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Old 08-23-2006, 08:52 PM   #1
Apoy
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sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

I love the techniques

I love the subtlety of aiki

I love the art

I live by the philosophy

I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it. I dont believe in the kami and/or the gods of war. Dragons and spirits are things that I read in mythology and they all remain in the book after I read them. The universe to me consist of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, planets, cosmic rays, space debris, comets, moons, etc. The universe to me does not have any consciousness.

I believe in ki as intention. I cannot measure ki as energy. Ironically I sort of believe in ki. Maybe I am just running on faith on this one.

As an aikidoka do we also have to embrace the almost religious aspect of our beloved art. Because like my teachers and my classmates I am a sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido. Because so far my aikido remained the same even though I haven't communucated with any Kami
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Old 08-23-2006, 08:58 PM   #2
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

I think the spiritual side is an individual thing. It does not require belief in the things that you state. The practice of aikido may help you understand yourself, your beliefs.... it may help you understand people, human nature, and interactions with others more closely.

I am somewhat spiritual, and my beliefs on things pretty much parallel yours...There is room in my spiritual practice for aikido.

KI, if aikido helps you be aware of it and helps you understand it some...whatever that may be to you...then I think it is somewhat spiritual in nature.

It does not require absolute belief in any thing dogmatic. It is not a black or white, or the "book says I must believe this" kinda "spirituality".
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:35 PM   #3
tedehara
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Learn from your training, not from what others tell you. Analyze beliefs and challenge them with your own thoughts and experiences.

You are not the only person who is skeptical about aikido spirituality. Perhaps they are not as vocal as the "true believers", but they are quietly practicing and figuring things out for themselves. These people will always grow.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
About Ki
About You
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:04 PM   #4
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
I love the techniques

I love the subtlety of aiki

I love the art

I live by the philosophy

:
Same page here Juan, I have my own spiritual beliefs, but that does not limit my spiritual growth through aikido. Aikido can mold and refine anyones spirit, regardless of which form they choose to finley polish.

Anyone get what im trying to get at here?

To speak ill of anything is against the nature of Aikido
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:31 PM   #5
dps
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Mikel Hamer wrote:
Same page here Juan, I have my own spiritual beliefs, but that does not limit my spiritual growth through aikido. Aikido can mold and refine anyones spirit, regardless of which form they choose to finley polish.

Anyone get what im trying to get at here?
My spiritual beliefs are a part of my entire life that help me guide my thoughts and actions. Everything I do is a potential for spiritual growth. If Aikido is a part of my life then the practice of Aikido is an opportunity for spiritual growth. I decide what my spirituality is, not other people or what I do. I decide if other people can help me or what I do helps me.
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:42 PM   #6
Aristeia
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Spritual to me (as an atheist) occupies the sphere of how we intereact with other people and our intention toward them. I think Aikido has much to offer in this sphere.
I agree that if Aikido is to have a spiritual effect it's as a result of the physical training, as opposed to in the form of someone pontificating before or after class. Kami dragons gods, use them as a metaphor if that helps or discard them if it doesn't. To me they have nothing to do with the spiriuality of aikido other than being one man's particular mode of expression.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:08 PM   #7
Erick Mead
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
I love the techniques ... the subtlety of aiki ... the art ... I live by the philosophy

I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it. I dont believe in the kami and/or the gods of war. Dragons and spirits are things that I read in mythology and they all remain in the book after I read them. The universe to me consist of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, planets, cosmic rays, space debris, comets, moons, etc. The universe to me does not have any consciousness.
And yet awareness or consciousness seems to be an unavoidable element of reality at a fundamental level. Indeed, the basic incompatibility of Schrodinger's equation and the collapse of the quantum wave state, and the equally valid empirical demonstration of both approaches suggest that reality is only potential and is realized only by attention of an observer. Question is -- who is watching when we are not? Or was Bishop Berkeley right, after all?
Quote:
Juan wrote:
I believe in ki as intention. I cannot measure ki as energy. Ironically I sort of believe in ki. Maybe I am just running on faith on this one.
There may also be far more demonstrable empirical foundations for ki principles, and I am no Ki Society kool-aid drinker (and for clarification for the reflex flames: kool-aid drinkers exist in any field of endeavor). For examples of these principles and further discussion see here: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...71&postcount=1 and here for some study citaitons: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...9&postcount=19

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:54 AM   #8
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
As an aikidoka do we also have to embrace the almost religious aspect of our beloved art.
Nope.

I view much of that sort of thing as cultural background for the art. It's part of the flavor, and should be studied with an eye toward how it affected the development of the art, but is simply that: part of the complex weave that is the philosphical side of aikido.

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Old 08-24-2006, 02:18 AM   #9
Jorge Garcia
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

I agree that everyone has their own "spirituality" and that is not a forced stricture of Aikido. Having said that, I feel that to be a "true believers", that we need to know and have a basic understanding of what the Founder taught so that we can properly contextualize the art. Otherwise, we are just practicing an art made up from our own imagination. I don't agree with everything the Founder believed in but need to understand it so I can explain it and set the proper parameters for my own training and for what I am looking for in this art.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 08-24-2006, 07:39 AM   #10
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

So Erick, essentially you're saying there could be beer in my fridge, I simply need to observe it. Since I don't recall putting any in there, I will instead retain the contentment of acknowledging the possibility.
And a quote from my trusty old quantum text: Ronald Knox suggested,
Quote:
There was a young man who said, 'God
Must find it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad.'
And Berkely replies to Knox's attack
Quote:
Dear Sir:
Your astonishment's odd:
I am always in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
Yours faithfully,
God.
Quote:
The question is not so much what happens while the tree is unobservable, but rather what happens while the tree is unobservable. The tree can leave the quad because for a brief enough time it can have a high enough energy at it's disposal, and no experimenter has any means of knowing about it. ... You may say this is against common sense. It is, but the essential point is whether or not it violates the Laws of Nature, as we know them today. Apparently it doesn't. - p. 48 "electrical properties of materials" Solymar and Walsh, 6th edition
I love this stuff, it's like learning to use your hips, only mentally. Juan, we have consciousness, and consist of matter that is derived from the universe, and so, the universe is conscious. We are the universe looking at itself.

michael.

Last edited by MikeLogan : 08-24-2006 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 08-24-2006, 08:02 AM   #11
Erick Mead
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote:
So Erick, essentially you're saying there could be beer in my fridge, I simply need to observe it. Since I don't recall putting any in there, I will instead retain the contentment of acknowledging the possibility.
Yuck! -- The beer would probably not taste half so bad were it not for the undead cats in there ...

On the other hand., the only times I can remember believing myself to have been in two places at once definitely involved beer. Although, it must be admitted, I was not constituting the awareness necessary for my continued existence, except for for very brief and intermittent periods at the time ...

I say further experimenting may be required.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-24-2006, 08:57 AM   #12
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

what makes a martial art a way of life? all of us can agree Aikido is more than self-defense, but what makes it so?

these are questions that can only be answered inside yourself.

no matter how long you polish a tile, you will never get a mirror. you cannot discover what is not there. my advice is to find what *is* there, inside of you, and go with it.
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Old 08-24-2006, 09:38 AM   #13
Michael Young
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it. I dont believe in the kami and/or the gods of war. Dragons and spirits are things that I read in mythology and they all remain in the book after I read them. The universe to me consist of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, planets, cosmic rays, space debris, comets, moons, etc.
Interestingly enough, I don't think O'Sensei believed in those things the same way you are picturing it. My interpretation of the Shinto aspect of Aikido's "cosmology" or religious side, used to be very much the same as yours. The problem is the interpretation we have of Shinto views. Just as with most things Japanese (and in many religions) there is an "Omote" and "Ura" view to be taken. Shinto actually has a very deep study and understanding of the principles of nature...the diety names (Kami) etc, and language were meant to be metaphorically used as a tool to approach the deeper concepts. Much as in other religions like Hinduism, Bhuddism, Christianity, etc, the metaphors and parables have been only understood and passed on in a shallow manner by many. In other words, the metaphors became to reality to most practioners. A deeper inquiry into the principles and concepts behind all the trappings of Shinto begin to reveal an astoundingly complex, and even scientific, view of reality and concepts of existence. I'm not a practioner of Shinto (it isn't in my cultural background) but it has some great value as a tool for understanding our world and existence and is worth some study and understanding...if nothing else for a way to begin understanding and developing our own beliefs and views. I found William Gleason's book "The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido" very interesting (thogh not easy) and infomative reading. Mitsugi Saotome Sensei's book "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" provides an easier approach in terms that aren't cloaked in Shinto terminology.

Best,

Mike
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Old 08-24-2006, 10:22 AM   #14
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Luc wrote:
no matter how long you polish a tile, you will never get a mirror. you cannot discover what is not there. my advice is to find what *is* there, inside of you, and go with it.
Could you clarify this metaphorical connection for me? I find it confusing, as you can quite easily polish a tile, even beyond the surface standards required of a mirror. This gives me a gut reaction to your advice being wrong, because as stated you did not discover the mirror in the tile, because you believed it to be absent. I imagine maybe 'polishing a sponge into a mirror' was more your point, or am I now defeating my own ability to discover?

I think I see your point, Luc,which I agree with, that being to ask and answer questions of the spiritual sense with regard to personal experience/belief? It was just the metaphor that got me.

michael.
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Old 08-24-2006, 10:45 AM   #15
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Michael Young wrote:
Interestingly enough, I don't think O'Sensei believed in those things the same way you are picturing it. My interpretation of the Shinto aspect of Aikido's "cosmology" or religious side, used to be very much the same as yours. The problem is the interpretation we have of Shinto views. Just as with most things Japanese (and in many religions) there is an "Omote" and "Ura" view to be taken. Shinto actually has a very deep study and understanding of the principles of nature...the diety names (Kami) etc, and language were meant to be metaphorically used as a tool to approach the deeper concepts. Much as in other religions like Hinduism, Bhuddism, Christianity, etc, the metaphors and parables have been only understood and passed on in a shallow manner by many. In other words, the metaphors became to reality to most practioners. A deeper inquiry into the principles and concepts behind all the trappings of Shinto begin to reveal an astoundingly complex, and even scientific, view of reality and concepts of existence. I'm not a practioner of Shinto (it isn't in my cultural background) but it has some great value as a tool for understanding our world and existence and is worth some study and understanding...if nothing else for a way to begin understanding and developing our own beliefs and views. I found William Gleason's book "The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido" very interesting (thogh not easy) and infomative reading. Mitsugi Saotome Sensei's book "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" provides an easier approach in terms that aren't cloaked in Shinto terminology.

Best,

Mike
+6,859,456,782,123.056

i have read both of those books, and it seems like we both got the same thing out of them. a good testament to the authors, and to the effectiveness of the books' mission.

Juan, maybe you should pick one of them up?
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Old 08-24-2006, 10:55 AM   #16
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote:
Could you clarify this metaphorical connection for me? I find it confusing, as you can quite easily polish a tile, even beyond the surface standards required of a mirror
i foolishly used an object that actually shines, to compare to a mirror. like you said, "polish a sponge into a mirror" or "polish a rock into a mirror" would've made more sense, and that's what i meant.

the original poster, Juan, said he couldn't "get into" some of the beliefs, and claimed that he *had* to, in order to fully understand and appreciate Aikido.

what i'm saying is that Juan should not try and understand what he cannot find in his heart.

Last edited by Luc X Saroufim : 08-24-2006 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 08-24-2006, 11:28 AM   #17
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

What is a mirror, truly?
Quote:
Luc wrote:
even if it reflects better than a mirror, it will never be one.
While Deconstructionism is a tricky and oft-maligned practice, it is better than too firm a grip on terms and words. The 'true mirror' mirror you speak of can hold crackers, and cheese. One could drive nails into the wall if they wanted to, if they logically perceived the possibility.
The idea of 'polishing the mirror' as I understand it is quite common to development of skill and understanding of the martial arts / budo in general. It implies that something is not what it will become. There is a different manifestation of aikido for every body and mind type on the mat. Some individuals spring to it like fish to water, both mentally and physically, they are good mirrors. Others struggle to make it to and through class, and are baffled by some of the stuff that only baffles most of us slightly less so. These are bad mirrors. It is best to be a bad mirror. The effort put forth is that much more precious. If it is impossible to reach a goal or state that is other than our present selves, then we should head to the bar, as we've reached nirvana and never yet noticed.

Juan did not claim the need to hold shinto beliefs, he inquired as to the need, as it was not in his heart as you rightly stated, and worried that he might be wasting his time in aikido if he ultimately needed to believe in shinto spirituality. But understanding the motivations behind the message will communicate knowledge, without demanding belief in the messenger. Striving outright for ignorance because one encounters something they don't want to believe is like putting the mirror in a sack, and putting the polishing tools back on the shelf.

I think I'm getting too far off track, so I will leave it at that. I'm probably just thinking too much on a thursday. So, forgive me for waxing verbose.

michael.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:05 PM   #18
Brion Toss
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

"Spirituality" is a very loaded term. And that's not surprising, as it deals with things we can't be utterly sure about, the way we (think we) can about physical matters. Spirituality might be seen as the means by which we try to come to terms with the glaring evidence that we don't understand everything. But it also might be the way we reach completion, assuming that whatever spriritual system we adopt does in fact help us to relate accurately to things beyond our immediate senses.
Aikido's founder had something going on that other people found hard/impossible to match, and he consistently, emphatically, endlessly told his followers that the key to what he had resided in the spiritual side of things. If this is so, if his spiritual practices did help him to bring power and peace out of the ether, and into the mundane, then it would seem like a good bet to explore that side of things further. Clearly, one does not have to be an Enligtened Being to land a good nikkyo, but that is not the same thing as saying that the best nikkyo's are available without significant spiritual practices. I am not advocating the embrace of O Sensei's particular brand of Shintoism and eclectic approaches, primarily because they are probably unavailable, to any meaningful extent, to Westerners otherwise conditioned. But I do believe that every important part of my life cannot be fully appreciated, truly realized, without stepping beyond the empirically obvious. It might be that this approach is just a trick I play on myself, to push the empirical envelope, and that one day O Sensei's work will be expressed as a simple mathematical formula. But I suspect not.
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Old 08-24-2006, 02:01 PM   #19
Aiki LV
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
I love the techniques

I love the subtlety of aiki

I love the art

I live by the philosophy

I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it. I don't believe in the kami and/or the gods of war. Dragons and spirits are things that I read in mythology and they all remain in the book after I read them. The universe to me consist of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, planets, cosmic rays, space debris, comets, moons, etc. The universe to me does not have any consciousness.

I believe in ki as intention. I cannot measure ki as energy. Ironically I sort of believe in ki. Maybe I am just running on faith on this one.

As an aikidoka do we also have to embrace the almost religious aspect of our beloved art. Because like my teachers and my classmates I am a skeptic on the spiritual side of aikido. Because so far my aikido remained the same even though I haven't communucated with any Kami
Important distinction in my opinion, spiritual does not equal religious. You can be spiritual and not religious. Religion indicates membership or association with some type of group that has a certain set of beliefs. You can have individual spiritual beliefs and not be part of an organized group.

Again I will say "in my opinion" you don't have to subscribe to shinto beliefs to do aikido. I do think that in order to really understand the art with any depth you must at least know the roots of where it comes from. If you don't know something how can you hope to understand it? I also sense a bit of mockery when you describe aspects of shinto. I don't know if this is out of ignorance or fear? No one says you have to be shinto, but you should at least understand where they are coming from.

Quote:
I live by the philosophy
Quote:
I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it
To me these two statements totally contradict each other. How can you live by a philosophy when you reject the very tenants it's based on?

Just some thoughts.......-Mindy-
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Old 08-24-2006, 04:56 PM   #20
statisticool
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
I love the techniques
I love the subtlety of aiki
I love the art
I live by the philosophy
Hi Juan,

I think that sincerity is the aspect of spirituality that is the most important. It sounds like you have plenty of sincerity to go around, so I wouldn't be too concerned if others say you need to be spritual to really 'get' it.


Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 08-24-2006, 08:27 PM   #21
Apoy
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Mindy Imbuido wrote:




To me these two statements totally contradict each other. How can you live by a philosophy when you reject the very tenants it's based on?

Just some thoughts.......-Mindy-

Hi Mindy,

Philosophy and spritualism are different to me.

Eg.

I do believe that I should be kind to animals great and small (philosophy) but I am not a buddhist (spiritualism).

So yes I believe in the Philosophy of our art, however I am struggling on the spiritual side of it.
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Old 08-24-2006, 09:35 PM   #22
Mark Uttech
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Spiritualism shouldn't bother people too much if they begin from the idea that they are a living spirit. It is not Ouija Boards and Seances and things like that. There are colorful theories with sand mandalas and prayer flags and things like that. And philosophy is tough to embody. You need a practice to do that. Irimi ho and tenkan ho. These are simple practices because anyone can do them. The aiki sword is the sword that cuts things together, for example. Every baby born is interested in movement; that is the art of aikido.
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Old 08-25-2006, 10:42 AM   #23
Erick Mead
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
I do believe that I should be kind to animals great and small (philosophy) but I am not a buddhist (spiritualism).
Actually the first is sentiment, not philosophy. Sentiment, in this context, is far superior in action, than philosophy in all respects, but woefully deficient in reasoned explanation or persuasion. Reason and sentiment each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Buddhism is actually VERY philosophical, and frankly not even that spiritual in its tenets or essential practices, but marvelously spiritual in its effects. Buddha's teaching is essentially empirical from a psychlogical standpoint, and remarkably simple to state, which no doubt has been a great part of its historical appeal. It is fairly acceptable to any professed humane religion or spirituality:

1) Suffering is an inevitable part of living.

2) There is cause of suffering -- attachment to that we would desire reality to be.

3) There is end of suffering - destroying the illusion of what we desire reality to be.

4) There is a means to accomplish this end -- to will what is and to cease to will our desire of what it ought to be.

Note in passing that by effecting this result -- desire itself does not cease to be, only my will to effect that desire is redirected. Enlightenment is, quite simply, a continuing act of will. My desires simply return to the fold of what IS -- along with eveything else -- without any greater dignity in my perception or decisions, than, say, the temperature of my coffee this morning.

My desires may still inform and play a part in my actions, as does the temperature of my coffee. But they resume their natural place and order, instead of my egoistic elevation of them above all other things.

Aikido in this sense dispels our problematic and dangerous desire not to be attacked, by willing that attack as it occurs, joining in the attack itself as our primary defense from it.

I'm Catholic, and reasonably knowledgable in Church doctrine for a layperson. As far as I have been able to determine (along with many others, Dom Aelred Graham or Thomas Merton, or even our present Pope Benedict) what Gautama Buddha taught is unobjectionable per se to the doctrine of the Church.

Truth is what IS after all ...
Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
So yes I believe in the Philosophy of our art, however I am struggling on the spiritual side of it.
Aikido, and other affirmative activites that have ben collectively described as "moving Zen" are antidotes to the chief risk of contemplative Buddhism ( or of any contemplative system of practice), which is the slide into quietism as a substitute for life in its fullness, abundance or suchness ( choose your preferred religious idiom) -- experienced directly -- as it is, rather than representationally, or in reference to some predominating mental, emotional or spiritual template.

Activity, battle, caress, hurt, sensuality, sweat, comfort, pain, joy, grief, thirst, refreshment, hunger and fulfillment -- all these things do not magically cease to be part of life, or change their nature in any way, merely because we dispel our illusions about what they may become or ought to have become, and instead we affirmatively will them to be what they -- are -- now.

Rigorous doctrinal and affirmative ethical systems such as Christian teaching (or Confucianism or forms of Thareavada Buddhism, for instance) that mandate action according to humane principle and/or sentiment are equally antidotes to this danger of quietism (or even the risk of solipsism). They, in turn, benefit from Buddhism's emphasis on what IS -- right now, in place of their own risks of representational laxity -- the slide into rule, image or sentiment in place of reality.

Fundamentally, the injunction of Jesus is to go forth and spread the evangelium, the Good News, of the Lord God (whose name is "I AM") to all nations, declaring the Kingdom of God to be here, now, and everywhere adn at all times (the absolute rule of "I AM") and of the present and immediate salvation by invocation in their inmost Being of the Holy Name -- "I AM." All of the remaining elements of Christian practice and belief mobilize reason and sentiment to return again and again to this present and eternal moment and its fundamental truth.

While the Christian evangelium differs in its details of appeal to sentiment and reason -- it is the same as Buddhism in its determination to mobilize the individual will in this manner. The vow the spread the Good News to all nations and preach salvation and the Kingdom of God is not really or even usefully distinguishable from the redoubtable vows of the Bodhisattva -- to liberate all sentient beings, who are without number, and to bring them to enlightenment of what "I AM" really means -- here -- now, in this moment.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-25-2006, 10:54 AM   #24
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Thanks for that post Erick!

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-25-2006, 11:03 AM   #25
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Thanks for that post Erick!

Best,
Ron
Yes. Very nice post. Thank you.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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