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Old 01-22-2006, 04:13 PM   #60
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Religion and Aikido

Mark Freeman wrote:
Thank's Erick you have just given me a new title to go by, from now on I will no longer think of myself as an Atheist ( it has such negative connotations! ).
Glad to be of service. Words like that have a tendency to cause people to revert to template. That is anathema to real discussion.

Mark Freeman wrote:
It's easy really, us 'committed secularists' do not need faith to be moral, come to that, we do not need aikido, it is just that as very moral people we are drawn to aikido as a practice that fits in with our morals.
I agree that faith is not required to be moral. But to survive profound immorality -- there's the real test. It is a test whether we are its source or its object.
Too many witnesses in far sundered religious traditions attest that despair and fundamental doubt are the desolate soil in which powerful faith sprouts.

And how is one to be certain of one's morality? It is a perilous thing to believe that one is doing good.

Such a cry echoes in many traditions as with St.Paul's experience "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. ... So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand." Rom. 7:19, 21. The juxtaposition of Tolkien's poetry earlier cited has this feeling in a Northern European idiom. Gautama Buddha's own experience exemplifies it, as does his teaching:

"Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil. Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.
... Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the results of evil deeds. Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one will not be overcome by death."
Dhammapada, 9:121-122, 127-128.

The carnage of the twentieth century's incessant and grandiose "best intentions," is apalling to the point of near moral numbness. It is fatefully predicted above in both Christian and Buddhist tradition. Being moral by one's own lights is not enough, and is in fact downright dangerous.

Mark Freeman wrote:
Mysticism - is for the gullible and the controlling, a co-dependant relationship made in heaven or hell depending which side you are on.
To the contrary, the mystical experience is empirically real -- even if its object cannot be identified empirically. I have addressed it in this forum elsewhere, but the references are still valid: see
Erick Mead wrote:
Current research has found empirical neurological evidence that meditation does indeed involve an other than ordinary experience at aneuorlogical level. See for instance:
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, undertook a radilogical examination of the neurological basis of mystical experience. Subjects included a Catholic nun and a practioner of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. He later wrote a book outlining called "Why God Won't Go Way"
Lest anyone think this a crock or one- off study, other studies have found similar brain activity changes in religious and mystical experience.
The experience quoted by one of Dr. Newberg's test volunteers in the first cited report of his study closely matches the descriptions of O-Sensei's three ecstatic visions, and in several pertinent points, the conversion visions of St. Paul.

An identifiably similar description of experience, so widely reported over so long a period of time has proved to have an objectively measurable presence. It therefore has some definitive referent in reality. Mere gullibility it is not.

I have read that some of O-Sensei's closest students confess that they did not understand this aspect of his experience or his teachings on the topic. I have heard none of them say he was gullible.

If mysticism (substitute conscience, if you prefer) gives a guide to the perilous grounds of whether we act for ultimate good or for evil, drop by drop, then any tradition collecting the benefit of mystical or religious learning should be given due weight.

Erick Mead
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