Jon Reading wrote:
In general, it is difficult to substantially prove spirituality is "taught" in aikido anymore, at least here in the states. I would tend to believe that spirituality is leaking out of aikido just as religion is leaking out of government, public schools and places where religious sensitivity is volatile. The pressure to keep our religious and spiritual beliefs internally is increasing as our society is becoming more critical of religious expression in any context. ...
Excellent observation. People tend to act, not as they intend to act, but as they are habituated to act. Big difference. Thus, the critical aspect of practice, it trains our habituated responses top be more in accord with our manifest intent. Aikido, specifically, with its emphasis on connection and complete entering, tends to diminsh the timidity associated with overbearing presumptive expectation, particularly those passive-aggressive methods so typical in the type of scenario you describe.
Whether considered technically, or spiritually, training in the way to act is as important as cognitive belief, if not more so, e.g. -- Jesus, after all, said "Come, follow me." and "Do this in remembrance of me." even where the New Testament speaks of believing, it is consequence of acts. Belief is itself an act of faith -- settling the will to rely on something mysterious and beyond one's own ken.
Jon Reading wrote:
Yet we choose to replicate in majority only physical exercises that may be veiled in their purpose. ...
Rather, I believe spirituality is expressed through our actions. If we limit our spiritual expression to physical technique, then by our actions we limit our commitment in spirituality. I am very appreciative of those aikidoka that posess the courage to outwardly express their spiritual beliefs beyond simple exercise.
Purpose implies conscious thought. Conscious thought is good in reflection on error and correcting it -- but not so good in acting with great effect. Those who are powerful in their actions are precisely so because they do not have to think too hard about what they are doing. In spiritual terms, faith is preconscious, precognitive.
Faith is misogi. Misogi is is notably embodied in the image of water. (I am drenched in misogi these hot summer days).
Faith, may be distinguished from belief, in the same way that it may may be distinguished from practice. Beliefs, practices, rites -- these things are vessels in which to carry water, and with which to pour it out at need.
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:
To the degree that aikido is a vehicle of spirituality, it appears to be pretty agnostic about which form of spirituality it carts around.
In one sense, yes, in another sense, no. Water is the same everywhere, in whatever vessel it may be carried. Only what is ADDED to the water changes its character. Not all vessels are equal in their capacity to carry, provide and buffer our vitally necessary interactions with water.
Pure water is colorless, odorless, tasteless and yet utterly essential to life. Vessels can affect the water, making it less pure, perhaps merely locally flavored, or even contaminated and dangerous to drink. This can be a source of joy, disgust or even horror.
Contained water can be very powerful. Water is the quintessence of energy in potential -- capable of draining the heat of life out of you or burning it from you, if its embodied energy is not brought into to some rough equilibrium with your own.
These are some of the rubrics that I use to judge the utility and spirituality of any practice or belief as it relates to being human, not because man is the measure of all things, but because to gain from the experience, man must measure out only in accordance with his capacity -- lest he drown, or worse.