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Old 09-10-2011, 10:58 PM   #1
Allen Beebe
Location: Portland, OR
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Doka and thoughts on Love

Here is the doka:
愛 [あい: AI] love, affection.

喜び [よろこび: YOROKOBI] joy, delight, rapture, pleasure, gratification, rejoicing, congratulations, felicitations.

道 [どう: DOU] (1) (abbr) road, (2) way, (3) Buddhist teachings, (4) Taoism, (5) modern administrative region of Japan (Hokkaido), (6) historical administrative region of Japan (Tokaido, Tosando, etc.), (7) province (Tang-era administrative region of China), (8) province (modern administrative region of Korea)

顯 (頁) ケン, あきらか, あらわ.れる manifest, display, evident, clear
靈 (雨) レイ, リョウ, たま soul, spirit
神 [かみ: KAMI] god, deity, divinity, spirit, kami.

It reads:
Ai (Love) no Ki (Joy) no Do (Way)
Gen (Manifest), Rei (Spirit), Shin (God)

It is a Doka written by O-sensei and also one of two Doka written for me by Shirata Rinjiro sensei on the first day I met him. I often contemplate the two Doka (the other being, Masa Katsu A Katsu, Aikido) because I feel that, not knowing that we would have a 7 year relationship, Shirata sensei wrote down the essence of what he knew about Aikido so that I might have it "up front." This is in keeping with the pedagogical structure I learned form him which was: Give them everything immediately and then lead them to discover all that they have been given.

With the above in mind, please allow me to share the following . . .

I enjoy reading, "Listening to Your LIfe, Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner"

Today's entry seems relevant:

"Love * September 10

The First Stage is to believe that there is only one kind of love. The middle stage is to believe that there are many kinds of love and that the Greeks had a different word for each of them. the last stage is to believe that there is only one kind of love.

The unabashed eros of lovers, the sympathetic phila of friends, agape giving itself away freely no less for the murderer than for his victim (the King James version translates it as charity) - these are all varied manifestations of a single reality. To lose yourself in another's arms, or in another's company or in suffering for all men who suffer, including the ones who inflict suffering upon you - to lose yourself in such ways is to find yourself. Is what it's all about. Is what love is.

Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer the final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent.

To say that love is God is romantic idealism. To say that God is love is either the last straw or the ultimate truth.

In the Christian sense, love is not primarily and emotion but and act of the will. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he is not telling us to love them in the sense of responding to them with a cozy emotional feeling. You can as well produce a cozy emotional feeling on demand as you can a yawn or a sneeze. On the contrary, he is telling us to love our neighbors in the sense of being willing to work for their well-being even if it means sacrificing our own well-being to that end, even if it means sometimes just leaving them alone. Thus in Jesus' terms we can love our neighbors without necessarily liking them. In fact liking them may stand in the way of loving them by making us overprotective sentimentalists instead of reasonably honest friends.

When Jesus talked to the Pharisees, he didn't say, "There, there. Everything's going to be all right." He said, "You brood of vipers! How can you speak good when you are evil!" (Matthew 12:34). And he said that to them because he loved them.

This does not mean that liking may not be a part of loving, only that it doesn't have to be. Sometimes liking follows on the heels of loving. It is hard to work for somebody's well-being very long without coming in the end to rather like him too."

With Love and Joy from a fellow traveler,
Allen

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:10 AM   #2
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Hello Allen,

Some questions:
Did you know Shirata Sensei well enough to discuss Omoto with him?
It is stated somewhere that Shirata Sensei's family were Omoto 'believers', but I do not fully understand the force of the term 'believer' here. Did he himself have any kind of Omoto creed?
So, to what extent was the doka an expression of 'Omoto' doctrine?
Did Shirata Sensei ever discuss the meaning of the Masa katsu phrase?
As you know, the phrase is the first part of a deity's name, the deity created during his oath-swearing operation between Take Haya Susa no O no mikoto and Ama terasu O mikami. As such the name is quite straightforward, but the most common English translation reduces the meaning to controlling oneself. Is there any specific Omoto usage of this name?
Did Shirata Sensei ever use kotodama-gaku (of the sort that appears in Takemusu Aiki) to interpret the name?

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 09-11-2011, 11:14 AM   #3
Allen Beebe
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Allen,
Good Morning Peter!

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Did you know Shirata Sensei well enough to discuss Omoto with him?
Yes and No. Shirata sensei was an open and approachable person so the discussion could have taken place rather easily. Of course the depth of response would vary depending upon the nature of relationship. My conversations with Shirata sensei were unfortunately limited for several reasons: 1) Initially I could have asked the question as an outsider. But I almost immediately became a student which kind of put me in a certain position to my mind. 2) Initially I had virtually no Japanese ability and he had virtually no English ability. 3) Evan as the first two reasons changed I remained under time constraints while visiting Yamagata because I either had a ride waiting or needed to catch a train immediately. (Kind of dumb reason not to have a conversation 20/20 hind sight, but true at the time nevertheless.) 4) Class wasn't really a time for asking those sorts of questions. 5) When in surroundings amenable to such a conversation I was usually in the company of sempai who were/was "first in line" as it were. 6) I didn't know that Shirata sensei was going to die so soon or I would have worked harder to create the circumstance in which we could have had such a discussion. I have so many questions for him now . . .

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
It is stated somewhere that Shirata Sensei's family were Omoto 'believers', but I do not fully understand the force of the term 'believer' here. Did he himself have any kind of Omoto creed?
It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei's family were Omoto ‘believers' in that they were involved in the Omoto organization. I do not know to what extent they followed ‘Omoto creed.' From my experience, for a Japanese individual to be involved in an organization qualifies them as a ‘believer' more than even knowing what it is that the organization they are involved in ‘believes." What is important is to ‘belong' as witnessed by organizational behavior.

I am unaware of Shirata Sensei maintaining Omoto organizational connections as an adult. I had the impression that Shirata Sensei as like a kid raised in a fundamentalist household. Due to his upbringing he was well aware of nature/functions of the "Fundamentalist Church," had much of the "Fundamentalist Church Doctrine" indelibly imprinted on his memory, and while maintaining beliefs that have some relationship with his childhood, as an adult he was no longer a member of the "Fundamentalist Church."

I know for a fact that Shirata Sensei visited Hagurozan regularly and practiced, and taught Yamabushi no Gyo. This was the only overt religious teaching that I witnessed Shirata sensei passing on, and he did so in a characteristically crystal clear fashion. BTW, post Meiji Era the Yamabushi on Hagurozan were forced to divide into Buddist and Shinto factions. The methodology that Shirata sensei taught was of the Shinto variety. I had the pleasure of having a conversation over tea with the head of that lineage after Shirata sensei's death. I believe that Shirata sensei was was given a Tendai funeral and burial, so there might be a familial Yamadera connection as well.

So, it was my impression that Shirata sensei was characteristically eclectic.

I do know that Shirata sensei considered O-sensei to be a Kami incarnate. It was clear that he felt this at a strong emotional level. However, it would be a mistake for some to interpret this as Shirata sensei believing that, "God was made flesh and dwelt among us as Ueshiba Morihei." He may very well have believed this to some degree, but I strongly suspect that he had a uniquely Japanese way of understanding this. Clearly he recognized O-sensei as a human being, but I think he also recognized "the divine" through O-sensei and therefore O-sensei was "divine" or participated "in the divine" to some degree. I suspect that this understanding was highly personal for Shirata Sensei. I also suspect that my understanding is limited by my Judeo/Christian upbringing and Buddhist education/immersion.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
So, to what extent was the doka an expression of 'Omoto' doctrine?
I do not know. Hence my continued contemplation on the matter.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Did Shirata Sensei ever discuss the meaning of the Masa katsu phrase?
Yes. I think I might even have video of him doing so in the dojo. I should search through my library. If I find it, I'll try to digitize it and share it with you. I am supposed to be digitizing my entire library. I still have a Beta machine just so I can watch certain videos! To be painfully honest, I have a pleasant memory of John Stevens and I discussing how Masa Katsu A Katsu Katsu Hayabi should be best translated (in relationship with a book he was working on.) As usual he favored a more poetic/aesthetically pleasing translation and I favored a more direct approach. Because we were essentially on the same page, and we both had the same teacher, it never occurred to me (until reading you) that Shirata Sensei, or others, might conceive of the phrase differently. In other words I assumed that since we shared an essential understanding, that must BE the understanding.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
As you know, the phrase is the first part of a deity's name, the deity created during his oath-swearing operation between Take Haya Susa no O no mikoto and Ama terasu O mikami. As such the name is quite straightforward, but the most common English translation reduces the meaning to controlling oneself. Is there any specific Omoto usage of this name?
Again, I do not know. I definitely see the significance of your question though. From both my study and first hand experience, it is clear that Shinko Shukyo are not necessarily constrained at all in their interpretation of pretty much any doctrine. Rather, they are usually characterized by a "God imbued" individual that re-highlights the meaning of orthodox doctrine. It is characteristic of Shinko Shukyo to make the claim that they "complete religions" which should, not surprisingly sound familiar.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Did Shirata Sensei ever use kotodama-gaku (of the sort that appears in Takemusu Aiki) to interpret the name?
I do not recall this. Due to his upbringing and his association with O-sensei he may have been able to do so to some extent. In fact, due to both of these associations he might very well have been well placed for a better (closer) interpretation of O-sensei's beliefs. I don't recall sensei every claiming this though, nor do I recall him using kotodama-gaku. Kotodama was used to explain certain aspects of our Reigi for example. However, it should be noted that those explanations came to me via John Stevens (while training at his dojo in Sendai) rather than directly, near as I can recall, from Shirata sensei in either Yamagata or Sendai. Regardless of who taught me, I tended to be rather conservative in that I liked to have what I was taught re-confirmed either directly by Shirata sensei or as a part of regular group practice in Yamagata and therefore very likely approved of by Shirata sensei (since he was probably in the next room, or preparing to enter from the side.

I do not recall ever "doing" Kotodama with Shirata sensei (outside of the aforementioned Hagurozan Yamabushi no Gyo.) I was rather surprised to see the ‘practice of Kotodama' being promoted when I had never participated in such practice with Shirata sensei. [That isn't to say it couldn't have happened. I wasn't around a good deal of the time! I just don't recall it in 7 years.] Consequently I do not make that part of practice, rather choosing to continue what I was taught directly and participated in practicing in common with others of sensei's students.
Of course, as I indicated earlier, during the time I knew Shirata sensei I was restricted by my lack of language ability and time. There are others for which language (and dialect) posed no problem and who had time and access. I suppose the only limitation then would be self-imposed . . . either cultural, preconception, or lack of interest.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Best wishes,

PAG
The same to you! I truly regret not having better answers to your questions. Some of my curiosity is purely academic. For example, it would be nice to know Shirata sensei's views and understandings on religion, not that I would necessarily wish, or endeavor to share them all. Some would much better clarify my "lineage" and now I am limited to second hand reports. Unfortunately, the "time has run out" on much of my opportunity.

There is one thing though . . . I was told that Shirata sensei kept extensive notes organizing his understandings of Aikido. Wouldn't THAT be interesting to take a look at??????!!!!!

Kind Regards,
Allen

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:20 AM   #4
Allen Beebe
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Oh, one more thing . . .

The Doka which was the subject of my original post was written in the Kanji that I posted. So I'm not doing any fancy Kotodama-gaku transformation. If Kotodama-gaku was used, it was used by either Shirata sensei or Ueshiba sensei. Obviously word play is being used which is a characteristic of Kotodama-gaku.

Just for for the sake of clarity.

Cheers,
Allen

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Old 09-11-2011, 04:39 PM   #5
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Good morning Allen,

Many thanks for your detailed and thoughtful responses to my questions. Which were reassuring, in the sense that they have not changed my own ideas about O Sensei and Omoto.

I would add that I do not believe that the kanji used was kotodama gaku. If it was, then it follows that any kind of typical Japanese wordplay is also kotodama-gaku. I thinks this strains credulity more than the usual kotodama-gaku theories, such as you can kind in Deguchi's writings.

Best wishes,

PAG

PS. Have you ever come across the writings of Anders Nygren (I think that is how you spell it) and Denis de Rougement.?

P A Goldsbury
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Old 09-11-2011, 08:34 PM   #6
Allen Beebe
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Good morning Allen,

Many thanks for your detailed and thoughtful responses to my questions. Which were reassuring, in the sense that they have not changed my own ideas about O Sensei and Omoto.

I would add that I do not believe that the kanji used was kotodama gaku. If it was, then it follows that any kind of typical Japanese wordplay is also kotodama-gaku. I thinks this strains credulity more than the usual kotodama-gaku theories, such as you can kind in Deguchi's writings.
Oh yeah? Well that is reassuring. We've been sweltering under a heat wave here and I was wondering just why I couldn't make it rain . . . now I know. I was applying typical Japanese word play rather than the usual kotodama-gaku word play . . . duh! Silly me. Guess that's what I get for not paying attention in class!

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Best wishes,

PAG

PS. Have you ever come across the writings of Anders Nygren (I think that is how you spell it) and Denis de Rougement.?
I haven't. I guess Anders Nygren is known for just a couple of texts. As for Denis de Rougement, which of his many works would you recommend?

Best wishes and words,
Allen

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:01 PM   #7
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Hello Allen,

The books fit in with the title of the thread. Nygren wrote a massive text on Eros and Agape and de Rougement wrote a book called Love in the West (I think). When I was an SJ, I worked through a work by one of my senior colleagues, a book called The Mind and Heart of Love, by Martin C D'Arcy.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 09-11-2011, 09:20 PM   #8
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Beebe sensei,

Thanks for sharing this good post!

Ting
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:07 PM   #9
Allen Beebe
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Quote:
Ting Piao wrote: View Post
Beebe sensei,

Thanks for sharing this good post!

Ting
Dear Ting,

Thank you for the kind response.

(BTW, no need for honorifics on my behalf.)

Sincerely,
Allen

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Old 09-11-2011, 10:27 PM   #10
Allen Beebe
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Allen,

The books fit in with the title of the thread. Nygren wrote a massive text on Eros and Agape and de Rougement wrote a book called Love in the West (I think). When I was an SJ, I worked through a work by one of my senior colleagues, a book called The Mind and Heart of Love, by Martin C D'Arcy.

Best wishes,

PAG
Good Afternoon Peter,

Just to put my original post into context, I had just read the Frederick Buechner "meditation" for the day (September 10th) as I have for several months now. It brought to mind the Doka I referred to in my original post. Serendipitously it being the eve before the 10th anniversary of "9/11," the convergence of thought streams seemed somehow "relevant" and I thought others might also enjoy contemplating both the Doka and the Buechner quote. That was my motivation for posting, nothing more.

Will you be soon further elucidating your views on O-sensei and Omoto? You've spoiled me you know.

Kind regards,
Allen

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:48 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Doka and thoughts on Love

Hello Allen,

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
That was my motivation for posting, nothing more.
Absolutely. However, you also have readers and they bring different experiences to what you write, which is one of the great advantages of forums like Aikiweb. When I read your OP, I immediately thought of St Paul's letters, for he did not believe that eros, agape, etc were manifestations of a single reality.

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
Will you be soon further elucidating your views on O-sensei and Omoto? You've spoiled me you know.
Well, I would like to wait until I have had chance to penetrate Reikai Monogatari in more depth than I have done so far. O Sensei was present on some occasions when Deguchi dictated this and I he gather read and annotated parts of the work.

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Kind regards,
Allen
Best wishes,

PAG

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