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Old 07-08-2015, 08:12 PM   #26
kewms
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
So what would you say to a visitor who said to you, "I noticed that when you began class and ended class, everyone bowed and then clapped twice. That is exactly what I saw people doing when I visited a shrine in Japan. I was told by my tour guide that this was an important ritual, a way of calling the attention of the god of the shrine and asking for blessings. Is that what you do here?"

Or, "that is a nice little altar at the front of your dojo, with the picture of the Founder of Aikido as its focus...are you worshipping him?"

I.e. what you say to someone who really probed you on whether the clapping was a piece of religious practice?
Again, I don't see it as such. I see it as part of focusing the mind before training. So I would tell the prospective student that. And that while the ritual did originate in Japan as part of Shinto practice -- aikido being a Japanese art -- each student is free to interpret it as they like, as well as to choose not to participate.

Beyond that, again, I don't presume to tell people what they should or should not believe. If someone decides they can't train at a dojo where clapping takes place, I'd regretfully wish them well, but I wouldn't change the dojo practice in order to keep them, either.

Katherine
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Old 07-08-2015, 10:32 PM   #27
kewms
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Still whilst I might disagree with O'Sensei on that one point, if I were a Sensei and ran a dojo I would do my best not to discriminate against anyone that wished to learn Aikido that had some religious convictions. If a student did not want to bow in for example then I would not require it of them. If I had a Jewish or Adventist student I would not require them to grade or attend a seminar on Sabbath (Saturday) for example. If I had a Muslim male or female that wished only to train with a member of the same gender then I would try and facilitate that to be the case when parters are paired up for training.
This last starts to be problematic. It affects the religious student's ability to learn, because it limits their range of possible training partners. (And of course the hypothetical Real World Attacker wouldn't respect their religious preferences anyway.) More importantly, it affects the training of other students who don't share those particular beliefs. Many Western women in particular find the Muslim (and Orthodox Jewish) practices on gender segregation extremely insulting, and would probably leave any dojo that asked them to conform.

One possible solution would be to invite the student to arrange (and fund) a gender-specific class outside of normal class times, and provide a gender-appropriate instructor for it.

Katherine
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:29 AM   #28
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

FWIW

The clapping has martial and conditioning applications, as does the bowing. Budo people using these things should be able to explain and demonstrate them IMO.
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Old 07-09-2015, 03:51 AM   #29
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

I agree with measures for religious tolerance. It's a big part of what I think Aikido is about - reconciliation.

Is this likely derived from part of a Shinto and/or Japanese cultural ritual, yes.

Knowing O Sensei performed Misogi by standing under a waterfall, I would not decide my faith makes it a bad idea for me to stand under a waterfall, nor would I stop taking showers because it resembles a ritual that was part of his belief system.

An understanding of In/Yo or Japanese Yin and Yang has some very concrete benefits for martial artists; if a student was worried because the symbol made them think of religious Daoism, I would discourage that line of thought.
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:27 AM   #30
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Aiki has nothing to do with religion. Aikido is a practice constructed on using aiki, so I do not believe it has a religious component. The founder was religious and used his personal experience to create a class structure. It is neither the first time, nor the last time, that religion has been the foundation of a social construct. Later, O Sensei gave us some instruction that aikido need not be a religious experience. Instead, he expressed his teaching as one of spiritual expression (the part of you that is not flesh and blood).

We clap. We do so out of respect for those who came before us who clapped as part of the ceremony of opening and closing the education process on the mat. It doesn't have religious significance because we are not Shintoist. That does not diminish its significance in creating a structured learning environment.

We do these things in the same way that we [ab]use our private Catholic schools. Does Catholic school have some relation to Catholicism? Sure. Are all students at a Catholic school Catholic? No. That does not diminish the role the Catholic Church played in helping to lay the foundation for a education process.

My aiki has nothing to do with the cloths I wear or the dojo I walk into or whether someones claps. Largely, I am training the opposite - to have aiki in everything I do, regardless of whether I am wearing pajamas or speaking terrible Japanese or in a room with mats so I can fall down comfortably.

That said, there are dojos that need to worship someone. There are dojos in which students need to know when they are expected to fall. There are dojos who do not have aiki and the pseudo-religion of aikido is a shield that buffers them from that fact.

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Old 07-09-2015, 09:02 AM   #31
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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We clap. We do so out of respect for those who came before us who clapped as part of the ceremony of opening and closing the education process on the mat. It doesn't have religious significance because we are not Shintoist. That does not diminish its significance in creating a structured learning environment.
What if I told you that the act of clapping actually makes you a Shintoist, regardless of what you think is going on?
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:42 AM   #32
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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What if I told you that the act of clapping actually makes you a Shintoist, regardless of what you think is going on?
...it would certainly change the joke about atheism in a whorehouse.

As a sad observation, I think there is a component of people practicing aikido who feel they are doing aiki because they are in an aikido class. This is no more true than those of us who claimed we took geometry when all we really did was write notes to our friends during geometry class. My participation in a thing is not a direct reflection of my understanding of a thing.

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Old 07-09-2015, 10:49 AM   #33
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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As a sad observation, I think there is a component of people practicing aikido who feel they are doing aiki because they are in an aikido class.
That's how we are at Saotome Sensei's dojo in DC actually. We pass on what we learn from him, and that's Aiki. Including the clapping, which is a Shinto practice though most of us don't think much about that, which is fine.
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:52 PM   #34
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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We do these things in the same way that we [ab]use our private Catholic schools. Does Catholic school have some relation to Catholicism? Sure. Are all students at a Catholic school Catholic? No. That does not diminish the role the Catholic Church played in helping to lay the foundation for a education process.
Providing a *Catholic* education is the express purpose of Catholic schools. They expect all students to attend Mass on the premises on a regular basis, and Religion is a required subject. (Similarly for parochial schools sponsored by other religions.)

Katherine
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Old 07-10-2015, 07:31 AM   #35
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Providing a *Catholic* education is the express purpose of Catholic schools. They expect all students to attend Mass on the premises on a regular basis, and Religion is a required subject. (Similarly for parochial schools sponsored by other religions.)

Katherine
Sure. Does that diminish the benefit of a private religious school? I don't think so.

No schools with which I have experience have ever required conversion to the religion in order to attend the school. Nor has any school with which I have experience implied my religion as evidenced by my participation in the school program. The point I was looking to make was: 1. That going through the motions does not make me a Catholic (contrary to some number of Catholics I know); 2. That components (religious in origin) do not lose their value if not observed as religion.

Going back to Shinto ceremony... I would argue the same points. My push-back is to be respectful of everyone and let those who participant decide whether they are doing something meaningful or just clapping their hands. But, we should be respectful of what we are doing and why, whether we believe it or not.

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Old 07-10-2015, 07:47 AM   #36
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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1. That going through the motions does not make me a Catholic (contrary to some number of Catholics I know); 2. That components (religious in origin) do not lose their value if not observed as religion.
I actually had my Confirmation in 7th grade, my grandmother assured me before she passed away that this means I am permanently Catholic.

Some components don't even lose their RELIGIOUS value if not observed as religion.
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:12 AM   #37
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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I actually had my Confirmation in 7th grade, my grandmother assured me before she passed away that this means I am permanently Catholic.

Some components don't even lose their RELIGIOUS value if not observed as religion.
So I suppose you also believe that the Church of LDS retroactively baptizing your ancestors makes them Mormon?
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:43 AM   #38
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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So I suppose you also believe that the Church of LDS retroactively baptizing your ancestors makes them Mormon?
That's a good example of the kind of stuff I am talking about here. Some people are not Mormon and don't share most if any Mormon beliefs, but this REALLY offends them. So they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon, even though the rest of the faith may as well be garbage.
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Old 07-10-2015, 01:01 PM   #39
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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That's a good example of the kind of stuff I am talking about here. Some people are not Mormon and don't share most if any Mormon beliefs, but this REALLY offends them. So they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon, even though the rest of the faith may as well be garbage.
They're offended, so therefore "they DO believe that this makes the dead souls Mormon"? Based on what? There are plenty of other explanations that are equally plausible, if not more so. The outcome is not the only thing by which we judge actions: we also judge by intent. I consider it much more likely that the Supreme Being resembles a plate of spaghetti and meatballs than the LDS church can "make the dead souls Mormon" by baptizing them, or anyone else who is not both present and consenting. What offends me is the sheer presumptuous crust of their thinking that they have some right to do so.

Your thinking in this thread seems much the same. You seem to think that because someone somewhere grants a spiritual or religious meaning to an action, it has the same meaning to others, including those who weren't even consulted.
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:31 PM   #40
Janet Rosen
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Your thinking in this thread seems much the same. You seem to think that because someone somewhere grants a spiritual or religious meaning to an action, it has the same meaning to others, including those who weren't even consulted.
Mary, thank you for the clarity in articulating what I have not quite been able to.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:19 AM   #41
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Why do I feel like I'm stuck in an "atheists really do believe in God" argument?
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:32 AM   #42
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

The group of humans who erected a particular shrine may believe that clapping awakens the resident spirit, and that a second clap receives that spirit's response back.

A tourist visiting the shrine may not believe that the resident spirit even exists. To this tourist, clapping or not clapping is simply a matter of respecting the local customs, with no religious content whatsoever. He'll clap if asked to do so, and won't think twice about it. The builders of the shrine may believe that he has paid respects to their deity, but he won't care.

Another tourist may believe that such spirits do exist, and that his own Deity of Choice forbids him to acknowledge them. This tourist will choose not to clap, will believe that the shrine builders are worshipping an idol, and will leave if told that clapping is required of all visitors.

But all of these are human beliefs. Neither the resident spirit of the shrine nor the tourist's Deity of Choice is available for direct consultation. The "right" answer is ultimately unknowable. Absent a miraculous demonstration of some kind, both the guests and the builders of the shrine will believe what they choose to believe and act accordingly.

Katherine

Last edited by kewms : 07-12-2015 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:56 AM   #43
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
A tourist visiting the shrine ...
We, i.e. those who have commited themselvs to practice aikidō, are no tourists. We have decided to not only visit the shrine, but to devote to it through our practice.
However someone thinks about aikidō being a religion, being a spiritual practice - or being nothing of that kind at all - there actually is a shrine: aiki jinja exists in Iwama. It enshrines the 43 (or 42, depends ...) kami of aikidō. And it is not a historical shrine, but it is acitve, up to this it is the spiritual center of aikidō. At least the aikidō that is following Ueshiba Morihei, represented by dōshu and akikai so hombu.
Aiki jinja taisai 2012

"aikidō wa misogi (desu)." You can read this as a metaphor. But misogi actually is not an arbitrary word. Ueshiba Morihei was very literate. He was well aware of other religions and of other ways of purification in other cultures. He choose aikidō to be misogi.

"It is said that the Floating Bridge of Heaven is the exchange of Fire and Water. Precisely in the form of a cross, it is the world of Fire and Water in harmony." This word of Ueshiba Morihei is using Daoist terminology. To be able to practice the exchange of fire and water you have to work with Daoist spirituality, if not, you will simply not get the meaning.

And so on ... it's and endless list.

I don't think, that it is crucial whether you clap your hands or not. But I think it's crucial to understand aikidō as a spiritual practice. Concretely coming from Shintō, Daoism (Ōmoto kyo actually is a compound of both as far as I understand) and Buddhism. It is clearly not simply spiritual in an general and abstract sense.

If this certain spirituality is not enshrined in one's practice, it may work very well and will be of great benefit! Nothing wrong with that!
But I'm pretty sure by now: It will lack the deeper layers that aikidō keiko is able to reveal.

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 07-12-2015 at 03:02 AM.
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:07 AM   #44
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Ben White wrote: View Post
Does your Dojo have clapping as a part of the opening ceremony?

https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordp...ng-and-aikido/
Yes.

Quote:
From the Blog wrote:
maybe I would not because again I don't want to be perceived to be something that I am not
Quote:
I would find it interesting to hear how you were able to reconcile that into your training
I don't really care much about how I am perceived. I care about how I am. When I was in a Christian preschool I was taught that "He" will judge me based on what is in my heart above all other things; that my actions are only as good as the intent behind them such that even if I adhere to the forms prescribed by the clergy, it is still that which is in my heart which ultimately matters.
Speaking as someone who has been told similar things about being a "proper" Christian, as alluded to here, while also being a person who recognizes his ignorance/fallibility, I have had moments of doubt for whether or not I was somehow making the supposed source of all truth and virtue angry with me. I deferred to my lessons from preschool. I respect virtue/goodness and go about living according to that in the best way I know how. Presently that means not only clapping at a Shinto shrine, but chanting, too. A rose by any other name is still the same. I know not who is listening when I call to any given name, but my sons often call me mom; I know what they mean. In a similar way, I hope that if there is something listening, that such a being is more interested in whether or not I strive toward virtue (I mess it up all the time and ask forgiveness from whoever it may concern). This seems to have reconciled the issue pretty well for me.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 07-12-2015 at 03:20 AM.

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Old 07-12-2015, 09:30 AM   #45
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

What Janet said, above.... ditto.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 07-12-2015, 09:52 AM   #46
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
We, i.e. those who have commited themselvs to practice aikidō, are no tourists. We have decided to not only visit the shrine, but to devote to it through our practice.
However someone thinks about aikidō being a religion, being a spiritual practice - or being nothing of that kind at all - there actually is a shrine: aiki jinja exists in Iwama. It enshrines the 43 (or 42, depends ...) kami of aikidō. And it is not a historical shrine, but it is acitve, up to this it is the spiritual center of aikidō. At least the aikidō that is following Ueshiba Morihei, represented by dōshu and akikai so hombu.
Aiki jinja taisai 2012
I understand that this is what the people who erected the shrine at Iwama believe. But are you saying that the practice of aikido requires belief in those kami?

What does it mean to "work with" Daoist spirituality?

There are interpretations of, for example, Ueshiba Sensei's Floating Bridge, that are entirely grounded in observable physical phenomena. In my experience, those interpretations lead to physical effectiveness at least comparable to what those who depend on spiritual metaphors are able to achieve. One does not need to believe that storms mean the gods are arguing to appreciate the power of lightning.

Katherine
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Old 07-12-2015, 11:42 AM   #47
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

The original question was about sitting in a gym, with a picture of O Sensei hung up between dance classes. No Shinto shrine is present, no religious ceremony was performed, only a picture downloaded from the Internet and printed off at the local Walmart and stuck in a cheap plastic frame. Do I clap four times as part of a religious ritual?

From Peter's comments above, Hombu Dojo does not clap, because they do not have a shrine in the dojo, but still have an alter-like thing at the front of the room. No alter, no Shinto clapping just because a class is starting.

There is an anecdote of O Sensei stopping by a roadside shrine and leaving without any ceremony saying there was nothing there - and it had been built for tourism not to enshrine a deity.

Other people want to clap in the gym above, fine. It's not a Shinto ceremony is being performed from the Shinto perspective because there is no deity present from the Shinto perspective. Meditation-is-over clap? Fine, it's not a Shinto practice.

Why are would anyone insist it is a religious practice even when the religion itself will not own the practice?
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:08 PM   #48
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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John Hillson wrote: View Post
The original question was about sitting in a gym, with a picture of O Sensei hung up between dance classes. No Shinto shrine is present, no religious ceremony was performed, only a picture downloaded from the Internet and printed off at the local Walmart and stuck in a cheap plastic frame. Do I clap four times as part of a religious ritual?

From Peter's comments above, Hombu Dojo does not clap, because they do not have a shrine in the dojo, but still have an alter-like thing at the front of the room. No alter, no Shinto clapping just because a class is starting.

There is an anecdote of O Sensei stopping by a roadside shrine and leaving without any ceremony saying there was nothing there - and it had been built for tourism not to enshrine a deity.

Other people want to clap in the gym above, fine. It's not a Shinto ceremony is being performed from the Shinto perspective because there is no deity present from the Shinto perspective. Meditation-is-over clap? Fine, it's not a Shinto practice.

Why are would anyone insist it is a religious practice even when the religion itself will not own the practice?
The original question was (emphasis mine): "Does your Dojo have clapping as a part of the opening ceremony?" The blog's questions were:
Quote:
I would love to hear your experience with clapping in a western Aikido dojo, how you find it and what your response to it is? If you choose to clap and are not a part of the Shinto religion, I would find it interesting to hear how you were able to reconcile that into your training, or if you simply don't consider it an issue at all?
In my reading of this, an "opening ceremony" could be anything from the purely non-religious, to the purely religious (and whatever points in between), so this leaves a lot of room for potential discussion, particularly since we're also dealing with individual semantics/meaning, which can vary greatly within any school's modality.
Since I train in a Shinto shrine, its rules probably have to take paramount importance for visitors. In a different setting, the rules are certainly different (based on the proclivities of the school). So training in a place without kamidana, means you might still call to whatever deity you adhere to. I would think that is purely a personal choice. Kamidana is a focal point, but it isn't the only place people can pray. Similarly, I would presume that something like a simple display of respect is also acceptible in a location that has kamidana. As one example, I know Unitarians who have taken part in (recieving) Shinto ceremonies. They do not adhere to Shinto (I spoke with one who said he didn't believe in any of it), but they took part in offering respects. To my mind it's more about what you bring than where you are and what form you're using. Sincerity and love are all that is ultimately required, in my inexpert opinion.
...I might not be speaking very clearly, because I'm multi-tasking, and I cannot stress enough that I am not an expert, but I should also add that some people do not consider Shinto to be the same kind of "religion" like Christianity is, and describe it more as akin to natural philosophy. I believe this is where O Sensei's comments about completing and perfecting religions comes into play.
“The Art of Peace is the religion that is not a religion; it perfects and completes all religions.”
I believe this stems from his views of Shinto.

Of course this says nothing about any given individual's feelings on the matter.
...I can see how Hombu might be trying to be more sensitive to people who feel uncomfortable bowing before kamidana. I couldn't speak to their purpose in this, but it would seem to make sense to me.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 07-12-2015 at 03:16 PM.

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Old 07-12-2015, 09:49 PM   #49
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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...I can see how Hombu might be trying to be more sensitive to people who feel uncomfortable bowing before kamidana. I couldn't speak to their purpose in this, but it would seem to make sense to me.
Okumura Shienobu Shihan gave a fairly precise explanation about this in one of the early issues of 『合気道探求』, which is a bi-annual magazine published by the Aikikai. There were two occasions when dojo ornaments were removed because of supposed external reactions. One was in 1935, when the second Omoto incident occurred; the other was immediately after the war, when it was felt that anything even slightly redolent of ultra-nationalist Shinto (rightly or wrongly interpreted as such) would be frowned upon by the occupation authorities. It was Kisshomaru Ueshiba who made the decision to open up aikido and this was due to his desire to show aikido to the victors in World War II, on the grounds that there was still something good about Japanese culture. Since non-Japanese would not be expected to understand the prewar customs, which had ceased to be popular anyway, this was in no way thought to be problematic.

Ueshiba's comments about aikido being a religion and not a religion etc were based on Omoto doctrines and were only distantly related to Shinto as such, which is really a grab-bag of traditions, some invented some not, which were not even called 'Shinto' until much later on.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-12-2015 at 09:52 PM.

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Old 07-13-2015, 09:10 AM   #50
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Okumura Shienobu Shihan gave a fairly precise explanation about this in one of the early issues of 『合気道探求』, which is a bi-annual magazine published by the Aikikai. There were two occasions when dojo ornaments were removed because of supposed external reactions. One was in 1935, when the second Omoto incident occurred; the other was immediately after the war, when it was felt that anything even slightly redolent of ultra-nationalist Shinto (rightly or wrongly interpreted as such) would be frowned upon by the occupation authorities. It was Kisshomaru Ueshiba who made the decision to open up aikido and this was due to his desire to show aikido to the victors in World War II, on the grounds that there was still something good about Japanese culture. Since non-Japanese would not be expected to understand the prewar customs, which had ceased to be popular anyway, this was in no way thought to be problematic.

Ueshiba's comments about aikido being a religion and not a religion etc were based on Omoto doctrines and were only distantly related to Shinto as such, which is really a grab-bag of traditions, some invented some not, which were not even called 'Shinto' until much later on.
Very interesting! Thank you for sharing your insights, Peter! As usual I have more heat than light to bring to the table. Is the grab-bag of traditions you're referring to the formation of the distinction of Shinto when Buddhism arrived or is this referring more to Omoto doctrines?
...I imagine the TIE articles would go pretty deeply into this...I think it's time I visited them more seriously.
Thank you again!

Gambarimashyo!
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