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Old 11-15-2004, 05:42 AM   #29
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Mysterious Action of Kotodama

So much of what O-Sensei taked about was incomprehensible to tha average person who a) had no classical education and had not read or studied the Japanes classics which contain the myths upon which Shinto is based. And by this I refer to what "religion" was in Japan before the official modern tradtions such as Buddhism and Conficionism came to Japanese shores. b) most Japanese, and this would include most of the deshi, had little or no knowledge of the religious traditions whose esential beliefs underly the modern religious traditions.

If you take the Kototama as fundamental to O-Sensei's understanding of ho wthe universe works and therefore how Aikido functions, there are a host of traditions which would afford someone an understanding of he general gist of what he was speaking about if not the exact specific Omotokyo meaning of a given concept.

In other words, the kototama is a way of understanding the nature of things that spread from India through Tibet, Mongolia into China then to Korea and Japan. O-Sensei's way of talking about the universe in terms of everything being described in terms of vibration represented by a sound, and then that sound having associated colors, elements, psychic aspects, Kami etc. would be comprehensible to anyone from a Tibetan Buddhist background for instance. They might not understand the specifically Shinto religious associations used by O-Sensei but they would be quite at home with his general view that the universe was created when the primordial stillnes was broken by a sound (vibration). Even in Westre traditions we have the remais of this type of thinking although we;ve lost the application in any systematic way. The Bible starts with "in the beginning was the "Word".

All Shinto derived traditions before modern state sponsored Shinto was based on the idea of the Kannagara no Michi, the way ofthe Kami. This was the Kototama. Buddhism also picked up the same concepts along the way becoming Mikkyo or Esoteric Buddhism in Japan. Kukai, the Founder brought the system back from China. Although they don't use the same symbolic mythology that O-sensei did in his later life (He did study Shingon Buddism when he was young) O-Sensei's general meaning would have been comprehensible to them in a way that he wouldn't be to any ordinary person because they shared the same fundamental reference point of the kototama, the universe described by vibartion and its symbology.

It is my understanding that Deguchi sparked something of a renaissance in Japan with regard to Kototama. His sytem was Omotokyo but other Shinto derived groups shared the same essential concepts and would therefore be able to get the general gist of what he was talking about even if the specific Omotokyo version was unique. And he would understand there basic frame of reference as well. I think this explaions the various friendships which O-sensei seemed to have with varios spiritual teachers of the time. They all shared this uderlying "energetics" view of the nature of hings andtherefore had something of a common language.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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