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Old 06-18-2007, 07:53 AM   #1
aikishrine
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Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Hello all,

Does anyone here practice martial arts and live by the philosophy of buddhism?

I realize that Aikido lends itself to the pursuit of buddhist thought, but what about other martial arts, like the more violent ones. It seems to me that what i have read about buddhism points to not doing anything that goes against peaceful ends, basicaly my understanding is that any negative action only hurts the peace process. So my question is if you train in a violent art, even if your intentions are sincere and peaceful, are you injuring the whole buddhist philosophy?

Now all that being said Fudo Myo-o is the buddhist gaurdien diety, or patron of the martial arts. Please look up Fudo Myo-o on wikipedia.com for a definition of him. Greatly looking for input on this.

Thanks Brian

Last edited by aikishrine : 06-18-2007 at 07:55 AM. Reason: added some text
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:40 AM   #2
Jason Woolley
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Hmm... Not personally a follower but...

There can always be debate over the finer points, so I think what matters to, and works for you, is always the most important thing.

Perhaps following Fudo Myoo and seeking detachment from worldy delusion will lead you to spontaneous right action so that what ever you do is free from karmic results?

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Old 06-18-2007, 11:14 AM   #3
Don_Modesto
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
I realize that Aikido lends itself to the pursuit of buddhist thought, but what about other martial arts, like the more violent ones.
"The devil can quote scripture to his own ends." ...er, or sutra, I imagine. See The Japanese Journal of Religious Studies:

--Spontaneity in Western Martial Arts - A Yogacara
Critique of Mushin (No-Mind) by John P. KEENAN,
1989.
(http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...rs/pdf/302.pdf)

--Perspective: Mushin, Morals, and Martial Arts: A
Discussion of Keenan's YogZicara Critique by
Stewart McFarlane (above)

--The Mystique of Martial Arts:A Response to
Professor McFarlane by John P. Keenan,
1990.(http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...rs/pdf/326.pdf)

--The Mystique of Martial Arts: A Reply to
Professor Keenan's Response by Stewart McFarlane,
1991.
(http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...rs/pdf/348.pdf)

Quote:
It seems to me that what i have read about buddhism points to not doing anything that goes against peaceful ends, basicaly my understanding is that any negative action only hurts the peace process. So my question is if you train in a violent art, even if your intentions are sincere and peaceful, are you injuring the whole buddhist philosophy?
There's argumentation and interpretation in Buddhism, too. They, too, can find ways to "bomb 'em back to the stone age" in principled manner. See Brian Victoria, e.g.

Quote:
Now all that being said Fudo Myo-o is the buddhist gaurdien diety, or patron of the martial arts. Please look up Fudo Myo-o on wikipedia.com for a definition of him. Greatly looking for input on this.
Or Marishten or Hachiman or Susanoo...

Fudo does look cool, though. Imagine all the crunches he did for those abs!

Hopefully Fred Little will weigh in for you. He's far more knowledgeable about such matters than myself. Hope this helps, though.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:31 AM   #4
Fred Little
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote: View Post
Hopefully Fred Little will weigh in for you. He's far more knowledgeable about such matters than myself. Hope this helps, though.
A young man once went to his Jesuit priest and asked, "Father, is it permissible to smoke a cigarette while I pray?"

The priest took a long drag off his unfiltered Camel and shook his head sadly as he replied, "Oh lad, if only you had asked me if it's possible to pray while you smoke a cigarette."

Although from a different tradition, the story does convey an attitude toward the relationship between worldly activity and religious practice that is quite common in the Buddhist world.

This is true even in the language of the Five Precepts, which are presented not as "thou shalt nots" but rather as vows to "undertake to refrain" from activities which increase confusion and suffering.

The approach -- at least for lay Buddhists -- is one of "harm reduction" rather than prohibition. Monastics, of course, have a much more rigorous set of disciplinary requirements, but that would seem to be outside the bounds of the initial question. Within that set of parameters, the decision as to whether or not your martial arts practice is beneficial is a very individual thing.

Hope this helps.

Fred Little
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:33 AM   #5
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

I align myself and identify with buddhism.

I am also am an infantryman in the U.S. Army that trains soldiers for combat.

I am also a vegetarian (close to vegan, but not quite), based fairly much on the tenants that no suffering or killing animals.

I also practice Aikido, BJJ, and MMA as well.

Buddhism has room to include viiolence in an attempt to understand it and reduce suffering.

Zen Koan: Do no harm, Stop Harm.

What martial arts do you consider violent? That is, more so than aikido.

I think part of the irony of martial arts (to include Aikido) is that we actively participate or simulate acts of violence in an attempt to heal , quell, stop, control, understand, and embrace violence.

philosophically, I think those that view themselves separate or not participating in violence to be deluded, ignorant, and possibly hippocritical.

Violence is a part of our world, and we all play a role in some way in that process. What is key is understanding violence, and being able to identify it, and be able to respond with the proper measure of force or choices when faced with it.

To me, it is not about the amount of violence in a martial art, but how we choose to react to, and embrace it that makes all the difference.

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Old 06-18-2007, 12:17 PM   #6
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
A young man once went to his Jesuit priest and asked, "Father, is it permissible to smoke a cigarette while I pray?"

The priest took a long drag off his unfiltered Camel and shook his head sadly as he replied, "Oh lad, if only you had asked me if it's possible to pray while you smoke a cigarette."

Although from a different tradition, the story does convey an attitude toward the relationship between worldly activity and religious practice that is quite common in the Buddhist world

....This is true even in the language of the Five Precepts, which are presented not as "thou shalt nots" but rather as vows to "undertake to refrain" from activities which increase confusion and suffering. ...
A personal anecdote of the same character; In Lent, my elderly grandmother, who attended Mass daily, prepared breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast for herself, my kids and my wife.

My grandmother, she sat down to eat and was half through with her bacon when my wife suddenly realized it was a Friday in Lent, when meat is prohibited.

My grandmother stiffened, then relaxed, and said, as she finished her bacon -- "Well, waste is a sin, too."

The spiritual point in common to all of these -- martial arts included -- The attention given by the subject engaged in the discipline is far more of the point than the object or circumstances of the discipline attended to.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 06-18-2007, 12:37 PM   #7
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think part of the irony of martial arts (to include Aikido) is that we actively participate or simulate acts of violence in an attempt to heal , quell, stop, control, understand, and embrace violence. ... Violence is a part of our world, and we all play a role in some way in that process. ...
To me, it is not about the amount of violence in a martial art, but how we choose to react to, and embrace it that makes all the difference.
Healing is needed in the world, and on this point Christians and Buddhists tend to agree -- but violence cannot be divorced from healing some hurts. The better we understand it therefore, the more minimal we can make its necessity.

We are born violently, our skulls crushed out of shape by our own mothers, or in some cases cut from their bellies. It is the way of things, and is only later blurred in the memory as its fruits supplant its labors. Viewed one way, a surgeon deliberately and brutally maims a defenseless, unconscious human being, cutting away parts of his body, inflicting bloody wounds and at least some permanent damage in the process. A soldier fighting in honor is no different than a surgeon operating under his oath -- the issue is the intent-- honest, free from delusion -- and its manifest need, not the ugliness of the deed.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 06-18-2007, 02:04 PM   #8
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
I realize that Aikido lends itself to the pursuit of buddhist thought, but what about other martial arts, like the more violent ones. It seems to me that what i have read about buddhism points to not doing anything that goes against peaceful ends, basicaly my understanding is that any negative action only hurts the peace process. So my question is if you train in a violent art, even if your intentions are sincere and peaceful, are you injuring the whole buddhist philosophy?
My opinion is that aikido practitioners who seek to be peaceful people will make better progress if they start by getting past this ridiculous hokum idea that aikido is somehow inherently peaceful, saintly, and generally holier-than-thou, and that other styles are "violent". As someone who had my start in other styles, it baffles the bejesus out of me how otherwise intelligent people can believe this sort of self-serving claptrap.
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Old 06-18-2007, 03:30 PM   #9
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Yep, that's me.
Buddhist
40 years martial arts
Old grunt.

The harmonizing (enter and blend with rather than resist) of duality.

Not a problem.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:30 PM   #10
Mark Uttech
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Buddhism blends very well with aikido, as it uses circular talking and thinking.
"Do you mean talking and thinking in circles?"
"Pretty much. uke becomes like a daruma doll. you throw it or knock it over, and it keeps coming back..."

In gassho,

Mark
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Old 06-19-2007, 04:39 AM   #11
aikishrine
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Great feedback all, please keep it coming
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:06 AM   #12
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Your post is interesting and quite pertinent to the aikido philosophical dialog. There are so many perspectives on and within Buddhism that nailing down a definitive response to this kind of question is quite difficult. Additionally, we must be careful in our discussion of Buddhism in that we must consider whether we are talking about Buddhism as a religion or a philosophy. My question is considered a “violent art?” This is to say, what makes an art violent...or more violent than others?
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:13 AM   #13
aikishrine
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

I am refering to the philosophical side of buddhism, and when i say violent arts i am talking about arts that are meant for destroy first ask questions later, like Jeet Kune Do "the way of the intercepting fist" or defanging the snake, i know that violent is all relative and it depends on the person using it, however some arts are meant to harm in a defensive situation rather than to harmonize, so i guess i am asking about this perspective, as it relates to buddhism and its principles of trying not to harm a single living thing, even though this is impossible.

Last edited by aikishrine : 06-19-2007 at 05:14 AM. Reason: added text
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:01 AM   #14
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

IMHO, I know that one of the percepts is to "refrain from doing harm", yet sometimes the "right action" is to do the least amount of harm to protect the most amount of people, because yea "life has suffering" and I am only making a conscious choice about who will be doing that suffering. Do not confuse Buddhism or Aikido with passivity.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:03 AM   #15
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
I am refering to the philosophical side of buddhism, and when i say violent arts i am talking about arts that are meant for destroy first ask questions later, like Jeet Kune Do "the way of the intercepting fist" or defanging the snake, i know that violent is all relative and it depends on the person using it, however some arts are meant to harm in a defensive situation rather than to harmonize, so i guess i am asking about this perspective, as it relates to buddhism and its principles of trying not to harm a single living thing, even though this is impossible.
Brian, people get hurt doing aikido -- in the dojo, in a friendly practice situation. Some of these injuries have consequences that last a lifetime. The assertion that aikido is not meant to harm is bunk. The techniques are harmful techniques, and they do harm, in the dojo, when uke doesn't do the ukemi just right. What on earth do you think they're going to do to someone who hasn't trained in taking ukemi? Aikidoka are lying to themselves, a self-serving, pat-myself-on-the-back lie, when they claim that their art is peaceful and that other styles are "violent". I'd a lot rather get my nose broken with a kick or a punch than have my shoulder twisted out of the socket -- I know from experience which one heals better.
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:00 AM   #16
aikishrine
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

So i guess what where talking about is Katsujinken/Setsujinken, the life giving sword/the life taking sword, sometimes the more humane thing is to kill the one for the betterment of all. and that this would be the most harmonious thing as well as peaceful in the end, the end justifying the means.
I am sorry for all of these types of threads but i am realy struggling with this particular theme, but i am getting closer to a better understanding of what i am trying to attain so thank you all for your feedback, keep it coming it realy helps.
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Old 06-20-2007, 12:36 PM   #17
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
So i guess what where talking about is Katsujinken/Setsujinken, the life giving sword/the life taking sword, sometimes the more humane thing is to kill the one for the betterment of all. and that this would be the most harmonious thing as well as peaceful in the end, the end justifying the means.
I am sorry for all of these types of threads but i am realy struggling with this particular theme, but i am getting closer to a better understanding of what i am trying to attain so thank you all for your feedback, keep it coming it realy helps.
You sound like you have read Yagyu Munenori, and should have read Takuan's letter and and the Taia-ki (especially if you want to understand the very excellent discussions pointed to by Don Modesto above).

However, as noted in those discussions, Buddhism is not the only (nor even necessarily the most influential) philosophical tradition informing the martial arts of Japan, generally, and aikido, specifically. Shinto (the Omoto Shinto revival/reaction against the imperial cult/State Shinto, actually), of course, played a major role in the Founder's own understanding. It is important to follow those threads and understand where they agree and differ with conventional Buddhist teachings, which is a major part of the papers that Don linked.

Myself, I see aikido and martial arts generally more tied together in the Neo-Confucian tradition as filtered through its Japanese experience, than in the strictly Buddhist sensibility. There are a couple of reasons, some of which are noted in the papers Don mentioned and some others of my own.

First, the modern (meaning since 1600) martial arts ryu were developed/expounded in the Tokugawa, a period without large scale conflicts, and thus in many respects departed from the far more pragmatically-minded martial traditions that went before. Second the Tokugawa's leading (and most subsidized) philosophical schools were in the Neo-Confucian tradition, itself a Chinese synthesis of strands of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist concepts into a coherent system of principles and thought. Its most influential contributors were Zhu Xi , in the Sung, and Wang Yang-ming (J. :: O-Yomei) during the Ming. It is the pinnacle of classical Chinese philosophy according to many scholars.

The Tokugawa period of openness to outside influence was from 1603 until 1635. This was the period of terminal decline of Ming China. Japan closed itself at that time, triggered by the Christian rebellion in Shimabara. The prevailing system of thought in Japan was thereafter fundamentally informed by the Neo-Confuciansim of the Ming, and primarily, that of Wang Yang-ming. It became the state-sanctioned philosophy of government. Buddhism in contrast had become disfavored because of the former influence of the monastic settlements in the politics of the nation making themselve king-makers.

In that vein, then, and using the same basic approach as the Chinese did in their own traditions, the Japanese scholars solidified and ( quite intentionally) molded the practical syncretism that had developed between Buddhism and Shinto since the 9th century, under a Neo-Confucian banner approved and controlled by the Tokugawa state.

As the Tokugawa period was ending in the nineteenth century, the "national studies" (Kokugaku) began to reject the Chinese-centered Neo-Confucian tradition in favor of a more native sensibility and rediscovering their own roots. The Meiji movement was one aspect, and the political culmination, of that change of thought.

During this time the Kojiki mythology was substantially interpreted in exhaustive commentaries by Motoori Norinaga (d. 1801) to make it accessible to modern readers. This was necessary because of the serious changes in writing and usage since it was written down in the eighth century. (The comparable English text would be Beowulf, and a lot could be done to compare those root mythologies and the views of conflict, valor and sacrifice they contain, actually.) Norinaga was educated as a Neo-Confucian and that influence (and particularly that of Wang-Yang-ming's doctrines of the unity of knowledge and action and "innate knowing" (chiefly of moral duty) -- in line with his own thoughts about a contemplative, spontaneous nature being a national Japanese characteristic) are generally recognized in his work, despite his criticism of overt Confucian principles.

Kojiki and interpretation of its mythology (along with the Nihon Shoki -- "Annals") became one branch of the Kokugaku studies as it developed. The enlargement and institutionalization of the Imperial cult/State Shinto become another major branch. The development of Omoto-kyo is in the former line of tradition. While he went to a Shingon Buddhist affiliated primary school, O Sensei was strongly committed and deeply influenced by that mythological strand of the kokugaku tradition as it was espoused in Omoto. All of the imagery in the Doka he wrote comes from that tradition, and inform his understanding of the art he taught.

There are essential correspondences between what O Sensei taught in his ultimate summation that "True budo is love." and the tradition of Buddhistic compassion, (metta or "loving-kindness." But they are distinct in practice and in heritage.

O Sensei's thought is developmentally and historically more related to the Japanese-filtered Neo-Confucian tradition of intuitive knowledge (especially of moral issues) and the unity of knowledge and action, which fundamentally informed all the martial arts in their Tokugawa era of development.

His statement and the training he gave is a supreme example of the Neo-Confucian principle of rén 仁 "benevolence/humaneness." (J.:: hitoshi or jin, compare "Doujin" 同仁). Rén 仁 is a principle more attached and earthy, innately moved to action and pity in the human realm, than the comparably more detached, contemplative and philosophical Buddhist concept of metta, or loving-kindness.

Not to say that there are not Buddhists motivated to action by metta, but that concept is toward saving sentient beings from suffering by moving them toward awakening, making present suffering in a sense irrelevant. Attachment to present suffering may distract from awakening, and diminishing immediate suffering helps to diminish attachment, and therefore make the ultimate relief of suffering more attainable.

It is somewhat different from the sensibility of rén 仁 in being innately moved to relieve immediately palpable suffering, much more in line with Christian concepts of caritas or charity which underlie Western martial traditions. (These principles all share in much more than they are meaningfully distinguished and these characterizations are made intentionally overbroad to draw the conceptual and historica distinctions between the lines of thought. Nothing more is meant by the contrasts stated.)

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-20-2007 at 12:49 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:47 AM   #18
Tomlad
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Hi Brian,

Not an answer as such but consider this - Shaolin Temple (Buddhist Monks), many Samurai studied Zen Buddhism. I don't see Buddhism as being for pacifists - being peaceful does not mean you must be walked over.

I think Aikido fits the bill nicely - you can in theory defend yourself and disarm/disable your opponent with the minimum amount of harm coming to them.

I think much of Asian arts etc appear self-contradictory - such as the Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple but it is more than likely our misunderstanding of their art and Buddhism. From my studies of Zen Buddhism I think your mindset has to be to not attack or fight somebody - but if you are attacked then you are not flouting Buddhist laws in defending yourself.

H
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Old 06-23-2007, 10:04 AM   #19
aikishrine
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Erick thank you for the thourogh, and extremely thought out respomse you gave, very appreciated
i guess what you are saying is that the best way to proceed in a spiritual way is to go by the 7 virtues of bushido: honor, respect, courage, compassion, loyalty, honesty, and doing the right thing at all times. which i already prescribe to.
am i correct?
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Old 06-24-2007, 01:07 AM   #20
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
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Erick thank you for the thourogh, and extremely thought out respomse you gave, very appreciated
i guess what you are saying is that the best way to proceed in a spiritual way is to go by the 7 virtues of bushido: honor, respect, courage, compassion, loyalty, honesty, and doing the right thing at all times. which i already prescribe to.
am i correct?
Well, you certainly can't be wrong in doing that ...

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:45 AM   #21
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

I have been training to Kill the Buddha my entire adult life.

Anyone seen him around?

No wonder The Martial Arts and Chan (Zen) were "started" by the same guy!

It's sure kept me busy. LOL

William Hazen

P.S. Kevin... Imagine serving in a Ranger Batt and trying to embody the way. My thoughts and prayers are with my bretheren in harms way.
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:57 AM   #22
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
I have been training to Kill the Buddha my entire adult life.... Imagine serving in a Ranger Batt and trying to embody the way. My thoughts and prayers are with my bretheren in harms way.
I understand. I was experiencing the same thing in the Marines (65-72). Lots of guys didn't understand when they found out I was Buddhist. I learned a lot to be sure. Compassion is difficult in war but where better to learn many lessons...

Best regards,

Chuck Clark
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www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-24-2007, 10:19 AM   #23
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, I know that one of the percepts is to "refrain from doing harm", yet sometimes the "right action" is to do the least amount of harm to protect the most amount of people, because yea "life has suffering" and I am only making a conscious choice about who will be doing that suffering. Do not confuse Buddhism or Aikido with passivity.
Aikido and Buddhism are both arts of initiation and appropriate action. According to buddhism 'life is suffering' . In Aikido we take ukemi/sutemi sacrificing our bodies to unite with principle and we perform technique free of ego. In christianity the Christ suffered the passion ( passion means to suffer). Even through our most thought out imaginations we can't possibly take into account what the sum of suffering will ultimately be for ourselves, others, or the unseen.
The idea is to least interrupt the flow of God or nature with our lives while participating fully at the same time. This is the place where aikido, buddhism, taoism, christianism and ism, ism, ism, meet.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 06-24-2007, 06:23 PM   #24
stan baker
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Hi William,
What do you mean has anybody seen him

stan
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Old 06-25-2007, 09:29 AM   #25
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Aikido, Martial Arts, and Buddhism

Quote:
Stan Baker wrote: View Post
Hi William,
What do you mean has anybody seen him

stan
I don't know what he means. But I'm fairly sure I saw the Buddah at an English Pub last weekend. We had a beer, threw some darts, phone numbers were exchanged, and everybody went home alive.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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