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-   -   How is aikido related to your spiritual path? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4812)

Anders Bjonback 12-31-2003 01:20 AM

How is aikido related to your spiritual path?
 
This may be a really stupid idea for a thread... but I'm curious in discussing this. How is aikido related to your personal spiritual practice, if it is?

Personally, (keep in mind that I've only been training for a year and a half)... Over summer vacation, I did pretty much nothing but aikido. I thought of giving up everything, including my lineage of Buddhism, and just training in aikido as my spritual path. And I did that. The curious thing is that in training in aikido, I naturally began to gravitate towards meditation. Then, as I meditated at the shrine room at my college (Naropa University) between aikido classes, I began to gravitate towards looking for Buddhist teachings on meditation and brining it into one's life. I began to get involved with Zen. After awhile, when I went to a meeting of my old sangha, or religious community, I realized just how realized the head of my sangha, Sogyal Rinpoche, was. I was very inspired by the teaching of his I saw that night, although I don't remember it was about. I thought to myself, "Sogyal Rinpoche is a Zen master!" I came full circle to being dedicated to my lineage of Buddhism once again.

What I found interesting was that in training in aikido, I naturally gravitated back to that. Getting back into meditation and the Buddhist teachings was like a next step in my training (maybe towards making me a better person or whatever). I am well aware that O-Sensei was not Buddhist--he was of a new sect of Shinto, Omoto Kyo. But it seemed like training naturally brought me towards doing what was right for myself.

I've found that aikido doesn't interfere or conflict with my spiritual path at all, and instead strengthens it. Despite this, though, I do not feel like aikido is by itself my spiritual path (at least, where my training is right now).

Michael Karmon 12-31-2003 06:22 AM

Re: How is aikido related to your spiritual path?
 
Aikido is a very spiritauly enclined art. If practiced truely it will bring out your spiritual part and will draw people of spiritual inclination.

In our dojo we have several religiously devoted students and teachers as well as several Yeshiva people whos entire life is turned around prayer and the study of Jewish lore. They are some of the finest Aikidoka and pillars of the dojo. I an affiliated dojo we have a certified Rabbi holding a third Dan.

I think in the essence all religiouns in the world are the same and Aikido will fit in as a promotor to any spiritual way

acot 12-31-2003 10:50 AM

What a great thread. What ever religion (or no religion) it seems that Aikido training, and get the flesh under control,freeing up the mind will have the benifit getting in better touch with ones spiritual thoughts.

Ryan

SeiserL 12-31-2003 12:46 PM

IMHO, Aikido is congruent with my spiritual path. Its training is congruent with its principles. What I like most is Aikido gives an active moving confrontational aggressive context in which practice the principles. The principles are easiest in a secluded passive supportive enviroment, but much harder in the real world. The Dojo becomes a safe place to practice.

Rich Stephens 12-31-2003 02:29 PM

One of the most imporant thing I have learned from Aikido is to be relaxed, to be calm. I remember an interview with Tohei-sensei where he said that O-sensei was the most relaxed person he had ever met and that that was where his "power" came from. Many have said the same thing about Tohei-sensei himself.

Learning to relax and be calm is beneficial to not only our physical movements but to our philosophical or spiritual activity. The kind of approach and attitude that Aikido seems to produce seems to make one able to be deeper in their spiritualness (or whatever we may call it).

Oddly enough, I've found that surfing produces a very similar sort of calmness. I've been surfing for 20 years (Aikido helped my surfing a lot by the way) and I have often met people on my travels and in business and so on that I could tell right away were surfers. Usually these people would be at least 40 years old, and it was just obvious from the way they carried themselves that they were long time surfers. They just project a certain aura of calm strength. All that time in the ocean has taught them to "blend" with the power of mother nature in order to surf well, or often even to simply survive.

So I guess if I have any spirtitual path it is simply to seek that calm, reflective (as opposed to reactive) strength.

WylMorris 12-31-2003 08:42 PM

I find that Aikido has helped me reconcile the "warrior within" (to sound pretentious and pseudo-intellectual) with my creative side, which had as a concequence of my spiritual path become perhapsoverdominant inmy psyche. It brought me into balance in temrs of the types of energies within me, while being philosophically and ethically consistant with the beliefs I held.

Aikido has changed what I believe, and I think that change is for the better.

Anders Bjonback 01-01-2004 12:43 AM

Quote:

Rich Stephens wrote:
Oddly enough, I've found that surfing produces a very similar sort of calmness. I've been surfing for 20 years (Aikido helped my surfing a lot by the way) and I have often met people on my travels and in business and so on that I could tell right away were surfers. Usually these people would be at least 40 years old, and it was just obvious from the way they carried themselves that they were long time surfers. They just project a certain aura of calm strength. All that time in the ocean has taught them to "blend" with the power of mother nature in order to surf well, or often even to simply survive.

I've found it interesting that since taking aikido, I can connect to my father (a hockey fan), on a different level than before. He talks about how it's important to be close to the ice, or to one's opponent martially. He also talked about how someone with soft hands was good, able to feel the puck, and someone who was relaxed was able to feel what was going on around him on the ice. He spoke of being goalie as a kid, being almost blind without his glasses, and continuing to play after the lights went out, playing entirely by feel. He also talked about becoming one with ice, and feeling one with nature when he threw the perfect slapshot. It seems like even with hockey, it can go to the same place.

k'shi 01-05-2004 07:54 PM

It is my spiritual side that lead me to Aikido. Before I continue my reply I must tell you that I experience quite allot spiritual things, so I must ask the skepitcal ones to please show respect.

I was meditating and projecting my spirit into exsistance (many people do this, only they do it unconciously, many times when they sleep.) I came into a garden-like area with multiple conciousnesses(persons if you will) finding me there, they told me it was time to follow Bushido again, they spoke of Kendo and Aikido, it is them that introduced me to the arts, it is the very reason why I joined Aikido a few days later, and it is trully what I need, finaly an art where I'm able to express my spirit self. Only now to find a Kendo school :).

Love,

- Jop den Daas

AsimHanif 01-05-2004 09:03 PM

Before I started in training (in karate) I thought that the mind forged the body. As I progressed I began to see how the opposite was in fact true. Through vigorous, regular physical training, the mind becomes disciplined. I progressed well but hit a wall in karate. Not physically but spiritually. Although my body could do more, I found the techniuques of karate were forging my spirit in a manner that was not quite right for me.

Fast forward 10 years later- I have since discovered that I hit that wall because I was training against my nature. The techniques of karate didn't allow for me to reach a higher level of consciousness although of course it does for others. I found for me that aikido is THE PATH to my natural spiritual growth. Although I am labeled as a Muslim I am probably the most unconventional Muslim there is. I don't pray in the prescribed manner, I don't attend regular service. I found that I fell into ritual with no meaning to me. Aikido gave me a method to reconnect with the Universal in which I am mindfully there.

Very good and relevant thread, Anders.

Paula Lydon 01-17-2004 08:40 PM

~~Wonderful thread, Anders! I'm affraid I can't put my finger so well upon why Aikido moves me spiritually, it just does. There is something in me that seems predisposed to whatever Aikido really is, and that I don't know either. Two mysteries coming together. Something in me fears, I think, that if I can name or pinpoint what it is then, like magic, it will no longer work. When I move on the mat I feel this ever shifting presence of potentiality, something past fullness because that's an absolute. That's the closet I came come and I dare go no further, not until my spirit is moved, anyway :)

SeiserL 01-18-2004 11:33 AM

IMHO, any "do" is first related to self-perfection and thus a spiritual path, since self-perfection is often more selfless than selfish. This in contrast to "jujitsu" which is often related first to martial or fighting aspects.

I read this some place (Donn Draeger I think) always made sense to me to see the distinction.

Jeanne Shepard 01-18-2004 07:18 PM

I don't think I have a spiritual side. Can I get one at Walmart?

Jeanne

malc anderson 01-19-2004 04:14 AM

When a superior man hears of the way,he

immediately begins to embody it.

When and average man hears of the way,

he half believes it, half doubts it.

when a foolish man hears of the way, he laughs out loud.

if he didn't laugh,

it wouldn't be the way

malc

Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptyness. Stand in the midst of the great void. This is the SECRET of the way of a warrior

Ron Tisdale 01-19-2004 09:49 AM

Quote:

I read this some place (Donn Draeger I think) always made sense to me to see the distinction.
Draeger is often quoted on this topic...but scholars since his time have taken him to task on the distinction. Check out the writings of Meik Skoss, Karl Friday, Ellis Amdur and others...some of these comments are available on the web.

Ron

Don_Modesto 01-19-2004 01:12 PM

Quote:

Ron Tisdale wrote:
Draeger is often quoted on this topic...but scholars since his time have taken him to task on the distinction. Check out the writings of Meik Skoss, Karl Friday, Ellis Amdur and others...some of these comments are available on the web.

I've seen these references and, indeed, posted to the same effect as you, Ron, but I wonder if these refutations are not too late. I think Draeger has had a "washback" effect such that even in Japan they now reifiy this distinction between "do" and "jutsu". Saotome has stopped in with senior students during seminars, taught them some particularly nasty variation of the current technique, and then said kind of dismissively, "But, this is BUJUTSU" as if it were more vulgar, less advanced than aikiDO.

Personally, I've had a hard time with the "DO" stuff ever since reading Bodiford on Religion and Spirituality: Japan in Green's Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia. Brrr!

Don_Modesto 01-19-2004 01:21 PM

Quote:

malcolm anderson (malc anderson) wrote:
When a superior man hears of the way,he

immediately begins to embody it....when a foolish man hears of the way, he laughs out loud.

if he didn't laugh,

it wouldn't be the way

True, they laughed at Darwin, the Wright Brothers, and Einstein, but they laughed at Bozo the Clown, too.

Carl Sagan

;)

Peter Goldsbury 01-20-2004 12:17 AM

Hello Don,

I think the washback effect, if any, is about as common as the 'romantic' interpretation of budo, according to which aikido is "peaceful" on the grounds that the character for "bu" means "stopping spears/weapons".

If you check the larger dictionaries, such as the big "Nihon Kokugo Daijiten", you will find that the ideas of DOU, as a way to be followed (in the world of learning and the arts) and of JUTSU, as a skill to be acquired (in the world of learning and the arts) both have a very long history (i.e., going back to the 10th/11th century). The difference is merely one of emphasis.

Thus, I have a suspicion that the decision to call the martial art we practice/martial way we follow "aikido" was a Japanese-style committee decision, of a type with which I have become very familiar.

Here is one example. In Hiroshima University there is a course with the title Hiroshima-Gaku (広"学). Gaku is one of several endings which add a certain kind of elevated status to whatever is a gaku. I myself lecture in this course and my subject is how the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is regarded overseas (specifically in the UK and other European countries). My lecture jars on the sensibilities of the organizers because it is 'revisionist' and highly critical of the Hiroshima 'peace' industry, which relies on a large measure of amnesia about World War II. The organizers and audience like to hear 'positive' opinions about the atomic bombing and believe that Hiroshima's future role in world peace is so important that the course committee dealing with the subject added the 'gaku' ending.

Another example. One of my courses at Hiroshima University is 交渉学. 'Koushou' is the Japanese term for negotiation and is normally used alone. The university has added 'gaku', with the idea of making negotiation 'scientific', but this in itself adds nothing to what is really a very important and complex skill, just like a 'jutsu' (happily, negotiation has not become a 'dou', just yet). The same is true of コミュニケーショ" (communication). This appears as コミュニケーショ"論 or コミュニケーショ"学 and no one can tell the difference.

Best regards to all,

Peter Goldsbury 01-20-2004 12:30 AM

Apologies to all.

In my last post I wrote 広"学 (Hiroshima-gaku, written in kanji) and I should have written ヒロシマ学 (Hiroshima-gaku, written in katakana). This makes a world of difference.

Best regards,

Don_Modesto 01-20-2004 02:25 PM

Hi, Peter.
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
If you check the larger dictionaries, such as the big "Nihon Kokugo Daijiten", you will find that the ideas of DOU, as a way to be followed (in the world of learning and the arts) and of JUTSU, as a skill to be acquired (in the world of learning and the arts) both have a very long history (i.e., going back to the 10th/11th century). The difference is merely one of emphasis.

Thus, I have a suspicion that the decision to call the martial art we practice/martial way we follow "aikido" was a Japanese-style committee decision, of a type with which I have become very familiar.

I'm not sure I understand you here, Peter. Do you mean that "DO" was "invoked" for political reasons with a different, legitimating usage in the case of the GENDAI BUDO circa 1920-30's in the way that "Shinto" was with, say, the Great Promulgation in the 19th century?

More specifically, do you agree with Bodiford's history of Budo which I cited above? If so, do you believe that the name change from aikijujutsu to aikido was part of or separate from this state-initiated process? Hirai was rather cagey on this point in his AJ interview.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Peter Goldsbury 01-21-2004 12:52 AM

Quote:

Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
Hi, Peter.

I'm not sure I understand you here, Peter. Do you mean that "DO" was "invoked" for political reasons with a different, legitimating usage in the case of the GENDAI BUDO circa 1920-30's in the way that "Shinto" was with, say, the Great Promulgation in the 19th century?

More specifically, do you agree with Bodiford's history of Budo which I cited above? If so, do you believe that the name change from aikijujutsu to aikido was part of or separate from this state-initiated process? Hirai was rather cagey on this point in his AJ interview.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Hello Don,

My point in the last two posts was to show that Japanese allows a certain looseness with respect to terms and definitions and you yourself alluded to this in another thread, concerned with the need to use English for scientific research.

Nevertheless, you will find many extremely vigorous opponents of Tonegawa's view in the arts faculties of Japanese universities, especially Letters and Education. In fact I would wager that there are a whole load of research theses being written at this very moment around the country, with the general assumption that the beauty/uniqueness of Japanese lies in the relative untranslatability of its concepts.

As an example, consider a short story by Kobo Abe, entitled "Warau-tsuki". The story is a discussion of a certain person's dream about the "laughing moon", but told as if it were in the third person, reported by someone else. Novelists like Woolf or Joyce have done this in English, but in Japanese there is also the 'pictorial' aspect conveyed by the characters. This is why I mentioned 'Hiroshima-gaku', above. To convey the full 'meaning' of this term, it HAS to be written with "Hiroshima" in katakana, not in kanji.

If you aply this looseness to 'JUTSU' and 'DOU', and take the omote/ura distinction such as is found in Karl Friday's "Legacies of the Sword", you might say, for example, there are DOU, of which the JUTSU elements are the URA aspect and JUTSU, of which the DOU elements are the URA aspect. Now a literary Japanese might find this a "beautiful" description of the distinction and the beauty of the metaphor is that the elements are inseparable and also the same but different. For you and I the result is a kind of conceptual mush, but I suspect that someone like Kano might have found the metaphor illuminating. Kano is said to have compared jujutsu to Hinayana Buddhism and judo to Mahayana Buddhism.

I think Bodiford's discussion on pp.474-485 of "Martial Arts of the World" is quite right, but he does not give much evidence of why it took so long for the Ministry of Education to adopt the ideas of the Dai Nippon Butokukai between 1906 and 1926, or to what extent Morihei Ueshiba was affected by the ideas of the Dai Nippon Butotukai, with their preference for DOU over JUTSU.

Best regards,

Don_Modesto 01-21-2004 01:59 PM

As always, Peter, thank you for your careful response. Should I trespass with leaden steps on the obtuse, my only defense is that well-exercized teachers' cliche that the only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked. Begging your indulgence, questions follow.
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
From Post 17 (PAG): I think the washback effect, if any, is about as common as the 'romantic' interpretation of budo...

From Post 20 (PAG): My point in the last two posts was to show that Japanese allows a certain looseness with respect to terms and definitions...

DJM: In this case, are we indeed speaking of washback proper, as in influence from abroad, or simply a native propensity for looseness?

DJM: Was your comment on Hiroshima Gaku meant to draw a parallel between the invocation of DOU and GAKU? I.E., using these terms to emphasize the gravity of the practice?

....I would wager that there are a whole load of research theses being written at this very moment around the country, with the general assumption that the beauty/uniqueness of Japanese lies in the relative untranslatability of its concepts....in Japanese there is also the 'pictorial' aspect conveyed by the characters. This is why I mentioned 'Hiroshima-gaku', above. To convey the full 'meaning' of this term, it HAS to be written with "Hiroshima" in katakana, not in kanji.

DJM: ...so we LOSE the message conveyed by the pictoral element? Sorry, I think I missed the point of this entirely.

I think Bodiford...does not give much evidence of why it took so long for the Ministry of Education to adopt the ideas of the Dai Nippon Butokukai between 1906 and 1926, or to what extent Morihei Ueshiba was affected by the ideas of the Dai Nippon Butotukai, with their preference for DOU over JUTSU.

DJM: I wrote Bodiford on this and he demurred regarding specifics as they might relate to aikido. You have researched this quite a bit yourself, what are your own thoughts on the naming of aikido vis a vis state pressure?

DJM: Thank you, Peter.


Jesse Lee 01-21-2004 05:19 PM

Has anyone seen that great O Sensei quote, where someone asked him if Aikido was a religious practice, and he answered something to the effect of, "Not at all; rather, Aikido improves all religions" ...?

Anders Bjonback 01-21-2004 06:02 PM

Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Kano is said to have compared jujutsu to Hinayana Buddhism and judo to Mahayana Buddhism.

I'm interested in hearing more about this.

Peter Goldsbury 01-21-2004 08:53 PM

Hello Don,

I did not state that the romantic interpretation of budo based on a certain interpretation of the reading of the elements of the character was a "washback" effect, only that the "washback" effect, found here also as a result of writngs by Lafcadio Hearn, Ruth Benedict, and Ezra Vogel, as well as Draeger, was about as common.

Both are based on a tendency to over-simplify the evidence. Thus, it is stated that Morihei Ueshiba himself chose the name "aikido", but the truth is vastly more complex. I think there are two aspects of this complexity: the tendency in Japan for decisions to be made by committee and made as a result of a consensus of all the parties involved; and the tendency for Japanese to relate the name to the supposed meaning much more loosely than would be appropriate in the academic discourse within which I have been brought up.

Thus, for a westerner,

[1] The Japanese equivalent of "Hiroshima" means this no matter how it is written. For a Japanese, at least here in this city, there is an extra component, the way the name is written, and this can never come out in a translation;

[2] There is a fairly sharp distinction between "way" and "skill", such that their Japanese equivalents DOU and JUTSU might be seen (by people like Draeger) to be equally sharply distinguished (even if we ignore the point made in [1] about the way the characters are written). This is not the case.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury 01-22-2004 02:12 AM

Quote:

Anders Bjonback wrote:
I'm interested in hearing more about this.

Well, the place I saw it was in the chapter on Kano in "Three Budo Masters", by John Stevens. The whole paragraph on p. 21 reads:

"Kano had fallen in love with jujutsu and believed that it must be preserved as a Japanese cultural treasure; however, he also believed it had to be adapted to modern times. The underlying principles of jujutsu, he believed, should be systematized as Kodokan Judo, a discipline of the mind and body that fostered wisdom and virtuous living. Comparing jujutsu to Hinayana Buddhism, a small vehicle with limited vision, he equated Kodokan Judo with Mahayana Buddhism, a big vehicle that embraced the individual and society as a whole. As for the term 'judo', the "way of softness", it had been in use for several hundred years. several old texts, for example, defined judo as "the path that follows the flow of things", which in kodokan Judo Kano interpreted as "the most efficient use of energy".

This was in 1882. In 1930, Kano visited the Kobukan Dojo and is quoted by Stevens (p. 115) as saying of Ueshiba's art, "This is my ideal budo; it is true and genuine judo". Now at that time Ueshiba was still practising Daito-ryu jujutsu, which became Ueshiba-ryu jujutsu with the founding of the Seigankai. The interviews with Rinjiro Shirata and Takako Kunigoshi in Stanley Pranin's "Modern Masters" are essential reading here, especially for the fluidity in defining what the art being practised by Morihei Ueshiba was actually called.

Best regards,


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