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Old 03-20-2005, 08:12 PM   #33
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
Location: Three Lakes WI/ Mishima Japan
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 837
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Re: Kototama Question

Hi,
A couple comments,

Carlos bought one of John Stevens` books and has an interest in Kototama. Rob cautions him (us?) about the book saying that there are mistakes in it. Yet Rob doesn`t give any explanation. So that leaves us with the question of who is Rob Liberti and does he know more about the subject than J. Stevens. I think the post was a bit irresponsible of Rob and not in line with the usual high quality of his posts. J. Stevens, for some reason, comes under heavy fire on the internet. If it prompts debate and the exchange of info, I think it is a good thing. Don Modesto, for example, has been critical of Prof. Stevens, but Don always writes why. We can take what Don writes and look at the books and see if it jibes. If there is just the comment that J. Stevens is wrong, there is nothing to do with that comment.

As for the Kototama and Prof. Stevens, his main two resources seem to be the books and tapes of the Founder`s talks plus what J.S. learned personally from Rinjiro Shirata. As far as I can tell, what is written in "Secrets.." is what Ueshiba believed explained through the filter of John Stevens. In contrast, "The Essence of Aikido" is what O`Sensei taught. "Essence" is a difficult book, and this seems to be one reason JS wrote "Secrets", to explain it in somewhat clearer terms. Of course, this means the ideas are going to be watered down.

But is this a problem? My third point is that it isn`t due to what I personally learned from Stevens Sensei. I once asked some detailed questions about the meaning of the kototama, and Sensei told me that the meaning of the kototama that he could explain to me would not be the true meaning. He said that by studying, practicing, and reflecting on the kototama, the meaning would come to me. So my advice to Carlos (or anyone else) is to go somewhere where you would feel comfortable making strange sounds and try vocalizing the sounds. See how they affect you. Keep reading all the books you can find on the subject. Try to meet John Stevens and ask him questions. Try to avail yourself of Shaun`s "opportunity." Take singing lessons, maybe. And go back to vocalizing the sounds on your own again seeing how they affect you.

Sorry about the length.

Charles
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