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Old 03-01-2007, 09:53 AM   #26
roswell1329
 
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

I cannot profess to know what O'Sensei's position was on pacifism, but I feel with regard to Aikido, it's a moot point. Aikido isn't necessarily about the peaceful resolution of conflict -- it's about eliminating conflict completely. If someone lunges at you with malicious intent, Aikido doesn't teach you to meet his intent with an equal or greater intent of love and peace, does it? That indeed would be a conflict, similar to any pacifist meeting aggression with civil disobedience (in my mind, this would be aggravating a conflict). Doesn't Aikido teach to align yourself with that aggressive intent and then lead that intent away from a conflict, thus neutralizing the intent entirely? I don't feel this is the same thing as pacifism.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:18 PM   #27
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

Non-vioence and pacifism are not the same. Pacifism is a state of mind dedicated to the preservation of peace. Non-violence is an action (or series of actions) that induces conflict without violence.

I do not believe in the duality of pacifism and non-violence. Non-violence is a tool used by individuals (or groups) to create conflict in a constructive manner. Obviously, one cannot create conflict and be opposed to conflict at the same time.

Aikido teaches us when to promote peace, and when to promote conflict.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:21 PM   #28
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

I think the whole problem stems NOT from what the definitions are, but it is defined by action/no action.

In any given situation you will have a stimulus and response. In between that you have choice.

You can make a choice to do nothing to stop harm.

OR

You can make a choice to do something to stop harm.

To me, pacifism would mean that you believe in peace at ALL cost, and choose to not take any action against violence presented, even if that means that someone or others will commit harm/violence. You choose to not participate.

Non-violence means that you believe in peace, however, you confront violence in the most skillfull way possibly by responding with something, yet it is not the same violence that you are presented with.

Ghandi, for example, could have chose a path of pacifism and retired to a ashram or community and set up a etopia and avoided violence and let the British continue on their present in India.

However, he chose to confront it, fully knowing that it would cause conflict and bring it to the surface, that people would be hurt and die for this cause.

He could have made two basic choices within the context of confronting violence.

1. He could have met it with active resistance, (violence with violence).

2. He could have met it with passive resistance (nonviolence against violence).

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Old 03-01-2007, 01:14 PM   #29
Fred Little
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
He could have made two basic choices within the context of confronting violence.

1. He could have met it with active resistance, (violence with violence).

2. He could have met it with passive resistance (nonviolence against violence).
Kevin --

I'd take that a good bit further.

It is a simple matter to divide your first item into:

1.a. Violence against property or facilities used to perpetrate violence against people or groups of people.

1.b. Violence against individuals or groups perpetrating violence against people or groups of people.

1.c. Violence against individuals or groups directing individuals or groups to perpetrate violence against people or groups of people.

Item 2 should be parsed as well:

2.a. Civil Obedience. In union situations, this is sometimes called a "work to contract" job action.

2.b. Civil Disobedience. This can take either passive or active forms ranging from a wildcat strike or refusal to perform routine actions to intentional non-violent obstruction of the routine actions of others. Modes of obstruction include both:

2.b.i non-compliance

2.b.ii passive resistance

2.c.iii active non-violent resistance

The above is far from exhaustive. Suffice it to say that the distinctions between pacifism, non-violence, civil disobedience and so forth that have appeared in this thread are all exceedingly cursory descriptions that are of limited utility.

Anybody seriously looking at these issues would do well to undergo a weekend of non-violent civil disobedience training, simply to get a sense of the ground, whether one intends to adopt the methods of non-violence as one's own or not.

There is, however, one great similarity between the highest technical principles and ideals of budo and those of non-violence -- in both cases, what is being attacked is ultimately the intention of the opponent.

"Non-violence" as a tactic can do extraordinarily violent things to the self-image of one's opponent, particularly an opponent who begins with a sense of him or herself as a moral or ethical being. The "non-violent" quality of one's actions does not relieve one of the responsibility for the foreseeable effects of those actions.

It is my view that this last point bears the most careful examination and personal introspection

Last edited by Fred Little : 03-01-2007 at 01:16 PM. Reason: copy editing oversight
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Old 03-01-2007, 01:25 PM   #30
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

Good points Fred, I will have to think about these a little further for sure!

You do bring up a good point with your last paragraph.

For instance, it would be highly unethical possibly for Doctors to walk out of a hospital as a form of non-violence in an attempt to persuade their organization to change at the expense of life and limb of their patients.

Again, I will have to think about this some more for sure!

But, I think you drive the point home that in all cases we have to consider the magnitude (karma) of our actions and the third order effects of them.

It might be more ethical to use a bullet to stop one person from killing 100 people, than to take no action at all, even though we would be committing an act of killing.

I think sometimes we want to rank order violence and nonviolence with nonviolence always being the better, more ethical choice.

As you point out, I think it can be situational dependent.

How does this relate to the concept of pacifism? Again, to me this means I choose to not participate in violence at any cost.

That might be the right answer in some cases, in others it may not?

Good discussion.

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Old 03-01-2007, 02:28 PM   #31
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

Kevin, before even reading your post, I wanted to reply with another quote that said it better than I, but you go ahead and say it for me:
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
It might be more ethical to use a bullet to stop one person from killing 100 people, than to take no action at all, even though we would be committing an act of killing.
Quote:
But in the spirit of breaking the bonds of attachment to ideology, the practice of the precept not to kill goes much further in Buddhism. A person caught in a doctrine or a system of thought can sacrifice millions of lives in order to put into practice his theory, which he considers the absolute truth, the unique path that can lead humankind to happiness.
With a gun in hand, a person can kill one, five, or even ten people.
But holding on to a doctrine or a system of thought, one can kill tens of thousands of people. Therefore, unless the precept not to take life is understood in terms of breaking the bonds of attachment to ideology, it is not truly the precept taught by the Buddha.
--Thich Nhat Hanh, Thundering Silence
(Parallax Press, 1993)
I wanted to ask whether non-violence is simply the conscious detachment from a fixed idealogy of pacifism. Is it the 'new&improved' pacifism? Which of us is thinking of the life-giving sword? I'm betting all of us.

michael.
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:42 PM   #32
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

I think you get into a whole macroscopic/microscopic view of things.

microscopic is concerned with eaches...that is in any given situation what is the cost/benefit of killing. (my example of 1 life to save 100).

In a macrosocopic view, from a karmic standpoint, what are the reprecussions of the killing of the one person. Might it have been better to let the 100 die? What events set all this in motion anyway?

Another way to put it is long term versus short term gain.

violence is violence for sure and violence will beget more violence.

Hence we end up with the Koan: Do no Harm, Stop Harm.

I think ideologically we do need to live our lives as close as we can to reduce or prevent violence as much as we can. Ideally, we would live in such a way to make violence obsolete.

I think many pacifist would say this is the reason for their practice right?

I think today, however, that it is necessary to evolve in this process, and in some way we must confront violence or try and understand it in order to reduce or eliminate.

Aikido I believe is one such practice that can help heal and understand our violent nature.

As far as the life giving sword...I don't know about that.

I mean you also have the saying "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword."

Might it be better to put the sword down all together (pacifism).

It certainly is easy to justify your actions as being moral when you live by the life giving sword.

I think this is a very complex subject! Making my head hurt right now.

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Old 03-02-2007, 09:29 AM   #33
Don_Modesto
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

Quote:
Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
- Mahatma Gandhi, August 11, 1920
Thanks for this, Chris. Hadn't known he'd spoken like this.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 03-02-2007, 06:15 PM   #34
Mike Sigman
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

Quote:
Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
- Mahatma Gandhi, August 11, 1920
There's always a difference between the dream/ideal and reality, though.... and for some reason only a few are able to keep this in mind:

For those who know Gandhi only by reputation or by the hagiographical film, I recommend the incomparable 1983 review/essay by the late, great Richard Grenier: "The Gandhi nobody knows." Professor David Schaefer has summarized Gandhi's thoughts well, as has Larry Arnn. Both Schaefer and Arnn are worth reading. No one, however, has captured Gandhi's thoughts more stylishly than Grenier. Here is Grenier's summary of Gandhi's World War II-era pensées:

I am under the embarrassing oligation of recording exactly what courses of action the Great Soul recommended to the various parties involved in that crisis. For Gandhi was never stinting in his advice. Indeed, the less he knew about a subject, the less he stinted.

I am aware that for many not privileged to have visited the former British Raj, the names Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Deccan are simply words. But other names, such as Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, somehow have a harder profile. The term "Jew," also, has a reasonably hard profile, and I feel all Jews sitting emotionally at the movie Gandhi should be apprised of the advice that the Mahatma offered their coreligionists when faced with the Nazi peril: they should commit collective suicide. If only the Jews of Germany had the good sense to offer their throats willingly to the Nazi butchers' knives and throw themselves into the sea from cliffs they would arouse world public opinion, Gandhi was convinced, and their moral triumph would be remembered for "ages to come." If they would only pray for Hitler (as their throats were cut, presumably), they would leave a "rich heritage to mankind." Although Gandhi had known Jews from his earliest days in South Africa--where his three staunchest white supporters were Jews, every one--he disapproved of how rarely they loved their enemies. And he never repented of his recommendation of collective suicide. Even after the war, when the full extent of the Holocaust was revealed, Gandhi told Louis Fischer, one of his biographers, that the Jews died anyway, didn't they? They
might as well have died significantly.

Gandhi's views on the European crisis were not entirely consistent. He vigorously opposed Munich, distrusting Chamberlain. "Europe has sold her soul for the sake of a seven days' earthly existence," he declared. "The peace that Europe gained at Munich is a triumph of violence." But when the Germans moved into the Bohemian heartland, he was back to urging nonviolent resistance, exhorting the Czechs to go forth, unarmed, against the Wehrmacht, perishing gloriously--collective suicide again. He had Madeleine Slade draw up two letters to President Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia, instructing him on the proper conduct of Czechoslovak satyagrahi when facing the Nazis.

When Hitler attacked Poland, however, Gandhi suddenly endorsed the Polish army's military resistance, calling it "almost nonviolent." (If this sounds like double-talk, I can only urge readers to read Gandhi.) He seemed at this point to have a rather low opinion of Hitler, but when Germany's panzer divisions turned west, Allied armies collapsed under the ferocious onslaught, and British ships were streaming across the Straits of Dover from Dunkirk, he wrote furiously to the Viceroy of India: "This manslaughter must be stopped. You are losing; if you persist, it will only result in greater bloodshed. Hitler is not a bad man...."

Gandhi also wrote an open letter to the British people, passionately urging them to surrender and accept whatever fate Hitler had prepared for them. "Let them take possession of your beautiful island with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds." Since none of this had the intended effect, Gandhi, the following year, addressed an open letter to the prince of darkness himself, Adolf Hitler.

THE scene must be pictured. In late December 1941, Hitler stood at the pinnacle of his might. His armies, undefeated anywhere ruled Europe from the English Channel to the Volga. Rommel had entered Egypt. The Japanese had reached Singapore. The U.S. Pacific Fleet lay at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. At this superbly chosen moment, Mahatma Gandhi attempted to convert Adolf Hitler to the ways of nonviolence. "Dear Friend," the letter begins, and proceeds to a heartfelt appeal to the Fuhrer to embrace all mankind "irrespective of race, color, or creed." Every admirer of the film Gandhi should be compelled to read this letter. Surprisingly, it is not known to have had any deep impact on Hitler. Gandhi was no doubt disappointed. He moped about, really quite depressed, but still knew he was right. When the Japanese, having cut their way through Burma, threatened India, Gandhi's strategy was to let them occupy as much of India as they liked and then to "make them feel unwanted." His way of helping his British "friends" was, at one of the worst points of the war, to launch massive civil-disobedience campaigns against them, paralyzing some of their efforts to defend India from the Japanese.

Here, then, is your leader, 0 followers of Gandhi: a man who thought Hitler's heart would be melted by an appeal to forget race, color, and creed, and who was sure the feelings of the Japanese would be hurt if they sensed themselves unwanted. As world-class statesmen go, it is not a very good record.
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Old 03-03-2007, 04:04 AM   #35
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Aikido and Pacifism

I will have to go and read more about this for sure as there is always two sides to every story.

War, history and politics are always complex, and revision is always present it seems, as well as perspective.

I have no issue with much of what Gandhi says to be honest. He was an idealist and naturally his idealist thoughts would be contradictory and hippocritical at times. Also he was a human, quite capable of making mistakes and being contradictory.

What matters is that if he learns, evolves and can say "I was wrong".

Embrace your enemy and love him is a noble idea.

Abandon and let go of your material possessions another one.

Certainly it would seem a horror to suggest that he would recommend to the Jews to willingly go to their deaths and love HItler.

On a philosophical level I can understand it.

the challenge is trying to make the idealist/philosophy mesh with the nature of reality.

A big challenge.

Thanks for the perspective Mike. I will definitely read more about this perspective!

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