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Old 01-31-2009, 10:12 AM   #1
Buck
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Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Many of the people I talk to about Aikido and who are not involved with Aikido really throw this question at me often. After telling them superficially about the spiritual thoughts of O'Sensei they say, stuff like, who says O'Sensei knew what he was talking about. They are implying that I don't question him or his wisdom. They think I am make an assumption that his stuff is true and full of wisdom. I am a fool for not thinking he could be B.S.ing and I am fool for it.

That usually gets me thinking stuff like this. When we really get into Aikido do we just accept O'Sensei as being supremely wise, and he speaks the truth without question? I was watching this show about this cult that was started in the 60's by a Baptist or some type of minister. he attracted a lot of followers, it got really big. And lasted for decades. It was all about love and stuff that was similar to what O'Sensei said. And plus Aikido got big in the US in the 60's. The people in the cult really where into what this minister turn cult leader who was telling them stuff to believe that was a mix of Christianity, the stuff of the 60's movement- free love etc, and western philosophy. His huge group of followers ate it up, and his cult grew to thousands all over the place.

My point how am I not different from a cult follower who doesn't question what I am being told. I automatically assume what O'Sensei says (what I can understand - even that is in question) makes him automatically accept him as being of perfect wisdom. Wisdom and direction that will properly guide my life and lead me to what I desire- happiness, bliss, etc. Should I stop and think about hero worshiping O'Sensei (as they see it) and consider maybe his words are not all that wise, powerful, enlightening and having all the answers. Is his words and ideas able to bring me to that spiritual advancement that so many are looking for, and we are so devoted to without question. A spiritual place that we can't come to by ourselves?

As human I think we search for answers from others, for some gawd awful reason. Maybe it is because we are a social creature, and have some need to follow one person. We see it so strongly in society, religion and politics. Why we need leaders in so many parts of our lives is a huge question for me. I am not saying Aikido is like that cult there are differences, really important differences, that I didn't talk about. But what I am saying is that for some reason we have to look to other human's -who are human like us- for things that are really beyond what humans can do, or be, especially with spirituality.

I am wondering if there are others who see this differently or the same.

Last edited by Buck : 01-31-2009 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:17 AM   #2
Buck
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I don't want people to think I am slamming Aikido, I want see if others think as I do.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:26 PM   #3
Aristeia
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

http://www.howcultswork.com/

That link leads to cultwatch list of things a cult tends to do. I often find it interesting how many of the requirements are fulfilled by some martial arts organisations.

Deception used in recruiting? People talk about martial arts alllowing you to beat bigger stronger attackers -and then on the inside it is sometimes the case if this is true it's only after a loooong time...

Exclusivism. I know from experience how martial arts organisations can react negatively to students who cross train, be it in other arts or other styles of the same art.

Fear and intimidation - members fearful of disagreeing with leadership. You certainly see that in some strict traditional arts.

Love bombing and relationship control. New students sometimes will be 'love bombed' (although not necessarily consciously and it's probably just a sign of a good culture). Relationships start to be focused more and more on people inside the group? certainly you sometimes see an element of that.

Information control - impossible in the connected world. But I've certainly heard people discouraged from looking into other arts, ways of thinking

Time Control. Classes, gradings, seminars, solo practice dojo events. Oh yeah check that box we all know how quickly martial arts can start to take up your time.

That's not to say actually think martial arts are cults - for the *most* part these things happen without the intent of mind control. It just amuses me that if someone wanted to make a case for a martial art being a cult there's plenty of ammo there....

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-31-2009, 03:03 PM   #4
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Many of the people I talk to about Aikido and who are not involved with Aikido really throw this question at me often. After telling them superficially about the spiritual thoughts of O'Sensei they say, stuff like, who says O'Sensei knew what he was talking about. They are implying that I don't question him or his wisdom. They think I am make an assumption that his stuff is true and full of wisdom. I am a fool for not thinking he could be B.S.ing and I am fool for it.

That usually gets me thinking stuff like this. When we really get into Aikido do we just accept O'Sensei as being supremely wise, and he speaks the truth without question? I was watching this show about this cult that was started in the 60's by a Baptist or some type of minister. he attracted a lot of followers, it got really big. And lasted for decades. It was all about love and stuff that was similar to what O'Sensei said. And plus Aikido got big in the US in the 60's. The people in the cult really where into what this minister turn cult leader who was telling them stuff to believe that was a mix of Christianity, the stuff of the 60's movement- free love etc, and western philosophy. His huge group of followers ate it up, and his cult grew to thousands all over the place.

My point how am I not different from a cult follower who doesn't question what I am being told. I automatically assume what O'Sensei says (what I can understand - even that is in question) makes him automatically accept him as being of perfect wisdom. Wisdom and direction that will properly guide my life and lead me to what I desire- happiness, bliss, etc. Should I stop and think about hero worshiping O'Sensei (as they see it) and consider maybe his words are not all that wise, powerful, enlightening and having all the answers. Is his words and ideas able to bring me to that spiritual advancement that so many are looking for, and we are so devoted to without question. A spiritual place that we can't come to by ourselves?

As human I think we search for answers from others, for some gawd awful reason. Maybe it is because we are a social creature, and have some need to follow one person. We see it so strongly in society, religion and politics. Why we need leaders in so many parts of our lives is a huge question for me. I am not saying Aikido is like that cult there are differences, really important differences, that I didn't talk about. But what I am saying is that for some reason we have to look to other human's -who are human like us- for things that are really beyond what humans can do, or be, especially with spirituality.

I am wondering if there are others who see this differently or the same.
For me it comes down to one big thing: the human condition. Even the wisest person can make glaring mistakes and the biggest fool can make some deeply insightful observations. To me this means taking everything with a grain of salt. Some people feel questioning them is an insult and some feel it's honorific. I hold with the latter and try to question everything as respectfully as I know how. I think it's harder to be led astray when you're evaluating every step you take and remember no one is automatically any better than you yourself.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 01-31-2009 at 03:06 PM.

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Old 01-31-2009, 04:22 PM   #5
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
As human I think we search for answers from others, for some gawd awful reason. Maybe it is because we are a social creature, and have some need to follow one person. We see it so strongly in society, religion and politics. Why we need leaders in so many parts of our lives is a huge question for me. I am not saying Aikido is like that cult there are differences, really important differences, that I didn't talk about. But what I am saying is that for some reason we have to look to other human's -who are human like us- for things that are really beyond what humans can do, or be, especially with spirituality.
I think this is because it's easier. Perhaps some of us are more naturally docile and others are more naturally assertive (thus more prone toward the Follower or Leader role), but I think looking for answers from people ties into the fact that it's easier to copy than to innovate. I also agree it has to do with being highly social animals. My experiences growing up were that most people spend a very large amount of time trying to fit in and I think this has a lot do with why some folks accept things blindly from the leaders of whatever group they join.

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Old 01-31-2009, 06:37 PM   #6
Jonathan
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I've never thought Osensei was an especially wise person. Actually, I have at times thought him rather odd and even, spiritually speaking, incoherent. As a martial artist, however, Osensei was on to something, I believe, but this never translated into my thinking he had unique insight into some deeper, spiritual truths.

I came to Aikido with a fully-formed worldview and spiritual beliefs. Consequently, I was not expecting Aikido to impart to me anything other than skill as a martial artist.

Personally, I find far greater wisdom in the teachings of Christ than I have ever found in Osensei's words.

What made you "automatically assume what O'Sensei says...as being of perfect wisdom. Wisdom and direction that will properly guide my life and lead me to what I desire- happiness, bliss, etc."?

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:01 PM   #7
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
My point how am I not different from a cult follower who doesn't question what I am being told. I automatically assume what O'Sensei says (what I can understand - even that is in question) makes him automatically accept him as being of perfect wisdom. Wisdom and direction that will properly guide my life and lead me to what I desire- happiness, bliss, etc. Should I stop and think about hero worshiping O'Sensei (as they see it) and consider maybe his words are not all that wise, powerful, enlightening and having all the answers. Is his words and ideas able to bring me to that spiritual advancement that so many are looking for, and we are so devoted to without question. A spiritual place that we can't come to by ourselves?

As human I think we search for answers from others, for some gawd awful reason. Maybe it is because we are a social creature, and have some need to follow one person. We see it so strongly in society, religion and politics. Why we need leaders in so many parts of our lives is a huge question for me. I am not saying Aikido is like that cult there are differences, really important differences, that I didn't talk about. But what I am saying is that for some reason we have to look to other human's -who are human like us- for things that are really beyond what humans can do, or be, especially with spirituality.

I am wondering if there are others who see this differently or the same.
I am so going to get slammed for this.

I think you should question everything O'Sensei said. The only person who can lead you to a life worth living is Jesus Christ.

Human beings have always had a certain emptiness inside; a want to follow someone or something. That's why you see people get caught up in cults, hobbies, arts, etc. That emptiness was created by God. He created it so we would want to have a relationship with Him. Unfortunately, we (by ourselves) can't have that relationship, because He is a perfect God and we are definitely not perfect. He still wanted that relationship, but something had to be sacrificed, because in the Bible it says that "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins."

Now I'm sure you've heard the whole "Jesus" thing over and over, about Him dying on the cross, being buried, and rising again, blah blah blah. But if a guy goes through an unfair trial, gets beaten with a whip that has nine long strips of leather with glass and bone embedded in it 39 times, has to carry a 170lb hunk of wood up a hill, then get nailed to it on one of the most sensitive nerves of the body, hang there for 6 hours and finally die of suffocation, blood loss, and shock, I think that's something worthy of attention. That tells me that He put a lot of thought into what He was doing, and the Bible says that He did it for all of humankind. (Romans 5:8)

O'Sensei never did anything like that for me, and neither did the gods he worshipped.

The Bible says that He didn't stay dead, but after three days he was (brace yourselves for the ever-common church-y term) resurrected and still lives today. He promises all of those who have believed in Him and accepted Him and Him alone as their Savior eternal life. He doesn't promise a perfect and easy life, but He does send the Holy Spirit to help us. (John 14:16-17) Not ki, the Holy Spirit.

Since there has been a sacrifice, we are now free to have a relationship with God. It's easy to get it, too. All He asks is that you admit you have (another church-y term) sinned and need a Savior, believe that Jesus died for you and is the only one who can save you, and ask Him to be your Savior.

But what I am saying is that for some reason we have to look to other human's -who are human like us- for things that are really beyond what humans can do, or be, especially with spirituality.

BTW, the Bible says that Jesus 100% God and 100% Man. (John 1:14) He became flesh not only so He could die for us, but to suffer the same things we suffer through, such as hunger, pain, loneliness, betrayal, etc. In that way, we can relate to Him. He also did things waaay beyond what humans can do. The Bible holds many accounts of miracles done by Jesus.

Powerful, loving, sound-minded spirit. 2Tim 1:7
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:21 PM   #8
Aikibu
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

My experiances is more along the line of what Joseph Campbell called the thin thread of connection that ties all spritual paths together..;.

It's not important to me what you believe... But how you act on those beliefs. Are you making the world a better place? Do you live a life of dignity and grace...Do you act with love and compassion?

O'Sensei was just a man who was givin a special gift (or insight if you prefer) A way to be in this world with those qualities I've just mentioned.

Thats it...It works for me and makes me a better human being...

I am way too busy most of the time trying to walk the way I talk to question the dude who decided to share this gift. LOL I know one thing....

He puts his pants and dogi on exactly the same way every else does including me... and that alone gives me hope that my humanity and the gifts the practice of Aikido has givin will also be enough to make a positive differance in the lives of others.

William Hazen
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:36 PM   #9
nagoyajoe
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Christine Knowling wrote: View Post
I am so going to get slammed for this.

I think you should question everything O'Sensei said. The only person who can lead you to a life worth living is Jesus Christ.

Human beings have always had a certain emptiness inside; a want to follow someone or something. That's why you see people get caught up in cults, hobbies, arts, etc. That emptiness was created by God. He created it so we would want to have a relationship with Him. Unfortunately, we (by ourselves) can't have that relationship, because He is a perfect God and we are definitely not perfect. He still wanted that relationship, but something had to be sacrificed, because in the Bible it says that "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins."

Now I'm sure you've heard the whole "Jesus" thing over and over, about Him dying on the cross, being buried, and rising again, blah blah blah. But if a guy goes through an unfair trial, gets beaten with a whip that has nine long strips of leather with glass and bone embedded in it 39 times, has to carry a 170lb hunk of wood up a hill, then get nailed to it on one of the most sensitive nerves of the body, hang there for 6 hours and finally die of suffocation, blood loss, and shock, I think that's something worthy of attention. That tells me that He put a lot of thought into what He was doing, and the Bible says that He did it for all of humankind. (Romans 5:8)

O'Sensei never did anything like that for me, and neither did the gods he worshipped.

The Bible says that He didn't stay dead, but after three days he was (brace yourselves for the ever-common church-y term) resurrected and still lives today. He promises all of those who have believed in Him and accepted Him and Him alone as their Savior eternal life. He doesn't promise a perfect and easy life, but He does send the Holy Spirit to help us. (John 14:16-17) Not ki, the Holy Spirit.

Since there has been a sacrifice, we are now free to have a relationship with God. It's easy to get it, too. All He asks is that you admit you have (another church-y term) sinned and need a Savior, believe that Jesus died for you and is the only one who can save you, and ask Him to be your Savior.

But what I am saying is that for some reason we have to look to other human's -who are human like us- for things that are really beyond what humans can do, or be, especially with spirituality.

BTW, the Bible says that Jesus 100% God and 100% Man. (John 1:14) He became flesh not only so He could die for us, but to suffer the same things we suffer through, such as hunger, pain, loneliness, betrayal, etc. In that way, we can relate to Him. He also did things waaay beyond what humans can do. The Bible holds many accounts of miracles done by Jesus.
Wow! That's about all I can say.

何よりもわかりやすいことは
自分も死ぬ人間のひとである。
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:01 AM   #10
Michael Douglas
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Scary.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:13 AM   #11
RoyK
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Who would've thought that years of avoiding "The passion" would end on Aikiweb with a completely irrelevant missionary thread-hijacking post.

When i joined Aikido I spent some time reading online and in books about O'Sensei's life and spiritual beliefs, and while I couldn't find a simple, coherent message, I did understand that a common belief is that Aikido's purpose is something along the lines of purging the soul through training the body and mind, which I don't think is unique to O'Sensei or Aikido. I
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:38 AM   #12
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

When it comes to wisdom I think Socrates described it best. This is the only human wisdom I believe in to date. We can understand the nature of things, but always only in part.
As for religious beliefs and spiritual wisdom, I've yet to find a religion that was concise and easy to understand. I've been told by many people in many religions that the message was simple, but when I thought about it myself, I always found more than one way to interpret the message. I think the best we can do is try to evaluate the world around us as honestly and intently as possible and then follow our hearts.
I think anyone who lives an active life of intense personal study will find some degree of wisdom. I think O Sensei held some wisdom of his own which was profound and while his language might be obscure and difficult to understand, it's not entirely beyond comprehension.

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Old 02-01-2009, 10:55 AM   #13
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
My experiances is more along the line of what Joseph Campbell called the thin thread of connection that ties all spritual paths together..;.

It's not important to me what you believe... But how you act on those beliefs. Are you making the world a better place? Do you live a life of dignity and grace...Do you act with love and compassion?

O'Sensei was just a man who was givin a special gift (or insight if you prefer) A way to be in this world with those qualities I've just mentioned.

Thats it...It works for me and makes me a better human being...

I am way too busy most of the time trying to walk the way I talk to question the dude who decided to share this gift. LOL I know one thing....

He puts his pants and dogi on exactly the same way every else does including me... and that alone gives me hope that my humanity and the gifts the practice of Aikido has givin will also be enough to make a positive differance in the lives of others.

William Hazen
Joseph Campbell is the man. A lone voice of sanity in a sea of philosophical and emotional confusion1

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Old 02-01-2009, 01:20 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

There are two types of folks whom, in my opinion, you don't want to be. First is the True Believer as Eric Hoffer called him. This is the guy that "drinks the cool aid" so to speak. The suspension of common sense, the subjugating of ones own judgment to another person or to an ideology. You can see this within Aikido all the time. Our way is the right way. My teacher was the one who really understood the Founder. This is the real way the Founder did technique and the other folks out there are ruining Aikido.

The True Believer shuts down his own process in order to model himself on some outside set of beliefs or principles. Almost always this seriously restricts his growth as a person and retards any ability to go beyond the external limits placed on him. In Aikido this type of thinking results in practitioners who are good copies of an original. But a copy is never as good as the original because it lacks genuineness, originality, and creativity. But seeking out your own way is far riskier and entails living at the edge of ones comfort level. Most folks prefer to have someone else tell them what to do.

The other extreme is the perennial doubter. In his effort to not "drink the cool aid" he ignores anything that he doesn't feel is proven already to his satisfaction. I guess I don't really understand this deeply rooted fear of "being fooled". But there are many folks who seem so controlled by this fear that they dismiss, out of hand, anything which they don't understand.

I have many friends who a like this. I have watched as they summarily dismissed a teacher or a style based simply on a YouTube video. I have seen people simply turn their backs on some training because it challenged their preconceived notions of what is what. It's much easier to call something fake and walk away than to make the changes needed to understand and maybe do what had previously been thought impossible.

Morihei Ueshiba was clearly a giant in 20th century Japanese martial arts. I am sure he had that rare combination of natural talent and total focus on succeeding required to be great. I once heard someone say that Ueshiba Sensei's true distinguishing character was that he trained harder than anyone this person knew. And that is what yields wisdom.

Yes, it is important that each of us find and develop his own wisdom; find what makes each of genuine. But an attachment to that individuality causes us to ignore what has been done by others before us. The resistance to being drawn into someone else's sphere can cut us off from the synergy of collective effort. It causes us to reinvent the wheel rather than piggy back on the work others have done before us. In fact, if we are talking about the highest levels of teaching, you won't even reinvent the wheel unless you slipstream behind the work done by others.

Myth is very important in a culture. It is at the heart of the drive to better ourselves. In our Aikido culture, the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba, is our central mythical figure. His myth provides the model for our practice and our striving to be better.

The modern trend towards historical deconstruction is valuable. It allows us to see how our reality has failed to match our myths. But I have to say that the facts of reality seldom inspire anyone. It is the power of myth to move people.

It's important to understand the Founder and to this end, historical research, understanding of the cultural and religious influences that shaped his thinking all contribute. But it is not the historical O-Sensei as a man like the rest of us but rather the mythical figure of O-Sensei as a man who has become something greater that inspires us to go the distance and attempt great things.

But myth supplies the inspiration, it is not your reality. The True Believer ceases to exist as himself by subjugating his own reality to the myth. The Doubting Thomas disavows the myth and settles for less than he might otherwise have accomplished because he stays within his own comfort zone and his own understanding.

Training is about developing the strength of character to be centered, to be oneself. If one has this strong sense of himself he will never disappear into some cult or ideology. Nor will he feel threatened by new ideas or things that he can't explain. He is free if he is centered. The myth for such a person provides the target, it is the source of aspiration. It doesn't actually matter if the myth was historically true in every detail; that 's not its power.

We need the myths. A culture that has its myths destroyed is lost, its heart is missing. Every time we destroy one of our myths, we are driven to find another to put in its place. Its how the human mind works. When used correctly it can be a tremendous impetus towards growth. When used incorrectly it can be deadly.

Why would we impute some degree of wisdom to Morihei Ueshiba? Well, he trained longer and harder than any of us doing things most of us will never do. So that's a pretty good start right there. Coupled with the fact that, clearly his intentions were towards the light rather than towards the dark I think that gives us enough of a reason to give his ideas a good hearing. But the "myth" of the Founder is merely a tool we can use in our lives and our training. We can be inspired by it but do not lose ourselves in it. But for me, I am always looking to verify the myth through my own efforts in training rather than spending all my time debunking the myth as many people feel they need to do. That, to me, is the function of the myth.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-01-2009, 03:08 PM   #15
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Thank you, George! As usual, you've framed the topic in a way that makes me feel i better understand something I thought i already had an ok understanding of...very substantive.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 02-01-2009, 04:31 PM   #16
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

George, after reading what you wrote, which was good, you see a positive things come out of believing in myths if done correctly.

Still taking about the power of myth, does it or doesn't place more dependence on someone else, like O'Sensei, to guide my life? Will it help me turn that focus I have off of someone else I think provides me wisdom and guidance to my own inner voice? Is there myths that do that? Or is it the nature myth power to direct us to the dependence on others?

This isn't a science vs. myth thing. I want to show why I am saying what I am. The thing so powerful that came from the revolution of science was that we could independently find wisdom on our own and not dependent on the myths that lead us to looking at others for guidance.

George you point out, "Why would we impute some degree of wisdom to Morihei Ueshiba? Well, he trained longer and harder than any of us doing things most of us will never do. So that's a pretty good start right there. Coupled with the fact that, clearly his intentions were towards the light rather than towards the dark I think that gives us enough of a reason to give his ideas a good hearing."

Yes, he was not dark. But, I am not sure his light was the correct light. How do I know it was, and why do I automatically assume it was the correct light. His light may not be accurate, on target, all that bright or exact. -I wouldn't use science to tell me that, btw.

I follow him because I think his skill was great and I want to be like him. Here again, I don't question. It doesn't occur to me that there might be someone better then him. Maybe that is, because of myth. Which didn't occur to me until you wrote about myth, that helps.

It is that process of not questioning that I relate to as impulse buying of what and why we are not independent but rather dependent. Does myth lead us to impulse buy or away from that?
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:50 PM   #17
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

O'Sensei's light, was a pretty odd light, a mix of martial art staples, and unique thought. When translated into English is pretty hard to understand and causes confusion. What parallels with many is a small amount of what he said, like the idea of love, not hurting others and some other universal things. Yet, we see him as a great wise man- some don't, many do- that we want to follow without question. As George said, he wasn't dark. That might also play a part. But we don't we see that light or search for that wisdom within ourselves, yet we depend on others for it. Those we view as better or greater than ourselves.

Maybe it is too difficult to be independent. I would say so, I struggle with it. Maybe that is the point?
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:38 PM   #18
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
It is that process of not questioning that I relate to as impulse buying of what and why we are not independent but rather dependent. Does myth lead us to impulse buy or away from that?
I know you're not asking me, but I hope you don't mind my trying to find an answer. For me myth has always been an invitation to question. I don't think myths create dependancy on others or an unwillingness to question (i.e. impulse buying?). Impulse buying, I think, is the product of reinforced subservience, which is a valid componant to any society, but which, like all thing, can lead to bad things when not balanced by independance.
Does that make sense or fit with your post?
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Matt

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Old 02-01-2009, 08:48 PM   #19
Kristina Morris
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

HI All,
Interesting thread. May I suggest a different way of approaching O'Sensei's teachings and 'wisdom'? When I first started training in Aikido I didn't understand anything - not Ki, kotodama, O'Sensei's teachings - nada, zip.
So I decided to approach the 'words of wisdom' of O'Sensei from a cultural anthropology point-of-view. I figured if I understood more about O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs, it would help me grasp Aikido and how O'Sensei arrived at his form of martial art. It would help me understand O'Sensei, the man. I was under the impression that O'Sensei's Aikido developed from his spirtitual beliefs.

So I studied Shinto for neigh on 10 years, made trips to Japan, performed misogi every week for three years and practiced kotodama.
It helped me appreciate my training more because I had another viewpoint to draw from.

So if someone is questioning the wisdom of O'Sensei, I'd tell them that O'Sensei's wisdom is what he believed and arrived at after a lifetime of experiences, and that he was just passing on what he thought important in his life. And maybe, some of what he passed on could help others in their training. If you take your training off the mat and practice conflict resolution or a non-violent approach in your personal life, then you are pretty much practicing O'Sensei's beliefs.

He is the Founder of Aikido. If you just want to study the physical martial arts, that works for most students. If you want to study more about the man, then study his spiritual beliefs. Mind you, I said 'study'. I didn't say 'convert'.

Kristina
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:48 PM   #20
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
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I know you're not asking me, Matt
No worries, I know I responded to George, but that doesn't mean someone else like yourself can't answer. The whole idea here is to explore and learn.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:52 PM   #21
Buck
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Kristina Morris wrote: View Post
HI All,
Interesting thread. May I suggest a different way of approaching O'Sensei's teachings and 'wisdom'?
Kristina
Well said. Maybe that is where the rub is when you said his beliefs.Your investigation/ experiences brings you to an understanding of things that I don't because I didn't do what you did. It is something else worth exploring, just as the myth is.

Thank you.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:54 PM   #22
Charles Hill
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Kristina,

That was an absolutely wonderful post. Thank you for that!

Charles
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:08 PM   #23
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Still taking about the power of myth, does it or doesn't place more dependence on someone else, like O'Sensei, to guide my life? Will it help me turn that focus I have off of someone else I think provides me wisdom and guidance to my own inner voice? Is there myths that do that? Or is it the nature myth power to direct us to the dependence on others?
This is a fine question but one I think that is quintessentially American. In the West we have very few arts that require "transmission". Many of those that did don't exist any more because no one wanted to do that kind of work under a teacher.

Still, one can see examples that bear... Look at the relationship between the coach and the elite level athlete. I can't think of an Olympic level figure skater or track star who doesn't have a coach. In fact the relationship with the coach can effect performance to a degree that it is the difference between winning and losing.

A writer may have an editor without whom his talents wouldn't be sharpened. A recording musician has a sound engineer and producer. On and on... in very few activities do you see greatness achieved by an individual relying simply on his own resources and talents.

The fundamental foundation for the transmission of knowledge in the East is the Teacher / Student relationship. "Transmission" go ways beyond mere instruction. It is a heart to heart process. It requires a letting go of ones individual concerns. The end of such a process in the spiritual arts, when it is handled properly, is the discovery of a truer self, that "face before you were born", the "true man of no rank".

Historically very few people accomplish this transformation on their own. It is very rare but not impossible. The Buddhists have a name for those who attain enlightenment without actually training formally. They are called Pratyeka Buddhas. They are very rare and this fact attests to the difficulty in getting past the myriad barriers the unenlightened self places in front of ones progress.

If we are talking about real high level skills there is virtually no way you will get there on your own. In fact a great degree of faith is required in the process. That is why the finding of ones teacher is so important. In the East there were formal methods of transmission and the process turned out teachers who were certified to know what they were supposed to know. Leaving aside that the process was often subverted or that unscrupulous people simply resorted to outright fraud, the system worked and transmitted a certain kind of spiritual and technical knowledge over thousands of years. Procedures were built into the system so that innovation and unique talent could be absorbed without interrupting the transmission of the old knowledge. We have lost this in the West almost entirely.

Quote:
This isn't a science vs. myth thing. I want to show why I am saying what I am. The thing so powerful that came from the revolution of science was that we could independently find wisdom on our own and not dependent on the myths that lead us to looking at others for guidance.
The revolution of science, while great in many ways, caused us to throw out the baby with the bath water from the standpoint of traditional knowledge. I do not think that science has caused us to become independent individuals from a wisdom standpoint. Quite the opposite. From the Western scientific standpoint, if we can't find a way to measure something with a machine, it doesn't exist.

Science has no way to explain how Vladimir Vasiliev can mess with your nervous system to the point at which you can't stand up after he takes you down. Or how Mikhail Ryabko can merely touch you and you collapse into a heap. No explanation exists for how Okamoto Sensei can get you to shift balance from across the mat when you aren't even looking at him.

Science has no useful explanation for "enlightenment" or mystic union with God. It would like to think it can explain Love as a biochemical process but I suspect that most individuals find that to be unsatisfactory.

The modern age of reason has given us Marxism and Modern Capitalism. Both systems have been a disaster for our environment. Traditional man lived in a world that was alive. The world O-Sensei lived in was full of kami, contained inherent wisdom that a person's mission was to discover. That is the spiritual path in a nutshell... the discovery of ones relationship to the absolute and how one can live with that. Science has no methodology for this. Zen quite explicitly states that the thinking mind cannot even perceive the truth of this.

Quote:
Yes, he was not dark. But, I am not sure his light was the correct light. How do I know it was, and why do I automatically assume it was the correct light. His light may not be accurate, on target, all that bright or exact. -I wouldn't use science to tell me that, btw.
The search for the Teacher is one that entails a leap of faith. The teacher is, by definition, someone who knows what you do not, perceives what you can't, can do what seems impossible for you. The fact that there are so few real Teachers of true mastership has caused a major disruption in the spiritual world. Look at Aikido... it has been the blind leading the blind. I started teaching when I was a San Dan. I had no sort of mastery whatever. But there were very few people senior in those days so we started dojos and kept at it.

People's perception of what a "master" really is has been shaped by the breakdown of the transmission process. The vast majority of American martial artists have Zero experience with any teachers who truly function at what in the East would be considered mastery.

So we decide "Hell, we all put our pants on the same way" and decide, in true democratic fashion that no one is higher than ourselves. When it comes to a clash between what we want and what our teacher demands we quit and find a teacher who lets us be "ourselves". And that's fine for someone but I have never seen anyone who got to a really high level of mastery that way. It is not the function of the teacher to let you be yourself.

Quote:
I follow him because I think his skill was great and I want to be like him.
Actually, I don't want to be like O-Sensei. He was a fairly eccentric Japanese mystic from an age which doesn't really exist any more. My life has little to do with how the Founder lived. But I want to know, at least to some extent what the Founder knew. I think much of that knowledge is Universal and transferable across culture. If I didn't believe that, there would be no point to training.

My job as a teacher of Aikido in the West is to take my understanding as far as it can go but also to pass it down to another generation. This requires that I not only learn as much from my Japanese Teacher, Saotome Sensei (who trained with the Founder for many years), that I attempt to understand the Founder's wisdom as he understood it, but also I have to find a way to create a genuine American context for this knowledge that preserves its depth but is also understandable and of value to American practitioners. The number of people who will study kototama, chant, practice Shinto etc is minute. What is inherent in the Aikido of the Founder that can help us be better people, make or world better, help us lead better lives? It is the job of the non-Japanese teacher of the art to find this out. I can't get that from O-Sensei or Saotome Sensei or Ikeda Sensei. I can get help from friends who are also engaged in this process themselves. But without the myth to inspire, without teachers to stand as examples of what mastery REALLY is, the individual simply relies on his own judgment, his own perception, his own experience. That generally results in someone who is very good at being the same person they've always been but perhaps more attached to it.

Quote:
Here again, I don't question. It doesn't occur to me that there might be someone better then him. Maybe that is, because of myth. Which didn't occur to me until you wrote about myth, that helps.
We should question, all the time... But we also have to take on faith that there are simply things we don't have a clue about right now. For many years I had no idea whatever what my own teacher was doing. I think I jad gotten to the point at which I had conceded that I would never be as good as he is.But then I met some other teachers who functioned at that same very high level. They had ways of teaching things that were totally different from my own teacher and suddenly I started to understand what my own teacher was doing. Then, they showed me that there were things far beyond what I had even been shooting for. I am far better than I ever thought I'd be now and yet I feel like a complete beginner. There is stuff out there that I had no clue even existed. There are folks out there who make the myths real. I don't give anything up in this process. I don't lose my sense of myself... but what that sense is is constantly shifting.

Quote:
It is that process of not questioning that I relate to as impulse buying of what and why we are not independent but rather dependent. Does myth lead us to impulse buy or away from that?
We are not independent. We are totally dependent... on our teachers, on each other, on our environment... In fact it is not so much that we are dependent but that we are totally connected. Everything is connected. Virtually all of our problems as individuals and as members of the collective come from our ignorance of this fact and continued attempts to act as if it weren't true. The Founder saw Aikido as a practice that would lead us to a better understanding of this fundamental connection. Since we do not inherently understand this connection, the myth inspires us to go beyond our own limitations. The "myth" is how the reality of the great teacher lives on after his death to continue to teach and inspire.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 02-02-2009 at 07:12 PM.

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Old 02-02-2009, 07:37 PM   #24
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Beautiful, George !

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:29 PM   #25
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

George Ledyard says

"Science has no way to explain how Vladimir Vasiliev can mess with your nervous system to the point at which you can't stand up after he takes you down. Or how Mikhail Ryabko can merely touch you and you collapse into a heap. No explanation exists for how Okamoto Sensei can get you to shift balance from across the mat when you aren't even looking at him."

Herein lies part of the problem. For those who have not experienced the phenomena that cannot be explained (whether by science or other belief system) there is simply disbelief unless we choose not to disbelieve - one option leaves us open to work on something while the other closes the door. Many prefer the comfort of a well closed door.

I firmly believe that science can explain the effects above. It just takes time and effort- much like anything of value.
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