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Old 08-06-2007, 11:30 AM   #76
JohnSeavitt
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
... but does not carry the implication of a linkage with East Asian religious practice?
Seriously bad reading of a false distinction. While I am happy to draw discuss distinctions between "sports club" and "dojo", the suggestion that anything that isn't a Buddhist temple can't be a dojo is ridiculous. "Michi" has existed for some time in Japan, and certainly has its usage and meaning there. Lowry has at least one essay on the subject (http://www.michionline.org/summer99/page5.html), and I'm sure there's plenty of related comments.

John
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:57 AM   #77
Fred Little
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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John Seavitt wrote: View Post
Seriously bad reading of a false distinction. While I am happy to draw discuss distinctions between "sports club" and "dojo", the suggestion that anything that isn't a Buddhist temple can't be a dojo is ridiculous. "Michi" has existed for some time in Japan, and certainly has its usage and meaning there. Lowry has at least one essay on the subject (http://www.michionline.org/summer99/page5.html), and I'm sure there's plenty of related comments.

John
Mr. Seavitt:

Did you have a substantive argument to make, or are you going to confine yourself to a misreading of my post, an unsupported assertion, and a botched hyperlink to an article that, however interesting and gracefully written, has little or nothing to do with your apparent point?

Regards,

Fred Little
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Old 08-06-2007, 01:18 PM   #78
JohnSeavitt
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
Did you have a substantive argument to make, or are you going to confine yourself to a misreading of my post, an unsupported assertion, and a botched hyperlink to an article that, however interesting and gracefully written, has little or nothing to do with your apparent point?
My, touchy, aren't we? My "substantive argument" is that your assertions "the word "dojo" has a very specific history" and "most contemporary scholars ... frankly asserts that much of what is regarded as "pure Shinto" is in fact refigured and nativized Buddhist practice", and your quoted ""Do" is the Japanese pronunciation of Tao, as in Tao-te-ching or Taoism" are significant oversimplfications. Your suggestion that it is out-of-place to assign the name "dojo" to training groups that fail to "carry the implication of a linkage with East Asian religious practice" simply extends this oversimplification.

I suggest that the Japanese kanji character called "michi", and pronounced "do" has a usage and meaning (and has, for quite some time) that is more complex than a simple reference to Chinese Taoism. It certainly is often rendered as 'the way', but not as "This Only Way That Eschews All Other Ways", neh? There are certainly some traditions that contain as part of their historical practice a close relationship with -some- elements of your monolithic "East Asian religious practice" - I'm thinking of the role that Zen Buddhism has played in the philosophy and aethetics of Sado (the Urasenke family men live and train at least briefly in Zen temples before they become iemoto), to say nothing of the observance of past figures within the tradition through the Shinto-informed ancestor worship/honoring rites. Another distinct (and modern) but still extreme example (by comparison to the norm, at least) would be Ueshiba-sensei and his ... uhh ... pursuit of Omoto-kyo teachings. Still, other traditions (I'm thinking of kendo and judo, for example) have a view of their practice as a practice by which one improves ones' person in ways more broadly than the purely technical, yet without much mention of "East Asian religious practice". Which is right? We get to decide this here, with a bunch of non-native speakers parsing the bejeezus out of some Japanese words that anybody could find in any decent Japanese dictionary?

Why stop there? Should folks change their name of their tradition to drop the 'michi': aiki-, ju-, sa-, ken-, simply because somebody asserts that their traditions fail to observe some correct "East Asian religious practice"?

It's certainly the case that the indigenous Shinto and imported Buddhist practices have undergone quite a merger in Japan. I don't think it is the same to say that it is now "refigured and nativized Buddhist practice" anymore than saying voodoo is "refigured and nativized Christian practice". It's a little more complex. Likewise, the spiritual/'religous' background to a bunch of these traditions are pretty varied in focus and degree.

My point with the linked article was to draw an outside example of the usage of the word to mean something more general than "Taoism". While I certainly think that dojo is more than folks that show up once a week to ... whatever, but I do not agree that a kamidana at the front of the space is what makes that difference.

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
... a botched hyperlink ...
Not sure what your problem is, but I'll assume you've managed to work it out. Good work; sorry to have added this incredible complication to your day. Now relax.

John
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Old 08-06-2007, 01:38 PM   #79
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Jeez, maybe we all need a chill pill.

B,
R

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-06-2007, 02:04 PM   #80
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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My "substantive argument" is that your assertions "the word "dojo" has a very specific history" and "most contemporary scholars ... frankly asserts that much of what is regarded as "pure Shinto" is in fact refigured and nativized Buddhist practice", and your quoted ""Do" is the Japanese pronunciation of Tao, as in Tao-te-ching or Taoism" are significant oversimplfications.
In The Spirit of Aikido, Doshu's translator, Taitetsu Unno, specifically makes the dojo::bodhimanda comparison in his foreword. One may presume that Doshu read and approved the foreword to his book, so at least as regards aikido Fred's original point in comparing them is well taken -- although I am quite sure Fred has no doubt of the complexities associated with any religious thought that touches on Japan -- much less Buddhism.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-06-2007, 06:29 PM   #81
Fred Little
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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John Seavitt wrote: View Post
Your suggestion that it is out-of-place to assign the name "dojo" to training groups that fail to "carry the implication of a linkage with East Asian religious practice" simply extends this oversimplification.
What your argument thus far tells me is that you would do well to reread Dave Lowry's article very carefully and that I may be remiss in not foregrounding the extent to which a great deal of "East Asian religious practice" can easily be mistaken for prosaic secular activity if you're not as attuned to implicit as well as explicit phenomena.

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John Seavitt wrote: View Post
I suggest that the Japanese kanji character called "michi", and pronounced "do" has a usage and meaning (and has, for quite some time) that is more complex than a simple reference to Chinese Taoism.
There is Chinese ideogram sometimes read as "michi" in Japanese. It already carried layers of both Buddhist and Taoist meaning when imported to Japan, and it has certainly added layers in Japan. Beyond that, you're arguing with a strawman of your own creation that has little to do with what I wrote and nothing to do with what I think.

[quote=John Seavitt;185689]Still, other traditions (I'm thinking of kendo and judo, for example) have a view of their practice as a practice by which one improves ones' person in ways more broadly than the purely technical, yet without much mention of "East Asian religious practice". /QUOTE]

Please see my note above about the explicit and implicit, then take a moment to reconsider my original question, which did not reference a "mention" but spoke of "no interest or an active disinterest."

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John Seavitt wrote: View Post
While I certainly think that dojo is more than folks that show up once a week to ... whatever, but I do not agree that a kamidana at the front of the space is what makes that difference.John
Neither do I agree that a kamidana at the front of the space is what makes that difference. I've been in dojo with kamidana that were dead and dojo without that were absolutely vibrant.

But as above, you've ascribed an argument to me that I didn't make at all.

My question was narrower than even the kendo and judo example you use above. Let me make it plainer: What about those folks who are just studying technique as a means in itself and have religious objections to considering the art as anything more than mere technique?

Sure, folks can do whatever they want, and I can't make any rules.

But on the other hand, maybe there are some devout practitioners of one of the three Abrahamc religions who would feel MORE comfortable if they kept their martial practice and their religious practice clear and distinct. Which, strangely enough, was the real point.

Best,

FL
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:33 AM   #82
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
My question was narrower than even the kendo and judo example you use above. Let me make it plainer: What about those folks who are just studying technique as a means in itself and have religious objections to considering the art as anything more than mere technique?
As I mentioned earlier, Japanese people in Japan with no interest in combining religion and technique still refer to their practice spaces as dojo. So I'm afraid I fail to see why it would be a problem for non-Japanese practioners of Japanese arts.

"Dojo" has an etymology in Buddhist lore and practice, but that doesn't mean that is it's modern meaning any more than "thug life" refers to the Thuggee.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 08-07-2007, 07:55 AM   #83
Fred Little
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
As I mentioned earlier, Japanese people in Japan with no interest in combining religion and technique still refer to their practice spaces as dojo. So I'm afraid I fail to see why it would be a problem for non-Japanese practioners of Japanese arts.

"Dojo" has an etymology in Buddhist lore and practice, but that doesn't mean that is it's modern meaning any more than "thug life" refers to the Thuggee.
Josh --

See Erick's note above.

Of course, you're right about the Japanese norm.

My view is that setting one's own standards by the lowest common denominator is always a bad idea within one's own culture and a worse idea in borrowings from other cultures.

But opinions about that vary.

Best,

FL
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Old 08-07-2007, 08:37 AM   #84
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Jeez, maybe we all need a chill pill.

B,
R
Would that be the red chill pill or the blue?

jen

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 08-07-2007, 09:07 AM   #85
Fred Little
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Would that be the red chill pill or the blue?

jen
It's a purple pill made especially for aikido practitioners and marketed under the brand name CONNEXIUM.

Thanks! You've all been great! I'll be here through Thursday, don't forget to tip your server on the way out.

FL
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Old 08-07-2007, 09:14 AM   #86
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
It's a purple pill made especially for aikido practitioners and marketed under the brand name CONNEXIUM.

Thanks! You've all been great! I'll be here through Thursday, don't forget to tip your server on the way out.

FL
Oh now I see the mistake. I picked up the Indigo Blue box marked CONUNDRUM.

Thanks to you to.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 08-07-2007, 11:00 AM   #87
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

MMM I love a good conundrum... {licking lips}

B,
R

Ron Tisdale
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St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:00 PM   #88
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
As I mentioned earlier, Japanese people in Japan with no interest in combining religion and technique still refer to their practice spaces as dojo. So I'm afraid I fail to see why it would be a problem for non-Japanese practioners of Japanese arts.
Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Sure, folks can do whatever they want, and I can't make any rules.

But on the other hand, maybe there are some devout practitioners of one of the three Abrahamc religions who would feel MORE comfortable if they kept their martial practice and their religious practice clear and distinct. Which, strangely enough, was the real point.
It is a point of distinct difference in culture. In Japan, religions are typically treated at the individual level, if you will permit the analogy, largely as suits of clothes, worn as appropriate for some occasions, doffed and others donned when deemed more appropriate for other occasions, and some may be more comfortable and beloved than others and worn more often than not. Motoori Norinaga, the arch-Shinto revivalist, himself had a Buddhist funeral and then a Shinto burial. Many is the white-gown and tuxedo officiated wedding in Japan among absolutely non-Christian parties.

In part, this surface of non-chalance disguises a deeper sensibility or feeling for things (Norinaga's mono no aware) that the Western eye perceives as spirituality and then seeks to connect to defined ritual observance. The Japanese, in contrast, tend to distinguish between that very important deep sensibility and a lighter sense of rituality threaded throughout their experience as opposed to the various formal ritual observances they may recognize on occasion and which to Western sensibilities are occasion of greater spiritual import.

Westerners, to extend the analogy, look at religion as something more indelibly imprinted in their persons, like tattoos vice clothes. Western traditions see religious observances and affiliations as marking one in a more durable way from an identifiable point in the arc of one's life (conversion experiences are defining in the Abrahamic tradition, in a way that is not typically seen in Japan). This means a marking of things into more defined categories of profane and sacred that is not the case in Japan where the distinction is far more vague and ephemeral. The strength of spiritual feeling is not generally less in one than in the other, I deem, but they are differently distributed.

Thus, there is a disconnect in the way that ritual observances connect to spiritual sensibility in the inclusive, but more casual Japanese way -- and the way that ritual observances connect to spiritual sensibility in the more exclusive but more intense Western way. Each is both deeper and yet also more shallow in its own way and they form in-yo complements in many ways, no doubt explaining the mutual fascinations.

Baseball, on the other hand? Go figure.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-07-2007 at 12:03 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-07-2007, 02:34 PM   #89
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
Josh --

See Erick's note above.

Of course, you're right about the Japanese norm.

My view is that setting one's own standards by the lowest common denominator is always a bad idea within one's own culture and a worse idea in borrowings from other cultures.

But opinions about that vary.

Best,

FL
My view is in naturalness above all else - "idiomatic" usage and behavior if you will.

For example, I'm in favor of doing away with terms like "sensei", "deshi", "sempai", "kohai", "shihan" etc. when studying Japanese martial arts in non-Japanese contexts. Why? Because the vast majority of people can't use them right. Like a repeatedly copied video tape, the meaning and understanding of Japanese terms often become more and more degraded.

That said, "dojo" is in Webster's. Its use in the West overlaps almost perfectly with its use in Japan. Its usage is idiomatic and natural. Is there a difference between how Joe Judoplayer and Judoka Taro use the word "dojo"? I don't think so.

On the other hand, Yagyu Shinkage ryu kenjutsu is deeply steeped in Buddhism, both Zen and Mikkyo. And yet the Owari line practices in various gyms and community sports centers around Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. The old Nagoya dojo, used by the Yagyu family since the Edo period, burned down during the war. In an interview for a kendo magazine, the 21st soke Yagyu Nobuharu said that people had suggested to him that he build a new dojo, but he didn't think it was necessary; as long as the practice was done right, the outward appearance was not important.

That informs pretty much how I see it. Standing in a church doesn't make you religious. Practicing your Zen kenjutsu (or Shinto aikido) in a community center doesn't mean your practice is devoid of spiritual content. And when hundreds of millions of Japanese people use the word "dojo" with no thought at all of the place where Siddhartha found enlightenment, I don't think it's for the Westerners to reach back into the deeps of etymology and imbue the modern word with more meaning than it needs, regardless of what Taitetsu Unno wrote. Because, IMO, there's a hell of a difference between saying (paraphrasing), "You know, the word dojo originally meant the place where Buddha found enlightenment, so we should be mindful of spiritual enlightenment in our practice..." and saying (again, paraphrasing) "'Dojo' once meant the place where Buddha found enlightenment, so maybe it's not the best word for Western practitioners interested only in technique to describe their practice space." Particularly when the former is said in the context of looking at the spiritual paradigm of aikido practice, and the term in general is used without spiritual connotations.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 08-07-2007, 02:56 PM   #90
Fred Little
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Because, IMO, there's a hell of a difference between saying (paraphrasing), "You know, the word dojo originally meant the place where Buddha found enlightenment, so we should be mindful of spiritual enlightenment in our practice..." and saying (again, paraphrasing) "'Dojo' once meant the place where Buddha found enlightenment, so maybe it's not the best word for Western practitioners interested only in technique to describe their practice space."
Nicely done!

FL
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:41 PM   #91
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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... I don't think it's for the Westerners to reach back into the deeps of etymology and imbue the modern word with more meaning than it needs, ...
Why not? How do you think meaning is established? A word may mean things differently at different times and places, even in the same language, (shouting "Fire!" is not the same thing depending on whether one is in a forest, theater or a battlefield). But they are not unrelated and a consideraiton of their current use and history is not pointless when rumagging around behind the veil of language to get at something more profound. Siddartha may have one or two things to say about that -- and then also, one or two things he may have given but did not have to say ... Besides we are only doing to the Japanese terminology what they first did to the Chinese anyway ---- call it cultural karma.

If it suits a circumstance with overlapping or absent usages in our own tongue better than our own words -- we use it. English is a greedy packrat language, more interested in picking nifty tidbits off the various vines in poorly marked forests than in any grand conceptual consistency of some proprietary linguistic orchard.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-07-2007, 09:33 PM   #92
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Why not?
Because it's unidiomatic. The word used in English is not arbitrary - it was chosen to follow Japanese nomenclature.

At core, I disagree with Mr. Little's core premise. He took a very interesting point made by Robert Aitken in a very specialized context (Buddhist practice) and applied it to a very broad context that I doubt Mr. Aitken intended it to be applied to. He asked, a) "Is it appropriate for martial arts schools that are operated with no interest in or an active disinterest in those spiritual traditions to use the word "dojo" as part of their names?" b) "Would it not be more accurate for them to refer to themselves as 'clubs' or 'schools' 'academiesm' or some similar name which does convey the notion of education and training, but does not carry the implication of a linkage with East Asian religious practice?" and c) "What about those folks who are just studying technique as a means in itself and have religious objections to considering the art as anything more than mere technique?"

To my mind, the answers is very clear. A) Yes. It is completely normal in Japan, where the word comes from. B) I don't see it as "more accurate" as simply changing from the Japanese idiom to the English idiom. C) They have nothing to worry about, as the word "dojo", as commonly used in Japan today, and as borrowed into the West, simply means a place to practice martial arts.

If one wants to associate the word "dojo" with its early Buddhist meaning, that's completely a free choice. Knock yourself out. Think of the character 武 as "stopping spears" while you're at it. Whatever helps your practice. It should just be recognized that these are personal interpretations, and not common ones.

Let me ask a counter question to illustrate how bizarre I find this question. Is it appropriate for schools, fitness clubs, and German secondary education schools with no interest or active disinterest in exercising naked to use the word "gymnasium" to describe where they exercise/learn? Would it not be more accurate for them to refer to themselves as 'exercise space' or 'training place' 'high school' or some similar name which does convey the notion of exercise and education, but does not carry the implication of a linkage with Greek nude competition? What about those folks who are just exercising and competing as means in themselves and have religious objections to considering the exercise/competition as anything more than mere physical exertion?

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 08-07-2007, 11:26 PM   #93
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Why not?
Because it's unidiomatic. The word used in English is not arbitrary - it was chosen to follow Japanese nomenclature.
The looser and western usage IS idiomatic:
Quote:
wrote:
"form of speech peculiar to a people or place," from M.Fr. idiome, from L.L. idioma "a peculiarity in language," from Gk. idioma "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology," from idioumai "I make my own," from idios "personal, private," prop. "particular to oneself,"
The one thing about being peculiar to oneself is that one has no one to answer to. (There's a koan in there somewhere) .

In short, words mean what we agree that they mean, nothing more and nothing less. The only question is whether one is a party to a given agreement on a given word at a given place and time. Problems arise with untoward assumptions in changing usage, which is one point of Fred's enquiry -- whether usage and an aspect of tradition have departed so far that new usage or modified usage may make sense

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
At core, I disagree with Mr. Little's core premise. ... "Is it appropriate for martial arts schools that are operated with no interest in or an active disinterest in those spiritual traditions to use the word "dojo" as part of their names?"
Not at all. Fred is just negotiating on a point of the usage in this setting, explicitly doing what we all collectively do less conciously as words shift their meaning and associations.

The degree of the reaction seems out of proportion.
But in a charitable view of your tagline I have some suspicion why:

Quote:
Somtyme this world was so stedfast and stable
That mannes word was obligacioun;
And now it is so fals and deceivable
That word and deed, as in conclusioun,
Ben nothing lyk, for turned up-so-doun
Is al this world for mede and wilfulnesse,
That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:12 AM   #94
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

One of the things I like about bowing and just doing it without getting my brain overly involved is that it takes on my inner asociations, my inner respect and my inner workings and contextualizes them in a sharing aspect.
Just like in church, you can be told or tell someone what they should be praying to or praying like, but inside that person will naturally do what connects them most deeply to what they value, wether I think it fits or not. And definitely within the same school, the same teaching, the same ritual sequence, individuals have come away with completely different interpretations of the same material.
My friend who has been off the mat for 8 years (back this month, yay!!!) read this forum as an introduction to aikiweb and he said
"When did everyone get so complicated? Sit down, be on time, shut-up, bow and train. What does it matter the reason we bow? We just bow . Its part of the package. Get over it."
I laughed in total agreement because this is what we both came away with after years of formal ritual. We empty the vessel to prepare for practice, not just to fill it with some other matter.

But talking is good and so is sharing ideas and I, for one, am enjoying all of the history, information, nit-picking and everything else that is squirming around on the floor of this forum.

It doesn't seem that anyone of us is getting any other of us closer to god, so it comes down to what fills us during practice, including bowing.
or so I say.

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:41 AM   #95
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
My friend who has been off the mat for 8 years (back this month, yay!!!)
Anyone I know?

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Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
read this forum as an introduction to aikiweb and he said "When did everyone get so complicated? Sit down, be on time, shut-up, bow and train. What does it matter the reason we bow? We just bow . Its part of the package. Get over it."

I laughed in total agreement because this is what we both came away with after years of formal ritual. We empty the vessel to prepare for practice, not just to fill it with some other matter.


So very true and yet also so very untrue at the same time. This embodies the paradox of our training is that we place value and meaning into our actions in the process of learning to detach ourselves from over-valuing them.

Q&A sessions with teachers have often been an amusing time for me because, more than half the time, the real answer in my mind while listening to the question was "just train." At the same time, real stuff and real understanding grows out of the sharing of the the ideas and information around practice.

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But talking is good and so is sharing ideas and I, for one, am enjoying all of the history, information, nit-picking and everything else that is squirming around on the floor of this forum.
These conversations and explorations of ideas in and around our training is training, as far as I'm concerned, and has been perhaps one of the most important parts of my practice for over 10 years.

It strikes me that understanding where the terms come from and how they're used differently in modern contexts by different people is more information that can be used, preserved, or discarded on an individual basis, just as people often pay attention to how different teachers execute technique and keep what feels right to them.

At the same time:

Quote:
Josh Reyer wrote:
If one wants to associate the word "dojo" with its early Buddhist meaning, that's completely a free choice. Knock yourself out. Think of the character 武 as "stopping spears" while you're at it. Whatever helps your practice. It should just be recognized that these are personal interpretations, and not common ones.
I think Josh makes a very important point. If what one wants to practice and understand is as close to the original content as we fallible humans can reach, one must at least understand and accept the most accurate understanding available before choosing to change or select a personal interpretations which certainly do change over time as in the above example. Correcting even old mis-translations such as the common one for 武 (bu) is important if one wants to understand the real stuff underlying our study.

The mythology exists everywhere, even in Japan, so these are muddy waters that can be navigated only with careful research and a release of ego.

To me this is the essence of being a fillable vessel, that we shape ourselves to the knowledge rather than the other way around and be educated by it until we are finally free to make our own "Way".

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:42 AM   #96
Fred Little
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Because it's unidiomatic. The word used in English is not arbitrary - it was chosen to follow Japanese nomenclature.
True enough. But it is also inescapably true that, for better or for worse, Western interest in Japanese martial arts has been inextricably bound up with an ill-defined but omnipresent interest in the spiritual aspects of those practices, as a cursory review of the martial arts section of any book store makes clear.

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Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
At core, I disagree with Mr. Little's core premise. He took a very interesting point made by Robert Aitken in a very specialized context (Buddhist practice) and applied it to a very broad context that I doubt Mr. Aitken intended it to be applied to. He asked, a) "Is it appropriate for martial arts schools that are operated with no interest in or an active disinterest in those spiritual traditions to use the word "dojo" as part of their names?" b) "Would it not be more accurate for them to refer to themselves as 'clubs' or 'schools' 'academiesm' or some similar name which does convey the notion of education and training, but does not carry the implication of a linkage with East Asian religious practice?" and c) "What about those folks who are just studying technique as a means in itself and have religious objections to considering the art as anything more than mere technique?"

To my mind, the answers is very clear. A) Yes. It is completely normal in Japan, where the word comes from. B) I don't see it as "more accurate" as simply changing from the Japanese idiom to the English idiom. C) They have nothing to worry about, as the word "dojo", as commonly used in Japan today, and as borrowed into the West, simply means a place to practice martial arts.
Your characterization of Aitken is inaccurate. While the context of Aitken's argument is the practice of meditation in a particular Zen tradition, the argument itself is a radical reading of the word "dojo" that allows its poetic meaning to shine in much the same way that polishing a piece of tarnished silver removes the oxidation that hides its brightness. This is not at all a question of a personal interpretation, it is an act of etymological rescue from the forces of entropy.

Moreover, your reductive insistence that the word, as borrowed, "simply means a place to practice martial arts," is tantamount to saying that "martial arts, as practiced in Japan, do not have now and have never had any explicit or implicit value beyond the technical development of physical skills." This is clearly not the case, even in kendo and judo, which are arguably the most secularized and functionalist of the Japanese martial arts.

My more immediate concern, however, is that I find myself increasingly struck by the extent to which practitioners in many "dojo" are practicing something that is neither a martial art nor a martial way, but merely a desultorily and inattentively practiced fitness and friendship activity.

And I can't for the life of me figure that out at all.

But that's another thread.

Best,

FL
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:52 AM   #97
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
If what one wants to practice and understand is as close to the original content as we fallible humans can reach, one must at least understand and accept the most accurate understanding available before choosing to change or select a personal interpretations which certainly do change over time as in the above example. ... The mythology exists everywhere, even in Japan, so these are muddy waters that can be navigated only with careful research and a release of ego.
I think it is fair to say that O Sensei put as much store by myth as by science.

The late Stephen Jay Gould wrote a eloquent defense of the old Catholic concept of magisterium or teaching authority in these differing areas, with specific reference to religion and science -- but the approach is much more broadly applicable. It is an age-old debate -- whether the Truth is manifest in catalog or narrative. Myth is human narrative. Science is physical catalog. Neither alone is adequate, if you ask me, and neither is in a position to adequately judge the approach of the latter, either, so long as each respects the boundaries of their respective authority. The boundaries, Gould observed, often interleave like the fingers of two hands joined. That does not mean there are not boundaries that need respecting. History (particularly intellectual history) and language are two areas in which his point has particular force because the two approaches are deeply intertwined.

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Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Correcting even old mis-translations such as the common one for 武 (bu) is important if one wants to understand the real stuff underlying our study.
Which one would that be?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-08-2007, 11:43 AM   #98
tarik
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
I think it is fair to say that O Sensei put as much store by myth as by science.
And? Remarkable skills and visions aside, he's not an example of the kind of person I want to be.

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
It is an age-old debate -- whether the Truth is manifest in catalog or narrative. Myth is human narrative. Science is physical catalog. Neither alone is adequate, if you ask me, and neither is in a position to adequately judge the approach of the latter, either, so long as each respects the boundaries of their respective authority.
I quite agree. Where are the boundaries?

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-08-2007, 11:44 AM   #99
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Anyone I know?



So very true and yet also so very untrue at the same time. This embodies the paradox of our training is that we place value and meaning into our actions in the process of learning to detach ourselves from over-valuing them.

Q&A sessions with teachers have often been an amusing time for me because, more than half the time, the real answer in my mind while listening to the question was "just train." At the same time, real stuff and real understanding grows out of the sharing of the the ideas and information around practice.

These conversations and explorations of ideas in and around our training is training, as far as I'm concerned, and has been perhaps one of the most important parts of my practice for over 10 years.

It strikes me that understanding where the terms come from and how they're used differently in modern contexts by different people is more information that can be used, preserved, or discarded on an individual basis, just as people often pay attention to how different teachers execute technique and keep what feels right to them.

At the same time:

I think Josh makes a very important point. If what one wants to practice and understand is as close to the original content as we fallible humans can reach, one must at least understand and accept the most accurate understanding available before choosing to change or select a personal interpretations which certainly do change over time as in the above example. Correcting even old mis-translations such as the common one for ? (bu) is important if one wants to understand the real stuff underlying our study.

The mythology exists everywhere, even in Japan, so these are muddy waters that can be navigated only with careful research and a release of ego.

To me this is the essence of being a fillable vessel, that we shape ourselves to the knowledge rather than the other way around and be educated by it until we are finally free to make our own "Way".

Regards,
Hi Tarik,
I don't know if you know him.
He left training right as you started.

As for the rest of your post's questions and statements. They are definitely yours and belong firmly to your practice. I'm happy you are working on finding 'your way'.

Jen

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 08-08-2007 at 11:50 AM.

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Old 08-08-2007, 01:42 PM   #100
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Bowing to Kamidana/Kamiza

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
True enough. But it is also inescapably true that, for better or for worse, Western interest in Japanese martial arts has been inextricably bound up with an ill-defined but omnipresent interest in the spiritual aspects of those practices, as a cursory review of the martial arts section of any book store makes clear.
I wouldn't disagree with that at all, but I fail to see what that has to do with those who practice Japanese martials with no interest or active disinterest in East Asian religion/spirituality.

Quote:
Your characterization of Aitken is inaccurate. While the context of Aitken's argument is the practice of meditation in a particular Zen tradition, the argument itself is a radical reading of the word "dojo" that allows its poetic meaning to shine in much the same way that polishing a piece of tarnished silver removes the oxidation that hides its brightness. This is not at all a question of a personal interpretation, it is an act of etymological rescue from the forces of entropy.
Now we come to the irresolvable crux of the matter. As a descriptivist linguist, I entirely reject the notion of "etymological rescue", and view language change not as "forces of entropy" but rather as natural change and evolution.

Moreover, even accepting the "forces of entropy" argument for a moment, I am not at all convinced that the shift of "dojo" as a translation of bodhimanda to meaning "practice space for martial arts" is a degradation, as I'll note below.

Quote:
Moreover, your reductive insistence that the word, as borrowed, "simply means a place to practice martial arts," is tantamount to saying that "martial arts, as practiced in Japan, do not have now and have never had any explicit or implicit value beyond the technical development of physical skills."
Wow! Talk about oversimplification! I'm frankly shocked that you would get any kind of reading like that from my posts, given what I have written about Yagyu Shinkage Ryu and Ono-ha Itto-ryu. Please reread my #89 post, as you seemed to have missed a very relevant point therein. Yes, my contention is that "dojo" as borrowed and as used in both Japan and the West simply means "a place to practice Japanese martial arts (budo, if you will)." But as I have also contended, the amount of East Asian religion/spirituality in a person's practice is inherent in the art, not in the name of the place where it is practiced. In other words, from the most secular (MMA/pro wrestling) to the most religious (Shorinji Kempo) all these places use the word "dojo" for their practice space. In that "dojo" means a place to practice "martial arts", it thus also bound to the complete spectrum of spirituality, religion, and moral improvement that is found in Japanese martial arts. What I object to is the idea that because etymologically the word is related to Buddhism, that the current usage is inextricably linked to "East Asian religious practice". Because as the Takada Dojo and Reigakudo Dojo clearly demonstrate, that is not the case. Nor, of course, is it the case in Western usage. To be clear, I am not at all saying that the Takada Dojo and Reigakudo are simply places where emphasis is placed on physical technique. There is certainly an emphasis placed on improving oneself morally and mentally, if not spiritually (and spirituality is obviously very important to the Reigakudo). It simply isn't concerned specifically with East Asian spirituality - Buddhism, Shintoism, or Daoism.

Quote:
My more immediate concern, however, is that I find myself increasingly struck by the extent to which practitioners in many "dojo" are practicing something that is neither a martial art nor a martial way, but merely a desultorily and inattentively practiced fitness and friendship activity.

And I can't for the life of me figure that out at all.

But that's another thread.
Well, that's a much deeper problem than their use of the word "dojo", and I don't see it as much better if they continue to call what they do "budo/martial art/martial way" but refrain from using the word "dojo" out of respect of its Buddhist roots in the far past. But at the same time, I'm much more concerned about my own practice than what anyone else is doing.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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