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Old 12-14-2012, 08:40 AM   #26
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Thank you all for your comments!

I'm definitely not an expert regarding Buddhism. I practiced zen only for about two years. And by now I know, that my teacher was not that advanced himself. And also my religous studies of this were not very intense.
I understand that in your practice buddhism is also about caring about one's body. Thank you: This is indeed new to me.

@ Szczepan:
I am aware of the affinity of yoga and buddhism, both: historical and contentual. But I saw both as autonomous systems. Intertwined in many way but still discret. What I didn't know until now is, that yoga can be integral part oft buddhist spirituality.

@ Cady:
Yes, tao is found in the context of buddhist thought. But is it an original buddhist concept or has it just been integrated into buddhist thought? This to me makes a difference. And has it or how has it been modified by being incorporated?

@ Mary:
I didn't mean "illusion" for something that doesn't exist. But to my understanding buddhism is a lot about that "what exists" creates illusions in our mind and understanding of who we are, how we are and what the world is. And to my understanding buddhist spirituality is a lot about getting rid of those illusions.
So for example in my practice this meant: Don't regard your body, don't regard pain or hunger. Sitting is not about regarding one's body and even not about regarding one's "self".

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 12-14-2012 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:50 AM   #27
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
@ Cady:
Yes, tao is found in the context of buddhist thought. But is it an original buddhist concept or has it just been integrated into buddhist thought? This to me makes a difference. And has it or how has it been modified by being incorporated?
Carsten,
My 2-cents' worth, as I am not an expert on this topic, by any means... From what I've read in various historical writings, the concept of Tao and Taoism as a philosophy were already well established in China by the time Buddhist monks brought Buddhism there from India. Because Taoism was not a religion, and a number of its concepts were compatible with many aspects of Buddhist thought, the two easily meshed and resulted in Buddhist sects with varying degrees of Taoist thought integrated into them. Probably, Buddhism already had a number of like- or very similar concepts when it met Taoism, which is why the two were able to "hit it off."

That said, there were a lot of misunderstandings between the two systems due to the Babel of languages and dialects into which tracts of Taoism and Buddhism were translated and taught. So, a lot of the same words and terminology have completely different meanings to Taoism and to Buddhism. Large-scale confusion ensued. Gee, where have we heard that before?

But, one thread that seems to run through both before they met is the concept of separating emotion and cognitive thought from action, and of separating "self" from "being." In Taoism, it is becoming "One with the Tao"... a part of Nature and the universe not tied up in contemplating itself (and overcontemplating the world around it) and thus cluttering the Way. One must just "be." In Zen Buddhism and similar sects, this is similar to, if not the same as, the concept of "mu shin" (No Mind) - conditioning oneself to act correctly (see thread on "Old O Sensei video") without having to use conscious, verbal mental instruction that slows the process of initiation- to-execution of an action.

As relates to martial arts, this promotes, among other things, the ability to act in combat without pre-judging the situation, and to make in-the-moment decisions without mental clutter slowing down one's responses. It makes sense that some samurai-class folks would take on the practice of Zen to acquire pragmatic skills, if that's the only place such training could be accessed.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:59 AM   #28
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
@ Mary:
I didn't mean "illusion" for something that doesn't exist. But to my understanding buddhism is a lot about that "what exists" creates illusions in our mind and understanding of who we are, how we are and what the world is. And to my understanding buddhist spirituality is a lot about getting rid of those illusions.
So for example in my practice this meant: Don't regard your body, don't regard pain or hunger. Sitting is not about regarding one's body and even not about regarding one's "self".
Sure. Nor is it about regarding anything else. Again, we have filters: Buddhism says "Don't regard your body", and Western thought inspired by Christian morality says, "Aha, Buddhism is about denial of the body and the body's desires!" But of course it isn't.
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:29 PM   #29
Fred Little
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post

Buddhism nearly neglects the body, seeing it as one root of illusion. So buddhist spirituality tries to leave the body behind and there are certain ways to vanquish or bear down the body.

In Taoism bodywork is the very first step towards spirituality. Building, developing the body is not only a prerequirement, it is even part of spirituality.
Carsten,

While there is a basis for these shorthand characterizations, one of the factors that makes (at least some strains of) Japanese Buddhism unique is the fusion of Taoist and Buddhist influences that developed in T'ang-era China and was transmitted to Japan. This can be seen quite clear in the Shingon doctrine of "Sokushin Jobutsu" or "the attainment of Budhha-hood in this very body."

In this formulation, the body is regarded simultaneously the root of illusion AND the root of enlightenment. This is relevant to the larger discussion precisely because the Shingon and Tendai traditions were the ground out of which most extant sects of Japanese Buddhism arose. Doctrines vary from sect to sect, but it is quite possible that a Japanese instructor might proceed from a basis that is a blend of Taoist and Buddhist traditions.

Plus, also, what NagaBaba said....

Best,

FL

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Old 12-14-2012, 01:52 PM   #30
Fred Little
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Because Taoism was not a religion
This is a widely held, but incorrect view of Taoism. Both Taoism and Confucianism were and are religions, notwithstanding a century or so Western "scholarship" which was eager to present them as non-religious in character for a variety of reasons, most of them having to do with the close alignment between early East Asian scholarship and European diplomatic activities and objectives from the early 19th well into the 20th century, the focus of early scholar-diplomats on text-based "Great Books" studies which largely excluded much consideration of folk religious practice (although Aston's work on Shinto is a notable exception to that tendency), and finally what was then a conceptually limited notion of what constitutes "religion" in most Western scholarship.

The turn in the field of Asian religious studies is actually decades-old, but between the restrictions of copyright law, the large quantity of venerable popular works as well as newer popular works also based on older scholarship now in the public domain, and a number of other factors, the old misimpression has continued to linger longer than it ought.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

Hope this helps.

Fred

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Old 12-14-2012, 02:02 PM   #31
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Thanks, Fred, that is helpful. I had read a number of sources that matter-of-factly framed Taoism originally as a philosophy that later became a religion; likewise, similar tracts stated that Buddhism was first a philosophy in the hands of Siddhartha, but acquired a lot of deities and cosmic beings, along with layers of ritual complexity, as it was interpreted by the disciples, and then by disciples of disciples, and then adopted by various cultures that included their earlier belief systems. Do you know whether this is accurate or not, as well? Any suggested reading?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
This is a widely held, but incorrect view of Taoism. Both Taoism and Confucianism were and are religions, notwithstanding a century or so Western "scholarship" which was eager to present them as non-religious in character for a variety of reasons, most of them having to do with the close alignment between early East Asian scholarship and European diplomatic activities and objectives from the early 19th well into the 20th century, the focus of early scholar-diplomats on text-based "Great Books" studies which largely excluded much consideration of folk religious practice (although Aston's work on Shinto is a notable exception to that tendency), and finally what was then a conceptually limited notion of what constitutes "religion" in most Western scholarship.

The turn in the field of Asian religious studies is actually decades-old, but between the restrictions of copyright law, the large quantity of venerable popular works as well as newer popular works also based on older scholarship now in the public domain, and a number of other factors, the old misimpression has continued to linger longer than it ought.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

Hope this helps.

Fred

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 12-14-2012 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:44 PM   #32
Fred Little
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Thanks, Fred, that is helpful. I had read a number of sources that matter-of-factly framed Taoism originally as a philosophy that later became a religion; likewise, similar tracts stated that Buddhism was first a philosophy in the hands of Siddhartha, but acquired a lot of deities and cosmic beings, along with layers of ritual complexity, as it was adopted by various cultures that included their earlier belief systems. Do you know whether this is accurate or not, as well? Any suggested reading?
I'll look at the shelf tonight. It's certainly the case that Buddhism was originally aniconographic and the development of an extensive iconography of deities, cosmic beings, and associated ritual practices (which was really a sort of adoption and re-valuative transformation of those entities and practices and their roles within the context of Buddhist thought). One of the longest strands of this kind that one can tease out is the Homa (or Goma) Fire rites, which are found throughout East Asian Buddhism and which can be traced all the way back to pre-Buddhist Vedic practices which were restricted to the Brahmanic class in India. One essential work that covers much of this is Tantric Buddhism in East Asia, edited by Richard Payne.

It's true that there were many "religious" ideas that the Gautama Buddha deemed irrelevant as "questions not tending to provide answers that relieve suffering." To follow on NagaBaba's notes above, there is pretty firm evidence that the Gautama Buddha studied a number of yoga systems (all of which he found lacking in one way or another). Does this mean they were necessary parts of his development to be emulated or dead ends which he exited? Buddhists disagree. Do deities exist? Buddhists disagree.

What Buddhists agree on is that deities, like everything else, have no inherent existence. Most Buddhists engage in a variety of ritual practices, some involving "deities," some not, some simple, some terrifyingly complex, to study the nature of existence and their response to it as sentient beings. So what makes a religion? The theory or the practice? The drapes or the windows?

What I would argue is that one has to be very selective about criteria to get an absolutely unequivocal answer to the question: Is Buddhism a religion? Which is a good place to mention Nagarjuna's tetralemma.....

The "non-religious" Buddhism of the 20th Century is, in many respects, a sort of curious variant which arose out of the work of Col. Henry Olcott and a bunch of jackleg Theosophists, the Fifth Buddhist Council (held in Burma in 1871, ostensibly sponsored by King Mindon, but actually underwritten by the British, who were trying to drive a wedge between the Buddhist communities of East Asian on the one hand, and Southeast and South Asia on the other. In the same period, British diplomat-scholars also tagged Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhism as "Lamaism" and denied that it was Buddhist in anything but the most degenerate possible sense.), the subsequent revaluation and re-introduction of all of the above to American popular culture by the Beats, and then a reimportation of the variant to the East.

Fascinating stuff, but not the place to go if you're looking for clean-cut distinctions.

Best,

Fred

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Old 12-14-2012, 08:33 PM   #33
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Thank you for that expansion. It may be fair to say that, given the subjectivity of the human mind, and the variability of human experience and conditions, no religious or philosophic concept remains in its original vehicle as established by its founder. The core message stays constant, but it gets dressed under layers of other people's and cultures' traditions and political agendas.

Even more interesting to me, was digging a little into some info on the Homa/Goma fire ritual, which made it from those pre-Buddhist Vedic, Brahmin practices you cited, all the way into Japanese esoteric Buddhism. It becomes apparent that while some individuals might take the ritual literally as an act of purification that actually drives out evil or invites in "positive energy," or as totally symbolic gestures that serve to remind the practitioner to make good things happen and to prevent and avoid the non-productive and deleterious through his own will and actions. And, the ritual itself seems to serve as a form of meditative catharsis, too. It's up to the practitioner to interpret for him/herself how to intepret it. Perhaps this is also true of other rituals and in determining whether deities and cosmic entities truly exist or are likewise symbols for deeper concepts of Buddhist thought.

RE: 20th-century Buddhism, it is fascinating that a bunch of self-important, self-made scholars ("jackleg Theosophists" is a great take-away; I am going to find some way to use that it somehow, somewhere, someday...) named themselves the arbitors of what constitutes "legitimate" Buddhism. The Dalai Lama of the Galug-pa likely didn't give a rodent's hindside what their conclusions were, I'll wager.

Now, to look into Nagarjuna's tetralemma. As if having a dilemma weren't enough.

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 12-14-2012 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:44 AM   #34
amoeba
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

I have often felt that a lot of techniques are easier for shorter poeople - being tall and lean makes it more difficult. Especially for stuff like koshi nage. Or kata dori men uchi techniques. They rely have to use their knees a lot... Also, a "compact" build (not fat, more like sporty/muscular) seems to help. But then I also know lots of good, tall aikidoka...
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:11 AM   #35
Fred Little
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Cady,

The best introduction to the Japanese Buddhism (in all of its perplexing diversity) that I could find on my shelves is:

http://www.amazon.com/Religions-Japa...anabe+buddhism

Hope this helps. Have a great holiday season!

Best,

Fred

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Old 12-20-2012, 05:32 PM   #36
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Fred, thank you.
And, happy holidays.

Cady
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:36 AM   #37
dps
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

A live body is best suited for Aikido practice

dps
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:48 AM   #38
dps
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

What is a window? The empty space that the window frame surrounds.
What is a religion? The empty space that the religious frame surrounds.

dps
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:27 AM   #39
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
What is a window? The empty space that the window frame surrounds.
What is a religion? The empty space that the religious frame surrounds.

dps
sooo .....What is a blond?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 12-21-2012, 12:26 PM   #40
dps
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Re: Body Type and Spiritual Beliefs

Quote:
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sooo .....What is a blond?
Angry at you.
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