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Old 06-29-2006, 12:02 PM   #76
Mark Freeman
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Re: Spirituality

Good post George, thanks. I believe that the point being made here is what makes aikido what it is when practiced at the higher levels. I'm not sure how well it is generally understood though.

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-29-2006, 01:33 PM   #77
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
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?
Musubi in my understanding exists at any time when a sensible communication exists between one being and another being. The mode of communication is not important -- physical, visual, aural, emotional, or even pre-conscious.

Musubi is more subtle than "send a message." More like an open channel. An unrealized potential energy. The best iriminage never touches uke, and kiai can break a vulnerable attack before it is launched or landed.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
It would be my belief that musubi pre-exists the instant of physical contact. ... 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. ... If the musubi exists before physical contact, on a psychic level, it would be impossible for the partner / opponent to move separately from the nage.
We do not disagree at all. Katsu hayabi to me seems like the lightning cascade that collapses the conduit path between segregated positive and negative charge potential once their mutual movement becomes slightly out of harmony.

Musubi is not a matter of conscious intent but it is a matter of will, however, and does not occur on its own. i.e. -- bumping accidentally into someone in the hallway does not create musubi unless I have trained to accept that commmunication and to make it musubi. Put another way, two inanimate objects colliding do create musubi. Two live attentive beings, connecting with one another do create musubi.

Too many people do live their lives colliding like billiard balls.

Predictable, dead, and very, very sad.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-29-2006 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 06-29-2006, 01:40 PM   #78
Fred Little
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.
Hi George,

I wouldn't dare to speak for Erick, but I've found that if I have the key to my post office box lined up on all axes before it makes physical contact with the lock, the mailbox opens much more easily than if I don't.

My attention certainly has something to do with that, but unlike a human partner, when working with a lock and key, it's comparatively easy to isolate the physical principle from any notions about some sort of higher order response to my attention, intention, contention, etc.

Of course, when I open the mailbox, the only thing I generally find is bills that need paying and junk mail, much of which seems to relate to products intended to enhance my spiritual development.

Hmmmmmmmmm.....

Best,

Fred Little
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Old 06-29-2006, 02:27 PM   #79
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Put another way, two inanimate objects colliding do NOT create musubi. Two live attentive beings, connecting with one another do create musubi.
Stoopid sepll chekc.

"Always blame the equipment."

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:22 PM   #80
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Musubi in my understanding exists at any time when a sensible communication exists between one being and another being. The mode of communication is not important -- physical, visual, aural, emotional, or even pre-conscious.

Musubi is more subtle than "send a message." More like an open channel. An unrealized potential energy. The best iriminage never touches uke, and kiai can break a vulnerable attack before it is launched or landed.
We do not disagree at all. Katsu hayabi to me seems like the lightning cascade that collapses the conduit path between segregated positive and negative charge potential once their mutual movement becomes slightly out of harmony.

Musubi is not a matter of conscious intent but it is a matter of will, however, and does not occur on its own. i.e. -- bumping accidentally into someone in the hallway does not create musubi unless I have trained to accept that commmunication and to make it musubi. Put another way, two inanimate objects colliding do create musubi. Two live attentive beings, connecting with one another do create musubi.

Too many people do live their lives colliding like billiard balls.

Predictable, dead, and very, very sad.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
Ok, I misunderstood your meaning... looks like there is no disagreement. Thanks so much!

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:37 PM   #81
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
Hi George,

I wouldn't dare to speak for Erick, but I've found that if I have the key to my post office box lined up on all axes before it makes physical contact with the lock, the mailbox opens much more easily than if I don't.

My attention certainly has something to do with that, but unlike a human partner, when working with a lock and key, it's comparatively easy to isolate the physical principle from any notions about some sort of higher order response to my attention, intention, contention, etc.

Of course, when I open the mailbox, the only thing I generally find is bills that need paying and junk mail, much of which seems to relate to products intended to enhance my spiritual development.

Hmmmmmmmmm.....

Best,

Fred Little
Hi Fred,
In my understanding of musubi, or aiki for that matter, these concepts describe aspects of the relationship between two conscious, alive, energetic systems. They do not apply to opening the mail box or lifting rocks or pulling stumps, the actions of which can be adequately described using motor learning terms like "the summation of forces" etc.

It is true that the mailbox lock has a set of built in parameters that determine whether it opens or not. But the mail box is completely unaffected by changes in mindset, emotion, intention, etc. The difference is that a human being is conscious and is
directly effected by these things. Aiki is the use of the partner's perceptual sensory system to move his mind and thereby get him to move his body. Musubi is the connection that is required to accomplish this.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:35 PM   #82
jeff.
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Re: Spirituality

hi

"In my understanding of musubi, or aiki for that matter, these concepts describe aspects of the relationship between two conscious, alive, energetic systems. They do not apply to opening the mail box or lifting rocks or pulling stumps, the actions of which can be adequately described using motor learning terms like "the summation of forces" etc."

would osensei agree with this? in my reading, it seems he believed everything was, in some sense, alive / imbued with energy. in saotome-sensei's story about osensei moving the marble step, it seems like he certainly used aiki / musubi to move it. or did i miss the point?
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:29 PM   #83
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
hi

"In my understanding of musubi, or aiki for that matter, these concepts describe aspects of the relationship between two conscious, alive, energetic systems. They do not apply to opening the mail box or lifting rocks or pulling stumps, the actions of which can be adequately described using motor learning terms like "the summation of forces" etc."

would osensei agree with this? in my reading, it seems he believed everything was, in some sense, alive / imbued with energy. in saotome-sensei's story about osensei moving the marble step, it seems like he certainly used aiki / musubi to move it. or did i miss the point?
It would be my understanding that feats such as lifting marble steps, breaking the mochi pounding bowl, etc would have to do with kokyu power. This is "internal power" and is not the same thing as aiki and musubi.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:44 PM   #84
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Spirituality

Warning: Very Long Post Ahead.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.
Yes. There is the observation that aikido is no longer practiced in precisely the religious way that Morihei Ueshiba practiced it There is a constant refrain here these days that Japan has lost its spiritual values, that young people have no 'morals', the term used being not ϗ rinri (= ethics) or doutoku (= morality), but the katakana . It is not clear that the meaning is precisely the same as that of the two older terms. There are horror stories, e.g., young mothers leaving their baby kids in their cars with no windows open while they go off and play pachinko. On the inevitable death of said children, there is a general chorus that young people have lost . On the other hand, there was a general outpouring of 'grassroots' help in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake and at Hiroshima University we were specifically asked not to fail the large number of students who absented themselves from classes to go and help in the relief work. Usually, the reason given is that Japan 'lost' these spiritual values as a result of the defeat in WWII. The bad old militaristic 'opiate' was swept away, and the certainties that go with it, but apparently much else went as well.

Sometimes in the aikido world the observation and the refrain are put together and causally connected, so have the result that postwar aikido has lost its spiritual values because it is no longer practiced in the religious way that the Founder practiced it. Even a cursory glance at Kisshomaru Ueshibafs writings should be enough to show that this is not the case. There are two observations that can be made in this regard.

1. It would be an interesting exercise to draw parallels between the 'loss of spiritual values' that resulted from the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the 'loss of spiritual values' that resulted from Japan's defeat in WWII. John Dower has produced some impressive work on the latter, but as far as I know, no one has studied the two eras together (perhaps Masao Maruyama).

The phenomenon of Japan's New Religions arose from around 1800 onwards, about 60 years before the Tokugawa shogunate collapsed. This is according to Nobutake Inoue's impressive Shin Shuukyou Jiten, a work that, if translated, might also enlighten popular understanding of Morihei Ueshiba. In other words, the 'loss' of the 'spiritual values' of Tokugawa led to a vast outpouring of substitute systems, all pretty well emphasizing the promise of a better tomorrow, if 'we all stick together' (as Russell Crowe put it in Gladiator) and, most importantly, if we all trust our Founder, who has invariably had personal communication with the Divine. Along with Tenri-kyou, Oomoto-kyou was central among these religions and Ueshiba was the righthand man of the religion's second founder.

The power of the New Religions still exists. However, there has not occurred the general outpouring of new religious forms that characterized the bakumatsu period. Oomoto-kyou soon broke up into factions and offshoots, but a very large number of Japanese (some 10%) officially proclaim belief in some New Religion or other. Recently I was surprised to be visited by a neighbour. She runs a ryokan (actually Jun and his girlfriend stayed there). She wanted me to join the New Religion of which she was an active member (active enough to make house-to-house calls, Jehovah's Witness-style). When I stated that my Catholic Christianity was sufficient, her answer was eerily similar to Morhiei Ueshiba's comment about aikido. There was no problem whatever in being a Catholic and joining this new religion, for doing so would make me a better Catholic: it would 'perfect' or 'complete' my Catholicity. This leads me to the second observation.

2. Japanese have no problems about embracing several religions at once and I think this colours Morihei Ueshiba's views on religion.

Actually, when I retire from Hiroshima University, I could get a lucrative 'second-life' job as a 'priest' at 'Christian' weddings. Christian weddings are very popular nowadays and wedding 'churches' are springing up all over the place, a notable one being a smaller but almost exact replica of Cologne Cathedral not far from Fukuyama JR Station. Of course, I would not need to be ordained. Fake ordination papers would be furnished by the wedding company and I would simply need to look benevolently 'priestly' and unctuous, and speak very good Japanese. My success at the job would depend on making the bride, groom and guests 'feel' sufficiently 'spiritual' on such an important day of their lives. I do not know how to describe this otherwise, in the absence of any cognitive concepts that would come from actual belief. The fact that you can have a echurchf wedding in such a completely fabricated setting is not seen as at all unusual: in fact it would probably be preferred, compared with what would be involved in marrying in a real church.

The fact that 'foreign' religions were not allowed to take root in Japan is well-known. What is more interesting is the extent to which those who do embrace 'foreign' religions actually 'Japanize' the content. In other words, what is the general impact of the history and culture of popular shinto and Buddhism on a religion like Christianity? This is one question. Another would be: to what extent do Japanese regard the New Religions as different from these older eforeignf ones?

It is clear that Oomoto-kyo was syncretistic and simply borrowed liberally from other sources. After all, if you are not tied to a specific credo of Catholic-type doctrine, it is probably best to be as all all-embracing as possible. But Oomoto followed the usual pattern, of a founder who suffered deprivation of some sort, had visions, did things that she should not have been able to do, and (this is important) attracted many followers who found solace in belonging to a large group and also found, in the person of Onisaburo Deguchi, a powerful right-hand man who was able to expand and transform the mumblings of the Founder into a coherent and powerful message. (The parallel with Kisshomaru Ueshiba is striking here.)

One might compare Japan with a country like France, where I stayed for two years as a student of philosophy. Postwar France, like Japan, has suffered a decline in spiritual values, and this would probably be measured by the sharp decline in church attendance. The magnificent cathedrals and churches that are dotted all over France are more like museums or empty shells than centers of a living faith, but the spirituality that has so declined is still expressed in terms of a religion commanding a specific set of beliefs. Where you do not have such a religion, in a country like Japan, because one was never allowed to take root, how do you measure the loss of spirituality compared with what has gone before?

I think I will break off here, otherwise this post will become unmanageably long.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-30-2006, 07:40 AM   #85
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Spirituality

Not too long at all. I have a very difficult time imagining how japanese society functions in relation to religeon (and a lot of other things) and your questions and the framework you place them in helps a great deal.

Thanks,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-30-2006, 09:28 AM   #86
Fred Little
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Hi Fred,
In my understanding of musubi, or aiki for that matter, these concepts describe aspects of the relationship between two conscious, alive, energetic systems.

.... The difference is that a human being is conscious and is
directly effected by these things. Aiki is the use of the partner's perceptual sensory system to move his mind and thereby get him to move his body. Musubi is the connection that is required to accomplish this.
Hi George,

I don't relly disagree about those higher-order descriptions of interaction between living systems. I would however contend that musubi covers a broad range from simple physical connection at one end to those more energetic connections at the other, all the way up to "spooky action at a distance."

But one of the things I find intriguing about aikido is that, depending on the inclinations and capacities of any given individual, where along that continuum the individual is capable of engaging with the practice of "musubi" or "connection" varies widely.

For some people it is rigidly mechanical at the beginning. For others it can be pretty vaprous.

Wherever along the continuum people start out, it seems to me that long-term serious practice and study naturally leads to a broadening of their understanding of "musubi."

Those inclined to the vaprous end up learning about mundane physical connection and vice versa.

The openness of the system in terms of a practitioner's starting point is, and the scalability of the core metaphors are, to my mind, two of its most unusual, if not magical, qualities.

Best,

FL
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Old 06-30-2006, 12:56 PM   #87
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Warning: Very Long Post Ahead.
I'll likely fail in making mine shorter ...
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
... to join the New Religion of which she was an active member (active enough to make house-to-house calls, Jehovah's Witness-style). When I stated that my Catholic Christianity was sufficient, her answer was eerily similar to Morhiei Ueshiba's comment about aikido. There was no problem whatever in being a Catholic and joining this new religion, for doing so would make me a better Catholic: it would 'perfect' or 'complete' my Catholicity. This leads me to the second observation.

2. Japanese have no problems about embracing several religions at once and I think this colours Morihei Ueshiba's views on religion.
And yet, I have the impression that the kindly old proselyte for her sect meant it in a way different from that meant by O-Sensei, and that O-Sensei came to understand it in a way different from what Onisaburo meant when he said essentially the same thing. They seem to see the addition of every possible spiritually efficacious practice as part of bringing spirituality "to completion."

They seem to assume that all religious conflicts are only apparent and need not be resolved. Becasue they need not be resolved, no connection betwen them is ever really established. They pass like ships in the night -- one unaffected by the other, which to the Western mind leads to the sometimes odd-seeming adoption of the Western wedding trappings, utterly disconnected from either its own tradition or the native traditions that it supplements.

This is in fact a larger criticism of Japanese culture, which is in my view a consequence of a common misreading of in-yo as a cultural paradigm. Many very intransigent and dangerous problems are not addressed because the appearance of any conflict is to be avoided (the status of ethnic Korean Japanese being a sterling and sad example.) If anyone has been in Japan and seen a groups of very loud drunks after the end of the workweek (no decent Japanese would be seen drunk alone) being studiously "not seen" by passers-by -- you know precisely what I mean.

O-Sensei understood conflict as very real. He fought in Manchuria. He was bodyguard for a dissident figure of national proiminence. He did not assert that conflct did not need ot be resolved. He prescribed direct entry (irimi) and connection with the opponent, without opposition to him as the solution to a conflict once it had arisen. For this reason, O-Sensei's approach is much more in keeping with the objective and rationalist elements of Christian tradition partuicularly, and Wetsern tradition generally, which posits very real and objective opposition and conflict to exist in spiritual matters.

In this sense O-Sensei's view or approach to the religious question is almost the obverse of ordinary Japanese syncretism desribed above, despite his using similar language to describe it. Aikido is a practice of spiritually efficacious dimension. O-Sensei plainly viewed it as a practice that could be grafted within other traditions, but, as he said to Andre Noquet -- not in the sense described above.

Quote:
Andre Nocquet -- Aiki News # 85, (summer 1990) wrote:
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." Then I asked, "Sensei should I remain a Christian?" He replied,
"Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian." If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost.
It seems to me that O-Sensei sought connection, not as a sterile adjunct, but as a fertile participant in new growth within ans trengthening existing traditions, rather than altering it or simply being laid alongside ( like utensils in a drawer), unconnectedly, in the manner of Omoto (as I perceive Onisaburo's writings) and the kindly old lady Prof. Goldsbury mentions.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Actually, when I retire from Hiroshima University, I could get a lucrative 'second-life' job as a 'priest' at 'Christian' weddings. Christian weddings are very popular nowadays and wedding 'churches' are springing up all over the place, a notable one being a smaller but almost exact replica of Cologne Cathedral not far from Fukuyama JR Station. Of course, I would not need to be ordained. Fake ordination papers would be furnished by the wedding company and I would simply need to look benevolently 'priestly' and unctuous, and speak very good Japanese.
This a good point to make. Japanese religion is almost purely sacramental in its approach, focussed on (almost any) action deemed spiritually efficacious. Fundamentalist Protestantism is by contrast almost purely scriptural and creed centered in its focus, to the near exlcusion of sacramentla acts. Islam has a curious mix of the two -- a universal faithulness to a minimalist creed (Tawhid), and a minimalist set of sacramental observation, salat, zakat etc. with a maximalist but widely diverse scriptural tradition over which there are many contending interpretations, at least four main traditional schools, plus Shi'a, and Sufi and other more minor sects and varaiations.

Catholicism embraces a more evenly balanced tension between creed/scriptural fidelity, and a sacramental life of spiritually efficacious actions. That, in very basic sense, is what makes it "catholic," i.e. -- universal or all-encompassing. Mind and body. Objective and subjective.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
The fact that 'foreign' religions were not allowed to take root in Japan is well-known. What is more interesting is the extent to which those who do embrace 'foreign' religions actually 'Japanize' the content.
For the aforementioned reasons, Japanese religion has very little difficulty in accepting any spiritual practice, regardless of context and adapting it to their sacramentally-centered understanding of spirituality. Islam on the other hand depends on its social cohesion across many cultures for adherence to a single untranslated text and very small set of sacramental observances and creed requirements, such that the adoption of any practice seen as "spiritual," that is not in strict comformity with those observances is seen as threatening to the most essential elements that tie adherents of very differnt backgrounds together. Fundamentalist Protestantism has the same basic issue.

Catholicism finds ways to embrace "gifts of the spirit" to expand the sacramental side of life, not in the somewhat ad hoc manner of Japanese culture, but in a way that considers, reflects and then critically adapts spiritual practices seen as efficacious vehicles of God';s grace, so long as it is seen that they do not impair of undermine the sacramental life of the Church already established in its scriptural revelation and proven traditions. Classical Buddhism also had aspects of this same deliberate openness to human experience as contingently valuable revelation of its own kind.

For this reason it is fascinating to see the coalescence of contemplative practices jointly within sacntioned Catholic religious orders and traditional structures of Buddhist sangha (Morning Star Zendo being an excellent example, whose Roshi and Dharma heir is also a Jesuit priest. The book ' Zen Catholicism' by Dom Aelred Graham is also a treasure for such exploration)

I find that Aikido is an able adjunct to Christian faith in the Catholic tradition, in just this same way. Given the manner in which Zen is now being adopted within Christian tradition I have a concrete basis for this hope and expectation for aikido, that O-Sensei perhaps could not have, but to which he plainly aspired. It should have greater exposure in this sense.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
One might compare Japan with a country like France, where I stayed for two years as a student of philosophy. Postwar France, like Japan, has suffered a decline in spiritual values, and this would probably be measured by the sharp decline in church attendance. The magnificent cathedrals and churches that are dotted all over France are more like museums or empty shells than centers of a living faith, but the spirituality that has so declined is still expressed in terms of a religion commanding a specific set of beliefs. Where you do not have such a religion, in a country like Japan, because one was never allowed to take root, how do you measure the loss of spirituality compared with what has gone before?
The experience of aikido in the secular West has great possibility, but Europe also is in great danger on this front (read Pope Benedict's "Truth and Tolerance," which will explain the basis for gathering rapprochement this theological Pope is making among the secular intellectual establishment in Europe).

But I will note one thing as to aikido specifically. Nearly everyone I have known who is more or less secular in their orientation, yet seems to seek for the spiritual foundation "behind" aikido. I suggest that the way in which O-Sensei transmitted it neither depended upon nor intended any such foundation as a necessity. Possible, yes, reproducible, perhaps, but not necessary.

That does not mean he intended for aikido to be apart from a living spiritual tradition. Too many people, I think, do not give O-Sensei sufficient credit for understanding the world outside of Japan, simply on the evidence he was so deeply attuned to his own native tradition. His own reading and the breadth of library give the lie to that.

Perhaps O-Sensei demonstrated his method to emulate -- not his actions to reproduce. Kotodama, for instance, while it gives insight to understand how he related deep tradition, communication in language, sound and movement to physical action and spiritual effects, is almost incomprehensible, and of therefore doubtful utility to anyone who does not natively speak Japanese.

One cannot help, however, to notice the religiosity with which O-Sensei viewed his art, and the heartfelt expression of spitual consequence he gave it in his Doka. He did not attend to seeing that his deshi transmitted very much of this esoteric knowledge of his views on Shinto, but he was, neverthless, very outspoken about it in other settings, and committed to it in his own life. This is a discrepancy to be reconciled. This is one way to reconcile it.
It seems almost a direct challenge (irimi) to confront aikido in our OWN traditions and to create musubi with the tools he gave us.
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I think I will break off here, otherwise this post will become unmanageably long.
Ditto, here. I think I achieved what you avoided

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-30-2006, 01:40 PM   #88
dps
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Re: Spirituality

Good post Eric.

Umm could anyone recommend a good dictionary software program?
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:31 PM   #89
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Good post Eric.

Umm could anyone recommend a good dictionary software program?
Japanese? This free website dictionary is invaluable and has fairly good coverage -- romaji, kanji and kana, even name kanji which can be highly variant.

http://www.nihongoresources.com/

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-30-2006, 07:24 PM   #90
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Re: Spirituality

Onyomi.
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Old 07-05-2006, 12:37 PM   #91
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Spirituality

Quote:
Fred Little wrote:
Hi George,

I don't relly disagree about those higher-order descriptions of interaction between living systems. I would however contend that musubi covers a broad range from simple physical connection at one end to those more energetic connections at the other, all the way up to "spooky action at a distance."
Yes, I would agree with that. Aiki describes the energetic connection itself while musubi is descriptive of the act of establishing that connection. Musubi is tying you and the opponent / partner together in a way that isn't optional for the other guy. So it exists on the level of joining your "intention" with the opponent's and it also exists on the level of meeting his physical attack in a way that makes it impossible for him to move separately from you.

George S. Ledyard
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