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Old 06-26-2006, 01:00 PM   #51
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:

To the degree that aikido is a vehicle of spirituality, it appears to be pretty agnostic about which form of spirituality it carts around.
Very well said. Could not agree more.
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Old 06-26-2006, 02:30 PM   #52
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
You seem to see O-Sensei's techniques as the territory in need of interpretive guidance - you seek the map, the schematic to his techniques according to some interpretive rubric, narrower than the body of techniques themselves. I and others I have known, see the territory at issue as something far greater, and O-Sensei's techniques as the schematic -- the map calling us to explore it, and guiding us along our way.
Mr. Pagnucco (thank you, Mr. Pagnucco) says very succinctly below what I would have probably taken more space to say in answer to the above. Thanks for the time and careful explication Mr. Mead. I still don't agree with you, but you put things with admirable clarity. Am enjoying the exchange.
Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:
O-sensei's technique is social practice, and while it could be seen as a map, it need not automatically be seen that way, let alone what the map is specifically a representation of, or what it 'calls' us to do.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 06-26-2006, 04:56 PM   #53
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
In general, it is difficult to substantially prove spirituality is "taught" in aikido anymore, at least here in the states. I would tend to believe that spirituality is leaking out of aikido just as religion is leaking out of government, public schools and places where religious sensitivity is volatile. The pressure to keep our religious and spiritual beliefs internally is increasing as our society is becoming more critical of religious expression in any context. ...
Excellent observation. People tend to act, not as they intend to act, but as they are habituated to act. Big difference. Thus, the critical aspect of practice, it trains our habituated responses top be more in accord with our manifest intent. Aikido, specifically, with its emphasis on connection and complete entering, tends to diminsh the timidity associated with overbearing presumptive expectation, particularly those passive-aggressive methods so typical in the type of scenario you describe.

Whether considered technically, or spiritually, training in the way to act is as important as cognitive belief, if not more so, e.g. -- Jesus, after all, said "Come, follow me." and "Do this in remembrance of me." even where the New Testament speaks of believing, it is consequence of acts. Belief is itself an act of faith -- settling the will to rely on something mysterious and beyond one's own ken.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
Yet we choose to replicate in majority only physical exercises that may be veiled in their purpose. ...
Rather, I believe spirituality is expressed through our actions. If we limit our spiritual expression to physical technique, then by our actions we limit our commitment in spirituality. I am very appreciative of those aikidoka that posess the courage to outwardly express their spiritual beliefs beyond simple exercise.
Purpose implies conscious thought. Conscious thought is good in reflection on error and correcting it -- but not so good in acting with great effect. Those who are powerful in their actions are precisely so because they do not have to think too hard about what they are doing. In spiritual terms, faith is preconscious, precognitive.

Faith is misogi. Misogi is is notably embodied in the image of water. (I am drenched in misogi these hot summer days).

Faith, may be distinguished from belief, in the same way that it may may be distinguished from practice. Beliefs, practices, rites -- these things are vessels in which to carry water, and with which to pour it out at need.
Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:
To the degree that aikido is a vehicle of spirituality, it appears to be pretty agnostic about which form of spirituality it carts around.
In one sense, yes, in another sense, no. Water is the same everywhere, in whatever vessel it may be carried. Only what is ADDED to the water changes its character. Not all vessels are equal in their capacity to carry, provide and buffer our vitally necessary interactions with water.

Pure water is colorless, odorless, tasteless and yet utterly essential to life. Vessels can affect the water, making it less pure, perhaps merely locally flavored, or even contaminated and dangerous to drink. This can be a source of joy, disgust or even horror.

Contained water can be very powerful. Water is the quintessence of energy in potential -- capable of draining the heat of life out of you or burning it from you, if its embodied energy is not brought into to some rough equilibrium with your own.

These are some of the rubrics that I use to judge the utility and spirituality of any practice or belief as it relates to being human, not because man is the measure of all things, but because to gain from the experience, man must measure out only in accordance with his capacity -- lest he drown, or worse.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:58 PM   #54
Fred Little
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Re: Spirituality

Was Cus D"Amato a saint?

I don't think so. But Mike Tyson's spirit was managed a lot better when D'Amato was still alive.

Fred Little
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Old 06-28-2006, 01:13 AM   #55
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:
While I agree that O-sensei's aikido was an expression of deeply held religious beliefs, and that in America things are a bit different, keep in mind that this whole issue is a lot more complicated than the binary of has spirituality / doesn't have spirituality. Omoto-kyo neo-shintoism, more common forms of shinto, Zen, Shingon, New Age, Christianity, Taoism, Humanism... I've at least heard of, if not seen, people genuinely try to connect aikido to all of these forms of spirituality, some more overtly than others.

To the degree that aikido is a vehicle of spirituality, it appears to be pretty agnostic about which form of spirituality it carts around.
This term "spiritual" is coming to mean something specific in the American mind. When polled, some large proportion of Amereicans stated that they were "spiritual" but not religious. So the term is starting to have a meaning that counterposes "spiritual" against "religious" which I take to mean having to do with the established religious faiths.

This certainly seems to be the way in which many people view Aikido... it's somehow "spiritual" but stripped of the overtly religious aspect which it had in O-Sensei's view. O-Sensei was clear, though, that he did not see Aikido "as" a religion but rather as a practice that enhanced all religions. It is that statement that seems to leave quite alot of leeway in defining what Aikido spirituality can be for different individuals.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-28-2006, 03:03 AM   #56
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
This term "spiritual" is coming to mean something specific in the American mind. When polled, some large proportion of Amereicans stated that they were "spiritual" but not religious. So the term is starting to have a meaning that counterposes "spiritual" against "religious" which I take to mean having to do with the established religious faiths.

This certainly seems to be the way in which many people view Aikido... it's somehow "spiritual" but stripped of the overtly religious aspect which it had in O-Sensei's view. O-Sensei was clear, though, that he did not see Aikido "as" a religion but rather as a practice that enhanced all religions. It is that statement that seems to leave quite alot of leeway in defining what Aikido spirituality can be for different individuals.
Hello George,

Interesting comments. I had long suspected the thruth of your first paragraph. However, the second paragraph is more problematic. You say that for O Sensei, aikido was "overtly religious" or (as you put it) "had an overtly religious aspect", but he did not see aikido as a religion. Would would think he would include his own Omoto-kyou as a religion here? I am after any distinction he might have made between his own private religious practices (which were inseparable from his aikido practice) and the 'religion' he refers to (= 宗教). NB. A problem arose in the Early Meiji period of translating 'religion' into Japanese.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-28-2006, 05:05 AM   #57
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
This certainly seems to be the way in which many people view Aikido... it's somehow "spiritual" but stripped of the overtly religious aspect which it had in O-Sensei's view. O-Sensei was clear, though, that he did not see Aikido "as" a religion but rather as a practice that enhanced all religions. It is that statement that seems to leave quite alot of leeway in defining what Aikido spirituality can be for different individuals.
And isn't this leeway the reason why so many people are now attracted to Aikido? By stripping the overtly religious practices of O'Sensei and keeping a separate definition of spiritual allows people to practice their religious/philosophical beliefs through Aikido.
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Old 06-28-2006, 06:45 AM   #58
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
And isn't this leeway the reason why so many people are now attracted to Aikido? By stripping the overtly religious practices of O'Sensei and keeping a separate definition of spiritual allows people to practice their religious/philosophical beliefs through Aikido.
Yes, According to current aikido 'theory' (peace & harmony, but with a pronounced non-religious 'spiritual' dimension, the spirituality being what you make of it) prevalent outside Japan, and in Japan also, you are right. However, my own view is that there is a danger that we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater and that a deeper study of Ueshiba's overtly religious practices is necessary.

I know what he said (I can read O Sensei in Japanese), but I am not sure how much he believed that aikido was simply a morally neutral vehicle for allowing people to practise their own religious/philosophical beliefs. If this were right, then AUM Shinrikyou could also enlist O Sensei in their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-28-2006, 07:10 AM   #59
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
then AUM Shinrikyou could also enlist O Sensei in their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony.
With liberal applications of sarin gas along the way? Hmmm, right.

Best,
Ron (hope you are well Peter)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-28-2006, 07:13 AM   #60
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
. If this were right, then AUM Shinrikyou could also enlist O Sensei in their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony.,
Oh my, violent Buddhist or are they Jewish now.
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Old 06-28-2006, 08:00 AM   #61
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
With liberal applications of sarin gas along the way? Hmmm, right.

Best,
Ron (hope you are well Peter)
Hello Ron,

Remember that the young 'sakurai' officers used to meet in the Kobukan Hombu and plan assassinations, and that Nadolski's Ph.D. thesis suggests that Morihei Ueshiba's Omoto-kyou's beliefs allowed him to be the bodyguard of a highly right-wing officer, whom I belive was executed for war crimes.

I have the feeling that you guys believe that there is a built-in ethical component to aikido that prevents aikido from being used in any context except that of peace and harmony, as a westerner would understand this. I disagree completely.

To be blunt, yes, I think that Aum Shinrikyou members could well use aikido in support of their aims.

Best

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Old 06-28-2006, 08:02 AM   #62
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Oh my, violent Buddhist or are they Jewish now.
I have no idea. Is this relevant?

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:07 AM   #63
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I have no idea. Is this relevant?
From Wikipedia,
"The name "Aum Shinkokyu" (Japanese: オウム真理教 Om Heinrikō) derives from the Hindu syllable Aum (which represents the universe), followed by the three kanji characters shin ("truth," "reality," "Buddhist sect"), RI ("reason," "justice," "truth"), and KYō ("teaching," "faith," "doctrine"). In 2000, the organization changed its name to "Aleph" (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), changing its logo as well.
Aum attempted to borrow scriptural authority for its doctrines by claiming they were based on the ancient Buddhist scriptures included in the Pail Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Aim/Aleph also borrowed and reinterpreted other religious texts, including a number of Tibetan Buddhist straws, some Hindu yogi straws, and Taoist scriptures."


An example of a group of people trying to find a religion/philosophy to justify "their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony" with violence. The religions these people are using all have built in ethical componets that does not stop them from using them the way they want to.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:38 AM   #64
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
From Wikipedia,
"The name "Aum Shinkokyu" (Japanese: オウム真理教 Om Heinrikō) derives from the Hindu syllable Aum (which represents the universe), followed by the three kanji characters shin ("truth," "reality," "Buddhist sect"), RI ("reason," "justice," "truth"), and KYō ("teaching," "faith," "doctrine"). In 2000, the organization changed its name to "Aleph" (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), changing its logo as well.
Aum attempted to borrow scriptural authority for its doctrines by claiming they were based on the ancient Buddhist scriptures included in the Pail Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Aim/Aleph also borrowed and reinterpreted other religious texts, including a number of Tibetan Buddhist straws, some Hindu yogi straws, and Taoist scriptures."

An example of a group of people trying to find a religion/philosophy to justify "their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony" with violence. The religions these people are using all have built in ethical componets that does not stop them from using them the way they want to.
Sure, you can quote Wikipedia, but some of my students belonged to the organization and also practised aikido.

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Old 06-28-2006, 10:37 AM   #65
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Spirituality

Hi Peter.

I did not mean to suggest that aikido couldn't be used in that context...it certainly has been in the past, as proven by your historical reference.

I really meant to suggest that *I* personally wouldn't buy it. The Yoshinkan has been known in the past (maybe the present) to have some rather right wing supporters. I like the style of aikido...but I don't buy into the ideology of all of it's supporters. Similarly, I like the idea of world peace and harmony, but when people try to achieve that by using sarin gas, I stop short, whether or not they also practice aikido. Reminds me of a nut in California not too long ago who supposedly taught aikido, but ended up killing several people.

I guess this would be a good segway into a discussion on Expedient Means?

Best,
Ron (people use all sorts of things for all sorts of things, don't they? Really amazes me sometimes...)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-28-2006, 12:41 PM   #66
Fred Little
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I have the feeling that you guys believe that there is a built-in ethical component to aikido that prevents aikido from being used in any context except that of peace and harmony, as a westerner would understand this. I disagree completely.
Hello Peter,

I would have to agree with you here. But I would go a bit further, and suggest that there may be rhetorical component that has been built in to the public presentation of the art since at least the adoption of the designation "aikido" that has long been intended to create precisely that belief.

How traditional budo concepts of "omote and ura" might relate to that sort of presentation is also a question worthy of consideration.

Best,

Fred Little
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Old 06-28-2006, 02:01 PM   #67
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Yes, According to current aikido 'theory' (peace & harmony, but with a pronounced non-religious 'spiritual' dimension, the spirituality being what you make of it) prevalent outside Japan, and in Japan also, you are right. However, my own view is that there is a danger that we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater and that a deeper study of Ueshiba's overtly religious practices is necessary.

I know what he said (I can read O Sensei in Japanese), but I am not sure how much he believed that aikido was simply a morally neutral vehicle for allowing people to practise their own religious/philosophical beliefs. If this were right, then AUM Shinrikyou could also enlist O Sensei in their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony.

Best wishes,
This is pretty much my own viewpoint. It is not as well founded as your own since I do not read Japanese. I have "grown up" with quite a bit of information about O-sensei as imparted by Saotome Sensei but, frankly, much of what I belive is just an intuition based on my own practice. As I have made some jumps and seen a bit of what is at the heart of the art, it has only served to open up new areas of exploration.

It's almost like trying to find a "black hole" in space, you look at a portion of sky and observe what you DON"T see. Everything I know about my own Aikido, makes me realize that there is "something", as yet undefined, which needs to be added to the practice to take it to whatever higher level I am aspiring to.

I think that, quite a bit of the discussions amongst the more experienced forum participants seems to revolve around our various attempts to discover and define what that missing "something" is that seems to separate our level of attainment from those that preceded us (Takeda Sensei, O-Sensei etc). I think this is taking place in lieu of having much ability to understand and duplicate precisely what the Founder did to create this amazing art.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-28-2006, 02:03 PM   #68
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
This term "spiritual" is coming to mean something specific in the American mind. When polled, some large proportion of Amereicans stated that they were "spiritual" but not religious. So the term is starting to have a meaning that counterposes "spiritual" against "religious" which I take to mean having to do with the established religious faiths.

This certainly seems to be the way in which many people view Aikido... it's somehow "spiritual" but stripped of the overtly religious aspect which it had in O-Sensei's view. O-Sensei was clear, though, that he did not see Aikido "as" a religion but rather as a practice that enhanced all religions. It is that statement that seems to leave quite alot of leeway in defining what Aikido spirituality can be for different individuals.
This is long, but, I hope, worth it. It pulls together several threads of thought I have been considering separately until late.

The history of religion is sadly neglected and vastly more important now as its influence becomes far less explicit -- in the manner that Ledyard Sensei accurately describes, as well as positively aggressive and dangerous (as discussed at length in the "Aikido, military, fighting" thread and in a related OT discussion over on Aikido_L).

Rome, Persia, China, and even Japan historically were organized along the ancient "priest-king" model. The very idea of a division between religious and secular matters was at one time simply, and almost literally, inconceivable. Religion was seen in ancient societies as the glue that held the people together. Religion means "To bind together." A highly accurate translation of the Latin (religere) into Japanese, BTW, is "Musubi." Christians were early on described as "atheists" by pagan Romans, for whom the idea of breaking the relationship between the secular and religious was simply indecent and disordered.

Buddhism broke this paradigm in the East. Christianity broke this paradigm in the West. There have been contenders against the principle in both areas, notwithstanding that, but the principle has held, by and large despite the exceptions proving the rule. Kokugaku represents one fairly recent attempt at revival of that mode.

The same conceptual division of sovereignty led to the ideas of British constitutional restraint of sovereignty and ultimately to the U.S. constitutional federalism, and without the prior ("give unto caesar ...") example the idea of a "divided sovereignty" would be a nonsensical non-sequitur. That divided sovereginty was premised by and exists to protect individuality.

What has this to do with Aikido and spirituality? Religion requires (creates) form and structure. People do not like to live without form and structure. Religion is therefore a necessary condition of social existence. Spirituality is the morphing of religion into an individualistic form -- as so many other social concerns have morphed into individualistic forms.

Those opposed can rail against it all they want, but the ideals of individualism are not going to go away and they will inevitably affect all human societies and all aspects of them. With religion however, strict individualism is somewhat at odds with the basic function of religion, of which "spirituality" is the individualistic evolute. What "spirituality" lacks is form structure and common bond, which is precisely what indivdualism strips away and religious need requires. As the King of Siam said "It is ... a puzzlement."

I believe that one cannot practice aikido and get any good at it without inculcating its spirituality into the very fibers of your body, and to the same degree that one becomes technically capable in it.

Aikido is therefore religious in its mode, -- it is a coherent form and structure and ethics manifested and requiring devotion of self in committed connection other human beings, even if it cannot be adequately identified with any one religion of local adherence, even those of its place of origin. Just because it is religious in mode, does not make aikido a "religion."

Aikido is something rather new, actually. It is not superior to any of those religions of local (or global) adherence, nor is it necessarily antithetical. Of course, I would not hold to any system of belief that would likely violate my sensibility of aikido, and I do not find that any principle or practice of aikido violates any precepts of traditionally orthodox Christianity either. I see no reason for any necessary conlfict with any traditional religion of consequence.

I find this to be true even acknowledging Prof. Goldsbury's points about the seemingly contrary actions by some practitioners ( and even O-Sensei) at odds with this sense of spirituality. Even saints are still sinners -- the difference is, a saint who sins will repent of his error, and the magnitude of the repentance will be matched to the degree of realization of the error. O-Sensei even said once to the effect that he did not cease making the same errors that new students made, he just had learned to make them less often and to recover from them faster.

The loss of religion as a separate and independent pole of "binding together" in all modern societies, (as this is a general worldwide trend) has resulted in the continuing displacement of religious primacy in areas in which religion formerly held sway and in the growth of secular control over those areas, and increasingly to the detriment of individual liberty -- which was formerly the watchword of opposition to certain religious mandates. Such is the irony of history and power.

Secular powers increasingly act in ways to discredit or diminish or push out the influence of all religions over many areas of social and individual existence. This is also a part of the impetus of radical Islam's highly reactionary push-back that is ongoing.

Many people in modern societies also sense this. Lacking as much confidence in religion of their forebears (for the foregoing reasons of its active displacement and discrediting by secular forces) they are actively seeking a replacement for the absence that they feel.

Some people seek out cult religions of specious sorts. Many seek the roots of their own traditional religion -- but in a modern mode that has yet to come to grips with modernity's individuality of expression or opinion and yet also maintain coherence as a system of common bond. Some make a religion out of secular power, which is becoming a very dangerous thing, and arguably, more dangerous than the ancient kind.

This does not mean that Aikido is about to become a religion, now or ever. The modern sense of individuality is antithetical to the development of the coherence known to traditional religions. Even the fairly sober non-traditional religious cults are ever so slightly pathetic, because they are attempting to recreate something in a place that is not fit for its present development. Modern cults (including Omoto) have largely tried to collectively individuate or individually collectivize -- in the collective chant of Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' "Yes! We're all individuals! We're all different!"

Traditional religions developed in circumstances where the individual as an ideal did not seriously affect social evolution. They have developed along with the trend toward indivuality, and are indeed responsible in many respects for incubating, and causing it to flourish it. Both Christianity and Buddhism enjoy this accolade, and Islam is not wihout its own contributions, present controversy not withstanding. Traditional religions will continue and they will grow because their essential function is not lost and their necessity remains. But reckoning with the full flower of individuality they have nurtured has yet to occur.

Aikido stands apart from this -- but yet in the middle of it, somehow. Its paradox intrigues without end. There is an overall historical trend toward individualization. Like the political split of sovereignty in federalism that exists to protect individuality, Aikido has to some degree split the idea of religious connection from doctrinal agreement, without deeply wounding the benefits of either one.

The concept of Musubi is at the heart of this, it seems to me, and O-Sensei's emphasis on Takemusubi (conflict/connection) underlines this. Musubi individualizes the notion of gaining meaningful religious connection to other human beings, in a way that does not dminish their individual differences and in many cases, oppositions, and both permits and teaches means to develop common bonds despite, and in some respects BECAUSE OF those differences. Takemusubi is a foundational concept upon which ecumenical ideals have far greater range to play.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

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Old 06-28-2006, 02:16 PM   #69
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:

I have the feeling that you guys believe that there is a built-in ethical component to aikido that prevents aikido from being used in any context except that of peace and harmony, as a westerner would understand this. I disagree completely.
I think that this is the area in which there is the greatest gap in understanding between the way in which O-Sensei understood the values of what Aikido represents, how the Japanese practitioners in general understand what they do, and what the folks around the world have understood it to be.

Saotome Sensei used to do demos around the country back in the seventies... one time he had just finshed a very martial demo with Ikeda Sensei as uke and a woman came up to him and informed him that he hadn't understood O-Sensei's message at all... He was, of course, stunned to find that there were people all over the place who, after reading the very minimal amount translated into English that were authored by the Founder, felt that they understood him better than someone who had trained directly with him for fifteen years. The fact that Sensei had been a deshi, was a native speaker of the language, had a common cultural connection with the Founder made no difference. I have been present when various senior Americans stated that the deshi of the Founder hadn't understood his teachings... While I am not in total disagreement with that statement, the assumption that we as Western practitioners do "get it" is groundless. There simply isn't enough information to make that assumption. There is certainly enough information available to know that many Westerner's ideas of what O-sensei believed is simply wishful thinking, reflecting their own ideas of what they think Aikido "should" be.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 06-28-2006 at 02:18 PM.

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Old 06-28-2006, 02:32 PM   #70
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Spirituality

Amen to that, George...

Thanks,
Ron

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Old 06-28-2006, 02:46 PM   #71
Don_Modesto
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Re: Spirituality

This thread is definitely going into my archive. Thanks, guys.

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Old 06-29-2006, 03:22 AM   #72
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

I think Eric Mead's long post is one way of approaching Morihei Ueshiba's aikido as religious practice. What I tried to do in the Touching the Absolute articles is to achieve the same purpose via a different route, not through a general history of religion, but through a closer examination of the context of Ueshiba's own time. This approach requires a close acquaintance with the history of intellectual ideas of Meiji, Taisho and early Showa Japan. It also requires a close study of what he actually wrote. Much is available, but very little is in English.

A significant next step would be to separate out the tantric and Omoto elements in his own training. If any of you ever get the chance to train with Hiroshi Tada, go for it. Tada Sensei gave a 12-hour seminar in Hiroshima recently and gave long explanations of the kokyuu training he does and how these are fundamental to aikido waza. He has changed his explanations in the years I have known him and his terminology more closely approximates to that used by O Sensei hinself.

In Hiroshi Tada you have a rather untypical (in my opinion) product of postwar aikido. He entered the Aikikai around 1950, so never experienced the rigors of the Kobukan. However, his long experience with the Tempukai and the Ichikukai was clearly an effective spiritual substitute and closely meshed with Ueshiba's own training and teaching. What you have is someone who replicated Ueshiba's own training regimen (there is real shugyou here), but emphasized less explicitly the tantric and Omoto elements.

Hiroshi Tada and Shigenobu Okumura are the only two living 9th dan holders in the Aikikai who had a close relationship with Morihei Ueshiba. Okuura Sensei is 88 and has virtually stopped aikido practice, though his mind is still sharp and his memory acute. Tada Sensei is 75 or 76 and shows signs of going on forever. Neither of them has written a book or made a video/DVD.

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Old 06-29-2006, 06:24 AM   #73
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
There is certainly enough information available to know that many Westerner's ideas of what O-sensei believed is simply wishful thinking, reflecting their own ideas of what they think Aikido "should" be.
.
It will never be as O'Sensei had.
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O'Sensei what hath thou wrought upon us?
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:28 AM   #74
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I think Eric Mead's long post is one way of approaching Morihei Ueshiba's aikido as religious practice.
Much appreciated, especially from your perspective, in situ, as it were, and given your committed efforts otherwise. 有り難う御座います.
Quote:
Peter Goldsbury wrote:
What I tried to do in the Touching the Absolute articles is to achieve the same purpose via a different route, not through a general history of religion, but through a closer examination of the context of Ueshiba's own time. This approach requires a close acquaintance with the history of intellectual ideas of Meiji, Taisho and early Showa Japan. It also requires a close study of what he actually wrote. Much is available, but very little is in English.
And thus the problem of attempting a proper scholarly analysis and exegesis of primary sources. While my background allows me some insight into the overall philosophical milieu of Japan as aikido and its antecedents were developing and particuarly the continental Chinese streams of thought that it relates to, most aikidoka have neither the time, resources or inclination to follow the path of original development to understand the phenomenon as it exists. Or like me they can follow so far, but not much farther. The effort is invaluable -- but not generally applicable.

The problem of ignorance of foundational issues is not trivial. Deconstructing and rebuilding the edifice to understand its proper workings may work, and in some cases is in harmony with the overall tenor of thought that aikido expresses (as for instance in the twenty-year rebuilding of of the Ise shrine.) But this method of symbolic analysis is particularly Western and linear. It has poor fit (i.e. -- poor musubi) with the dynamism of learning in aikido as a living system of knowledge.

To put it plainly, I fear that the results of an analytical, exegetical approach to this body of knowledge will produce results more reflective of the process than of the organic structure and substance of its object of study. (Tool=hammer :: problem=nail, but not all problems are nails).

Those in the broader field of interest without deep knowledge of the primary sources are not realistically able to judge its analysis critically. Peer review, which is critical for the reliability of any analytical discipline, (and which this venue is an able place to provide) becomes exceedingly narrow and difficult to achieve.

Don't get me wrong -- as a lawyer, close analysis is my stock in trade, but transmitting broader comprehension, effective persuasion (i.e - learning) and attention to traps of knowledge or ignorance, are equally my concerns. We need the analysis that you suggest, (which I hope you or someone in your privileged position regarding primary sources will continue to attempt). We also need a way to relate the essential elements of primary source knowledge to the operation of that knowledge -- many more learn it far from its context of development, and must apply it far from the context of its initial application.

What was precisely envisioned by O-Sensei (or his deshi) and what was made possible by the inherent structure of his design, may not require one for one congruence. His genius lies in the design, not in the immediate intent. Newton 's three laws were genius precisely because the breadth of their impact in areas that did not even exist when he formulated them. Applications he did not envision could be accomplished only because his ideas were both robust and subtle.

Quote:
Peter Goldsbury wrote:
A significant next step would be to separate out the tantric and Omoto elements in his own training. If any of you ever get the chance to train with Hiroshi Tada, go for it. Tada Sensei gave a 12-hour seminar in Hiroshima recently and gave long explanations of the kokyuu training he does and how these are fundamental to aikido waza. He has changed his explanations in the years I have known him and his terminology more closely approximates to that used by O Sensei hinself.
... his long experience with the Tempukai and the Ichikukai was clearly an effective spiritual substitute and closely meshed with Ueshiba's own training and teaching. What you have is someone who replicated Ueshiba's own training regimen (there is real shugyou here), but emphasized less explicitly the tantric and Omoto elements.
What you describe is very close to what I am suggesting (proving again my premise that none of my ideas is ever original). A bit of knowledge that permits efficient action, is fit for that purpose. It has musubi with the problem the action is hoped to deal with. A hammer has very poor musubi with a screw, for instance. If I have a nail to compare, I will intuitively grasp the significance and degree of fit -- or its lack.

Musubi exists at the point of connection, not at the initiating intent that brought about the connection. As a necesasary adjunct to analysis of origin, takemusubi would suggest more thorough exploration of the immediate points of connection, as Hiroshi Tada did in the connection between his own personal experience and aikido. Both are enriched threreby, and the understanding of aikido thus expands with every new connection. I find much connection to Christian theology bound within name and structure of techniques and their principles as discussed and expounded by O-Senei and his Deshi. By virtue of these connections, and their historical connections, I canalso see relationships with Islamic Tawhid, Jewish mitzvah and tikkun, even though these are not my native idiom.

Anaytical technique ("A is not B" logic, at its base) depends on knowledge as a linear function. Takemusubi as a form of understanding presupposes that knowledge is distributed, non-linear, multifarious and organized into points of connection -- nodes in a network that is only as strong as the connections that make it up. It is not illogical in the A=B sense, but it is irrational in the numeric sense -- too complex for most schemes of analysis to determine whether any given node is A or B. It can be computationally modelled but is not easily reduced in any algebraic sense.

As we are discovering about this type of knowledge more generally, such systems are typically holographic or fractal, the shape of the whole is written to some degree in every part, and vice versa. Ensuring the strength of every individual connection is the work of takemusubi, and helps both to maintain and to understand the structure as a whole.

I see the difficulty of grasping O-Sensei's mind and statements from an analytical perspective as partly the fact that he seems to have walked around thinking this way, decades before these ideas became more common currency or methods for its quantitative assessment and analysis had been invented and verified.

In an interview Abe Sensei noted that among O-Sensei's books kept after his death by Morihiro Saito at Iwama were several works by Einstein. It was Einstein's dogged attempt to disprove quantum mechanics (another form of this type of complex knowledge) that resulted in experiments confirming it.

That was Takemusubi.

Quote:
Peter Goldsbury wrote:
Hiroshi Tada and Shigenobu Okumura are the only two living 9th dan holders in the Aikikai who had a close relationship with Morihei Ueshiba. Okuura Sensei is 88 and has virtually stopped aikido practice, though his mind is still sharp and his memory acute. Tada Sensei is 75 or 76 and shows signs of going on forever. Neither of them has written a book or made a video/DVD.
Please tell us someone is going to remedy this oversight, and at least prepare some thorough oral history while they can give it to us.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:47 AM   #75
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Musubi exists at the point of connection, not at the initiating intent that brought about the connection. As a necesasary adjunct to analysis of origin, takemusubi would suggest more thorough exploration of the immediate points of connection, as Hiroshi Tada did in the connection between his own personal experience and aikido. Both are enriched threreby, and the understanding of aikido thus expands with every new connection.
If I am understanding you properly, you are saying that musubi exists at the point in time and space at which physical contact takes place. Is that what is being said here?

It would be my belief that musubi pre-exists the instant of physical contact. It starts at the moment one projects his attention out and touches the partner and visa versa. It only begins to manifest at the instant that an intention is formed to initiate physical movement but it is there before. When physical contact is made, the musubi manifests as katsu hayabi or instant victory. In other words one has the partner's center at the instant of contact. In order to do this one has to already have done this with his Mind, it cannot be done by "reacting" to the partner. That's why O-sensei said that what he did wasn't about "timing". Timing is a relative term which has to do with when one reacts to another's movements. It would be my understanding that one doesn't react to another's movement, rather the Mind has already moved, the physical movement is simply allowing that movement of the mind to manifest. If the musbi exists before physical contect, on a psychic level, it would be impossible for the partner / opponent to move separately from the nage.

Anyway, this is something of a tangent off the main discussion... it just caught my eye.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 06-29-2006 at 10:53 AM.

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