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senshincenter 09-02-2005 12:16 PM

Omoto-kyo Theology
 
"Osensei, Omoto-kyo Theology, and Ichirei-Shikon-Sangen-Hachiriki"

by David M. Valadez



"There was an extremely unworldly quality about his lectures on the Aiki path, from his main points or way of developing their content to his manner of talking. Sometimes he would reveal the workings of the universe through the interrelationship between the "Ichirei shikon sangen hachiriki" (one spirit, four souls, three sources, eight powers) of Ancient Shinto. On other occasions, he would jump to the subject of the hardships of settling Hokkaido. Then, in the next instant, he would make a complete turnabout and remark that "Aikido is the wondrous result of 'kototama'," mentioning for example the connection between the workings of the "su" sound or the "u" sound of kototama (=word-soul) and breath power." Then, suddenly, he would shift to describing incidents of martial prowess from the time he was in his prime. That is to say, he would freely describe the spontaneous knowledge, insights and images which came and went in his mind like lightning jumping from this topic to that. Moreover, subjects like more profound principles of theology would often suddenly pop up without the least regard to the circumstances and even his stories of martial valor contained references to his theory of the spirit, mind and body supplemented by practical examples." --Kisshomaru Ueshiba, speaking on Osensei's lectures, from the article, "Founder of Aikido (02): Day in and Day Out Training." (found at AikidoJournal.com)



In commenting within another blog entry I suggested that anyone interested in truly deciphering the meaning of Osensei's writings, and/or in determining or demarcating any practices that might be associated with such writings, would have to look at the context of the text in question. Toward that end, I repeated Derrida's warning that a text does not reveal its meaning at first glance -- that we must be cautious when seeing a phrase and claiming to know what it means just by seeing it and/or claiming to understand it by knowing it from another context. I said that this is especially true when it comes to Japanese religious culture.

So, what would be the context of Osensei's writings? Undoubtedly, there would be many. Undoubtedly, Osensei's writing is influenced by Chinese cosmology, Buddhist epistemology, Buddhist-Shinto discourse, Confucian thought, martial arts praxis, etc. Historical research into any of these areas is going to yield valuable information. For Osensei was a man of his times, like every man, and so as a man of early 20th century Japan, his thought, his writings, and thus his practices were influenced by all of these things. However, it is my opinion that one context stands out above the rest. This is especially true when we want to address the writings for which he has come to be considered a most profound figure; for which he has become known the world over. This context is the context of Omoto-kyo theology.

In the article, "Accord with the Totality of the Universe," Osensei uses the phrase, "the one soul, the four spirits, the 3 origins, and the 8 powers." The whole paragraph in which the phrase is contained reads as follows:

"The Great Universe embodies all the forces and powers (lit., "the one soul, the four spirits, the 3 origins and the 8 powers") and from them have come the origins of the human life force. The universe and mankind are as a single body. However, while mankind has the ability to unify with the universe, the fact that he is unable to accomplish this union is his unhappy condition. When a person stands before a shrine and prays his silent prayers it is for no other purpose than to unify himself with the godhead."

(Note: All quotes by Osensei in this essay are from the above-mentioned article -- found at AikidoJournal.com. When citing from the article, I have opted to use the translation "as is" in order to provide the reader with an ease of reference. Other terms are translated according to the translations used by Omoto-kyo. Again, this is done for an ease of reference. When my own translations differ from each of these translations, the reader will be clearly informed. If the first two translations differ, I have opted to use Omoto-kyo's translation, as their tradition's theology is what is being discussed here. Regardless, meaning is not lost, since in every case I have found the Omoto-kyo translation to function better than the translation provided in the article. I have tried to limit the use of Japanese terms, and I have opted not to mention the full chain of associations that Omoto-kyo corresponds to any one given thing, idea, or practice. This, as well, I have done in an attempt to keep things more clear and somewhat easier to follow.)

Without seeing the kanji, I feel pretty safe in assuming that this phrase reads in Japanese as ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki, which I will translate, following Omoto-kyo's translation, as, "The One-Spirit, the Four Soul-aspects, The Three Irreducible Elements, and The Eight Powers (or The Eight Forces)." From what I have learned of Japanese culture through my studies, one would probably be wrong in assuming that this phrase is particular to Osensei, to Aikido, or to the martial arts. In all likelihood, this phrase goes back quite a distance in time (and probably in space as well -- with maybe traces of it in China or even India). It will also have many interpretations. In fact, so multitudinous are these interpretations that some will most likely be in outright contradiction to others. We can also assume that this phrase, with its many meanings and its many contexts, also has many ways of being represented. This means that we will most likely be able to see it as a part of architecture, landscapes, paintings, mandalas, political organizations, and/or geometric shapes, etc. Without too much risk at all, we can also assume that it can be represented on the human body itself.

However, what does such a phrase mean according to Omoto-kyo theology? For me, that is the real question to ask and answer if one wants to understand what Osensei meant by such a phrase. Unfortunately, this is not my area of study concerning Japanese religious history. Therefore, I cannot off the top of my head go into any real kind of depth or detail -- certainly not at a level that would satisfy any real kind of academic review. However, I can offer enough information to perhaps spark further interest along these intended lines. After all, there does seem to be a decent amount of information that is quite accessible to anyone with such an interest. It is not as if Omoto-kyo is a tradition with few records and/or that hides itself from the public eye. In fact, Omoto-kyo is the exact opposite of this! Omoto-kyo wants its theology to be known, and it wants it to be known by the entire world. So why do we know so little then? In my opinion, the lack of historical research done on Omoto-kyo seems to come from its lack of attraction to up and coming scholars. If Omoto-kyo is treated at all by scholars, it seems to only be treated as one of the many New Religions that sprung up during the modern period. In such studies, these traditions are treated as a single mass, one that is then open to sociological analysis of one type or another. This great reduction is further compounded by the fact that such studies are most often only concerned with the legal troubles Omoto-kyo's had with the Japanese state.

Adding to this dilemma, in my opinion, is the fact that most of Aikido's history is carried forth in the mouths and pens of practitioners whom are either not historians and/or do not hold themselves to the tenets of scientific historiography. This is not to say there is not good history out there, such as what you find on this journal (which one day will prove to be beyond any kind of measurable value -- I am sure). However, most interest in Aikido history is centered on either individual Aikido practice and/or the political agendas of various groups. For this reason, more folks are talking about how Osensei dodged bullets and/or how unique he was as a martial artist than they are working to uncover the details of Omoto-kyo theology -- which is the context of Osensei's writing and, I will add, the context of his understanding of Aikido.

Nevertheless, Omoto-kyo theology is out there, and it is out there for the taking. It is out there for the taking because Omoto-kyo is a tradition that seeks to understand itself as a world religion. As such, its theology is translated into many languages, and it is available on many mediums. Omoto-kyo is probably as far as one could get from an esoteric tradition. If Omoto-kyo theology is difficult to get a handle on, it is only because of its complexity, not its availability. This cannot be denied: Omoto-kyo theology is immensely complex (i.e. multi-relational). Although I have closely studied my graduate mentor's work on the Buddhist-Shinto multiplex at Kasuga, and though my own work deals with perhaps an even more complex tradition that centered on the deification of Tokugawa Ieyasu, I must say that I have never seen a theology as complex as that of Omoto-kyo. The adjective "convoluted" does not seem to come even close when describing the teachings of Onisaburo.

If you will excuse my colloquialism, Omoto-kyo has taken China's epistemology of correspondences and spoon-fed it crack. To the casual reader, Omoto-kyo theology will most likely look like the ranting of an insane mind. This immense complexity, I suggest, is most likely what was behind folks not "getting" what Osensei was talking about -- not that they were not familiar with Shinto discourse, Budo esoterica, Buddhist epistemology, etc. So complex is Omoto-kyo's theology that I have my suspicion that the theology does not make sense in total. The way it seems to continually fold back in upon itself makes it seem that eventually it will undoubtedly end in contradiction. If this is true, this however is not a problem at any kind of practical level, since probably no one -- not even Onisaburo or Osensei -- could ever think of the discourse in total. It is simply that immense, in my opinion.

When we do come to Omoto-kyo theology through the writings of Osensei, we discover something very enlightening: In most cases, Osensei is simply quoting (without citing) Onisaburo. This is something I have always had my suspicions aimed toward. It was something I mentioned a while back to Dr. Goldsbury in an email discussion we once had. Back then, I felt this might be true because of Osensei's social and educational background -- it being "somewhat" out of line with such a complex and culturally universal system of thought. This is not to say that Osensei did not understand what he was talking about -- in fact, he definitely appears to be quite fluent in Omoto-kyo theology. He definitely has a deep understanding of its teachings and of what they mean for the world, for himself, and for his art. In addition, he definitely seems to have achieved a complete melding of his spirit, his mind, and his body, to the thoughts and practices of this tradition. However, there is no doubt that to get what Osensei is saying, we need to understand what Onisaburo said. For me to really get a sense of this however, I had to get around the Aikikai's efforts, and the efforts of certain authors, etc., to present Osensei as an eruption of genius on the timeline of human history. As far as Osensei's writing goes, if we want to think in terms of "genius," the real genius is Onisaburo. This means then, if we want to understand the more complex, more profound writings of Osensei, we just have to look at what Onisaburo said in his Omoto-kyo theology.

Let us ask: What is ichirei-shikon-sangen- hachiriki according to Omoto-kyo theology?

Ichirei, or One-Spirit, is a reference to the spiritual aspect of the ultimate deity, the creator God, GOD, the "one and only" God, etc. This God is the essence of all religions, and all traditions. That is to say, for example, there is no difference between this God and the God of the Christian Bible. They are the same. This is not a Japanese kami in the traditional sense. Understanding this deity as THE universal being of all creation, of the universe, etc., is central to Omoto-kyo's mission of attempting to establish peace on Earth by propagating what is common to all Mankind -- that which is beyond race and creed, etc. This "being" has many manifestations but "he" is mainly known as Kamususanowo-no-okami.

It is in Kamususanowo-no-okami that Omoto-kyo posits the possibility for achieving mystical union (i.e. a reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy) -- which Omoto-kyo considers a part of God's plan (i.e. establishing an age of peace, love, wisdom, etc., on Earth). That is to say, according to Omoto-kyo theology, there is a relationship between our capacity to practice and receive love (for example) and our capacity to seek and gain a union with God. What makes such a union possible is that the spirit of God, ichirei, is in all things, in all people, in the entire Universe, in all creation, etc. Therefore, what is most natural for humans, what is most harmonious with all of creation, is to seek this union out, to realize this union for oneself, to become aware of this union through the very fibers of our being -- which themselves are thoroughly saturated with the spirit of God. Osensei writes:

"Mankind's role is to fulfill his heaven-sent purpose through a sincere heart that is in harmony with all creation and loves all things."

(Note: Before going on to explain how we realize ichirei and/or do not realize it, and without getting too trapped in the circular logic of Omoto-kyo theology, it might be interesting to point out that Kamususanowo/God is represented with the kotodama SU, is understood as the source of both Yin and Yang, and is also considered the hypostasis of the Buddha, Jesus, Bodhidharma, and Confucius. If we look at Osensei's lectures from this point of view, the point of view of God being all things, beings, actions, and ideas, perhaps, differently from Kisshomaru, we will not come to think of his discussions as "jumping all over the place.")

As ichirei is the spiritual essence of all that is, Omoto-kyo has no problem expressing the mystical union it advocates as a oneness with Nature, or with ourselves, or with the Universe, or with Heaven and Earth, etc. These phrases all mean the same thing at a theological level in Omoto-kyo. However, though all of creation shares a singular spiritual essence, and though it is most natural for us as humans to seek out this essence, a mystical union with God is not the inevitable conclusion to our existence. For various reasons, relevant to the age we are living in (see below), we are both incapable of this Oneness and of practicing Love, which is God's inherent and most overriding nature (i.e. what Osensei calls a "United Body of Love"). As a result, True Love, or Real Love, is not available to us in our lives if the spirit is not cultivated toward that end. We see this idea when Osensei writes:

"…while mankind has the ability to unify with the universe, the fact that he is unable to accomplish this union is his unhappy condition."

The spiritual essence of God (i.e. ichirei) that is in us as humans is called the nao-hi. It is this nao-hi that allows us as moral beings to determine right from wrong, evil from good, beauty from ugliness, etc. In other words, our conscience is not only the voice of God, it is of the spiritual essence of God. It is this aspect of Kamususanowo/God that interacts with the four soul-aspects, or the shikon, that are also inside of us.

Shikon, or the four soul-aspects, are ara-mitama, nigi-mitama, sachi-mitama and kushi-mitama. Each one of these aspects corresponds to a human virtue in terms of an essence and in terms of a set of functions. The four soul-aspects are broken down thusly:

• Ara-mitama -- its essence is audacity, and its functions are willingness, resolve, perseverance, diligence, and fortitude.
• Nigi-mitama -- its essence is affinity, and its functions are peace, discipline, order, governance and association.
• Sachi-mitama -- its essence is love, and its functions are benefit, creation, production, evolution, and nurture.
• Kushi-mitama -- its essence is wisdom, and its functions are skill, sensibility, observation, awareness, and enlightenment.

(Note: Here, "audacity" is meant to denote that spiritual fortitude necessary to think/feel that one can rise above their material existence.)

The aspect of the One Spirit (i.e. ichirei), and the four soul-aspects (i.e. shikon or ara-mitama, nigi-mitama, sachi-mitama, and kushi-mitama) interact within/through us as certain moral essences (i.e. audacity, affinity, love, and wisdom) are measured up against our conscience (i.e. nao-hi). This allows us to cultivate those virtues (i.e. willingness, resolve, discipline, association, nurture, sensibility, awareness, etc.) that mark the spiritual life (i.e. a life free from the bane of materialism, immorality, selfishness, etc.). In turn, these things come to produce five kinds of self-applied drives or capacities. These drives/capacities are the drives/capacities necessary for pursuing a union with God. They are: a drive to examine oneself, a capacity to experience a sense of shame, a drive to repent, a capacity to revere, and a drive/capacity to awaken to truth. Ichirei-shikon then is formulaic breakdown of how and why we as human beings can and should pursue a mystical union with God.

(Note: For an interesting discussion on Shame, please see: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ighlight=shame)

According to Omoto-kyo, one's spiritual journey should be marked by the drives/capacities that come to us as part of our inner nature and as part of our efforts to follow the impulses of the nao-hi and the cultivated virtues of the shikon. However, should we deny ourselves the natural inclination of allowing the nao-hi to guide our four soul-aspects, and thus prevent ourselves from cultivating both a sense of morality and a capacity for living a spiritual life, not only do we not cultivate within ourselves the drives or capacities necessary for a union with God, we also risk the overall corruption of our soul. When this occurs, each soul-aspect degenerates respectively as hostility, depravity, rebellion, and insanity. Thus, these things come to dominate our body/mind in terms of both thought and action, and we are thus reduced to the superficial, the material, and the delusional, etc. in our daily lives. This is perhaps the way we should understand Osensei's recounting of the gold body incident. We might be wise in focusing in on the possible symbolic significance of gold - of becoming a being made of gold. For gold, the world over is a symbol of material culture, selfish desire, superficial attachment, etc. Osensei writes:

"30 years ago I was extremely weak of body. At that time I secretly harbored a dream. In this dream I wanted to be the strongest man in all of Japan -- no, more than that, in the entire world! I decided I would become the possessor of a martial power unequaled by anyone. With this dream before me I trained severely. One day a navy man confronted me, a person said to be a 7th dan holder in Kendo. Strangely, as I faced him I felt as if my body was surrounded by a shining brightness and I easily secured victory.

After that, however, a conceited feeling was born inside of me, and while walking through a garden I thought that innumerable golden threads came down to me from the universe. Then, a golden light whelmed up from the earth and engulfed me. Eventually I attained a feeling that my body was turned into a body of gold that expanded to universal proportions. Here I felt that the God(s) were chastising me for my ever-growing conceit and I cried tears of gratitude."

Is it too far of a stretch to suggest that Osensei penetrated through the delusion of material reality by having (or receiving) a vision of himself at its extreme? In his quest for the fame of being the world's most powerful martial artist, did he finally come to see the idiocy of his desire after he achieved a victory that at one time would have been deemed important by him but that could no longer be experienced as such? Now, a as a human being made of gold, as a human being made of gold that was the size of the universe itself (it would seem, competing with God), was it from there that he realized that even if the whole world would come to desire him, he would still be lost to the truth of his existence? It would seem so.

It would seem that his tears of gratitude came to him because of the grace he received. This was a grace that exposed him to the lie he was living by failing to harmonize more properly the various aspects of his soul with the spiritual aspect of God that was within him (i.e. ichirei-shikon). For did he not in seeking supremacy over another man through martial prowess come to corrupt the workings of his soul - by allowing himself to practice various forms of hostility, depravity, rebellion, and insanity? Is it not a hostile and depraved act to combat another human being when reasons of fame and glory underlie one's motivations? Is it not a kind of rebellion against one's own nature and against God (as Omoto-kyo understands the concept) to seek material power and/or any power outside of mystical union? Are not such quests for this kind of power a distraction or a departure from the work that allows us to finally discover what is real and important? Is it not insane to choose such a lesser power over such an obviously greater power -- to look to be great before other corrupted men than to seek to be great before God? Whatever we may think, it seems very apparent that Osensei answered all of these questions in the way that Onisaburo had led him to. For in Osensei's vision, we see the degenerative soul-aspect drives of hostility, depravity, rebellion, and insanity, replaced by the harmonious soul-aspect drives of self-examination, repentance, shame, and an awakening to the Truth. Through his tears, of salt and water, Osensei seemed able to purify his soul of the corrupted aspects, by examining his inner self, by repenting for what he saw through his self-examinations, by feeling a sense of shame that would repulse him from ever acting that way again, and by seeing the Truth of God's way within himself. This is a great contrast from what we see in the moral causes and/or the ontological accomplishments of other Budo. Osensei writes:

"In the past, there have been a number of superlative masters of martial arts but we should never forget the great number of them who disappeared on the battlefield of this material world simply for lack of enough training in the true spirit of Budo, in sincere love, and in the battle against the self."

No matter what form the ontology of ichirei-shinkon may be represented through, any corresponding practices refer back to this above-mentioned theology in Omoto-kyo. This is true whether these aspects of the soul are represented with sounds, kami, elements, colors, shapes, directions, etc. We can see this point being made by Osensei when he writes:

"When a person stands before a shrine and prays his silent prayers it is for no other purpose than to unify himself with the godhead."

As, for example, ritual, or rule-governed behavior, in such a theological system would seek to cultivate those essences and aspects of our inner being by having us practice self-examination, a sense of shame, repentance, and truth, it would seem that Osensei would have us also understand his art in this manner as well. This means, for Osensei, if he did think of Aikido as an act of purification, or as a ritual act, Aikido is a practice that must function through ichirei-shikon, and thus it is a practice that aims at a union with God. He writes:

"Aikido is the Budo (martial art) which opens the road to harmony; it is that which is at the root of the great spirit of reunification of all manifest creation."

As we can now note, we are to understand ichirei and shikon to be related terms or concepts. In the same way, we are to understand sangen and hachiriki to be interrelated. In addition, the two couplings (i.e. ichirei-shikon and sangen-hachiriki) relate to each other by understanding the whole of ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki to denote The Three Attributes of the Godhead (i.e. God). The three attributes of God are: "his" Spirit, "his" Body, and "his" Power (or force or energy). The Three Attributes are related as: God's spirit correlates to ichirei-shikon, "his" Body to sangen, and "his" Power to hachi-riki.

When Onisaburo looked out upon the world, in noting that everyone and everything is of God, he conceived of God as a kind of ultimate Parusha figure (from Indian mythology). In ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki, God's spirit is at the core of everything created (e.g. the nao-hi inside of us or the whole system of ichirei-shikon); and because the world has taken form, God's body is at the core of every form (i.e. sangen); and because the world is marked by action, God's "power" (or "force" or "action") is at the core of every movement (i.e. hachiriki). Ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki then is a formula for living the spiritual life by realizing every aspect of the created universe to be an aspect of God and a call for our mystical reunion with "him." Because of God's nature, ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki is also a call for the cultivation and practice of Love. Osensei, it seems, thought of Aikido as a way of reconciling our lives with this formula, with the fundamental aspects of God and thus with ourselves. We see this idea when he suggests that Aikido is a good remedy for the "weak." (Note: The article translates this as being "weak bodied" but in all likelihood Osensei is referring to those individuals that cannot live in harmony with the Universe/God or with the formula of ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki. In my opinion, Osensei is not referring to a weakness of limb, and thus he is not positing Aikido as a fine physical fitness regiment. We can note this in the remedy Osensei offers at the end of the article. He does not tell people to practice more suwari-waza and/or to do more suburi training. Instead, he opts to help them by sharing with him his daily routine of religious practices. Thus, we can see, Osensei is referring to the weakness that comes to us through a spiritual corruption of the total self. Such a weakness then is a kind of incapacity to fulfill our human destiny to become one with God and/or to live in harmony with the nature of the Universe, etc.) In such a suggestion, when he notes that the "problem with the weak-bodied people of today is that they are unable to survive in a world of absolute accord and absolute non-desire," he tells us exactly what Aikido is and what it is supposed to do. Aikido is a path for union with God; it is a path for regaining our spiritual self as we distance ourselves from material culture. In the phrase ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki we come to know how and why this is possible.

(Note: Before continuing on to discuss sangen and hachiriki in more detail, I thought it interesting that Osensei marked the weak with both an incapacity to live in accord with the Universe/God/Nature/Etc., and with a an incapacity to practice non-desire -- which we should note as a non-desire toward material things. This too is quite in line with Omoto-kyo's theological stance on material culture. For example, Omoto-kyo considers the Earth to be marked by various ages. These ages are all defined according to the spiritual regression of Man -- it being directly related to Man's attachment to material culture. The ages are broken down as follows:

- The First Stage: The Age of the Gods -- in this stage humans on Earth were capable of very high states of spirituality and were thus able to mingle with celestial beings or discarnate entities.

- The Second Stage: The Age of Silver -- in this stage Man was still capable of mingling with celestial beings but here He also began to seek mundane knowledge and thus he began to deviate from the laws of Heaven and Earth.

- The Third Stage: The Age of Copper -- in this stage, while He remained aware of the laws of Heaven and Earth, Man no longer relied upon them to make decisions.

- The Fourth Stage: The Age of Iron -- in this stage Man disregarded the laws of Heaven and Earth entirely and thus he became materialistic. As a result, Man lost His knowledge on the spiritual world. Virtue disappears from Man's everyday existence, but Truth remained.

- The Fifth Stage: The Age of Mud -- in this stage Man progresses materially as He continues to regress spiritually. Here both Virtue and Truth disappear from Man's daily existence. Now, in this age, in the age we are now in, Man must work to discover for himself both Virtue and Truth. To do this, Man must distance himself from the trend toward materiality (i.e. from His desires for material things and for superficial knowledge).

In the end, like all mystical traditions, and as we can see here in Osensei, Omoto-kyo approximates one's closeness to God with one's distance from the material world. In classic fashion, we thus see Osensei opting to increase his distance from the material world and from people attached to the material world when he writes:

"Even so, as I traveled down this path I found human interaction had become more and more of a hindrance so I moved up to Tokyo and now I have retreated to (a farm in) Iwama, in Ibaraki Prefecture. It seems that by lessening my interaction with human beings I am much more able to acutely intuit the principle of oneness with the Universe.")

So what is sangen as the Body Attribute of God? Sangen are the three irreducible elements of the physical world. Many East Asian traditions have such a notion. However, there is not a single understanding of what these three elements are or how they are to fit in with one's practice. For Omoto-kyo, in terms of matter (i.e. in terms of God's body), the world of existence can be broken down into the categories of mineral, plant, and animal. These are the sangen of Omoto-kyo. As I said above, we are to think of the sangen and the hachiriki as interrelated. These sangen (i.e. God's body or the world of matter) consists of subtle and intricate combinations of the hachiriki, or the eight powers, or the eight forces. The eight powers/forces (i.e. hachiriki) are varying degrees of the union of Yin and Yang energies (which are the forces of God, "his" movement, "his" action, "his" energy, etc.). The eight types of energies (i.e. varying degrees of the union of Yin and Yang or God's Power) are: an activating force, a quieting force, a melting force, a coagulating force, a pulling force, a loosening force, a combining force and a dividing force. Because of the interdependency of God's spirit to God's energy to God's body, force or energy on this plain of existence also has the capacity to interrelate power/force/energy to matter/shape/form. These combinations or energy mark the mineral, plant, and animal aspects of creation. However, because all of these things are of God, and as we are of God as well, and as these things are also of God's Power, the sangen also function within the microcosm of our being. For example, the mineral aspect is used to fasten our soul to our physical body; the plant aspect is used to enrich us; the animal aspect is used to animate us with Life.

As with the shikon, the sangen and the hachiriki also correspond to numerous other things, feelings, directions, colors, sounds, shapes, kami, etc., in Omoto-kyo. These correlations are used ritually to bring a sense of being of the presence and in the presence of God and/or "his" primary attribute of Love -- which can be thought of as the ultimate power of God. It is important to understand this sense of power that is quite peculiar to Omoto-kyo and thus most likely to Osensei as well. Please note the following two passages. The first one is considered an Omoto-kyo maxim. Onisaburo authors it:

"God is the spirit which pervades the entire universe, and man is the focus of the workings of heaven and earth. When God and man become one, infinite power will become manifest."

Now please note the following passage written by Osensei in the related article:

"Thus, by imbibing the principle of the Universal, and receiving the ki of the Heaven and Earth, when I unified this entire human body, I realized the subtle depth of Aikido that manifests such great power, and attained the principle of oneness with the Universe."

Remembering that the universe is equivalent with God, we see that Osensei is opting to follow the Omoto-kyo maxim perfectly, suggesting that his realizing of the subtle depth of Aikido and the manifestation of great power is directly attributable to him having attained a mystical union with God. Whatever this power is, or however it may be applied, for better or worse, we know from what Osensei says earlier in this article that he is not referring to the kind of power that makes one unequal in martial prowess. It is not the kind of power that comes to you by trying to be the strongest martial artist in the world. If anything, Osensei's shared confession suggests, such a quest, as a quest of the ego, of selfish desire, of pursuing material or worldly things, prevents us from attaining the infinite power of which Onisaburo speaks -- the power he pointed Osensei toward, and the power Osensei seems to be pointing us toward: The Power of Aikido.

Ben Joiner 09-06-2005 05:28 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Just thought I'd say thank you for such an interesting and well structured post as nobody else has. Not really sure how to respond to it as yet though. :)

senshincenter 09-06-2005 08:35 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Ben,

Thank you just for reading it - your kind words are an extra I had no intention of receiving. So they are a very nice surprise. :-)

Thank you,
david

rogueenergy 09-06-2005 11:08 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Wow. I am awed by the flood of thought this has inspired. This has also peaked my curiosity. Time to learn more about Omoto-kyo.

Thank you. In the most sincere way possible. Thank you.

bkedelen 09-06-2005 02:43 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
What a fantastic post. Often I have wondered at the significance of the subject matter, and I could not have asked for a more thorough interpretation. I would love to see more discussion and essay relating to such matters. This type of post renders discussions about application and technical detail obsolete.

Ron Tisdale 09-06-2005 02:52 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
There is a good (and related) discussion on Aikido Journal's front page...Aikido and Three Peaches, by Ellis Amdur.

Best,
Ron

senshincenter 09-06-2005 03:52 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Hi All,

As a suggestion -- on some discussion relating to things mentioned in the essay -- I would highly recommend reading the thread on Shame linked above in the essay. Many people in that thread made some very relevant points -- with lots of insight in my opinion. You can find that thread here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ighlight=shame

Remember, according to Omoto-kyo theology, but also according to any other spiritual tradition I know of that seeks to reconcile the subject/object dichotomy, a sense of shame was one of the drives or capacities that marks the spiritual life.

As for the blog entries on "The Three Peaches" -- yes, I would advise reading everything you can. Especially the writings these blog entries are commenting upon (written by Osensei). I feel Osensei's writings on takemusu aiki may make a lot more sense to many more people after they have read this brief summary on Omoto-kyo theology.

As a (perhaps) meaningless comment, if I understand Mr. Amdur's view on ritual correctly, I would have to say that my own view of Aikido as a system of purification and/or as a ritual (i.e. a rite or a technology of the self) is slightly different. Though I must admit it is hard to note if we are saying something similar or something different - as I believe Mr. Amdur was providing the reader with the benefits of joining him in his self-reflections upon reading Osensei's essays, not necessarily a summary of Omoto-kyo theology.

Nevertheless, as a point of personal clarity, in my interpretation, everything comes back to how the various soul-aspects work in conjunction with the divine soul-aspect. In other words, what brings potency (i.e. the capacity to transform us) to the act, any act (be that a rite before a shrine or be that Aikido praxis), is the cultivation of the various virtues and their corresponding sets of functions as they go on to generate the five necessary drives or capacities that mark the spiritual life. Meaning, if one is not cultivating these virtues and/or generating these drives/capacities in their training, in their practice of Aikido, one's Aikido practice is impotent in terms of operating as a technology of the self as laid out within Omoto-kyo theology. In short, the act is not enough. The act alone remains hollow, empty. The engine for all self-transformation, or self-cultivation, etc., in Omoto-kyo is Ichirei-Shikon. This is the center of every practice. It seems very reasonable to assume that it was the same for Osensei.

For me personally, the act is not enough. The act alone is never enough.

Thanks everyone for your kind words and also for making the time and effort to do further thinking, reading, and/or research.

david

Charles Hill 09-07-2005 12:45 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
David,

I am very glad you posted this here and got some comments. I was a bit surprised at the roar of silence your blog received at AJ. Your reinterpretation of O`Sensei`s enlightenment experience is important and is making me go back to the original with fresh eyes. The Japanese response to O`Sensei`s words seems to be a general "I have no idea what he is talking about so I`ll just kind of ignore it." And this has majorly influenced the rest of the Aikido world. In my opinion, your attempt to analyse and explain the founder`s words in more understandable terms is something sorely needed. I sincerely hope that this is just the start of more such writings, by you and others.

Thank you,
Charles

Peter Goldsbury 09-07-2005 02:24 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Hello Charles,

I think the deafening silence that greeted David's article in AJ is due to the fact that virtually no one has had the opportunity so far to examine all the texts thoroughly.

For example, Ellis's "Three Peaches" blogs are very good, but seem to be based on the translated parts of Takemusu Aiki. The translated portions are a small part of the whole and I think the other parts need to be looked at. In addition, these lectures were made to members of the Byakko Shinkoukai, which is a distant offshoot of Omoto. I am curious about the extent to which O Sensei was lecturing with a particular audience in mind, but to check this we would need to look also at the writings of Masahisa Goi.

Then there are the discourses that have appeared in Aiki Shinzui, but I understand that these have been edited.

I have the same suspicions as David does about the Founder's close reliance on Omoto theology and have been acquiring a collection of texts on Omoto theology in Japanese. I think the most important text is Reikai Monogatari and I know from the Aikikai that O Sensei had a text of work which he annotated and often had read to him. No one sems to know where this text is.

So I think that David has made a very good start, but I also think, as any academic would, that his conclusions need to be closely evaluated.

Best wishes,

Ron Tisdale 09-07-2005 10:28 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
I'm really a light weight in this area, but it seems to me that

a) for the ritual to have the greatest personal meaning to the individual, the individual must be a full participant

which does not negate

b) the aikido praxis itself operating as a general rite from which all benefit at some level.

a) is better, but maybe b) suffices in the interim? There are styles of aikido (Yoshinkan, Shodokan) which pretty much eshew the Shinto/Omoto paradigm. I personally am not sure how that then is resolved in terms of this discussion. Even some Aikikai teachers focus on Zen, as opposed to Omoto.

I would also suggest that the silence (deafening or not) is the result of this being an extremely difficult area to get one's head around. Someone with Peter's or David's background may find this kind of topic relatively accessable. Personally....well, as I said, I'm a lightweight in this area. Anyhoo....

Best,
Ron

SeiserL 09-07-2005 11:47 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
I found that thier web-site has a great deal of downloadable free literature that I personally found very insightful and assisted me in seeing maybe a small bit more of the bigger picture.

http://www.oomoto.or.jp/index.html

Misogi-no-Gyo 09-07-2005 03:26 PM

Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?
 
Hi David,

Interesting reading. I'll save my personal comments for whenever we have the chance to meet someday when I am in Los Angeles. I do however have a few questions to which perhaps you can provide short and direct (Read: brief - knowing your writing style, the request is in response to this particular post only) answers. I will post my questions after your previous comments.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Meaning, if one is not cultivating these virtues and/or generating these drives/capacities in their training, in their practice of Aikido, one's Aikido practice is impotent in terms of operating as a technology of the self as laid out within Omoto-Kyo theology.

I am aware of several tertiary sources that are often quoted, and more often accepted without meaningful question. However, other than any conclusions you or anyone else might draw from the myriad of sources from which you have quoted and considered, do you have a firsthand source (O-Sensei said...) or even second hand source (Someone overhearing O-Sensei saying...) that straightforwardly states, "Aikido is based in any part on Omoto-kyo, theology or otherwise?
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
In short, the act is not enough. The act alone remains hollow, empty. The engine for all self-transformation, or self-cultivation, etc., in Omoto-kyo is Ichirei-Shikon. This is the center of every practice. It seems very reasonable to assume that it was the same for Osensei.

Taking for granted (for a moment) that your conclusions are 100% correct (so as to remove the question of if...), How is one to practically (Read: physically) incorporate "Ichirei-Shikon" or any other relevant Omoto-Kyo theology into one's own aikido practice?

I have several follow-up questions, but I do believe those will require answers in your typical length and manner, so I will save them for after I have read the hopefully as requested, brief and terse reply.

Thank you in advance for the time and effort you might put forth in your consideration of, or in your answers to my above questions.

I am looking forward to reading your reply.



.

senshincenter 09-07-2005 03:41 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
First, for those interested…

Here is a "brief" summary of the Reikai Monogatari in English:

http://www2.plala.or.jp/wani-san/home.html (look for the link in the frame on the left)

Second, again, I want to thank those that have taken the time to read the piece and say a few kind words. I am very appreciative and humbled by both.

Third, I would say that most likely both forms of ritual are present in Omoto-kyo the tradition and thus most likely in Osensei's own practice -- which must include his teaching as well. Many cultures do indeed have an understanding where the ritual act itself, with its instruments, its scents, sounds, actions, symbols, etc., carry within them the potency for transformation and/or for purification, pacification, perfection, etc. Within such a view of ritual, neither understanding nor belief is all that relative to how viable the ritual performance remains. In fact, in many cases, such things may be seen as completely irrelevant. An example of this could be the rituals related to the puberty ceremonies of certain Native American traditions. In such rites, often times a white feather is brushed against the hair of the girl practicing this rite of passage. The white of the feather, through a system of correspondences and an episteme of resemblance, is considered "potent" enough to bring the girl to an old age -- one where the color of her hair (aged-white) will come to match the color of the feather. In such a rite, whether the girl understands what is occurring, or whether she believes that the feather has such potency, is irrelevant. We see such an understanding of rites throughout nearly every religious tradition. Omoto-kyo, and thus Osensei's understanding of Aikido would most expectedly follow this rule as well. That is to say, I would very much imagine that we would find either Osensei saying and/or someone claiming that Osensei said to them that simply doing Aikido would be enough -- that no more is needed (i.e. we don't really need ichirei-shikon).

However, in some of those traditions, and especially in those that seek to reconcile the subject/object dichotomy, like Omoto-kyo, we tend to also see something different. In these different cultural veins, we see at best a tolerance for the idea that rites are potent in and of themselves and at worst a total rejection of such an notion. In these cultural veins, rather, there is an emphasis given to the person and to the centrality of their body/mind and/or spirit. This means, or tends to mean, that if one does not bring to the rite a deep sense of self and/or of personal investment (according to whatever given ontology or theology, etc., that is supporting such a rite) the ritual act is without potency.

In such traditions, as such rites might be deemed hollow or empty, or "just going through the motions." They are also often reduced to being seen as talismanic, superstitious, of the masses, ignorant, etc. What does this mean? That means that one will have to determine if when Osensei said or meant that Aikido is all one needs, was he speaking literally, as we see in some rituals within some cultures, or was he speaking in light of how universal God and the cosmos are and that thus one can speak about one thing as if it is many and many things as if it is one thing. If he's coming from the point of view of these great universals, it would seem that seeing a ritual itself as something potent would in some way speak contrarily to this other view (which is precisely the way that most mystical traditions tend to look at the former view of ritual). In the end, and nevertheless, this may prove to be meaningless in terms of our own practice. Why?

Undoubtedly more work will have to be done on Omoto-kyo theology. However, when that work is done I still think there will remain a choice for those of us that might want to use such information to understand our art and/or the teachings of Osensei. It seems to me that Omoto-kyo is a kind of beast with at least two parts to it. This comes from the fact that Omoto-kyo grew out of a popular movement -- which means that most likely (very probably) it has one foot deeply entrenched in the idea that rites are potent in and of themselves. The other foot of Omoto-kyo however is deeply entrench in the complex and highly sophisticated philosophy/theology of both Buddhist epistemology and Christian mysticism. On this foot, rites as potent in and of themselves is a ridiculous notion since it is the underlying theology/philosophy which alone makes it possible to see so many rites as interrelated, etc.

Personally, I would never say which one is the more valid tradition in terms of history or in terms of understanding Aikido as Osensei may have understood Aikido. Both seem to have their possible flaws -- as the former can often be reduced to a fetishization of the mundane and the latter can often end in a paralysis of analysis. Moreover, the "in between" areas are too grey to make any kind of assertion practical. However, when it comes to understanding those poems and phrases whereby Osensei has become the world figure he is, when it comes to Aikido being something for all times and for all people, when it comes to Budo being practical in terms of our modern situation, for me, one has to look at those very efforts that Omoto-kyo itself made in addressing its interests in positing itself as a world religious tradition. In that sense then, one is going to have to look more toward the idea that it is what is inside of the person that counts and thus look away more from the idea that the rites in and of themselves are potent. In a way, at a certain point, one is going to have to be dissatisfied with saying "SU, " and then when one becomes dissatisfied with saying "SU," one can finally say it in the way it was supposed to be said -- for the first time, all over again.

Finally, in regards to the "silence," I agree with Peter here. However, I also think that for some, keeping Osensei's thought mysterious was a positive and useful thing. Penetrating this "mystery" a bit, which some would rather not have, is also adding to the "silence" some may be sensing. Personally, I see this work only as a direction. If it is standing out at all, it is only because most folks have often gone in another direction -- leaving this piece to stand alone -- which gives it the impression of standing out. What is the direction of this essay? It is the direction of looking at Omoto-kyo theology from the point of view of the History of Religions. The connection to Aikido is only hypothetical: that Osensei's thought (these phrases and passages that have made him a world figure) is based upon Omoto-kyo theology. However, if one looks at the essay, one can see that Onisaburo maxim is almost word for word the same thing as the passage next quoted (written by Osensei). So, for me, and as Peter and I have discussed together, the next steps for us to take is more comparative analysis of Omoto-kyo theology as written by Onisaburo (which may be different from what is being written by Omoto-kyo today) and Osensei's writings/lectures regarding his more ultimate understandings of Aikido.

dmv

senshincenter 09-07-2005 04:12 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Hi Shaun,

Thanks for chiming in.

I will try and be brief -- as requested.

No, I do not have any nor do I know of any original sources whereby Osensei can be quoted as saying "This I am basing on Omoto-kyo" (or some other variant), etc. As for second hand sources, there are only those various figures inside and outside of Aikido that mention the influence that Omoto-kyo theology had on Osensei. However, there is no other secondhand source that I know of that has someone saying "Osensei told me that he got this from Omoto-kyo." All of them only talk about the influence the theology had on him -- as they witnessed it secondhand.

In short, as I said above, and in the essay, this is the hypothesis of the whole piece: That Osensei's thought has been heavily influenced by Omoto-kyo theology. As a hypothesis it is not something I would expect to be provable in any kind of direct way. I am coming from the view of cultural influence. I understand this in the same way, for example, that we know that Chinese culture influenced Japanese culture -- though we have never found a text written by anyone from Japanese culture to read explicitly, "I have been influenced by Chinese culture."

Your second question is one I would see as requiring a very long response, one I am not sure I am even yet able to write. I am sorry. Let me say this though -- still trying to be brief. The question as I understand it can be taken in three ways: a) How does Omoto-kyo suggest we apply ichirei-shikon in our lives (since they may not at all be talking about Aikido); b) How does Osensei suggest we apply ichirei-shikon in our lives (since he most likely will talk about Aikido); and c) How can we apply ichirei-shikon in our lives. For the first two takes on this question, more historical analysis will have to be done. For the last take on the question, I would say the answer is a very personal thing -- one that takes full advantage of Omoto-kyo's position on the universality of Man's inner nature and God, etc., and thus of the applicability of all creeds, practices, and doctrines. What one requires then is not so much a specific creed, or a specific practice, or a specific doctrine. What one requires is a specific quality -- one which may mark our creeds, or practices, and/or our doctrines, etc. In particular, one is looking for ways to generate, for example, the five drives or capacities that mark the spiritual life through one's training. A possible example of this, though not brief, would be the way that a sense of shame is being used in one's practice as it is being discussed in the above mentioned thread -- pasted here below as well.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ighlight=shame

Another possible way is to see what is being cultivated as it is being mentioned here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...kness+accuracy

And, there is also this thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ure+mediocrity

Finally, from our own web site, there are our Budo Contemplations and our Exchanges -- which also mention such things. (The Exchanges are much more brief in their discussion.)

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/w...mplations.html

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/writs/exchanges.html

Outside of this, I am afraid I have not formulated for mass consumption (i.e. in brief form) my own practice nor my own pedagogical slant concerning such things as they are played out in our dojo. I hope that one day I will be able to do so.

I too look forward to meeting one day -- it would be a great thing to discuss many of these issues, and other issues as well, with you. Please always consider yourself welcome at our dojo. This next year, I am planning to attend the Expo -- so hopefully you will be going to the next one as well and I can meet your there.

Thank you very much,
david

Misogi-no-Gyo 09-07-2005 04:58 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Hi Shaun,

Thanks for chiming in.

I will try and be brief -- as requested.

And I thank you for doing so. It allows me to quickly post some things on which I would love for you to comment.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
No, I do not have any nor do I know of any original sources whereby Osensei can be quoted as saying "This I am basing on Omoto-kyo" (or some other variant), etc.

Thank you.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
As for second hand sources, there are only those various figures inside and outside of Aikido that mention the influence that Omoto-kyo theology had on Osensei.

Again, thank you.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
However, there is no other secondhand source that I know of that has someone saying "Osensei told me that he got this from Omoto-kyo." All of them only talk about the influence the theology had on him -- as they witnessed it secondhand.

Yes, these individuals might very well consider Omoto-Kyo to have been the source. Of course, that does not make it so, as I am sure you will agree.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
In short, as I said above, and in the essay, this is the hypothesis of the whole piece: That Osensei's thought has been heavily influenced by Omoto-kyo theology. As a hypothesis it is not something I would expect to be provable in any kind of direct way.

I can not thank you enough for this clear and concise way of asking your readers to approach your material. In that vein, speaking in terms of hypothesis, (regardless of any of it being right or wrong) it will no doubt give many people much to consider within the context of their own practice and life. It therefore is a effort that is well intended and allows for a powerful reception as a tool for self analysis.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Your second question is one I would see as requiring a very long response, one I am not sure I am even yet able to write. I am sorry.

No apologies necessary, as we are both perhaps in a similar place.

Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Let me say this though -- still trying to be brief. The question as I understand it can be taken in three ways: a) How does Omoto-kyo suggest we apply ichirei-shikon in our lives (since they may not at all be talking about Aikido); b) How does Osensei suggest we apply ichirei-shikon in our lives (since he most likely will talk about Aikido); and c) How can we apply ichirei-shikon in our lives.

I would say that my question, as stated was with regards to "B" above.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
For the first two takes on this question, more historical analysis will have to be done.

I would agree, and I would like to discuss this privately with you, if you are interested.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Outside of this, I am afraid I have not formulated for mass consumption (i.e. in brief form) my own practice nor my own pedagogical slant concerning such things as they are played out in our dojo. I hope that one day I will be able to do so.

As do I for my own group.

Here are some thoughts I penned while awaiting your reply.
  • O-Sensei said Aikido is not a religion but the completion of all religions. Wouldn't that also include Omoto-Kyo? followed by...
  • O-Sensei said it is not necessary to follow his religious path in order to learn Aikido. If this is so, why should non-Japanese follow Omoto-Kyo theology? If this is not so, how are non-Japanese, or non-Omoto-Kyo followers supposed to follow along the overly complex theological path?
  • Is it not more likely that the path is very simple, and the entrance to the path well hidden, rather than finding any answer by subscribing to a religion that forces the entire world to have to follow some overly complex theology which can barely be understood in any practical sense, even by those who are practicing it?
  • Is it not more likely that O-Sensei, noted as a very practical man (exemplified by his decision to move forward from his Daito-Ryu practice) would seek to put his efforts into developing a practice that would circumvent the need to over-think the world, one that is an ill-fitting response to that mystical nature of the universe as sold to us by all the priests of all religions? Would he not prefer a process that would short circuit the complex God/man, Shame/Blame & it's not the same games proffered by religions since time memoriam, so as to give people what he considered a direct path as opposed to one based upon the empty concept of "faith" and isn't that something called Aikido?
  • If we accept (only for this moment) that O-Sensei came up with something different, something more direct, and look at his art from that possibility, does Aikido not become the art that he felt could be easily adopted by people of all nationalities, cultures, age or what have you, just like he said it was?
Please feel free to comment on any, all or none as you see fit. Knowing what a great amount of time and effort you put into all of your posts, please feel free to respond to them individually or in groups or as you like.

Given the depth of the content and the length of the posts, I would like to emphasize this particular comment that you made:
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Personally, I would never say which one is the more valid tradition in terms of history or in terms of understanding Aikido as Osensei may have understood Aikido. Both seem to have their possible flaws -- as the former can often be reduced to a fetishization of the mundane and the latter can often end in a paralysis of analysis. Moreover, the "in between" areas are too grey to make any kind of assertion practical.

Personally, I can't find one other thing which you have written that I would agree with more than the above comments. It seems that the answer is very simple, but somehow simply hidden, just as it was before... That is why we must look towards the practical not the mystical when approaching O-Sensei. By the way, your particular phrasing of paralysis of analysis is a rare and priceless gem. May I borrow it on occasion?
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
I too look forward to meeting one day -- it would be a great thing to discuss many of these issues, and other issues as well, with you. Please always consider yourself welcome at our dojo. This next year, I am planning to attend the Expo -- so hopefully you will be going to the next one as well and I can meet your there.

Thank you. I hope to have the time to at least come by your dojo and pay my respects at the Kamiza. As for the Expo, as I plan to attend each and every one while they are here in the States, I am sure to be there.



.

Erick Mead 09-07-2005 06:09 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Thank you David.

Thought provoking, although I seek the threads of continuity back of Omoto in the origins of tantric Shingon whose influence upon and correspondence with kotodama is, well, diffuclt to ignore.

Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Hi All,
what brings potency (i.e. the capacity to transform us) to the act, any act (be that a rite before a shrine or be that Aikido praxis), is the cultivation of the various virtues and their corresponding sets of functions as they go on to generate the five necessary drives or capacities that mark the spiritual life. Meaning, if one is not cultivating these virtues and/or generating these drives/capacities in their training, in their practice of Aikido, one's Aikido practice is impotent in terms of operating as a technology of the self as laid out within Omoto-kyo theology. In short, the act is not enough. The act alone remains hollow, empty.
.....
For me personally, the act is not enough. The act alone is never enough.

david


An act imparts meaning without regard to the intention of the actor, and without the required mediation of language. Doing something without having the proper mind about it may not be the fullness of experience, but it is vitally important and has powerful effect in itself. If you doubt this, walk up to a co-worker and slowly, place your hand on his or her shoulder. Musubi -- a relationship is immediately formed, whose content is not immediately conscious to either of you, but whose connection is undeniable and immediately made important to both persons, both the "doer" and the "doee."

What these observations hold for David's point, though, is more interesting to me because of O-Sensei's highly practical use of musubi as his primary teaching. This echoes (pun intended) in the
kotodama "SU"( Ame-no-minakanushi no kami) and its emanations (hypostases?) in Taka-musubi and Kami-musubi.

Kokugaku (national studies) was the conscious revival of Shinto and its explict differentiation from Buddhism (Shinbutsu Bunri) just before and during the Meiji.

Kokugaku did much in spite of itself to explain the direct correspondences between Shinto Shingon. Shignon was itself an esoteric syncretism with both Indian tantric as well as strongly Christian elements (even more evident in Jodo). For those of us in the Christianized West it is notable that some of Motoori Norinaga's successors were in fact strongly criticized for the expressly trinitarian strain of thought developed in the mid nineteenth century.

The trinitarian elements (also echoed in the sangen) are strongly present in the kotodama system worked out by O-Sensei. He placed great personal emphasis in the correspondecen between kotodama and the Kojiki's expressly trinitarian creation myth (zoka no sanshin) and explored the nature of the relationships and function of the three Ame-no-minakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami, and Kamimusubi no kami.

These trinitarian elements are possibly artifacts of the Silk Road and the intricate chain of syncretic developments that ties Shinto, Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism. This continued its play in the new religions of Japan, notably Omoto.

This strain of thought deeply influenced the development of Omoto. It furthered O-Sensei's own laying out of these principles. The genius of his approach is that he did it in a way that is peculiarly non-doctrinal. What doctrinal beliefs he had he made no requirement that his student of aikido share, or even understand.

Great prejudices and jealousies have marked this process of religious development along its path, both in China and in Japan (or anywhere else for that matter). Japanese examples include the shogunate's early suppression of Christianity, and imposition of household butsudan and temple registration, the Meiji imposition of Shinbutsu Bunri to aid the Imperial State Shinto cult, and the late suppression of the new religions, such as Omoto, in the 20th century.

O-Sensei's Aikido makes it exceedingly difficult to offend any particular doctrinal system. This suggests it was intended thus. Its acceptance in so many cultures and over the tops of so many language barriers is ample witness to the effectiveness of its non-verbal, non-doctrinal teaching. The simple practice of Aikido techniques taught by O-Sensei for his students to pass on was not intended to be religious doctrine, even though its import and original development was emphatically, highly religious. He simply taught them -- "Do this."

Acts have significance in and of themselves, and have moral efficacy without regard to the virtue or intent of the actor. Ask of the storm victim if he cares what your intent is handing him a cup of water. In Christian teaching about sacramental grace, this is the doctrine of ex opere operato -- "by the work done." The same is true of all right actions in whatever tradition. The work works on us as much as, if not more than, we do the work.

Action is necessary to create musubi. Musubi forms a common vessel, one that is meant to be filled. The cup implies drink. The vessel will be filled. Whether it be filled by you or by someone observing you or by someone participating with you, this is not important. Correct action is important, and this does not depend on subjective intent.

If we seek in our aikido practice to magnify our ego, we cannot possibly do technique properly. If we seek in our practice to remove our ego satisfaction from the equation, it is not required that this be motivated by any sense of virtue or enlightenment, but because ego-satisfaction interferes with good technique. Our personal intent in the immediate act, seen in this light, is especially shown to be beside the point.

That seems to me why O-Sensei whittled away and supplemented the Daito-ryu legacy and the other arts that he received. He selected techniques for which this approach is a prerequisite or at least a powerful element of its expression.

And in the process, whether we intend it or no, the stone is ground, the mirror is polished. The jealously vain "be me" is reduced and the all-embracing "I AM" is magnified. Right action creates right virtue. Right virtue alone is peculiarly impotent.

Tat tvam asi. "This thou art." Chuang-tsu dreams he is the butterfly, or the butterfly dreams he is Chuang-tsu.

Eight powers (the changes (I Ching))

resolve to

four souls (cardinal directions, i.e -- the whole world; the four living creatures)

resolve to

three bodies (trikaya, zoka no sanshin, the Holy Trinity)

resolve to one spirit. ( )


"The Way gives rise to One, One gives rise to Two, Two give rise to Three, Three give rise to the ten thousand things."


Not there yet, but ain't the sightseeing grand?

Cordially,

Erick Mead

senshincenter 09-07-2005 07:01 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Hi Shaun,

- Yes, I agree, that a secondhand source saying so does not make it so. For me, it remains a hypothesis. Yet, it is one that gains more weight by demonstrating a consistency of thought and practices than by noting statements. Cultural influence is a strange thing, and often elements that demonstrate it even come to take precedence over those statements that might seek to prove it or to disprove it. For example, for many, it has become important that Osensei has said he has disapproved of Zen. So for many it has become plausible to think of Budo and even Aikido as something totally separate from Zen. However, from the view of cultural influence, this is not an accurate understanding of history. This is remains so even in spite of Osensei's statement. Another example: Take the American constitution, it is heavily influenced by Judeo/Christian culture, and this remains true even if the founding fathers of the United States said they were out to establish a clear break between Church and State. Etc. In almost a counter-intuitive way, statements, whether they go one way or another, have little weight in terms of cultural influence. Rather, when noting cultural influence, we are looking for systems of thought that go on to make certain actions (which includes the writing of discourses) possible (and vice versa).

- Yes, then, right now I am not capable of answering this question of how Osensei felt we should bring the concept of Ichirei-Shikon into our lives. The only work I have done on this is related to the article I used to shed some light on the larger topic of Omoto-kyo theology. In that article, he briefly mentions some of his practices (e.g. Aikido, a simple existence, a departure from material culture, various religious rites, a discipline lifestyle, etc.) He also provides some commentary on some key moments in his life where he is attempting to summarize how certain drives/capacities have played themselves out. I think we can gain some insight in these summaries as well (e.g. his vision of turning into a gold body). However, in my opinion, this is only one article and much more would have to be researched before we could determine what Osensei's applications actually looked like -- or if he even had one in terms of a system of practice.

- I am always open for discussion -- personal or otherwise. Please always feel free to contact me. My email is found our dojo web site. However, I think many people would benefit from such a discussion, and if possible I would like to keep things open for all to share in and to partake of.


Some comments on your comments -- in the spirit of sharing…


- An interesting thing is that Omoto-kyo has said a very similar thing about their tradition -- that it was kind of a meta-tradition or para-tradition -- not really a tradition at all. This is very connected to presenting oneself as a "world" tradition -- as something that is beyond all "creeds and races" -- something that all of humanity can find him or herself within, etc. How close Omoto-kyo is to actually being this, or even how borrowed Osensei's statement may have been, I too personally understand Aikido in this same way that you imply here. Aikido is not a religion but a way of deepening all things because of the space it has for personal investment and thus for spiritual cultivation -- which all aspects of life benefit from (which includes religious practice).

- I agree, I would say that it is not necessary to follow Omoto-kyo. I would also say that Omoto-kyo would also say this same thing. Please note how Omoto-kyo has found a way within their discourse to suggest that all of the other major world traditions are part of the same religious worldview (i.e. how the high-god is the hypostasis for all of the other major religious figures of history). In its quest to be a world religion, Omoto-kyo is not saying it is the source of all other traditions -- they are not trying to co-opt everything else. They are merely trying to identify what is common to all of them -- which it sees itself as a part of as well. For my own person, I think it is very important to not follow Omoto-kyo practice -- to not adopt them as one's own. As one can guess, I would consider many of its elements to be bordering on a fetishization of the mundane -- so you know which side I would personally be coming from. No, what is important, and what Omoto-kyo would allow for, is that you come to this ever-present truth through your own means. However, that means must be real -- meaning, for example, it must include the cultivation of those key virtues and their corresponding functions and drives. I would also apply this to Osensei's own practice. The point is not to fetishize it -- so one is taking a big risk by seeking to copy it element for element. In my opinion, the point is the same -- to find one's own (real) path.

- I agree -- simple is always better than overly complex.

- There is a lot in there. I am not sure I can agree with everything you state in this comment. It may be your path, and if through it you can cultivate the virtues and drives relevant to a spiritual life -- more power to you. Still, I am not sure about what you are saying here -- to be honest. I sense that you have thought about this for some time and that you are speaking with silent referents that you are long familiar with. Not partial yet to those referents, I nevertheless sense that my own path is somewhat different. Thus, for example, I am not so motivated to see Osensei as a simplifier of things (though I can see how one might come to this view).

- I do not think that Aikido has to be separated from one tradition that says, "everything is the same and it's all good" in order to say, "everything is the same and its all good." My own perspective is that Aikido's view of itself as something that is beyond all creed and race is something it got from Omoto-kyo. In "getting this" from Omoto-kyo it was only itself practicing the same philosophy. It was not seeking to rise above it and/or to evolve beyond it -- since such concepts could not find their philosophical space. If Osensei did not make folks practice Omote-kyo practices, it was not because he felt he moved beyond them but rather because Omoto-kyo itself probably at that time had no real system of practices like it might today. In addition, it also had a great deal to do with the fact that for Omoto-kyo no set of practices (e.g. Aikido) were thought to be outside of the eternal truth that Onisaburo was attempting to lay out. Finally, there are these reasons: 1) One also has to realize how in Japanese culture, especially around this time, the "spreading" of religion was a kind of social taboo; 2) The view of religion that allows missionary work to actually function in a way we are use to in the West has never really been a part of the larger Japanese cultural conscience; and 3) Mystical systems of thought almost never tend to emphasize their actual practices since the fetishization of rites is a very real danger to be avoided. In my opinion, if Osensei posited Aikido as a kind of ritual, etc., or as its own thing, it was because it fit squarely within the worldview that underlying our material reality rested a singular spiritual reality. The singularity of this spiritual reality is what allows us to do Aikido without having to do Omoto-kyo. In that sense, it is not really an evolution over Omoto-kyo but more an extension or an application of Omoto-kyo's position regarding this singular spiritual reality.

- The phrase is something my Kenpo teacher makes use of. I am sure is not copyrighted - J

Thank you again for your thoughtful comments and for sharing some of your ideas with me.

Honored,
david

senshincenter 09-07-2005 07:41 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Hi Erick

Thank you for writing.

No doubt -- Shingon is relevant here. That was something I have tried to say as well, in response to those that like to see Aikido as being not related to Buddhism. However, the piece is not so much dealing with the topic of where Omoto-kyo might have gotten its ideas from as much as it is with the topic of where Osensei might have gotten his ideas. So please excuse the obvious void here. If you would like to comment more on such a relationship, I would dearly love to read anything you might add to this thread in that regards. A gentlemen I met in grad school, Fabio Rambelli, turned me on quite a bit to Shingon studies -- which was his area of specialty. So I am always very interested. Several of his works are on the Net (if you google his name). You might find them very interesting too.

As I said above, most likely one will indeed find within both Aikido and Omoto-kyo the position that acts in and of themselves are spiritually potent. One is also going to find the exact opposite view as well. My personal preference for the latter view is merely my personal preference. I do not mean to assign it any greater virtue or relevance than that. Still, in preferring the latter, I do not mean to imply that acts do not carry the potential for meaning and/or for significance regardless or absent of intent. Nor does the latter view of ritual either.

What is at issue is how do we make these acts manifest the specific potency desired. If I touch someone's shoulder, I have the potential for a great many kinds of meanings -- some relative to my perspective, some relative to the other person's perspective, some relative to a bystander's perspective. You are right in relating this to Aikido. This is indeed the very way that much of Aikido throughout the world is practiced. As I said above, this view, for many reasons, seems to go hand-in-hand with popular movements. However, for this very reason, we see many folks doing many kinds of Aikido -- some that have nothing to do with the founder, some that have nothing to do with other Aikido traditions, and a whole lot of them that don't do what they say they do do.

When I look at these three things, especially the latter one, I personally am inclined to see it as problematic (meaning, as a practitioner, as someone trying to practice something, it would be problematic to not be practicing something I am saying I am practicing). Moreover, I tend to see its source in the idea that one can just do Aikido and benefit spiritually from it as if one puts a white feather to their head in order to live a long life.

For me, Aikido is no white feather and those I have come across that seek to make it one are like a person that sits still rubbing their hair with that feather, over and over again, doing nothing else, having no life, but hoping not to die. It may be a matter of the glass being half full or half empty, but I do not look at my own Aikido practice or that of the world in general and see Aikido working its talismanic power in ridding us of self-delusion and egocentricism on any kind of grand scale. For me, like any practice, Aikido has both the potential to bring me awareness and/or to delude me further; it has the potential to further cultivate my humility, my wisdom, or my capacity for love or to enslave me more to my pride, my ignorance, and/or my fears. What makes the difference is not how many times we do Ikkyo, but how many times we do Ikkyo right -- with the right intention, with the correct corresponding body/mind, with the investment of my deepest self, etc. To just do Ikkyo over and over again, to rely upon its "talismanic" potency, is to, in my opinion, practice superstition. Moreover, it is to never do Ikkyo right.

But this is just my view and shouldn't mean much to anyone but me and my students.

Kindest regards, thanks for sharing,
dmv
p.s. Again - please write more on Shingon if you can spare the time and energy. Thanks in advance.

Erick Mead 09-10-2005 01:34 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Hi Erick

No doubt -- Shingon is relevant here. That was something I have tried to say as well, in response to those that like to see Aikido as being not related to Buddhism.
.......................
To just do Ikkyo over and over again, to rely upon its "talismanic" potency, is to, in my opinion, practice superstition. Moreover, it is to never do Ikkyo right.
...................

p.s. Again - please write more on Shingon if you can spare the time and energy. Thanks in advance.

First things first. I never do ikkyo just right. Been trying to do that off and on since 1986. That's what keeps me practicing.

Bigger picture, I agree. To become entranced by the specific technique is to become entrapped in one desire.

But ikkyo gets better and better the more its actual connection to your partner moves from the wrist to the elbow to the shoulder to the center. But to do that, you have to progessively abandon the wrist, and then the elbow and then the shoulder and then learn to simply step in and stand at the center.

The process of abandonment of each immediate and successive desire as it appears is not talismanic, it is highly instructive and effective in both physical and psychological terms.

The work works on me, whether I am fully conscious of that fact or not. Ikkyo ... ikkyo, ikkyo ... Guess what we're practicing tonight?

Shingon and Omoto.

Omoto is interesting and sincere, but it is such a "new age" type of religious movement (even if it is late nineteenth century) that it is difficult for those not already interested in it to become so. O-Sensei, I think realized this, and his approach to these issues confirms it in my view. That is not to say that he did not take things from his Omoto experience and incorporated them in the implicit pedagogical purpose that underlies Aikido. If a student has not realized there is a teaching purpose other than are techniques by the fifth or sixth class, then he or she is not paying adequate attention.

While we have seen similar efforts in the West in a variety of settings in recent decades, Omoto is actually contemporary with a similar synthetic religious effort at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, in the Theosophical, Transcendental and Aesthetic movements. Yeats, Emerson, Steiner, are good examples of this trend of thought. Marxism also falls within this same group.

All of these movements, while quite different in their particulars, were born of the same apparent disconnection between the traditional religious rites and structures, and the simultaneous need to adapt to, and distaste of, the aggressive hyper-rationalism of the industrial revolution that was ongoing in the West and Japan at that time.

Like Omoto (and other Japanese "new religion" movements) these Western movements were highly creative in their use and selection of various historical antecedents to found their particular approach to the same essential problem. Like Omoto, these movements became involved in significant social controversies of their times, often incurring official wrath, and or proscriptions of various sorts.

I make this point to show that what is going on is larger than some unique aspect of Japanese religious culture. It is in fact a problem of modernity, apart from particular culture. Modernity is highly corrosive and quickly dissolves traditional cultures of all types. These movements are basically all cultural salvage missions, which goes far in explaining the fervor and energy of their adherents that is often difficult for the outsider to fathom otherwise.

I believe the impulse of Omoto, like these others, is in the right direction. However, in reaching for a universal solution to this universal problem they become too focused on appearances and particularities. In Omoto's case it may also involve trying to encompass too many particularities at one time. This accounts for the complexity of the Omoto theology, although it is a stretch I think to call it thus.

I would describe Omoto's theology, like that of many other such movements as synthetic, rather than syncretic. "Syncretism" is rooted in an historical incident in classical Western antiquity whereby the different factions of Crete found a way to bridge their differences and to unite against a common foe. Thus, a synthetic religion pieces together parts that fit some preconceived organizing principle. Syncretism is a more organic process and permits differing traditions to find the common threads that can bind them closer together, while simultaneously acknowledging their critical differences.

Sutra is a word for Buddhist scripture, but its meaning in Sanskrit is "thread," and is a direct cognate to the word "suture." There is a common thread of meaning that can be traced. It is a historical exercise as much as it is a topical exercise. Analogous principles and concepts are not uncommon even in wholly disconnected cultures, but when one finds such things that are both analogous as well showing they have a common source, and thus homologous, we have some real meat to chew upon.

Tendai, Shingon, and Jodo are all deeply connected with the Silk Road. Ch'an (Zen) is a more wholly Chinese creature with Taoist roots. That corridor created cultural interplay to both East and West over the span of some fourteen centuries. With the advent of substantial navigation contacts in the fifteenth century, and the abandonment by the Chinese of any similar significant efforts after the voyages of Zheng He, the Silk Road fell into relative decline as a cultural transmitter.

It is in these sources and the threads of relationship that can be followed from East to West, and from West to East, and ultimately through Shingon, Tendai, Jodo, Ryobu Shinto and Kokugaku Shinto, Omoto and to O-Sensei. Here is where I think a really useful effort lies.

Omoto is valuable in this area precisely because it picks up where the kokugaku (to which it is a reaction) leaves off and gathers together a great many of these threads. They are not always found in the most coherent order, however. The energetic hodgepodge that characterizes Onisaburo's writings, is a rich source to mine, which O-Sensei plainly appreciated, but it was desparately in need of thorough organic principles which betrays its synthetic nature.

This sense of a need for the syncretic approach is what brought Kukai and Saicho to China in the first place. He had finally abandoned attmepts to understand Buddhist teaching from the transmitted and several times translated sources available in Japan. So he went to the clearing house for Buddhist, Taoist and Christian writing in the early 9th century, Chang-An. They needed to study enough to put be able, not merely to transfer Chinese Buddism to Japan, but to find the aspects that would make Buddhism more thoroughly "of" Japan.

What Kukai came back with was the beginnings of Ryobu Shinto. This was the basis for Buddhism and Shinto to enjoy in Japan a near symbiotic relationship for nearly five hundred years. Ryobu Shinto was a true syncretisim. It permitted Buddhism to be comprehended in Shinto terms and Shinto to be understood in Buddhist terms without doing injury to either, and to the profit of both. Kami could be understood as various manifestations of the threefold (trikaya) Buddha nature. Buddhas and bodhisattvas could be placed in a proper functional role in the ranks of the eight myriads of kami.

True syncretisms have happened elsewhere and even in relation ot the concepts described here.

The Greek pagan metaphysical trinity, had earlier become associated into related concepts in the Buddhism of Hellenic Afghan Ghandara and the Christianity of the Hellenic Near East. This activity on the West end of the Silk Road has often been pointed to as the likely source of or instigation for the development of the soteric (savior) forms of Buddism seen in Jodo and other Maitreyan (Miroku) schools. The same kind of cross over influences are seen in Persian religion before Mohammed with the rise of Mithraic and other savior cults, as well as the Manicheans.

Belief in Maitreya, Buddha of the West, and his saving power to bring his people to his Pure Land, one step away from nirvana, itself is a neat inverse of the orthodox and Catholic teachings on Purgatory. The difference is really more of perspective, as they perform the same essential function in the economy of salvation. Buddism posited the original nature of Man as good, and which must be purified of acquired impurity to reach perfection. Christanity posited the nature of man as fallen and which must stripped of sin and made holy to be worthy of God's presence. Both the Pure Land and Purgatory are envisioned as places of temporary purification on the path toward the ultimate destiny.

The trikaya doctrine in Japan thus began to be interpreted in Shinto terms in association with the Kami of divine creation. The Dharmakaya, the Ultimate and Ineffable Reality, became associated with Ame no minakanushi no kami. = SU [kotodama] seed sound of creation= "Lord Deity of Heaven's Center." (And subsidiarily, in order to magnify the Imperial cult, with Amaterasu no omikami.)
Similarly, the Nirmankaya (or rupaya), the manifesting Buddha nature making up the phenomenal or physical world, is associated with Takamimusubi no kami. And Samboghakaya, the Buddha nature of the noumenal or spiritual functions of the world became associated with Kamimusubi no kami

At this point a suggestion of the modern possibilities of this type of project is in order.
The Nicene creed tracks this same shape rather closely "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen, …"
This is plainly part of a common Thread connecting to both Dharmakaya and
Amenominakanushi no kami "God Ruling the Center of Heaven."
Jesus, in the meaning of the Nicene Creed, is the manifesting of physical creation and ruler of the created order, "all that is seen" (Takamimusubi no kami, Nirmankaya)
Samboghakaya is the manifesting principle of the Spiritual realm : "all that is … unseen" which in the terms of the Nicene creed is the Holy Ghost.

Aikido is a modern tool for this kind of useful syncretism, precisely because our age has tended to abandon ritual and mythical symbolisms as tools for universal comprehension and teaching. It is my snes that Onisaburo was conscious of the limitiations of symbloic comprehension in the modernizing world. We are all too self-conscious of our social pressure to be "objective" and rational for that kind of conscious and yet intuitive approach to learning and understanding. An yet we still have these unsatisifed needs, we are just actively discouraged from talking about them except in these kinds of dispassionate and distanced tones.

Aikido does not offend any doctrine because it has none to contend. At the same time and without having to say anything about it, Aikido manifests all three of the threads I have pointed out. It is physically manifest (hoo-boy!). It is spiritually manifest, in how it affects us and our practice partners. And without doubt, O-Sensei intended it to point, like a finger to the moon, to a greater and ineffable truth.

And that is just what Onisaburo told O-Sensei he ought to do in pursuing the development of his art of Aikido, as she told others to do in their own respective fields.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

senshincenter 09-10-2005 02:06 AM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Well, thanks Erick for the post. I'm not sure of how it is all connected to the current discussion or the points you brought up earlier, but it was an effort I can appreciate.

I think my approach to history is a bit different from yours - we tend to be more local specific and we seem to have our reasons for that, etc. So as a result, we tend not to jump all over the map and/or time like this - so maybe the connection is there only I have not been so trained to see it. Apologies.

Again, thanks,
dmv

Erick Mead 09-11-2005 12:53 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Well, thanks Erick for the post. I'm not sure of how it is all connected to the current discussion or the points you brought up earlier, but it was an effort I can appreciate.

I think my approach to history is a bit different from yours - we tend to be more local specific and we seem to have our reasons for that, etc. So as a result, we tend not to jump all over the map and/or time like this - so maybe the connection is there only I have not been so trained to see it. Apologies.

Again, thanks,
dmv

The more local is history the more likely that its significance will be understood from a standpoint of exceptionalism. This risk is evidence in Japanese history, and even in the U.S. "manifest destiny" and similar colonialist, and some far worse, ideologies in Western Europe.

What was often ignored is the fact of continuing and important contacts between distant parts of the world from a very early time. These connections are often diminished or suppressed in order to indulge the collective ego exercise of cultural exceptionalism, in whatever nation it happens to rear its head.

I do not mean to deflect discussion of the particulars of Omoto and its place in creating preconditions for the transition away from State Shinto in post-War era Japan. But there is a larger picture to consider when looking at Omoto and its relationship to aikido. The the international presence of aikido across so many cultural boundaries compared with the seeming relegation of Omoto itself to its particular milieu of Japan, needs some observation and explaining, especially if we are acknowledge O-Sensei's sense of debt to Omoto in his creation of aikido.

The thrust of Omoto is its embracing of particular expressions of religion within a universal framework in order to better relate them to one another. This has been pursued in mythological terms
by Onisaburo's direct intellectual decendants wihtin Omoto. Mythological is not meant derogatorily; myth is extremely powerful, but also highly suspect as an explicit teaching mechanism in the modern world. It nevertheless survives with fervent abandon in the subversive elements of culture, Warner Brothers and other comics/cartoons come to mind, and various manga and anime in Japan.

O-Sensei pursued the same ideals as Omoto but using non-mythological tools. He was, evidently, successful. The scale and vigor of Aikido's spread thoughout the world over many cultural boundaries is testament to that success. Aikido is an antidote to exceptionalism, certainly of the personal ego trip, and potentially of much large type. O-Sensei clearly envisioned its purpose in these terms. We should do as much as possible to unbury the totality of legacy that aikido expresses.

Connections (musubi) exist between parts of the world from an early age. The destruction of musubi is, in terms of budo, the precondition of conflict. Creating musubi is the task of aikido, and it is made far easier by understanding the connections that already exist to be discovered, and those that once existed and may be reestablished.

Cordially,

Erick Mead

senshincenter 09-11-2005 03:44 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Hi Erick,

Thanks for writing.

LIke I said, these are different training methods in viewing history. From my school of thought, it is the lack of specificity that leads to the repressions and other political manipulations of information. As such, partly in an attempt to expose such efforts for what they are, we ask different questions, and as a result we get different answers.

For example, your larger perspective makes it seems like there is one type of Aikido - a practice that has existed without modification and that exists in the same shape or form wherever it is present throughout the world. Hence, you can say things like, "

senshincenter 09-11-2005 04:29 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
Sorry - here is the whole of my post:


Hi Erick, thanks for writing.


Like I said, these are different training methods in viewing history. From my school of thought, it is the lack of specificity that leads to the repressions and other political manipulations of information (i.e. fabricated beginnings, false continuities, etc.). As such, partly in an attempt to expose such efforts for what they are, folks from my camp ask different questions, and as a result, we get different answers.

For example, your larger perspective makes it seems like there is one type of Aikido - a practice that has existed without modification and that exists in the same shape wherever it is present throughout the world -- one traced to the Founder. It seems deny how contrary many styles of Aikido are to each other and how determined things are by the individual practitioner. It also seems to deny the numerous discontinuities that actually separate us from "The Founder." Hence, you can say things like, "Aikido is an antidote to exceptionalism," etc. From my perspective, no statement could be further from the truth. Moreover, when you say such things, you need to manufacture support for such claims, and hence you say things like, "Osensei pursued the same ideal as Omoto but using non-mythological tools." Again, from my perspective, nothing could be further from the truth.

In contrast to your perspective, if we look at things more specifically, we find that there is indeed no one thing called "Aikido." Moreover, we realize that the defining and/or describing of "Aikido" is actually a political game currently being played out -- one a historian is supposed to be reflective enough to not be suckered into playing right along with everyone else. Once we realize that "Aikido" does not exist as a single agreed upon event and/or practice, we are not only able to better record the relevant larger economy of power, we are better able to note those agents that seek to exchange one form of capital for another form of capital in the truth game of defining "Aikido." Since, Osensei (or one's understanding of "Osensei") is big capital in such a truth game, we can see how and why certain folks want to look at him in a certain way and measure these efforts against the accuracy of documents proven to be reliable. From here, we can with greatly clarity add to our self-reflective efforts to not be suckered in by the current political battles that are raging and thus produce ourselves histories that are more accurate. Alternatively, we can go on to study sociologically or politically the various moves that certain groups, or individuals who act in the name of a group, perform in their pursuit to understand "Osensei," "Aikido," etc.

When we do this, it becomes very strange (suspect) to suggest that Osensei in some way demythologized Aikido and/or the possible philosophies that underlie Aikido. From a local specific point of view, it is clear that Osensei did no such thing, nor attempted to do such thing. From a local specific point of view, it would have been impossible for Osensei to do this. From a local specific point of view, if there are today demythologized Aikidos out there, they are obviously the product of later folks who seek to legitimate their efforts by saying that they are only doing what Osensei already did. A more accurate form of history would see such statements for the political maneuvers that they indeed are -- truth games where social and cultural power is at stake.

Once you reach this point, we aren't so subject to the party line of one group in particular and thus better come to see that there are probably a whole lot of other more relevant reasons than the demythologization of Aikido (in certain areas, but individuals other than Osensei) for explaining how or why Aikido has spread throughout much of the modern world. When I said earlier that we are looking at history differently, this is exactly what I meant. I see us coming to different understandings regarding all of the things you have mentioned in your posts (e.g. Shingon, Shinto, Omoto, Aikido, Osensei, Japan, the Silk Road, etc.). For me, to go into why I choose not to look at history in the manner that you seem to opt for would be an immense project, but one can see here what I mean in this brief example I provided regarding "Aikido," "Osensei," the demythologization of Aikido, etc.

Indeed there are personal preferences to why we do one form of history over the other, and often both sides deem that "accuracy" is the primary motivator. However, when two perspectives are coming out with two contrary interpretations, while both can claim "accuracy," only one perspective can indeed be deemed "accurate." For me, you got a long road ahead of you in proving that Osensei sought to demythologize Aikido (and that it was not others like Kisshomaru, etc., who are primarily responsible for this departure from what Osensei did do -- which is speak with the voice of his personal culture, one that was saturated in mythological understandings), or that Aikido is spreading around the world because a single reason and/or even because of a single set of reasons. Etc. However, that is just my perspective, coming to me from my own slant on how to do History.

Thank you for your reply,
dmv

Misogi-no-Gyo 09-11-2005 05:49 PM

Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?
 
Hi David,

I wanted to address your recent post. However, while I may be putting forth questions with regards to your comments, I do not want in any way to make it seem that I am in support of Erick's point of view, which by and large I am not.

Quote:

David Valadez wrote:

For example, your larger perspective makes it seems like there is one type of Aikido - a practice that has existed without modification and that exists in the same shape wherever it is present throughout the world -- one traced to the Founder.

I ask this question over and over and really don't get a satisfactory answer (read: I get answers contrary to mine…) Do you believe that O-Sensei would be able to watch someone practice Aikido and say, "that is not aikido" My answer is a resounding yes, there are things that are not aikido. As an example, as many Daito-Ryu practitioners would have us believe, Aikido is just watered down, or a pared down practice of DRAJ. Of course, you and I do not really support that view. As such we believe that even if on the surface if a specific Aikido & DRAJ technique looks the same, in fact, one is Aikido and one is not. Therefore, is it not empirically logical to say that one is Aikido and the other (being DRAJ) is not. From there is it not plausible to say with some certainty that two Aikido dojos, while have Aikido in their name, may in fact also be doing different things, and for the sake of this argument, one of them is Aikido and the other is not…
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
It seems to deny how contrary many styles of Aikido are to each other and how determined things are by the individual practitioner.

Well, actually from my point of view it merely says that some people know what they are doing, and some do not. I dare not say which is which, but I do say that both are possible states of being. If someone watched a thousand hours of aikido videos and read 100 books in various languages, and yet had no interaction with any aikido teacher, is what he is practicing with his next door neighbor in his garage aikido because it looks like the aikido he saw in the pictures and videos? How does he even know what Aikido is, or that any of the individuals in the videos or books did not garner their understanding of the art in the exact same fashion as he - that being completely disconnected from the art.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
It also seems to deny the numerous discontinuities that actually separate us from "The Founder."

What separates most from the founder is their own ability to say, "Yeah, this is what the founder was doing, cause if I'm doing it, and I say it is Aikido, then it must be aikido…
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Moreover, when you say such things, you need to manufacture support for such claims,

Okay, I agree with your point here. I am going to use this below… noted as STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
In contrast to your perspective, if we look at things more specifically, we find that there is indeed no one thing called "Aikido."

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Moreover, we realize that the defining and/or describing of "Aikido" is actually a political game currently being played out -- one a historian is supposed to be reflective enough to not be suckered into playing right along with everyone else.

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Once we realize that "Aikido" does not exist as a single agreed upon event and/or practice, we are not only able to better record the relevant larger economy of power, we are better able to note those agents that seek to exchange one form of capital for another form of capital in the truth game of defining "Aikido."

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT Strong arguments are never based upon a point founded on incomplete data and inconclusive evidence. Since all of your subsequent arguments are based upon this point, they too appear to be very weak. Just as important, does your "historian" practice Aikido and did he happen to get all his information from books and videos?
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Since, Osensei (or one's understanding of "Osensei") is big capital in such a truth game, we can see how and why certain folks want to look at him in a certain way and measure these efforts against the accuracy of documents proven to be reliable.

Sure, I would agree with this to some extent, that being about 99.9 percent. However, do you not think that O-Sensei, might, and I just say might have actually given a few students his thoughts on the matter? Often it is hypothesized that because Kishomaru Doshu said this that or the other thing about his father that it must be so. I don't buy that in the least. It is a very weak argument at best. I look at what I know about my own father, someone whom I have always been close to, and in truth I know very little, especially about what happened in the three plus decades he lived before I was born. He also know much about my life, however there are many things that he does not know, things that my students who are with me most of the time don't know, and neither of them will ever know. However, friends of mine know these things because we discuss them casually. I am sure the friends of O-Sensei know much more about O-Sensei's thoughts and feelings than anyone within his various dojos or circle of martial influence.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
From here, we can with greatly clarity add to our self-reflective efforts to not be suckered in by the current political battles that are raging and thus produce ourselves histories that are more accurate.

Or less accurate on an increasingly exponential path.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
When we do this, it becomes very strange (suspect) to suggest that Osensei in some way demythologized Aikido and/or the possible philosophies that underlie Aikido.

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT I say that because I personally find it interesting (ridiculous and contradicting) when those who claim that O-Sensei didn't have a teaching methodology or that his lectures didn't make sense because they were based on various mythological, cultural, older-style Japanese (Chinese, Shingon, Buddhist…etc.) paradigms or other religious sources then go out to try and explain the very methodologies they say O-Sensei didn't have. When I asked Abe Sensei about this aspect of O-Sensei's teaching, and the individuals who proffer teaching methods based upon Myth, Mystery, and Mimicry he said, "If it sounds like the person explaining it to you doesn't understand what he was talking about, he doesn't." (Clarifying - that if he is merely repeating it in lecture form, but it is just repetitious academic reference material, walk away quickly as there is nothing to learn from such a person.)
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
From a local specific point of view, it is clear that Osensei did no such thing, nor attempted to do such thing.

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT This I do disagree with wholeheartedly. I do so based upon information that I have to prove otherwise. However at this time I will not support my own statement, but ask you how you can support such a statement without having consulted every possible individual living or dead that may have received opposing information.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
From a local specific point of view, it would have been impossible for Osensei to do this.

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT Again, read my above comments. I will say that while it would certainly be difficult from a cultural perspective for specific reasons, that it would be wholly possible to do so outside of the cultural paradigm. This is easy to envision like the way a person in the military must act when on duty versus off duty versus when on leave versus when he completes his service. He is always the same person, but acts according to a wide set of parameters based upon whichever circumstance he chooses for himself.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
From a local specific point of view, if there are today demythologized Aikidos out there, they are obviously the product of later folks who seek to legitimate their efforts by saying that they are only doing what Osensei already did.

STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT Again, I must disagree here as stated before. This is merely a revisionist's approach, something that historians are often guilty of and much less often than they should be, held to account for the damage they do to actual history.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
A more accurate form of history would see such statements for the political maneuvers that they indeed are -- truth games where social and cultural power is at stake.

While this may be 100 % accurate in 99.9% of the cases, it may not be so in 100% of them.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Once you reach this point, we aren't so subject to the party line of one group in particular and thus better come to see that there are probably a whole lot of other more relevant reasons than the demythologization of Aikido (in certain areas, but individuals other than Osensei) for explaining how or why Aikido has spread throughout much of the modern world.

Actually this is very easy to describe. When we look at Gendai budo versus Koryu budo we see a much larger group of practitioners of the former than the latter. Why? It is because it is always more difficult to keep something the same for a long period of time than it is to let it, encourage it or even force it to change during a much shorter period of time. Simply speaking, Mediocrity is a meal for the masses. The masses want things to come to them easy, and so they seek an art that appears to them to say "I can do whatever I like and call it Aikido" Try that B.S. at a Koryu dojo and see how long you get to stay.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
Indeed there are personal preferences to why we do one form of history over the other, and often both sides deem that "accuracy" is the primary motivator. However, when two perspectives are coming out with two contrary interpretations, while both can claim "accuracy," only one perspective can indeed be deemed "accurate."

I agree with what you say here, but obviously with conclusions that are 180 degrees out of sync with yours.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
For me, you got a long road ahead of you in proving that Osensei sought to demythologize Aikido (and that it was not others like Kisshomaru, etc., who are primarily responsible for this departure from what Osensei did do -- which is speak with the voice of his personal culture, one that was saturated in mythological understandings), or that Aikido is spreading around the world because a single reason and/or even because of a single set of reasons. Etc.

Like Erick, I too would have such a long road if either of us tried to prove such a thing on our own. Fortunately we do not have to do any such thing. I am not sure that Erick was even attempting to say that O-Sensei did such a thing, as from what I gathered he was merely another type of revisionist, the one that says we do not need to travel along the path O-Sensei traveled in order to come to the place O-Sensei ended up. As you might have guessed, I don't concur with that view of history, at least not lock, stack and barrel. My own opinion is that while we certainly don't need to travel exactly the same path, there are certain points along that path that must be visited, taken in and digested in order to understand what the next point along the path must be. I do believe that you fall somewhere in between Erick's and my view, but I could very well be mistaken.
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
However, that is just my perspective, coming to me from my own slant on how to do History.[/b]

Yes, this is clear to see. I for one would invite you to look at history from another place just for the opportunity it might give you to see something of high valuse that seemed not to be there before.

I look forward to any reply you (or Erick Mead for that matter) care to make with regards to my questions and comments.



.

senshincenter 09-11-2005 08:39 PM

Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
 
(This only seems long because I have pasted the whole of the original post and inserted my reply within - in short paragraphs.)


Hi Shaun,

Thank you for writing.


I will try and insert my replies:

You quoted: David Valadez wrote: For example, your larger perspective makes it seems like there is one type of Aikido - a practice that has existed without modification and that exists in the same shape wherever it is present throughout the world -- one traced to the Founder.

You wrote: I ask this question over and over and really don't get a satisfactory answer (read: I get answers contrary to mine…) Do you believe that O-Sensei would be able to watch someone practice Aikido and say, "that is not aikido" My answer is a resounding yes, there are things that are not aikido. As an example, as many Daito-Ryu practitioners would have us believe, Aikido is just watered down, or a pared down practice of DRAJ. Of course, you and I do not really support that view. As such we believe that even if on the surface if a specific Aikido & DRAJ technique looks the same, in fact, one is Aikido and one is not. Therefore, is it not empirically logical to say that one is Aikido and the other (being DRAJ) is not. From there is it not plausible to say with some certainty that two Aikido dojos, while have Aikido in their name, may in fact also be doing different things, and for the sake of this argument, one of them is Aikido and the other is not…

Reply: I can agree with this -- at a personal level. That is to say, for me, I believe what I do is Aikido. I believe this because I feel that I am doing Aikido. For those folks that do what I do, personally, naturally, I feel they do Aikido too. For those folks that do something close to what I do, I feel they do Aikido too, only I dismiss the notable differences to variations on a single theme (which I note by what I do). For folks that do not do anything close to what I do, I do not think they are doing Aikido -- even if they claim to be doing Aikido. For the latter, group, if I thought that they WERE doing Aikido, I would stop what I am doing and then do what they are doing, but then they would not be in this group at all -- rather they would fall into the first group. However, this is all purely subjective. The historian must seek to transcend his/her own subjectivity and thus his/her own limited point of view. This is the angle I am coming from.

From the historian's point of view, what is Aikido and what is not Aikido is still in the process of being decided -- and it will continue to be in this state of transition until it becomes extinct as a cultural tradition. A historian has to accept this, otherwise he or she will stop studying the tradition and actually merely become a part of it (by saying, as an authority, "This IS Aikido.")

When I practice my own Aikido, in my dojo, there are clear lines as to what is and is not Aikido. In many ways, by what we do in our dojo, for example, we are at odds even with the Aikikai Hombu. This is me studying Aikido as a practitioner -- as a single part of the continuing and ever changing history of Aikido. However, when I speak from the point of view of the historian, which is even the view I adopt when I speak with folks from outside of our dojo, I see my own take on Aikido as simply that: My own take on Aikido. In that sense, we are not at more odds with the Aikikai Hombu than they are with us or we are with anyone else. We are all really just a bunch of small parts that will one day help to define this tradition once and for all -- when it is dead and experiences itself entombed in the kind of museum death that now exhibits other martial arts from our human past.

In short, I agree with you, there is such a thing as an Aikido -- not everything is Aikido. Not everything that everyone calls Aikido is Aikido. However, from a historical point of view, what we should pull out of this is that there is no singular Aikido as a cultural phenomenon. There are only competing variations all playing the same game of trying to define what Aikido is and/or is not. Consequently, culturally, historically, Aikido as a singular entity only exists as an ideal that is utilized by competing groups to raise themselves above others or to lower others below them, etc.

You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
It seems to deny how contrary many styles of Aikido are to each other and how determined things are by the individual practitioner.

You wrote: Well, actually from my point of view it merely says that some people know what they are doing, and some do not. I dare not say which is which, but I do say that both are possible states of being. If someone watched a thousand hours of aikido videos and read 100 books in various languages, and yet had no interaction with any aikido teacher, is what he is practicing with his next door neighbor in his garage aikido because it looks like the aikido he saw in the pictures and videos? How does he even know what Aikido is, or that any of the individuals in the videos or books did not garner their understanding of the art in the exact same fashion as he - that being completely disconnected from the art.

Reply: Yes, of course we can ask such questions. And we should. You are right for doing so. Moreover, we can keep asking such questions -- such as: What if his/her Aikido teacher learned the art that way -- from books and videos? What is his/her teacher learned from the Founder but didn't really study with him all that much? What if his/her instructor learned from the Founder but did not really understand him? What if his/her instructor was more influenced by his other instructors than by the Founder? What if his instructor only dabbled in Aikido for much of his life and has sort of just come into a position of authority by some kind of social default? Etc. In addition, we can also ask: What does it mean to have an instructor? And, are those qualities truly being met? What does it mean to be a Founder? And, were those qualities really met? Etc. Can an art be learned by videos and books? Can it be learned without videos and books? Do all instructors provide better instruction than what is found in videos and books? Etc. This is what we do -- we do this as practitioners. After asking these kinds of questions, we try to satisfy them in as best a way we can, using our experience and our reason to the best of our abilities.

However, in seeking to answer them, in each of us seeking to answer them, we add to the cultural history of our art. We do this by speaking with specific discourses long considered legitimate by our tradition, and we do this by adopting particular outward appearances (e.g. symbols, icons, etc.) long associated with our tradition, etc. This is why on the surface we all look the same and we all sound the same. However, we are different underneath -- some of us our very different from each other. In other words, much of our likeness to each other is only superficial. This is something you note as well. You as a practitioner -- which I do as well -- opt to understand these things as a difference between those that know and those that do not know. As a historian, we see that this division that you and I may use as a practitioner is actually a play in the truth game of Aikido -- that ultimate cultural struggle that is made up of all of our individual struggles that make up our own practice. As a historian, when I say there is no single agree upon thing known as Aikido, I am referring to this ultimate cultural struggle that is not captured by the division between those that know and those that don't but that exists beyond it and because of it.


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
It also seems to deny the numerous discontinuities that actually separate us from "The Founder."

You wrote: What separates most from the founder is their own ability to say, "Yeah, this is what the founder was doing, cause if I'm doing it, and I say it is Aikido, then it must be aikido…

Reply: Indeed.


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
Moreover, when you say such things, you need to manufacture support for such claims,

You wrote: Okay, I agree with your point here. I am going to use this below… noted as STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT

You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
In contrast to your perspective, if we look at things more specifically, we find that there is indeed no one thing called "Aikido."

You wrote: STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT

You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
Moreover, we realize that the defining and/or describing of "Aikido" is actually a political game currently being played out -- one a historian is supposed to be reflective enough to not be suckered into playing right along with everyone else.

You wrote: STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT

You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
Once we realize that "Aikido" does not exist as a single agreed upon event and/or practice, we are not only able to better record the relevant larger economy of power, we are better able to note those agents that seek to exchange one form of capital for another form of capital in the truth game of defining "Aikido."

You wrote: STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT Strong arguments are never based upon a point founded on incomplete data and inconclusive evidence. Since all of your subsequent arguments are based upon this point, they too appear to be very weak. Just as important, does your "historian" practice Aikido and did he happen to get all his information from books and videos?

Reply: I am not sure I follow your many points here. Please be so kind as to explain further if you feel it is necessary. It seems you are suggesting that the statement (which is not an argument) I made could be used equally in my own case, as I had uttered in understanding Erick's case. However, a difference remains -- a strong difference: In my case, my statements are supportable by social and/or historical phenomena. In this sense, support is not so much needed, as it is available. Therefore, it does not have to be concocted by the historian as much as it has to be acknowledged by the historian. This was the main difference I was wishing to demonstrate with the using of this phrase you have quoted several times above.

As for your last line, asking if the historian practices Aikido, I would say that I do practice Aikido, but that as a historian I do not need to in order to understand Aikido as a cultural phenomenon. This is the bedrock of History as a field of science. For if it was not, we would never be able to understand any tradition from our past that is now extinct, and/or we would not be able to without holding the utterly false notion that things do not change through time (even against our best intentions).

You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
Since, Osensei (or one's understanding of "Osensei") is big capital in such a truth game, we can see how and why certain folks want to look at him in a certain way and measure these efforts against the accuracy of documents proven to be reliable.

You wrote: Sure, I would agree with this to some extent, that being about 99.9 percent. However, do you not think that O-Sensei, might, and I just say might have actually given a few students his thoughts on the matter? Often it is hypothesized that because Kishomaru Doshu said this that or the other thing about his father that it must be so. I don't buy that in the least. It is a very weak argument at best. I look at what I know about my own father, someone whom I have always been close to, and in truth I know very little, especially about what happened in the three plus decades he lived before I was born. He also know much about my life, however there are many things that he does not know, things that my students who are with me most of the time don't know, and neither of them will ever know. However, friends of mine know these things because we discuss them casually. I am sure the friends of O-Sensei know much more about O-Sensei's thoughts and feelings than anyone within his various dojos or circle of martial influence.

Reply: I would agree that this is quiet possible. However, even then, we should note, it would only be a part of the man. Moreover, while that part might be relevant to some things, it may not be relevant to the greatest (subjectively defined) things. Who can say, right? Life is so diverse, so complex, in the end, we all are who we are, and so those next to us must come to accept that when we part we will barely know each other. We of course must accept this in the reverse. If we learn that lesson sometime in our lifetime, though few of us do, maybe then we will not waste our days thinking we know each other when we do not really. For me, yes, this is life. And for that reason, this whole notion of the Founder, and of legitimacy gained through the Founder is a whole lot of hogwash when it comes to our individual practice. I am into tradition, but I am not traditionalistic. I personally like to work off the notion of "we are who we are" - which I consider to be more real.


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
From here, we can with greatly clarity add to our self-reflective efforts to not be suckered in by the current political battles that are raging and thus produce ourselves histories that are more accurate.

You wrote: Or less accurate on an increasingly exponential path.


Reply: I think on this point I will have to disagree. Self-reflection and a disinterest in the relevant political economies will always produce more objective truth than any method that attempts to carry on without these things.


(…)


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
From a local specific point of view, it is clear that Osensei did no such thing, nor attempted to do such thing.

You wrote: STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT This I do disagree with wholeheartedly. I do so based upon information that I have to prove otherwise. However at this time I will not support my own statement, but ask you how you can support such a statement without having consulted every possible individual living or dead that may have received opposing information.

Reply: History does not need to obtain the input of every possible witness in order to draw an accurate conclusion. After all, we do not even have to do that in a court of law when explaining something that happened just last week. The evidence I feel supports my take that Osensei did not seek to demythologize Aikido is twofold: First, there are his actual writings. They constantly make use of mythic themes and/or of a discourse that is using a thought that is grounded in an episteme of resemblance -- which is what marks most myths throughout the world and throughout human history. Second, there is the history of ideas, which suggests more that Osensei lived and experienced reality according to a Japanese culture that understood itself mythically. This same history of ideas puts the demythologizing of Japanese culture either after Osensei's life or near the end of his life (after his thought was already well-formulated regarding what he was saying, doing, and thinking).


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
From a local specific point of view, it would have been impossible for Osensei to do this.

You wrote: STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT Again, read my above comments. I will say that while it would certainly be difficult from a cultural perspective for specific reasons, that it would be wholly possible to do so outside of the cultural paradigm. This is easy to envision like the way a person in the military must act when on duty versus off duty versus when on leave versus when he completes his service. He is always the same person, but acts according to a wide set of parameters based upon whichever circumstance he chooses for himself.

Reply: I can agree with what you are saying here in regards to the example you raise. However, what I am suggesting is that it would be impossible for Osensei to speak or think with the now dominant episteme that marks the modern age because for all intents and purposes he was from the preceding age (of thought), when the episteme of resemblance was the dominant way of thinking and acting, etc. In short, Osensei never would have felt he would have had to demythologize anything -- which is what his lectures (which we can hear now on many recordings) and his writings demonstrate. He never would have considered that he might not be making sense and/or that he might not be offering a discourse that could address the multitudes that would eventually practice his art. That kind of thought is from a later age. Osensei lived during a time of transition, from one age of thought to another age of thought, but he was clearly one of the "dinosaurs" that fell on the side of extinction when his culture made the transition from the episteme of resemblance to the modern one.

If Osensei's thought has now been demythologized in certain areas of Aikido praxis, it is from the efforts of others that were more in line with the modern episteme. I am not saying this is a bad thing or even that it is unneeded. Personally, I consider this all good, but the history of ideas would not support the view that Osensei was into demythologization any more than it would support the view that Greeks did not believe in their myths because we see the seeds of modern democracy in their culture (for example).


You quote: David Valadez wrote:
From a local specific point of view, if there are today demythologized Aikidos out there, they are obviously the product of later folks who seek to legitimate their efforts by saying that they are only doing what Osensei already did.

You wrote: STATEMENT CLEARLY NEEDS SUPPORT Again, I must disagree here as stated before. This is merely a revisionist's approach, something that historians are often guilty of and much less often than they should be, held to account for the damage they do to actual history.

Reply: I feel my reply can be seen in the reply above. I guess at this point the ball is in your court. Before I would ever feel like I was being revisionistic and/or contributing to some damage being done to Aikido history, I would ask you to explain all of the mythic themes and/or the use of the episteme of resemblance (which I said marks mythical thought) in the lectures and writings of Osensei. Another historian might also hold you up to your own standard of talking to every other person that was ever present at such talks, etc. I will not however. Though I would be very interested in how you would address the History of Ideas - as it has connected the demythologization of thought to the modern era and Japan during this time to not quite being "modern."

You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
A more accurate form of history would see such statements for the political maneuvers that they indeed are -- truth games where social and cultural power is at stake.

You wrote: While this may be 100 % accurate in 99.9% of the cases, it may not be so in 100% of them.

Reply: Yeah, I think we are going to have to disagree on this -- for the reasons I gave up above regarding a similar point.


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
Once you reach this point, we aren't so subject to the party line of one group in particular and thus better come to see that there are probably a whole lot of other more relevant reasons than the demythologization of Aikido (in certain areas, but individuals other than Osensei) for explaining how or why Aikido has spread throughout much of the modern world.

You wrote: Actually this is very easy to describe. When we look at Gendai budo versus Koryu budo we see a much larger group of practitioners of the former than the latter. Why? It is because it is always more difficult to keep something the same for a long period of time than it is to let it, encourage it or even force it to change during a much shorter period of time. Simply speaking, Mediocrity is a meal for the masses. The masses want things to come to them easy, and so they seek an art that appears to them to say "I can do whatever I like and call it Aikido" Try that B.S. at a Koryu dojo and see how long you get to stay.

Reply: Undoubtedly, this would be related. I agree -- as this is one of the things I refer to when I used the phrase "modern world" -- addressing the needs of the masses.


(…)


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
For me, you got a long road ahead of you in proving that Osensei sought to demythologize Aikido (and that it was not others like Kisshomaru, etc., who are primarily responsible for this departure from what Osensei did do -- which is speak with the voice of his personal culture, one that was saturated in mythological understandings), or that Aikido is spreading around the world because a single reason and/or even because of a single set of reasons. Etc.

You wrote: Like Erick, I too would have such a long road if either of us tried to prove such a thing on our own. Fortunately we do not have to do any such thing. I am not sure that Erick was even attempting to say that O-Sensei did such a thing, as from what I gathered he was merely another type of revisionist, the one that says we do not need to travel along the path O-Sensei traveled in order to come to the place O-Sensei ended up. As you might have guessed, I don't concur with that view of history, at least not lock, stack and barrel. My own opinion is that while we certainly don't need to travel exactly the same path, there are certain points along that path that must be visited, taken in and digested in order to understand what the next point along the path must be. I do believe that you fall somewhere in between Erick's and my view, but I could very well be mistaken.

Reply: I am not sure Erick has tried to address this point at all -- of how close we have to get to Osensei's exact path. So I do not think we really can speak for him. For me, however, I would say that I am in 100% agreement with your position: That while we do not have to travel exactly the same path, there are certain points along that path that must be visited, taken in, and digested in order to understand what the next point along the path must be. I am sensing that our only disagreement here is that you feel (I am assuming based upon what your teacher has told you, etc.) Osensei consciously not only distanced himself from Omoto-kyo socially but also epistemologically. As a result, you feel that he, for very good reasons, sought to demythologize Aikido and/or Omoto-kyo theology. While I feel that demythologization is a good thing, a thing we can and should do in regards to Osensei's thought as it is related to our own individual practice, I do not attribute any such actions to the Founder. More accurately, I do not feel that Osensei made any attempts to make his message more universal than Omoto-kyo already made (which he witnessed and studied and then applied) to make its own message more universal. However, most significantly, I do not at all feel that we need to have Osensei demythologize Omoto-kyo theology and/or his own discourse (assuming that such a thing existed outside of Omoto-kyo theology -- regarding the writings and lectures in question) before we do this one very good thing and very necessary thing for ourselves in our own practice. So really, my "disagreement" with your position is not at all that strong and comes only from an academic point of view.


You quoted: David Valadez wrote:
However, that is just my perspective, coming to me from my own slant on how to do History.

You wrote: Yes, this is clear to see. I for one would invite you to look at history from another place just for the opportunity it might give you to see something of high value that seemed not to be there before.

Reply: I think we as historians do this naturally or we cannot really be historians. So I am always open to this. For that reason, I would dearly love to have you write that history regarding Osensei's attempts to demythologize his own discourse. It would be very interesting, and, as I said, while it may only affect some (perhaps very little) of the Aikido world, it would radically change what we think we know about the History of Ideas -- that entire field of historiography would perhaps be under pressure to change forever. That would be quite a feat, and that would be a feat I would always be interested in learning about.

I realize that that is a big task, so please do not feel that I am challenging you to such a task. I am merely trying to encourage you to take on such a task, by revealing to you my heart-felt interest. That history, written by you, would be well worth reading in my opinion -- regardless of what it affect it might have on the whole of Aikido. So I am in complete understanding if you must opt to pass on this request at this time. I only ask that you offer the same understanding if I hold changing my final judgment until more such information comes my way, and that the holding of changing my final judgment is not perceived as a blindness brought about by my own academic stubbornness or ignorance. Please/thanks.

As always, kindest regards,
dmv


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