Re: Poll: Should religion play a part in an aikido curriculum?
Religion should have very little to do with Aikido. Religion typically serves to separate people over large issues as well as minute details or interpretations that often start wars. The Crusades were a result of religion, as was the Spanish Inquisition. A lot of terrorism is inspired by religion. The list of religion inspired crimes essentially goes on forever.
As it is religion has far too large a part in our social affairs and government. I live in Saint Louis where this Archbishop Burke is a leader in this whole practice of denying communion to people who vote pro-choice. (Not to offend anyone however one of my favorite t-shirts says "Jesus was a liberal Jew. thats actually true) I find that religion is often not beneficial and I believe it has no place in an Aikido dojo. That said there are more peaceful religions such as Buddhism however my impression of Buddhists is that they would not be very adamant about bringing their religion into the dojo.
In Aikido we seek answers and try to achieve goals of being more peaceful and knowledgeable. Oftentimes religion seeks to answer complex questions with simple answers. This is essentially a method of control. Politicians use the same tactics with short overused sound bytes such as: "we need to stop frivilous lawsuits" and "Kerry's a flip-flop" or "Kerry's the lesser of two evils". I had a long list, but it escapes me now. Im sure you alll know of some though. These are simple answers to complex problems that require serious thought and plannign to overcome yet politicians convince people that there is a simple answer. Many religions do just this, they answer complex questions that are hard to explain or unknown with a simple sound clip about how a mysterious powerful being up in the sky made it that way. To do implement this system in Aikido in my opinion would be contrary to the nature of the art. If we seek to become more enlightened per se, then in general religion must not be incorporated. It can repress thought and when it doesnt it can serve to separate people.
Aikido can be spiritual however. I find many aspects of Aikido to be meditative in a way and this for me is spiritual. Spirituality is a kind of personal growth or improvement whereas a lot of times religion is following a set of beliefs meant to control large groups of people.
If you arent easily offended, I highly reccomend George Carlin's bit on religion. Its hilarious and true.