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Old 09-22-2000, 03:03 PM   #12
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Aikido Devoid of Spiritual Practice

tedehara wrote:
After looking over the answers for Jun's thread on Misogi, in this forum, it's beginning to occur to me that Aikido, as practiced today, is generally just about martial arts technique and absent of traditional spiritual practices.

Spiritual practices would be something that was taught to you in the dojo, and is practiced by yourself, in a scheduled class or a seminar. Things like chanting, bell ringing, river misogi, breathing exercises and meditation are just some of the activities I'm talking about. I am not talking about things like breathing, living or "I once picked up a book on Spiritual Stuff in Aikido, but I didn't read it."

Things like prayer or reading spiritual text are also something I wouldn't consider, since I'm basically interested in things you wouldn't normally do, except that you were introduced to them through Aikido.

I'm especially interested in hearing from groups within Aikikai. If you want to, list your style or affiliation, so we can catagorized these practices.

If you don't have anything to write about, that says something also.

[Edited by tedehara on September 10, 2000 at 11:30am]
I think it would be good to remember that the things that you mention as spiritual practice are largely elements of religious practice as embodied in the asian countries.

Many people do some spiritual practices that are distinct from Aikido as traditions but are not distinct as their own personal practices. Often these adjunct practices give a different perspective to the art for the practitioner and allow the art of Aikido to benfit them in ways that might not otherwise.

But it would be a grave mistake to say that the lack of these elements in the Aikido practice of a given dojo means that there is no spiritual element in the practice. In my own case, when I was young I was an Asian Religions major in college. That gave me a foundation in the philsophy and spiritual beliefs of the various cultures that eventually gave us Aikido.
Despite the fact that I do not perform any of these practices you mention separately from my time on the mat, everything I do on the mat is a form of practice that enlightens these spiritual principles.

I fully believe that all of the practices you mention are valuable. But it is a mistake to judge what other people are doing by assuming that since they don't do the same things you do they won't see the same truths. Aikido training and any other activity that one might choose to do can be a spiritual practice if one approaches it that way. It just depends on what you are looking for. The answers are there all along but one only sees them if one is asking the right questions. It is the spirit of asking questions that makes Aikido spritual or not.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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