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Old 06-09-2004, 02:14 PM   #29
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
Re: If you could only have one Aikido book ?

Larry Murray wrote:
Don M Wrote

(Still pounding my head agains the KOTODAMA stuff, though. It doesn't help that Western scholars tend to savage the concept and its applications...)

....I think that perhaps it is not that Gleason Sensei has savaged the concept and its applications, rather, maybe we just do not know enough of the philosophy behind what he is saying.
Thanks for responding. I was particularly hoping you would, actually, having read that you're from his dojo.

I think we're missing each other here. I didn't say that Gleason savaged KOTODAMA but that Western scholars did. I'm thinking in particular of Peter Dale's The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness. He's merciless.

I think you're right about us not understanding enough of the philosophy behind what he says (and I feel he could have gone a little further in interpreting this for folks who don't have his grasp of the material).

You can't read too far into the literature on KOTODAMA before finding a connection with MANTRA ala Shingon ("True Word") Buddhism. I find most references purportedly explaining KOTODAMA impenetrable. But at least I can get an intellectual grasp of the concept if I know it's part of a meditation discipline.

I found SUSAN BLAKELEY KLEIN's contribution to the book Buddhas and Kami, "Wild words and syncretic deities" to be very useful to understanding the way the Japanese manipulated concepts. According to her, the Japanese interpret (ed) ideas very broadly based on word games, metaphors, puns, "allegorical etymology", and numerology. KOTODAMA is, beyond its immediate meditative usages, sort of a way to reconcile disparate terms through puns ("Aikido is the way of love" comes to mind, riffing off of two different Chinese characters having the same pronunciation). I think this kind of "reading out" of meaning in tune with an agenda is what Osensei meant when he said aikido is KOTODAMA, i.e., a way to find commonalities and reconcile differences.

When I get to class, Gleason Sensei will explain different areas of AIkido and use some of what is in his book. Then the clouds part a little.....
Yes. I found this, too, at his Tallahassee seminar earlier this year.

....having studied under Gleason Sensei for a number of years, I find that he his very reluctant to express a view that he does not have a very good understanding of.
I got that impression.


Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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