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Old 02-23-2005, 08:09 PM   #4
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Article: O-Sensei's Aikido by George S. Ledyard

Anders Bjonback wrote:
Also, I don't think I'd be interested in aikido if it wasn't for the ethical and philosophical system attached to it. If it was just strengthening the ego through fighting and competition, I wouldn't enjoy it at all. I just limit myself to what I can identify with, which is from the perspective that if I'm really doing aikido, then I'm acting in harmony with what is, and the idea of non-competition and such. Even though I don't have the same belief system as the founder, I certainly do not think that aikido is a waste of time, and I don't think that it's a "mundane" rather than "spiritual" pursuit for me.
It all depends on how deeply you want to go into it. Yes, there is an ethical system that goes with Aikido and there is a very similar ethical system which goes with Buddhism. Where does it come from? There is a reason which Buddhist ethics are what they are.

In Christianity and the other religions which came out of the Middle East ethics are theistically based. God said so and that's it. But in East Asian systems things aren't so cut and dried. You have the ability to experience truth directly; that is the fundamental element in these systems. In Christianity the folks who believed this were called heretics and expunged (Gnostic heresies). It was assumed that we need an intermediary in the form of a Priest and the Church to act for us. We are saved, not through our own actions but simply through God's Grace. In the traditions which formed O-Sensei's world view it is through our own actions that we attain the divine. It is FROM knowledge that ethics derives, otherwise it's just feel good ideas which vary from person to person. In Buddhism this is Karuna (Compassion) which is at the heart of it's ethics. O-Sensei saw something very similar in the idea of Love which binds the elements of the universe together.

People are free to practice Aikido for whatever reasons they wish. It's "fun" is good enough. But if one doesn't go looking deeper than that, one isn't going to see any deeper. Everone's choice. You get out what you put in. My article was meant to help with making the Founder's Aikido more accesible to everyone. For me that is very important. There are certainly plenty of folks, who styles of Aikido in fact, which don't pay the least attention to what the Founder intended Aikido to be. Others simply pick and choose which parts of the Founder's philosophy which fit their own pre-conceptions and feel that is enough. It's for everyone to decide. For me, O-Sensei had the vision. I want to experience some aspect of that vision for myself. That isn't going to happen automatically through lots of mat time. It is a matter of directing ones training towards what one wants out of the training. For many, if not most Aikido folks O-Sensei is the guys whose picture is on the wall. Other than that he doesn't have much to do with their ideas about training. You're in good company if you don't feel the Foudner's ideas are very relevant to your world view.

But I would suggest that many of the things we view as being quite mundane in our practice have levels of meaning beyond which for some, anyway, are at the heart of what the Founder intended for his art and in fact provided the impetus for its creation in the first place. Without this impetus, we'd all be doing Daito Ryu Aikijutsu. And for many of us that would probably be ok. Just not for me.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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