Charles Hill wrote:
I hope you don't mind me asking a few questions based on your reply to Russ.
Do you pursue "other spiritual practices which O'Sensei pursued?" If you do, how did you learn them?
Also, you wrote that you've seen little evidence that just practicing technique without also practicing the other spiritual practices results in "that sort of spiritual insight." Does this mean that you have seen evidence of a more integrated practice resulting in spiritual insight? If you have, could you write about it?
I personally have not to any serious degree developed an internal practice to augment my Aikido. At some point in the future I would like to do so. But the demands of raising a bunch of kids and running my own dojo has proven to be about as much as I could handle. As the kids get older this is something I intend to pursue.
The person with whom I am directly familiar who has developed a practice which most directly resembles what O-sensei did himself is the Rev. Koichi Barrish. He has become the only American Shrine Shinto Priest. He presides over a shrine just North of the Seattle area. Kannagara Jinja
Now I personally feel that Shinto doesn't travel well outside of Japan in that it is very culurally specific but I admire Rev. Barrish's efforts to make his practicecoincide with the Founder's so closely.
I have a number of friends who augment their practice with serious Zen training. William Gleason Sensei is one who immediately comes to mind. If I do get the chance to work out a solo internal practice it will probably be Buddhist meditation, either Zen or Vipassana.
The people whom I know that have some sort of internal solo practice to augment their mat time see to have a much deeper appreciation of the spiritual side of the art then those that don't. Whether any of them get "Enlightened" would be hard to say. Who would certify them? But from the standpoint of getting a picture of the art which is perhaps closer to O-Sensei's viewpoint I think some sort of internal practice is necessary. Certainly the Founder himself put more time each day on his misogi practice and prayer than he did on actual martial practice.
This is not to say that one has to do this. I think it is quite possible to develop a wonderful Aikido pratice without doing this. But I do not feel that one can understand Aikido as O-Sensei envisioned it without duplicating in some way the type of spiritual training he went through.