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Old 11-12-2012, 01:18 PM   #19
Tom Verhoeven
Dojo: Aikido Auvergne Kumano dojo
Location: Auvergne
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 295
Re: A Christian perspective on Budo

Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Thank you Tom for joining the discussion and your positive feedback to my blog . I agree with you that Christianity has disconnected and lost its link to chivalry, for good or for bad. There are probably various historical factors that have influenced this. In many respects Chivalry was a very medieval answer to a very medieval problem. Nevertheless as a Christian martial artist and a 'student' (I use the term loosely) of Budo I find learning about how medieval knights married their faith with their profession very insightful and inspirational.

I also agree with you that the path of the warrior is a spiritual path. As martial artists our character is cultivated through training, like the polishing metaphor discussed by Diana. It is a path of self-discipline and moral cultivation. However, as you mentioned in your reply to one of Diana's posts there is no concept of original sin in Shinto so therefore Christianity does struggle to reconcile the worldview imbued in Budo by the spiritual world of ancient Japan. Conversely, this does not mean Christianity and budo are incompatible. There is great synergy to be gained from allowing budo to enrich religion.

I think the violence of martial arts has been emphasized in recent times due to the popularity and success of the conversion of bujutsu/budo into sport. Sport naturally involves competition and in combat sports this means that physical strength, agility and speed become the core components of a successful fighter. These are external factors rather than internal and therefore the art becomes reduced to the competition between two fighters on a physical level. When sport becomes profitable from a commercial viewpoint such as MMA and the UFC then the rules of the sport are adapted to make the sport more 'entertaining'. When entertainment becomes the primary goal of the sport then the spiritual path of the warrior is sacrificed for the more primordial gratification of seeing controlled violence.

Just out of interest would you mind elaborating on how the way I describe my faith is in line with Ueshiba & Deguchi's?
Hello Ewen,
I do not know where you live, but in the Auvergne where I live much of the history of the medieval period still can be seen. Some of the castles are being restored, cathedrals and churches from the middle ages can be visited and there are several medieval festivals each year. Some of the crusades started here in the Auvergne. And one of the most important saints for the knights as well as for the commoners was Mary Magdalen - there are still yearly pilgrimages to honor her.

Just as you I have always been interested about history, especially the medieval period, and the connection of martia arts and the spiritual or religious path. And you are right, it is insightful and inspiring to get into.

As for your request to elaborate:
The impression that I got (but please correct if I am wrong) was that you are open-minded to other Christian approaches and even other religions. In Japan there is not much controversy between the different religions. People are often followers of Shinto as well as of Buddhism and of Christian faith.

The main Shinto shrines that O Sensei would visit for prayer and offerings are Kongen taisha - shrines dedicated to Kami and to Buddha. The enshrined Kami there are considered an avatara for a Buddha.

It is from this point of view not strange to see that the Omoto kyo teachings of Deguchi emphasizes oneness of all good religions. In this vision the kami Sukuna Hiko, associated with koto-dama (sacred words, love) became the god of the Jews and the Christians.

O Sensei followed this line of thinking, so students who wondered if they needed to follow his religion were told that there was no need to. There own religion would offer them all they needed if they searched for it, as all religion have one source; kami sama (or the void).

For me the study and keiko of misogi, koto dama, meditation and other aspects of Shinto have, since I came across it now more then thirty years ago, been an essential part of practicing Aikido.

I hope this sort of answers your question?

Best wishes from the Auvergne,

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