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.
David Valadez wrote:
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.
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))
four souls (cardinal directions, i.e -- the whole world; the four living creatures)
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?