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Old 12-28-2009, 06:15 AM   #26
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

The very nature of training "aiki" is hard, repetitive, challenging, and I think requires single-minded dedication. Not everyone will ever want to put in the work. Not everyone will take it as far as they can. But, by many accounts, Ueshiba seems to have done all that.

That dedication requires a certain character trait. It's that character trait in Ueshiba that I think drove him to Deguchi. I'd guess that there were Shinto priests around Japan that Ueshiba could have gone to and learned from. Had Ueshiba truly wanted to delve into being a Shinto priest, I doubt that much would have stopped him. So, I'd guess that there was something in Deguchi that appealed to Ueshiba.

I'm going to quote a post in another thread
Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote: View Post
3) Omoto as Shinto.
Shinto underwent a decided mongrelization coming into Meiji, ironic as Tokugawa just before it was a period of intended purification of "foreign elements" (Buddhism). Trembling at the impending threat of colonization by Europeans, foretold by Perry's hubristic gallivanting into Uraga Bay, the Japanese wanted unity to repel the foe and used Shinto as a means to this end. Having tried to destroy Buddhism (many Buddhist monks simply shed their monastic robes and put on priest's clothes), the authorities demanded that religious expression fall within the purview of State Shinto, ie, join a shrine system or disband. Deguchi had actually gone to Shinto school (for 2 years, IIRC) and so qualified. But his actual practice was more in line with shamanism than the ritual of Shinto, and could be considered Shinto mainly through political posturing.

A post to archive on the subject, is Wm Bodiford's at: http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showpost...9&postcount=18
Don Modesto makes a comparison to what Deguchi was doing to shamanism. From light research, I'd guess Omoto was definitely different than most Shinto practices.

Something in those two differences (Deguchi himself and the Omoto), either individual or together, caught Ueshiba's eye. If I had to guess, I'd say it was Deguchi himself and not the overall Omoto.

Here's the leap ... we've all heard about people who have had experiences that are outside the range of "normal". From people who say they were saved by their guardian angel to those who see ghosts. What if Ueshiba had those experiences when younger? Or had a few of them throughout his life? What if he heard that Deguchi had similar experiences? I think Ueshiba would have studied with Deguchi with as much fervor as he had with Takeda.

Maybe in Ueshiba, you had a man who was guided by the kami from early on. Maybe he wished for things and was granted them. Or perhaps he really was guided by some unseen force and he knew it. Is it a stretch to imagine Ueshiba having a few "weird" experiences and wanting to have more, finding Deguchi to have had similar ones (or perhaps not, maybe Deguchi was just stringing him along ... who knows. Deguchi himself was abnormal), and then learning Omoto to try to activate those experiences rather than wait for them to happen again.

We do know that Ueshiba was drawn by two very different worlds: martial and spiritual. He dedicated a large portion of his life to both. When he found what he was looking for, he threw himself into it with dedication.

He seems to have found what he was looking for in Takeda and Deguchi. And with the nature of aiki, Ueshiba found (pun intended) a system for merging the two.

I find it hard to believe that he was a religious nutcase. I find it more likely that he had at least one significant spiritual experience that most would find hard to believe, that the experience changed his views on the world, and that he searched for the method or reason behind that unique spiritual experience.

Just as he found his martial teacher, so he found his spiritual one. Some people, I think, would personally understand just how that happened.

But fact or fiction? Spiritual experiences are a step beyond the martial. At least in the martial world, IHTBF is a rule. It only takes a few moments training with someone who has real "aiki" to understand the defining differences in martial skills. With the spiritual, IHTBF is useless. So what if you're training with someone who's saying they're an avatar of the kami. They either have aiki or they don't in the world of IHTBF. In the spiritual, IHTBE rules supreme. It Has To Be Experienced. It's why I mostly stay away from the spiritual side of Ueshiba and Aikido. Unless you have those defining spiritual experiences ... there's no understanding.
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Old 12-28-2009, 06:50 AM   #27
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Bit of a reach from there to "teaching aikido = teaching shinto", don't you think? I mean, not too much of a reach for a person who's looking to find something to object to, but for the rest of us, again, why should O-Sensei's personal belief system matter? Are you saying that in order to study aikido, one must also have Shinto beliefs? If so, that's your statement; it doesn't appear to be O-Sensei's statement.
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:09 AM   #28
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

For most of us, the Shinto backbone of Morihei's own aikido is not relevant, and not even accessible in any meaningful way. But we cannot deny that it was there, and his own deshi had to find a way to come to terms with it, if they were not inclined to follow the same spiritual path.

As TK Chiba wrote: "To begin with, I would like to describe how I began Zen training which, in a passive way, was due to my teacher, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. What I mean by a "passive way" is that he taught me the importance of spiritual discipline along with martial discipline. However, the system of spiritual discipline he followed was based on chinkon-kishin (method of pacifying the soul and regaining or recovering the spirit) derived from ancient Shintoism and its extension - the study of Kototama doctrine (the miraculous power of language inherent within the Japanese alphabet). The composition of O-Sensei's teaching of ancient Shintoism was based upon the Kojiki, interpreted under the strong influences of Deguchi Wanisaburo of the Omoto Religion, who was the spiritual teacher of the Founder. The Kojiki provides an account of the creation and development of the universe, along with the origin of the Japanese race and its state.

Although I was an uchideshi at the time, I found it extremely difficult to follow and I was unable to understand most of the words O-Sensei was using in his teaching. Shintoism was the spiritual backbone of his Aikido, and in order to understand his teachings, one had to understand the Kojiki, which required extensive study. Unfortunately, I belonged to the generation whose education was strongly affected by the post-war policy carried out by G.H.Q. (General Headquarters of the Occupation Army), established in October of 1945 (I entered Junior school in April, 1946), the central premise of which was the systematic denial of the Japanese culture, tradition and history. Thus, the myth and the world view represented by the Kojiki was, for a time, denied as unscientific, an absurd superstition. This view was even widely supported by the post-war Japanese academic world. As for myself, being brought up and educated this way, I found the Founder's teachings not only difficult to follow, but also apparently nonsensical.

Nevertheless, the Founder always emphasized the importance of spiritual discipline ("religious faith", in his exact words) and the practice of farming along with martial discipline, if one wished to achieve one's goals. I had no problem with following the practice of farming and martial discipline (I still do both even up to today). However, I could not avoid the increasingly strong internal resistance that, as time went on, built up within me toward the Founder's spiritual discipline. I suffered from an internal split and feared the loss of unity between the physical art and spiritual discipline which was supposed to be the underlying principle of the art.

I started to look to Zen training as a substitute for the Founder's teaching. As I see it, it was a positive turning point in my Aikido life. However, I can't deny that it was an escape from the Founder. That is what I meant by my reference to "passive way.”"
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:35 AM   #29
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Bit of a reach from there to "teaching aikido = teaching shinto", don't you think? I mean, not too much of a reach for a person who's looking to find something to object to, but for the rest of us, again, why should O-Sensei's personal belief system matter? Are you saying that in order to study aikido, one must also have Shinto beliefs? If so, that's your statement; it doesn't appear to be O-Sensei's statement.
I'm not sure that O-sensei was able to separate the two things. I'm not saying that you must have Shinto beliefs, but I would say that you need some kind of understanding of them if you have any interest in trying to understand anything that the Founder said or wrote.

Best,

Chris

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Old 12-28-2009, 07:38 AM   #30
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I'm not sure that O-sensei was able to separate the two things. I'm not saying that you must have Shinto beliefs, but I would say that you need some kind of understanding of them if you have any interest in trying to understand anything that the Founder said or wrote.
Ok, fair 'nuff. Now, what about the farming thing?
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:39 AM   #31
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote: View Post
How about having that discussion here and now? What are the factors that go into you (those reading this thread) believing or disbelieving Gozo Shioda? In other words, do you believe him? Why/why not?

John Stevens told me that the reason he included the episode in his biography of the Founder was the source. He thought that Shioda, being a non-Omoto believer and generally being a skeptic meant that he was a much more reliable source than, for example, Kanshu Sunadomari.
I'd agree with Stevens' reasoning, Shioda's writing style is practical and straightforward. I think that Shioda certainly saw something. What it was, or what the Founder did, I'm not sure (Shioda wasn't completely sure either). Best thing to do would be to read the original source yourself.

Best,

Chris

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Old 12-28-2009, 07:45 AM   #32
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Why? He didn't teach religion. If a Shinto priest was teaching mathematics, do you think these same people would have a problem learning from him?
Probably not, mathematics isn't something you can colour with religion or philosophy in the way Aikido can be and mathematics wasn't invented by a Shinto priest, as far as we know.

Take for example the Christian martial arts groups, think they'd be comfortable studying the creation of a Shinto priest? Some of them might be out of the door faster than you can say, "Pagan idol worship."

Switching things around, if I turned up at a new martial art and the creator was, lets make this fun, the Pope and the Popes new martial art was supposedly deeply philosophical I'd want serious reassurances that they weren't in some way trying to teach me Christianity and I'd be highly suspicious if they told me that the Christian clerics philosophy wasn't essentially Christianity.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:24 AM   #33
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
Take for example the Christian martial arts groups, think they'd be comfortable studying the creation of a Shinto priest? Some of them might be out of the door faster than you can say, "Pagan idol worship."
I'm sure they would, but to me, "Christian martial arts" makes about as much sense as "Christian mathematics". Yeah, I know, spiritual dimension and all that good stuff, but spirituality is not religion and certainly not dogma.
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:04 AM   #34
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

In light of this discussion I thought this would be relevant...
http://www.toitsu.de/texte/tohei_en.htm
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:11 AM   #35
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Heresay is a legal concept that holds that oral statements made by one person and then related by another who wasn't present for the event are heresay and thus suspect. Statements made by a witness are considered direct evidence and their truthfulness can be weighed by the trier of fact.

Using Shioda Kancho's account of the bullet dodging, his writings would be direct evidence of the event. And as Clark said earlier, you as the "trier of fact" can decide for yourself whether they are truthful accounts of the event. Frankly, I don't believe it.

Michael
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:06 AM   #36
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Sorry for thread drift, but it seems if the underlying issue is one of reliability, the concept of "hearsay" is a red herring.

As a technical legal matter, for, example, the statement by Shioda is still hearsay, because the account was not given in court and under oath. See Fed. Rules of Evidence, Rule 801 ("'Hearsay' is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.").

Then again, so would be an eye-witness account given out of court by any person, regardless of how trustworthy the person and how reliable their basis of information.

The lay definition of "hearsay" is "rumor," according to Webster's on-line. By that standard, an eye-witness account is not "hearsay."

All of which, of course, is different from whether non-hearsay is more reliable than hearsay. The testimony of a perjurer is not hearsay, under the legal definition or the common sense one. It's still false.

Scholars have their own standards of documentation, which may be better suited for the kind of question being posed here. The reasons, for example, to credit Shioda's account have already been listed, and they provide an argument for believing he saw something that he tried honestly to describe.

cdh
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:24 AM   #37
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
If I'm not a Shinto believer, why would it matter to me if O-Sensei was a Shinto priest or not?
It is good to know which stars the captain is using, to guide his ship by.
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:25 AM   #38
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Apologies to all for my spelling of "hearsay". Mea culpa. My fingers were moving faster than my brain this morning.

Michael
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:25 AM   #39
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I think he lived for the sake of others. So in the end it is about what he left us. His goal was to forge men of utter integrity. If he could do that even once then he has achieved in his life-time something more spectacular than dodging bullets.
Well said.

Linda Eskin - Facebook | My AikiBlog

"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:57 AM   #40
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Maggie,

Take a look at "Dueling with O Sensei" by Ellis Amdur. Ueshiba O Sensei was, at least to me, a very complex character who demonstrated some noble traits as well as demonstrating some ignoble traits. He was a brilliant martial artist who could do some amazing things, but he was, in the end, just a man and perhaps had feet of clay.

We look at him today from the lens of our western heritage and sometimes forget that he and the others of his time were the product of their culture. I personally question that he was some selfless man of integrity and unquestioned virtue. I'm not sure that the concepts of integrity and virtue were defined in pre-war Japan in any way I can understand today. I doubt that we will ever know as the myths and truths have become terribly enmeshed into some amalgam of oral history. Then again, maybe I'm full of crap.

Michael
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:04 PM   #41
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

About O Sensei dodging bullets, Tom Cruise did it better in "The Last Samurai" with the recruit in boot camp.

BTW, O Sensei said something like "do not want!!!" when Sadajiro Sato aimed his gun towards him.

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Old 12-28-2009, 02:18 PM   #42
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Can't help but think of this article about Musashi when reading these threads about O-sensei.

The saving grace is that there has been some good scholarship about his life, beliefs, teachings, etc. But with so much BS and "what one wants to believe" being foisted upon him it is often difficult to have an intelligent conversation about it. Especially when entire generations were given the more "colorful" versions of his life.

My humble opinion? Great martial artist. Interesting fella when it comes to all the other stuff. I'm just focusing on the martial art part hoping to get what I can from that... I'll leave the rest to those who have actually studied these things.

I'll also add that I think many of the negative reactions were due to the rather "authoritative" statements and subsequent "defensive" sounding replies. There comes a point when "if it walk like a duck" kind of comments are really not helpful especially if you've only seen one or two ducks. There is a lot to learn and read about O-sensei. That is always a good place to start.

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Old 12-28-2009, 02:44 PM   #43
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I think he lived for the sake of others. So in the end it is about what he left us. His goal was to forge men of utter integrity. If he could do that even once then he has achieved in his life-time something more spectacular than dodging bullets.
Hi Maggie,

What do you base this on? In my reading of his life, I am struck by how utterly self-centered he often was. The distinct impression is that he never really "taught" other than by example.
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:50 PM   #44
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I think Ueshiba would have studied with Deguchi with as much fervor as he had with Takeda.
My understanding is that for O'Sensei, Deguchi was THE teacher. Omoto teaches that art is the path to spiritual development/understanding. Omoto believers choose a form of art or two and work to develop it. Ueshiba had practiced martial arts but that did not satisfy. It was when he met Onisaburo that he found his path, which he then followed the rest of his life.
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:55 PM   #45
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
The composition of O-Sensei's teaching of ancient Shintoism was based upon the Kojiki, interpreted under the strong influences of Deguchi Wanisaburo of the Omoto Religion, who was the spiritual teacher of the Founder.
"Wanisaburo" is how one normally reads Onisaburo Deguchi's given name in Chinese characters. This is probably a bit of a stretch (or not) but when I read or hear "Wanisaburo" my guess is that the individual read about Deguchi, ie. did not hear it. I have read this quote of Chiba Sensei's before and it makes me suspect that his knowledge of O'Sensei's spirituality, to some degree, does not come directly from the Founder.
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:03 PM   #46
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I'm not sure that O-sensei was able to separate the two things. I'm not saying that you must have Shinto beliefs, but I would say that you need some kind of understanding of them if you have any interest in trying to understand anything that the Founder said or wrote.

Best,

Chris
I agree. Furthermore, it helps to understand Omoto specifically. Their core belief is that there is only one God and this God manifests itself differently in different cultures. So when the fundamental Christian says that "I believe in Christ, the son, and God, the father. And all else is wrong", the Omoto believer (including O'Sensei) is going to think that that individual is mistaken. I think they will not be able to separate the two things as Chris has written.

To the person who says they just practice Aikido and are not interested in all that religious stuff, the Omoto believer is likely to be thinking something like, "Go ahead and keep believeing you are not doing the will of God. someday you will realize the truth."
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:06 PM   #47
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
David Henderson wrote: View Post
Sorry for thread drift,
This whole thread has been a drift.
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:08 PM   #48
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
It is good to know which stars the captain is using, to guide his ship by.
When trying to understand O Sensei I think this is true, but when I think of training as a personal thing this doesn't ring quite as true. O Sensei would be captain of his own ship, not mine. As such, it might be useful to know all the particular aspects that compelled him, but as it applies to my own ship, it really only comes down to whatever I choose to apply (i.e. whatever seems useful to me and my goals at the present). I think this is what Mary is pointing to.

Regardless of the facts or the fiction, each of us still has to internalize what we're learning and that, as I see it, is a purely individual endeavor. History is never 100% concrete. I learned this from my classics prof. first year in college. The value of any history, as I see it, doesn't usually come from whether or not it's true. It usually comes from how we interpret it and apply it to our own way.

Regarding O Sensei living for the sake of others I think it's important to consider the idea that by helping others we help ourselves and the overall state of things. I know there are philisophical discussions about whether selflessness truly exists or not, but I believe O Sensei believed in helping make better people more for the sake of something greater than those people or himself. That's not to say it wasnt also for their respective sakes as well, but I'm betting there was a hierarchy of importance to him that started with the aspects most fundemental to existence itself.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:12 PM   #49
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
But with so much BS and "what one wants to believe" being foisted upon him it is often difficult to have an intelligent conversation about it. ....... There is a lot to learn and read about O-sensei. That is always a good place to start.
Hi Keith,

I have read much of what is available. I have also trained with/ listened to a number of individuals connect. Also, I have visited many of the places connected to his life.

I think that at some point, we have to dissect and analyze what we have learned and that feedback from others is the next step. So with that, what kinds of BS and "what one wants to believe" have you heard? And why do you consider them so?
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:19 PM   #50
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

re. the thread drift

A lot of the discussions centered around the Founder seem to be based on the structure of " I believe O'Sensei....", "I think Ueshiba....", and even "Morihei Ueshiba....". However, all these discussions will eventually grind to a halt because we all have different experience which we bring to the table.

To do something different, I started this thread with a simple idea. Let's take things we have heard and discuss HOW we accept them or reject them.
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