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Old 06-20-2006, 09:34 PM   #1
Boontom
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Question Spirituality

Hi, im interested in knowing, just what is the spiritual side of Aikido? I am a Christian, I dont plan to totally switch my beliefs, but to learn and understand the beliefs of the spiritual side of Aikido. I also believe that understanding the spiritual side will help build a level of maturity and respect for Aikido greater than I have now. I have heard of a belief that all people have chi which is energy from within, and everything has it, kinda like the force, from what I understood when I was told about this. I am unsure whether chi is something I believe in or not. If someone could explain for me the spiritual side of Aikido then that would be great.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:59 PM   #2
statisticool
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Re: Spirituality

From what I understand from The Spirit of Aikido, by Kiss. Ueshiba, aikido is a physical expression of yin and yang with its omote and ura movements.

From studying tai chi ch'uan, which also has emphasis on yin and yang, I came across a few books comparing Jesus to tai chi (tai chi is the Chinese name for the yin-yang symbol) which you may enjoy reading. I don't recall titles for these books, but you may be able to find them in a search.


Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 06-20-2006, 10:15 PM   #3
statisticool
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Re: Spirituality

Also, non-aggression and non-violence are emphasized, which are typically emphasized in religions.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 06-21-2006, 01:18 AM   #4
Boontom
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Re: Spirituality

I see, I am very unfamiliar in the asian/eastern religions, Im going to learn as much as I can, I wont worship the religion's gods, but i can still learn about them.
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Old 06-21-2006, 04:27 AM   #5
Mark Uttech
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Re: Spirituality

Training in mindfulness (constant awareness) is a moving meditation and actually reinforces
whatever religious belief you have. If you are a Christian, it makes you a better Christian, etc.
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Old 06-21-2006, 06:13 AM   #6
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Spirituality

You might try: The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido, by William Gleason

Rob
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Old 06-21-2006, 06:33 AM   #7
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Justin Smith wrote:
Also, non-aggression and non-violence are emphasized, which are typically emphasized in religions.
Do not agree. Aggression and violence are part of our human nature. People use religion as a justification for thier aggression and violence. Spiritualty is the personal relationship with that which is greater than you and religion is the organized whorship of your spirituality. You do not need to be any particuliar religious belief to study and understand Aikido because the ideas of peace, love, compassion for your fellow humans, etc is prevelant in all the major religions/philosophies whether they are of eastern or western origin.

Please excuse any mispelling, spell checker was not working.

Last edited by dps : 06-21-2006 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 06-21-2006, 06:48 AM   #8
Nick Pagnucco
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Re: Spirituality

I would recommend the blogs of Ellis Amdur on Aikido Journal... especially the "Aikido is Three Peaches" series. These are a good primer on what O-sensei's view of aikido was. (Not the end words, but a good beginning

Keep in mind that 'spirituality' in aikido is a very diverse thing. O-sensei was a member of a neo-shinto sect, and he happily mixes jargon from several different religions to make his point. As he doesn't always explain where he's getting this jargon, his writings often can look a tad... well, nuts to a western reader. But despite his religious beliefs, O-sensei never insisted it was a shinto art or something.

Other Japanese aikidoka, like Chiba Shihan, link aikido to Zen, and they do just fine. And others, like Shioda Koncho, were atheists and they did just fine too. My sensei, a 6th dan, is a deacon of his church (and his wife is the pastor).

Even more varied than what people think constitutes 'good aikido technique' and what people think constitutes 'proper aikido philosophy.'

oh, and dont worry about 'believing in ki.' what ki is and is not is an even more confusing argument.
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Old 06-21-2006, 07:01 AM   #9
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:

oh, and dont worry about 'believing in ki.' what ki is and is not is an even more confusing argument.
And could lead to another thread of over a thousand posts. Not a pretty thing.
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:09 AM   #10
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

There are many riches of spirit to be found in Aikido for those willing to seek them, whether Christian or otherwise. I will suggest a few things and sources here to further your interest

The words of the founder regarding Christianity are appropriate here, given your initial post. André Nocquet studied with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, in1955 as uchi-deshi ("live-in student"). Noquet later became president of the European Aikido Federation. He recounts this in Aiki News #85 (Summer 1990):
Quote:
Nocquet wrote:
Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect. I asked him one day if there wasn't a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my Aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian.
Kotodama is perhaps the most arcane, and least understood element of O-Sensei's spiritual practice related to Aikido, especialyl for Westerners since it is intricately interwoven into the structure of Japanese as a language system. Kotodama is a native Shinto system of devotional or spiritual practice attributing metaphysical action to word-sounds (kotodama="word-spirit") I agree that Sensei Gleason's book is perhaps the best attempt to lay out these ideas for the Western reader. Peter Goldsbury's article "Touching the Absolute" cited bleow is also helpful.

Kotodama has both analogous (similar in form) as well as homologous (similar in origin) connection to the pagan and Christian idea of Logos, through Shingon ("True Word") Buddhism and the Silk Road, as O-Sensei himself acknowledged in "Takemusu-Aiki: Aikido-Kaiso-Ueshiba-Morihei-Sensei-Kojutsu," Hideo Takahashi, ed., 1976, p. 86; attributed and translated by Peter Goldsbury, "Touching the Absolute: Aikido vs. Religion and Philosophy" Aiki Journal, http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=2.:
Quote:
Takemusu Aiki wrote:
""Kirisuto ga ‘hajme ni kotoba ariki' to itta sono kotodama ga SU de arimasu. Sore ga kotodama no hajimari de aru." (‘In the beginning was the Word', spoken by Christ is this kotodama SU. This is the origin of kotodama.)"
Lastly, you should consider the significance of O-Sensei's Doka "Songs of the Way" that illustrate in poetical or epigraphic form important principles about aikido and it pracitce and applciation ot larger concerns. A convenient source for the pre-war and post-war doka can be found here: http://www.aikidofaq.com/doka.html

Notable for the devout Christian, especially in light of the connections between the practice of kotodama and the idea of Logos are these Doka (with romaji and English translation according to John Stevens "The Essence of Aikido"):
Quote:
John Stevens -The Essence of Aikido wrote:
Chihayaburu
kami no shikumi no
aiki ju
hachidairiki no
kami no samuhara

Brave and intrepid,
the cross of harmony (love)
is an instrument of kami
Utilize the Eight Great Powers
the Divine Plan [for regeneration]

Uruwashiki
konoametsuchi no
misugata wa
nushi no tsukurishi
ikka narikeri

How beautiful,
this form of
heaven and earth --
all created by the Lord,
we are members of one family.
(Stevens notes that the kanji read as "Lord" is also the root kotodama "SU")
Quote:
John Stevens -The Essence of Aikido wrote:
Su no mioya
shiai no kokoro
ōmisora
yo no itonami no
moto no narinuru

SU, Exalted Father
with a heart of love
as vast as the sky--
it is the source of all that
functions in this world.
The Aikido FAQ version ( which is the translation of Abe Sensei) has this:
Quote:
AikidoFAQ:Doka wrote:
The spiritual essence of the Heavens and Earth
Congealing becomes the Way of the Cross-Shape +
Harmony and Joy make up the Floating Bridge
That binds this world together.
I will leave you to ponder the significance of this in light of traditional Christian theology.

Lastly, I leave you with these doka from the two sources I have given, which despite my ecumenical gloss, is the true heart of O-Sensei's teaching, and the only thing you really need to know to embrace the spiritual richness of aikido:
Quote:
The Essence of Aikido wrote:
Kōjō wa
hiji mo keiko mo
araba koso
gokui nozomuna
mae zo mietari.

Progress comes to
those who train in the
inner and outer factors.
Do not chase after "secret techniques,"
for everything is right before your eyes!
Quote:
AikidoFAQ: Doka wrote:
In these teachings listen most
To the rhythm of the strike and thrust
To train in the basics (omote)
Is to practice the very secrets of the art.
Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-21-2006 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:22 AM   #11
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Spirituality

David,
I recommend the Spirit of Aikido. Most things written about spirituality in Aikido and the philosophy of Aikido are very confusing to the western reader. It would take an education in eastern philosophy to understand them. I have found the Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba the easiest and most concise thing to read. I have read it once a year since I have been in this art and every year, it makes more and more sense. This year, since I have so many new students, I am planning a Sunday discussion class on it which we have done in the past. I am working on a study guide for the book that will be available for free in a few weeks to any one who wants one. It's what I will give my students for the Sunday class we are having. I am doing this especially for my students because I have become convinced that practicing the form of Aikido without understanding what the Founder intended its meaning to be will quickly cease being Aikido. It's the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training.
Best wishes,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:40 AM   #12
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Excellent post Eric.

Jorge, you are absolutely right, just as you need to understand the teachings of Jesus to practice Christianity,you need to understand the teachings of O'Sensei to practice Aikido.

Without the spirituality you are only practicing Aikido techniques.
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Old 06-21-2006, 12:06 PM   #13
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Do not agree. Aggression and violence are part of our human nature. People use religion as a justification for their aggression and violence. Spirituality is the personal relationship with that which is greater than you and religion is the organized worship of your spirituality. You do not need to be any particular religious belief to study and understand Aikido because the ideas of peace, love, compassion for your fellow humans, etc is prevalent in all the major religions/philosophies whether they are of eastern or western origin.

Please excuse any misspelling, spell checker was not working.
I've never heard a better (nor more simple) explanation for spirituality and religion than this. Often I've said I am spiritual but not religious and people look at me like I have a toaster on my head, they can't fathom the concept. Do you mind if I use it?

I enjoyed Tom Brown Jr's book "Awakening Spirits", I found it does a good job at explaining spirituality and religion. There is a physical world and a spiritual world (heaven, nirvana etc..) Different religions are simply different paths someone takes when attempting to travel from the physical world to the spiritual world. All religions are basically the same. There is often a savor or "be that guy"type figure. We do different practices to make us closer to the spiritual world- praying, singing in a church, fasting, dancing around a fire, sweat lodges, washing out feet, vows of celibacy, chastity and poverty. All different gimmicks (though thats probably a poor choice of words) to help us reach the spiritual world/heaven.

Like David points out, spirituality is believing in something greater, and religion is the organized worship. I'm not religious at all and I always thought it was either you believe in God or you don't. Reading up on Aikido and the spirituality behind it I've come to realize it's not just black or white and it's possible to believe in something greater without having to sign up for a specific religion.

You don't need to switch anything Boontom don't worry
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Old 06-21-2006, 01:33 PM   #14
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Spirituality

Grant I agree, to me, it is not black or white too! I am one of those non-religous spritual types. Try to not be defined by a dogma or creed other than love, happiness, or compassion.
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Old 06-21-2006, 01:47 PM   #15
Don_Modesto
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
I have found the Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba the easiest and most concise thing to read.
Bearing in mind that it may be quite far afield of what the founder himself intended. Recall that it fell to UK to jettison Osensei's spirituality from the art in order to make it more palatable to GHQ.

As for myself, the single clearest explication of aikido morality, if not spirituality, per se, that I've found is Saotome's Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.

After that, what really gave me the right perspetive for understanding Osensei's cryptic comments were Abe's Weaving the Mantra and several articles by such scholars as Alan Gappard, Fabio Rambelli, et al.

FWIW, and that may not be much, I tend to think that the spirituality Osensei intended aikido to embody is pretty much dead, dessicated, and blown away. We aiki folk like to babble about it, but over and against the living entity it was for the founder, aikido spirituality is pretty bleak indeed.

Then again, it is ever the project of the practitioner to vivify his art, so caveat emptor.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 06-21-2006, 01:52 PM   #16
Don_Modesto
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
...just as you need to understand the teachings of Jesus to practice Christianity,you need to understand the teachings of O'Sensei to practice Aikido.
Ya think?!

Kisshomaru wasn't too enthusiastic about Stanley Pranin delving into the life and times of his father, so it seems he actively didn't want us to understand the teachings of the founder.

Still, he has been the leading cheerleader of aikido to date.

Who'da thunk it?

Don J. Modesto
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Old 06-21-2006, 04:03 PM   #17
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Don

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:

Jorge, you are absolutely right, just as you need to understand the teachings of Jesus to practice Christianity,you need to understand the teachings of O'Sensei to practice Aikido.
Maybe I should of wrote" just as you need to understand the teachings of Jesus to practice the Christianity he taught, you need to understand the teachings of O'Sensei to practice the Aikido he taught."

What the followers of Jesus taught was not exactly what he himself taught (the same could be said for any religion). I believe what Jesus taught is not what is practiced under the names of Christianity we have today.
Similar to what is happening to what O'Sensei taught as Aikido?

David
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Old 06-21-2006, 04:46 PM   #18
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Grant Wagar wrote:
Do you mind if I use it?
I do not mind at all.
I wear a white Hamilton Beach/ Proctor Silex Model #22450 two slice toaster.
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Old 06-21-2006, 05:01 PM   #19
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
FWIW, and that may not be much, I tend to think that the spirituality Osensei intended aikido to embody is pretty much dead, dessicated, and blown away. We aiki folk like to babble about it, but over and against the living entity it was for the founder, aikido spirituality is pretty bleak indeed.

Then again, it is ever the project of the practitioner to vivify his art, so caveat emptor.
It is said that O-Sensei performed Chinkon Kishin as the beginning of his every practice, which most dojos incorporate in their own warmups to some degree.

Has it not occurred to anyone else, that O-Sensei's Chinkon Kishin did not stop a the beginning of practice, but at its end?

As he said (which I quoted above and I believe from my own experience), the whole spirituality of aikido lives, breathes and is communicated in the movement of the body that we practice.
Not only is O-Sensei's spirituality not dead -- it has been practiced and transmitted everyday, around the world, continuously for the forty-odd years since his death.

The orthodox Christian beleives that the Divine has identified with the mundane, and thus redeemed it of death. The orthodox Jew believes that a human being's role is a divine mandate (mitzvah) of "tikkun" -- repair of the world. Shinto teaches that Heaven and Earth are ultimately One. O-Sensei taught that human spirits may become part of the "Floating Bridge" connecting them -- neither part wholly of the one nor yet wholly of the other but connecting them both.

Remember this the next time you are doing tenchi-nage, and tell me that the spirtuality of aikido is dead. Aikido merely does without need of labels or names -- even though they are there -- in plain sight -- there are no secrets.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-21-2006, 07:52 PM   #20
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Re: Spirituality

so in a summed up version, tell me how would I take part in the spiritual side of Aikido? from the different views, etc. I got that just training in Aikido is taking part in the spiritual side. Also can someone explain to me the 7th Dan, 4th Dan, etc. all that stuff, are they just Aikido ranks?
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:02 PM   #21
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Grant I agree, to me, it is not black or white too! I am one of those non-religious spiritual types. Try to not be defined by a dogma or creed other than love, happiness, or compassion.
And being a warrior

Sadly I find the most anti-spiritual arguments ("thats just stupid") come from religious peoples. Like the fact that someone believing in something else somehow takes away from their chosen belief.

I see that a lot in martial arts. People jump at discrediting another martial art instead of just saying hey thats different good luck with that.

I'm not sure what the more learned aikido readers will think of this book but I personally found
Way of Aikido, The: Life Lessons from an American Sensei by George Leonard to be a very good read. One of my favorite books. (though take into consideration I'm new to all things aikido)
It's a basic look at Aikido and how you can apply the principals (I would say spirituality) to every day life, both for aikido students AND non aikido students.
I've read it twice and I've lent it to 3 other guys at work who enjoyed it (and decided to get their own copy to pass it on). Within the first 20 pages you'll read a very aikido way of dealing with verbal arguments.
Anyways, shameless plug there, that book might give you a good beginners look at the spiritual part of things without going too deep into it.
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:12 PM   #22
Boontom
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Re: Spirituality

Thank you, that helps alot. I'll look to find that book.
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Old 06-21-2006, 09:44 PM   #23
statisticool
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
People use religion as a justification for thier aggression and violence.
And some use "part of our human nature" for a justification.

IMO, me saying religions "typically emphasize" non-violence is still correct. Whether people practice what they preach is another story all together.


Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 06-22-2006, 07:55 AM   #24
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Justin Smith wrote:
IMO, me saying religions "typically emphasize" non-violence is still correct.
Justin
My apologies, I misread what you wrote

David
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:26 AM   #25
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Re: Spirituality

I went to Barnes and Nobles last night, thinking I wasnt gunna find anything on Aikido, but there is a whole martial arts section and I found books on Aikido, the spiritual side, training books, etc. there were some samurai books, Bushido, Five Rings, etc. I was happy to have found all those books, even found a Ninjitsu book covering the Art of Invisibility, that looked pretty cool. The Life Lessons Of An American Sensei was not for sale at the store, but the employee I asked for the book said it can be bought on the store's site online.
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