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Old 09-12-2005, 02:14 AM   #28
Misogi-no-Gyo
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comments and your participation in this very good thread. I will try to add my thoughts to yours, and address any questions you put forth. I giving some clarification to my previous remarks add something to the thread and moves your thoughts along if at all possible.
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Mark Murray wrote:
My Reply: I would have to disagree to a certain extent here. While those who practice Aikido in one way, others may practice Aikido in another way. The two may not overlap in their teaching methodologies nor their curriculum, but the two can be Aikido. As the founder knew when he gave his blessing to several people to go out and teach their Aikido. Tomiki style is definitely not the same as Tohei style, yet both were and are acceptable. I think this is from Yagyu Munenori - "To reach a house you must first enter the gate. Learning is a gate, the way to a house. Do not mistake the gate for the house." Each dojo is merely a gate. The training merely a gate, but the destination is Aikido. Just because training looks different from what one is doing, doesn't mean the path won't take you to Aikido.
Mark, I agree with everything that you wrote, completely actually. However, many gates will, in fact lead you to the wrong house. Of course, this can't be judged by looking at the gate, or even at the house, as some houses on the same block may be exactly the same. As you have said, there is no way of knowing which until you get all the way in and see the familiar face of the family member you are there to see.
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Mark Murray wrote:
My reply: I don't believe you have to travel Osensei's exact path, but saying that there are points along the path that must be visited, is like saying that grass is green. Every art has these "points along the path that must be visited", no matter what art it is. Could either one of you, or both, address that issue in more specific terms?
Sure, thanks for asking... I would say that while each art has points along a path, I don't believe that they are the same points. I do not relegate Aikido to a simple physical activity as I so often read other's comments so indicating. Aikido is not dancing, golf or race car driving, and I have heard it compared to these things on many occasions. On a very simple level what I mean by that is that with the latter endeavors, while one may use them or study them in whatever capacity or for whatever reason they may see fit, and while they may grow as individuals on physical, mental emotional and even a spiritual level, there is something inherent to understanding aikido that is not part of those other practices. My own personal view on what that might be is not germane to this thread, and I reserve them for my private students.
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Mark Murray wrote:
Personally, I believe that you don't have to be part of Omoto-kyo to gain understanding of Aikido. However, I do believe that if you are to progress to the higher levels, that you must have some understanding of spirituality. That you must progress to a place where you know without knowing how or why, just that you know.
I agree with you 100% here. However it is how and why one achieves those goals that may separate our individual perspectives. I do not know what you might say, but to expand the thread, how do you believe one achieves this? As for me, I have in mind a very specific route on a physical plane to achieve a very specific goal along a spiritual one.
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Mark Murray wrote:
There are many examples of this in Budo where a martial artist knew what his opponent's attack was even before the opponent attacked. I believe that if you train long enough, you can become very proficient in Aikido.
As for me, while typically share these thoughts with my private students, I will offer one glimpse of my personal view, and that is to say that I do not believe if one merely participates with a sincere heart, or practices with intensity, or maintains any other type of linear performance for some extended period of time that they are guaranteed any modicum of success at understanding O-Sensei's Aikido. While those things are a bare minimum in that pursuit, there are many other things involved that one's own teacher can't even give you, teach you or otherwise. In actuality I believe that they are in 99% of the cases wasting their time. Not that they will not benefit from their practice in many ways or that other people within their circle (friends& family, fellow students or their own students should they eventually teach) will not benefit from their practice, merely that they will never discover Aikido as O-Sensei meant it.
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Mark Murray wrote:
But you won't reach any higher than that unless you add the spiritual aspect.
Well I am not sure what you mean here. Should we put hope or even faith in the mere coincidence that two aikidoka, Sam and Mary, Sam seeking his spirituality from Zazen and Mary seeking it from piercings and tattoos that either will eventually manage to trip over the answer? Many people feel that their religion gives them spirituality, but I would say that is most often the exception, not the rule.
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Mark Murray wrote:
I don't think Osensei spoke about this because of the time period he lived in. A lot of his peers went through much the same training and life that he did. There were very good martial artists who attained a level of physical prowess and spiritual prowess. I believe that's why Osensei never talked about having to join Omoto-kyo as part of Aikido. I believe he understood that each martial artist takes his/her own path in that area.
With regards to your last point, please see my comments above.
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Mark Murray wrote:
In that, I believe there are points along the path. From what I've seen and from the people I've talked to, shodan ranking is one of those points. It's a pinnacle where one starts to see Aikido in a new light and begins to understand things on a different level. Although that level is still mostly physical training related.
Hmmm, well the points which I have mentioned are not points along a linear path, for those are too easy to reach and become predictable merely with time spent in the art. Many people know nothing about aikido at Shodan. I have met Godan that couldn't do tenkan when I grabbed their wrist. As for what they have learned or have yet to learn on a spiritual level, one can only guess. It is unfortunately predictable that these same shodan if they continue to practice for a long time will reach Godan and the Godan in question will reach Shihan and be accountable for hundreds if not thousands of Aikido students, Go figure.
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Mark Murray wrote:
I also believe the yondan level is another point. That's an area where one starts to catch sen sen no sen timing and that is the start of knowing without knowing.
DANGER!!! I have never met anyone who used the term sen sen no sen timing actually know anything about it to the point that they could demonstrate it effectively against even a low level attack. That is not to say it is not an important aspect of one's training, only that those whom I have seen demonstrate it at a high level never, ever use the term in English anyway…
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Mark Murray wrote:
I don't believe that spirituality plays an important part in Aikido until some time after shodan level.
This is the only point that I would caution anyone against adopting for themselves or advocating for others. My own personal path has always been a spiritual one. It is that very fact that when I first saw Aikido I understood it to be a spiritual path that I must seek out. When I had the opportunity to look deeply at the practice O-Sensei passed on, it was long before I was able to achieve Shodan which was more than six years later. It was my unwavering penchant to shake the tree that bore me the fruit which I now seek to consume and from which I seek to take sustenance.
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Mark Murray wrote:
While it may start there, it slowly progresses to playing a more vital role as one climbs in rank. And one can certainly avoid spirituality and achieve a purely physically proficiency and gain higher ranks. But others who add spirituality will progress beyond that point. My opinion anyway.
I am sure that your mention of rank is not to indicate that two individuals both sincerely interested in assimilating spirituality into their practice will do so in a linear fashion proportional to their rank. My own view is (and this is not to say that your view is contrary) that it never matters what one's rank is, nor if one is a higher rank today than yesterday. Thus, spirituality can not be any more important tomorrow than it already is (or should already be) today. It also is important to note that spirituality has about as much to do with technical ability as technical ability has to do with spirituality, as while they may overlap at some point the two are (in 99.9% of the people) unfortunately mutually exclusive.



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