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INTERLUDE: XI:To Bow or not to Bow? Morihei Ueshiba and his Gods:Culture, Logic, Religion and Aikido Part 2: Intimacy, Integrity and ‘Common Religion'
The first part of this essay examined the notion of ‘cultural logic', as used by a Japanese anthropologist named Takie Sugiyama Lebra, in a book entitled The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic. Lebra's argument was designed to show that the ‘oppositional logic' she alleges to be dominant in ‘Western' thinking is unsuitable for analyzing the Japanese ‘self', in its relation both with other ‘selves' and also with transcendental beings such as deities. The Japanese ‘self', she argued, especially in its complex relationships with deities and the like, is best understood in terms of a different, more flexible logic, called ‘contingency logic'. I suggested in the essay that the distinction promoted by Lebra between oppositional logic and the other kinds was too simple to do the work she wanted it to do and that the delineation of a complex phenomenon like Japanese religious beliefs and practices, especially as embraced by someone like Morihei Ueshiba, needed a set of distinguishing concepts that did not rely on a ‘meta-cultural' concept like logic.
Thomas Kasulis is a philosopher who has spent some time living in Japan and who specializes in cross-cultural issues. In his book on cross-cultural relationships Kasulis has used another way of focusing on the Japanese ‘self', which uses different concepts and which presents a contrast between two different ways of perceiving human relationships: relationships based on what he calls the ‘cultural orientations' of ‘intimacy' and ‘integrity'. At first sight, the arguments presented by Kasulis are attractive, since they appear to involve a set of distinguishing concepts that seem very suitable for making sense of the kind of cultural paradoxes that are presented in an aikido dojo. The questions for this essay are whether the concepts of intimacy and integrity are of any value for illuminating the wider aspects of Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices, especially as these relate to aikido training.
In this second part of the essay I shall examine the arguments of Kasulis in some detail. These general arguments will be relevant to a later discussion by Kasulis relating more specifically to religious beliefs and practices, especially Shinto, but in this essay the discussion will be quite general and concern the concepts of ‘intimacy' and ‘integrity' themselves. After a brief sideways glance at the notion of religion without God, advanced by the philosopher Ronald Dworkin, I will discuss another general concept, namely, the concept of ‘common religion', as applied to Japanese religion. This concept offers another cross-cultural basis, in addition to the cultural orientations of intimacy and integrity favored by Kasulis, for considering Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices on their own terms. So the discussion is intended as Grundlegung, to borrow Kant's term, ‘groundwork' to the ‘metaphysics' of Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices, which will be discussed in the next part of this essay.
Two Types of Togetherness: Thomas Kasulis on Intimacy and Integrity
Thomas Kasulis makes a set of broad distinctions that are very similar to those in Lebra's ‘cultural logic'. In doing so he is also laying out the differences that might be applicable to Japanese and non-Japanese, but Kasulis does this in a more general way and does not directly base his distinctions on any kind of logic, although, like Geert Hofstede's analysis of ‘software of the mind', the discussion assumes an awareness of logic and the role that this plays in thinking and feeling.
Kasulis also insists that his argument applies to any culture.
"This book is not a study of any culture, although I cannot deny that I have often had specific cultures or subcultures in mind as I developed the theory. … It is more like a thought experiment that raises fundamental questions about the nature of culture itself, especially the relationship between culture and thought." (Thomas Kasulis, Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference, p. 11.)
In this respect, therefore, Kasulis takes an approach that is more similar to Hofstede's isolation of general cultural concepts—such as ‘power difference', masculinity/femininity, or uncertainty avoidance, than to Lebra's extended discussion of the four ‘zones' of Japanese culture. On the other hand, Kasulis admits that it was as a result of living in Japan that he arrived at the two basic cultural orientations that he uses in his book and he uses these two concepts to make a similar broad analysis of the cultural ‘self' as Lebra does with her pairs of omote / ura and uchi / soto. (It is an interesting question, which Lebra does not touch upon at all, to what extent these dominant concepts appear in other cultures in other guises. For Kasulis, however, the two basic orientations apply to any culture, but were actually made on the basis of a cultural comparison between Japan and North America, specifically the United States.)
Relationships: Affective and Intellectual Trust
Kasulis begins his discussion with an account of a ‘cross-cultural' dispute between Americans and Japanese concerning the expectations of parents and others about the behavior of children. From one viewpoint the child was behaving naturally, as children do, but from the other viewpoint the child was definitely misbehaving. Kasulis himself was asked to translate in the dispute and this leads him to discuss differing cultural attitudes concerning the socialization of children. The dispute was certainly a clash of values (as explained by Geert Hofstede in his discussion of culture, discussed in the previous column), but—and this is not particularly emphasized by Kasulis—there was no solution: there was no ‘win -- win' result usually favored by American negotiators. Kasulis himself appears to have acted as a mediator as much as a translator, but the encounter ended with both parties entrenched in their respective positions. Thus, in Takie Sugiyama Lebra's terms, both sides adhered to their respective ‘opposition logic' with equal tenacity.
The example discussed by Kasulis is similar to the example cited as the general title of this essay. This latter example is more relevant to our present concerns, since it involves specifically religious issues. Bowing before a picture of Morihei Ueshiba is usually taken for granted because the practice is accepted along with keikogi, obi and hakama as part of the Japanese ‘cultural component' as applied to aikido, but the life of a dojo can be disrupted if a student regards the practice as sacrilegious, on the grounds that bowing is a religious act and therefore permissible only before God. The disruption can come from the fact that other students in the dojo take up their respective positions: that this form of bowing is not a religious act, for example, or that all students must follow the rules of the dojo set by the instructor or owner, or that the student has to be accommodated, especially if the dojo is in a municipal facility and the township proclaims freedom of religion for all its residents. (We shall keep this example in mind throughout this essay and return to it from time to time for more discussion.)
Both examples seem to admit of no outcome that will leave the positions of either side unmodified and this fact is relevant to the next example given by Kasulis. In this example, Kasulis himself is in hospital recovering from a knee operation and is in considerable pain. The pain is increasing and there is still some time to go before the next shot of painkillers. Kasulis has a conversation with a friendly nurse about aikido and karate and the nurse's sympathetic attitude enables him to bear the discomfort. The nurse's empathy is then contrasted with the surgeon's distinct lack of empathy. During a routine examination the following day, the possibility that the pain medication can be increased is rebuffed by the surgeon, who happens to be surrounded by a phalanx of his medical students, with the observation that the condition of the knee is improving, as planned, and that therefore the medication will be reduced. The knee did in fact improve and Kasulis was discharged from hospital, but, as in his previous example, the respective positions of Kasulis and his surgeon did not change: Kasulis wanted an increase in pain medication, but the surgeon did not accept this. The nurse's praiseworthy role was to sympathize with Kasulis in his discomfort and also to offer to circumvent the physician's intransigent position by quietly seeking an increase in the medication from another doctor. The praise was deserved, on the grounds that the nurse saw the situation from both the patient's and the surgeon's viewpoint.
Kasulis makes some interpretative comments about this example and these need some examination, for there is an issue here that lies at the roots of some cultural analysis. The comments deserve to be quoted at length and I hope the reasons for this will become clear in the discussion that follows the quotation.
"The disparity between my nurse and the physician was as much a culture gap as that between the Japanese man and the American couple. In their analysis and response to my pain—both linguistically and behaviorally—the nurse and the doctor had functioned quite differently. For John [the nurse], I was a person in pain and he took the time to come into my world, including its pain. For that fifteen minutes, John shared my moment of pain as much as we shared our martial arts experiences. He told me that ‘we' would get through it and I trusted him affectively to be there for me. The doctor, of course, was also helping me deal with the pain by prescribing the necessary medication. But he seemed to be treating not me but the pain, simultaneously explaining medical principles to his students. When he said ‘we' could do nothing about it, I presumed he meant ‘we doctors.' As almost a footnote to his treatment, he told me ‘you' would be feeling better. I trusted him, too, but it was a different kind of trust than my trust in John. I intellectually trusted the doctor's medical knowledge to explain and manage what was happening to me. The difference in the two kinds of trust reflects a difference in how the two medical practitioners analyzed my situation, communicated with me, and persuaded me I had nothing to worry about. It really does amount to a cultural difference." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 4.)
The first point is that, although Kasulis claims to be even-handed, his description of the situation clearly indicates that his sympathies lie with the nurse, not the physician. He makes a generalization that is certainly borne out by the evidence presented, but his generalization might be quite different, given other evidence—even additional evidence relating to his example.
"In the hospital case, the physician embodies the values of scientifically objective data. In a detached way he uses the regimen developed out of statistical analysis without taking into consideration the idiosyncrasies of the case. The physician may have personality traits that make this form of behavior feel natural for him, but he was probably acculturated into these patterns—as indeed he is acculturating the next generation of medical students on rounds with him. Meanwhile, if nurses in training were under John's tutelage, they would learn how to be responsive to the situation, how to enter into the patient's experience (in my case the East Asian martial arts) for resources and, how to sense what the patient is not saying." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 4-5.)
Actually, we can give another immediate context to the distinction made by Kasulis from aikido. Mutual trust is a necessary component of training with an opponent/partner. Is the trust affective or intellectual, or both? Or is it pointless to make the distinction? A recent discussion on AikiWeb concerned the question whether the waza known as nikyou [二教] was supposed to be painful. The answers matched the variety of experiences encountered, which can range from ‘a pleasant stretching sensation' (the explanation given to prospective aikido students as publicity in a UK dojo) to a searing stab from the wrist right down the arm, accompanied by damage to ligaments and requiring hospitalization. This actually happened to the present writer. In this case, so far as I can remember, my trust in the shihan who applied the waza could be described as both intellectual (for I had taken ukemi many times from him and had practiced aikido long enough to understand the mechanics of the waza, so I knew what was coming) and affective (for I shared with all the students in the dojo a general confidence in the shihan's character and generally benevolent way of training and teaching). However, at the time I never made the distinction between intellectual and affective trust and would probably not make it now, many years after the event took place.
One other aspect of the example needs to be touched on here, since it is relevant to later discussions about aspects of religious experience and also to some aspects of training in aikido. Kasulis is using language quite loosely when he states that the nurse came into "my world, including its pain". Other than that both Kasulis and the nurse understood the same word, the first-person pain experience—the experience of "sharing the moment" of pain—of the sufferer and the third-person experience of the nurse were quite different. Kasulis is using a common example, that of pain, and a classic statement of the problems involved in this regard can be found in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, but the point Wittgenstein is making is sometimes misunderstood. Wittgenstein is not saying that it is impossible for first-person reports of pain and other inner experiences to be understood by another, or that third-person reports of such experiences are meaningless because the pain is not directly experienced. He is emphasizing the primacy of a common, shared, language here and also emphasizing that the first-person reports also need this common language.
Pain is a common example, since it is an experience that commands immediate attention, but first-person reports of other internal experiences are also relevant here. Philosophical empiricism holds that the knowledge that comes from direct access to first-person experiences has a different quality from the knowledge that comes to another as a result of observation of the person apparently undergoing such experiences. This empiricist position is controversial, but what is assumed on both sides of the controversy—and deemed uncontroversial—is that a common language is available for describing such experiences. However, since we do not have firsthand knowledge of another's experiences, establishing this common language is not nearly so easy as it seems, as can be seen from some AikiWeb discussions about ‘aiki', ‘internal training', ‘internal skills', and the direction of the ‘mind' by the use of ‘intent'. Reporting such internal experiences is the sole basis for the reliance placed on the IHTBF mantra in the martial arts, but the actual basis for the reports is, in fact, rather fragile. I will touch on this issue again, in the conclusion of this essay, when discussing the phenomenology of ‘mind' and the ‘self'.
Universalists and Differentialists
The examples discussed by Kasulis lead him into an extended discussion of cultural comparisons and how we make them and this is the issue I referred to earlier, in connection with the hospital example. The points he makes are similar to those made by Hofstede about cultural relativism, which were briefly discussed in the first part of this essay, but Kasulis make some additional comments about cultural generalizations that are highly relevant to cross-cultural activities such as aikido, the popularity of which is due in great measure to the fact that the same ‘martial way', though Japanese, is practiced in national cultures that are, according to Kasulis himself, vastly different. After a lengthy discussion about the problems of two conflicting positions, he comes to the conclusion that generalizations are really the only way to make productive cultural comparisons. The labels he coins for the two conflicting positions are ‘universalist' and ‘differentialist'—and both are also highly relevant to aikido training.
"The universalist position argues that in an increasingly globalized context, where cultural differences can be recognized and negotiated via the universal acceptance of common values. The present call for an international recognition of ‘human rights' is of this sort: whatever the differences among us might be, the assumption is that if we can agree on a few basic universal ideas, mutually beneficial cooperation will follow." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 5.)
This ‘universalist' position is the usual basis for the interdiction of violence or discrimination in the dojo and is certainly relevant to the case of violence by the Olympic judo coach, discussed in the first part of this essay. It can be seen in a recent Japanese newspaper editorial about corporal punishment in schools and an example is cited in support. Corporal punishment by a teacher supervising a school baseball club led to the suicide of a student and the editorial cites Japan's School Education Law, which specifically bans corporal punishment. (The fact that in spite of the law, the practice widely persists suggests a very distinctive view of the rule of law in Japan.) The editorial states the ‘universalist' position very clearly.
"Using violence against students should never be allowed in any circumstances whatsoever. All teachers must engrave this on their hearts."
「どのような事情があれ、教え子に暴力をふるうことは決して許されない。すべての教師は肝に銘じるべきである。」(The Japan News, Sunday, April 28, 2013, p. 8. Incidentally, 肝, KAN/kimo, here translated by the newspaper as ‘hearts', is one of the vast number of Japanese compounds using the tsuki [月: moon] radical to denote parts of the body. It is usually combined with 臓 [ZOU: internal organ] and thus means ‘liver'.)
As a resident of Hiroshima, I often hear the ‘universalist' position articulated in respect of nuclear weapons and the dropping of the atomic bomb: nuclear weapons are intrinsically evil and the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945 was also an evil act. These ‘facts' are thought to be obvious to anyone, regardless of the culture, so much so that it is very difficult to obtain a sympathetic hearing here for any argument in favor of the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons, or for the argument that the dropping of the atomic bomb was an effective way of ending World War II. The reference to a ‘sympathetic hearing' leads to a point made by Kasulis on understanding and persuasion, which we will discuss below.
The ‘differentialist' position, on the other hand, assumes that agreement about such universal ideas or ideals is not achievable and that globalizing is seen as a threat to differences and to diversity that is culturally meaningful.
"Often the assumption is that those-who-are-not-us can never understand who we are, so we should never allow ‘them' to define, interpret or categorize us. The argument is that cooperation, if indeed it is actually possible, should not arise from the oppressive homogenization that universal structures either wittingly or unwittingly support. Instead, the claim is that cooperation should arise from a conversation in which people of different worldviews arrive together for common goals." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 5-6.)
This ‘differentialist' position is at the root of the Japanese doctrine of Nihonjinron and is often resorted to by the Japanese government in respect of Japan's wartime activities in Asia between 1931 and 1945. In support of this position, the present Japanese prime minister even suggested recently that there was no common definition of ‘invasion' that was valid across all cultures. In response to the resulting furor, he ‘redefined' Japan's general position concerning World War II. The ‘differentialist' position is also often articulated in Hiroshima, with the argument that the experience of the atomic bombing by the population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unique—and therefore was not fully comprehensible to those who did not experience it. Clearly, the IHTBF view is believed to be supremely valid here. We will also see that this view underpinned the Omoto version of globalism with respect to religion. In fact, Omoto has it both ways, for people are free to embrace whatever religion they wish, since all religions are expressions of the universal brotherhood of which the Omoto religion and Onisaburo Deguchi were the ambassadors. As suggested in the earlier essay, Morihei Ueshiba held a similar view to Deguchi, when he stated that, ‘religion' (of any kind) is ‘completed' by the martial counterpart of universal brotherhood, which is aikido training. So, along with his Japanese countrymen and women, Ueshiba was able to embrace both of the contrary positions outlined by Kasulis at one and the same time.
Understanding vs. Persuasion
In trying to think through what was right and wrong about the ‘universalist' and ‘differentialist' positions, especially if these positions were taken to extremes, Kasulis believed that there was a blurring of the distinction between understanding and persuasion. The assumption here is that the two are quite different, but also that those who take up extreme positions of either universalism or differentialism do not recognize the difference. Consequently, what is really persuasion is sometimes disguised as plain ‘understanding' and so much of what passes for cultural communication is either miscommunication, with something being communicated that is not intended, or non-communication, where no communication takes place at all.
The difference between understanding and persuasion was certainly recognized as far back as the time of Aristotle, for he spends much space on explaining the distinction in his logical works and devotes his Rhetoric to a detailed discussion of persuasion and how to do it efficiently and effectively. Though Aristotle uses the language of syllogistic, he is very clear that persuasion requires a different kind of logic to that entailed by understanding. Aristotle, of course, came from Macedonia and was part of the Greek tradition of verbal conflict called ‘adversarial rhetoric'. He wrote his Rhetoric as a manual for making speeches designed to persuade those were in possession of power to act accordingly, in the form of casting a vote on a jury or in an election. The work had a vast influence on European and Anglo-Saxon culture, where Greek rhetoric became the accepted model. It is no secret that Abraham Lincoln modeled his Gettysburg Address on the funeral oration given by Pericles and recorded by Thucydides in his history of the Peloponnesian War.
The example Kasulis gives is kenri [権利: rights], which is a term that he often hears in the US, but which he believes is rarely heard in Japan. Kasulis argues that ‘rights' mean different things to Japanese and Americans. Another example, that of ‘invasion', was cited above and yet another example, quoted below, suggests that even common words can have quite different meanings in Japanese. An editorial in the same Japanese newspaper as the one quoted above discusses the problem of restarting nuclear power plants in Japan, after the multiple closures that took place in 2012 as a result of the Great East-Japan Earthquake.
"Power shortages could also hamper Abenomics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic measures. It is therefore vital to steadily restart reactors after their safety is confirmed and secure the electricity needed for the nation's economic progress. With new regulatory standards to be devised in July, the Nuclear Regulation Authority should examine the safety of reactors without delay. We also urge the government to make further efforts to explain to the public the need to restart reactors, to gain the understanding of local governments hosting nuclear facilities."
政府も、再稼働へ立地自治体の理解を得られるよう、説明に全力を挙げてもらいたい。(The Japan News, 28 April, 2013, p. 8.)
I have used bold type to highlight the crucial phrase rikai wo erareru, which is translated as gain understanding, but the real purpose of the further efforts to explain to the public is to obtain the agreement of the local governments opposed to the restarting of the nuclear power plants.
However, the conceptual, philosophical or rhetorical differences between understanding and persuasion are not what Kasulis has in mind here, though this is very often an issue when cross-cultural communication and negotiations become difficult in Japan. Kasulis assumes that the words might be understood, but that the assumptions that lie behind the words are not.
"We might understand the other (the universalists are right on this count), but we are not necessarily persuaded by or sympathetic to the other (the differentialists are right on this count). In fact, the boundaries separating cultures or subcultures are often most visible when we understand what the other is saying but do not grasp its relevance. When one side accuses the other of not listening, the criticism sometimes means that one does not care to understand. In saying ‘You're irrational', the criticism is not so much ‘You are wrong' as ‘you're missing the point'. … Often, the lack of cross-cultural agreement is not over this idea or that argument, but over something much more holistic. The gap between the interlocutors is such that each missed not a particular point but the whole picture." (Kasulis, op.cit., p, 7.)
Kasulis here underlines the importance of the definition of culture given by Hofstede as values (feelings with arrows attached), discussed in the first part of this essay. The relevant pairs of positive and negative values listed by Hofstede included ‘paradoxical versus logical' and ‘irrational versus rational', indicating that for Hofstede, as for Sugiyama Lebra and also for Kasulis, ‘cultural logic' is a crucial element of both the ‘universalist' and the ‘differentialist' position. The consequence is that any solution has to be rooted in logical and rhetorical assumptions that both positions would accept. To return to the example posed in the title of this essay, any solution to the problem of bowing in the dojo will either allow all sides to continue to maintain their respective positions (differentialist), or will require one or more sides to change their respective positions (universalist). Even if all sides showed great ‘empathy' in seeking to understand the positions of the others, as in the hospital example discussed earlier, it is very difficult to avoid presenting the problem in terms of Lebra's ‘opposition logic', discussed in the first part of this essay.
The Need for Generalizations
Kasulis is trying to find a way of bridging the gap between the two extreme positions of universalism and differentialism and believes that the only way possible is by making generalizations. However, he believes that this gives rise to two major problems. One is that in discussing a culture, he making a holistic comparison that cannot do justice to the complexity and rich diversity that is a culture. Thus he is making a generalization that is "inevitably" a distortion. The second problem is that were he to take full account of the complexity and rich diversity that is a culture, the resulting analysis would be impossibly long. Generalizations are therefore necessary.
"A generalization is not the same as a universal quantifier: a generalization cannot be refuted by a single counterexample. The only way to refute a generalization is by posing another generalization (one that is a more effective heuristic, one that can account for more of the data, or whatever). Indeed to say no generalization is accurate is itself to make a generalization (or, even worse, a universalization)." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 8.)
There are a number of issues here that Kasulis does not discuss. First, he does not really make clear that making a generalization is based on a process of inductive reasoning. Though he does not use this term, he quite rightly stresses the importance of inductive reasoning, but he also, because of what he believes is the "inevitable" tendency to distortion, questions its value. Some necessary context is called for here. Induction is an essential way of logical thinking and was considered by Aristotle to be the basis for scientific reasoning. Of course, it is common to both ‘universalist' and ‘differentialist' views of culture, but the quality of the inductive reasoning used depends on the quantity and reliability of the examples on which it is based.
The second issue is that Kasulis is discussing generalizations in the context of two different approaches to cross-cultural problems. However, he makes no mention at all of cultural stereotypes, which, though potentially sinister and harmful inductive generalizations, would also seem to be necessary—and extremely popular. Kasulis seems to accept generalizations as necessary distortions, but would need to put stereotypes in the same category, so we can ask to what degree his ‘cultural orientations' of intimacy and integrity are really stereotypes, but dressed up to look more acceptable. (There is a whole cultural genre that is based on national stereotypes—always understood in a ‘good' sense, as can be seen from the many volumes in the Xenophobe's Guide series, the constant evolution of jokes based on such stereotypes, as seen in comedy films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
Thirdly, the seeming distaste for universalizations shown by Kasulis will have certain implications for religious and ethical beliefs, especially if the latter are derived from the Kantian position that ethical principles must be universalizable, that is, applicable to all the cases falling under the principle. This is quite a major issue and will certainly come up again, in connection with the practice of bowing in the dojo.
Kasulis attempts to solve his dilemma by deciding to "live and work with generalization as the inevitable first step to deeper insight." He argues for the value of an analysis that makes use of recursive patterns. Like Sugiyama Lebra, Kasulis is a lover of diagrams and, on pages 9 and 10 of his book, he produces an elegant set of recursive tree diagrams, which are actually made up of two very simple components. (Readers will need to decide whether the diagrams translate easily into the more complex world of a culture.) Kasulis distinguishes three stages in the study of cultures or subcultures.
"At first the other culture may not seem so radically different from what is familiar. There may be families, for example, some form of economic or bartering exchange, some mode of housing, some hierarchy of class or leadership, roles defined by gender or age, and so forth. … As one enters the culture more intimately, however, a profound sense of difference may emerge. Comparisons become more hazardous and may even seem impossible. … Finally, as one enters the culture still more deeply, it begins to make sense on its own terms. Once one penetrates an aspect of the culture profoundly, it seems that the other aspects are assimilated more easily. One may even be able to predict behavior one has not seen before. … This indicates the discovery of cultural recursivity: a repetitive pattern out of which the whole is constructed. The person may then find that new experiences in the culture are familiar in some way—not necessarily because they repeat patterns from one's own home culture (the kind of similarities felt when entering the new culture) but because they are reminiscent of patterns previously experienced in the new culture." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 10-11.)
The ‘recursive patterns' that Kasulis has chosen are the ‘orientations' of intimacy and integrity and the dominant operating assumption is that these patterns will yield illuminating ‘heuristic generalizations' concerning multiple aspects of the culture in question. Kasulis spends some time in explaining how he arrived at these two orientations.
As an illustration of his argument, Kasulis includes two famous ‘gestalt' pictures: the goblet or vase that could be two human faces facing each other, and the face that could be an old woman's or a young woman's. Kasulis does not take up any position for or against gestalt psychology. He is more interested in how it is possible to see the pictures in different ways and what is involved in shifting from one ‘gestalt' to another. He concludes that the shift is more a process of imagination than of analysis and wonders whether it is possible to make a similar imaginative leap with a more complex gestalt process of different cultures.
"Is it possible for a person who has been raised and educated in English-speaking North America to imagine a different cultural worldview—specifically a Japanese way of experiencing the world. I do not necessarily mean we would actually be able to experience the world in the same way as a Japanese. This would be possible only after decades of exposure and study. But could we imagine what it would be like? Could we shift our foregrounding and gestalt processes as a kind of thought experiment, getting a glimpse of how the apparently same thing could be experienced differently?" (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 22.)
Kasulis clearly thinks it is possible and in order to buttress his argument, he looks for experiences that can plausibly be considered as cross-cultural, but which require imagination to interpret, rather than any analytical procedure. He gives six.
1. Being with a spouse or lifelong friend, where communication does not necessarily have to be verbal.
2. Losing very treasured possessions, like family photographs.
3. Sensing that something is wrong with a son or daughter, in spite of their vigorous protestations to the contrary.
4. Coming to a point where one can play a piece of music without any effort or awareness of technique.
5. Having a mental image of an artistic work and ‘releasing' this image in the work.
6. Returning home after a prolonged absence.
It is no coincidence that all of these experiences are laden with a sense of what Kasulis calls ‘intimacy' and he lists five fundamental characteristics of this ‘orientation'.
I. Intimacy is objective, but personal rather than public.
II. In an intimate relation, self and other belong together in a way that does not sharply distinguish the two.
III. Intimate knowledge has an affective dimension.
IV. Intimacy is somatic as well as psychological.
V. Intimacy's ground is not generally self-conscious, reflective, or self-illuminating.
On being asked by his Japanese students to characterize contemporary American culture in a similar way, Kasulis gave the following five fundamental characteristics of the cultural orientation that he terms ‘integrity'.
i. Objectivity as public verifiability.
ii. External over internal relations
iii. Knowledge as ideally empty of affect.
iv. The intellectual and psychological is distinct from the somatic
v. Knowledge as reflective and self-conscious of its own grounds.
We need to examine these two ‘recursive patterns' in greater detail. One major problem that we need to consider briefly at the outset is that of definition. Kasulis notes that what he gives are ‘family resemblances', which is a term used by Wittgenstein in his discussion of language games. According to Wittgenstein, it is not possible to produce a formula that will define all instances of a game, but he considered it sufficient for establishing the meaning of the term—and therefore for proper language use, that some games resembled other games in a sufficient number of respects to warrant the use of the same term.
Kasulis lists the fundamental characteristics of intimacy and integrity as five pairs, such that one can consider each pair as two opposite poles. There is a problem here that Kasulis does not discuss. He considers each pair as opposite poles, such that all examples possess one or other of the two characteristics, but not both. However, each pair can also be seen as the opposite ends of a continuous spectrum, such that it is difficult, if not impossible, to decide whether the examples which appear in the middle of the spectrum are examples of one characteristic or the other.
A recent AikiWeb discussion suggests that the matter of definition is also a problem with aikido. I was recently informed by two extremely eminent members of the aikido world that the term ‘aikido' was indefinable. A consequence would be that all the complex explanations about the nature of aikido—what aikido is, which are given by Morihei Ueshiba in his discourses, are not, in fact, definitions of the term. On the other hand, aikido has a history: an imprecise history, but a history nonetheless, and this history suggests that it is derived from an art of self-defence called Daito-ryu. Nowadays aikido is practiced in sports centers and gymnasiums all over the world and so some people believe that aikido is a kind of sport: a member of the family of sports that feature wrestling, but with the players wearing jackets. Some vigorously object to this belief, that aikido is a sport, on grounds that aikido does not have competitions and so the need is then felt for more adequate definitions of ‘sport' and ‘competition' and, not least, for ‘aikido'. If aikido is not a sport, what is it? The discussion then begins all over again, this time concerning the definition of a ‘martial art' or ‘way' and whether this is the same as, or different from, the Japanese term budo [武道]. The discussion can become quite arcane at this point, with the possible connection of the elements of the Chinese character BU [止 and 戈] also thought to be a crucial element—and with translation issues thrown in for good measure.
Another question, however, about the actual purpose of having a definition to begin with, is rarely asked. Similarly, the purpose of discovering ‘family resemblances', in this case recursive patterns, delineated by five fundamental characteristics, needs to be kept in mind. For Kasulis, the precise definition of the two terms does not count so much as achieving better intercultural communication than has been possible hitherto—and this will also include dealing with the matter of bowing or not bowing in the dojo.
In giving his explanations of the two ‘recursive patterns', Kasulis uses many examples drawn from a wide range of activities. Most of the examples relate to the six experiences, cited earlier, that require imagination to interpret rather than intellectual analysis. In the explanation for this essay, however, I shall focus more specifically on aikido and training in the dojo. Such training, also, offers the kind of experiences that need imagination to interpret, as much as intellectual analysis. We shall find that this also gives a sharper focus to some of the issues to be discussed in the next part of this essay: the issues involved in looking at Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices and how they arose from his own training. The arguments and insights that Kasulis offers provide one possible intellectual basis for seeing how Morihei Ueshiba understood his martial training and religious practice as one seamless whole.
For his analysis of intimacy, Kasulis announces an ambitious project.
"For readers from … integrity-dominant cultures, … this chapter may delineate another profile of themselves as human beings. It is as if the gestalt picture … were not of two different women but of two different images of the same person, both real, but only one of which has been given much philosophical attention up till now." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 27.)
Whether he delivers on this project remains to be seen. Kasulis refers to one of the ‘gestalt' pictures mentioned earlier, but shifts the ground slightly. In the earlier discussion, the main focus was the reason for seeing one woman rather than the other and how one moves from one to the other. Now the focus is seeing two illustrations of the same woman. One could argue that this is quite a reasonable shift, however, since if the two women represent either of two different cultural orientations, then focusing on what is common, rather than on the two extremes, more plausibly reflects how people actually wear their cultural garb. The question still remains, however, whether it is actually possible to ‘see' two pictures of the same women—and at the same time, rather than intellectually realizing that the picture is of two different women.
Kasulis begins with a general discussion of the meaning of the term ‘intimacy', including its Latin etymological roots.
"Intimacy is making known (intimare) to a close friend (intimus or intima) what is innermost (intimus). … Intimacy is most essentially a sharing in innermost qualities." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 28.)
Kasulis is rightly at pains to extend the meaning of the term beyond its modern allusions to "lingerie, French perfume and sex manuals." According to Kasulis, the knowledge relationship between people in which intimacy is displayed has the following characteristics: it is based on a relationship of trust; it is based on empathy rather than intellectual analysis; it depends on mutual consent and continued commitment; and those relationships deemed to be in some sense successful can be marked by a sense of accomplishment.
There are two issues relating to this summary. The first is that the central case of knowledge based on the orientation of intimacy that Kasulis chooses is the knowledge between married couples, or partners who have grown to love each other and also know each other very closely. The relationship bears all the marks mentioned above, but this leads Kasulis to apply all the characteristics without exception to other relationships that are not nearly as close, but which could still be counted as knowledge based on his notion of intimacy. Another problem is that Kasulis appears to assume that such a relationship based on intimacy is morally good and intrinsically leads to the betterment of the two knowers as human beings. His emphasis on mutual consent and continued commitment might well apply to his central example of couples who have been happily married for many years, but not, for example, to the relationship between kidnappers and their victims or hostages—who resort to ‘intimacy' in order to survive. Another approach to intimacy, not discussed by Kasulis, would be that knowledge that Kasulis believes is based on the orientation of intimacy is knowledge that is rooted in a certain kind of experience or that comes as a result of such experience. Such knowledge would also be morally neutral. However, to emphasize the experiential nature and origins of such knowledge would be to blur the overall distinction that Kasulis wishes to establish between intimacy and integrity.
Kasulis extends this notion of intimacy to relations with objects. When he splits firewood for the first time, he becomes exhausted very quickly. A friend, clearly an experienced cutter of wood, has a few comments that an aikido practitioner could easily apply to training with a wooden sword or to tameshi-giri.
"The most important lesson was that I had to rear back and just start the ax on its way, letting the axhead slice right through the log. My arms and shoulders no longer pushed the ax through its flight; they just gave it an initial impetus and guided its arc. In effect, I had to relinquish my self-conscious attempt to slash the wood; I had to learn to yield to the design of the ax and the character of the log." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 31.)
Of course, this is the way that Kasulis describes what had to happen, not how his woodcutter friend explained it, and one can see that it is very plausible to describe the cognitive relationship between Kasulis and the ax—or of a samurai with his sword—in terms of intimacy.
After the discussion of the term itself, Kasulis expands on the five general characteristics listed above. It is important to see these characteristics as different aspects of common situations or relationships, as if Kasulis is attempting to explain the same types of situation or relationship, but considers them from different angles.
I. Intimacy is objective, but personal rather than public.
The point that Kasulis is making here is that the knowledge based on the cultural orientation of intimacy is different from knowledge that is based on open, public verification. It is objective, in the sense that the knowledge is independent of the knower, but is not open to public verification in the same way. We need to examine these claims in turn.
Kasulis begins by suggesting that learning in an orientation of intimacy is done differently from learning by acquiring publicly available information. However, he does not explain precisely how this is so. He takes two extremes.
"Most forms of knowledge are public insofar as their grounds are accessible to any interested party or at least anyone with the appropriate equipment. [Kasulis means a telephone or computer.] … This stress on public verification is a sign of modernity. The dominant Western orientation is tends to understand truth as something that anyone can certify through his or her own experience, rather than, say, what a particular book or specially designated person might assert." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 32-33.)
He goes on to applaud the general movement away from "ignorance, superstition and inquisition," towards "reason, observation and justice" and compares this emphasis on public verification with the other extreme, which is Cartesian-style knowledge of what one is thinking and feeling at the present moment, which cannot be publicly verified, but about which the knowing subject can be certain.
The kind of knowledge that Kasulis is after, is knowledge based on expertise in a certain kind of activity. The example that he uses is that of judges in sporting competitions, who need to rely on the expertise that comes from long experience, in order to make sound judgments. Kasulis is assuming here that experienced and unbiased judges would all tend to give scores within a similar range. An example more appropriate to aikido, and also more controversial, would be that of examiners in dan grading tests. One might think that the reliance on expertise is even more necessary than in sporting competitions, since the publicly accessible yardstick of winning or losing in a contest is not available to examiners in a dan grading test. So the fact of winning or losing is not something that the examiners can take into account when assessing quality, or deciding whether to pass or fail a candidate (the two are not quite the same). Kasulis summarizes the required type of objectivity quite neatly.
"Intimate knowledge's objectivity … is accessible only to those who have achieved their expert knowledge through years of practical experience. Trust in intimate knowledge's objectivity, like that in positivistic knowledge's objectivity, relies on an assumption of universality, but the universality has a somewhat different formulation. That is: if we believe that any reasonable person who has spent thirty years in gymnastics could come to the same evaluation as the gymnastic judges, then we believe their judgment is objective, but not publicly so." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 35-36.)
So, if we accept the analogy, we trust the judgment of the aikido dan examiners because they are expert—or so we believe, but also because they are in possession of knowledge that is not available to everyone.
One can see the issues involved here. Kasulis is using the classical argument from authority, but presented in an attractive and plausible way. A friend of mine once confided that he had received his aikido third dan directly from Morihei Ueshiba himself. Clearly, the award was more highly regarded than a similar third dan awarded by Sensei X or Sensei Y in the Downtown Dojo. However, my friend did not have the same gold-plated confidence in Morihei Ueshiba's religious convictions. Of course, it is open to one to argue that Ueshiba never expected this, but it remains true, nevertheless, that Ueshiba saw his own training in religious terms—and that his disciples (including my friend) made their own judgments as to what to take and what to leave. So my friend made a judgment about the ‘intimate' knowledge that relates to the content and quality of the knowledge itself, rather than to the expertise of the person who possesses and imparts the knowledge. My friend was Japanese and almost certainly understood the Japanese concept of ‘common religion' (to be discussed below). So the judgment he made about Morihei Ueshiba's religious convictions was probably different from a judgment about these convictions that might be made by one who does not accept any concept of ‘common religion'.
II. In an intimate relation, self and other belong together in a way that does not sharply distinguish the two.
In his discussion of this second aspect of ‘intimate' knowledge, Kasulis calls attention to one of the six vignettes he mentioned earlier. Losing a cherished possession, like a family photograph, which is of ‘sentimental' value because it belongs to a special person, is different from losing even a valuable object like one's wallet, stuffed full of money and credit cards. Kasulis then explores the pain of loss, as a result of bereavements, and suggests that the pain of loss is really the pain that comes from a loss of ‘intimate' knowledge, of which all that is left are the cherished memories. I was reminded of a poignant scene in the film adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Benjamin is having his hair cut by the kind old lady who taught him to play the piano. In response to Benjamin's comments that he must be getting younger, she notes that this would be a most unfortunate situation, since Benjamin's loved ones will all die before he does—and she adds that if we did not lose those whom we love, we would never realize how precious they were. It is a touching scene, in which a totally impossible situation is made very much believable and it improves on the example given by Kasulis, since the loving relationship between Benjamin and his friend Daisy is so constructed that both eventually realize the truth of the old lady's observation. Again, the knowledge that Kasulis is discussing here is objective, but the objectivity is non-public and available only to those who knew the dead person, or, in the case of Benjamin, know the truth about him and the strange circumstances of his life.
III. Intimate knowledge has an affective dimension.
The third aspect is a development of the second and focuses on the role of the emotions in ‘intimate' knowledge. Of course, to describe the situation in this way is actually to mis-describe it, since Kasulis wants to move away from any rigid distinction between knowledge and emotion or feeling. His discussion is really a development of the earlier examination of the relationship between the woodcutter and his ax, but applied to human relationships. One avenue he explores briefly is the idea of placing oneself in the other's shoes, which, of course, is a ‘golden rule' for giving children moral training. He develops this in a way that should be familiar to anyone who practices aikido in a traditional Japanese way at the hands of a master / teacher / model.
"When based on the empathic imagination, knowledge is generally transmitted or taught in a non-discursive way. That is: the content and rules of an intimate form of knowing are of secondary importance to the practical training under a master expert. After the technical training in medical school, the doctor serves apprenticeship as an intern or resident. During this time the physician is learning by imitating. But the imitating is not merely on the mechanical level of know-how. It involves the imaginative attempt to think, feel and act like the role models. It resembles the acquisition of an art." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 40.)
Kasulis is describing the dimensions a process of knowledge acquisition and the process can, of course, be applied to the process by which the knowledge of an art like aikido is acquired by students who are in a relationship with a master teacher. His description certainly applies to the relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Takeda Sokaku and also to the later relationship between Ueshiba and Onisaburo Deguchi, in the latter case the knowledge being of much wider scope than ‘the mechanical level of know-how'. It also applies to what I will call the ‘knowledge relationship' between Morihei Ueshiba and his uchi-deshi at the Kobukan Dojo. One way of describing this ‘intimate' knowledge relationship in Japanese borrows the Chinese concept of progress and development in stages and is known as SHU-HA-RI [守波離]. I will examine this core concept, and also that of JO-HA-KYUU [序波急], in Column 26, but simply note here that Kasulis does not make any mention of the essentially one-sided nature of the master-pupil version of this knowledge relationship—and how this affects the knowledge relationship as a whole. The master teacher is the one who has the knowledge that the disciple is trying to acquire and in this respect the knowledge relationship of ‘intimacy' displayed here is rather different from the same knowledge relationship of ‘intimacy' displayed between the master teacher and his wife, for example, especially if they have been married for many years.
IV. Intimacy is somatic as well as psychological.
The fourth aspect of ‘intimate' knowledge is its somatic nature. Kasulis begins his explanation with the general comment that the emotions are embodied. The problems arise with his examples.
"The urge to put volume two next to volume one on the bookshelf is felt as a tension in the arm as well as an idea in the mind. The experience of the players' gloom-filled locker room [they have lost an important match] is inseparable from both the sensory (sights, sounds, smells) and the visceral (the hollow feeling in the pit of the abdomen). (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 42).
For this reader, who has no concept of the central place of the locker room in American sporting culture, the ice on which Kasulis skates here is rather thin. In arguing earlier that ‘intimate knowledge has an affective dimension,' he compared two analyses of the players' locker room, as expressed in a sports writer's statement that, "a feeling of gloom filled the locker room." Since it affects the closely related issue of the role of the imagination in aikido training and will have some relevance to the later discussion of religious beliefs and practices, the argument made by Kasulis is worth examining in some detail. He continues by comparing two ways of analyzing the sports writer's phrase (for ease of reference, I have numbered the examples).
(1) "This may be considered as no more than a metaphor, a rhetorical device not to be taken literally.Certainly one cannot validate the claim scientifically by using a gloomometer of any sort to test the room for unusual physical effects. To the emotionally detached observer, the people in the room look gloomy, but the room itself is unchanged. The room is incapable of feeling; it is completely indifferent to the fate of the team. There is no gloom discernible in the fluorescent lights overhead or in the picture of the superstar athlete hanging on the inside of the team captain's locker door."
Kasulis then abandons the detached analysis and tries to see the locker room as ‘internally related to the team.'
(2) "The locker room would no longer simply be the room the team happens to be in: for the team members, or for anyone who can empathetically imagine oneself a team member, it is part of the team's identity; it is the team locker room. Of all the loci in the universe, this one place is where the team as a team belongs. … The team captain gazes at the picture in the locker—a talisman always given a pat for good luck before the game. It is now only a slick, fragile, somewhat crumpled piece of paper stuck to the inside of a battleship gray locker door."
Neither Kasulis nor the quoted sports writer elaborates on the defeat suffered, but to judge from the above description, it must have been a total annihilation. Kasulis draws his conclusion.
"By imagining oneself into the locus of intimacy defining the team, the ‘gloom-filled locker room' is no longer a mere metaphor. Rather, it accurately describes the team locker room from within the players' communal perspective. If someone is restricted to the detached observer's standpoint, one cannot know the significance of the room as the team directly experiences its internal relation with it." (This and previous quotations from Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 41-42.)
Kasulis gives no indication of the introspective properties of his analysis. To a detached observer, the ‘internal' description could be by someone who merely had vivid memories of the locker room, perhaps because he had been a player in his youth. However, Kasulis seems to mean much more than mere memories; he is suggesting that with ‘intimate' knowledge one can physically experience the gloom in the locker room—and cites the ‘sensory' and the ‘visceral'. To see the issues I am attempting to discuss, consider yet a third way of describing the "gloom-filled locker room," this time completely fictional—and with apologies to J K Rowling.
(3) "When Harry awoke and rose to this feet, he saw that he was in a locker-room. The cup he had been carrying was actually a port-key and he realized with a shock that the room was familiar. It was the locker room his team used for their Quidditch matches, where they celebrated their occasional victories and held inquests over their more common defeats. For Harry it had a deeper significance: it was the gloom-filled locker room where Ron Weasley had almost succumbed to the kiss of the dementor. Why had he been brought here? Voldemort's cold, clear voice filled his brain, but that was a dream—or so he thought. With his wand at the ready, he crept round a corner—and narrowly missed the killing curse hurled at him by Bellatrix."
The only difference in the above descriptions at the level of ‘intimacy'—as conveyed by the imagination, lies in the fact that in the first (1) and second (2) there was in fact a locker room somewhere; in the third description (3) the locker room exists only in the writer's imagination, but is certainly accompanied by the ‘sensory' and the ‘visceral', mentioned earlier. In fact, it is the addition of the ‘sensory' and the ‘visceral' that causes Harry's problems and leads to Hermione's constant urgings ‘not to let Voldemort control your mind.' One of the problems with the ‘either-or' approach favored by Kasulis in discussing ‘intimacy' and ‘integrity' is to find a conceptual middle ground between the detached, but factual, analysis of the first description (1) and the pure fantasy of the highly imaginative, but completely false, depiction contained in the third description (3) of the "gloom-filled locker room." The reference to metaphor as a ‘rhetorical device, not to be taken literally,' is significant: it suggests that Kasulis is unacquainted with the work of Lakoff, Johnson and others who have researched the central place of metaphor in language. This research suggests that it is very difficult to draw such a rigid distinction as that implied by Kasulis, between ‘literal' meaning and metaphor, and this also throws into doubt the sharpness of any distinction he makes between ‘intimacy' and ‘integrity' that is based solely on the imagination.
Kasulis does not discuss the history of the concept of training, but in the Japanese martial arts the conceptual foundations lie in the religious concept of shugyou [修行 or 修業], the method or way, taught by Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, of achieving a state known as sokushin joubutsu [即身成仏] or attaining enlightenment or Buddhahood in this present body. So Kukai's conception of shugyou was somatic through and through. Morihei Ueshiba was an adherent of Shingon Buddhism early in his life and although he later embraced the more eclectic Omoto religion, he still offers a good example of training that is intimately connected with both the body and with his religious beliefs and practices. In fact, it is likely that he would have never felt the need to distinguish between intimacy and integrity in the way that Kasulis does.
V. Intimacy's ground is not generally self-conscious, reflective, or self-illuminating.
Kasulis believes the final aspect is also the hardest to understand, since ‘intimate' knowledge is also dark, esoteric, open-ended—in the sense that it is not known beforehand what possession of the knowledge will entail, therefore possibly dangerous, and also that it is to be expected and accepted that the one who seeks the knowledge might have to ‘steal' it, since obtaining the knowledge might involve something analogous to penetrating a labyrinth.
The explanation given by Kasukis should be familiar to any aikido practitioner, especially to those aikido practitioners who are currently engaged in aiki or IP training.
"I use the word [esoteric] to refer specifically to the context in which a non-public, but objective, insight is available only to members of a certain group who have undergone special training. In this sense, we commonly speak of the esoteric aspects of computer programming or furniture refinishing. In our sense, then, esoteric is not necessarily secretive or exclusive. It is open to anyone who has entered the intimate circle. How does one do that? By undergoing the appropriate praxis." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 48.)
To illustrate what he means here, Kasulis gives a rather lame example, that of a star player being interviewed by a post-game interviewer. The interviewer sought the player's private thoughts and hidden motives, but all he received was a disappointingly bland description of what happened.
"Well, we started with a quick-opener on the right side. I made my cut and there was no hole. Then I saw some daylight on the other side, so I just took it." (Kasulis, ibid.)
Since the interviewer wanted something more, the player gave a more detailed description. The description he gave was a detailed description of how he trained at football, but such a description would apply to anyone who participated in the sport and did not mention anything that marked the player's feats as something special. A more dramatic example, less directly applicable to training in football or the martial arts, comes from a film that I happened to see on a recent trip to Europe.
The Life of Pi recounts a story of the exploits of a boy who was shipwrecked, but managed to find a lifeboat. His family, the ship's crew, and the zoo animals being transported all perished and he was the sole survivor, along with a baboon, a hyena and a tiger. The baboon and the hyena soon died and he was left with the tiger, named Richard Parker. He developed a relationship with the tiger and both survived. The boy was later interviewed in hospital by the ship's insurers, who frankly refused to believe the story he told them. So, like the star player in the interview, he told them another story, quite different from the original one, but which was much more suitable for inclusion in an insurance report—and the audience is left wondering whether the events recounted in Pi's original story really happened, or were the product of an imagination made even more productive by the experience of the shipwreck and long days of solitude.
The conclusion reached by Kasulis is that the content of the player's intimate knowledge of football cannot be described discursively in a step-by-step manner. The only possibility is to recount the praxis / training necessary to initiate the player into the ‘intimate' locus. However, there are major issues here that Kasulis does not deal with, which are conveyed by his explanation of the praxis. I will return to these issues in the discussion of integrity, below.
"Note the difference between a discursive account of the praxis and practicing the praxis. When operatic singers have trouble controlling their voice, they go to voice coaches and not to music critics. The coach has an intimate knowledge of singing praxis and can direct the singer in the right therapy. The music critic, by contrast, can better interpret the voice problem to the general public, even though the critic may not know what remedy should be followed. In short: praxis is best learned from a master within the appropriate locus of intimacy. Even if the master cannot articulate the praxis' purpose, the master is best at intimating to an insider what should be done. What is dark and esoteric to an outsider may, when put into practice, be commonsensical to an insider." (Kasulis, op.cit, pp. 50-51.)
The issue for some might well be the seeming contradiction between a master who cannot articulate the purpose of the praxis being taught, but who can intimate to an insider how best to do the praxis that he is teaching. I once had occasion to ask the famous aikido shihan Yamaguchi Seigo if he could state what he was doing when he was practicing his aikido. There were gasps around the table (it was during a post-training lunch) at the temerity of the question (as a foreigner, I was supposed to ask the ‘stupid' questions my Japanese colleagues would never dare to ask), but Yamaguchi Shihan laughed and said, No, he did not really know what he was doing, in the sense that he could not give an explanation. The knowledge was certainly there, but it was never articulated in any other way than having uke ‘receive' the waza and in the process try to figure out what was happening.
Kasulis treats the cultural orientation he calls ‘integrity' more briefly and with less attention to detail. This is unfortunate for two reasons. First he has to oversimplify what he is describing and this makes it very difficult to give a comparison between ‘intimacy' and ‘integrity' that is ‘phenomenological', in other words, a comparison that is a reasonably complete description of the two orientations as applied to a particular instance, but without any ‘intrusive' analysis. I suspect that for aikido practitioners their perception of their training is a combination of both orientations and so the real issue is being able to describe the ‘phenomenon' of aikido training, while giving due attention to both orientations—or to neither. This problem of oversimplification is especially acute in the case of Morihei Ueshiba and his training. Secondly, Kasulis admits that he is American and has written for American readers a book that was published in the USA. In one respect he is being very honest, but in another respect this is unfortunate, since he appears to fall into the same trap as Sugiyama Lebra does, in taking a one-size-fits-all approach and making an unduly broad distinction between Japanese and non-Japanese, but, additionally for Kasulis, in regarding the non-Japanese half of the distinction as basically ‘American'. Kasulis is using a cultural stereotype and it is unfortunate that he does not seem to perceive this.
One might argue that Kasulis has to set out the ‘phenomena' in broad detail, in order to make the two orientations more easily understandable. Up to a point this is true, but then it becomes of more limited value for making useful cultural comparisons, which Kasulis argues is the overall aim of his book. My own experience of living in Japan suggests to me that cultural comparisons are far more complex than is commonly supposed, and certainly more complex than one might assume from reading Kasulis. Kasulis himself states that experiencing a different culture requires many years of being part of the culture (his statement was quoted earlier in this essay), but it is impossible to escape the fact that in this case the culture is experienced in both cultural orientations—intimacy and integrity—at the same time. This is equally true for postwar ‘Westernized' Japanese as for long term non-Japanese residents and also explains why it is much more difficult for someone who has not experienced his culture to approach someone like Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba was a Japanese who lived at a certain time in Japan's history, but he is also someone who has been taken ‘out of time', so to speak, and made into an icon straddling vastly different cultures. It is very likely that Ueshiba also saw the world in a combination of both cultural orientations and this must be taken into account when giving an account of his religious beliefs and practices according to the model set out by Kasulis.
The Marks of Integrity
Kasulis begins the examination of integrity by making the point that, like intimacy, the cultural orientation of integrity has meaning only within relationships. Kasulis first compares sand and water with salt and water. In one case the two interact, but remain recognizably the same; in the other case the salt dissolves in the water and their independent identities disappear in a single solution of seawater. Kasulis concludes that the relation between the salt and the water is one of intimacy, whereas the relation between the sand and the water is one of integrity. Kasulis then applies the comparison to personal relationships.
"Integrity is a mode of relating to others, one that maintains the self-identity of the related persons even while they are being related, similar to the water and sane of the ocean. I recognize a person's integrity only as I observe that person in relationships. Just as the seawater and sand do not dissolve into each other, in an integrity relationship between people the individuals connect to each other and interact without either one becoming even partially identified with, or absorbed into, the other." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 55.)
The analogy seems attractive, but I think it breaks down when Kasulis has to describe the intimacy mode of relating to others. He does not, in fact, describe such a way of relating that actually fits the analogy, since it is extremely unlikely that two people are ever so completely interrelated with each other that they achieve the same relationship as salt and water. Clearly, identical twin or triplet siblings have a very special relationship—perhaps the clearest example of intimacy as Kasulis sees it, but even in cultures marked by an extreme orientation of intimacy, such as Japan's, they are still individual siblings, with their own distinct and separate identities.
Kasulis undertakes an examination of the five aspects of ‘integrity' knowledge that follows a typical ‘block' method of making comparisons and contrasts. So he goes through the same five aspects of ‘integrity' knowledge, which are similar to his analysis of ‘intimate' knowledge [there is no current adjective of ‘integrity' in English that is like ‘intimate': ‘integrated' has a different meaning and ‘integrous' and ‘integritive' are both obsolete].
i. Objectivity as Public Verifiability: Integrity as Impersonal
For Kasulis, the first aspect of the integrity orientation is a very strong emphasis on the public verifiability of knowledge, in contrast to the trust placed in the expert in the orientation of intimacy. Kasulis makes three points.
"Integrity emphasizes knowledge based on empirical observation and logical reasoning, both of which can be verified by anyone else, at least theoretically. … Rhetorically, this leads to a depersonalization of statements: ‘one' knows rather than ‘I' know or ‘we' know. Public verifiability, not the expert, is the basis of authority." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 56.)
The second point is related to the first. Integrity is regarded as of paramount value in matters of justice. Guilt or innocence cannot be decided by arbitrary fiat, but must be decided on the basis of the careful weighing of publicly verifiable evidence. The evidence has to be objective, in the sense that it has to be accessible to disinterested, non-expert parties, such as members of a jury.
The third point is a corollary of the other two. The requirement of publicly verifiable evidence is the basis for the principle that scientific experiments must be replicable. The claims of the scientist must be confirmed by others who can duplicate the same experiments and produce the same results.
Kasulis concludes that,
"There is no room in modern Western science for either priest or magician." (Kasulis, ibid.)
He would also presumably include shamans and kotodama with the priests and magicians. If we put the arguments of Kasulis in another context, the ‘integrity' orientation requires that the martial skills of Morihei Ueshiba be publicly accessible and also replicable by those who have undergone the appropriate training regime. This ‘integrity' principle underlies much of the current discussions in AikiWeb forums concerning so-called ‘aiki' and internal power / skills. The assumption here, considered eminently reasonable, is that it is necessary to give adequate definitions that are at least working definitions of the essential concepts involved and then to explain in understandable language how to acquire the skills that are necessary for displaying the power and for using aiki. Here is a recent example from AikiWeb (the writer is an eminent aikido teacher):
"What I look for is two things... First, can someone do it when I attack them? Then I know it's not the uke and I can feel it. Second, can they teach other people to do it? If a teacher can say to me ‘Do this, then do this'. And I can feel the results, then I am not terribly interested in scientific explanations. I want body centered ‘how to' explanations. The folks I get the most out of training with can give me that. Then, if someone wants to tell me how it works in terms of anatomy and muscle / motor function etc, that's interesting on some level, but really doesn't help one's training all that much."
In fact, one might characterize the entire postwar development of aikido as an evolution from ‘intimacy' knowledge of the art, with its reliance on ‘secret' expertise, known only to a select few, to the more publicly accessible ‘integrity' knowledge. However, this is to oversimplify matters somewhat and the connection between these publicly accessible martial skills and Ueshiba's own religious beliefs and practices is a major issue here, since the latter do not have similar public accessibility and so the temptation to omit the latter altogether, or to reduce one to the other is very great.
ii. External over Internal Relations
The second aspect of integrity is an extension of the sand & water analogy. Kasulis uses some very interesting Venn diagrams to explain the two orientations, which are similar to Sugiyama Lebra's use of similar diagrams to explain the difference between opposition logic and contingency logic. In the first diagrams, two sets, a and b, initially have no relation. In the second diagrams, which illustrate the two orientations, the circles are shown in relation. In the intimacy orientation, the circles interact and cross boundaries: the area of interaction, R, remains when the interaction is broken. So the circles are broken and become like two gibbous moons beginning to wane. In the integrity orientation, on the other hand, there is no interaction and the circles cross no boundaries: R remains completely outside the circles.
Kasulis relates the two kinds of relationships to marriage. He notes that marriage has a legal structure in order to preserve the integrity of the two people establishing the relationship. Both people have some protection against the violation of the relationship. Kasulis contrasts this legal relationship with marriage as a love relationship. If this relationship breaks down, "one literally loses part of oneself." One can draw the consequence that the ‘legal' marriage is a relationship of integrity and the ‘love' marriage is a relationship of intimacy. In real life, however, matters are usually less simple than elegant Venn diagrams and it is a valid question how the diagrams actually relate to the complexities of human relationships. For example, marriages in Japan—for Kasulis, a prime example of the cultural orientation of intimacy, still tend to be arranged marriages: unions between whole families rather than between two individuals. In the vast majority of marriage celebrations I have attended as a guest (usually of my own students), the marriages have been arranged marriages. However, such marriages are both ‘legal' marriages and ‘love' marriages, as Kasulis understands this. If we take the example of Morihei Ueshiba, before he enlisted in the army to play his part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 he married Hatsu Itogawa and in the schema of Kasulis this was certainly arranged and so was a ‘legal' marriage. Ueshiba, however, was notorious for not showing his feelings, both according to his son Kisshomaru and also according to the contemporary view of how a Japanese man was expected to behave. However, it would be churlish to deny that the love between Ueshiba and his wife was genuine and mutual.
Kasulis draws a surprising conclusion from this discussion on marriage.
"It follows that people understand themselves differently in the two cultural orientations. In an integrity orientation, my identity corresponds with the fixed boundaries of the ego. Although I see myself connected to may other things, none of these things is literally part of me. In this context, to ‘find myself' means to discover who I am independent of external factors. This may lead to a strong sense of autonomy. My relationships are not what I am, but that to which I have independently chosen to be connected. I am in control, at least theoretically, of how (and often to what) I relate. … Because intimacy involves a necessary connection with others (either people or things), my identity in the intimacy orientation necessarily overlaps with what is outside the discrete ego. Rather than the independence of integrity, intimacy favors interdependence. In an intimacy orientation, to ‘find myself' means that I now see how I am interconnected with, and interdependent with, many other entities. My self-discovery discovers the interdependence defining my life." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 60-61.)
To which one might respond, "Well it could do, but needn't necessarily. What happens if a is neither in one orientation nor the other, or is in both?" Kasulis does not answer this question, but explains the differences by means of other elegant diagrams. In the first diagram, the ‘self', denoted by the circle a, is surrounded by several other circles, b, c, d etc., each of which is in a relation R with a. This, according to Kasulis, is the Self of Integrity, in which a has no contiguous contact with the other circles b, c, d etc. In the second diagram, on the other hand, which Kasulis calls the Self of Intimacy, the R relations do not appear, since all the circles surrounding a are overlapping with a. The overlapping parts of the circles are shaded grey, leaving a very small un-shaded center of a, which the other circles do not reach. The shaded grey circle, of a with the overlapping segments of the other circles, is the ‘discrete ego', while the very small white center a allows one to have ‘an isolated core of identity.' This diagram should really be labeled the Existential Self of Intimacy, since it portrays the ‘self' of Sisyphus, the hero of Albert Camus' existentialist novel. Sisyphus is proud and defiant as he continues his thankless task of pushing the stone uphill—only to see it roll down again, but his identity, the un-shaded core of a in the second diagram, remains, unaffected by the turbulent interactions with the other circles. In the third diagram, the circles overlap with a to a greater extent, leaving no unshaded center of a. Kasulis calls this diagram the Buddhist Self, which is clearly the apex of the orientation of intimacy, since there is no un-shaded or independent part of a left.
"This does not mean that I am without identity; there is still the unique overlap of interdependent process defining who I am (as represented by the full circle of a). The major point for Buddhism, however, is that the overlaps defining a are completely interdependent (completely shaded) and without any trace of independent substantiality—without any untouched nucleus." (Kasulis, op.cit., p. 62.)
An important corollary is that in the diagrams illustrating intimacy, all the circles overlap with each other in a different way. In the second diagram, some of the circles overlap with each other as they overlap with a, but in the third diagram, all the circles overlap with each other. So, when another circle, g, overlaps with a, for example, it overlaps with all the other circles, but only at the core, where the center of a is situated.
The diagrams constitute a very elegant way of showing the ‘self' of integrity and two versions of depicting the ‘self' of intimacy in the latter two diagrams will be discussed again in Part 3 of this essay, in connection with Buddhism, Shinto and Omoto. The issue, of course, is whether the diagrams are an accurate metaphor of the ‘self' in its complex relationships with other selves and we will briefly consider this later.
iii. Knowledge as Ideally Empty of Affect
The third aspect of integrity noted by Kasulis is a general distrust of the emotions. Whereas in the orientation of intimacy, the distinction between emotion and intellect was played down, in the orientation of integrity it is emphasized. However, Kasulis emphasizes a different aspect of intimacy here, namely, the importance of introspection and intuition. He returns to the elegant Venn-style diagrams discussed in the previous section and notes that:
"When I (a) fully know myself in the intimacy orientation, I also know something of all that is internally related to me, namely (b) to (i) [meaning, the other selves represented by circles b to i, which interact and overlap with a]. Within the integrity orientation, by contrast, the intellect is clearly dominant. I may have hunches or intuitions, but integrity trusts these affective aspects of knowledge only so far: they may suggest hypotheses to be subsequently tested by objective, public knowledge, but they can never have the full status of knowledge itself." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 63-64.)
The reason for the distrust is that feelings might confuse people about what precisely they experience and about how to interpret the experience accurately. There is the story of the aikido shihan who chanced upon a picture of Morihei Ueshiba whilst browsing in a bookstore. He had been beaten at judo and the realization that he did not know what to do with his life became all the more acute as a result of this defeat. Seeing the picture, he immediately knew that this man was to be his teacher. So he went and asked to become a deshi and sat outside the dojo for many hours until he received a positive answer. The way he tells the story, there was no element whatever of doubt or distrust in the truth of his intuition. This same shihan also insists that one cannot even claim to have started practicing the art of aikido until one has found the right teacher. On the other hand, it was certainly never clear to me beforehand that the choices I had made concerning my own teachers were incorrect. In terms of the cultural orientation of intimacy or integrity, I do not think that either orientation correctly described my own knowledge and choices concerning aikido, for introspection and intuition can take place in either orientation and, furthermore, the means of checking the authenticity of both can also take place—or need not take place—in either orientation.
iv. The Intellectual and Psychological as Distinct from the Somatic
The fourth aspect of integrity is different from the third in a fundamental way. Whereas the third aspect of integrity distrusts the feelings, which are considered as a probable impediment to the clarity of the perception, the fourth aspect emphasizes the purely conceptual nature of the knowledge involved: there is no trace of any somatic element. Kasulis put this in clear terms.
"Intimate knowledge is achieved through repetitive praxis usually under the guidance of a master. Where integrity is dominant, however, intimacy's brand of expert knowledge is often considered no more than know-how or technique. For integrity, the highest kind of knowledge is the ‘knowing that' or &'knowing why' based on principles and verification through public test. The principles guide the method that ascertains the laws of how things work. Therefore integrity insists that, at least theoretically, knowledge is open to anyone, not just to experts. With plainly articulated principles, people can settle disagreements through independent tests. In societies dominated by the integrity orientation, the public has a ‘right to know.' This right is an extension of integrity's insistence that knowledge is publicly verifiable and that experts are not entitled to withhold information on the basis of ‘special knowledge.' From the idea that knowledge can be shared we have moved to the idea that knowledge should be shared." (Kasulis, op.cit., pp. 64-65.)
It is not difficult to see some major problems here. One might respond that, well, it depends on the knowledge desired. Even relatively simple skills that require mental and physical coordination, such as riding a bicycle or driving a motor vehicle, admit of degrees of skill, in the sense that some people can become more expert than others. However, even in societies dominated by the intimacy orientation, people do not usually regard riding a bicycle or driving a car as knowledge requiring repetitive praxis under a master. It is knowledge based on principles and requiring verification through a public test. Other skills, like break-dancing, jumping off cliffs in film stunts, or even taking ukemi in aikido, are considerably more complex and harder to do well. They need more repetitive praxis under the guidance of someone who possesses—and is seen to possess—the requisite skill. Of course, one can take the levels of skill required much further—and even add that achieving a high level of brilliance, in racing driving, soccer, cordon bleu cookery, for example, requires not only Malcolm Gladwell's minimum 10,000 hours of training under a master, but also something else: something called genius, which is not freely available even to those who put in the hours of training. However, brilliance and genius are not restricted to those cultures in which the intimacy orientation is dominant.
The first point to note here, however, is that none of the skills mentioned in the previous paragraph is purely conceptual. All require the acquisition of physical skills that are very hard to describe in words, that is, without some form of physical demonstration of the relevant skill. The second point to note is that a distinction between knowledge that is ‘somatic' (intimacy) and knowledge that is not (integrity) needs much more qualification if it is to be applied to a martial art like aikido.
v. Knowledge as Reflective and Self-conscious of its Own Grounds
With this fifth view of integrity, the knowledge would be public and so should never have to be ‘stolen', for ‘stealing' places too much importance on the exclusive, individual, and possibly undesirable aspects of the esoteric nature of the knowledge desired. So this aspect of ‘integrity' knowledge stands in stark contrast to the similar aspect of ‘intimate' knowledge, as displayed by Yamaguchi Seigo Shihan. However, the fact that Yamaguchi Shihan never explained what he was doing does not entail that such an explanation can never be given.
It is sometimes argued that aikido is a gift, given by Morihei Ueshiba to ‘the world' and this is always given a ‘benevolent' interpretation; aikido is never considered to be like Pandora's Box. Morihei Ueshiba's Omoto beliefs are sometimes invoked here, especially the often-quoted statements about him standing on the floating bridge of heaven, uniting the three worlds. However, an ‘integrity' view should add an essential corollary here, which is sometimes left unstated: if the knowledge is a gift, it should be freely available to the whole of humanity. Another consequence follows, also unstated. If it is a gift, it has been given with no strings attached and therefore can be used however the recipient wishes. The knowledge is public, freely available, regardless of how it is used, and this is one area where Morihei Ueshiba's warnings against aikido being taught to the ‘wrong' people, who will use of it for ‘wrong' purposes, are nowadays considered outdated or even ignored. According to this ‘external' view of knowledge, if the art is misused it is the knower who misuses the knowledge of the art.
One can see the similarities and the differences between these recursive patterns and Geert Hofstede's cultural parameters like power difference, gender and uncertainty avoidance, and Sugiyama Lebra's zones of omote / ura and uchi / soto.
It is not difficult to see all of these characteristics present in a relationship dedicated to aikido training. Considered strictly as a martial art, aikido is designed to ensure that in an encounter between one person and another or others, the latter are bested in some way. Training for such encounters presents a very wide spectrum, ranging from the 24-hour-per-day intensive training of a deshi [弟子: student] under the guidance of the master or teacher, to regular or occasional sessions in a general dojo or sports hall, where aikido is practiced as a general hobby. Moreover, in the case of aikido considered strictly as a martial art, the necessarily controlled environment in which the training takes place can cause the connection between the training and the aim of the training to be forgotten. It should also be noted that these encounters are neutral, in the sense that it is by no means a given that the aikido practitioner emerges from the strictly martial encounters a more virtuous person, whatever this means.
Intimacy, Integrity, and Bowing in the Dojo
Kasulis presents his view of intimacy and integrity as cultural orientations and so this distinction will not directly lead to any solution of the problem of whether to bow or not to bow towards a picture of Morihei Ueshiba in the dojo. How the members of the dojo see the issue will depend on the major orientation in the culture where the dojo is situated. Taking a cue from an earlier discussion by Kasulis about the meaning of terms (the term he chose was kenri [権利: rights]), one might surmise that a cultural orientation of integrity might well emphasize the importance of the individual and individual rights, which the dojo should accommodate. A cultural orientation of intimacy might well emphasize the importance of the group and expect the individual to accede to the weight of dojo customs, not expressed in words, but upheld and followed by all the members. Everything flows smoothly—until the problem of bowing first arises.
Kasulis uses an approach that is very common among analysts of Japanese culture. To give a few other examples, Lafcadio Hearn thought that the defining feature of the Japanese was their exquisite religious sense (in Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation, 1904); Ruth Benedict saw the defining feature as the Japanese sense of shame versus ‘Western' guilt (in The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, 1946); Chie Nakane believed that Japanese society displayed a vertical structure and this was crucial for an understanding of the culture (in Japanese Society, 1970); and Doi Takeo thought that Japanese culture displayed the (allegedly untranslatable) features of amae [甘え: dependence], omote [表: face] and ura [裏: back] (in The Anatomy of Dependence, 1973, and The Anatomy of Self, 1986). The journalist Karel van Wolferen wrote an analysis of Japanese ‘power' and decided that the one central feature of Japanese society was that there was no one, single, power center (in The Enigma of Japanese Power, 1988). Thomas Kasulis goes one better and uses intimacy and integrity as defining concepts, not of one particular culture, but of culture in general, but in fact applicable, respectively, to Japanese culture and ‘Western' culture.
There is nothing in the account given by Kasulis which conflicts with Takie Sugiyama Lebra's discussion of ‘cultural' logic (this is Lebra's own view, as stated to me by Prof Kasulis himself in a personal communication), but the overall emphasis is somewhat different. The problem common to both Lebra and Kasulis is that both start off with two central concepts and then organize all their arguments around these central concepts. For Lebra, the two central concepts are oppositional logic and contingency logic and she bases her whole complex discussion of the four zones of omote / ura and uchi / soto on the central premiss that these belong to contingency logic and that this offers a better way of looking at the Japanese ‘self' than any analysis based on opposition logic. For Kasulis, the concepts are the ‘recursive orientations' of intimacy and integrity and he bases his equally complex discussion on the central premiss that some cultures, in particular, Japanese culture, are bound by cultural orientations of intimacy, rather than integrity.
However, it is hard to avoid the value judgment—always implied by Lebra and never stated explicitly, that there is something lacking in opposition logic that is supplied by contingency logic. Contingency logic, therefore, is generally preferable to opposition logic, especially with reference to a martial ‘way' like aikido. Similarly—and Kasulis admits this, the whole tenor of his comparison between orientations based on intimacy and orientations based on integrity is that the former are preferable to the latter.
One of the problems with both Sugiyama Lebra's account of ‘cultural logic' and the account of cultural reality given by Thomas Kasulis and based on integrity and intimacy is, in the thinking of Aristotle, a tendency to oversimplify, or, to summarize a discussion in Shaun Gallagher's account of phenomenology, a tendency to over-classify. To return to the matter of apologies, discussed the first part of this essay, it is relatively easy for Lebra to point to apologies in Japan and then state that they need to be analyzed in terms of contingency logic, as against opposition logic. However, this underestimates the complexity of the phenomenon. Lebra's discussion of primary and ternary relationships might suggest that apologies in Japan are hardly ever based on opposition logic, but this is certainly not the case. At present there is a major controversy between Japan and Korea over the so-called ‘comfort women'. The term refers to women who during World War II became prostitutes, in order to provide a certain kind of ‘rest and recuperation' for soldiers. One major issue is whether the women were coerced into prostitution, like other Koreans who were brought to Japan to work in the mines and elsewhere. The Mayor of Osaka, Mr Toru Hashimoto, has offered a variety of explanations—some showing exquisitely fragile ingenuity—why Japan is not required to make any apology to Korea. It is very clear that Mr Hashimoto sees such an apology precisely in terms of Lebra's binary opposition logic
Occasionally, readers criticize these essays for the minute attention paid to details: the argument is one cannot see the wood for the trees: too much attention to the various types of trees around prevents proper concentration on the wood. I think this argument cuts both ways. Excessive attention on one or two particular types of wood prevents one seeing the full variety of trees and how they form an essential part of the forest. Such attention might lead one to think there is no such variety and so that all the trees are the same. A balance has to be struck somewhere and AikiWeb readers will have their own ideas about where this should be. The intellectual problem with something like a culture is that at the same time it is something both highly defined, and therefore amenable to being handled by undesirable cultural stereotypes, and also vague and undefined—and the vagueness is every bit as essential as the high degree of definition that allows Sugiyama Lebra to characterize a culture as stereotypically exhibiting a certain kind of logic, or that allows Kasulis to characterize a culture as stereotypically manifesting a certain kind of orientation in human relationships.
This ‘undefined' quality is of crucial importance for understanding Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices and this is one value of the discussion by Kasulis of the orientations of intimacy and integrity. Nevertheless, the problem here, too, is the tendency to over-classify. Instead, for Morihei Ueshiba one needs to consider a cultural orientation where intimacy and integrity are in some kind of balance, or are even left undefined, as far as this is logically possible.
Religion vs. Religions vs. Religious
Morihei Ueshiba is reputed to have talked about religion to one of his students, Andre Nocquet. Nocquet asked Ueshiba whether he needed to change his religion because he practiced aikido. Ueshiba responded that he did not; if he were a Christian, then practicing aikido would make him a better Christian. This is an example of Ueshiba's own ‘cultural logic', but there are several matters that need to be made clearer or more explicit, first about Nocquet's use of the term and then about Morihei Ueshiba's own ideas.
Nocquet implied that he had a religion and this could mean a number of things. It could mean that he was a member of an established religious organization, like the Roman Catholic Church. It need not mean this, however. A person can be a Christian simply by believing (in) certain things, without being a member of a religious organization, or by living in a certain way, according to Christian moral precepts, but without having any specifically Christian beliefs. The having of Christian beliefs and the living of a Christian life are not connected in such a way that one automatically entails the other. Secondly, the distinction made above between being a member of a religious organization, having certain beliefs, and living in a certain way has been quite sharply made, as if the three specific categories—organization, beliefs, living, are quite distinct logically. This is primarily because the distinction often is made in such a way. On a UK census form, for example, one's religion had to be specified, but this often caused problems because such ‘specific' categories need not be so specific in practice. Accordingly, one can consider a ‘lapsed Catholic' as someone for whom one of more of these categories does not apply. However, the ‘lapses' of a ‘lapsed Christian' are rather harder to pin down and it is even more difficult to consider a ‘lapsed Buddhist' or a ‘lapsed Shintoist' in the same way. We will look at this problem again, during the discussion on ‘common religion'.
Secondly, Morihei Ueshiba's discussion with Andre Nocquet needs to be compared with his other remarks on religion, in particular with his remark, quoted in a previous column, that "Aikido is not a religion -- however, it is a religion just the same". This is Christopher Li's translation, but one might wonder about the definite articles and whether "Aikido is not (a) religion -- however, it is (a) religion just the same" has a different meaning if one or other article is omitted. The Japanese original is 「合気道は宗教にあらずして宗教なのであります。」 and, of course, there are no articles. (Incidentally, the fact that Japanese does not have an article is significant only to some extent. In other words, the unique features of Japanese religion do not intrinsically depend on this feature of the Japanese language.) So it might be quite possible for Morihei Ueshiba to be comparing Andre Nocquet's aikido training, including his embrace of a specific religion (Roman Catholic Christianity), with his own aikido training, which includes religion, but understood in the much wider sense appropriate to the syncretistic, pantheistic religion of Omoto—which could certainly accommodate the notion that aikido training could make Nocquet a better Christian. It is a very common feature of Japanese ‘new' religions that they can easily accommodate the features of the ‘old' ones and I myself have heard precisely the same argument used by Morihei Ueshiba. I was once urged to join a ‘new' religion (not Omoto) by some visitors who came to my door and my response—that my Christianity was perfectly adequate for my own needs—was immediately met by the response that membership of this new religion would enable me to become a better Christian: there was absolutely no conflict between the two.
Religion without God
A recent column in the New York Review of Books provides a way into discussion of religion from another direction. Before he died, the political philosopher Ronald Dworkin wrote a book entitled Religion without God and his ideas have some relevance here. (Since the book had not been published at the time I wrote this essay, I used the extracts given in The New York Review of Books.) Dworkin quotes Einstein.
"To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting himself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of deeply religious men." (Albert Einstein, in Clifton Fadiman, Living Philosophies: The Reflections of Some Eminent Men and Women of Our Time, quoted by Dworkin, in The New York Review of Books (NYRB), Vol. LX, No. 6, April 2013, p. 67.)
Einstein was accused of using language too obscurely.
"Richard Dawkins says that Einstein's language is ‘destructively misleading' because clarity demands a sharp distinction between a belief that the universe is governed by fundamental physical laws, which Dawkins thought Einstein meant, and a belief that it is governed by something ‘supernatural', which Dawkins thinks the word ‘religion' means." (Dworkin, NYRB, op.cit., p. 67.)
Dworkin preferred Einstein's statement to Dawkins' criticism and argued for the eminent reasonableness of the concept of religion without god. He argued that Einstein's view was an endorsement of the supernatural.
"The beauty and sublimity he said we could reach only as a feeble reflection are not part of nature: they are something beyond nature that cannot be grasped even by finally understanding the most fundamental of physical laws. It was Einstein's faith that some transcendental and objective value permeates the universe, value that is neither a natural phenomenon nor a subjective reaction to natural phenomena. This is what led him to his own religiosity." (Dworkin, ibid.,)
If being religious does not necessarily mean believing in God, what, then, Dworkin asks, is the difference between a religious attitude to the world and a nonreligious attitude? He finds it hard to answer the question because ‘religion' [like ‘spiritual' and also, apparently, ‘aikido'] is an "interpretive" concept. "That is, people who use the concept do not agree about precisely what it means: when they use it they are taking a stand about what it should mean." (Dworkin, ibid.,) Dworkin notes the fact of religious wars, not merely between "those who hate each other's gods", but between "zealot believers in godly religion and those whom they believe are amoral heathens" and, like a true ‘universalist', as Kasulis would put it—albeit a utopian one, he makes a strong plea for the separation of religion and God, as a way of stopping these wars: this "cancer", the "curse on our species".
The short extract published in the New York Review of Books gives only part of the first chapter, so a full examination of Dworkin's arguments is not yet possible. Nevertheless, on the basis of the extract one can judge that the essential feature of Dworkin's religious atheism was something like Rudolph Otto's sense of the ‘numinous': the sense of awe at the vastness of nature, sometimes felt by scientists who glimpse the real size of the universe, but coupled with a clear belief in something beyond. Dworkin also defends his belief in the primacy of absolute value. This ‘religious attitude' is really akin to faith, and so Dworkin separates the matters of faith in the existence of a god and faith in the existence of absolute value into two distinct halves. The former is for theists, but the latter can be embraced by atheists with no loss of comfort.
For Dworkin, the ‘metaphysical core' of a religious attitude is the acceptance of the ‘objective truth' of two value judgments. The first is that each person has an innate responsibility to ‘live well' and to accept moral responsibilities to himself or herself and to others. The second is that the universe as a whole is something of intrinsic value and wonder.
"Together these two comprehensive value judgments declare inherent value in both dimensions of human life: biological and biographical. We are part of nature because we have a physical being and duration: nature is the locus and nutrient of our physical lives. We are apart from nature because we are conscious of ourselves as making a life and must make decisions that, taken together, determine what life we have made." (Dworkin, op.cit., p. 68.)
This faith does not allow for naturalism, which is the belief that nothing is real if it cannot be studied by the physical sciences, including psychology, and which Dworkin believes would thus exclude living well, justice or beauty. Dworkin also rejects what he calls ‘grounded realism', which is the thesis that values are real and value judgments can be objectively true, but only if we have other grounds for believing them to be true, grounds that do not themselves depend on our own confidence in our value judgments. In other words, Dworkin believes that the world of value judgments is self-contained and self validating and, as a defence for this position, he argues that there is no finally non-circular way to certify our capacity to find truth of any kind in any intellectual domain, including the truths of mathematics and science. What Dworkin calls ‘grounded realism' is a common philosophical position and is sometimes used to justify belief in the existence of God. The ‘five ways' of Thomas Aquinas are one such example. Dworkin regards the matter of arguments for the existence of a deity as a separate matter from arguments to for the existence of intrinsic value—and believes that such grounds are never sufficient.
If we were to place Dworkin's account of ‘religion without God' within the framework of the two polar orientations of intimacy and integrity, as expounded by Thomas Kasulis, it would fall firmly on the ‘universalist' side of the ‘integrity' pole, along with the ethical theories of Aristotle and, especially, Kant. Dworkin offers a philosophical defence of a position that affects all cultures and all individuals within these cultures. The traditional marks of religious beliefs, which are religious practices carried out in a community of believers, are in a different category. These believers might assume the truth of Dworkin's ‘religious attitude', on the basis of an examination of the grounds for making value judgments, but would probably never make any separation of faith in absolute value—which Dworkin believes is self-validating—from faith in a divine source of value—which he believes is not.
Dworkin's religion without God is thus rather different from the Japanese religion as espoused by Morihei Ueshiba. There is no evidence that either Ueshiba or Onisaburo Deguchi ever considered the deontological universalizable moral position of Kant, even though Omoto is a very eclectic religion and Deguchi borrowed from Christian sources in building his theology. Ueshiba's theological view seems much closer to the concept of ‘common religion', as explained by Ian Reader and George Tanabe. This concept is a concept designed to apply equally to Buddhism, which has no God, to Shinto, which has an indefinite number, and to a new religion like Omoto, whose god is an amalgam of everyone else's. The concept of ‘common religion' needs to be examined in greater detail.
Japanese ‘Common Religion'
When I wrote the earlier Aikido Journal articles, I believed there were significant differences between the typical Japanese conception of religion and religious activity (the two are not quite the same) and my own. Since I was born and brought up in England in a traditionalist Roman Catholic family, this is a conception that I suppose could be called ‘typically Western'. Certainly, the earlier articles in Aikido Journal expressed a measure of surprise that aikido should be connected with religion—any religion—in any way at all, since it was a martial art or way: a set of what one may loosely term waza [業 or 技: often translated as ‘techniques', but not by any means restricted to these], designed primarily to achieve the happy outcome of an attacker or attackers being unable or unwilling to continue attacking. Now, after over thirty years of living here, a subtle blending of values has taken place, but I am still aware of the differences and the belief has been buttressed not merely by all the material I have read concerning Japanese religion over these years, but also on conversations with many Japanese colleagues and friends. These friends and colleagues constitute a living laboratory for the testing of hypotheses about Japanese culture. I also believe that these differences are crucial when considering Morihei Ueshiba and aikido and, especially, when a postwar practitioner of aikido like myself (Japanese or non-Japanese) has to face the question of the similarities or the major differences between the aikido that Morihei Ueshiba practiced (which certainly included his own religious beliefs) and her/his own.
The differences sketched above are the focus of a study of Japanese ‘common religion'. In the introduction to their book, Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan, Ian Reader and George Tanabe Jr. discuss the views of other scholars about Japanese religion. They take to task an approach exemplified by two views of religion. The two views are basically anthropological views, largely concerning ritual practices and customs based on fieldwork, and theological views concerning beliefs and doctrines and based on an examination of written literature. We have already considered the first view, in the research of Geert Hofstede and Takie Sugiyama Lebra. The fieldwork done by Lebra in Japan is combined with an evangelical approach towards Nihonjinron that detracts from the clear merits of her analysis of the four zones omote / ura and uchi / soto. The basis for her arguments is less clear than the extensive research undertaken by Hofstede and recorded in works like Culture's Consequences. However, both discuss religious beliefs and practices as cultural anthropologists. The second view is related to the missionizing activities of nineteenth century Christianity—of great importance in Japan, which was concerned to differentiate between concepts of true and false religion and by spreading ‘true' religion, to reject what it saw as falsehood and superstition.
"While academic studies of religion have in many ways moved beyond the narrow theological parameters of the nineteenth century and now recognize the importance of practice and ritual, they have not always managed to resolve the problems created by early conceptualization of ‘religion' within a basically Christian theological framework. Indeed, such is the concern over the potential theological (and culture-specific) implications that some scholars have begun to question the applicability of the term to non-Western cultures: since the term relates to creeds, beliefs, teachings, and doctrines, it is inappropriate as a term of analysis for situations where customs, practices, and other ritual actions may be the means of expressing underlying meanings that do not need affirmation in doctrinal forms." (Reader & Tanabe, Practically Religious, p. 4.)
Reader and Tanabe do not share this view and note the irony that scholars question the applicability of the term ‘religion' to Japanese practices, because of its doctrinal, theological orientation, when the Japanese term for their own religious practices [宗教: shuukyou] was coined in the nineteenth century to denote just such doctrinal, theological orientation.
The view that Japanese religion somehow does not fit the pattern of what a proper religion should be like appears to be held by two eminent scholars of Japanese studies. Edwin Reischauer and Marius Jansen have written a best-selling book about Japan that has gone into several editions and is still widely available. The Japanese Today: Change and Continuity has a chapter devoted to religion and the conclusion is that,
"‘Clearly, religion in contemporary Japan is not central to society and culture.' It is not just the new religions, but all the other traditions as well, that either fail the test of being a real religion, or, if they qualify, as Christianity does, have only a small number of adherents. Reischauer and Jansen admit the prevalence of superstitious folk beliefs and the popularity of a wide variety of visible institutions and rituals, but they count little of this for true religion since 70 or 80 percent of Japanese do not profess to believe in any religion. Most of the elements of real religion are seen to be missing: there is no faithful affirmation of teachings that provide guidance in life."
"The view of Reischauer and Jansen that ‘religion in Japan offers a confused and indistinct picture' results, however, from their expectations of what is a real religion rather than any understanding of the actualities of Japanese religion." (Reader & Tanabe, ibid., pp. 6-7, quoting from the final paragraph of Chapter 19, in Edwin O Reischauer and Marius B Jansen, The Japanese Today, p. 215.)
The context of the discussion by Reader and Tanabe is an accusation sometimes leveled against the ‘new' religions, including Omoto. The accusation is that these religions pay too much attention to the acquisition of this-worldly benefits, such as wealth and good fortune. The accusation makes an assumption about Japanese religion that is similar to the assumption made by Reischauer and Jansen about religion in general. ‘Real' religions, like Buddhism, Shinto and Christianity, are more concerned with other-worldly benefits, whereas the ‘new' religions delude the faithful with superstitious and magical practices dishonestly claimed to increase this-worldly benefits. In rebutting this accusation, Ian Reader and George Tanabe are concerned with defining and explaining the importance of what they call ‘common religion': the core elements that are shared by all Japanese religions and religious practices, new and established alike, especially with regard to benefits available in this world [genze ryaku: 現世利益], as well as the benefits or otherwise believed to occur in the next one.
What is ‘common' about Japanese ‘Common Religion'?
As a first step to clarifying their concept of ‘common religion', Reader and Tanabe present a wide spectrum of phenomena that are covered by the general Japanese term for ‘religion' [shuukyou: 宗教], as understood by contemporary Japanese scholars: this-worldly benefits, rituals, spirit possession, asceticism, taboos, pilgrimages, wandering ascetics, folk legends, miracle stories, shamanism, the role of the deities in dealing with sickness and good fortune, levels of faith and belief, observance of calendrical rituals and festivals, memorial visits to graves and New Year visits to shrines and temples, the purchase of amulets and other lucky charms, visits to diviners, attitudes towards spirits, and the potential incidence of miracles. (Compiled from the lists presented by various scholars and given by Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., p. 5.) Alhough there is clearly a very sharp and vivid awareness of nature, one thing missing is anything like Dworkin's rather abstract idea of religion as a belief in absolute value.
There is a similar ambiguity about the terms ‘belief' and ‘believer'. In aikido literature, a certain shihan was described as ‘coming from a family of Omoto believers', but it is not clear what this actually means. One can ask to what extent the term relates to matters of doctrine, in the way that ‘religion' was considered above to belong exclusively to creeds and doctrines. The Japanese verb is shinjiru [信じる] and the cognate nouns are shinkou [信仰] or shinpou [信奉], with ‘believers' usually referred to as shinja [信者], shintou [信徒], or shinpousha [信奉者]. In a previous column I quoted from Japanese texts that used some of these terms to describe Morihei Ueshiba as an ‘Omoto believer'. The term does indeed have cognitive content.
"Belief as intellectual understanding, thought, or knowledge is based on doctrines or teachings—as when we say, for instance, that the ideas of dependent origination or karma are Buddhist beliefs. The emphasis here is on some kind of content that is cognitive in nature and that can therefore be explained and discussed in the mode of theology or its secular counterpart philosophy." (Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., p. 129.)
However, Reader & Tanabe go to great lengths to emphasize the affective nature of shinkou, using the term employed by Kasulis to describe one aspect of ‘intimate' knowledge. The affective nature of belief is also crucial to any account of Japanese beliefs and believers. Reader & Tanabe give the following account.
"The content of this affective belief can be described and even cognized at a primitive level but not rationally explained since it is mostly of a mythic and magical world of pure lands, hells, gods and demons. … It is also a world of sincerity and feeling. When deities are the ‘objects' of faith (such as Kannon shinkou), it is affective belief that is at work, although subsequent explanations of Kannon can be systematic and rational enough to approach cognitive belief." (Reader & Tanabe, ibid.)
Reader and Tanabe argue that this distinction between cognitive and affective belief is "forced and artificial", but also useful in explaining the very common Japanese practice of people visiting shrines and temples and buying amulets and fortune slips, but also denying that they ‘believe' in them. I myself encounter this very often with my own students, who will in all sincerity visit a shrine to pray for success in university entrance examinations, or to find a good girlfriend or boyfriend—the shrine being carefully chosen for the special power of the deity enshrined there—and even buy a votive tablet [ema: 絵馬], adorned with the appropriate request addressed to the deity directly, while also denying that they believe in the practice.
"It is not necessary to believe cognitively that a ritual utterance can cause a cure in order to be affectively sincere in prayer. The distinction between affective and cognitive is difficult to maintain since feeling and thought are intertwined. Yet without such a differentiation it would be even more difficult to explain how it is that people use amulets sincerely without believing in them. We state again: they use them affectively but not cognitively." (Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., p. 130.)
Reader and Tanabe cite the author of a popular goriyaku guidebook who discusses shinkou purely in terms of obtaining benefits [goriyaku: 御利益: ‘esteemed benefits': goryaku guidebooks list all the benefits available from temples and shrines—a wide variety of online versions, suitable for all types of cell phones and smartphones and using the latest software, is also available]. Relevant activities include action [koui: 行為], ritual [girei: 儀礼], making trips to temples [tabi: 旅], practice / training [shugyou: 修業/修行], pilgrimage [junrei: 巡礼], and secluding oneself for prayer [komori: 籠り]. (Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., p. 131, citing a paper by the Buddhist scholar Nakao Takashi, 中尾堯「永遠の安らぎの援」). As an ‘Omoto believer', Morihei Ueshiba pursued all these activities and also regarded some of them as part and parcel of his martial arts training.
Reader and Tanabe offer a working description of ‘common religion', which displays the following characteristics:
1. Common acceptance of various spiritual entities, such as gods (kami) and buddhas, as well as ancestral spirits and spirits of powerful humans who have become deities after death. The assumption here is that such spirits have power, for example, to give success and protection to the living, and that requesting such success and protection is fundamental and highly ethical.
2. Various teachings expressed in the major scriptural traditions that have shaped Japanese religious history—notably Buddhism, its textual traditions, and the doctrinal formulations they have imparted, but also Shinto and the mythic structures and ideas it has propagated.
3. Liturgical systems and ritual practices that have in many cases been formulated at the elite level of the temples and shrines by the ordained priesthoods, but have themselves played a major role in producing the patterns of worship and practice expressed among ordinary and not-so-ordinary people. (Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., pp. 29-30.)
Reader and Tanabe also emphasize the importance of the practice of seeking this-worldly benefits and conclude that Japanese ‘common religion' provides an "open-access, total-care system for its members." The three elements of this description warrant further explanation.
The "members" include all Japanese, but, of course, there are Japanese who do not take part in any of the calendrical rituals, prayers and petitions, or belong to exclusivist religious groups, Reader and Tanabe argue that most Japanese do participate in the year-round events, from viewing the first sunrise of the year and the first shrine visit [初日の出: hatsuhinode and 初詣: hatsumoude], to festivals and tourist visits to temples and shrines. When they do so, they also offer prayers for benefits. (This view also reflects the activities of my own Japanese students.) Non-Japanese, of course, are not automatically excluded. For example, yaku-doshi [厄年: ‘critical' year] is traditionally believed to be a potentially ‘unlucky' time of one's life. The ages vary, but I was informed that it is around 33 for a woman and around 40 for a man. In my 40th year, I was urged by a Japanese friend to be sure to visit a shrine, if only as a kind of insurance. I did so and passed through the year unscathed.
The accessibility of this ‘common religion' to everybody is also reflected in the phrase "open- access". No prior commitment or affiliation is required as a condition: anyone may go to a shrine or temple and offer prayers to any deity for any purpose whatsoever. In addition, the level of interaction with the deity or the degree of commitment is entirely a matter for the visitor or supplicant.
Finally, the "total-care system" is also a ‘system'. It ensures that every individual need is catered for at all the stages of one's life. It is truly ‘total-care'.
"The baby who is blessed and placed under the protection of the local gods may grow into a child needing help at examination times throughout his or her academic career; into an adult seeking a good spouse, suitable job, and healthy children; and into a senior citizen, wanting, perhaps, to beseech one of the Buddhist figures of worship, such as Kannon, for help in avoiding senility and getting a swift, painless and merciful death. Besides such life-cycle activities, there are also calendrical festivals and ritual occasions that provide scope and structure for petitions and prayers, as well as facilities for individuals to visit and petition deities in relation to their needs at the time. It is program that covers one from cradle to grave.
"By ‘system' we are referring to a vast array of places and practices that offer the individual as well as the community avenues for dealing with every need, concern, worry, and aspiration, as well as the underlying principles, ethics, and dynamics inherent within the pursuit of practical benefits. By calling is a ‘system' we also indicate that although it is broad, flexible and innovative, the common religion of this-worldly benefits is not amorphous and ill-defined but takes shape in distinct … ways that make it possible … to describe it with precision." (Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., pp. 31-32.)
AikiWeb readers can decide for themselves the extent to which this view of Japanese common religion is similar or different to their own views or experience of any ‘common religion' tied to their own culture. Reader and Tanabe give the example of Christian beliefs, especially Catholic Christianity. The is quite a good choice, since Catholicism certainly offers a ‘total care system', with cognitive belief in a triune god and cognitive or affective belief in a vast army of supporting angels and saints, an extensive scriptural tradition, a complex liturgy and other rituals, believed to have value over and above their performance, and prayers. However, since it requires baptism to reap the full benefits, it is not really ‘open access'. Reader and Tanabe use the version of Catholic Christianity as seen by the historian Eamon Duffy. Duffy is a historian specializing in mediaeval church history and has written extensively on popular religion in England during the period before the Protestant Reformation. In his earliest work, The Stripping of the Altars, Duffy argued that there was no real gulf between the ‘elite' religion of the clergy and the ‘popular' religion of the people, for both alike primarily relied on liturgy and ritual. Reader and Tanabe make a similar argument with respect to Japanese religion in general and take as an example the case of pilgrimages to places like Kumano (a favored destination of Heian aristocrats and retired emperors).
"Social circumstances produce different manifestations of the need for benefits and divine support: they do not produce different types of religion. Despite the differing requests of the rich and poor, the elite and the common, the pursuit of benefit unites all. The elite pray for benefits just as do the ordinary people. To insert concepts of differentiation based on elite versus ordinary categories of people (in social and economic terms) is spurious. … The ideology of convergence (that all pilgrims were the same, all equal, when wearing their common pilgrims' robes) is prevalent in Japanese pilgrimage even if there remain important distinctions between them in practice. Pilgrimage thus serves as a good example of the unifying dynamics of the religion of practical benefits: it provides a means through which all can seek the benefits pertinent to their situation in a common setting." (Reader & Tanabe, op.cit., p. 25.)
The account of ‘common religion' presented above is very general and needs to be supplemented by further discussion of how it is manifested in Buddhism and Shinto and especially in the Omoto religion. The next essay will deal more specifically with Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and activities.
‘Common Religion' and Bowing in the Dojo
During a recent international gathering in Tanabe, the birthplace of Morihei Ueshiba, an aikido demonstration was held at the Shinto shrine in Kumano. The demonstration in Kumano was similar to the demonstration held every year in April at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama. The name for such a demonstration is hounou enbu [奉納演武: demonstration as an offering to the deities of the shrine]. I myself perform a similar demonstration at a local shrine in Hiroshima during the shrine festival. If the issues involved in bowing or not bowing in the dojo are seen in the context of ‘common religion' as expounded by Ian Reader and George Tanabe, such a demonstration could be seen as a ritual expressing affective belief, not necessarily cognitive belief, and I myself perform the demonstration in Hiroshima without any cognitive belief in the deities enshrined there. However, some were unable to participate in the Tanabe demonstration, on the grounds that a hounou enbu was more of a religious ceremony than, for example, a demonstration in a university aikido dojo, where bowing is seen merely as one example of a very common Japanese mark of respect, entirely unconnected with any deities. The organizers accepted this, but without really being able to comprehend the religious attitude expressed.
More recently, I gave a lecture at Kogakkan University, which is one of Japan's centers for training Shinto priests. The following day I was given a special tour of the Grand Shrines of Ise, which involved seeing parts of the shrines to which the general public are not usually admitted. I was expected to perform the rituals of bowing at the shrine gate, purifying with water, bowing and clapping at the shrines, but also to perform these correctly—and was given detailed explanations about how to do this by my guide, who was a professor at Kogakkan University. Not to have followed his instructions precisely would have been highly disrespectful and an abuse of the hospitality given by my hosts. However, the shrines and the precincts were thronged with Japanese visitors, but very few Japanese performed the rituals as accurately as I did. Some did not know how to do so and obviously did not consider it necessary to learn, but all without exception performed the important rituals of purifying with water, bowing, clapping, and also joining hands and at least going through the motions of praying.
So far, I have examined three different ways of approaching the general cultural background of Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices. The first was an account of the ‘cultural logic' held by one scholar to underlie the Japanese concept of self. The second was an account of two contrasting knowledge orientations, intimacy and integrity, held by another scholar to underlie cultural differences particularly relevant to Japan. The third was a discussion of the important notion of ‘common religion', held by two other scholars to underlie Japanese religious beliefs and practices. In fact, if one thinks of Takie Sugiyama Lebra's ‘cultural logic' as one defining layer in the Japanese concept of religion, and the notion of intimacy discussed by Thomas Kasulis as another, the notion of ‘common religion', as explained by Ian Reader and George Tanabe, can be seen as yet a third layer, which is more specific to religion than to culture in general. The layers are not separate, however, and it is very likely that we shall see Lebra's concept of ‘contingency logic' and the cultural orientation of ‘intimacy' present in the background, as Morihei Ueshiba's religious beliefs and practices are considered in more detail in the next part of this essay).
Further Reading General
Thomas Kasulis has written two books that are relevant to this column. The first, discussed in detail, is about the philosophy of comparative culture. The second, to be discussed in Part 3 of this essay, deals with Shinto: Thomas Kasulis, Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference, 2002, U of Hawai‘i P., Shinto: The Way Home, 2004, U of Hawai‘i P.
Ronald Dworkin's book had not been published when I wrote this column. The first part, however, was serialized in the New York Review of Books.
The book about ‘common religion' that is discussed in this column is written by two well-known specialists in Japanese culture: Ian Reader and George J Tanabe Jr., Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan, 1998, U of Hawai‘i P.
Full details of the book by Reischauer & Jansen discussed by Reader & Tanabe are: Edwin O Reischauer and Marius B Jansen, The Japanese Today: Change and Continuity, Enlarged Edition, 2005, Tuttle.
For those who wish to explore persuasion and its role in ancient Greek rhetoric, there are a number of seminal works, excluding those dealing with Aristotle directly: Ian Worthington (Ed.), Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action, 1994, Routledge; Richard Jenkyns, The Victorians and Ancient Greece, 1981, Blackwell; Gary Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America, 2006, Simon & Schuster.
Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations are best read with a commentary—for the same reasons that Morihei Ueshiba's discourses are in need of one: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, The German Text with an English Commentary by G E M Anscombe, P M S Hacker and Joachim Schulte, Revised 4th edition by P M S Hacker and Joachim Schulte, 2009, Wiley-Blackwell; Garth Hallett, A Companion to Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations", 1977, Cornell U P. The multi-volume commentary by G P Baker and P M S Hacker is the standard here, with the third volume dealing with language, pain and other sensations, and the self: P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Meaning and Mind, Volume 3 of an Analytical Commentary of the Philosophical Investigations, 1990, Blackwell.
Some indication of the recent research on metaphor can be seen from three seminal works, all with extensive bibliographies: Andrew Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and Thought, Second Edition, 1993, Cambridge U P; Lynne Cameron and Graham Low (Eds.), Researching and Applying Metaphor, 1999, Cambridge Applied Linguistics, Cambridge U P; Raymond W Gibbs Jr. (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, 2008, Cambridge U P. More specifically philosophical issues are discussed by Samuel Guttenplan: Objects of Metaphor, 2005, Oxford U P, and in three studies by Zoltán Kövecses: Metaphor: A Practical Introduction, 2002, Oxford U P; Metaphor and Emotion: Language, Culture, and Body in Human Feeling, 2003, Cambridge U P; Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation, 2005, Cambridge U P.
Eamon Duffy's works on popular religion in mediaeval England now include: The Stripping of the Altars, 1995, Second Edition, 2005, Yale U P; The Voices of Morebath, 2003, Yale U P; Marking the Hours, 2011, Yale U P.
Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 7th dan Aikikai, Emeritus Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Unlike the previous TIE columns, there isn't a link to a PDF version of the latest column (TIE 24). Do you know if that will become available in the near future?
Your columns, like any of the best scholarship, really require that I read them slowly and thoughtfully...and I was trained as an academic in the 1980's, which means that for slow reading I prefer printed rather than electronic.
In the discussion under the main heading on the top page of AikiWeb ("June Columns Now Available") Jun has added a note to the effect that the PDF files will be available shortly.
Actually, I have a collection of PDF files of my own columns, in addition to the MS Word versions, for I use Word when writing the columns. Given the length and style of the columns I, too, appreciate the PDF version.
P A Goldsbury
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 06-29-2013 at 05:54 PM.
P A Goldsbury
Your columns, like any of the best scholarship, really require that I read them slowly and thoughtfully...and I was trained as an academic in the 1980's, which means that for slow reading I prefer printed rather than electronic.
FWIW under column tools there is an option for "Printer friendly version" (or something like that). I use that to print a hard copy myself. Works fine.
Thank you for another wonderful column.
Towards the end of the piece, you write about certain people not wishing to participate in the Hounou Embu at Kumano. I gather that these people were non-Japanese, but I just wanted to make sure.
Keep up the good work!
I should probably add to my last short post that the matter of the demonstration in Tanabe was a very clear and recent example of the issues discussed in this column. What was striking to me, also, was the lack of mutual comprehension also displayed: neither side appeared to be able to imagine the possibility that the other side had a different viewpoint.
P A Goldsbury