensei, "Masakatsu Agatsu", contains the essence of the spirit of Aikido: "True victory is victory over the self."
Llyas do you think that the ‘Kami' and ‘the Beloved' could be the same thing? I'll keep this short and leave with quotes from a Sufi master and two from the ‘Art of Peace'
‘The whole world is a marketplace for Love, For naught that is, from Love remains remote. The Eternal Wisdom made all things in Love. On Love they all depend, to Love all turn. The earth, the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars The center of their orbit find in Love. By Love are all bewildered, stupefied, Intoxicated by the Wine of Love.
From each, Love demands a mystic silence. What do all seek so earnestly? "Tis Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts, In Love no longer "Thou" and "I" exist,
For self has passed away in the Beloved. Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul Behold the Friend, Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds Will find that the secret of them both is Love'. Jehaladin Rumi
29
All life is a manifestation of the spirit, the manifestation of love. And the Art of Peace is the purest form of that principle. A warrior is charged with bringing a halt to all contention and strife. Universal love functions in many forms; each manifestation should be allowed free expression. The Art of Peace is true democracy
30
Each and every master, regardless of the era or place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit - Love.
I hope that the modern day Aikidokas will start to look inside and try to find ‘Kensho' so Aikido doesn't be come just another Martial art. Masakatsu Agatsu ! malc.
98
Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptiness. Stand in the midst of the Great Void. This is the secret of the Way of a Warrior

Ali B
01-29-2006, 09:39 AM
" I've given my life to opening the path of Aikido but when I look back no one is following me."

Says it all for me really...

Light n love
Ali

Mark Freeman
02-08-2006, 05:09 AM
Hi Malcom,

A good post with many quoted wise words from different masters, but I am intrigued to find out more about:-We only have to look at the Aiki beer drinkers association to see that the inner realms are not understood
What / who are you talking about?

Cheers
Mark

Counsel
02-09-2006, 11:15 AM
catholic aikido is similar to catholic gardening. you still have to do the work.

Yikes! :D Depth to the Discussion.

Two sayings come to mind:

1. When the solution is simple, God is answering. -- Albert Einstein;

2. When the solution is difficult, God is watching how we answer. -- Counsel

Einstein...what a mind. I'd love to have seen him on the mat...

Counsel

Mark Freeman
02-09-2006, 11:33 AM
Yikes! :D Depth to the Discussion.

Two sayings come to mind:

1. When the solution is simple, God is answering. -- Albert Einstein;

2. When the solution is difficult, God is watching how we answer. -- Counsel

Einstein...what a mind. I'd love to have seen him on the mat...

Counsel

Hi James,
Why would Einstein have any advantage at aikido? often the intellect is the biggest obstacle to progress in aiki. :(
Maybe you thought he'd look good in gi and hakama? :D

regards,
Mark

malc anderson
02-25-2006, 07:53 AM
Hi ya Mark, What did I mean ? I am fairly certain you know, but as you asked, you are one of the A.B.D.A. as you are an Aikidoka, you drink beer, and you have an associate. I wrote this because this is the spiritual part of this site and people who really want to practice the spiritual side of Aikido may come for advice, and with respect to everything the founder stood for we should lead them a least to ‘the Art of Peace’, so that they may learn more about Satori and achieving this life changing wonder that lies in the heart of all us. The struggle for Enlightenment/Kensho is the only reason we are a live.
“The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your Inner Divinity and Manifest your Innate Enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter”
Some people take this to be very important, and for me the only part that I can do. I have tried to walk this path for 30 yrs and it makes me try to care for other travellers on the Way, it is a very difficult path, far more difficult than practicing physical techniques, and I was just giving the other side of the coin.
Meditation is about direct experience, not guesses, ideas, concepts, it’s a shame Meditation is not used more in Aikido, it would require a least as much if not more time than people give to the physical side of this wonderful art you are so lucky to be able to do. Then what O’Sensei was trying to pass on would be really understood. All the best Malc
" It is the supreme state of Aikido to be one with the Spirit of the Universe. For this reason it is called the Budo of Unification and Oneness”.

Xamien
07-22-2006, 12:33 PM
Hi James,
Why would Einstein have any advantage at aikido? often the intellect is the biggest obstacle to progress in aiki. :(
Maybe you thought he'd look good in gi and hakama? :D

regards,
Mark

He was an intellectual in many things, but his words illustrate an instinctual approach to the way he viewed the universe. He could be wonderfully eloquent in his theories in how the universe work, but the underlying feeling in all of his work was that while it was fun and games to figure out how it worked, the true beauty lay in being able to appreciate just what we were looking at.
For what it's worth, I think the man (if he had ever been physically inclined) would have had beautiful Aikido.

I already mentioned in my introduction to the forums that I'm a Buddhist, but this is a more appropriate place to expound on what it means for me as a Buddhist practicing Aikido. Put simply, it is a spiritual experience for me. The reason for this is that I've been studying martial arts all of my life and have always pondered the question of what it meant to be a true warrior. This naturally spilled over into my spiritual questions and seemed to be naturally tied up with spiritual matters, anyway.
At first, I thought a true warrior was the natural embodiment of pure skill, such that that level was standpoint of finally acheiving a mystical status. I didn't know what lay beyond that point of mystical status, just that I didn't understand it. Such a warrior in my mind was exempt from moral considerations. A grey area where moral relativity and all its problems became absolutely irrelevant.
As my learning from social interactions and myself progressed, it came to invoke the moral obligations and finding out what the right morals were. What determined you were a true warrior was in the righteousness of the cause. That quickly gave way to disgust, however, in the face of things like poor sportsmanship and the incredibly cruel and nasty things I'd witnessed people do to each other. All desire for what I deemed glorious battle flew from me. Not surprisingly, this coincided with my period of spiritual disenchantment. I started to explore the mystical side of things but that became a dead-end. I left the martial side of things dormant for a while. When I finally read about Buddhism and started attending a local temple, this finally revitalized my search. :) It led to self-conflicts over the continuation of my study of martial arts, but I resolved them with the resolution that I would find a way to make it work such that my skills could leave me and my opponent unharmed. "Those who have to fight have already lost." is an important creed to me.
It's the reason why I am in complete agreement with O Sensei. It's the reason why coming to Aikido is like coming home to me. It's the reason why it is so spiritual for me, because it's an incredibly pure expression of my spirituality and so many of my other principles in which I've come to believe. Furthermore, I've witnessed myself the healing power of love in its various forms. I have no words for it, nor has anyone had or ever will have words for it.

If you want to be technical, you could call me a combatant. Certainly, I know different ways to cause harm and death. It's my conscious will and decision to embrace absolute nonviolence that I feel makes me a non-combatant. Among my precepts is to not kill and my conviction is such that I will willingly and gladly die first before I ever willingly take another life. I would sooner die myself to preserve the life of another, the chance of another person to learn and grow to know the beauty I've discovered for myself.

In Deep Gassho and :ai: :ki:

Xam

Guilty Spark
07-22-2006, 09:16 PM
I came across this article on another website. I'm not sure whether to laugh or feel sorry for this person.
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm07.htm

It basically argues that taekwondo and other martial arts
are a Trojan Horse in the House of the Lord, eroding the spiritual barriers between Zen Buddhism and the Christian Gospel, and potentially leading vulnerable children and teens into the early stages of eastern occultism. As a result of this research, our Christian School Board decided to no longer offer Taekwondo or other Martial Arts. The good news about religious syncretism is that it is never too late to repent and start afresh, serving one Master and one Master alone, Jesus Christ our Lord

I guess when we meditate we're suposed to be thinking about God and not clearing our minds.

With Aikido's heavy spiritual emphasis I figured it (we) would be a BIG target to religious zealots like this author.
I'm hoping people like this are few and far between.

RoyK
07-23-2006, 07:02 AM
I came across this article on another website. I'm not sure whether to laugh or feel sorry for this person.
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm07.htm

It basically argues that taekwondo and other martial arts


I guess when we meditate we're suposed to be thinking about God and not clearing our minds.

With Aikido's heavy spiritual emphasis I figured it (we) would be a BIG target to religious zealots like this author.
I'm hoping people like this are few and far between.

I love it how religion allows people to dispel anything they don't like. I bet that person who wrote it got his ass kicked on the mat.

"Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell" - Karl Popper.

Erick Mead
07-23-2006, 04:32 PM
I came across this article on another website. I'm not sure whether to laugh or feel sorry for this person.
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm07.htm
It basically argues that taekwondo and other martial arts
a Trojan Horse in the House of the Lord, eroding the spiritual barriers between Zen Buddhism and the Christian Gospel, and potentially leading vulnerable children and teens into the early stages of eastern occultism. As a result of this research, our Christian School Board decided to no longer offer Taekwondo or other Martial Arts. The good news about religious syncretism is that it is never too late to repent and start afresh, serving one Master and one Master alone, Jesus Christ our Lord I guess when we meditate we're suposed to be thinking about God and not clearing our minds. It is exceedingly sad what poor theology does to people.

"We need to be reminded, as the Hebrew prophets insisted, that it is much easier to worship God than to do His will."
Dom Aelred Graham, "Zen Catholicism."

As to aikido and martial arts in the true spirit of budo -- every attack I become able to redeem to better purpose is in the pursuit of His Will.

It is God in whom I live and move and have my being. The task of Zen is no more than to discover my original nature. How can Zen thus be anything but a path toward God? "I AM who am." To think anything else in the context of Christianity is to be merely superstitious and to betray deep ignorance of one's own religion.

That Zen says nothing about God is of no consequence. "What God actually is always remains hidden from us; and this is the highest knowledge we can have of God in this life, that we know Him to be above every thought we are able to think of him." St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 2, 1, 9. Thus, truly clearing our minds, even of the most profound thoughts of God, is the most profound contemplation of God conceivable. As Lao-tse and many Zen roshi's since would have it -- "Those who know, do not say; those who say, do not know."

As a suitable antidote to such nonsense, I heartily recommend, BTW, this website for the Morning Star Zendo:

http://kennedyzen.tripod.com/

At the bottom of the page, check out the statement made to Kennedy Roshi (White Plum lineage) who is also a Jesuit priest of the Roman Catholic Church, by his Dharma teacher, Yamada Koun Roshi

Mark Freeman
07-23-2006, 05:09 PM
As Lao-tse and many Zen roshi's since would have it -- "Those who know, do not say; those who say, do not know."

This saying is the ultimate "thread killer", :dead: thanks Erick! ;)

dps
07-23-2006, 07:14 PM
This saying is the ultimate "thread killer", :dead: thanks Erick! ;)
Ultimate thread killer, hmmmm lets see if it works on another thread.

Paul Milburn
12-06-2007, 12:47 PM
I am a christian and am hoping to become a Catholic Priest. I have learned to reconcile a good degree of my faith with my aikido, although I find that some aspects dont lend to blending very well. I think aikido is very self focussed (ie. self development) whereas true religion is God focussed, as it should be. I think Aikido and even O'Sensei himself would claim only to be a yellow belt when it comes to the Almighty!