Peter A Goldsbury
Indeed. In a number of places, Ueshiba refers to kotodama as involved in creation. The quote below is from Masahisa Goi, but Morihei Ueshiba believed the same thing.
Goi Sensei wa, kotodama to wa, moji ya onsei ni izuru sonen izen no hibiki, sunawachi hikari sonomono no hibiki, kami de aru, onsei ya moji ni deta toki wa sudeni kotodama no yakume, hataraki ga hatasare ato no mono de aru, to setsumei shite kudasaimashita.
Goi Sensei bestowed on us the explanation that word-soul was prior to words and voiced sounds, in other words, that word soul was the deity that vibrated light itself, and that the time that it came forth in sounds and letters was the remains of the previous working of word-soul.
The origin of these thoughts is likely Honda Chikaatsu, who informed Onisaburo (Kisaburo, then) in the ways of chinkon kishin
, and the ichirei
formula and the principles of kotodama
. Others he also instructed directly who were initially involved in Oomoto and then departed to go there own way in turn, such as Tomokiyo Yoshizane (Shindo Tenkokyo).
I am coming to conclude that Japanese speakers live in mortal fear of the unintended pun (imikotoba
) which is an almost unavoidable hazard in their language -- and therefore go to great lengths, both to initially avoid unfortunate associations, and then to create clever multi-layered "good" associations when something particularly important is being said, lest it be tainted by an unwitting, unintended bad association. Their grammar is therefore built up slowly and not definitive until the end of the phrase -- all to ensure that the sense is not being taken badly in the hearing before the thought is concluded (and possibly needing an emergency last-minute qualifier
). Like the layers of cloth armor -- deceptively thin and soft individually, but stacked and stitched together can stop a blade or cushion a blow.
For this reason, it seems to me that teasing out even the thinnest associations and connections seems worthwhile, as long as it ties back in some concrete way to the training.
The alternate reading of odo
小戸 ( small door/gate) as odo
小渡 the "narrow rivermouth" or "ford" (notably tachibana no odo no ahagihara
) is given by Abe Sensei from Ueshiba's discourse on Kojiki -- where he relates Ueshiba saying that aikido was born from "the thrashing of Izanagi" in the waters at that place.
, from which both Tomokiyo's and Onisaburo's thoughts both stem, puts otodama
音魂 (sound-spirit) in preeminence and kotodama
as the human intention effecting the play of otodama
in human circumstances. In Oomoto, this distinction seems compounded into the kotodama
concept, whereas people who have come from a different line (notably Koichi Barrish) see things like otodama
playing a prominent role in physical terms -- he has spoken of using the "echo" of atemi
. This is a point that "resonates"
quite well with me and my own sensibilities in practice.
Tomokiyo saw otodama
as a whole-body sense phenomena not limited merely to purely auditory meaning, but of two types of sensation, (he uses ears mimi
) -- hearing with kunitsutama
(earthly-spirit) and amatsutama
(heavenly-spirit). In this way, Tomokiyo advised submitting the body to the sensation of a regularized rhythm such as sound of rain, a waterfall, or even a simple clock to regularize and resensitize the body's internal and external connections to a coherent rhythm.
The connection to furitama
, tekubi furi
and the oscillatory/spiral paradigms of aikido training seem quite obvious in this light.
Taking all of this concretely, I can put some plain physical interpretations on all of those images overlaid onto one another, which directly relate to the nature of physical connection and the principle of sound as sensed vibration in various aspects of the body sensitive to vibration -- among them: the behavior of eddies and vortices, and the effect of shears in constricted flow at a discontinuity (a narrow rivermouth), and the effect of the Huygen-Fresnel principle on sound wave propagation/diffraction through an opening in a barrier (a "small gate"). All of those can be shown to have application in a cognate principle in Aikido training considered as a biomechanical system. Thrashing in water at a narrow place in a stream adds more eddies to interact with the eddies already being continually thrown off by the constriction.
Tomkiyo extended his own thought on Honda Reigaku
, and held that otodama
the "sound spirit" was the "particle" or fundamental constitutent of reality -- more basic even than the electron. Otodama
he specifically identified as the basis for ichirei shikon
FWIW -- this observation plays a good part in my consideration of angular momentum/moment as tying western physics to both the Sinified "ki" system, and to the Kojiki myth system as ways of understanding these principles in a physical way. Ichirei
as the basic oscillation potential/action, and the shikon
as the four characters or types of that action/potential in a given relation or interaction, if you will -- the four 90 degree (juiji 十字) phases of a full 360 degree oscillation or rotation. Considered in purely physical terms, they are defined on a sine curve: Aramitama (maximum positive phase) Nigimitama (falling through zero); Kushimitama (maximum negative phase), and Sakimitama (rising through zero). There are other metaphysical understandings (as Barrish also demonstrates from his perspective) but they also tie to the physical nature -- or put another way -- each kami
is revealed in and possesses its own characteristic mono
When seen in developmental terms, otodama
as ichirei- shikon
(foundation and character-type, if you will) can become distinguished and progressive in the sangen
alterations -- where the sangen can be seen as the three axes on which the shikon
action/potential of the ichirei
play out in spirals, with the hachiriki
being the various sensible or conceptual effects of this "playing out" in the physical (and metaphysical) alterations of the world or situation.