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Old 09-13-2005, 04:18 PM   #40
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

David Valadez wrote:
I understand the problem of stacking inferences
What was problematic, rather, was exactly what I said: That you are going backwards in time in your reasoning. You are looking at the present time, seeing a unified Aikido in the sense of it being demythologized, and then attributing that (hardly supportable) interpretation of Aikido to the designs of Osensei.
The points I have made are not post-hoc fallacies either. He said things he said; he did (or omitted to do) the things he did or omitted. The statements and actions together evidence an intent that supports my position for at least one valid forensic methodology, if not all.

I think your other observations are more on point, however, and get to the heart of the matter. The point, after all, is what we do now, and whether it is in keeping with the teaching we have been entrusted to maintain.

David Valadez wrote:
As I said before, I feel these differences are really centered on one or two elements in your position that simply cannot be supported historically. THE MAIN ONES TO NOTE ARE THESE:

- There is a difference between demythologizing something (which IS what you first said and IS what I first -- and have only - had a contention with) and saying that we do not need to practice or know Omoto-kyo theology in order to do Aikido.

- There is also a difference between Osensei demythologizing Aikido and/or Omoto-kyo theology and he not feeling that we have to practice Omoto-kyo and/or any of their other traditions and/or practices he himself practiced.
A predicate needs discussing, and that is one of human nature. It is my position that human beings mythologize to the same degree that they use tools. We chip stone and fashion metal and we tell stories to make sense of what we may have done or regret doing.

When I speak of demythologizing something it is only the clearing of deadwood, because it will be re-mythologized in short order. That is the source of my heads/tails observation. The foolish, "demigod" crowd touting magical stories of O-Sensei's invulnerability and war time exploits are a perfect example of this process in the last two decades.

"Dewatering" means causing there to be less water in the ground not no water in the ground. I propose that O-Sensei demythologized aikido, to reduce the operation of that content. He did not suck it dry of all mythological significance or possible connections. By purifying it, minimlaizing it it made the possibility fo greater and more numerous connectison than there would have been without that effort in its development.

This is process is equally evident in science, where despite an unstated pretension to rise above the human nature, mythology prevails equally. A prevailing view in a field will hold on for a time quite well past the loss of evidence for it. Science incorporates its own system of meta-rules about how to redress such a state of affairs. It is the experimental testing of falsifiable, material statements. Law and history operate in different forensic arenas but similar meta-rules can be found in both.

Mythology establishes tradition, which is important to stability, but after a time, accretions can be deadly to integrity. Without a means to clear the decks of the increasing elaborations, the identiy of the core mesage can be lost.

O Sensei's emphasis on the ontological significance of physical practice is this meta-rule for aikido, that strips away the accretion of particularized ideations and gets back the essential of spirit and body in one concert.

"The only thing I do is leave everything to God's will and give birth to techniques according to the divine law of the creation of islands and deities. Thus, all my techniques are purification (misogi)."
Takemusu Aiki (lectures), Sonoko Tanaka , tr., See Aikido Journal # 118, Fall/Winter 1999

David Valadez wrote:
Now, is it a transcendence of one's theology when one allows for inclusiveness and/or universality if one's theology is itself a message of inclusiveness and/or universality?
This almost posits O-Sensei as the anti-Groucho Marx, who famously said he would not join a club that would have him as a member. I have images of eyeglasses and mustaches adorning the kamidana.

David Valadez wrote:
That is the question to ask as far as determining whether Osensei did or did not teach Omoto-kyo theology and/or base his understandings of Aikido on said theology. It is also the question to ask if one is seeking to determine the basis under which folks were not "required" to learn Omoto-kyo theology, etc. For me, it is Omoto-kyo theology to not have one pressed into learning Omoto-kyo theology.
There is no need for determinaton on the first point. He did base it, in part from what he learned in Omoto. But Omoto while eclectic, is not so without boundaries that it cannot be distinguished from more conventional Ryobu Shinto, however much Omoto may owe to the predecessor.

In the "Divine Signposts," Part 1, Ch. 2., Onisaburo posits the one-four-three-eight revelation that remarkably corresponds to aspects of the Christian trinity, and the Buddhist trikaya and esoteric systems from both faiths:

"85. God is one only. He is the holy God, without beginning and without end.
86. In the universe there exists nothing other than these three elements: spirit, power and body.
87. By spirit is meant God. The human soul, too, is part of God.
88. By power is meant motive power. The movement of the sky and the earth and the changes of the
seasons, are all the power of God.
89. God divided His spirit, power and body and created all things in such a way that He created first the
body and later gave to it power and spirit.
90. By body is meant matter. The body of God consists of three functions, which can be named solidity,
softness and fluidity. These three comprise the Divine body.
91. Spirit consists of four distinctive qualities: activity, harmony, love and wisdom. These four comprise
the complete Divine spirit.
92. The human soul, too, is endowed with these four divine qualities.
93. Although human beings are endowed with these four workings, they make their souls impure and
degenerate into devils. Whose fault is this?
94. The power of God has eight functions, otherwise called the "eight powers". This is called "the
complete power of God":
1. Power of movement
2. Power of rest

3. Power of dissolution
4. Power of coagulation

5. Power of tension
6. Power of relaxation

7. Power of combination
8. Power of separation"

A Christian would find little of substance to object to in these statements, although it might be expressed in a different anaytical convention. So, is Omoto distinguishable from Christian theology in any meaningful way at this root level? Omoto is also hardly distinguishable from the ryobu shinto syncretic expression of these same basic points. JIgohei Tanaka plainly sees shinto as a complement not an antagonist of Christian teaching. Clearly, when we get to the level of soteric function and redemptive processes we see some of these far more critical differences. But did O-Sensei adopt any of these more idiosyncratic elements of Omoto in the development of Aikido? I find no evidence of it.

And at what level do we define a difference of meaning, and on what criteria? Is a proposed difference merely the product of the analytical convention, which the quoted Omoto material would plainly support, or is it a real, substantive conflict?

The same question then arises whether O-Sensei's teaching differs from Omoto and then at what level do we determine the difference. If as I suggest, he was operating at the level I have generally identified, his teaching is little at odds with Omoto as it is with Christianity or Buddhism. In terms of his adoption of Omoto's teaching into his own Ichirei-Shikon-Sangen-Hachiriki is among the most explicit Omoto legacies. Izu/Misu, the trinitarian Amenominakanushi and the two musubi deities all are nearly indistinguishable from Ryobu shinto and are hardly even remarkable even in kokugaku, which would add only their own parochial take on Amaterasu omikami.

The development of O-Sensei's thought along the lines described in his Takemusu Aiki lectrues makes the objection largely a distinction without a difference. He sees the significance of his effort in cosmic terms, but does not depend upon his students seeing it for his work to be continued through them.

The only question for us lies in the work, "Is it worth doing?" All else is tossing slippery names back and forth.

"No matter what name you assign or change, it only means that a human being changes or assigns a name. From my point of view, aiki is a great purification, a wonderful, healthy method, and a Grand Way to bear and cultivate all things in nature. Therefore, I know that takemusu aiki, as one flow of the world, is the Way to serve the Supreme Truth which fosters and protects the World of Universal activities." from Takemusu Aiki (lectures), Sonoko Tanaka , tr., See Aikido Journal # 118, Fall/Winter 1999

David Valadez wrote:
This secularization, in my opinion, is very much related to the discontinuity of the demythologization of Aikido -- as demythologization and secularization tend to always have a close relationship.
Again, thanks for the discussion,

I agree that secularization is occurring, but it is being subsumed about as fast by the re-religioning. I do not think that the issue is as ipso facto as that. Demythologization is distinct from secularization. After all, Protestantism was the demythologization movement toward Catholicism. Then the Counter-Reformation was provoked. Now Catholics are the majority group of Christians on the planet, superseding even the Orthodox of all stripes.

The feedback mechanisms purify, misogi creates a healthy body, whether individual or social.

Erick Mead
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