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Old 05-23-2006, 03:12 PM   #2
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: Article: A Re-transliteration of Osensei's "Kannagara no Jutsu" by "The Grindston

Thank you, David, for a worthy effort.

Your choices and critical observations about O-Sensei's text in the original are well thought out. The discussion of them in frank terms does much to make the contemporary issues of O-Sensei's time (yamato damashii, etc.) present and relevant for us today.

What comes clearly forward in your more contemporary rendering is O-Sensei's strikingly plainspoken fervency, and the affirming nature of physical practice in his eyes. This enthusiasm does not come from the esoteric ritualism of Shingon, nor the minimalist negation of Zen, nor even in the sober reverence of jinja Shinto, all of which it is well known that he equally respected. It is an enthusiasm characteristic of some aspects of Japanese culture many Westerners never see, simply because they rarely meet with Japanese where they live.

In this sense, "yamato damashii" has special meaning in my understanding of Japanese culture, and is part and parcel of the special Japanese craft of entering into any field, art or manufacture and infusing the end result with a characteristic spirit and lively touch -- even deadly things. Blending the mundane and the sublime is a very Japanese spirit indeed. Moreover, it is a thought very deeply Christian in sensiblity, if not in consciousness. This thought will will require much further consideration and development.

My background is Catholic (Zen Catholic, my wife calls me), and my undergraduate was in East Asian studes with emphasis in China and Chinese language. I am struck by the text in your translation and its universality of approach and feel to my native religious sensibilites, my affinity for Eastern thought in general, and both Buddhism and Taoism in particular. I do not think that a well-educated bishop, roshi, or shinkan would be troubled, doctrinally, by anything said in it. The references to Omoto seem cursory and not primary, gviing credit for suitable observations but not seeming to advance Omoto doctrine as such. It is a very personal and idiosyncratic expression of feeling about how and why to practice our art.

My sense of O-Sensei's affirming enthusiasm as reflected in the translation does not appear to be a mere artifact of your interpretation, but a true reflection of O-Sensei's original thought. The anecdote of O-Sensei's smiling, train car challenge to Abe Sensei (I think it was; he was then a reigning judo champion) to "Break my finger" bespeaks the same spirit.

The rendering of terms such as "kannagara" more readily captures in English the deeper meanings of this word to O-Sensei's audience, It brings across so much more clearly in context that this deeper meaning was precisely intended by O'Sensei, from a plain reading of the rest.

Thanks for a very valuable effort, deserving of much discussion and further elaboration.

Erick Mead
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