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Old 09-15-2008, 12:21 PM   #44
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,403
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I do not understand your argument here. Where in the column have I "wondered what Ueshiba means that he has not said"?
It is in the part dealing with the "audacious" belief that he had foreseen the atomic bombing. Kisshomaru confirms that contemporaneous with the move he foresaw some conflagration (Tokyo he assumed), and I read this as a later association of a prior intuition with the advent of the atomic weapons.

You express some (understandable) incredulity at the "miraculous" in the premonition, whereas I see in the entire context a true and deeply foreboding image of fiery destruction -- that is only later ascribed to specific events. That seems to cause you some dismissal of what he understood initially or how he understood it then or later. As you said -- you "erred on the side of ‘rationality." But mythological understanding is not strictly rational -- that does not mean it is madness or not understandable or useful -- we are not entirely rational creatures -- especially in matters of life and death.
O Sensei wrote:
There is only one way to stop the war. Up till today not all karma of cause & effect in Japan have been managed properly. For this to happen we (the deities) give you divine power. Thus you yourself have to work to stop the war." In fact, I didn't believe that I could not perform such a great task.
Since I had also heard from the deity that there was a danger of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I knew (this) before it happened. However, I thought there was no way of telling everybody about such an event. I thought I would play my role in silence, so that I could protect myself.
You ascribe an aggrandizing view of himself as a "deified Superman." I hear him saying he has become subject to and a tool of forces greater than himself, while not losing his sense of small "self" in the process. In our imagery, he portrays himself as Jonah-like -- not Christ-like. But, you actually give the moral criticism delivered to Jonah in your comment, "If Ueshiba had such knowledge, why did he protect himself by not making it public? Where was his sense of responsibility to the prospective victims?"

But that is exactly where our western sensibility of divine command ends and his begins. His perceived command from the divine was different from that of Jonah -- who had shirked the command to go warn those under judgment.
He says:
The deity Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami appeared and spoke to me. "Without delay build a shrine and dojo for Takemusu Aiki (a 36-mat sacred dojo)." In accordance with the instruction I built (the shrine and dojo) on land to which I (had) retreated in the town of Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture, where I had just a small house. ... I could not speak to people who (because they) could not see with these eyes (sc. the things that I saw). Even now I still have the same attitude (about not speaking to people about this). The fact is that Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami had required me to build (the shrine). On this occasion Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami instructed me, ‘The command I have given you is the command I received from the Great Deity of Ise.' ... I have kept this secret deep in my heart and never told anybody. I thought I should do it simply because I had been told to do so by the deity. The deity told me that if I did it, then the war would stop. Thus, I kept silent and built (the dojo). This having been done, the Great Pacific War came to an end.
It is a matter of consequence that kami (save only the three kami of creation) require embodiment in a place or object (mono) to have particular temporal effect. The statement "they could not see with these eyes" speaks to his perception, as he believed coming from a personal embodiment of kami, and the simultaneous lack of a more durable embodiment in mono that could be seen and preserved by others. By broadening the embodiment in an Aiki shrine made the mono of the kami available to many. In his way of thinking, from the Aiki shrine flows a kami embodiment in Aikido itself, a deified True Budo that alone could have the possibility of ending war. This alos explains why the period of technical development ends and his period of divine traing began. On can see it as expression of a belief that Aikido had ceased to depend on him -- that he had entrusted it entirely to the divine guidance and became thereafter utterly secure in this commitment.

We can, as Westerners and in rational terms, interpret the existence and nature of what O Sensei perceived differently. His meaning seems to me not so grandiose personally, as it is deeply committed to his idea of the need to actively participate in readying requirements for a divine deliverance, and and trust in that deliverance. It is itself an expression of Aiki, in other words. Despite some differing ideas on the specifics of the nature and process of the divine, that is not a terribly different faith posture from most of Christendom, actually. It may explain some of the broad appeal of Aikido among the still (at least nominally) Christian West.


Erick Mead
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