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Old 01-04-2007, 10:46 AM   #8
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: Western religion and Aikido

Jorge Garcia wrote:
This is a deep question with lots of answers.
If I accept the tenets of the New Testament, I know that the particular beliefs of Shintoism aren't true and that O Sensei really isn't coming back by the clapping to observe the practice or aid it in any way. It's just clapping with no real metaphysical results. In that case, because I hold to the tenets of my religion, it is easy to go along and ignore the Shinto but accept clapping as a cultural practice rather than a religious one because by clapping, I, in my heart am not accepting Shinto cosmology. I am just clapping because my teacher is clapping.
Oh, we can give it greater depth than that and still reconcile both traditions in harmony. That is our purpose in Aikido, after all.

Shinto can be accepted in every particular where it does not conflict with revealed truth. If anyone thinks the concept of kami is necessarily offensive to revealed truth, then they have not properly understood the concept of kami. "Thrones, powers, dominions ...?"

As to O Sensei's veneration according to Shinto tradition in the dojo, in Catholic tradition, we are simply asking for his intercession in our practice to make it fruitful and acceptable to God. If we are faithful, he is merely dead -- not utterly gone.

We rely on something the Apostle's Creed describes as the "communion of saints" to support us in perservering in faith. Even in the Protestant branches, even the more Calvinistic doctrine, this is not an alien concept, either. The Westminster Confession (adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist convention in 1688) described it as those "being united to one another in love, have communion in each other's gifts and graces" by the mediation of Christ (the divine Word). We merely ask thatw e be permitted to commune with him in his art, spiritually, as we commune with one another in his art, materially.

O Sensei was clearly a man of prodigious virtue. One can debate the particular profession of Christian faith by O Sensei in any exclusive or dogmatic sense, but he clearly identified with the Divine Word or fundamental reason and will underlying creation. Christ was hardly exlcusionary in his modes of teaching. O Sensei also teaches the invocation of LOVE in accordance with that will among mankind, and specifically applying it towards one's enemies on that basis.

That hits the necessary high points of the evangelium ("good news") for me. I do not have authority to teach that he was teaching the Gospel in another form, but by no evidence I have seen am I required to assume or act as if he wasn't (and privately, I may permissibly assume that he was.) That delicately suggestive but steely ambiguity is quintessentially both Catholic and Japanese in its feeling.

It is no more impermissible nor unfaithful to observe or venerate the kamidana in accordance with Shinto ritual in a genuine spirit of faith as to the "uniting to one another in love" that occurs in the proper Aikido practice than it was for St. Paul to point out and venerate the statue of the "unknown God" for the benefit of the Athenians and in accordance with their own traditions.
Jorge Garcia wrote:
So we have a compromise. Me as a Westerner not accepting O Sensei's Omotokyo or Shintoism but willing to participate in some outward forms that are part of the Japanese culture because they have no basis is metaphysical fact (in my mind). ... I can strive for peace and harmony and ki- mind - body coordination - it's "end", without having to believe that when O Sensei practiced Aikido, he really stood on the rainbow bridge between spirit and matter - his "means".
You need not necessarily assume that the inward forms are at odds. The Floating Bridge merely describes the human condition, and he merely advocates that we fully realize the condition of our true nature. If O Sensei did have some "good news" to teach (and who is there to say he did not?) then you shortchange a very possibly true spiritual gift by not exploring its interior dimensions for yourself in a spirit of faith.

Masagatsu agatsu! Katsu Hayabi!
"True victory is self-victory! Day of Swift Victory!"

In twenty years of looking at it, I have not found a single essential thing in Aikido that is not a part of Truth. My own shallow dalliance early on was progressively deepened. It brought me full circle to the roots of faith expressed in tradition and scripture.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 01-04-2007 at 10:51 AM.


Erick Mead
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