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Old 08-08-2007, 02:30 PM   #101
tarik
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Hi Tarik,
I don't know if you know him.
He left training right as you started.
PM a name? 8 years ago I was nikyu, so I should know him. It would be great to re-connect.

I remember that my first teacher at ASC/NBA was of the opinion that aikido should be experienced, not read about. I concurred, but I also had read more and knew more about aikido's history than many of the teachers who recited oral stories that didn't match the published histories, so I also found value in the reading.

Quote:
As for the rest of your post's questions and statements. They are definitely yours and belong firmly to your practice. I'm happy you are working on finding 'your way'.
I have the odd sense that you may have misread me or my tone. I was largely agreeing with you and going into further detail concerning my own thoughts.

Naturally everything I post is purely my opinion, informed by my studies and experiences, as is everyone else's.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-08-2007, 03:25 PM   #102
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
... it is also inescapably true ... Western interest in Japanese martial arts has been inextricably bound up with an ill-defined but omnipresent interest in the spiritual aspects of those practices ..., as a cursory review of the martial arts section of any book store makes clear. ... Aitken's argument ... itself is a radical reading of the word "dojo" that allows its poetic meaning to shine in much the same way that polishing a piece of tarnished silver removes the oxidation that hides its brightness. ... an act of etymological rescue from the forces of entropy.
The connotations of words alter much more than their denotative attachments, and loanwords notoriously follow divergent (but fascinatingly related) paths of connotative evolution in the mother and adoptive tongues. This is most especially the case in myth, a subject dear to O Sensei. He directly related reading of mythology as being inextricably associated with kotodama as a process, which he in turn inextricably related to the spiritual and technical concepts of takemusu aiki. That is what he gave us to ponder in the dojo.

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I think it is fair to say that O Sensei put as much store by myth as by science.
And? Remarkable skills and visions aside, he's not an example of the kind of person I want to be.
You don't have to want to be him to recognize the value of processes that he found or created that allow each of us to become who we are or wish to be. That is the point. I give O Sensei a bit more credit for his depth of thinking, while acknowledging his sometimes seemingly impenetrable way of trying to relate it. But it can be teased out and related to very similar things in Western understanding that are much more accessible. Understanding those, we can then look for the narrative truth in the Doka and the other mythic references he made to Aikido, its purposes and functions. If nothing else -- it means more if you have to wrestle it out.

O Sensei saw things through his lens of kotodama and Kojiki's myth structure. There is obviously a very high bar to the Westerner in trying to make use of O Sensei's kotodama system directly. It involves the need for a great sensitivity to the sound and sense of Japanese that are not easily obtained by a non-native speaker.

But fear not -- there is an analogous method. The practice of etymology (be it mythological or otherwise) in Western tongues is very much akin to the practice of kotodama in Japanese, in my considered opinion. Thus, Fred's etymological point about rescuing words (and this whole debate) has a potential significance far beyond its immediate subject.

At least one good popularly known example exist of how to delve into these things in the same spirit as O Sensei's use of mythological resources and the gifts of expressed language. In keeping with what I take to be O Sensei's purpose in I]kotodama.[/i].
If we know the narrative that are being referred to we can explore them even in translation by thinking carefully about the fit of the concepts in the trasnaltion ot the words they choose to translate. It is no longer O Sensei's "pure" aikido power (which some, I think, seek in vain). The point of my observation here is that, apart from O Sensei, that is a meaningless measure, since the art is a organic thing not some crystalline order.

As to the example, it also allows one to dwell on the technical and spiritual problems of conflict and its creative/destructive nature. I suggest that you google "Tolkien" and "Wraith" and "etymology" and study his thoughts on these issues. Tom Shippey's literary biography (he was Tolkien's successor in the English Chair at Oxford) is a great in-depth source on Tolkien's process of giving flesh (well non-flesh, really) to his terrifying images of evil seeking power and destruction -- the best example of which is "Ringwraiths," the Black Riders. Their mythic literary form was drawn entirely from the deep associations of the words and related words in their etymological lineage, which Tolkien's philology was critical in rendering so powerfully.

ring
wring
wraith
writhe
wreath
wrotha (OE >> cognate to -- "rode/ride")

This imagery of twisting, bending back onto the self, a self-enclosed ring, so twisted in substance to as to become insubstantial ("wraiths" /"wreaths of smoke"), riding and debasing that outside the twisted Shadow, and the elusive overpowering yet self-extinguishing ring. (For Fred's consideration, it is the precise antithesis of the self-abandonment or self-donation and resulting empowering Light of enlightenment that is found in the imagery of both Buddhism and Christianity)

This relates deeply to O Sensei's view of Aikido through kotodama and myth. O Sensei relied upon Motoori Norinaga, the preeminent philologist of his age in Japan, for his exhaustive philological reading of Kojiki's myths. There is a fascinating coincidence (is it?), giving resonance to this approach. The kami of evil, a topic of some concern to Norinaga, was called Magatsune no kami-- "maga" also means "bent or twisted."

Norinaga's project (as with Fred's point) was explicitly to effect the etymological rescue of the root thought contained in the Japanese Kojiki from the associations of the Chinese characters it was written in. His point - that the Way of the Japanese was not the same as the Way of the Chinese. It needed its own concrete expression to assure healthy development as Japanese -- which he provided in his exhaustive 40-odd volume commentary on the Kojiki and giving a concrete example of kotodama in extremely practical use. He has his errors and criticisms but the value of the effort and its purpose is beyond doubt.

I'll give you an example of applying this thought in the current discussion of the circumstances and implications of practice in modern aikido that I have been working on lately:

nen

This word figures prominently in Doshu's The Spirit of Aikido, where he (and in quoting his father) states that nen is both the foundation for and the continually creative faculty of aikido.
Quote:
Kisshomaru Doshu wrote:
The realization of nen is the key to opening the essence of aikido; in fact, it constitutes the very heart of aikido.
Quote:
O Sensei wrote:
In training the first task is to continually discipline the spirit, sharpen the power of nen, and unify body and mind. This is the foundation for development of waza, which in turn unfolds endlessly through nen.
Nen is notable in not being spoken of in Western circles nearly as much as ki or kokyu. Taitetsu Unno translates it as "connotes concentration, one-pointedness, thought-moment" The last is the more literal reading as the character is the combination of 今 ima/ kon "this, now, immediate" and 心 shin/kokoro "mind heart spirit. "

Westerners are also notable for commonly doing something in the dojo that is not common (indeed, often frowned upon ) in Japan. Speaking. Talking in the dojo. Asking stuff. Impertinent questions. About all sorts of things -- some of which may verge into Fred's peeve - "desultory and inattentive friendship activity."

It may be that this is just our Way -- discursive, random sampling (desultory = jumping around) and accretionary in loose clouds of concepts taking shape as a diffuse whole gaining in substance as as single, organic unfolding shape. Conversely, the Japanese Way is more curt, methodical and discrete in assembling the whole in successively and substnatially completed parts. Where we are elliptical in thought Japanese is more direct; more direct where Japanese is elliptical. Digressing where the Japanese is tightly channeled; and vice-versa. In-yo, in so many ways.

The Chinese is 念 niÓn -- which classically meant "to think of, recall, or study." Modernly, it retains this sense when used in combination with other characters. But when appearing alone it means "to read aloud" calling up immediate associations (nen? ) with the sound sensibilities that are reflected in the kotodama process.

Most broadly conceived, kotodama is the process of giving the inchoate (mind spirit) some immediate concrete expression (now, this, "suchness" (for Fred's sake)). The difference, I think, is that we, in the West, give expression to thought (or in developing our thought that leads to such expressions) in a manner and mode in physical training that is necessarily different from that which is typical of Japanese. Our manner or Way defines or makes necessary the space or circumstances for its fullest growth -- just as Noirinaga contended that the Japanese Way defined (in preference to Chinese concepts) the circumstances necessary for its fullest growth. Ours and theirs differ somewhat, but they are not so alien in alteration as to lack relation or recognition.

One reason why we may not speak so much of nen in O Sensei's sense of the "endless unfolding," (when we chat endlessly about so much else) is, in that respect, that we simply do it. Our dialectical natures are suited to it -- even as they are otherwise sometimes ill-suited to the singular focus or attention in training that Japanese interpretations of "nen" use in their approach to the art.

One view considers the affect of attention to practice -- while the other is attending to the resulting function flowing from it. While seemingly different, they may tend in their own Way to reach much the same end. This may explain the curious appeal of aikido to so many Westerners -- the root aspects of aikido's nen, considered as the immediacy of "endless unfolding" are a good "fit" in ways that may not seem superficially obvious in comparing the outward forms of traditional Japanese practice with our own. Omote/ura.

It is necessary for us to follow our own Way to realize our native form of nen -- the "thought-moment" of our training -- in order to achieve the essence of aikido for ourselves, as much as it is necessary to adapt the novel elements that are distinctly of Japan into our understanding in that training process. Being honest with ourselves and disciplined in practice is required regardless of place or form in which it occur.

Both elements are critical. While through training we make a new reality in ourselves what was of Japan, we are simultaneously remade, in part, to realize more of what is Japanese in us, in consequence. Neither remains unchanged. And what is true of us, individually, is also true of the art collectively. Like the development any language, the kotodama or concrete expression of ideas takes shape immediately as it is expressed, and not in any other way -- precisely like the limitless techniques of takemusu aiki.

Some may view this as a "spiritual" exercise, others not -- the differences do not trouble me so much as interest me.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:26 AM   #103
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
PM a name? 8 years ago I was nikyu, so I should know him. It would be great to re-connect.

Regards,
Hi T,
He's watching this thread so your message will get through. If you would like to train you can meet us for some mat time. Interested?

I don't think I misread you. I simply heard you and I don't have anything to throw back and forth on this one.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 08-10-2007, 12:52 PM   #104
tarik
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
You don't have to want to be him to recognize the value of processes that he found or created that allow each of us to become who we are or wish to be. That is the point.
I agree. Certainly some of the processes, valuable or not, that he engaged in are not ones I'll ever subject myself or my family to. I doubt he did that to spare us the effort.

Quote:
I give O Sensei a bit more credit for his depth of thinking, while acknowledging his sometimes seemingly impenetrable way of trying to relate it. But it can be teased out and related to very similar things in Western understanding that are much more accessible.
Ah, but you left the other shoe hanging with only a hint of what you intended. Use of myth has it's place, certainly. Thank you for the "and?"

Quote:
Some may view this as a "spiritual" exercise, others not -- the differences do not trouble me so much as interest me.
My feeling is that life is a spiritual exercise, self-acknowledged or not.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-10-2007, 12:53 PM   #105
tarik
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Hi T,
He's watching this thread so your message will get through. If you would like to train you can meet us for some mat time. Interested?
I'll see if I can free up some time.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:44 AM   #106
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Ah, but you left the other shoe hanging with only a hint of what you intended. Use of myth has it's place, certainly. Thank you for the "and?"
You are welcome.

O Sensei's discussions do not track the "Tab A, Slot B" linear logic preferences of some people. They do have a knowable and coherent shape, reason and pattern of their own. The energy in operation 氣 is real. It has a pattern. 理, li or ri. Ki cannot be described by a linear logic pattern -- but it has a pattern and set of principles of its own. O Sensei's mythic imagery is meant to be reasoned through as showing the inner-principles of ki, but using the whole mind and heart, 心 kokoro, not merely with the small slice of mind that is occupied with linear logic.

Combat is contingent. We cannot map all the possible paths that can be taken to go from one snapshot of the dynamic (one waza) to another snapshot in the dynamic (another waza). The true pattern is always richer in dynamic than any number of short splices of still frames can capture. Our mind is the same way. But we can understand the pattern of the path, and of our own mind in response to it, intuitively, if not descriptively. The shape of the path reveals itself in terms that are not descriptive.

Myth, like combat, is narrative and contingent. Even when the end state seems irrevocably determined and fate or doom is certain, the path and the manner of our passing over it is not. the Narrow, linear logic of an encounter may describe an inevitable doom, and thus tempt us to destroy the pattern that would cause it. But myth tells of choices about the manner of accepting an inevitable fate, that may thereby change it. Myths tells us how our internal state fits (or does not fit) the shape of the situation -- in ways that may cause the linear terms to break down, revealing the larger pattern and branch points that linear logic is blind to -- or can at best only roughly and partly describe.

If we deeply feel our way through what it is saying we come to sense that shape. We then can begin to perceive if we have fitted our own pattern to the energy in operation at the moment (aiki 合氣), and if not, to move closer to immediately knowing (kan 勘) the proper fit in the moment that we act. (nen 念).

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-12-2007, 10:35 AM   #107
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
You are welcome.

O Sensei's discussions do not track the "Tab A, Slot B" linear logic preferences of some people. They do have a knowable and coherent shape, reason and pattern of their own. The energy in operation ? is real. It has a pattern. ?, li or ri. Ki cannot be described by a linear logic pattern -- but it has a pattern and set of principles of its own. O Sensei's mythic imagery is meant to be reasoned through as showing the inner-principles of ki, but using the whole mind and heart, ? kokoro, not merely with the small slice of mind that is occupied with linear logic.

Combat is contingent. We cannot map all the possible paths that can be taken to go from one snapshot of the dynamic (one waza) to another snapshot in the dynamic (another waza). The true pattern is always richer in dynamic than any number of short splices of still frames can capture. Our mind is the same way. But we can understand the pattern of the path, and of our own mind in response to it, intuitively, if not descriptively. The shape of the path reveals itself in terms that are not descriptive.

Myth, like combat, is narrative and contingent. Even when the end state seems irrevocably determined and fate or doom is certain, the path and the manner of our passing over it is not. the Narrow, linear logic of an encounter may describe an inevitable doom, and thus tempt us to destroy the pattern that would cause it. But myth tells of choices about the manner of accepting an inevitable fate, that may thereby change it. Myths tells us how our internal state fits (or does not fit) the shape of the situation -- in ways that may cause the linear terms to break down, revealing the larger pattern and branch points that linear logic is blind to -- or can at best only roughly and partly describe.

If we deeply feel our way through what it is saying we come to sense that shape. We then can begin to perceive if we have fitted our own pattern to the energy in operation at the moment (aiki ??), and if not, to move closer to immediately knowing (kan ?) the proper fit in the moment that we act. (nen ?).
Damn! That is great!

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 08-12-2007 at 10:40 AM. Reason: uhhhh

Jennifer Paige Smith
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