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Old 08-23-2011, 06:45 AM   #76
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,183
Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
Thanks Carsten. In English spiritual does not exclusively have a sense of the divine so of course an atheist or an agnostic can be spiritual and do things or experience things in a spiritual way.
Well, at least they say they can -- although, again, the large majority of these "spiritual but not religious" people can't really articulate what they mean by "spiritual". In such cases, I've found, it is likely that different people are using the same catch-all term to refer to very different things.

It's also not a matter of the English language, but of a cultural usage. The term "spiritual" has become popular in American culture, and possibly in some other English-speaking cultures as well, as a catch-all phrase for pretty much anything that feels good and that doesn't necessarily have a specific physical agent. That's not really what the word means, it's just a popular contemporary usage.

Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
It might be better to make a distinction between spiritual and philosophical anyway.
I'd say so, although as that implies more examination of what exactly you mean by those terms, I don't think this approach will be very popular.

Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
But your point is very interesting. If someone who did not have any sense of spirituality (your example of a person coming to the dojo without it) did aikido for a long time would that person develop one?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: except in rare cases, aikido is not a spiritual or esoteric practice, no matter how many people want to label it as such. It is not taught as such, it is not conducted as such. Many people claim that aikido is a spiritual experience for them, and I'm not going to argue with them (although I'd lay money that they're using the term "spiritual" in the broad sense I mentioned earlier), but insofar as this is true, there's nothing special about aikido that makes it so. Aikido is one of many activities -- practically an infinite number of them -- that can be a catalyst for change in an individual who is ready to make that change. People who are ready to change their lives (sometimes consciously, but much more often unconsciously), and who live as most of us posting to this board do, in an environment rich in opportunities, will find a catalyst. It could be aikido. It could be walking. It could be sitting meditation. It could be working in a soup kitchen. It doesn't have to be an activity that has that "spiritual" marketing stamp on it, it doesn't have to be esoteric or exotic. It doesn't have to require you to wear funny clothes or eat funny food or learn ritual phrases in a foreign language. When it happens to someone who's been plodding along through life, they're inclined to credit the particular activity with having some special and unique character that made this magical change happen. I don't think that's true. Aikido is special, sure, but so are innumerable other things. The magic is in the alchemy, not in aikido.
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