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Old 09-15-2005, 11:55 PM   #50
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Shaun Ravens wrote:
I tried to continue to avoid the word battle between the didactic quasi-historians, as I really didn't agree with the facts supporting either postulation. However, I did enjoy reading all the jargon (we love jargon) and I truly learned a thing or two about the subject matter each was quoting.
That's the problem with theology and philosophy. Better than half the argument is usually about defining terms. Tedious but necessary, and lending one to seek out those godawful big words, for precision, if nothing else.

I suspect Shaun's point is not theological in that respect, so small words should suffice, at least for my good friend, John

Shaun Ravens wrote:
Simply - just because everyone believes it to be true, does not make it O-Sensei's aikido.
I had the same impression. David's position is by no means in this category or to such a degree, but it is in the negihborhood of the Humpty Dumpty tendency in Aikido:

"When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

Shaun Ravens wrote:
There is a dual nature to Aikido training, the first being seeking O-Sensei and the second being seeking the art of the Founder. There is certainly a divide between the two. Through training, one's efforts should be focused on first developing an understanding of what each is on its own followed by creating a bridge between the two. That is the first ten or twenty years. The rest of one's training (in my opinion) is creating an overlap between the two where one sources the other, feeds off the other and the process accelerates. This is O-Sensei's actual process.
I also find this duality in patterns of religious thought, as I have indicated, as well as O-Sensei's thought. Metaphor (or myth) seems to play a necessary part, even as it is often troubling and misleading. The core truth is ineffable, evading attempts to fix it in one place.

A sword truly functions only because it dwindles down to nothing. In fact it, it is this almost-nothing at the edge that does all the work. But it is a very dangerous and powerful sort of nothing.

Everything else about the blade furniture is about US, not about the essential truth of the blade. The things we attach to the essential and vanishingly insubstantial truth of the blade provide us a means to grasp, employ, store and transport it without undue risk of injury to ourselves or others.

To a significant degree, essential truth is similarly dangerous to approach without mediating structures. It may be contemplated. But to grasp it nakedly is fraught with peril. Esoteric traditions the world over caution about this danger. Mediating structures can seem highly idiosyncratic, even arbitrary. The mediating structures are often mistaken for the thing they serve. But this risk cannot be avoided.

I do not think human beings can get rid of mediating structures altogether. And sometimes they teach us things we could not learn about how to practically employ the exceedingly subtle truth. One simply cannot afford mistake the one for the other.

The physicality of aikido practice, the ability to teach and learn without even speaking, if you choose, provides a fundamentally different way to grasp the problem than mere intellectual understanding will permit.

I see the process that Shaun describes as O-Sensei's process, as it seems to me: Constantly seeking ways and means to grasp and move around the irreducible fact of the blade without getting cut, or having to cut another.

This was, I have reason to believe, O-Sensei's intent. To let practice strip off as much of the acquired layers of metaphor as is safe. That allows one to seek out other metaphors, other techniques, that may also allow us to work safely perhaps even closer to the blade.

Erick Mead
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