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Old 02-14-2005, 09:02 PM   #29
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Re: Has all the love gone?

Hi Peter,

Thanks for replying -- I know you are busy.

First, let me say, this is very good stuff in my opinion. I also think it ties in nicely with our other thread -- the one on Osensei and the phrase, "I am the universe." Wouldn't you agree?

Here is what I got then:

The original post is being approached from two angles. One angle I would call the "contemplative" angle, and the other angle I would call the "historical" angle. Of course, there is overlap between the two. Both angles, are seeing the "Love" as discussed in the original post as somehow deficient in its assumed understanding (according to each angle). However, let us say that we may be reading a lot into the original post, and at this point, I think it is wise to disassociate the possible understanding of Love that we are contrasting within this discussion from the original poster's understanding of Love. We may be reading the original poster correctly -- we may not. Either way, it is a good post. It raises many issues.

At this point, I do not feel that original poster's understanding of Love is relevant (i.e. what it was or what it may be). Truth be told, regardless of what the original poster might have meant by "Love," we do know for a fact that there is indeed a common view of Love in Aikido circles where that term is understood quite differently from how we are suggesting it might better be understood via our two angles. Generally, this common understanding of Love conflicts with the notion of Love as presented in these two angles by being thought of as "all accepting," and/or "innately present." As such, its means of cultivation and practice also differs. In particular, the common understanding of Love is thought to be available via analogy and metaphor (and other types of language games -- see the other thread on changing the word "nage" to the word "release"), and/or first efforts. Alternately, the other type of Love held in our two angles is considered to be the result of experience and insight that comes via the carrying forth of practices that can rightly be considered ascetic.

In the contemplative angle, the position that "Aikido is Love" does not warrant that critical thought should be exempt from our practice. In fact, the statement "Aikido is Love" actually warrants that we maintain a firm grasp on our capacity to reflect critically. This is because of the intimate relationship that must exist between Truth and Love. (That is the heart of this response) For my money, Thomas Merton is the best thinker on this kind of stuff -- because he is so accessible. I am borrowing his usage of the word "contemplative" here. However, I imagine that one can go to any religious personality, throughout history, and see the same thing since I cannot here think of any religious person that did not in some way issue a similar position. Even the Christ's teaching on tolerance and The Buddha's "Middle Way" have great room and need for the intellect, critical thinking, and even rejection.

In the historical angle, Osensei's "love" is understood firmly as a kind of cultivation, perhaps even an achievement, or a realization, or awakening. Whatever the case, it is natural to Man, but he/she has no access to it without ascetic and/or ritual practices, etc. Moreover, its notion of being beyond conflict is not so much one of welcoming all points of view as equal. Rather it is because Love is thought to be omnipotent -- for lack of a better word. Love is beyond conflict because it is beyond contestation -- in other words. Being beyond contestation does not mean that one does not contest and thus is in possession of Love. Rather, it suggests, being in possession of Love, one is beyond being contested. (That is the heart of this response.) The cultivation of this Love takes place through Aikido training -- according to Osensei. In the radio interview he makes it clear the he sees the dojo as the place for his "ascetic training" ("shugyo") -- it is that place through which he carries out his practices thought to be working toward the Divine Plan. Not by coincidence, we see a lot of critical thought and rejection in Osensei's Aikido. As you said Peter, not just any ol' techniques will do.

On a side note: Yes, I would say there is a tie between Osensei's "Love" and Christian "Love." I would suggest that Osensei's love is a derivative of Christian "Love" -- particular Christian mystic "Love." Omoto-kyo had strong connections with the Christian mystic groups of Europe and the States during that part of the 20th century. All of these groups were into forming a world religious movement. The center of this movement was a universal philosophy and doctrine. At the center of that were two things: A universal deity and Love -- which was considered His nature. This is why one might get a closer understanding of Osensei's thinking if one reads St. John of the Cross (who was read by those Christian groups Omoto-kyo had contact with) as opposed to reading Kisshomaru (who did his best to retool and/or reformulate "Aikido" according to the secular-spiritual discourse that modern Japan was adopting for itself following WWII). If I remember correctly, but I may be wrong, Onisaburo considered himself a reincarnation of Jesus -- which was also a relatively common trend for New Religions and/or other types of millenarian groups that were being put out by the radical social changes that were happening at or around Meiji.

Again, thanks for the reply, very interesting,

David M. Valadez
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