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Old 08-25-2006, 10:42 AM   #23
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,618
Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Juan De La Cruz wrote:
I do believe that I should be kind to animals great and small (philosophy) but I am not a buddhist (spiritualism).
Actually the first is sentiment, not philosophy. Sentiment, in this context, is far superior in action, than philosophy in all respects, but woefully deficient in reasoned explanation or persuasion. Reason and sentiment each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Buddhism is actually VERY philosophical, and frankly not even that spiritual in its tenets or essential practices, but marvelously spiritual in its effects. Buddha's teaching is essentially empirical from a psychlogical standpoint, and remarkably simple to state, which no doubt has been a great part of its historical appeal. It is fairly acceptable to any professed humane religion or spirituality:

1) Suffering is an inevitable part of living.

2) There is cause of suffering -- attachment to that we would desire reality to be.

3) There is end of suffering - destroying the illusion of what we desire reality to be.

4) There is a means to accomplish this end -- to will what is and to cease to will our desire of what it ought to be.

Note in passing that by effecting this result -- desire itself does not cease to be, only my will to effect that desire is redirected. Enlightenment is, quite simply, a continuing act of will. My desires simply return to the fold of what IS -- along with eveything else -- without any greater dignity in my perception or decisions, than, say, the temperature of my coffee this morning.

My desires may still inform and play a part in my actions, as does the temperature of my coffee. But they resume their natural place and order, instead of my egoistic elevation of them above all other things.

Aikido in this sense dispels our problematic and dangerous desire not to be attacked, by willing that attack as it occurs, joining in the attack itself as our primary defense from it.

I'm Catholic, and reasonably knowledgable in Church doctrine for a layperson. As far as I have been able to determine (along with many others, Dom Aelred Graham or Thomas Merton, or even our present Pope Benedict) what Gautama Buddha taught is unobjectionable per se to the doctrine of the Church.

Truth is what IS after all ...
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
So yes I believe in the Philosophy of our art, however I am struggling on the spiritual side of it.
Aikido, and other affirmative activites that have ben collectively described as "moving Zen" are antidotes to the chief risk of contemplative Buddhism ( or of any contemplative system of practice), which is the slide into quietism as a substitute for life in its fullness, abundance or suchness ( choose your preferred religious idiom) -- experienced directly -- as it is, rather than representationally, or in reference to some predominating mental, emotional or spiritual template.

Activity, battle, caress, hurt, sensuality, sweat, comfort, pain, joy, grief, thirst, refreshment, hunger and fulfillment -- all these things do not magically cease to be part of life, or change their nature in any way, merely because we dispel our illusions about what they may become or ought to have become, and instead we affirmatively will them to be what they -- are -- now.

Rigorous doctrinal and affirmative ethical systems such as Christian teaching (or Confucianism or forms of Thareavada Buddhism, for instance) that mandate action according to humane principle and/or sentiment are equally antidotes to this danger of quietism (or even the risk of solipsism). They, in turn, benefit from Buddhism's emphasis on what IS -- right now, in place of their own risks of representational laxity -- the slide into rule, image or sentiment in place of reality.

Fundamentally, the injunction of Jesus is to go forth and spread the evangelium, the Good News, of the Lord God (whose name is "I AM") to all nations, declaring the Kingdom of God to be here, now, and everywhere adn at all times (the absolute rule of "I AM") and of the present and immediate salvation by invocation in their inmost Being of the Holy Name -- "I AM." All of the remaining elements of Christian practice and belief mobilize reason and sentiment to return again and again to this present and eternal moment and its fundamental truth.

While the Christian evangelium differs in its details of appeal to sentiment and reason -- it is the same as Buddhism in its determination to mobilize the individual will in this manner. The vow the spread the Good News to all nations and preach salvation and the Kingdom of God is not really or even usefully distinguishable from the redoubtable vows of the Bodhisattva -- to liberate all sentient beings, who are without number, and to bring them to enlightenment of what "I AM" really means -- here -- now, in this moment.


Erick Mead
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