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Old 08-26-2006, 01:23 AM   #26
tedehara
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

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

Best,
Ron
As an expression of personal opinion, his post was fine. However as a judgment of Christianity and Buddhism there are too many overlooked factors, in order to reach an accord.

Buddhism believes in concepts like reincarnation and karma. Christianity has concepts like sin and salvation. These are two different religions coming from two different traditions. Each one has a unique set of core values.

But why are we even discussing either Christianity or Buddhism? The founder of aikido practiced Shinto, not Christianity or Buddhism. The spiritual side of aikido contains Shinto concepts and practices. It also has traditional Japanese concepts like ki.

Not only are these concepts part of the spiritual tradition of aikido, but the various students of the founder who started different styles, also incorporated their own values in their own styles. Then the different instructors of those styles will add their own concepts and values. Finally the individual practitioner will incorporate their own ideas and values.

Perhaps people will incorporate concepts from religions like Christianity or Buddhism or philosophies from yoga or tai chi into their aikido practice. By doing this, they are making spiritual training part of their practice.

While studying Omoto and it's relationship to the founder is interesting, if you don't believe in the kami (spirits), then you shouldn't be practicing it. The founder was sincere in his beliefs and the kami possessed and helped him. If you believe in Jesus and the power of prayer, then your prayers will be answered. If you believe in the value of enlightenment and practice meditation from this perspective, then your training is worthwhile. If you believe in the union of mind, body and spirit as expressed through yoga, then your training will pay off. If you believe in moving the chi through tai chi practice, then you're under an obligation to do it.

There are some people who believe Morihei Ueshiba had some "secret" practice, which enabled him to be so powerful. Yet his spiritual practices are well documented. The thing most people fail to see was his sincerity. He believed in the kami. They guided him through out his life. Their belief sustained him when all things seemed lost. He arrived at this sincerity by learning who he was and what path he needed to follow. Then he put those beliefs into daily practice. This would deepen and strengthen his spiritual life over the years.

There have been other aikido practitioners who have joined the Omoto order. Perhaps they thought they should follow in the founder's foot steps. Maybe they were so intent on following the founder, that they overlooked their own path. I can't say if they equaled him in the sincerity of their practice. All I can say is that he would be a tough act to follow.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:48 AM   #27
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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.
No, O'Sensei did not intend for his religion to be a part of Aikido, He wanted Aikido to enhance what you already believed and even, I believe, if you are agnostic or atheist. However understanding O'Sensei's religious beliefs will help you understand the development of Aikido.
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Old 08-26-2006, 04:25 PM   #28
Erick Mead
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
As an expression of personal opinion, his post was fine. However as a judgment of Christianity and Buddhism there are too many overlooked factors, in order to reach an accord.
Well we COULD seek for distinction and division, but that would hardly be aiki, now would it?

They were not overlooked -- or more properly -- the factors lacking accord were expressly put to the side for the purposes of this discussion. Most of those are peripheral and abstract in the context of the practice of aikido and its spiritual aspect, in my yet quite personal opinion.
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Buddhism believes in concepts like reincarnation and karma. Christianity has concepts like sin and salvation. These are two different religions coming from two different traditions.
It is more proper to say that Buddhism presupposes karma. The four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path say nothing about it, and Zen plainly does not require it. Reincarnaiton is -- well -- but a difference of degree, not of kind, in comparison with resurrection.

Sin as a concept does not exist in East Asia culture, except in very light doses here and there. Karma does. But they address the same humane instinctual need for moral responsibility in individual actions and in consequence of them, simply from a differnt set of historically determined assumptions. What is important is not what we think or beleive but what we DO. Now. This, Christianity, Buddhism and Shinto hold very much in common with one another and with Aikido.
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Ted Ehara wrote:
Each one has a unique set of core values.
No, they don't. -- Yes they do. -- No they don't. The relationship between Buddism and Shinto in Japan is only sligtly shorter (say two hundred years) than Christianity has been in Ireland. The commonalities and shared traditions between Buddhism and Christianity are far deeper than most modern people with our penchant for overcategorization based on superficial detail are willing to acknowledge.

The concept of divine Logos and trinitarian metaphysic was a Greek pagan concept before it informed both Christian Trinitarian theology and Buddhist Trikaya in their first interaction in Hellenic Asia in the two centuries after Christ.

Christianity and nascent Vajryana Buddhism (ie. Shingon and Tendai) were contemporary and missionary faiths along the Silk Road in Central Asia in the fifth through seventh centuries. Martin Palmer and scholars working on translations of the Luoyang scrolls suggest they were apparently cooperative with one another in scholarly efforts on Indian texts in China in the seventh century when both Buddhist and Christian monasteries were wwelcomed into the T'ang capital at Ch'ang An. Both were viewed as foreign, and indeed were later together banned in the late T'ang. This misidentificaiton was repeated with St. Francis Xavier's introduction of Christianity to Japan in the sixteenth centruy, when the Shogun assumed it was merely a new esoteric teaching of Buddhism.

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
But why are we even discussing either Christianity or Buddhism? The founder of aikido practiced Shinto, not Christianity or Buddhism. The spiritual side of aikido contains Shinto concepts and practices. It also has traditional Japanese concepts like ki.
Ki (qi) is Chinese -- not Japanese in derivation, and Taoist, not Shinto, although there are parallels to be sure.

And moreover, I did not make the connection between O-Sensei's ideas, of kotodama, Shinto and Christianity -- O-Sensei did, rather explicitly:
Quote:
O-Sensei wrote:
"Kirisuto ga ‘hajme ni kotoba ariki' to itta sono kotodama ga SU de arimasu. Sore ga kotodama no hajimari de aru." (‘In the beginning was the Word', spoken by Christ is this kotodama SU. This is the origin of kotodama.)
O-Sensei made very clear elsewhere that "SU" was the the kotodama for the primordial member of the creator trinity of kami in the Kojiki Amenominakanushi no kami together with Takamimusubi no kami, and Kamimusubi no kami. These three are honored at the end of every sumo match by the left-right-middle tegatana o kiru by the winner.

The concept of "Logos" is ancestral to Shingon "true word," and came to Japan from the T'ang capital of China at the same time as both Christian and Buddhist missionary monasteries were active there. There is at the very least a strong antecedent of Shingon underlying Ueshiba's thought directly since that is what he studied as a child and young man in Tanabe. His kotodama system is notably not the same as that of others.

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
....the individual practitioner will incorporate their own ideas and values. ... if you don't believe in the kami (spirits), then you shouldn't be practicing it.

The founder was sincere in his beliefs and the kami possessed and helped him. If you believe in Jesus and the power of prayer, then your prayers will be answered. If you believe in the value of enlightenment and practice meditation from this perspective, then your training is worthwhile. If you believe in the union of mind, body and spirit as expressed through yoga, then your training will pay off. If you believe in moving the chi through tai chi practice, then you're under an obligation to do it.
This is wrong for Christian teaching as well as wrong for Shinto or Buddhism. All three attest that spiritual growth and immediate appreciaiton of physical reality are not to be separated from one another, and that salvation/enlightenment/michi is had by actions in this world. Practice does not flow from belief. Belief flows from practice and the impetus to practice flows from awe, love, enlightenment -- whatever you choose to call that gut-dropping sense is that takes us away from our tiny egos. For Buddhism practice is the abandonment of the veil of desire in favor of direct experience . For Shinto it is absolute sincerity and attention in every act. For the Christian the question is as plain-spoken as it is engimatic and open-ended: "'Where do you dwell, master?' 'Come and see.' "

There is no place for doctrine at the edge of a sword. Katsu jinken is a narrow path within that already narrow way. It sweeps away all else before it.

O-Sensei did not misplace his sense of broader connections in spirtuality in the art of peace he taught -- by means of unhesitating direct entry into the heart of an attack.

Is his teaching on this point really any different from the teaching of Jesus on the nature of true peace?
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wrote:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
St. Matt., 10:34

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
St. John, 14:27

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-26-2006 at 04:31 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:26 PM   #29
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

O'Sensei was on a spiritual quest in his life...it predated his MA training...Aikido was a result of his spiritual practice reather than the cause...if we train w/out the desire to get"IT"...the chance of getting "IT" will be enhanced.
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Old 08-27-2006, 01:24 PM   #30
Erick Mead
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Wayne Gorski wrote:
O'Sensei was on a spiritual quest in his life...it predated his MA training...Aikido was a result of his spiritual practice reather than the cause...
It is difficult to supprot this statement. He started martial arts from an early age, sumo boys on the beach in Tanabe, although this was not atypical of a child of that era, by any means.

Then, after his father was robbed and beaten, he studied kito-ryu jujutsu and Yagyu Shinkage ryu sword, much more intensively. He was in the army in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese war, and reportedly the only reason his too-short height was overlooked, was his physical intensity and ability.

His intensive study of body arts was thereafter in Hokkaido, where he attempted a frontier settlement. He studied there under Takeda in Daito-ryu. O-Sensie has been quoted as saying that Takeda opened his eyes to budo, but aikido came later.

He went to Ayabe and met Deguchi on the way home from Hokkaido to see his father, who was seriously ill. It was really only with the death of his father, that his spiritual journey began in earnest (a fairly common occurrence in many cultures). He then began his study of Omoto with Deguchi, He was at that time a formidable and deadly man in all respects, becoming Deguchi's bodyguard.

It was Deguchi that suggested and encourage him to develop his martial art as a means to spiritual ends. This was despite his continuing ( and often testy) relationshiop with Takeda, whom Deguchi reportedly despised.

I do not think that this history can fairly be said to make a spiritual quest his life-long ambition. Budo came first, and intensively so. Deguchi expressly viewed O-Sensei's aikido as a means to develop spiritual fulfillment, not the other way around.

He himself reported that his primary revelation was dirrectly following intense practice. He repeatedly said that the spiritual benefits of aikido were to be had through training, traqining -- and more training.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-27-2006, 05:01 PM   #31
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
It was really only with the death of his father, that his spiritual journey began in earnest (a fairly common occurrence in many cultures). He then began his study of Omoto with Deguchi, He was at that time a formidable and deadly man in all respects, becoming Deguchi's bodyguard.
To be fair, O-Sensei did have some relationship with a Shingon priest during his childhood but there is no more information about what kind of impact it made on him than there is about how seriously he took his early martial arts training.

I think his exposure to things martial was pretty much contemporaneous with his introduction to the world of spiritual practice. It seems certain that he was always rather other-wordly. his father and his uncle both tried to get him interested in various business enterprises which he pretty much failed at due to complete lack of interest. This was before he met Takeda...

That said, his meeting with Takeda was the seminal event in his development as a martial artists and his meeting with Deguchi filled the same function in his spiritual quest.

Regarding the larger picture of spiritual practice and Aikido... Most classical martial arts contained an awareness of the importance of spiritual issues for someone who is spending all his time studying how to do terrible things to another human being. The traditional Japanese warrior lived in a world populated by all sorts of benign and malignant forces. It was very important therefore, to balance off the martial training with proper philosophical and spiritual alignment or one could "go to the darkside" so to speak.

Ethical training was important for every warrior. Also, reiki, or etiquette, was also crucial. Etiquette wasn't simply about being polite towards others in order to harmonize relationships, although that was an important part. Reiki was also the way that an individual kept himself in proper spiritual alignment so as to not be open to outside malign influence. Talk to Toby Threadgill Sensei about how his teacher viewed these issues.

This is also the attitude of the Systema folks, just as an aside. They feel that there needs to be an underlying spiritual practice in order to avoid being damaged by the training which focuses on so much destruction.

Now, this isn't quite so much of an issue in Aikido because the manner in which most people train is not particularly martial. The destructive techniques are not widely taught and the attitude of the training is probably not how the early practitioners saw what they were doing. So I don't think that one has to have some spiritual underpinning to avoid being possessed by evil forces... But without some spiritual underpinning Aikido is just another martial art, one of many, and one of the less practical in any kind of short run.

You simply cannot separate the spiritual from the art and have it have any relation at all to what O-Sensei was doing. Aikido, as we have inherited the art, is the direct result of the confluence of O-Sensei's martial practice and his spiritual practice. Aikido is his attempt to create an art that contained both elements in a way that was unique. With a few notable exceptions, his descendents have attempted ever since to distance themselves from the spiritual teachings of thee Founder and focus on the technical side. Some have tried to devolve the art back to some "more effective" antecedent. Others have taken the art away from the martial side almost entirely, making it an interesting form of exercise but lacking both deep spirituality and martial effectiveness.

Then there are the folks for whom the spiritual message, as they interpreted it, usually based on very little direct exposure to the Founder's teachings, was of paramount importance. Technique is of secondary importance, at best, for these folks. Unfortunately, this attitude is no more what O-Sensei had in mind than that of the folks who are just interested in physical technique.

The "spiritual folks" look at the "technical folks" as not really "getting it" and the "technical folks" believe the same thing about the "spiritual folks". They are both right. Aikido is an art in which the physical practice informs your spiritual world and your spiritual world informs your physical technique. Inseparably...

Most folks want to have Aikido change to fit them rather than change to fit Aikido. That's fine as long as you don't see Aikido as a transformative practice. But if you do, then you will have to change yourself in order to train. That will certainly entail learning to get comfortable with parts of the art that are not natural or comfortable for you. I do not think that it is necessary to attempt to duplicate exactly the elements that O-Sensei combined to create his own Aikido. He did what worked for him in his time and culture. But I do think that to have any meaningful sense of what the Founder was modeling for us, we need to acheive much that same balance between the spiritual side of our practice and the martial side.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 08-27-2006 at 05:05 PM.

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Old 08-27-2006, 05:58 PM   #32
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

George, I think the term you are trying to use is "reigi" ( 礼儀 ), not "reiki" ( 冷気、例規、霊気 meaning chilly air, illustrative rule, and aura, respectively). Good post, though I think it underestimates the importance of etiquette in Japan today. "Reigi-tadashii" is an important expression in Japanese, a sign of someone who can be trusted to uphold the expected appearances, and which is considered a mark of esteem (the outside-visible world being wholly "omote", "appearance" and distinct from the "ura" or true world. Thus being told one is such is sort of humourous by itself, like a Japanese in-joke). I imagine many Westerners find this reprehensible at least some of the time (try being dumped by a Japanese girl, for one, ) Etiquette in Japan has similarities with Western ideas of etiquette, but perhaps more that of Victorian England than the present Western world (apologies to my friends from the UK!). It's a useful facet of making do in the society, and handling the various conflicting obligations and seniorities around one, without having to commit to any sincerity -- so a kind of minimal acceptable energy-exertion while retaining some measure of freedom on the inside.
Regards, Gernot

Last edited by Gernot Hassenpflug : 08-27-2006 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 08-27-2006, 10:07 PM   #33
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Ethical training was important for every warrior. Also, reiki, or etiquette, was also crucial. Etiquette wasn't simply about being polite towards others in order to harmonize relationships, although that was an important part. Reiki was also the way that an individual kept himself in proper spiritual alignment so as to not be open to outside malign influence.
Robert Heinlein said, "An armed society is a polite society." Less sardonically, failing to give honor, even to those who are not even remotely deserving of it in your own eyes, is suki.

If I disregard what I perceive as unworthy of respect, I fail to see it as it is, and see only my image of it. It lets my ego open a path to my own destruction. Honor for every person is thus a survival trait that the warrior ethic rightfully emphasizes. Unlike often hypocritical social etiquette, rendering honor in terms of budo requires genuine sincerity, or it fails of its essential purpose.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
You simply cannot separate the spiritual from the art and have it have any relation at all to what O-Sensei was doing. Aikido, as we have inherited the art, is the direct result of the confluence of O-Sensei's martial practice and his spiritual practice. Aikido is his attempt to create an art that contained both elements in a way that was unique.
Many Japanese, are as befuddled by the Kojiki and O-Sensei's keen interest in its teachings, as are most foreigners. This was plainly true of many of his uchi deshi, with notable exceptions.

I have only begun my study into this area of Japanese mythology. Chinese and Chinese philosophy was my degree specialty before aviation and law intervened. Very much of that is directly applicable to Japanese culture. Kotodama, for instance, in its aspect of both synthetic and analytic appreciation of the root syllables in the combinations that make up typical Japanese words is very much in keeping with the similar Chinese process of decomposing hanzi (kanji) to derive other levels of meaning. Kojiki, on the other hand, is very idiosyncratic in its mythological references.

William Gleason has examined these issues from a certain introductory and operative perspective in relation to kotodama on its own terms, but not in a larger sense of trying to make its metaphysics more generally applicable and comprehensible. Kojiki is knowledge that is not intended to be transparent, precisely because the process of transforming its obscurities, with the process of kotodama, not wiping them away, is the only way to understand it. O-Sensei's view of Kojiki's critical importance is laid out in many of his statements and in several doka.

Ame no Uki Hashi, the Floating Bridge of Heaven -- this is O-Sensei's identification, in mythic terms, of the highest aspiration of the art he developed. A bridge between what and what, however? And what is the Great Stone Door?

Gleason Sensei identifies the Stone Door as representing watershed events in human cognition and developement. The first opening of the Stone door made us human, conscious, although not consciously capable of our own development. At that time our developmental processes were entirely unconscious, and conscious manipulation of objectified reality became a latent capability to be developed. As our capacity for objectificaiton grew, we applied it internally and externally.

Then the Stone Door closed, closing the window on the expansion of our latent developmental faculties, both spiritual and material, leaving consciousness play out the development of its objective faculties. Ego can be viewed in this same rubic -- the objectfication of the evanescent "I" into the concrete "me."

The Greeks called this resulting developmental process from latent to patent objective capability by two names : techne -- craft or art, and episteme -- abstract knowledge. They are really one thing -- operative knowledge.

Socrates greatly feared the possibile dangers inherent in techne, and Archimedes justified his fear. In this century, we have produced the (so far) pinnacle of threat, nuclear fission, which is the product of the most pure episteme yet known -- quantum mechanics. China and Japan developed their techne and episteme in different ways than the West, but they share a basic operative dimension in their focus, which has allowed the almost seamless interconneciton between Western and Eastern capabilities.

We have now developed this faculty to a high degree, both in external arts and in abstract thought, using mental processes in much the same manner as we use external tools -- to break, to build and to join and articulate elements into a mechanistic whole. Fortunately for us all, mechanism is not THE whole.

This is all philosophy (science was originally called "natural philosophy"). Philosophy is "love of wisdom" -- treating sophia -- wisdom -- as an object of remote veneration and appeal for favor, instead of being imbued with it, and exercising it directly as our own inheritance.

Wisdom is "knowing" -- not as I now know that 2+2 = 4 -- but knowing as I now know, directly, where my hand is when I cannot see it. Wisdom is acting, not to form or shape the image of desire as the result of constraint or force, but because acting causes what must of necessity then occur without coercive effort. It seems that O-Sensei had a vision that his art, his craft of budo (which at its pinnacle of physical effectiveness necessarily obliterates the epistemological distinction between object and subject), was a means to prepare the way for the second opening of the Stone Door.

If the myth is to be given credit as an expression of humanity's intuitive knowledge of its own collective capacity, even though subconsciously revealed, then other productive combinations of techne and episteme in the right spirit may utlimately be capable of approaching the developmental phase change in the human psyche that aikido seems to approach. The limit of this process should transcend the manipulative ego that ultimately cripples the love of wisdom, keeping it from achieving the object of its desire, because it is so antithetical to wisdom proper. Aikido has the advantage that budo, as in other situations of uncertainty and doubt, is able to leap in unheeding.

If the myth is given credit for descriptive power, then upon the awaited second opening of the Stone Door, mankind will begin to become increasingly aware of our internal dimensions and of true wisdom as our own active power, rather than a worshipful and passive heirloom. If the myth has power to explain it may suggest that we may eventually become aware of wisdom, directly, and capable of meaningful conscious exploration and development of these internal faculties as we have explored our external capacities.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
With a few notable exceptions, his descendents have attempted ever since to distance themselves from the spiritual teachings of thee Founder and focus on the technical side. ... Then there are the folks for whom the spiritual message, as they interpreted it, usually based on very little direct exposure to the Founder's teachings, was of paramount importance. ... this attitude is no more what O-Sensei had in mind than that of the folks who are just interested in physical technique.
They are each approaching the art from the perspective of techne and episteme, respectively, and are wrong in different ways for the same reason. O-Sensei emphasized the practice of aikido as a means to transcend the manipulative nature of techne and episteme, leading or foreshadowing the expectation of a new form of human comprehension of reality -- symbolized by the second opening of the Stone Door.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Aikido is an art in which the physical practice informs your spiritual world and your spiritual world informs your physical technique. Inseparably... Most folks want to have Aikido change to fit them rather than change to fit Aikido. That's fine as long as you don't see Aikido as a transformative practice. But if you do, then you will have to change yourself in order to train.
I get it at times, fitfully, and at others it is still frustratingly mystifying , but what I get is more than enough to lead me further down the path. Glimpses of the top of the mountain are, however, not the same as being there.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-27-2006 at 10:16 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-28-2006, 12:46 AM   #34
tedehara
 
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Re: skeptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Well we COULD seek for distinction and division, but that would hardly be aiki, now would it?
I guess that depends on if you're looking for truth or emotional satisfaction.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
...This misidentificaiton was repeated with St. Francis Xavier's introduction of Christianity to Japan in the sixteenth centruy, when the Shogun assumed it was merely a new esoteric teaching of Buddhism.
That distinction was corrected in the Tokugawa shogunate, where they slaughtered entire villages of Christians and drove the religion underground for centuries. But perhaps the Shogun saw similarities between Christianity and Japanese culture. After all, they did institute crucifixion as a capital punishment because of Christianity.

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Ki (qi) is Chinese -- not Japanese in derivation, and Taoist, not Shinto, although there are parallels to be sure.
Chi/Qi is Chinese in origin, but has become part of traditional Japanese culture. This popular concept is different than the Chinese concept of Qi. Just as baseball is American in origin, but changed into Japanese baseball. This is different than American baseball, Korean baseball and Taiwanese baseball, but it's all still baseball.

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
And moreover, I did not make the connection between O-Sensei's ideas, of kotodama, Shinto and Christianity -- O-Sensei did, rather explicitly:
O-Sensei made very clear elsewhere that "SU" was the the kotodama for the primordial member of the creator trinity of kami in the Kojiki Amenominakanushi no kami together with Takamimusubi no kami, and Kamimusubi no kami. These three are honored at the end of every sumo match by the left-right-middle tegatana o kiru by the winner.
The founder also prayed to the Hawaiian gods. He could do that since his tradition was one which did not include the following commandments:

Quote:
AND God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hates me.
EXODUS Chapter 20 King James Version
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
... This is wrong for Christian teaching as well as wrong for Shinto or Buddhism. All three attest that spiritual growth and immediate appreciaiton of physical reality are not to be separated from one another, and that salvation/enlightenment/michi is had by actions in this world. Practice does not flow from belief. Belief flows from practice and the impetus to practice flows from awe, love, enlightenment -- whatever you choose to call that gut-dropping sense is that takes us away from our tiny egos. For Buddhism practice is the abandonment of the veil of desire in favor of direct experience . For Shinto it is absolute sincerity and attention in every act. For the Christian the question is as plain-spoken as it is engimatic and open-ended: "'Where do you dwell, master?' 'Come and see.' "
Perhaps you have figured out two major and one minor religion, but it seems to me that when Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween, it was his faith that brought him to that practice. The other kids that are with him don't believe in The Great Pumpkin and leave in frustration. It is his belief that sustains him in his practice. It will be his practice that deepens and strengthens his faith, but it is belief that comes first. How could one even begin a practice that they didn't believe in?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
There is no place for doctrine at the edge of a sword. Katsu jinken is a narrow path within that already narrow way. It sweeps away all else before it.

O-Sensei did not misplace his sense of broader connections in spirtuality in the art of peace he taught -- by means of unhesitating direct entry into the heart of an attack.

Is his teaching on this point really any different from the teaching of Jesus on the nature of true peace?
The fact is that we are all different. Religions are just as different as the people who are their members. Instead of grinding religions into some spiritual sausage, where everything is the same, we have to recognize those differences. And it's alright for those differences to exist.

Even though we are different that others, we can still get along. Even though religions are different than other religions, they can still peacefully co-exist. The reason all this can be done is because of respect. We can respect others even though they are different. We can respect other religions even though those religions are different than our own.

How can we learn about this kind of respect? I recall someone saying, "The martial arts begins and ends with respect." Maybe we could start with that.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 08-28-2006, 06:55 AM   #35
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I do not think that it is necessary to attempt to duplicate exactly the elements that O-Sensei combined to create his own Aikido. He did what worked for him in his time and culture. But I do think that to have any meaningful sense of what the Founder was modeling for us, we need to acheive much that same balance between the spiritual side of our practice and the martial side.
So I could achieve that balance if the ethical and moral goals of my practice of Christianity are similiar to the ethical and moral goals of O'Sensei's practice of his eclectic religious beliefs?
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Old 08-28-2006, 07:13 AM   #36
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

In japanese, a punch is tsuki. In english a punch is a punch. While training does one benefit from distinguishing between a tsuki, and a punch? Or do they benefit from considering the idea that they look the same, it might be best to treat them the same?
Quote:
Ted wrote:
Even though we are different that others, we can still get along. Even though religions are different than other religions, they can still peacefully co-exist.
It seems to me you're saying what Erick is implying, except you're saying it the way you want to hear it.

Are we that different from others, and if not, why aren't we getting along? Because these religions are similiar, they can co-exist.

But I agree with the portrayal of Linus. I could see belief coming from awe, love, and enlightenment, then proceeding to practice out of respect for the previous two.

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Old 08-28-2006, 07:38 AM   #37
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Re: skeptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
I guess that depends on if you're looking for truth or emotional satisfaction.
I was unaware that this was a forced choice. Nor was I aware that lies would lead to lasting joy. Is this something you would recommend?
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
But perhaps the Shogun saw similarities between Christianity and Japanese culture. After all, they did institute crucifixion as a capital punishment because of Christianity.
I doubt that is what O-Sensei had in mind in suggesting the cross-cultural significance of "juji," but, no doubt, the Bakufu promoted a somewhat different perspective in adopting this symbolism...
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
The founder also prayed to the Hawaiian gods. He could do that since his tradition was one which did not include the following commandments:
On this I would refer to my other comments about the objectification of human thinking -- the same applies in religion as in psychology. If object-subject dualism is to be transcended, worship itself ( i.e. - supplication to an object thereof) must also be transcended. That is the point and the source of commonality between the biblicial Lord signifying the One "I AM" and the kotodama "SU" signifying the creator, Lord of high heaven...

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Perhaps you have figured out two major and one minor religion, but it seems to me that when Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween, it was his faith that brought him to that practice. The other kids that are with him don't believe in The Great Pumpkin and leave in frustration. It is his belief that sustains him in his practice. It will be his practice that deepens and strengthens his faith, but it is belief that comes first. How could one even begin a practice that they didn't believe in?
Happy accident? I doubt I have figured anything out. I just state my observations.

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
The fact is that we are all different. Religions are just as different as the people who are their members. Instead of grinding religions into some spiritual sausage, where everything is the same, we have to recognize those differences. And it's alright for those differences to exist.
I do not grind -- I winnow, seeking the kernels of real and unaltered sustenance among the chaff of history and human foible. Objective differnces are often irreconcilable, which you plainly suggest, and must be merely ignored or passed over to AVOID conflict. If I know any thing about aikido -- it is NOT about avoiding conflict.

As Gleason Sensei ably said, "In order to practice conflict resolution, we need, first of all, and honest confrontation." We cannot get honest confrontation by "just getting along." Many differences are objectively real and in irreconcilable conflict. Objectively, there is no resolution of such conflict short of one destroying the other. I suggest that from the perspective of kannagara, Dharmakaya, "I AM," these differences are subjectively illusory, not from the standpoint of my tiny ego, but from a positing of subjectivity writ large, in which you and I (a false distinction we practice to obliterate in aiki) share in equal measure.
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
How can we learn about this kind of respect? I recall someone saying, "The martial arts begins and ends with respect." Maybe we could start with that.
Plainly, the biblical text is full of violence and cruelty -- the history of budo is no different? "The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name," says the psalmist. Are they not in fact deeply allied in this respect? Left to our own devices, will I and my enemy do anything other than destroy one, the other, or both?

What is it, then, that transcends this seemingly inevitable brutality of us-versus-them duality? What redeems the harsh cruelty of a blade or a cross, wherever they have been employed? Only the EXPERIENCE of "I AM" transcends self and enemy and transforms satsu jin ken into katsu jin ken. Practice, experience thus takes precedence in BEING, whereas belief is Cartesian, placing thought in precedence to being. "I think, therefore, I AM." I ( along with many many others) suggest reversing this and place "I AM" in precedence to everything else.

Belief -- posited as preceding such experience in dignity and cause -- is but another form of objectification, and thus a potentially dangerous trap, however pious its intent. Belief posited as explaining the painting to the blind man is something else (recognizing that we all are basically blind -- some merely get flashes of remission and brief recovery of sight). The differences of description -- while valid and beautiful in their own right in the art of telling -- as between two blind men hearing vrey differnt accounts of the same painting from two differnt witnesses, the differences of belief are of far less concern.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-28-2006 at 07:50 AM.

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Erick Mead
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Old 08-28-2006, 07:44 AM   #38
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I do not think that it is necessary to attempt to duplicate exactly the elements that O-Sensei combined to create his own Aikido. He did what worked for him in his time and culture. But I do think that to have any meaningful sense of what the Founder was modeling for us, we need to acheive much that same balance between the spiritual side of our practice and the martial side.
So I could achieve that balance if the ethical and moral goals of my practice of Christianity are similiar to the ethical and moral goals of O'Sensei's practice of his eclectic religious beliefs?
"All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit." St. Thomas Aquinas, cit. 1 Cor. 12:4-11 (paraphrasing St. Jerome).

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:00 AM   #39
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit." St. Thomas Aquinas, cit. 1 Cor. 12:4-11 (paraphrasing St. Jerome).
Amen.

To see if the ethical and moral goals of his practice coincide with mine I need to try to understand his religion. And if I am unable to understand what his religion was or what he has said about it, can I still find the ethical and moral goals in the practice of O'Sensei's Aikido , in each and every technique?
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Old 08-28-2006, 12:02 PM   #40
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Amen.
To see if the ethical and moral goals of his practice coincide with mine I need to try to understand his religion. And if I am unable to understand what his religion was or what he has said about it, can I still find the ethical and moral goals in the practice of O'Sensei's Aikido , in each and every technique?
Yup. I think so. Consideration of a few authorities from the Christian side may be in order. As witness -- "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis:
Quote:
Thomas a Kempis wrote:
The Voice of Christ - MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed. Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.… Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle.
Crucifixion. Resurrection. Irimi. Tenkan.

As an imitation of Christ in his approach to the enemy, who represents death, I think Thomas a Kempis would have included it in his book, had he known of it.
Quote:
For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
1 Cor. 4:20-21
And the necessity of brutal chastening of egoistic value:
Quote:
But he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently."
St. Luke, 16:15-16.
And, is there a more succinct statement of budo from the Western canon than the following ?
Quote:
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
St. Matt., 10:39
"My sake" is Jesus. In Christian terms Jesus is of one substance with God. God's name is "I AM." He who disregards his own being for BEING itself finds his true life. This statement is indistinguishable from the substance of any number of Buddhist treatises -- and is echoed in Takuan's essay on fudoshin in budo.

Much good can also be had by contempating the complex and paradoxical Gospel of Peace:
Quote:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
St. John, 14:27
Quote:
You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.
St. Matt., 5:21-22
Quote:
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. ` Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
St. Matt., 26:51-52.
Quote:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
St. Matt., 10:34
The short answer is that these statements cannot be objectively reconciled, even in terms of Christianity. It is, in that treasured phrase -- "a mystery." Which immediately causes the objectivists (not necessarily unreasonably) to dismiss all religion as (I love this phrase) "nonsense on stilts." If, that is, you have signed onto objectivity and linear reason as the predetermining factors of existence.

Breaking the objective crutch is the point of these teachings. Physics is showing us that linear reason is not the basis of reality. As a fundamental attack on local/nonlocal, subject/object duality the consideraiton of these scriptural references and others in similar vein are as sublime as any koan, or quantum wave state superposition.

Those who seek East for contemplative practice find rich treasures in Zen, in Kannagara, (and more and more, I am beginning to find in kotodama also, recondite as it is). But they do themselves a disserevice to ignore the valuables in their own disused cupboards.

Traditional Christian teaching places the "Name of Jesus" above every other name. (Now during the re-roofing marathon we here on the Gulf Coast endured in the last two years, there were a number guys named Jesus substantially above me -- on various roofs. But I digress.) From a Christian perspective, acknowledging the "Name of Jesus"=God="I AM" as above every other name, literally subjects the objective reason to the power of the all-encompassing Subjective. "I AM" is declaratory, not explanatory.

Aikido is simply practice in this same type of direct subjective experience of other beings as one Being (tat tvam asi) on a smaller, less cosmic scale. O-Sensei did not set out to make anybody follow a religion, but to make every person's religion better through training in aiki.

Quote:
Andre Nocquet (O-Sensei's uchi deshi ca. 1955) wrote:
I said to Ueshiba Sensei, "You are always praying, Ueshiba Sensei. Then Aikido is a religion." "No, that's not true. Aikido is never a religion, but if you are a Christian, you will be a better Christian because of Aikido. If you are a Buddhist, you will be a better Buddhist." ... 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."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-28-2006, 03:18 PM   #41
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Erik,
Is this the book you are referring to?http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/i...imitation.html
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Old 08-28-2006, 03:47 PM   #42
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Erik,
Is this the book you are referring to?http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/i...imitation.html
It is, indeed.

Since someone else asked about some books offline, I will post the works I recommended of interest in this area ::
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Along these lines I strongly recommend "Truth and Tolerance" by Pope Benedict, the encyclical of John Paul "Dominus Iesus", in which Cardinal Ratzinger's guiding hand is clearly seen. His own first encyclical -- "Deus Caritas Est" is orth perusing in conjunction.

As to a rigorous treatment of Buddhist thought in Thomist Catholicism try "Zen Catholicism" (1963) by Dom Aelred Graham. He was writing contemporarily with Vatican II in which Pope Benedict played a part, and I see some of the same sensibilities in the Holy Father's thought in "Dominus Iesus" as Graham discusses, even thought the present Pope's bias seems more toward Bonaventure.

Dom Graham's other notable work was "The Love of God" which makes an interesting companion piece to "Deus Caritas Est," and perhaps not by accident given the time period, and Pope Benedict's continued commitment to ecumenicism on terms he himself has helped to form for the Church even before his election.

Another very good book is by James Hillman, the exponent of archetypal psychology, (a close student of Carl Jung) :: "A Terrible Love of War." Hillman makes some very interesting non-religious pscyhological/mythological connections that parallel O-Sensei's approach to the fundamental relationship between budo and love.
"Zen Catholicism" I know is still in print. Graham also has a number of other works but these are what I have some familiarity with. He has a very interesting quote from a 1949 seires of articels in The Times that presaged Vatican II. "The Polemics of the Counter Reformation are felt to have outlasted their usefulness to a society demanding not the dubious stimulants of sectarian controversy but a fundamental re-Christianisation." Pope Benedict's curreent approach to ecumenical effrot and stated mission to revive a depth and vigor in the increasingly moribund Christian laity in Europe (both Catholic and Protestant) are very much keyed from this same sensibility.

I would give a great deal to know what Pope Benedict's take would be on aikido as it is practiced...

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-28-2006 at 03:56 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-28-2006, 04:08 PM   #43
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Thank you, I don't know when but I will eventually read them.
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Old 08-29-2006, 05:31 AM   #44
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Juan De La Cruz wrote:
...I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it. I dont believe in the kami and/or the gods of war. ... The universe to me consist of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, planets, cosmic rays, space debris, comets, moons, etc.

...As an aikidoka do we also have to embrace the almost religious aspect of our beloved art.
Well, in that case you will make a good aikido student! Ueshiba said sincerity is the most important charactersitic of a good aikidoka. He also insisted that his religious beliefs were his own, and that isn't what he was teaching (although he used alogories).

Although I believe aikido has affected me spiritually, it is indirectly. I am quite anti indoctrination. There is a chinese saying that goes something like 'other peoples knowledge is other people's knowledge' i.e. pretending to believe in something someone else believes in is pointless since you can't ever understand the context fully. You need to learn yourself and alter your own understanding through life experience.

Therefore there is no need to embrace the religious aspect of the art (including any aspect of ki). Indeed embracing something you don't feel or understand is living a stupid and ultimately destructful lie.

However, I would say to be cautious about 'believing' in planets, cosmic rays etc - even science is just a model of reality and cannot fully represent it. The only reality is here and now and is beyond words and descriptions.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:09 AM   #45
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
However, I would say to be cautious about 'believing' in planets, cosmic rays etc - even science is just a model of reality and cannot fully represent it. The only reality is here and now and is beyond words and descriptions.
Too true.

"All models are wrong -- some models are useful." George Fox.

---

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:16 PM   #46
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Re: skeptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
However, I would say to be cautious about 'believing' in planets, cosmic rays etc - even science is just a model of reality and cannot fully represent it. The only reality is here and now and is beyond words and descriptions.
Hey, some of us work pretty hard on models that include cosmic rays.
The nice thing about planets and cosmic rays is that they exist whether you believe in them or not.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Too true.
"All models are wrong -- some models are useful." George Fox.---
If the prescription is followed, the predicted result arises.
Belief isn't even the right concept to apply to the individual results of science (the scientific process).
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=belief
I stand on the planet known as Earth (a conspiracy of feet and dirt).
I've seen Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn with my naked eyes and through telescopes (a conspiracy between eyes and glass). I work on an international project that detects cosmic rays (a conspiracy of water, glass, plastic, and metal).
http://www.auger.org/
Sure science is incomplete, but that doesn't mean that it isn't working (when I'm writing these posts, it might not be working quite as hard).
If what was meant was promoting the kind of skepticism that I try to keep every day at work where I'm ready to leave behind the conventional wisdom if and only if another superior predictor is created, then that is fine and I applaud it.
If the above was some attempt at undermining the process instead (possibly through that relativism that I constantly hear about), I deplore it.
So, (as the intellectual zombie of the useful models) I ask that we not only be carefully of believing in planets and cosmic rays and instead educate ourselves as to the verifiable and repeatable measurements that raise these concepts above unicorns (I'm of course referring to their existence historically and not to the possibility of creating them through genetic manipulation).

"Lastly, there's a sect known as meteorologists. They believe Katrina was caused by warm, moist air rising to meet colder air, forming clusters of thunderstorms, that - fed by the earth's rotation - created a self-strengthening storm-cycle. *chuckles* Right. And then it rode off on a unicorn."---The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert.

More over, please be even more careful believing in anything else.

I admit that I get a bit defensive on this subject, but such is my indoctrination that I don't feel that I should apologize for it.

More to the point of the original thread, I'm skeptical as to the "spiritual side of aikido" as being any more than a "physical mnemonic" for the quick learning of proper aikido principle. I'm not skeptical as to Sensei's ability to getting my feet to kiss the sky with efficiency and grace. The instincts have been undeniably well trained either way.

"One does not find wisdom in another's words." -James D. Chye
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:28 PM   #47
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Pluto exists...but is it a planet?

B,
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Old 08-29-2006, 03:00 PM   #48
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Re: skeptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
James Chye wrote:
The nice thing about planets and cosmic rays is that they exist whether you believe in them or not.

So, (as the intellectual zombie of the useful models) I ask that we not only be carefully of believing in planets and cosmic rays and instead educate ourselves as to the verifiable and repeatable measurements that raise these concepts above unicorns.
Amen, to that too. ("Amen." BTW, means "So be it." no more and no less.)
Quote:
James Chye wrote:
More to the point of the original thread, I'm skeptical as to the "spiritual side of aikido" as being any more than a "physical mnemonic" for the quick learning of proper aikido principle. I'm not skeptical as to Sensei's ability to getting my feet to kiss the sky with efficiency and grace. The instincts have been undeniably well trained either way.
There is a differnce between positing that spirit is real and positing that it is necessarily coextensive with linear, continuous reality. Reality is not even coextensive with linear coninuous reality.

There is much that we do in aikido (past a certain point in training) that we have initially trained to do consciously, that at some point we become unaware of what it is, exactly, we are doing or why. We simply MOVE because that is the thing to do at that moment. This aspect of subsensory information that seems (to me anyway) to be a significant part of what ki and musubi are all about. This has been discussed elsewhere, in other, more empirical terms: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10794 (generally), and here http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...tcount=19(more specifically).

Roger Penrose posits that the ephemeral nature of human thought and experience points to a quantum process. His is a minority position on this issue. Among his many claims to fame is the joint proof with Hawking that black holes are not only consistent with general relativity, they are unavoidable. Given his comprehension of the uttermost limits of the knowable in the macrocosmic scale, I tend to give his opinion the benfit of the doubt as to the limitis of the knowable at the microscomic scale. At the very least, it is a preferred working hypothesis.

If Penrose is correct, then there would appear to be an interior limit to knowability that is as profound and as discontinuous as the Schwarzchild radius. Compensating for that, in much the same way as Hawking radiation leaks temperature there is still the possibility that beyond that limit of knowability (in the sense of a wave function and observed reality), spooky non-locality ( really, it is a technical term) is still possible beyond that limit but not in the sense of conscious perception.

The studies I cited in the noted discussions above implicate EEG wave packets propagating in the neuro-muscular system on the order of ~60 cm with no observed upper limit and changes of state on the order of 5 ms. http://cnd.memphis.edu/neuropercolat...WavePacket.pdf. This observation seems to address to some extent Tegmark's criticism about the incompatibility of the slow rate of neuron firing to the rate of quatum decoherence (the wave packets propagate at speeds two orders of maginitude above that of neuron firing, as a second order process (much like a tsunami wave travels at jet speed, while the water in which it travels hardly moves at all).

The other study indicated that by means of stochastic resonance random subsensory vibration can actually be utilized by the neuromuscular system to maintain and improve balance.
http://cnd.memphis.edu/paper/tnn-ce971R-HK.pdf, and similarlyl here: http://www.bu.edu/abl/files/fulltext.pdf

In short: Good morning, Horatio!

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:39 PM   #49
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Too true.

"All models are wrong -- some models are useful." George Fox.

---
Box, not Fox.


Justin

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"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 08-29-2006, 09:23 PM   #50
hapkidoike
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Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido

With all this talk of religion, I would like to share a funny story with you, it is not meant to offend anyone:
I live in South Korea. Here there are lots of buddists, and lots of christians (a large group being Jehova's Witnesses). One day some J.W.'s approached me, doing what J.W.'s do (I assume that everybody has had at least one experience with them). I am not offended by such behaviour, but I do tend to attempt to steer the conversation as far away from God as possible, just to see how long I can do it. Finally they ask me "Are you a christian?" and I say "No, I dont have a religion" to which they ask the obvious question of "why not". I explain to them that I am too busy, I train, am in a band, have a girlfriend and work full time, which is about all I have time for, but I try to treat training matial arts as my religious experience but it dosent really work. They fully do not get it. They cannot believe that I "don't" have any religion whatsover.
Fast Forward about 6 months: I am at home, talking to a friend in the states, and the doorbell rings. Two guys in suits. I am thinking witnesses, but they introduce themselves to me as buddists, and we start talking. Then they ask me if i have a religion, and I reply in the same manner as I did with the witnesses. It totally made sense to them. We started talking about martial arts for a while (one was a WuShu guy if I remember correctly) and they bid me good day.
I think this illustrates a major diffence between the two systems.
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