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Old 09-13-2005, 06:23 PM   #41
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Erick,

Thanks again for writing.

It is not that the points in your position are post-hoc, it is that your position makes use of notions regarding time and the passage of time (regarding human culture) that allows you to see the present in the past -- which allows you to travel from the present to the past in your method. There are these grand underlying theories to your methodology that by today's standards show no reflexology regarding the point of view of the observer -- in this case you. It is these grand theories that allow you to connect things across time and across space (which I mentioned before) and that thus allow you to see the present in the past. This type of methodology has been under serious critique since the late 60's and has for the most part been under serious rejection since the mid-80's.

Another such theory that I did not bring up, but one should have been able to locate it just the same, is your notion that myth makes things resistant to cultural transmission and/or migration. This, as you can note now, is obviously a post-Enlightenment idea that for us (us moderns) has its source in late 19th century European thought. This is not a view that the majority of human history shares with you -- as mythic discourses have never had a difficult time in crossing borders. In fact, many have believed and still do believe that mythic discourse is much more open to cultural migration than rational thought. In the 19th century, such a view was only a competing alternative in determining the truth of anything. In other words, such a view was just one more player in the game for determining Truth. Back then, not many folks bought the notion -- though it ultimately came to be the dominant position in much of (Western) academic thought -- especially regarding the study of religion.

Nevertheless, for Osensei, he certainly does not at all seem to be of the notion that myth and/or mythic discourse was resistant to cultural migration and/or discursive penetration. This is your view, a view you yourself have come to adopt as part of culture that had adopted it for you. Being self-reflective would have you attempting to better adopt the view that Osensei had of his own time -- regarding the cultural truth-games that Osensei was working with and/or within -- by having you be more aware of how your own cultural is playing its truth-games with you as a pawn. If Osensei had thought that mythic themes and/or mythic discourses were resistant to cultural migration and/or penetration, we would have seen him speaking and acting thusly. Many folks of his period did precisely that. However, in the case of Osensei, we do not see him acting like that, we see him continually using mythic themes and mythic discourses and we also see him making room for more (across cultures) -- not less.

Now that you have opted to define "demythologization," which is fine by me as your working definition, it still does not suffice that this is something Osensei felt or did. Moreover, just as before with Bultmann's understanding of the word, Osensei's historical evidence still has him acting within mythic themes and discourses as comfortably as ever. It is not that Osensei sought to demythologize anything because of some negative notion regarding the transmission potential of mythic discourse and thus said (as you quoted),

""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"

Rather, it is that he had NO problem using mythic discourse, that he used it frequently, and that he NEVER for a second felt that it might provide some sort of resistance to the seeker trying to find the "true" message, that he THUS said,

""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"

Here you wrote: "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."

- But let us look at how Osensei himself addresses this issue of dealing with the ontological significance of things. In the article that my essay is attempting to summarize, after Osensei says that Aikido is good for the weak people of then Japan, what does he recommend to make them stronger? Does he, like many Aikido instructors today might, recommend more suburi, more randori, or more work on tenkan or irimi-ashi, Suwari-waza Shomen-uchi Ikkyo? Nope. He only offers several religious practices and makes ample use of mythic themes to make them "clear." He writes:

"In the early morning hours, before dawn, at 4:00 I am out of bed, and immediately perform a misogi (purification ritual)…Then I go outside barefoot, and pray to the eastern sky. "Tying my ki together with that of the Universe, I greet and commune with all creation. This is when I become one with the Universe and imbibe and inhale the holy teachings of Heaven and Earth. My form, standing in front of the shrine (of the Universe) is in a state of harmony with the Heavens and the Earth…Next I pray to the 4 directions and lift my eyes to the shrine of the eight gods in the Imperial Palace wishing his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor, long life. So doing we placate all the gods and pray for their pacification…There is also the method of vocalization known as Aikido Kotodama. The intoning of the 75 sounds forms words of purification for the universe…Next I stand before the household shrine. After a short time I perform prayers before the nearby Aiki Shrine which honors Hayatakenushi No O Mikoto, Sarutahiko No O kami and various others of the gods…In summary, weak people are the result of not knowing the truth of the unity of mankind with the Heavens and the Earth. By realizing the principle of unification with the Universal (tenchi) and making it active in your daily life, human beings become capable of sending forth the "holy technique of the gods"."

For some today, practicing tenkan is just like praying before a shrine. For some of us today, these things are very different. For Osensei, it was undoubtedly the same, and that is precisely why he did not, could not, feel it warranted to separate Aikido from any type of mythic discourse. Whether using your understanding or Bultmann's there is no demythologization going on here.

You wrote: "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:"

- To be sure, one could at a practical level site differences between Omoto-kyo and another tradition. However, theologically, Omoto-kyo sought not to do this -- but perhaps for those theological stances that were explicitly exclusive (and thus, in their opinion, leading to the world's capacity for hatred, war, etc.). That is what is at issue, and in particular, it is only one aspect of that theology that is at issue -- hence the key question remains: "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?" Omoto-kyo would of course say "no" and Osensei seems more to have followed that than what you are suggesting he felt and/or could have felt.

- It is not remarkable that Onisaburo posits element key to some schools of Christian theology. He exposed himself to it via the World Religion movement as he came into contact with groups that were using theologies from Christian mystic traditions to achieve the same thing - i.e. peace on Earth)via the formation of a "World Religion." We are not looking here at any kind of Campbell-esque archetype. This is pure borrowing.

You wrote: "But did O-Sensei adopt any of these more idiosyncratic elements of Omoto in the development of Aikido? I find no evidence of it."

- Here, I am beginning to wonder if you read the essay we are centering this discussion on or the article that that essay was centered on -- since what you quote by Onisaburo in this last post is nothing more than ichirei-shikan-sangen-hachiriki -- the phrase Osensei was known to use quite frequently in most of his lectures on Aikido. Assuming you did, let me answer your question briefly then: Though I certainly would not what to put the development of Aikido all on the shoulders of Osensei, if we are interested in his own practice, it is (currently) clear that he did indeed bring these "more idiosyncratic elements" of Omoto-kyo into it. For example, something relative here is his usage of the circle, triangle, and square -- which as you may know were themselves items meant to correspond between the various aspects of ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki and various tactical architectures of Aikido waza. I imagine there are much more such correspondences. The research has not been done, and it will not be done if we stick with the view that Osensei sought to demythologize Aikido/Omoto-kyo, but I would propose the following: If Osensei did in fact create some sort of distinction between his Daito-ryu training and his own art (what came to be called "Aikido"), there is a very good chance that it was laid out according to those principles, tactics, strategies of Daito-ryu that Osensei felt he could more smoothly connect to theological propositions like ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki.

Again -- thank you,

David M. Valadez
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