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Old 12-24-2004, 01:14 PM   #51
JAHsattva
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

in the art of peace Osensei says:

"bow to the universe,and it bows back.
call out the name of god,and it echos inside of you"

bowing is a sign of respect and overstanding.

either way it is up to you , what it means.

i dont think your creator will punish you for bowing.
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Old 03-03-2007, 08:05 AM   #52
Geoff Flather
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Greetings to you all,

Surely Jesus taught us to be reverent in secret, ie to pray in our inner chamber. Not to be seen to be reverent in public. In which case the class "rei" or " Sensei ni Rei " is only what you as an individual choose to make it. As a Christian it is our normal intent to be creative and in harmony. The God that I worship would not concern himself with a sign of human togetherness. It is more important that we know God, not overly concern ourselves with accepted formal outward actions. It is not how large the list of our good works are that will please God, but our knowledge of Him. As a teacher I have no quarrel with anyones choice of opening a class of martial arts. I have always allowed those who felt a need to show their expresion as their personal right. Wouldn`t any Aikido Sensei or Instructor following a path of harmony accept your personal issues on this subject ?

Geoff
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Old 03-03-2007, 10:18 PM   #53
Erik Calderon
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Quote:
Brendan Basone wrote: View Post
When you bow at the close of an aikido lesson do you worship or just show honour to a person or philosophy which improves self esteem?

I feel it meant to much when I bowed and had to pray later because of it concerning it.

There are Biblical examples of this such as when Namaan the Syrian who asked a prophet for permission to bow with the others to a false God. And there were many examples with Jesus. Early christians chose death instead of calling the Emperor lord...

What's it to you fellows? How do you deal with it according to your conscience and faith?
When I bow, I bow. I focus on my breathing, and exhale has I bend down. I try to focus all my breath out before I come back up. Then naturally as I come up I fill my lungs with air.

aikido shinkikan
www.shinkikan.com

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Old 03-04-2007, 03:35 PM   #54
Don
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

An interesting thread.....please accept my thoughts as additive. I used to buy into the whole "yeah its just a sign of respect thing", and then my life took a few turns when I began to more seriously consider my Christian faith. (Now before you write the rest of this off as a conservative diatribe, I will assure it is not....because I don't think I am....)

I think there is a component of inner intention that is important; i.e. what is going on in your head/heart as you bow? Paul even says as much in Romans

However, assuming we are talking about Christianity or Judaism, then in fact God DID demand we have no other God's before him or bow down to any graven image (first and second commandments or first only depending on if you are protestant or Roman Catholic).

In Proverbs it is stated that as a man thinks so is he....and Jesus said where your treasure is so is your heart. Unsaid in that was that if your heart was not first in trusting God, then it was in the wrong place.

So, here we have a quandry. Intention is obviously important, however, we do have teaching which would want us to minimize if not eliminate physically bowing IF (and I think this is the important part) we are so internally invested in Aikido that it becomes the source of what we value most. Then I think, IF you care about adhering to to tennants of your faith, you may want to not bow at least to the shomen. Perhaps if you are so enamoured with your Sensei or Shihan that you think them God-like then maybe you don't bow to them. I personally haven't met any sensei, shidoin or shihan that fit that bill, so if we are wanting to bow to another human as a sign of respect, then I can go along with that. However, since O'Sensei is dead, I can't bow to him and I have started to refrain from bowing to an inanimate shomen. I also refrain from the clapping "X number of times" ritual, since that was a Shinto ritual praying to what I consider false Gods. Just feels better for me. I take as my example a very high ranking aikidoka who happens to be Muslim who even when teaching refuses to bow for the same reasons and has someone else bow in the class. I have much respect for someone who would possibly be critizied for such behavior as it goes against the group norm.

Then again it is a small thing and many won't be offended or bothered by bowing to an inanimate object.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:43 AM   #55
Stanley Archacki
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

I didn't really want to get involved in this discussion, but some of the posts on this thread drive me nuts.

First let me preface by saying that I am NOT an expert on Japanese culture, and I will not pretend to be. I do consider myself a fairly astute student of American and Western culture, though, and I will try to comment from that perspective.

I am an atheist. I could "worship" in a mosque, a church, a synagogue, and a Shinto shrine, all in one day, and I would not be sinning. I would also not be worshiping. The only consequences for me would be of my own conscience, depending on the reasons I "worshiped". I have to make this choice, for instance, when having Thanksgiving dinner and the host says grace. Or when at a funeral. Do I pretend to go along for the sake of not making waves, or do I respectfully but conspicuously not participate? Not that my beliefs matter to this discussion. I'm just trying to let people know where I stand.

I am fairly new to Aikido, and so far I have only had the wherewithal to commit to the physical aspects of training. I wonder though, for a truly committed Aikidoka, can O Sensei's teachings be applied selectively? It is unlikely that I will incorporate his religious teachings (and some of his teachings were very specifically religious). I'm simply not looking for a religion. Or, on the other hand, the study of Aikido might open me up to his religious teachings. I'm Atheist, not Agnostic, but that doesn't mean I'm closed to the possibility of personal change.

I suppose where I differ from many on this thread Is that for me the issue of religious aspects of Aikido is problematic, and not easily dismissed. Like I said above, I know much more about American culture than Japanese. What offends me is the American "smorgasbord" attitude to culture; that we can pick and choose as we find it convenient. "I study Aikido, but not the Shinto stuff, cause I'm Christian." Or whatever. Americans seem to do this with everything. Food, movies, music, religion, fashion. The world is simply our buffet, for us to chose a little of this and a little of that. This attitude seems to be behind the people who dismiss possible contradictions between religion and monotheism out of hand, saying that the bow to the shomen or kamiza is just "respect".

I don't know whether it is just respect or not. I'm not taking a stand on that, out of admitted ignorance. What if it isn't, though? What if something about Aikido, which we all love so much, requires a specific religious path to truly appreciate? That would be as devistating for me as an Atheist as it would for the many Christians on this board. I do not want a religion, and they do not want a different one. I do think it is deeply disrespectful to O Sensei to assume prima facie that his religious teachings are simply a modular appendage to Aikido, to be removed or ignored if they do not fit our sensibilities, religious or otherwise.

I do believe that there are those worthwhile pursuits which come with that stress and that demand. Some of the most worthwhile things make us choose. We can't always have our cake and eat it too. Or our flan, or our baklava or tiramisu, depending on what part of the world we wanted to eat from that night. Again, I'm not taking a stand, just requesting that we not be so quick to assume that things always happen to work out in the way we personally find them convenient.

"Doch das Messer sieht man nicht"
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Old 03-06-2007, 10:51 AM   #56
jonreading
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Bowing is part of the formal culture of Japan, and part of the formal culture of Aikido. Some dojo are more formal than others, and we each may choose whether we participate in that formal culture or not. I believe that bowing is important to training and I advocate bowing in class as a show of respect and humility to your instructor and your fellow students.

Some times we make a mountain of a mole hill. Does bowing have deferential implications? Yes, bowing is a sign of deference and trust. Does bowing have implications of religion? Yes, bowing exists in religious practice. Bowing is a respectful gesture that precedes (and anticedes) aikido class. We, as practicioners, have the choice to limit the implications of the bowing gesture. Some students limit the action of bowing to a respectful gesture, some choose to include the religious overtones O'Sensei included in his training.

Each day we are presented with choices that impact our religious beliefs: The extra paper that we "borrow" from the office, the chore our parents (or spouse) asked of us left undone, the spare change that we kept and did not give to someone in need, the friendly "hello" that we held inside walking past a stranger. Each day we make decisions that contradict our religious beliefs. Some times we make a mountain of a mole hill.
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:29 AM   #57
Ron Tisdale
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Ueshiba specifically stated that one does not have to practice shinto to do aikido. Some of his top students were into zen, others were atheist, others followed Omoto Kyo...it just depended on what they found in these different paths. I believe some of the words used by Ueshiba were "aikido is not a religeon...it unifies all religeons..." or something to that effect.

Best,
Ron (say, whatever happened to the spell check...I really need that little bugger... JUN!!! )

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-07-2007, 08:34 AM   #58
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

At our dojo the shomen is a painting of the kanji "kokoro" and when I bow to it at the end of a class and before I respect it in a deep way....it is kokoro basically love,heart,spirit and anything meaningful. I bow to that not any reigion. I also take to seiza to do so...some of the students (younger ones) do not regard it like this....sensei has some flex but he knows what respect is!

Before you drive or steer your vehicle, you must first start the engine, release the brake and find gear!
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:36 AM   #59
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Ueshiba specifically stated that one does not have to practice shinto to do aikido. Some of his top students were into zen, others were atheist, others followed Omoto Kyo...it just depended on what they found in these different paths. I believe some of the words used by Ueshiba were "aikido is not a religeon...it unifies all religeons..." or something to that effect.

Best,
Ron (say, whatever happened to the spell check...I really need that little bugger... JUN!!! )
Indeed. A rather well-known story is that of André Nocquet, the first foreign uchideshi.

Quote:
André Nocquet wrote:
[One day] I said to Ueshiba Sensei, "You are always praying, Ueshiba Sensei. Then aikido is a religion."

"No, that's not true. Aikido is never a religion, but if you are a Christian, you will be a better Christian because of aikido. If you are a Buddhist, you will be a better Buddhist."

I thought it was an amazing response. I really liked his answer. Since he was a Japanese I was afraid he would say that Christianity was nothing. Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect. I asked him one day if there wasn't a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian."

Then I asked, "Sensei, should I remain a Christian?"

He replied, "Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian."

If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost. My heart was full of Ueshiba Sensei because he had a vision of the entire world and that we were all his children. He called me his son.
I daresay that Ueshiba would say, if you are an atheist, aikido will make you a better atheist. Overall, I think the key thing to take from aikido, the thing that makes aikido distinct (although perhaps not unique), is that it's about misogi, purification. And what needs to be washed away depends on the person. For a very psychologically minded person, this might jealousy and envy, anger at someone, insecurities and things like that. For a religious or spiritual minded person, this may include sin. I certainly think for a Christian, aikido should be a time for communing with God.

As for bowing, here's how I see it. There is a particular way of bowing: bowing twice, clapping twice and bowing once. This is a Shinto ritual, and is meant to summon the good will and protection of the relevant kami, or spirits. Doing this to kamiza, or a picture of Ueshiba is meant to summon his kami. I think it would entirely proper for a devout Christian to refrain from this ritual.

OTOH, there's the simple bow, whether standing or from seiza. This is a bow of respect, nothing more and nothing less than shaking hands. It is no more and no less than the courtly bow of gentlemen to ladies in bygone days. If someone has a problem doing this, then they should take off the keiko-gi and hakama, stop referring to their teacher as sensei, stop using Japanese names for techniques, and train in a "gym" and not a "dojo". I'm not saying they shouldn't do aikido; just that I think it's better not to play dress-up. Etiquette is an integral part of budo, and an important part of Japanese culture. I've said before that the whole of Japanese culture is not in the dojo, but in as much one calls one's practice space a "dojo", and wears traditional Japanese exercise gear, and uses traditional Japanese terms, then IMO they should at least participate in basic Japanese etiquette.

But that's me. I'm all about the idiom.

Last edited by Josh Reyer : 03-07-2007 at 09:38 AM.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:48 AM   #60
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Good post Josh. I agree completely.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 03-07-2007, 03:37 PM   #61
Mark Uttech
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Good post. I disagree about the "shinto ritual". The bow and the two claps are the one clap and the echo. The two claps also bring you right into the moment now. Now, if you think of it as a shinto ritual, than that is what it is for you; if you think of it as a simple ceremony for bringing you into the moment now, that is what it is for you no matter what your religious background. Aikido goes with all religions. 'Religion' itself, translates as "bringing together".

In gassho

Mark
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Old 03-08-2007, 07:38 PM   #62
eyrie
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Nice post Josh... and I agree...

Even if you believe that the act of bowing is a vestigial remnant of a socio-cultural and/or religious ritual to which you personally do not subscribe to (for whatever reason), I think it is important to establish some sort of ritual to acknowledge and delineate the start and end of practice.

So, for me, the ritual act of bowing (either standing or seated), simply marks the beginning and end of an encounter, and which sets the tone for everything in between.

And as far as I'm concerned, MA and religion are two separate things - and should be kept separate. You wouldn't practice MA in a house of religion, so why would you practice a religious rite in a MA venue? And don't confuse religion with spirituality - they're not the same thing.

The real question is, what personal "meaning" (interpretative or otherwise) do you assign/ascribe to the ritual?

OTOH, if the particular dojo in question does indeed practice some form of Shinto ritual, then either you're in the wrong place, or you should pay heed to the words of St. Ambrose...

Last edited by eyrie : 03-08-2007 at 07:46 PM.

Ignatius
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:01 AM   #63
JLRonin
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Aisatsu to all in this thread.
I have been a Born Again Christian for some time and have been an Aikido practitioner long before. This thread caught my interest and felt moved by the Holy Spirit to participate in Aiki.
Lets start with this:
To come to be a butterfly, the larvae has to go through some phases. From an egg, larvae, cocoon, caterpillar, butterfly.
Many of us also pass through some phases. Being worldly or spiritual. How do I know where I stand?

1. If you are larvae, your decisions are based on personal benefits.
If you are butterfly, you simply do it because.
2. The larvae does not believe or has no knowledge in/of a supreme being. A butterfly is conscientious of it's spiritualty and the existence of a creator.
3. A larvae goes by what it sees. A butterfly, by faith.
4. A larvae battles to accumulate riches. A butterfly will ask itself, What is my purpose in life?
5. The larvae complaints of how the world is. The butterfly will ask, What can I do in respect?
6. The larvae, first me, then me and last me. The butterfly likes to serve.
If you are butterfly, congratulations! If not, it does not matter. Remember, larvaes are just one step before changing into a butterfly. The transformation depends on you. The important thing is that you detect your areas of spiritual growth.

In a corespondence with a Sensei of an Aikido school that I have been practicing in, I expressed to him that I was having trouble with some of the religious aspects integrated in Aikido. His response was the following:

"As to religion, I have some comments. I am not Buddhist nor Shintoist but you have to realize that Aikido was created within a very strong religious context. O Sensei's philosophy has many religious backgrounds. You don't have to become a Shintoist but to appreciate any culture or art derived from a specific culture, you will have to immerse yourself in that environment to really appreciate it. If you see the Vatican's architecture, you can not see it only from the architectural point of view. The design itself brings the concept of how the religion tried to create an "awe" image for those people who were not educated in the middle ages. I don't mean as an insult since many religions follow this rule. Large Bhudda structures, Mosques and so forth. Power and symbols sometimes get together.

If you are truly a born again Christian and believe in the All Mighty, I think the best you can do is to show great sense of compassion and understanding for others as well. I believe that true religions are based on forgiveness and compassion, not on ignoring and disrespecting others for not believing what you believe. That is the same pricinple I have when I accept people with different interpretations of Aikido as long as it makes logical sense as a true martial art".

Since then I have come to a halt. Under lots of prayer and meditation with God and our Lord.
I agree with some of the members of this thread when they say that if your not in the same mindset, you are segregated to a degree.
I don't think you have to immerse yourself into something in order to appreciate it.
I love Aikido and practice it for health, mental and spiritual reasons.
So now I'm inclined to and considering opening a Christian based Aikido dojo that would be soly for the purpose of enjoyment and heath without affiliation, if it's Gods Will.

It really comes down to your personal beliefs and convictions.

Mr. Basone, I hope this small contribution to this thread could help and be of some insight.

God Bless you all.

Exodus 20.3-6, 1 Peter 3.8-20.
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Old 03-09-2007, 03:48 AM   #64
Mark Uttech
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

In a Buddhist article, I read that when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, the last act of transformation is when the caterpillar's head explodes.
Something does happen to us and things go on from there.

In gassho

Mark
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Old 03-09-2007, 10:26 AM   #65
Mike Galante
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Cool Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Quote:
Jason Hackler wrote: View Post
in the art of peace Osensei says:

"bow to the universe,and it bows back.
call out the name of god,and it echos inside of you"

bowing is a sign of respect and overstanding.

either way it is up to you , what it means.

i dont think your creator will punish you for bowing.
Beautifully put, Jason.

Here's me 02: I wasn't going to post on this thread, but the more I think about it... It seems to me that bowing is as deep as you want it to be (pun intended). For me, it is acknowledgement of the divine in what/whom you are bowing to. For those of you who do not believe in a divine, or universal spirit, sorry.

But to me, O Sensei knew what he was talking about, Aikido, KI is the unseen manifestation of spirit in harmony with the universal. IMHO even those who deny the existence of a higher power, who practice, are seeking it even though they do not know it. Otherwise, you cannot capture the essence of Aikido. It will elude you. Your movements will be conditioned reflexes, responding to situational, positional, emotional cues, which will always seem like they are a complex choreography.
One who can appreciate art, instantly recognizes this vs a real flow of Ueshibas Aikido.

Uke knows. Uke will feel it. He will not feel tricked, or duped.
It will not reduce his desire to attack. It will inflame his sense of revenge, get him angry, etc.

If not real Aikido, he will be stimulated to attack again, because he was fooled by clever, choreographed movements, but no love, no compassion. (extreme examples)

All this fuss about bowing, get out of your head, get humble, go with the flow set by Ueshiba and you will be happier for it.

Ueshiba is a living spirit, why not bow to his spirit? He is the father of us all, MA wise. His wisdom is dictating how we act (at least on the mat). Doesn't this deserve the respect of a little bow?

God bless you all.
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Old 03-09-2007, 05:00 PM   #66
mwible
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

my bow is more of a feeling of respect and thankfulness for aikido, and the training i have recieved, both from its founder and my branches head, and from my sensei. its not at all a worship for me, im just showing my gratitude.
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Old 03-09-2007, 07:49 PM   #67
Mike Galante
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Perfect!
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Old 03-10-2007, 10:55 PM   #68
barry.clemons
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Quote:
Brendan Basone wrote: View Post
When you bow at the close of an aikido lesson do you worship or just show honour to a person or philosophy which improves self esteem?

I feel it meant to much when I bowed and had to pray later because of it concerning it.

There are Biblical examples of this such as when Namaan the Syrian who asked a prophet for permission to bow with the others to a false God. And there were many examples with Jesus. Early christians chose death instead of calling the Emperor lord...

What's it to you fellows? How do you deal with it according to your conscience and faith?
My dojo makes no mention of worship. For me, bowing in Aikido is no different than bowing in Karate. It's a small piece of the culture that originated those two MA being kept alive; paying respect Taking it a step further; I bow to senior students, instructors, and head instructor. I bow when I walk into the Dojo. I bow when I step on and off the mat. We don't think twice about that; bowing to O'Sensei is no different. For me, it doesn't go any further than that.

In the military, I call every officer Sir or Ma'am depending on gender, and I pop a salute whenever I'm in uniform and I see one outdoors; for us it is called Customs and Courtesies.

Hope that makes sense.
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Old 03-12-2007, 09:10 PM   #69
Erick Mead
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
... then my life took a few turns when I began to more seriously consider my Christian faith. ...
I think there is a component of inner intention that is important; i.e. what is going on in your head/heart as you bow? ... IF you care about adhering to to tennants of your faith, you may want to not bow at least to the shomen.
Or perhaps to reconsider the sginificance of the act -- consider this of O Sensei's Doka which speaks of "jujido" -- the Way of the Cross Sign. Interpret it how you will. Me personally, I follow St. Jerome and see semina verbi:

天 地 の
精 魂 凝りて
十 字 道
世 界 和 楽 の
むすぶ 浮橋

Ametsuchi no
seikon korite
jujido
sekai waraku no
musubu ukihashi.

The spiritual essence
of heaven and earth
congeals as the cross of our Path.
The peace and happiness of the world
is linked to Heaven's Floating Bridge.

(Tr. John Stephens)

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:17 AM   #70
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Our existence is inherently self contradictory.

Are we animals playing at being godly, or are we gods who forgot ourselves?

The symbols of the cross, yin/yang, one pyramid stacked on another at the points (infinity compressed and refocused) all do a nice job of nonverbally representing the contradictions.

If you don't perceive any contradictions - lucky you!

david
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Old 03-16-2007, 07:48 AM   #71
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Hi,

I didn't mean to kill this conversation or be off-topic. Erick always makes me think.

When I first started martial training the oldest member of the dojo was a deacon in the local Catholic Church, and the senior student was in seminary. I expressed great indignation and self righteousness over having to bow - as only a fourteen year old can!

They told me who they were, and that bowing was respect, not reverence or worship. Worship was not for another human being; but respect was appropriate.

David
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:48 AM   #72
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

I do not think of a bow as worship but more as a sign of respect for your fellow player that is.... I will respect your body and I expect you to do the same! The rei at beginning and end of training is a to me a formal greeting and goodbye and also a form of respect from teacher to his students and vice versa
Tony
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Old 03-16-2007, 12:03 PM   #73
Erick Mead
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote: View Post
Our existence is inherently self contradictory.

Are we animals playing at being godly, or are we gods who forgot ourselves?

The symbols of the cross, yin/yang, one pyramid stacked on another at the points (infinity compressed and refocused) all do a nice job of nonverbally representing the contradictions.

If you don't perceive any contradictions - lucky you!

david
Fundamentally, I believe in a sign of contradiction. Those who so believe, may see more clearly what is actually contradicted, and thereby, not be so easily bound by the (very) real contradictions that they perceive, but to surpass each set of contradictions in turn, seeking a real truth that they only dimly reveal, and which is always beyond them.

This recurrent debate (and objection) is one that is a sign of loss of some basic knowledge about Western traditions.

Dulia is a Greek word in theology that is distinguished from latria. Latria is "worship" given only to God. Dulia, on the other hand, is appropriate to any human being, alive or dead (typically dead), or even worthy inanimate objects. In Classical Latin the term was "servitus." In Classical times that usage elided the distinction made by dulia/latria in Greek. Orthodox theology holds the two are differnet in kind and not in degree. distinction. As early as St. Augustine the two concepts were distinguished. Early Christians failing to render "servitus" to the emperor, for example, were the similarly the cause of much controversy, which may have been as much linguisitic as it was political. It is also partly the reason why the need to distnguish them was more than a matter of mere academic debate.

The most closely related words in English to dulia are veneration or homage.

Dulia or homage can properly be given, in various forms of observance to political superiors, objects of great beauty and reverence, or people of superiror quality, living or dead. All of these are typical of Japanese observances toward kami of various types (including, ironically enough, the Emperor.)

What is done in the dojo is homage paid and nothing more, and need cause no other concern.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-16-2007, 01:20 PM   #74
billybob
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Thanks Erick. I had to look up 'elided', but I understood everything else you said.

Language is a net we cast over the world to make sense of it - sometimes we get tangled in the net. You have mastered language as few others I know.

I enjoy finding the holes in the net and exploiting them - and enjoy when you pull the net tight and teach me a lesson.

Your friend and fellow student,

David
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Old 03-17-2007, 07:29 PM   #75
Carlos Rivera
 
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Re: When you bow do you worship or just...

Bowing is just that, a sign of respect. We each put into bowing our own meaning or significance. For some people, it may mean something different than for me, and I do not demean them or pontificate about superiority/inferiority in one way or another. We each have our own experience and socio-cultural filters that we apply to everything around us.

Perhaps "making a mountain out of a mole hill" is what drives some people over the edge of reason, and sometimes we are all guilty of spending too much time just thinking.

I spent time as uchideshi in Iwama, Japan and we bowed as a sign of respect. You respect the culture of the country in which you are living at the moment, you respect your training partner, your Sensei, and others around you. Heck, we would be riding our bikes to the dojo and the old lady working in her garden would see us go by and bow. We would bow our heads back to her (and keep an eye on the road). We'd be sweeping the dojo steps, and the guy jogging down the road would run by and bow his head, and we would bow back. The school children would go by on their way to school, see us working around the dojo and bow, so we'd bow back. Mondai nai.

At the dojo we would start class with seiza, clap, bow to the shomen, then bow to the Sensei. No religion involved, and we never felt threatened by any of this at any moment. Sure, we were gaijin but never "baka gaijin," because we chose to be aware of the moment and respect those around us. It's a two way street.

I have lived in places in Central America and the Caribbean where shaking hands is the order of business 24/7, even if you have seen your friend 5 minutes ago. You shake hands as a sign of respect, or to seal a deal, or even to say hello. It's part of the culture, you meet your friends and shake hands with the men and give the women a peck on the cheek. No fuss involved, no ritual, no religion, it's just a social custom.

So, IMHO we need to acknowledge that everyone will get something different from all this bowing business. If you start digging for reasons, of course everyone will have a different take on the issue. Go ask an anthropologist, go ask a doctor in theology, or just go ask the average joe (not an average jo, please) and you will get different opinions or reasons. For me, a bow is a bow, is a bow.

And with that, I bow out.
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