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Old 09-21-2005, 02:12 AM   #69
Misogi-no-Gyo
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I read the interview of Abe Sensei. The translation is rough in patches, but a fascinating insight even so.

Shaun, since you have had an indirect connection to Abe Sensei through Matsuoka Sensei, your observations on a few of these points would be of interest.
Hi Erick,

Your post is most intriguing. I had feared that this thread would fall victim to the same things that the AJ thread had, becoming a lengthy exercise where much effort was put forth but no real work got done. I originally chimed in here to provide a bit of balance to the original ideas David raised. However your last post makes things very interesting for me. Although I have been training a scant 16 years, the last 14 I have spent seeking O-Sensei via my relationship with Abe Sensei. I have done so through my teacher, Matsuoka Sensei, for it was he who made it possible for me to have a direct relationship with Abe Sensei. While I may be grateful, gratitude in and of itself is not merely enough. Most of the dojo students simply do not have the kind of access to Abe Sensei that a few of us have been afforded. Therefore, I feel responsible to maintain a sustained effort, continue with whatever suffering maybe necessary and approach this rare opportunity with the level of sincerely it dictates.

I once asked Abe Sensei why he shared what he did and his answer was the single most startling thing anyone has ever said to me. It is personal and therefore private, but I believe it is okay to say that I feel responsible to maintain the closest relationship with Abe Sensei that is possible given that I have a life here in America. Hopefully I have not yet failed in my efforts, and that I will be able to sustain them while I am still alive.

I mention all that so that you understand the context in which I respond to your questions. They are the most direct and intelligent of questions. Since you have asked me to contribute something I feel that I should respond to my best ability. However, I will try to keep things to a minimum simply to conserve time and space.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Abe Sensei clearly spoke of OSensei in terms somewhat different than protraying him as a simple follower of Omoto.
True. Regardless of the prevalent opinion proffered by several particular academics, he was much more than a simple follower of anything, Omoto-Kyo, or otherwise.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Unlike Charles, it seems to me that Abe Sensei's point was to emphasize the distinction between OSensei's thought and that of Omoto, placing him in a far more traditionalist lineage.
Well, I will leave the labeling to the academics. Again, I am no map maker, nor am I interested in spending all day reading maps. I am already traveling on the path. If I can just manage stay the course there is no doubt at all that I will arrive where it is that I am headed.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
It is possible that this is true, but it also may be revisionism of a sort to disassociate an honored teacher from a movement that was not well thought of among people of influence in Japan.
Abe Sensei would never assume enough to do such a thing. I also believe, and this is my "opinion" that O-Sensei had nothing to distance himself from, so the issue is moot.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"O'Sensei described something about spirituality using easy-to-understand Ohmotokyo-like words, in other words, "kotodama".
I am not sure if you were quoting Abe Sensei or O-Sensei here. If you would you please clarify that, I would better understand how to respond. However in either case, kotodama can be at the heart and center of all of one's actions and words. I don't believe that this relates to Omoto (Kyo) directly, but if one determines that Omoto-Kyo was based upon the principles of kotodama, then the comparison could remain valid. Comparison of two things is not based upon the things being equal, merely relative on a particular plain.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I would like to know what Japanese expression Abe Sensei used was translated as "Omotokyo-like" and its use in other contexts.
I do think this was an interview so there must be tapes somewhere. If so, then I would ascribe to the importance of making those publicly available. However, they may already be publicly available in the form of Aiki-News which was and is still published in Japanese. You may be in luck.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
He also deals with the Kojiki as though to sever its mythological interprtetation from its use for practice of kotodama. The way it is described seems analogous to a cyphertext read out with a key to obtain plaintext. This is very suggestive to me.
With regards to kotodama, ki and kokyu, without a practical understanding and a practical course of study there is no real basis in reality in training in these things in relation to one's martial training or an understanding of the Founder. If one is interested in deeply understanding O-Sensei and his art, Abe Sensei's lectures on Kojiki will change your life. It did mine, but that is another story entirely.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
There are strong similarities in this sensibility with mantrayana. Nevertheless, Abe Sensei seems to criticize specific aspects of the mythological figures in Kojiki as being too Chinese in derivation, an implicit swipe against ryobu shinto.
I would need to see a specific passage referenced in both mythological terms and de-mythological terms to know for sure what you mean. I am not sure I have every seen Abe Sensei publicly criticize anyone or anything so again, I would have to have a chance to read the same thing to which you are referring and then would need to ask Abe Sensei what he meant to make any conclusive statements. As for things Chinese, Abe Sensei is a student of classic Chinese literature and calligraphy and is therefore very sensitive to things Chinese. I have only seen him say positive things and attribute much of his own understanding to Chinese people and Chinese culture.

As it turns out, I will be with Abe Sensei this coming Friday. I already have a list of 30 or so questions that have come up since I was with him this past December, but if there is something specific you are interested in having me ask, and there is an opportunity to do so, I would be happy to try to bring you back his answer.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"O'Sensei strongly insisted to understand "Kojiki" thoroughly. Story at the mythological time in "Kojiki" is our back bone. Therefore, O'Sensei told us to read "Kojiki" thoroughly and read it by way of "Kotodama". This is what was O'Sensei's desire and our mission."
It would be of great help if you would please specify if you are quoting Abe Sensei (quoting O-Sensei) or you are quoting O-Sensei directly. Again, in either case, I read that and say a resounding YES! That is the point of the whole process. However that point is infinitesimally small and spinning at the speed of light...
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
On the significance of center and breath, Abe Sensei also seems to bring perspective to understanding of Minakanushi no kami, as the kami of the center.
This is the first lecture I received from Abe Sensei, and is the center of centers when it comes to understanding kojiki, kotodama, and O-Sensei and his art. I can't be any clearer or state it more simply. This is paramount to the entire process.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"It means that the smallest of oneself is a dot, which is 'There is a location, but there is no size.' The center of universe does not have size, either. ... [Of breath in the abdomen] It becomes such a small thing, like "there is a location, but there is no size." This is Minakanushi of breathing.
Yes! But how does one get there? That is the question that O-Sensei set out to answer for us, and the path which we must understand how to follow. Otherwise it is all just jujitsu.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Again, I would love to have the Japanese to compare, and to see what other connotations his choice of words would encompass.
If you are referring to the interviews that AJ did with Abe Sensei, please let me know if you are able to retrieve the back issues of Aikido Journal (I am fairly sure they are in pdf format on a DVD - at least the English ones are). There really is not a lot of time for this most important of projects.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
In light of my inquiry into broader and deeper connections, (which David criticizes, although not unfairly) I cannot help but observe that Abe Sensei's description of the qualities of Minakanushi no kami as written in English seems strongly to echo a description of God that has been a topic of metaphysics in the Christian world since the twelfth century.
There are some similarities in this area. That had been an interest of mine as early as 10 years before I began my aikido training. With all of the study and training I did before I joined an aikido Dojo I was able, when I first saw aikido, to immediately recognize it as a synthesis of my martial, spiritual and intellectual paths. I was elated to find it staring me in the face. I had a friend who eventually went on to become a great master teacher in his own right. He had been telling me to loo at Aikido for several years before I finally "got it" When I finally did so, and went to tell him his reaction was classic. It was one of those slap yourself in the forehead gags you see in the movies from time to time...
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
This translated version was ascribed to Alain de Lille. It was later adopted by theologians Nicholas of Cusa and Pascal in their metaphysics:

"God is an intelligible sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."

The version in the Pseudo-Hermetic text of the Liber XXIV Philosophorum ("Book of 24 Philosophers") is:

"Deus est sphaera infinita, cuius centrum ubique, circumferentia nusquam." "God is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere."


The Pseudo-Hermetic Liber dates to the eleventh century, but of whole Corpus Hermeticum we have only parts, and the Liber text may be a medieval copy or collection from some lost original(s), but it is impossible to know. The Corpus itself reliably dates to the third century of the Christian era together with a number of related Gnostic texts.
This approaches material I am not ready to discuss in a public forum. However I will say that careful study and consideration is necessary to steer clear of the cliff that lay at the end of the plain. A simple understanding of the word Gnostic gives us a clue where to delineate truth from faith, or the metaphoric plain from the cliff.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
While I feel certain that David has already jumped ship on my voyage at this point, these connections are important. Whether they bespeak direct relationship or merely show parallel development is not crucial. This is not mere idle speculation either. Ideas matter. They are the weapons and tools of the mind, as sharp and dangerous as any blade, and as liable to misuse or tragic accident.
I can't agree with you more.

Philosophy is a wonderful tool with which to dissect the body of human understanding. However, all things can be either a medicine or a poison. A scalpel in the hands of a surgeon may save your life, but in the hands of a madman it may end it. One of my uncles was a musical prodigy and went on to become a well-known, published philosopher in the areas of both religion and government. I was raised in his shadow and challenged throughout my childhood and teens by his consistent prodding of my questionable early mental capacities. I would have to say that I am him in many ways, much to the chagrin of my mother (his sister).

When you mention sharp weapons and tools it brings up the preverbal double edge one must always consider. My uncle could not put down his beloved philosophy, that tool through which he viewed life. I do believe it eventually drove him mad. Again, the plain and the cliff are but married by proximity. Walking along the ledge while exhilarating in one moment may be the last thing one does in life.

That is why I sometimes wonder about David - not his martial path, but perhaps his philosophical one. I don't mean to judge him in any way, merely evaluate his stated goals when mapped against his apparent direction. David may or may not be interested in the issue of, or contention between "direct relationship" versus "parallel development." I would bet based upon what he noted in his last post that this would only be in terms of the historical understandings of Aikido, or the significance or insignificance of the Founder and not related to his own personal views on the desire to improve one's martial (technical) ability.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Abe Sensei's description gives a powerful point of reference in the Western tradition for the ideas and techniques the OSensei has communicated. This kind of connection allows them more easily to be translated into a native intellectual idiom.
I couldn't agree more.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
In light of Oscar Ratti's recent untimley death, the singular phrase "Dynamic Sphere" cannot help but remind me of this. For that specific idea imparts a meaningful way of digesting and dwelling upon the function and further exploration of the techniques we practice.
I had the chance to meet with Oscar and Adele (Westbrook), and was most fascinated by his take on things. He, too, was rooted in martial realities. His attitude and manner were quite refreshing. The few things we discussed were very deep. A mutual friend of ours provided the introduction, one he had been trying to set up for quite a while. After we each had a chance to speak for a while he looked at me and openly wondered as to the source of the material I presented to him. He said something to the effect that I would need to have lived about thirty more years than I already have to have come to the conclusions that I presented. He very kindly offered that should I ever write a manuscript that I forward it to him if I was interested in his input. Needless to say that would have been a great honor, one that I will only have in the form of what could have been. I am not sure what became of the work he and I discussed that he was working on. It was very important stuff - a real breakthrough for martial arts and martial artists. Let' just say that it would be the metaphoric equivalent of reading kojiki from the point of kotodama - groundbreaking in this modern time of openly accepted empty anemic academic materials. His book, Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere was the first book on the subject I ever read. Both he and Adele were very dynamic. I am sure it is not a coincidence. Dynamic Sphere, indeed.

Again, sorry for the length, but I do feel that your post marks a significant turn in the thread, one that warranted such a lengthy effort on my part.

It is clear that with regards to the relevance of Omoto-Kyo as any sort of foundation or Onisaburo as a main pillar in the house of Aikido, that these posts are not related to such issues and probably should have their own thread entitled something along the lines of The significance of kojiki, kotodama and misogi in understanding O-Sensei and Aikido I will leave that up to David to decide as he is the author of the thread.



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I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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