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Old 11-23-2004, 12:07 AM   #34
Joe Bowen
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Dojo: Yongsan Aikikai
Location: But now I'm in the UK
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 212
South Korea
Re: Aikido and Preserving Ego

Matthew Green wrote:
Joseph Bowen, you seem to have a lot of good insight. You are right about one thing, and that is that Zen is not an intellectual study. I need to take the middle way more often....Gassho
High praise indeed, thank you very much……..

Charles Hill wrote:
Hi, I found the Okumura Shihan interview from Aikido Today Magazine. I cut it out so I don't know the date. Some quotes:
"O'Sensei hated Zen. If he found that a student was practicing Zen, he would get very angry with that person."
"If O'Sensei had heard people refer to Aikido as `moving Zen` he would have been very upset."
The reason, I believe, is that Zen is fundamentally not a Japanese philosophy and contradicts the native spirit faith of Shinto. Like other nature based faiths, Shinto emphasizes the new. As an example, Buddhist priests in Japan are often proud of how old their temple is. In contrast, the main Shinto Shrine in Ise is completely torn down and completely rebuilt every 20 years. This is also why, according to a professor of mine at Keio University, Japanese people use throwaway chopsticks.
…Also from the interview. "When (O'Sensei) did certain exercises, he would invoke the God of purification, but he himself said that we didn't have to do the same. His view was that we should be thinking about whatever God or Gods are sacred to us."
As for Zen, I have come to understand that there are no principles of Zen. As I understand it, Zen is a transmission from a specific teacher to a specific student. If one does not have a teacher who has received transmission directly from her teacher, then that person is not practicing Zen. Charles Hill
Matthew Green wrote:
Zen is just a word that tries its best to name what it can't. Words are not truth.... My teacher has had "Transmission" but whose to say she didn't buy it off some monk who needed another bowl of rice? If you live in the moment or ask yourself the questions, "what am I?" or "what is reality?", then you are practicing Zen whether or not you want to or not..........Zen isn't in stupid ass traditions or any of that crap. It's where you are standing right now. It is you.
Charles thanks for looking up the article. If possible can you email it to me? You've got me interested in Okumura Sensei. I agree with your reasoning about O'Sensei's dislike of Zen and its apparent contradiction of Shinto. Although essentially, I don't think Zen contradicts any religious belief. Funny that even though Zen is not a "Japanese" philosophy, most western folks automatically associate Zen with Japan. "Zen" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese "Chan". Zen Buddhism originated in China, but reached the US through Japan. Most people probably associate Zen with the martial arts due to the many books and writings in Japan about the two. While Zen Buddhism entails many rituals and "rites of passage", such as the "dharma transmission", Matthew is right. The essence of Zen is not about the ritual or tradition; it is about keeping our awareness in the here and now. If you get in a philosophical discussion about Zen, there are principles to be discussed, if you go to a Zen school, they will talk about their lineage, and how their teacher received dharma transmission from so and so who received it from so and so going back for hundreds of years. But, when you practice Zen, all of that is meaningless. It is very much like Aikido in this respect. Your teacher may have been taught by so and so who was taught by O'Sensei, but when you practice all that matters is the practice…

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