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Old 10-17-2012, 07:40 AM   #9
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 385
Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

We have a relatively small congregation here, but it does outreach into the community. Families, groups and individuals have visited Haiti, New Orleans and Africa to help out in various endeavors including school founding and disaster relief. One thread to which I submitted posts said that martial arts people and their dojos should actively help others in society at large. Many do, as part of their own dojo's projects in the community, or as individuals. I think that was my answer or what I intended to answer at some point. Many people interested in martial arts also have strong community involvement, teaching disadvantaged young people at no charge, and major charities enlist the help of dojos for fund raising contests and exhibitions. Combatting cancer may be one, and combatting diabetes is another cause dojos across the country are involved in. A person might offer help as a member of a church or other faith community, or if he or she is not part of one, many dojos offer an opportunity to serve others in that way.

The words faith community offer a broader category than what we heard in past decades, "Churches and synagogues." Churches and synagogues were known for their charitable activities, and as other faiths and their congregations in American communities became larger and better known to their neighbors and fellow townspeople, their community service became better known and the category was widened into "faith community." Real estate listings here often mention proximity to Houses of Worship. It could be ease of modern transportation and accessibility of such means, or it could be actual physical proximity due to the restriction of Orthodox Judaism against traveling by car or other transport on the Sabbath. To refer to your mention of the lake, the Sabbath is an opportunity for the soul as lake to be still to reflect God to follow the beautiful example you cited.

In Buddhism, I seem to remember three tenets, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, which brings me to the topic of community itself. The Dharma, if I remember correctly, is the Way, what a person does in life, specifically, following the way of the Buddha as passed down in Buddhist Scriptures and by its Patriarchs and later leaders . The Sangha, however is the community and is very important in Buddhism though I don't know the specific teachings about it, I know it is very important. Likewise in Judaism and Christianity and many other religions. Our particular church parish was started in the 1940's as a result of gas (petrol) rationing and thus started as a close community of neighbors whose lives were closely linked already or soon became so. I remember down the road from the church was the nursery school (nursery schools here are now called Pre-K, for pre-Kindergarten) where we played in an imitation train made out of boxlike cars made out of wood by locals and I still have a picture of some of my classmates peering out of the windows.

There is a lot a community, large or small, can do, for those nearby or far, whether it is monetary donations for medicine or a traveling clinic somewhere in the nation or the world, or support for a school somewhere, or individuals traveling to be of help to others. The other side of community is to welcome people who come through the doors of the building or who are met during daily activities around town or anywhere get to know them, or simply offer a referral to something of interest or need or just quietly look friendly so the other person feels he or she might be open to a conversation.

There are so many ways to be a good neighbor just to brighten one's day, even if the neighbor is not lying on the ground beaten and bleeding. It is essential to do what one can or call for help in such cases, but we shouldn't neglect the times when, if our soul at the moment is like the quiet lake, we can sense that the other person could use a kind word or a smile to brighten his or her day.

One of the phrases I learned from a book on Aikido my judo teacher had lent me when I was in college was "produce and protect all beings in Nature' I'm not sure if a Japanese phrase I later heard is its translation, but it seems to be an interesting paraphrase of concepts of Shinto that O Sensei stated in his own way. This fascinated me in the 1960's and I found the general background of O Sensei's beliefs plus the practice in the dojo, which I loved and gave me a chance to approach what I felt to be the closest thing to flying that people are able to do, led me to stay with the dojo for many years.

It was also great to be part of the group. In those days, there were actors studying movement for the stage, a retired police officer, a brewer from New Jersey who was still teaching Aikido after he moved to Florida. There was a picture on the website announcing his eightieth birthday. Many dojo are warm hearted communities doing serious martial arts practice. Good for the body, good for the mind and good for the spirit.

Well, I got carried away by the examples. I hope you find them relevant to your topics

Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-17-2012 at 07:45 AM.
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