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Old 09-11-2011, 12:14 PM   #3
Allen Beebe
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 530
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Allen,
Good Morning Peter!

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Did you know Shirata Sensei well enough to discuss Omoto with him?
Yes and No. Shirata sensei was an open and approachable person so the discussion could have taken place rather easily. Of course the depth of response would vary depending upon the nature of relationship. My conversations with Shirata sensei were unfortunately limited for several reasons: 1) Initially I could have asked the question as an outsider. But I almost immediately became a student which kind of put me in a certain position to my mind. 2) Initially I had virtually no Japanese ability and he had virtually no English ability. 3) Evan as the first two reasons changed I remained under time constraints while visiting Yamagata because I either had a ride waiting or needed to catch a train immediately. (Kind of dumb reason not to have a conversation 20/20 hind sight, but true at the time nevertheless.) 4) Class wasn't really a time for asking those sorts of questions. 5) When in surroundings amenable to such a conversation I was usually in the company of sempai who were/was "first in line" as it were. 6) I didn't know that Shirata sensei was going to die so soon or I would have worked harder to create the circumstance in which we could have had such a discussion. I have so many questions for him now . . .

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
It is stated somewhere that Shirata Sensei's family were Omoto 'believers', but I do not fully understand the force of the term 'believer' here. Did he himself have any kind of Omoto creed?
It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei's family were Omoto ‘believers' in that they were involved in the Omoto organization. I do not know to what extent they followed ‘Omoto creed.' From my experience, for a Japanese individual to be involved in an organization qualifies them as a ‘believer' more than even knowing what it is that the organization they are involved in ‘believes." What is important is to ‘belong' as witnessed by organizational behavior.

I am unaware of Shirata Sensei maintaining Omoto organizational connections as an adult. I had the impression that Shirata Sensei as like a kid raised in a fundamentalist household. Due to his upbringing he was well aware of nature/functions of the "Fundamentalist Church," had much of the "Fundamentalist Church Doctrine" indelibly imprinted on his memory, and while maintaining beliefs that have some relationship with his childhood, as an adult he was no longer a member of the "Fundamentalist Church."

I know for a fact that Shirata Sensei visited Hagurozan regularly and practiced, and taught Yamabushi no Gyo. This was the only overt religious teaching that I witnessed Shirata sensei passing on, and he did so in a characteristically crystal clear fashion. BTW, post Meiji Era the Yamabushi on Hagurozan were forced to divide into Buddist and Shinto factions. The methodology that Shirata sensei taught was of the Shinto variety. I had the pleasure of having a conversation over tea with the head of that lineage after Shirata sensei's death. I believe that Shirata sensei was was given a Tendai funeral and burial, so there might be a familial Yamadera connection as well.

So, it was my impression that Shirata sensei was characteristically eclectic.

I do know that Shirata sensei considered O-sensei to be a Kami incarnate. It was clear that he felt this at a strong emotional level. However, it would be a mistake for some to interpret this as Shirata sensei believing that, "God was made flesh and dwelt among us as Ueshiba Morihei." He may very well have believed this to some degree, but I strongly suspect that he had a uniquely Japanese way of understanding this. Clearly he recognized O-sensei as a human being, but I think he also recognized "the divine" through O-sensei and therefore O-sensei was "divine" or participated "in the divine" to some degree. I suspect that this understanding was highly personal for Shirata Sensei. I also suspect that my understanding is limited by my Judeo/Christian upbringing and Buddhist education/immersion.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
So, to what extent was the doka an expression of 'Omoto' doctrine?
I do not know. Hence my continued contemplation on the matter.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Did Shirata Sensei ever discuss the meaning of the Masa katsu phrase?
Yes. I think I might even have video of him doing so in the dojo. I should search through my library. If I find it, I'll try to digitize it and share it with you. I am supposed to be digitizing my entire library. I still have a Beta machine just so I can watch certain videos! To be painfully honest, I have a pleasant memory of John Stevens and I discussing how Masa Katsu A Katsu Katsu Hayabi should be best translated (in relationship with a book he was working on.) As usual he favored a more poetic/aesthetically pleasing translation and I favored a more direct approach. Because we were essentially on the same page, and we both had the same teacher, it never occurred to me (until reading you) that Shirata Sensei, or others, might conceive of the phrase differently. In other words I assumed that since we shared an essential understanding, that must BE the understanding.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
As you know, the phrase is the first part of a deity's name, the deity created during his oath-swearing operation between Take Haya Susa no O no mikoto and Ama terasu O mikami. As such the name is quite straightforward, but the most common English translation reduces the meaning to controlling oneself. Is there any specific Omoto usage of this name?
Again, I do not know. I definitely see the significance of your question though. From both my study and first hand experience, it is clear that Shinko Shukyo are not necessarily constrained at all in their interpretation of pretty much any doctrine. Rather, they are usually characterized by a "God imbued" individual that re-highlights the meaning of orthodox doctrine. It is characteristic of Shinko Shukyo to make the claim that they "complete religions" which should, not surprisingly sound familiar.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Did Shirata Sensei ever use kotodama-gaku (of the sort that appears in Takemusu Aiki) to interpret the name?
I do not recall this. Due to his upbringing and his association with O-sensei he may have been able to do so to some extent. In fact, due to both of these associations he might very well have been well placed for a better (closer) interpretation of O-sensei's beliefs. I don't recall sensei every claiming this though, nor do I recall him using kotodama-gaku. Kotodama was used to explain certain aspects of our Reigi for example. However, it should be noted that those explanations came to me via John Stevens (while training at his dojo in Sendai) rather than directly, near as I can recall, from Shirata sensei in either Yamagata or Sendai. Regardless of who taught me, I tended to be rather conservative in that I liked to have what I was taught re-confirmed either directly by Shirata sensei or as a part of regular group practice in Yamagata and therefore very likely approved of by Shirata sensei (since he was probably in the next room, or preparing to enter from the side.

I do not recall ever "doing" Kotodama with Shirata sensei (outside of the aforementioned Hagurozan Yamabushi no Gyo.) I was rather surprised to see the ‘practice of Kotodama' being promoted when I had never participated in such practice with Shirata sensei. [That isn't to say it couldn't have happened. I wasn't around a good deal of the time! I just don't recall it in 7 years.] Consequently I do not make that part of practice, rather choosing to continue what I was taught directly and participated in practicing in common with others of sensei's students.
Of course, as I indicated earlier, during the time I knew Shirata sensei I was restricted by my lack of language ability and time. There are others for which language (and dialect) posed no problem and who had time and access. I suppose the only limitation then would be self-imposed . . . either cultural, preconception, or lack of interest.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Best wishes,

PAG
The same to you! I truly regret not having better answers to your questions. Some of my curiosity is purely academic. For example, it would be nice to know Shirata sensei's views and understandings on religion, not that I would necessarily wish, or endeavor to share them all. Some would much better clarify my "lineage" and now I am limited to second hand reports. Unfortunately, the "time has run out" on much of my opportunity.

There is one thing though . . . I was told that Shirata sensei kept extensive notes organizing his understandings of Aikido. Wouldn't THAT be interesting to take a look at??????!!!!!

Kind Regards,
Allen

~ Allen Beebe
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