Thread: kotodama
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Old 09-14-2002, 06:54 AM   #10
Ernesto Lemke
Dojo: Seikokan , Leeuwarden
Location: Leeuwarden. the Netherlands
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 150
Re: Re: kotodama

Goldsbury Peter (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Shirata Sensei also was an Omoto believer and once talked to me about the value of kotodama for his own training.
Dear Peter,

I found your remark concerning Shirata Sensei and Kototama intriguing. In his case, he would in a real sense have spoken from experience, but I wonder how his thoughts where on trying to transmit this aspect of his aikido practice to others. Especially to those who did not share his background. Keeping in mind his background in Omoto Kyo, he was ‘indoctrinated' from a very early age to not question kototama practice as we, the current generation of practitioners, are inclined to do. Basically, because we are totally unfamiliar with it in every sense of the word.

So, is having a cultural background or understanding of the cultural aspects surrounding kototama practice as performed by Omoto Kyo practitioners, a must for having a real understanding of it's ‘actual' meaning? And if so, then what is this ‘actual' meaning? Something beyond the rational and into the realm of the mystique?

I wonder if we need a rational in order to grasp this essentially Japanese practice. I am and have been interested in aikido history and that helped me a lot to gain a better understanding on where it is aikido came from but the ‘secret' of aikido is in the practice of aikido itself is it not? Reading about getting thrown is not the same as landing flat on your back. Approaching kototama the same as a technique therefore seems to make sense. Total focus and concentration on the here and now. "Moving Zen' if you will. Masakatsu agatsu katsuhayabi.

But this is perhaps only so when you can actually study under someone who's own experience is such and Shirata Sensei's certainly was.

And so I wonder, how would he talk to you, a westerner, about this seemingly mysterious Japanese practice? Would he just ramble on and on, without giving a second thought on whether the person he spoke to was actually able to follow him? O-Sensei did it seems and still Shirata Sensei claimed (and I don't question this) that he was able to understand some of the things he was saying. But of course, this was after years and years of study, study, study. But he had a headstart which none of us today have.

I am really interested in learning whether Shirata Sensei expressed kototama in Japanese or universal terms. Everything I read or heard him say concerning aikido, especially philosophically, sounded very cultural and required a cultural understanding if one's desire was to extract any universality from it. His personality though seemed to beam universality even though he was a very traditional man, meaning everyone acknowledges moral virtues such as sincerity, friendliness and modesty. In my mind, Shirata Sensei seemed to be the personification of such virtues.

Therefore, I am more then interested in your opinion.

Best regards,

Ernesto Lemke
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