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Old 06-23-2007, 11:51 PM   #10
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Evaluation of "Spirit of Aikido"

I am not competent to deal with the critical literary aspects of Second Doshu's writing and its validity in translation. But I can address some aspect of the "concept" question.

The points you illustrate from Second Doshu's approach to the art track concepts I have been studying since my undergraduate days. The Neo-Confucianism of Wang Yang Ming (Oyomei) has been recognized in martial arts circles as to its role in the Tokugawa ryu. But those have seemed to limit it to a role as Japanese cover for Chinese Taoism proper. This diminishes the original contributions and independent significance of Neo-Confucian thought in both China AND Japan. It had a definitive influence on the modern understanding of Shinto, particularly.

There are demonstrable parallels to what is being considered here.

I will illustrate some of those parallels from both Chris's and Ledyard Sensei's points below.
Quote:
Chris Moses wrote:
... trying to paraphrase the text [Spirit of Aikido]:

1) What made the "aiki" of OSensei unique was his conceptual splitting of the term. ... OSensei took "aiki" and formed "ai" and "Ki". ... Aikido would need to be translated as "the way of harmonizing with Ki." There is a fundamental shift here ... OSensei elevated Ki (in keeping with his religious convictions) to a unifying life force that creates and binds the universe together (to paraphrase Yoda…), and the goal of Aikido, to join intentionally with that life force. ...
Quote:
Oyomei wrote:
... the learning of the great man consists entirely in getting rid of the obscuration of selfish desires in order by his own efforts to make manifest his clear character, so as to restore the condition of forming one body with Heaven, Earth, and the myriad things, a condition that is originally so, that is all. ... To manifest the clear character is to bring about the substance of the state of forming one body with Heaven, Earth, and the myriad things, whereas loving the people is to put into universal operation the function of the state of forming one body.
Quote:
Chris Moses wrote:
2) The genius of OSensei's teaching was that one did not need to study technique in order to be a great martial artist/human but simply needed to learn how to perceive and unify the self with the Ki-flow of the universe, ... (thus all of the "I am the Universe!" quotes…). He was not teaching a martial art, but rather was offering an environment where his students could hope to find the same underlying sense of connectedness as he had found. ...
Consider in this light:
Quote:
Oyomei wrote:
... the great man regards Heaven, Earth and the myriad things as one body ... that the great man can regard Heaven, Earth, and the myriad things as one body is not because he deliberately wants to do so, but because it is natural to the humane nature of his mind that he do so. ... Again, when he observes the pitiful cries and frightened appearance of birds and animals about to be slaughtered, he cannot help feeling an "inability to bear" their sufferings. This shows that his humanity forms one body with birds and animals. It may be objected that birds and animals are sentient beings as he is. But when he sees plants broken and destroyed, he cannot help a feeling of pity. This shows that his humanity forms one body with plants. It may be said that plants are living things as he is. Yet, even when he sees tiles and stones shattered and crushed, he cannot help a feeling of regret. This shows that his humanity forms one body with tiles and stones.
[Wing-Tsit-chan, Tr.]

What you have summarized most plainly makes the connection between Second Doshu's summary of his father's teaching to Neo-Confucian thought. It is a framework more generally accessible to Japanese and Westerners, but not divorced from his fathers thought at all. The Neo-Confucian rubric applied quite well to OSensei's Shinto mythological conceptualization --, which itself was originally rendered accessible through a Neo-Confucian lens, a point that is not widely understood in the West.

This approach does not appear to be an accident on the part of Second Doshu. It is in a sense, returning to the source. O Sensei's use of Kojiki depended on the critical interpretative commentary by Motoori Norinaga, who made that 8th century text accessible to modern readers (it is is akin to Beowulf to modern English readers). Part of Norinaga's purpose was to illustrate -- in Neo-Confucian terms prevailing as official Tokugawa ideology -- that the Japanese were uniquely suited to understand and express Oyomei's doctrine of "innate knowing" of principle BECAUSE OF their native closeness to the kami -- whose works and natures are described in the Kojiki he interpreted and commented extensively upon.

O Sensei refers to this sensibility in Budo Renshu when he speaks of "yamato-damashii" -- the Japanese spirit. This term is often mistakenly read in Budo Renshu in the same way as the jingoistic uses of the imperialists of the same period. In fact they took it over and perverted a much deeper and more salutary doctrine. That term is Norinaga's conception in his work on the kokugaku (national studies) to which his Commentaries were a large contribution. He was reading Kojiki in the explicitly Neo-Confucian perspective of Oyomei-gaku.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
[Nidai Doshu] decided, correctly I think, that the Shinto, overtly religious aspect of O-Sensei's Aikido, would not be understood at all by the typical modern Japanese citizen nor would it "travel well" outside Japan to other cultures.
Wang Yang-ming has been recognized by the students of Whitehead's process philosophy as a precursor to that line of thought. He is being recognized for important contributions even now as that line of thought develops further, especially in the ethical realms, such as process theology. One of the most notable advocates of process philosophy AND theology was none other than Pope John Paul the Great. The suitability of Second Doshu's choice (if it was not mere happy accident) of how to interpret O Sensei to the world could not be more well-chosen for breadth of potential connections in the world.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I believe that O-Sensei in the post war years had already de-emphasized the martial aspect of the art in favor of developing a movement style designed to foster an understanding of various energetic and spiritual principles. ... one should look at Aikido as O-Sensei envisioned it, as a body art designed to reprogram the practitioner both physically and mentally to understand , on some level, the essential unity of the universe and what ones place in the whole should be.
An understanding that could hardly be more squarely in the terms set forth by Oyomei, as referenced above.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
My own opinion on O-Sensei's great shift in redefining the term "aiki" would be that he took the term from it's traditional usage, which I believe was much closer to "joining" than "harmonizing", and made it into a state of being i.e. "already joined". With that fundamental shift in orientation, one then comes back to "Harmony". Harmony describes the balance of the infinite elements within the whole.
Oyomei again:
Quote:
…becoming a sage is ... being completely dominated by heaven-given principles, [not] seeking to become sages by means of knowledge and power...
O Sensei:
Quote:
We adhere to the principle of absolute nonresistance, that is to say, we do not oppose the attacker. Thus, there is no opponent in Aikido. The victory in Aikido is masakatsu and agatsu; since you win over everything in accordance with the mission of heaven, you possess absolute strength.
Kisshomaru: Spirit of Aikido
Quote:
"When concentration permeates mind and body, breath-power becomes one with the universe, gently and naturally expanding to the utter limit, but at the same time the person becomes increasingly self-contained and autonomous. In this way when breath works together with the universe, the unseen spiritual essence becomes a reality within oneself, enfolding and protecting and defending the self. This is an introduction to the profound essence of aiki.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
So what are left are largely the moral and ethical aspects of how someone with that deep level of understanding would comport himself, or herself, in his everyday life of constantly changing circumstances. Aikido becomes a body based system, still a form of Budo in my opinion, which attempts to impart a set of values, much reduced from the full scope of the spiritually based philosophy of the Founder.
And on this point the second major Oyomei doctrine is seen -- the unity of knowledge and action. Basically, in Oyomei thought "innate knowing" is expressed in action on that knowledge or it is not actually knowledge of the inner principle li 理 of the thing, but merely a form of self-delusion -- what we might call today "magical-thinking." Some in aikido might describe this as the aiky-fruity approach. But the same tendency also leads to the opposite problematic approach -- the power-trip.

Oyomei:
Quote:
There have never been people who know but do not act. Those who are supposed to know but do not act simply do not yet know ... [They seek] in illusions, emptiness, and quietness, having nothing to do with the work of the family, the state, and the world... [or occupy] their own minds in base and trifling things, ... losing them in scheming strategy and cunning techniques having neither the sincerity of humanity nor that of commiseration
It is this interior self-delusion that is the most significant barrier to the "connection" (musubi)("making one body"). It is substituting the reflexive image for the reality. Oyomei emphasizes that understanding principle is not to be found in external investigation of things. First, a serious effort must ensure that the interior character of perception of connectedness is not clouded and is capable of connecting truly, and not merely biting its own tail in a selfishly objectifying conception of relationship.

O Sensei's thought on the spontaneous generation of technique (takemusu aiki) also tracks an aspect of the critical relationship between Oyomei's "innate knowing" and the "unity of knowledge and action."
O Sensei:
Quote:
The physical body given to us is an organ of creation and, at the same time, is a place where we perform divine services. It is also a house or an organ where we cultivate our conduit of the spirit. Moreover, the physical body matures and perfects itself magnificently through the spiritual practices required for the birth of spirits. Thus, our body becomes a house for spirits to be born and grow. ... In a sense, with aiki, you purify and remove evil with your own breath of faithfulness instead of using a sword. In other words, you change the physical world into a spiritual world. This is aikido's mission. The physical body is placed below and the spirit above and to the front.
Oyomei:
Quote:
Just don't try to deceive it [liangzhi --"innate knowing"] but sincerely and truly follow in whatever you do. Then the good will be perceived and evil will be removed. What security and joy there is in this!... Innate knowledge is to minute details and varying circumstances as compasses and measures are to areas and lengths. Details and circumstances cannot be predetermined, just as areas and lengths are infinite in number and cannot be entirely covered.... The highest good is the ultimate principle of manifesting character and loving people. The nature endowed in us by Heaven is pure and perfect. The fact that it is intelligent, clear, and not beclouded is evidence of the emanation and revelation of the highest good. It is the original substance of the clear character which is called innate knowledge of the good.
This makes the "Ai-KI -- Love-KI" pun not only better explained, but almost necessary given his transmutation of the term "aiki" from its former references. As applied to budo, O Sensei's teaching is to come to know connectedness in our own body and thereby understand the principles evident in the investigation of external things as they are known in conflict. In Aikido, Oyomei's concept of principle li 理 is expressed in its aspect of dynamic connectedness in in-yo tension, or KI.

O Sensei :
Quote:
Aikido is the Way of the principle of the eternal, unchanging system of the Universe.
And finally, in a more deeply felt echoing Oyomei - "the great man regards Heaven, Earth and the myriad things as one body ":
Quote:
I sang thus in praise of aikido in its modern, perfected form:

This beautiful appearance
Of Heaven and Earth
Everything is One Family
Created by the Lord
Hopefully, Prof. Goldsbury, in his column(s) will be able to offer his own thoughts (or criticisms) of this perspective on the interpretive filters that Second Doshu employed in trying to transmit the legacy he was given.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-24-2007 at 12:05 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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