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Old 08-20-2012, 09:10 AM   #96
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,181
Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
I like your post overall, but I must say I totally disagree with this. This is O-Sensei we're talking about. How are we possibly NOT to argue about what he was doing, how he was doing it, and how to reproduce it ourselves?
My answer to this is simple: we avoid the argument by admitting that we don't really know. I don't mean to dismiss scholarship, but the fact is, I'm not a scholar myself, and I don't speak Japanese. Any "research" that I did would be in English, and thus, at second-hand at best. I can look at the work of others, and I can make intelligent decisions about whose scholarship (and motives) I am inclined to trust. But even the most rigorous and impartial scholar doesn't really know, either. No one does.

Any time that knowledge is passed on, it's like a game of telephone. Things get changed and distorted. You can check back with the originator up to a point; however, even there you're unlikely to get precisely the same message twice. And even mouth to ear, there's always a gap. What is said and what is heard are always different. So why cling to the notion that we can truly know someone else's intention and carry it forward with perfect clarity through the years? This is why religions get bogged down with clothing and hair and who sleeps with who and what you can eat: because it's a lot easier to track these kind of details, and to use them as a prop for one's legitimacy, than to admit that there is no authority and that we each pursue our own truth. That's not to say that all truths have equal value -- but each person has to pursue their own. You can't drink anyone else's koolade (at least, not to good effect!).

Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
It's telling that you have to go to religion for your parallel. If you're seeing Aikido as a religion, you've got a problem. Other areas of human experience are supposed to be debatable.
If I understand Nicholas's point, it's not that he sees it as a religion, but that he perceives others as treating it in such a way -- specifically, like a scriptural religion, a "religion of the book", one with a growing fundamentalist element that claims authority from what is purported to be the word of God. I don't think aikido is helped by "O Sensei Fundamentalism", where people use quotations from the founder as bully clubs to try and advance their point of view. I don't see that it leads to anywhere good -- just an escalating arms race in an effort to claim the ultimate authority over what aikido is.
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