Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
- On the issue of Aikido relativism:
To be clear, it is not that I would say that everyone has to be doing the same Aikido or even that only one Aikido exists, can exist, or should exist. As I said, from an objective point of view, there are many Aikidos and one either has to ignore that there are many takes on what Aikido is or is not OR one has to adopt a completely unfounded position of authority and then the gall to go around and point a finger so as to say, "you are doing Aikido," "you are not doing Aikido," if one wants to deny this social fact.
However, subjectively, we do not live like this -- we ourselves do not practice many Aikidos. We practice what we consider to be Aikido and we mark this as different from any will or capacity to practice everything that has ever been called Aikido by anyone or that has been understood to be Aikido by anyone. In short, in our own practice, we do not practice just anything, nor do we seek to (nor can we) practice everything. Our own practice is made up of judgments, decisions, etc., and thus it consists as much of rejections as it does of acceptances.
The short of it is this: As much as we can understand that there are many Aikidos (i.e. many understandings of what Aikido is or is not), we must understand that our own version is not universal in light of this multitude. For this reason, we can note the great multitude that makes up Aikido as a cultural phenomenon. At the same time we can be reflective enough to know that our own Aikido is just one take of many -- knowing that there are things we have rejected in the practice of our own Aikido, that these rejections are there by the very nature of accepting the things we have opted to include in our practice. We can thus say what is and is not Aikido according to our own subjectivity, knowing that by someone else's subjectivity our own Aikido is likely to be rejected as such. However, by understanding the larger objective sense of all these individual struggles/practices, we can remain wise enough, and thus compassionate enough, to feel strongly about what we do while not acting toward another who does something differently than us in a manner that is lacking in moral virtue.
- On the manner of Osensei demythologizing Aikido:
Erick, I think you need to make a distinction between these two phrases:
"Osensei demythologized Aikido/Omoto-kyo." (or any variation of this phrase)
"Aikido can be demythologized." (or any variation of this phrase)
My position is with the latter. You first seemed to be saying the former phrase, but then later you have moved slightly toward the second phrase. However, these phrases are very different in meaning and it is the first phrase that I suggested is not supported by current historical research (acknowledging that Shaun has said that there is a history out there yet to be known by everyone).
For me, when you say the following, you cannot go on to say that Osensei demythologized Aikido/Omoto-kyo, etc.:
"It is undeniable that O-Sensei spoke freely about his own understandings of the cosmological and psychological principles underlying aikido, and that these were from traditional sources, given his own idiosyncratic interpretation framed by his Omoto experience, and colored by explicit early Shingon teaching as a child…It is equally undeniable that virtually none of his first line student had any of the necessary background in such matters to thoroughly understand what he was saying. They largely did not see its significance to their practice, much less to try to convey to others in turn. It is, in fact, from the third and fourth order students that detailed interest in such things has been awakened, and not from his direct students."
When you acknowledge all of this, you can only speak of the demythologization of Aikido as either a philosophical potential or as a historical act carried out by others. It is not an act that can be attributed to Osensei -- which was what was at issue here -- (currently) that data is not there to support such a view of agency. We can thus only go with the second phrase, "Aikido can be demythologized" -- which I agree with and even recommend.
- As to Mark's charge of "grass is green:"
I will have to side with Shaun here when he states that such information is really for one's students. I do not say this to mean that such knowledge is hidden and kept from others, etc., for whatever reason, etc., but rather that such teachings are better understood through the daily ins and outs of actual mentorship, training, etc. This was the same way I replied to Shaun when he asked me "How?" - how should one address the developing of a sense of shame via one's training, etc. Therefore, I still do not feel that I can at this time or via this medium go into "How?" -- as in many ways, such a question contradicts and/or subverts the entire process (e.g. by having us think linearly, or having us plagued by notions of attainment and/or of progress, or having us think outside of an actual practice, etc.). Still, if one wanted to have a better idea of what I might be referring to, outside of actually training at our dojo, Senshin Center (where all are welcome, of course), one can easily go to our web site and get a better than average view of what we do, and why we do it, just by reading the all the writings and watching all the videos.
That said, I think I can still give you an answer if you do not press me into trying to answer "How?" in too detailed a fashion. Small "Hows?" I might be able to answer here should you request of me to do so in a follow-up reply.
For me, after a level of basic acquirement (e.g. physical fitness, body/mind coordination, discipline, commitment, endurance, DAILY practice, etc.) Aikido training should be marked by the following (not necessarily listed in sequential order but to be understood interdependently):
- A reconciliation of Pride, Ignorance, and Fear
- A cultivation of Humility/Selflessnes, Wisdom/Truth, and Love/Compassion
- A cultivation of a capacity for Non-Attachment
- A cultivation of a capacity for a detachment from Materialism
- A reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy/spontaneous expression of the above reconciliations/cultivations
This is how I have chosen in my dojo to demythologize Aikido. For me, in our dojo, these are the "steps" we should see in our training. If we do not see these "steps" in our training, we are still in the process of waiting to train (which is a stage we all must go through, according to our understanding) -- not quite training yet (even if we are on the mat working out, etc.)
Hope this explains a bit more. Feel free to ask for more information if you feel it might help, etc.