Thread: Spirituality
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:28 AM   #74
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Spirituality

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I think Eric Mead's long post is one way of approaching Morihei Ueshiba's aikido as religious practice.
Much appreciated, especially from your perspective, in situ, as it were, and given your committed efforts otherwise. 有り難う御座います.
Peter Goldsbury wrote:
What I tried to do in the Touching the Absolute articles is to achieve the same purpose via a different route, not through a general history of religion, but through a closer examination of the context of Ueshiba's own time. This approach requires a close acquaintance with the history of intellectual ideas of Meiji, Taisho and early Showa Japan. It also requires a close study of what he actually wrote. Much is available, but very little is in English.
And thus the problem of attempting a proper scholarly analysis and exegesis of primary sources. While my background allows me some insight into the overall philosophical milieu of Japan as aikido and its antecedents were developing and particuarly the continental Chinese streams of thought that it relates to, most aikidoka have neither the time, resources or inclination to follow the path of original development to understand the phenomenon as it exists. Or like me they can follow so far, but not much farther. The effort is invaluable -- but not generally applicable.

The problem of ignorance of foundational issues is not trivial. Deconstructing and rebuilding the edifice to understand its proper workings may work, and in some cases is in harmony with the overall tenor of thought that aikido expresses (as for instance in the twenty-year rebuilding of of the Ise shrine.) But this method of symbolic analysis is particularly Western and linear. It has poor fit (i.e. -- poor musubi) with the dynamism of learning in aikido as a living system of knowledge.

To put it plainly, I fear that the results of an analytical, exegetical approach to this body of knowledge will produce results more reflective of the process than of the organic structure and substance of its object of study. (Tool=hammer :: problem=nail, but not all problems are nails).

Those in the broader field of interest without deep knowledge of the primary sources are not realistically able to judge its analysis critically. Peer review, which is critical for the reliability of any analytical discipline, (and which this venue is an able place to provide) becomes exceedingly narrow and difficult to achieve.

Don't get me wrong -- as a lawyer, close analysis is my stock in trade, but transmitting broader comprehension, effective persuasion (i.e - learning) and attention to traps of knowledge or ignorance, are equally my concerns. We need the analysis that you suggest, (which I hope you or someone in your privileged position regarding primary sources will continue to attempt). We also need a way to relate the essential elements of primary source knowledge to the operation of that knowledge -- many more learn it far from its context of development, and must apply it far from the context of its initial application.

What was precisely envisioned by O-Sensei (or his deshi) and what was made possible by the inherent structure of his design, may not require one for one congruence. His genius lies in the design, not in the immediate intent. Newton 's three laws were genius precisely because the breadth of their impact in areas that did not even exist when he formulated them. Applications he did not envision could be accomplished only because his ideas were both robust and subtle.

Peter Goldsbury wrote:
A significant next step would be to separate out the tantric and Omoto elements in his own training. If any of you ever get the chance to train with Hiroshi Tada, go for it. Tada Sensei gave a 12-hour seminar in Hiroshima recently and gave long explanations of the kokyuu training he does and how these are fundamental to aikido waza. He has changed his explanations in the years I have known him and his terminology more closely approximates to that used by O Sensei hinself.
... his long experience with the Tempukai and the Ichikukai was clearly an effective spiritual substitute and closely meshed with Ueshiba's own training and teaching. What you have is someone who replicated Ueshiba's own training regimen (there is real shugyou here), but emphasized less explicitly the tantric and Omoto elements.
What you describe is very close to what I am suggesting (proving again my premise that none of my ideas is ever original). A bit of knowledge that permits efficient action, is fit for that purpose. It has musubi with the problem the action is hoped to deal with. A hammer has very poor musubi with a screw, for instance. If I have a nail to compare, I will intuitively grasp the significance and degree of fit -- or its lack.

Musubi exists at the point of connection, not at the initiating intent that brought about the connection. As a necesasary adjunct to analysis of origin, takemusubi would suggest more thorough exploration of the immediate points of connection, as Hiroshi Tada did in the connection between his own personal experience and aikido. Both are enriched threreby, and the understanding of aikido thus expands with every new connection. I find much connection to Christian theology bound within name and structure of techniques and their principles as discussed and expounded by O-Senei and his Deshi. By virtue of these connections, and their historical connections, I canalso see relationships with Islamic Tawhid, Jewish mitzvah and tikkun, even though these are not my native idiom.

Anaytical technique ("A is not B" logic, at its base) depends on knowledge as a linear function. Takemusubi as a form of understanding presupposes that knowledge is distributed, non-linear, multifarious and organized into points of connection -- nodes in a network that is only as strong as the connections that make it up. It is not illogical in the A=B sense, but it is irrational in the numeric sense -- too complex for most schemes of analysis to determine whether any given node is A or B. It can be computationally modelled but is not easily reduced in any algebraic sense.

As we are discovering about this type of knowledge more generally, such systems are typically holographic or fractal, the shape of the whole is written to some degree in every part, and vice versa. Ensuring the strength of every individual connection is the work of takemusubi, and helps both to maintain and to understand the structure as a whole.

I see the difficulty of grasping O-Sensei's mind and statements from an analytical perspective as partly the fact that he seems to have walked around thinking this way, decades before these ideas became more common currency or methods for its quantitative assessment and analysis had been invented and verified.

In an interview Abe Sensei noted that among O-Sensei's books kept after his death by Morihiro Saito at Iwama were several works by Einstein. It was Einstein's dogged attempt to disprove quantum mechanics (another form of this type of complex knowledge) that resulted in experiments confirming it.

That was Takemusubi.

Peter Goldsbury wrote:
Hiroshi Tada and Shigenobu Okumura are the only two living 9th dan holders in the Aikikai who had a close relationship with Morihei Ueshiba. Okuura Sensei is 88 and has virtually stopped aikido practice, though his mind is still sharp and his memory acute. Tada Sensei is 75 or 76 and shows signs of going on forever. Neither of them has written a book or made a video/DVD.
Please tell us someone is going to remedy this oversight, and at least prepare some thorough oral history while they can give it to us.

Erick Mead
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