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Old 06-02-2007, 02:37 AM   #1
nekobaka
Dojo: Washinkai (Kizu)
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the unattainable goal

My sensei is writing an article for a magazine (not sure which one) and I was asked to translated it. I'm american and another dojo member is french. We were going over the translation, and there was one part about one of the goals of life is to cultivate to your character to the level of god, even though it's an unattainable goal. My french friend said that this idea of the unattainable goal would not be easy to understand for western people. This concept is a pretty basic part of all traditional arts in Japan, and I've become to used to it, it didn't occur to me. He said that western people can't understand having a goal that you can never reach. Since this forum's members are mostly from the western world, I wonder what everyone thinks.
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Old 06-02-2007, 03:01 AM   #2
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
My sensei is writing an article for a magazine (not sure which one) and I was asked to translated it. I'm american and another dojo member is french. We were going over the translation, and there was one part about one of the goals of life is to cultivate to your character to the level of god, even though it's an unattainable goal. My french friend said that this idea of the unattainable goal would not be easy to understand for western people. This concept is a pretty basic part of all traditional arts in Japan, and I've become to used to it, it didn't occur to me. He said that western people can't understand having a goal that you can never reach. Since this forum's members are mostly from the western world, I wonder what everyone thinks.
I do not think this is quite true. The concept is central to dialectic in Plato and was taken over by early Christian mystics. There is also a more modern belief in the perfectibility of man. There is a book by John Passmore with the same title.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-02-2007, 06:03 AM   #3
tedehara
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

From a modern perspective you would be better off with challenging attainable goals rather than unattainable ones. It makes more sense in terms of commitment.

See Challenging Goals

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 06-02-2007, 06:36 AM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

IMHO, the goal is always unattainable if you set your direction right and keep moving.

Just say what Sensei wants to say.

The rest of us will figure it out. Or not.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-02-2007, 07:34 AM   #5
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Re: the unattainable goal

I think this may be a misunderstanding on the part of your French friend.

Focusing on the path rather than the destination is very much a part of the traditional Japanese arts here in America as well.
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Old 06-02-2007, 09:22 AM   #6
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote: View Post
From a modern perspective you would be better off with challenging attainable goals rather than unattainable ones. It makes more sense in terms of commitment.

See Challenging Goals
In a sense you could say that all goals are unattainable because the instant you have reached it, it ceases to be a goal any more. Training is about constantly updating your goals, knowing that you never actually arrive.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-02-2007, 02:02 PM   #7
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Training is about constantly updating your goals, knowing that you never actually arrive.
This is a keeper George. There's a quote from G.K. Chesterton that I really like that has some relevance to this subject...

"A man must love a thing very much if he
not only practices it without any hope of fame or money,
but even practices it without any hope of doing it well."

- G.K. Chesterton

Chuck Clark
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Old 06-02-2007, 02:11 PM   #8
Chris Li
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

I've always liked this interview:

http://www.kwanumzen.com/primarypoin...ateaspoon.html

Best,

Chris

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Old 06-02-2007, 03:08 PM   #9
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
"A man must love a thing very much if he
not only practices it without any hope of fame or money,
but even practices it without any hope of doing it well."

- G.K. Chesterton
That pretty much sums up my pursuit of aikido.
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Old 06-02-2007, 08:00 PM   #10
DH
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post

"A man must love a thing very much if he
not only practices it without any hope of fame or money,
but even practices it without any hope of doing it well."

- G.K. Chesterton
Great one Chuck. It expresses my feelings about a Koryu I do very well. I consider my pursuit of it as really rather hopeless-for several reasons-but I simply cannot resist.
I'll share this with a few fellow addicts.
Thanks
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Old 06-02-2007, 09:31 PM   #11
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

Hey Dan, I ran across that quote some years ago and recognized that it already lived in my heart. Chesterton wrote a good book about Francis of Assisi (one of my heroes...) and when I finished that book, I started seeing quotes from him all over the place it seemed. This was one of them.

If we could resist, a number of us wouldn't be doing budo... there's lots of things we could be doing with our time and passion that would make those around us happier, but... it's part of who I am and what I do. Fortunately, most of my family that's left train also.

An old story I remember: Shimizu Takaji Sensei (of Shinto Muso Ryu) was asked just before he died what he was thinking about. He replied from his death bed, "I wish my left side honte uchi felt as good as my right side honte uchi." Anyway, that's the way the story goes...

Chuck Clark
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Old 06-02-2007, 10:32 PM   #12
dps
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
My french friend said that this idea of the unattainable goal would not be easy to understand for western people. .
Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:48, instructs all of His disciples to, "Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

As unattainable western goal.

David
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Old 06-02-2007, 11:26 PM   #13
nekobaka
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Re: the unattainable goal

Thanks for everyone's input. I kind of live in my japanese bubble anymore and have lost touch with the western world so to speak. I think that what my friend said is a valid point, but maybe not if the audience is familiar with this kind of philosophy which is the foundation of many martial arts. The article is really good, I will let everyone know what magazine when it comes out. it was my first real translation, so I was terribly unsure of myself, but I think it came out ok. we are also taking about putting his various writings on our website in japanese and english. so stay tuned. sorry if it's too much PR.
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:27 AM   #14
tedehara
 
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Re: the unattainable goal

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
In a sense you could say that all goals are unattainable because the instant you have reached it, it ceases to be a goal any more. Training is about constantly updating your goals, knowing that you never actually arrive.
While you never arrive at a final goal, I believe you can reach a level of personal satisfaction. Like when I. Takahashi was transferred from LA for doing ikkyo.

One day Takahashi Sensei said, "Today we'll take a close look at ikkyo." This statement was meet by a collective groan from the dojo. Most of the members were young guys who liked learning and doing many different throws. Studying one basic technique was not anyone's idea of fun.

Time passed.

One month later, they were still doing ikkyo.

"This old guy has completely lost it.", members were saying. "We need a new chief instructor." At the time, hombu dojo was still sending out instructors. Takahashi Sensei was reassigned to Chicago and someone else was sent to LA.

This happened many years ago and most of the people involved would have forgotten the incident.

Yet before he died Takahashi Sensei was heard to say, "I think I'm finally getting the hang of ikkyo."

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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