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Old 02-07-2009, 07:31 PM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,219
Re: The Magnifying Glass

Hello, Ross.

A few more comments to your latest response.

Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Again, we have to careful about basing our arguments on what O-Sensei thought, because a) we can't really know, and b) each of us has to frame our discourse in a way that stands on its own merits without recourse to some authority. Having said that, though, I hope no one will exclude consideration of the Founder's words and teachings.
PAG. I agree with (b) above, much more than with (a). I think we can know that O Sensei thought, to the extent that we are capable of reading and understanding what he wrote. If we cannot 'really' know what he thought, then there is no point in including consideration of his words and teachings.

Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Based on what little I know of you (and I will be pleased to learn more), I must object to your objection. I don't presume you to be rich (whatever that means, and in any case I would have no objection) but you have what many would consider a privileged position in your work (doubtless honorably earned, mind you). Your dojo, by your own account, has reached a considerable level of success. If you were jobless, and if your dojo were down to 5 students, you would have to make decisions about your survival and that of your dojo. These are matters of prosperity, or if you prefer, material necessity, and as such, they are matters of self-defense. It is not necessary to make a living teaching aikido (though that would be nice) in order for aikido to inform our approach to living.
PAG. Actually, I retired last year. My title as Emeritus Professor does not imply that I actually do any teaching (though I still do).

Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
And yet, am I not asking questions about the veracity of our practise? Is not the intent to hold up a magnifying glass and ask the difficult but essential questions "what is our practice," and "how do we know," and how do we evaluate good from bad?"

And by "mystical," do you mean that there was also an ethical component?
PAG. A distinctive feature of Japanese culture is that the foundation of ethics does not follow a 'western' pattern. Therefore, ethical decisions are much more firmly based on the particular situation. So, in deciding whether to be honest with a patient, for example, the doctor is much more likely to be influenced by the problems of a particular situation than follow any moral imperative. Nor do I think there is any connection between the moral and the mystical, such as Christianity gives to mysticism and sainthood. So, some Japanese who has become enlightened through a mystical experience is not--intrinsically, by this very fact--a being of superior moral virtue.

Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
None of us can know what aikido is until we ourselves have been doing it for a little while. Original reasons for joining might be interesting. They may hold up for years. But to me, the more essential question is, "why do you continue?"
PAG. Why is this more essential? The original reasons might change, but one might still be no nearer to knowing that aikido "is" after many years of training, even if this question were actually of interest. In fact, it might become more difficult.

Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
I would, frankly, be astonished to find that there were no ethical dimensions to your practise and how you present it in your school. I would be even more surprised if these teachings did not translate into your students' lives off the mat.

Now, if you want to make a case that how this happens is up to each individual, you will get little argument from me.

But if it does not happen at all, then I think it gives a validity to the distinction of what some call "sport aikido." Even then, I would say surely there is room for such a thing as sport aikido on our big planet, and let those who are drawn to it practice it joyfully.

Yet I stand by my original premise... such practice is a limited subset of what we generally call "aikido," and one which potentially is lacking certain necessary elements in order to fully qualify as aikido.
PAG. I disagree. The categories in which you present the issue are too narrow for me. My students certainly do not practise 'sport' aikido, if I understand what you mean by this. But nor do they necessarily connect they way I present aikido with their lives off the mat, particularly in an 'ethical' way. In any case, I think that any ethical dimensions to the way I train were there long before I started aikido. Of course, if you believe that every human action has (to have) an ethical dimension that results in further activity of some sort, then I can understand your surprise. But I do not believe this of aikido.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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