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Erick Mead 07-26-2005 10:21 AM

Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Budo -- Poor in Spirit
Relating Aikido and Christianity
(I wrote this for a more general audience, but it seems appropriate. It is what I have learned from those who have taught me, and I claim no merit of my own views.)


Budo, while a Japanese term, is a universal teaching in the martial way of life. Budo is often seen as somewhat mysterious. But this is only because budo is, in fact, based on an extremely simple truth.

Truth is beyond particular culture. We should hardly be surprised if we find truth wherever we look for it. Western minds like to break things apart to understand them. Simple things are hard to break because they have few parts. Wabi is Japanese word for simpleness, humble materials. Wabi is the spare, simple style of materials used in the training hall. Budo trains the body and mind in this simple spirit. Jesus Christ taught the virtues of this ideal state -- being poor in spirit.

A thing you are not prepared to lose can be made a weapon against you. It is done in this way. An enemy will threaten what you dare not lose. This disturbs your attention. Attention is focused upon it to the exclusion of other things within your awareness. If attention focuses on the one thing, attention is lessened elsewhere. Increased focus creates its unavoidable complement, a blind spot in your awareness.

The attacker exploits this opening, this blind spot. Disturbing your calm, fully aware mind, he grabs, concentrates and also limits your attention. Using this disturbance, he can strike where attention is thus weakened.

An opening is called suki. A warrior who is without suki is not invincible. But an attacker who strikes a person without suki cannot be successful without serious injury, and very likely, death.

The highest attainment of budo is to disregard the likelihood of one's own death in battle. This quality is positive, not negative. It is in fact an evidence of greater wholeness rather than nihilism. Nihilism is the desire for nothingness, and desire is the problem.

The warrior prepared to lose his own life has no suki. He has nothing he is not prepared to lose. There is not one opening through which his spirit may be disturbed.

No vulnerability, weakening or imbalance is created in his physical defenses by the disturbance of his mind. His enemy can succeed only at the same cost he is willing to suffer. He may be physically beaten or destroyed by overwhelming force. His spirit and intention cannot be defeated by this means. This was, in fact, the concrete example of Jesus Christ.

As with most great truths, budo is a paradox, an open secret. Plainly visible, it is yet not seen. The open secret of budo is the same peace in spiritual poverty taught by Jesus Christ. He said :

"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

Understanding budo, one can understand the truth of these teachings -- a peace not found in material circumstance, not as the world gives peace. A peace of mind that must therefore be found anywhere one may seek it, even if it be in the very midst of the chaos of battle, a flowing fountain of fear.

In learning budo, to be without suki we accept that can own nothing we are not prepared to lose. The concentration and desire necessary to an effective attack is itself an imbalance that creates suki. Thus, in arts employing the aiki principle, we close even the suki inherent in attack. The pinnacle of this detachment must include dispensing with even the desire of aggression. Aiki-budo (or Takemusu Aiki) teaches that we do not even choose to attack, but join with our attacker in harmony with his intention. We learn to wait for our attacker's intention to form, and we join in turn in the manner that he chooses.

Budo is wabi, poverty of spirit, the awareness, even enjoyment of what immediately is, however unrefined, even if it is immediately fearful to us. If we have eyes, we must see. If we have ears, we must hear. To act, we must see what is -- not what we desire to be or to avoid. This desire is also attachment, imbalance, suki. Impoverishing our spirit in budo, accepting of the attacks upon us without fear or concern in the manner taught by O-Sensei, we can accept the meaning of the foremost blessings spoken of by Christ:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." St. Matthew, 5:3, 5, 7, 9

Cordially,
G.R. Erick Mead
Shodan

James Davis 07-26-2005 03:38 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Erick,

Good stuff!! :D

Aikido taught me how to let go, how to choose not to be part of an argument- regardless of how "right" I am. It's made me better able to handle my worst days, and it's made me a better christian.

Great writing. ;)

mazmonsters 07-27-2005 07:15 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Excellent! On Sundays, we conduct Bible study within our family, friends...small setting in my mom and dad's house. I was preparing a study on a topic called "Zen Christianity." This is a great article, and I am going to print it out and open with it, if it is alright with you, Erick.
Thanks so much,
Matt

MikeLogan 07-27-2005 09:06 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
A very worthwhile read, thank you. Certainly something to link to from future threads.

keep it up : )

michael.

Erick Mead 07-27-2005 10:52 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Many thanks for all the kind comments.

There is an excellent book titled "Zen Christianity" by Dom Aelred Graham. He is a Christian theologian who gives an excellent and rigorous examination of similar issues from the more meditative perspective and in light of tradition scriptural teaching.

Another intersting perspective is Fr. Robert Kennedy, who is a Jesuit, a Catholic priest, and is also a holder of the dharma as a Zen roshi at Morning Star Zendo. He has written a book on Zen practice for Christians, which I sadly have not yet read.

Yamada Koun Roshi, Fr. Kennedy's teacher in Zen reportedly instructed him that " I am not trying to make you a Buddhist, but to empty you in imitation of your Lord Jesus Christ."

spinecracker 07-27-2005 11:42 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
After doing a little research on zen christian websites, I do have a little question. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is, or was, a manifestation of the Buddha, or is a similar spiritual being? This is a part of the old argument of "how many different ways to get into heaven", and it does have, even if only indirectly, some connections with this topic. what are your opinions as Christians about this question?

mazmonsters 07-27-2005 12:41 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Jesus Christ was and more importantly IS the Son of God. To believe in Christ means that you believe in his ressurection, and no mere man can raise himself from the dead. Zen is not a religion, or even a philosophy, in my opinion. It is a technique to empty yourself of attachment to things, ego, yourself. So to answer your question, no, Jesus is not a representation of the buddha...and I'm not sure what your interpretation of the buddha is. The buddha never died for anyone's sins. That's what Jesus did.
Just my beliefs,
Matt

Erick Mead 07-27-2005 03:00 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
As to Jesus and Gautama Buddha I will respond somewhat tangentially.

If one were to describe Aikido philosophically (and most budo, for that matter), it could accurately be called part of the branch of philosophical thinking known as phenomenology. It is quite different from the more common and familiar variations on Cartesianism, which are largely about what and how we believe things to be true "I think, therefore ... " etc.

The power of the phenomenological approach is that is not about thinking, but about acting. In this Aikido, Buddhism, and Christianity ( and many others) can meet on solidly common ground.

Aikido is emphatically not about what we think, or believe, it is about what we DO. The body in action and in moving relationship to another human being teaches the mind and the spirit truths that are difficult to perceive in other less concrete ways.

Buddhism is an avowedly practical system whose fundamental purpose is to relieve the causes of suffering for sentient beings.

Christianity is concerned with orienting the soul in right relation with God (as are its sister faiths among the Jews and Muslims), which is PRACTICED by love toward one's neighbor, and more importantly, for purposes of our discussion, toward one's enemy.
G.K. Chesterton once quipped that we are told to love our neighbor and our enemy "probably because they are the same person."

Aiki principles properly understood encounter no conflict because there is no conflict in the actions that are consistent with all these good principles.

The T'ang Chinese emperor in approving of the Syriac Christian Church establishment in China in the seventh and eighth centuries published an edict carved on a stone tablet in what is now Xian, China. His statement could be more broadly applied in addressing questions of this kind. He said,

"Right principles have no invariable name, holy men have no invariable station; instruction is established in accordance with the locality, with the object of benefiting the people at large. ...
Having examined the principles of this religion, we find them to be purely excellent and natural; investigating its originating source, we find it has taken its rise from the establishment of important truths; its ritual is free from perplexing expressions, its principles will survive when the framework is forgot; it is beneficial to all creatures; it is advantageous to mankind."

Cordially,
G.R. Erick Mead
Shodan

spinecracker 07-27-2005 03:59 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
[quote=Robert Fox]Do you believe that Jesus Christ is, or was, a manifestation of the Buddha, or is a similar spiritual being? QUOTE]

Never thought I'd ever quote myself :D

The purpose of asking this question was to clarify who people actually think Jesus Christ was and is. There seems to be as many opinions as there are people. There are plenty of people who are under the impression that Jesus was one of many 'messiahs' and 'christs' that have revealed themselves to mankind through history. Their are people out there who think that Jesus was never a physical entity, but was purely a spiritual being manifest on Earth. There are many people who think that Christians serve the same God as the god of Islam (this is being discussed on a different thread on aikiweb). There are plenty of people out there who call themselves Christians, and yet have never repented of their sins and given themselves up to Jesus.

Jesus is the Son of God, and is the ONLY way that you can get into heaven. It's in the Bible - in his own words. So, if Christianity is a complete 'system' for salvation through repentance, do you actually need anything else? If you do, is that because Christianity is lacking, or are you?

I suppose my point is that for me, as a Christian, my aikido practice is an opportunity to praise God. I'm not using aikido to improve my life as a Christian, but the humility (hopefully - still way too proud for my own good) and desire to serve, being gifts of the Holy Spirit, aid my aikido practice and my interaction with other students. I don't need zen, buddhism or even starbucks to understand my faith - I just need the Bible (and a heavy bout of the Holy Spirit :D ).

By the way, Matthew 5 through 7, which includes Jesus' sermon on the Mount (AKA Beatitudes), describes the character and traits that we, as Christians, should follow and have in our lives. Matt 6:24 is clear on also warning us about dividing our time and efforts away from following Him "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other;or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
As Christians, the way is 'narrow' for us, the 'broad' way leading to 'destruction'.

mazmonsters 07-28-2005 06:56 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Jesus is the only way to heaven. Christianity does not teach us to get in harmony with God's spirit by loving our neighbour as ourselves...that is what Jesus does through us, without us even realizing it. What Christianity teaches us is that with Christ is the only way to get in harmony with God's Spirit. Because as human beings, we can never please God, because he requires perfection and holiness...not good works or being nice. Since we are NOT perfect, we need someone who is...that is Jesus. The Zen practice through Aikido or meditation or whatever, can teach you how to empty your worldy mind and become attached to nothing here. Your mind becomes in harmony with God's nature. This, however, has NOTHING to do with your salvation. Salvation is only achieved by accepting the free gift given by God in his Son, Jesus. There are many christians who are not happy here on earth, and that is because their minds are clouded...this is how a zen type of thing can help them to be clear. But, if they believe in Jesus, their eternal souls are secured. They might be miserable here on earth, but it's only because of their flesh getting the best of them.

Dirk Hanss 07-28-2005 07:33 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Quote:

Matthew Materazzi wrote:
Jesus is the only way to heaven. Christianity does not teach us to get in harmony with God's spirit by loving our neighbour as ourselves...that is what Jesus does through us, without us even realizing it. What Christianity teaches us is that with Christ is the only way to get in harmony with God's Spirit. (...)

Oh, yes "without even realizing it" is good. What if you might meet even those fellows, who did not even realize that there was a guy called Jesus?

In Matthew 7,21 Jesus says: "Not everyone calling me: Lord, Lord! will reach heaven.." And in Matthew 25, 31 through 46 you can read that it is your behaviour to other human beings, that decides if you will get ethernal life or damnation.
In the end Jesus died, and thus released all mankind from their sins. So while I accept to "meet" a lot of mafiosi and other criminal in heaven, just by them being Christian, why shouldn't I find Mahathma Ghandi there, who did well know about Christianity and still stayed Hindu, or some jungle born men and women, who did never hear about Jesus Christ or God, Jahwe, Allah, but live a life as peaceful as we ever can think about?

Or do you really think, Augustinus was right to torture people for baptism just to save their souls - and have many of them killed afterwards so that they could not review and deny? That would be the logical result of misinterpreting your first sentence.

Dirk

mazmonsters 07-28-2005 09:01 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
My dear mislead Dirk. You have no idea what I am talking about, I see. To "know" Jesus is to believe in him, confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the only way to salvation. Not your "good works." For God looks upon good works alone as filthy rags. Your "goodness" will not get you into heaven. The bible says that He will give EVERYONE a chance to know Him. I know there are people who may have never heard the name Jesus Christ, but if they are chosen, God has already placed them in the heavenly realms.
John 15:18-20
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
Ephesians 1:10-12
11In him we were also chosen,[a] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Erick Mead 07-28-2005 09:13 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Thanks again for continuing the discussion.

Usually, when the subject of Christiantiy comes up in this context I find that we tend to get wrapped up in a naming problem. For this reason it is important to distinguish the things we affirm by naming them correctly and things we affirm by doing them correctly. Affirmance is the key, not the mode or means of its expression.

Names, like so many things, have an omote (front) side and an ura (back or hidden) side. Names are powerful, and for this reason we have to be very careful. Names are troubling because they often hide as much as they reveal. Names are not the reality that they point to.

I affirm orthodox understandings of the requirements of salvation. But the line of discussion about identifying names, classifying their power and meaning is the Cartesian mode. Aikido is a different mode of understanding and of expression of that understanding, not necessarily better or worse, but different.

In a Cartesian mode we deal with what we consciously affirm in our thoughts and statements to the exclusion of other aspects of human existence and comprehension.

But thinking is not doing, and doing is important.

What we do is as much an expression of our belief as what we think or say. This is not to say that works have salvific merit in and of themselves themselves, but that actions are as expressive, perhaps more so, of true belief than mere thoughts or statements. Matt. 7:21-22 is a good starting point on that line of inquiry.

Aikido is not explicitly about salvation, but about peace. However it may be understood by Christians, I have attempted to assess the common ground of understanding about how we may usefully act in this world toward one another, for which Aikido teaches much practical, as well as spiritual wisdom.

Put in more orthodox terms, Aikido is not the Peace of Christ, it is a vessel that God's grace has called into being, in which we are able to receive and store up that peace He has poured out for us, and to enable us to pass that peace on to others in turn.

The power of understanding in action rather than in thought is to dispense with names. Whether we name it in Christian orthodox terms or not, as above or otherwise, that wisdom exists in this world. It is equally available according to the names that God's grace has given them to understand for devout Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or othwerwise, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or anyone else for that matter.

Andre Nocquet, a prominent Shihan in Europe, whom I have earlier quoted in another thread here, recounted his time as uchi deshi with O Sensei in the 50's and this discussion when Nocquet explicitly questioned his Christian faith:


"Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect."

" I asked him one day if there wasn't a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my Aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian."

"Then I asked, "Sensei should I remain a Christian?" He replied,
"Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian." If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost."

Cordially,

G.R. Erick Mead
Shodan

mazmonsters 07-28-2005 09:49 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Erick, I must respectfully disagree with you here
You said "The power of understanding in action rather than in thought is to dispense with names. Whether we name it in Christian orthodox terms or not, as above or otherwise, that wisdom exists in this world. It is equally available according to the names that God's grace has given them to understand for devout Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or othwerwise, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or anyone else for that matter."
This physically is impossible, because Jesus himself stated that He is the only way to get to the Father. If Jesus is the only way, then it must make Muhammad a liar, along with anyone else who does not believe that Christ is the Truth. Either that, or Jesus was a liar, and all other's can be true. The Jews do not credit Jesus as being the Son of God, and neither do Muslims, or Buddhists. Jesus was born of a virgin, he also healed people, walked on water, turned water into wine, and then he raised himself up from the dead...no one else has ever done that, so what's the deal? Either Jesus was a liar and full of demonic powers, or He was and is the Son of God, making Him the One Truth that all people really seek when they seek the truth.
Other than that, I do like what you have to say.
Take care,
Matt

mazmonsters 07-28-2005 09:52 AM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
And O'Sensei was wrong about Jesus. He did not start a religion. Religions are man made and full of rules and regulations. Jesus took the sins of man upon him and then died for them, raised himself up after 3 days, then after 40 days here on earth, ascended into heaven. He told his disciples to go out into the world and baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He never said to start building places of worship, and to set rules and regulations up...He just said "Go."

spinecracker 07-28-2005 12:14 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Ok, time to put my foot in it again ....... :D

Quote:

Erick Mead wrote:
Usually, when the subject of Christiantiy comes up in this context I find that we tend to get wrapped up in a naming problem. For this reason it is important to distinguish the things we affirm by naming them correctly and things we affirm by doing them correctly. Affirmance is the key, not the mode or means of its expression.

Names, like so many things, have an omote (front) side and an ura (back or hidden) side. Names are powerful, and for this reason we have to be very careful. Names are troubling because they often hide as much as they reveal. Names are not the reality that they point to.

I affirm orthodox understandings of the requirements of salvation. But the line of discussion about identifying names, classifying their power and meaning is the Cartesian mode. Aikido is a different mode of understanding and of expression of that understanding, not necessarily better or worse, but different.

Quote:

Dirk Hanss wrote:
In Matthew 7,21 Jesus says: "Not everyone calling me: Lord, Lord! will reach heaven.." And in Matthew 25, 31 through 46 you can read that it is your behaviour to other human beings, that decides if you will get ethernal life or damnation.

I fully agree that any discussion regarding Christianity can end up being a naming issue, but there is a very good reason for this. As previously pointed out, there are a ridiculous number of definitions of who Jesus was (and is). There are plenty of people who want to use the name of Jesus without getting involved with all this salvation lark, etc, and there are warnings regarding this, as mentioned by Dirk. This warning in Matthew is regarding those of us who try to use Jesus for our own self betterment and selfishness without taking on the responsibility of repentence and the leading of a Christian life as described in Matthew 5 to 7. Dirk's understanding is somewhat skewed, but it is a difficult concept to grasp.

It has been a very common practice for words to be borrowed from one belief system by another, have their meanings modified, and put back into circulation - this is extremely well covered by the Bible, especially with the warning at the end of Revelation (and other places). In the early Church, pagan terms were borrowed and reused with a Christian tint, thus enabling the conversion of pagans (it's so much easier when we all speak the same language! - then again, remember what happened at Babel). Now, the same thing is happening with New Age belief systems taking Christian terms and twisting them to match the ideology and theology of these other belief systems. The 'Christ Consciousness' is one that springs to mind, where esoteric Eastern religious and philosophical practices are mingled with pseudochristian dogma. Many New Agers think that Jesus was a form of Buddha or other enlightened 'spirit'. Others think that Jesus and Lucifer (Satan) are just different manifestations of the same spiritual being. We end up thinking that we are talking about the same thing as we use the same words, but we are miles apart. No wonder we Christians spend most of our time trying to get at the meaning of the word! The use of a Cartesian methodology ends up being vital as otherwise there is no way to even understand the viewpoints of others. "Aikido is a different mode of understanding and of expression of that understanding,..." but we still use words to communicate understanding and expression - without a baseline understanding of what the other person means, then communication becomes useless. That's why we have concordances.

Just my opinion on the topic. I Might be totally off, but that is how we learn.

mazmonsters 07-28-2005 12:19 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Robert, I agree with you, sir. You make sense, and clearly articulate yourself. Well said. I, on the other hand, have a hard time articulating my thoughts, and usually I go over them a few times, backspace over them and re-type what I "really meant to say," then come back an hour later, look at what I wrote and think, "hmm...I hope that makes sense." haha...oh well.
God bless,
Matt

Erick Mead 07-28-2005 12:47 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
C.S. Lewis said it best : "Lunatic, Liar or Lord?"

I am not talking about salvation nor of its requirements, nor stating that aikido is a way to heaven or that any other belief is such. I am orthodox in my beliefs in this regard, and can teach nothing to the contrary. However, it is practice and its understanding we are discussing, for Aikido is nothing if not practice.

I am talking about actions taken in this world, their consequences, and and the giifts of the Spirit that are revealed in practice. Those GIfts are are not exclusive to Christians. If they were then seeds of the Word in other cultures could not awaken the truth of the Gospel wherever it is preached.

Paul preached to the Athenians through the image of the "unknown God" whose statue stood at the gates of the city. If I am to witness, I must be as flexible in my selection of medium as Paul was. It is the reality of Christ that matters, not the language (or other more concrete expression) used to point to Him.

Aikido, on the other hand ... well, one good iriminage finished to a tanto-dori pin will generally get the point across in a more direct manner.

I daresay Saul of Tarsus was intellectually well-versed in the teachings of the Jewish heretics he was busy rounding up and dispatching. That teaching of words and names did not reach him. A good smack up side the head, knocking him off his ass (as in donkey) and blinding him, did seem to get his attention.

Among the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, fortitude and wisdom, non-verbal understanding and knowledge are among those most nobly displayed in good aikido practice. Counsel, piety and fear of the Lord I leave for your own consideration. Some are called to teach, some are called to labor, and some are called to find conflict and spread peace. (As for me, I hope I am called to dinner.)

When asked directly who He was Jesus usually redirected the question "Who do you say that I am?" When a wannabe disciple asked him "Where do you dwell?" He said "Come, and see ..." His truth is not a truth to grasped merely by being told, it must be experienced and found as the treasure hidden in the field. This only comes by grace, but we must be prepared to receive it.

If I am to imitate Christ, here and now, I must be as careful with the power of names and words as He was. Jesus was careful not to employ names when their meaning was liable to be misunderstood by those hearing him. The doctrine of parables exists for this reason. Matt. 13:10-13, 34-35.

Jesus was very careful not to allow the omote and the ura aspects of His message to become confused in the minds of those He taught. Many Aikidoka at early stages have this problem in their training. They enter to apply a technique that is neither omote nor ura but parts of both. They only learn the difference when the follow-up strike is delivered to point out the open line of attack.

Omote and ura are equally true as technique, and neither is complete alone. Appropriate technique does not exist in isolation from an attacker (uke) whom we as nage (thrower) do not control. To know, I must do; to express my belief, I must act and I must willing suffer being acted upon.

This is the point of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-16 when speaking of the gifts of the Spirit in their practical consequence, in their role as a teaching of the body (physical and mystical), and alerting us to the dangers of nominal language as a sole guide to truth:

"And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love."

Cordially,

G.R. Erick Mead
Shodan

spinecracker 07-28-2005 12:52 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
No problem, Matt :)

I like responding to these posts for several reasons:

1. It challenges my own beliefs, forcing me to study and understand why I believe the things that I do

2. It makes me challenge the Bible, leading me into deeper study of the scripture

3. This leads me into a better, stronger relationship with Jesus

4. It helps spread the Gospel (those who have heard the Gospel and denied it.....well, that is their problem)

5. it annoys other people (only joking!)

I also look at my posts again later and often ask myself if I was actually awake when I constructed these arguments?

Getting back onto the main topic, I sincerely believe that, as a Christian, all you should need is the Bible, the Holy Spirit and walking daily with Jesus. Everything else is window dressing and can lead to distractions away from your Christian life. The Bible is actually specific about not being involved with ANY activity that leaves you open to "possession by unclean spirits", using such terms as 'enchantment', 'divination', and 'sorcery' (I have the scripture references if you want to look them up). This includes certain practices such as Zen meditation. (I know that Zen is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but the concept regarding the practices is).

Dirk's comment regarding Augustinus is interesting, and might fall under the subject covered by Matthew 7:21, but he did miss out the important second half of that scripture "...but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." I don't know what Augustinus was up to (am going to start research right now.......), but when a Christian's words and deeds do not match scripture, then we have a duty, as clearly defined in 2 Timothy 3:16 and other places, to reprove, correct and instruct that individual, using scripture only, and not our own inflated opinions and egos. as Augustinus is long gone, then all we have left is instruction for ourselves and others in how to avoid the same pitfalls that he may have fallen into.

Now to get to work on Augustinus......

Erick Mead 07-28-2005 01:03 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Quote:

Matthew Materazzi wrote:
And O'Sensei was wrong about Jesus. He did not start a religion. Religions are man made and full of rules and regulations. Jesus took the sins of man upon him and then died for them, raised himself up after 3 days, then after 40 days here on earth, ascended into heaven. He told his disciples to go out into the world and baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He never said to start building places of worship, and to set rules and regulations up...He just said "Go."

As Jesus was both man and God acording to orthodoxy, it would be true what you say, but to leave it at that impliedly denies His humanity, as much as you would have O-Sensei avoid impledly denying His divinity.

Since, being both God and man it would, however, also be true that Jesus did create a religion, a Church, man-made as it is. So O-Sensei was correct in what he actually said.

It is the imlication to which your real argument is directed. The further statement regarding divinity, O-Sensei did not make, which you feel the need to complete. This I understand.

That issue was not the point of his statement in context, however. O-Sensei was not debating Christology, but helping a troubled student reconcile his spirit in a correctly ordered manner. There is nothing incorrect about O-Sensei's ordering of these matters.

Aikido and those who practice it are plainly intended to be servants of larger ends, and not an end in itself. A more Christian attitude of humility in respect of the marvelous life's work that he made of Aikido, I cannot imagine.

The denial that you perceive, he did not actually say, nor should it be implied in the context it was made.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Sanshouaikikai 07-28-2005 01:33 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Mr. Fox...what church do you go to? I like what you say...you're totally right on the money on everything! It would be really cool to talk to you and get to know you better as brothers in Christ. Feel free to PM me or e-mail me at irockloud@yahoo.com. Theology and Martial Arts (and music...I play guitar too!) are all I think about and talk about...as well as politics...but that's a whole different story, LOL!

mazmonsters 07-28-2005 01:44 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
To Erick and Robert:
Gentlemen, thank you so much for your thoughts and opinions. I see now more clearly where you are coming from, Erick, and I would agree with you on most of your thoughts. The reason that I felt inclined to remark about O'Sensei's thoughts on Jesus is because I hear so many people of false religions always speak of Jesus with "admiration" and "great respect." Well, to be perfectly blunt, who cares? To admire and respect Christ but still not believe that He is God's Son is no more than the demons belief in God. I see what you mean though about the context of what O'Sensei was speaking.
I do believe that Aikido is a direct manifestation of the workings of God. I believe that is what seperates Aikido from all other martial arts, and how it can be treated with so many different views. It's like the parable of the 4 seeds. One seed fell on good soil and blossomed. One seed fell on good soil but was strangled by thorns. One seed fell to the ground and a bird came to devour it, and one seed fell on dry ground with no hope of ever growing. Some folk see aikido and think, "bah! I don't believe it!" Some see it and try but quickly leave. Others see it and stay for a while, but eventually get corrupted because of it's awesome power, and a seldom few ever reach the higher levels of what it was inteded to be.
To Robert I say this:
You are correct in your statements, except, in my opinion, about zen. The reason I think this way is because with The Spirit of Christ living and residing in your soul, you should always be perfect, just like Jesus is...because that's His domain now. But why aren't we (Christians)? Because of our flesh that our souls are still residing in. The concept of zen is not bound to Eastern philosphies, as the Isrealites practiced zazen meditaition. With the zen concept, you are allowing your true self (which is Christ- Galations 20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.) to manifest itself through your body, your thoughts, your actions...instead of having "worldy thoughts." Your struggles with sin become less of a struggle, because your selfish natural mind is no longer selfish...because it is not you who is living at all. It's Jesus! This can be a very touchy and dangerous concept for those who do not know the Lord personally, as it can leave them wide open for demonic influences...but when Jesus lives in you, you are empty-ing what has already been crucified- the flesh!
Just my thoughts...anxious to hear yours :)
-Matt

Erick Mead 07-28-2005 02:55 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Quote:

Robert Fox wrote:

Getting back onto the main topic, I sincerely believe that, as a Christian, all you should need is the Bible, the Holy Spirit and walking daily with Jesus. Everything else is window dressing and can lead to distractions away from your Christian life. The Bible is actually specific about not being involved with ANY activity that leaves you open to "possession by unclean spirits", using such terms as 'enchantment', 'divination', and 'sorcery' (I have the scripture references if you want to look them up). This includes certain practices such as Zen meditation. (I know that Zen is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but the concept regarding the practices is).
.


I suspect, Robert, that you have a third-hand report of Zen practice rather than seeing or doing it. Zen is nothing more than learning to leave your every day mind alone and not to burden it with attachments or the imposition of desires.

I need not look too far for a problem with unclean spirits, of course, since, as a sinner, I am one. So if I deal effectively with the one immediately here by such grace, I trust I ought to be pretty efffectively dealing with those more remote.

Zen would express this differently, of course with the same effect. Even relatively noble attachments can be seductions from truth, and in some cases more powerfully seductive. "If you meet the Buddha on the road -- kill him." I trust it would deal less kindly with the odd demon.

As Saito Shihan once said of certain seemingly esoteric effects of aikido on his uke, "It's not magic, it's technique." The same is true of Zen, as well as the Shinto practices of chinkon kishin, its related misogi, and kotodama, which O Sensei actively practiced.

Cordially,

Erick Mead

spinecracker 07-28-2005 04:02 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
Erick, my experience with Zen is partially second hand, and partially third hand, but I did, in my youth, spend much time reading and learning some basic aspects of Zen to assist my martial art training. I'm definitely no expert on Zen, and I'm afraid that my attempts at Christian apologetics may do more harm than good :) I'm rather glad for the chance to debate these kinds of issues with individuals who are more versed in the topics discussed.

Thanks for a good debate and an opportunity to learn.

Alan, as for the church I attend, it is Calvary Chapel - great pastors, caring people, and a strong, Bible based teaching (none of this seeker friendly nightmare that is destroying so many churches out there). I will keep in touch.

Dirk Hanss 07-28-2005 05:43 PM

Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
 
@ Matthew Materazzi:

Dear Matthew,
you are taking bits and pieces out of context to prove that I am wrong but you ignore those passages, I quoted. If you want to take the bible literally, don't miss any word. Otherwise it would be you to decide when Jesus said the truth, and when he lied. And there are contradictions.

Well I did more or less the same. I had some kind of illumination that raised my believes. But I do not expect an objective truth in the bible, I take it as essays written by men (and probably women) for men and women as a guideline. If there are passages that are contrary to my opinion, I take them as challenges. If I find profound support, it is even better. And I do not believe at all, that my goodness will provide me salvation, but only and exclusive the love of God. And as He loves all mankind (or Jesus died for the salvation of all mankind) we are all blessed by God and will receive - or already have received "eternal life", not only a few chosen ones. My religion does only help me in seeing this.
And the support, I told about, I got by a well educated catholic monk, although I am Protestant.
On my own I would probably be lost in a "quoting duel", or we would quote all the holy book up and down (unfortunately I have only three different German versions) and we would both have our opinions.

Yours mislead Dirk

@Robert Fox
Yes, what I wrote is somewhat skewed, and I abbreviated a lot, as this is not my theological "masterpiece". But you can either take Christianity simple, taking what you have believed as a child and do not think too much about it, or it is somewhat skewed.
And Augustinus was just an example I got in mind to illustrate that if you want to take the bible literally, you will get into trouble. You cannot read everything out of it but so many different things, and some passages might be good but can be totally misinterpreted especially if taken out of context. And if you go beyond bible, it will get even worse. San Francesco from Assisi talked to animals. Well, everybody may talk to his pets and other animals, but if a priest would do it nowadays as San Francesco did, he would be taken as ill, or even banned from preaching, I guess. Just another simple example.

Kind regards Dirk


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