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Old 01-07-2009, 10:03 AM   #5
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: Why do we bow in Aikido?

Mohammad Ahmad wrote: View Post
I'm posting this thread because I need help with it, as it represents a dilemma for me, and I pose it in the most open minded way, and expect the same in the replies I see.

I recognize that the bow in Aikido is deep rooted, and I mostly believe it is a form of respect as expressed in the Japanese culture, as we bow to O Sensei, Sensei and our fellow Aikidoka.

What are the true origins of bowing in Japanese culture? What's its philosophy?
In Japan bowing is not a gesture of submission as such but acknowledgment of hierarchy initiated toward one owed an obligation (providing knowledge, economic situation, social position, etc.) one bows to those "seated above" (kamiza) oneself in thanks for their provision, and in return that is acknowledged by the superior. 礼 "rei" is not a command to submit to the object of the bow -- but means to express gratitude.

Bowing did not originate in the Emperor cult -- nor do the Japanese mean what we mean when the word kami or shin is over-loosely translated as "divine.""Divine" is underinclusive as compared to kami in Japanese and kami is overinclusive compared to "divine" in English. In Shinto, there is a strong hierarchy of all kami (the order is debated depending on who you talk to, but the Creator Kami constitute a different class all together. Some people, living or dead are seen as kami, but this is in the sense of "saint" as Christians (or even Shi'a) would use such terms. Most of the spiritual kami fit much more closely to our common image of angels or elemental forces (and djinn, also, perhaps, in your context) far better than the truly polytheist systems like the Greek and Egyptian "gods."

Mohammad Ahmad wrote: View Post
In my spiritual practice, the bow and the prostration is a form a total submission, to who I believe is God The Creator of all things, including humans, living or dead. This represents my core belief and identity. .... In the Dojo, I bow to O Sensei and Sensei, because it is implied as a form of respect the way the Japanese see it. But, every now and then a minor conflict surfaces as a few of my fellow Aikidokas don't bow, and they bring up the reasoning that I mentioned above and that it originated as a form of worship to the emperor, and my reasoning is that it is a form a respect as the Japanese see it and there is no harm in doing so.
Your approach sounds proper.

All people of the Book have the same problem you mention -- but it is distinguished, at least in the Church, by two different forms of observance, -- dulia -- which is veneration or offering of great respect owed toward the very worthy or holy person, situation or object, a learned person, a saint, the Virgin Mary, a place of spiritual signficance or an image of holiness, etc., -- all contrasted starkly to latria -- (the root seen in "ido-latry") which is true worship, owed to God alone.

Muslims, as I understand it, offer veneration -- dulia -- to all prophets, especially their own prophet, but also to Jesus, as a prophet (indeed, a somewhat unique prophet, at that), whereas we Christians offer Him true worship latria, because of our respective differences on the issue of the Incarnation and Personality of the Godhead. But the nature of the distinction of the observance that is proper is the same between us, the boundary is different, is all.

Genesis tells us that on the sixth day "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. .. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Thus, did God prescribe veneration toward every thing He had made -- merely because it was all, and each every bit of it, very good.

It is very good for people who differ in faith, but have found a road to travel together, to have places such as this to easily discuss those differences and how they may be mutually respected.

AikiWeb is therefore kami.

合氣ウェブ に礼 !

AikiWeb ni rei!


Erick Mead
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