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Old 05-07-2012, 10:26 AM   #44
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: Does Modern Aikido Teach Enlightenment?

I kinda stayed away from this, but I suppose I do have something to say.

With all due respect I think the question is a bit of a straw man argument.

As the discussion goes, the argument is made that some claim Aikido, for them, has a spiritual aspect that is something other than just the martial effectiveness, historic lineage, IS, cool outfits, or whatever is used to in essence define what Aikido is all about. So it's not *just* one thing or another, but for some it also includes something people say is "spiritual".

But then you talk about "can you achieve enlightenment". That's quite a jump from someone saying there are spiritual components to their practice to asking about enlightenment. It seems to me that spiritual aspects to practice could cover a wide range of things of varying "weights" for that matter. And many of those "spiritual" aspects of practice for some have absolutely nothing to do with enlightenment in any sense of the word that I can think of.

Honestly I think many practice with some idea of personal improvement which many would consider "spiritual" improvement. Making one's self a better person for instance. Finding a peaceful resolution to a conflict. Trying to apply those lessons in daily life not necessarily involving physical confrontation. Learning self-control under stress. Learning to let stress go. Heck, for many just the act of practicing long term is itself "training" of a spiritual nature. A long term goal with devotion, focus, and continued focus on that goal over the period of years (decades for some of us).

And yes, one can approach playing chess or flower arranging with a spiritual mind. Consider chado, ikebana, or any variety of other Japanese "arts" that involve a similar mindset. As such Aikido for many includes that aspect as well. The "goal" isn't enlightenment for most. It is the process itself.

Anyway, I'll add to this that I'm not looking for enlightenment in my practice. I just want to be able to do cool stuff, train more, and learn more. I *like* aikido. I find it challenging (which means it can challenge me for a long time which is itself kind of a spiritual growth thing, neh?). But I'm pretty down to earth in my practice. I'm not a fluffy aiki bunny by any stretch.

But I don't think this sort of argument works or is very well thought out to be perfectly honest. Logically jumping from "we have a spiritual component which is important to our practice" to "can you attain enlightement" or even "look at all the bad things that have happened" really are logical straw men.

Religions have their scandals, crusades, and loons. It doesn't mean the religion in question (please just fill in whatever blank you wish) is itself inherently bad, evil, wrong, or whatever. I think there is little doubt that things like religions and even arts like aikido by their very nature tend to attract the "true believer" types. And those tend to be the ones who pervert things in to the vision they want to see. It gives them a home, gives them a structure, but I wouldn't judge anything other than those people themselves.

Enough rambling...

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