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Old 05-08-2008, 05:17 AM   #4
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,080
Re: Kisshomaru as Interpretor of the Founder's Words


Further to my last post, I should add that for me, the interesting issue is to what extent O Sensei changed the meaning of Masakatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi and why he changed it. In this sense, to ask which interpretation is more accurate is to ask a non-question. How do you define accuracy here?

I have always argued that the sense of the original was as I have explained in the post that you quoted, and could support this argument with a much longer post that would summarize much of the first book of the Kojiki (and also explain how Susanoo was eventually cured of his bad habits. So that he become a good brother and supporter of Amaterasu). There is a major political dimension here, since many of the deities created when Amaterasu and Susanoo had their competition were Izumo deities. We know from other sources that the early clans centered on Izumo were reluctant to come under the control of Yamato (to prove the legitimacy of which was the whole purpose of the Kojiki).

Izumo Taisha is just over the mountains from Hiroshima and it was clearly a major center of worship. There is a shrine dedicated to Susanoo just behind the main shrine. I like to drive to Izumo occasionally and wander round the precincts. Tradition has it that the entire Shinto pantheon assembles there every October and holds a meeting. I joked about this with my students today. They all know that Japanese meetings are inevitably time-consuming, boring and achieve little. However, the purpose of the meeting in Izumo is to decide who will marry whom in the coming year. So thousands of young people and their boy/girlfriends travel to Izumo and pray that they will be one of the favored. Then, when I ask, "Do you really believe all this?", many really are loath to deny it. There is a vast weight of folk Shinto here, which O Sensei lived and breathed much more than my students.

So it is possible that O Sensei took the phrase, divorced it from its original context and used it as a mantra. Why otherwise did he scatter this phrase around his discourses and calligraphy? I am still doubtful whether he would have interpreted it quite as individualistically as a full-blooded western aikidoka, told by his sensei (or more usually by his sempai) to dedicate himself to self-victory and self-mastery, because O Sensei said so in so many words (thanks to John Stevens). This sounds too much like Silas chastizing his flesh in The DaVinci Code.

In this respect, I do not think that Kisshomaru Ueshiba himself contributed much to the meaning of the phrase in the new book.

In October, during the IAF Congress in Tanabe, we will hold a lecture course, to run in parallel with the aikido seminars. I am hoping that Okumura and Tada Senseis will talk about O Sensei and that those Aikiweb members attending will ask lots of difficult questions.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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