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Old 09-29-2012, 09:30 PM   #16
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 653
Re: spirtuality in the dojo

Fascinating to find out that Finnish has no single word to translate "spirituality."

I know people who are very adamant about the difference between spirituality and religion, but perhaps that difference really only matters in the context of Western monotheism. The Western idea of an omnipotent, immanent, omnipresent, yet personal God has no real analog in the Eastern context. So when Westerners start to talk about that stuff those Eastern folks do, it becomes necessary to come up with a new term. What is it that Zen mediation practices? It's not glorification of some sky-daddy god. Yet it is working on the human self, the human spirit. So I guess it's "spiritual."

My own engagement with Aikido is very much because of its spiritual dimension, but from my point of view that dimension does not need to be explicit to be active. We train the body to train the mind, treating the body and mind as a unity--something that Zen overlooks. I could go practice karate, and I'm sure there are high-level karate teachers who talk about spiritual dimensions of karate in similar ways--but karate does not train my body, hence my mind, in ways that I find enriching. Ditto boxing, the "noble science" to some--I do not want to spend much time training my mind to adopt the attitude boxing teaches.

But because Aikido teaches the spirit through the body, spiritual teaching does not need to be explicit in Aikido. In fact, few of my teaches have spent much time at all on the mat discussing spiritual issues. Which is just fine with me. When I'm on the mat, I want to train.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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