Many apologies for all the commotion I have caused. Recently in the "General" forun someone asked the question about "why do they clap in front of the kamiza." It appeared from reading the responses that he was not getting the appropriate information, so I explained the custom and why they did this practice. It was not that I was trying to convert anyone to another religion nor was I advocating or insisting upon this practice in Aikido but merely sharing information which I have come upon in my own curiousity in this unusual custom. For some reason which I still do not understand clearly, many people misinterpreted my response and became very angry and offended. I was quite surprised.
As I mentioned several times, we do not clap in my own dojo in the opening and closing bow, although there are many Aikido dojos who do around the world. In this case, I was only sharing information without any other intention so I hope I have made my self clear. It is only information which you can take or leave. If this subject has no interest for you, please ignore it. If you are interested in this custom of clapping, I hope I have provided some interesting bits of information of why they do it. Largely, my interest in only scholarly because in Japan, it is a widely practiced custom in Shinto and the meaning behind it is rather interesting to me in my study of world religions. It is purely academic for me. Please keep in mind that it is only a belief-system of a particular culture and society is and really not subject to scientific investigation. Again, I say that it is only what some people believe in and not something I am advocating or insisting upon in Aikido.
I have also mentioned a relation of Zen to the traditional Japanese martial arts and this has caused a big ruckus too and some are strongly insisted that there is none. This is fine. If someone feels that way and interprets his practice that way, it is his right and priviledge and free will to do so and has nothing to do with me. I practice in a different way as I was trained and that is all. I do not insist that my way is right or better or whatever, it is simply the way I practice, understand my practice and choose to practice. If people feel differently or have a contrary point of view, I see nothing wrong with this at all, not at all. I don't feel like I need to defend myself nor do I insist my way is right, I repeat again. I also do not feel a need to condemn others simply because their views are different from mine. I certainly do not want to change or insist on changing another person's point of view as well. I only hope and pray that although each person may have a different view of his practice, we can still get along harmoniously together on the web and still exchange friendly discourse in a polite and pleasant way. Maybe I am asking too much?
This reminds of an old Chinese story called the "Parable of the Peach." An emperor in ancient China had a favorite minister who was very wise and a tremendous helto running the country. Once in the imperial garden, the minister took a peach and bit into it and handed it to the emperor saying, "What a delicious peach, please try some!" The emperor praised the minister saying how generous he was to share this delicious peach.
When the minister's mother had taken ill, the minister jumped into the emperor's personal coach and took off to see her. The emperor only praised the minister on his filial piety and loyalty to his mother.
The other ministers became very jealous of this favored mnister who seemed like he could do no wrong and plotted against him. Through lies and intrigue, they finally turned the emperor's attitude against the minister. Enraged the emperor screamed, "How dare this minister eat an imperial peach and hand such a dirty thing to me. How dare he use the imperial coach without my permission!" The emperor had the ministers legs cut off for using his coach and he was finally tortured to death for eating the emperor's peach.
We decide so much by how we think. If we like a person, it seems like they can do no wrong. But, in a split second, we can change our attitude and suddenly the same good friend can appear as an evil traitor. This is just human nature.