View Single Post
Old 01-04-2007, 11:27 PM   #19
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
Re: Western religion and Aikido

Erick Mead wrote:
Oh, we can give it greater depth than that and still reconcile both traditions in harmony. That is our purpose in Aikido, after all.

Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. If anyone thinks the concept of kami is necessarily offensive to revealed truth, then they have not properly understood the concept of kami. "Thrones, powers, dominions ...?"

As to O Sensei's veneration according to Shinto tradition in the dojo, in Catholic tradition, we are simply asking for his intercession in our practice to make it fruitful and acceptable to God. If we are faithful, he is merely dead -- not utterly gone.

We rely on something the Apostle's Creed describes as the "communion of saints" to support us in perservering in faith. Even in the Protestant branches, even the more Calvinistic doctrine, this is not an alien concept, either. The Westminster Confession (adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist convention in 1688) described it as those "being united to one another in love, have communion in each other's gifts and graces" by the mediation of Christ (the divine Word). We merely ask thatw e be permitted to commune with him in his art, spiritually, as we commune with one another in his art, materially.

O Sensei was clearly a man of prodigious virtue. One can debate the particular profession of Christian faith by O Sensei in any exclusive or dogmatic sense, but he clearly identified with the Divine Word or fundamental reason and will underlying creation. Christ was hardly exlcusionary in his modes of teaching. O Sensei also teaches the invocation of LOVE in accordance with that will among mankind, and specifically applying it towards one's enemies on that basis.

That hits the necessary high points of the evangelium ("good news") for me. I do not have authority to teach that he was teaching the Gospel in another form, but by no evidence I have seen am I required to assume or act as if he wasn't (and privately, I may permissibly assume that he was.) That delicately suggestive but steely ambiguity is quintessentially both Catholic and Japanese in its feeling.

It is no more impermissible nor unfaithful to observe or venerate the kamidana in accordance with Shinto ritual in a genuine spirit of faith as to the "uniting to one another in love" that occurs in the proper Aikido practice than it was for St. Paul to point out and venerate the statue of the "unknown God" for the benefit of the Athenians and in accordance with their own traditions.
You need not necessarily assume that the inward forms are at odds. The Floating Bridge merely describes the human condition, and he merely advocates that we fully realize the condition of our true nature. If O Sensei did have some "good news" to teach (and who is there to say he did not?) then you shortchange a very possibly true spiritual gift by not exploring its interior dimensions for yourself in a spirit of faith.

Masagatsu agatsu! Katsu Hayabi!
"True victory is self-victory! Day of Swift Victory!"

In twenty years of looking at it, I have not found a single essential thing in Aikido that is not a part of Truth. My own shallow dalliance early on was progressively deepened. It brought me full circle to the roots of faith expressed in tradition and scripture.
You listed my quote so I will respond that of course, I was only speaking for myself and I still stand behind everything I said, for myself of course. Just for the record, I could never agree with some of your suppositions because they aren't faithful to the intent of the writers. None of the classic Fathers responsible to the Ecumenical Creeds would have accepted O Sensei's beliefs and neither would have the Westminster Divines or anyone from the Reformed tradition. Calvin nor any of his immediate predecessors would never be found accepting the Shinto or the Omoto kyo world view or cosmology. That is a certain fact without debate in both conservative and liberal traditions. Your statements may be an accurate reflection of what you believe but your post stretched all factual credibility. Sorry but you are just incorrect. I pride myself in researching the truth and accepting it for what it is but as much as I respect O Sensei, His religious beliefs were definitely NOT compatible with any version of classic and orthodox Christianity in the mainstream for the last 2000 years. Some of the things he taught and believed were in fact true but the fundamental things he held to were not compatible with Christian teaching that accepts the basis of classical historic Christianity.
Again, I respect your right to make the connections you did and your Christianity may be sufficiently diluted to accept fully all of O Sensei's belief system but it still differs substantially from all of the sources you cited without question or debate from all the important and credible sources. I would have loved to correct you point by point but I'm sure it wouldn't chnange you and you won't change me so it's wisdom to call the truce now bow out here because I don't want this discussion to degenerate into a religious argument.
I wish you the best always,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
  Reply With Quote