Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
Thanks again for continuing the discussion.
Usually, when the subject of Christiantiy comes up in this context I find that we tend to get wrapped up in a naming problem. For this reason it is important to distinguish the things we affirm by naming them correctly and things we affirm by doing them correctly. Affirmance is the key, not the mode or means of its expression.
Names, like so many things, have an omote (front) side and an ura (back or hidden) side. Names are powerful, and for this reason we have to be very careful. Names are troubling because they often hide as much as they reveal. Names are not the reality that they point to.
I affirm orthodox understandings of the requirements of salvation. But the line of discussion about identifying names, classifying their power and meaning is the Cartesian mode. Aikido is a different mode of understanding and of expression of that understanding, not necessarily better or worse, but different.
In a Cartesian mode we deal with what we consciously affirm in our thoughts and statements to the exclusion of other aspects of human existence and comprehension.
But thinking is not doing, and doing is important.
What we do is as much an expression of our belief as what we think or say. This is not to say that works have salvific merit in and of themselves themselves, but that actions are as expressive, perhaps more so, of true belief than mere thoughts or statements. Matt. 7:21-22 is a good starting point on that line of inquiry.
Aikido is not explicitly about salvation, but about peace. However it may be understood by Christians, I have attempted to assess the common ground of understanding about how we may usefully act in this world toward one another, for which Aikido teaches much practical, as well as spiritual wisdom.
Put in more orthodox terms, Aikido is not the Peace of Christ, it is a vessel that God's grace has called into being, in which we are able to receive and store up that peace He has poured out for us, and to enable us to pass that peace on to others in turn.
The power of understanding in action rather than in thought is to dispense with names. Whether we name it in Christian orthodox terms or not, as above or otherwise, that wisdom exists in this world. It is equally available according to the names that God's grace has given them to understand for devout Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or othwerwise, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or anyone else for that matter.
Andre Nocquet, a prominent Shihan in Europe, whom I have earlier quoted in another thread here, recounted his time as uchi deshi with O Sensei in the 50's and this discussion when Nocquet explicitly questioned his Christian faith:
"Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect."
" I asked him one day if there wasn't a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my Aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian."
"Then I asked, "Sensei should I remain a Christian?" He replied,
"Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian." If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost."
G.R. Erick Mead