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Old 02-05-2009, 03:39 AM   #51
Walter Martindale
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Hmm... Do I press send... Ah what the heck..
I'm going to put my foot in it, and probably get burned badly myself... There's no accounting for the actions of the true believer. allahuakbar (and I know that's just a phonetic spelling of the thoughts that go through the mind of most sewerside bombers just before the explosive charges go through their brains).

There are no gods - humans made them up to explain stuff they couldn't understand. Whether it's Bhudda, Thor, Zeus, Osiris, or Odin, the raven-based creation story of some British Columbia first nations peoples or the god(s?) that the jews, muslims, christians seem to believe exists, they don't exist - every system of gods claims to be the true system of gods. What if none of them are right, and there are no gods? Will the sky fall? Eventually, but not because we believe in or dismiss the existence of gods.

Was O-Sensei wise? Hmm. He trained. He trained hard, and he trained a lot. he also was influenced by ummm religion. He focused his entire life on connecting whatever it was he connected, and through that focus and attention to things that most of us probably don't notice, he developed skills and abilities that we still don't get. He also became very very good at what he did, and as a result created quite a following.

Has science figured out what some expert martial artists do? Not yet, but THERE IS an explanation - we just haven't found it yet. If it would cure cancer or enhance the Space Station project, humans would probably spend tons and tons of money researching and then finally explain the physical, muscular, and neurophysiological things that these expert martial artists can do that seem beyond explanation. It's just not important enough to the world to do the research, considering the number of variables/degrees of freedom.
Part of me envies people who can believe in gods as they can dismiss personal responsibility for moral behaviour and lay it all on their "god" or his "son" or the "ghost" or Muhammad, or, or, or, you name it; part of me pities them, for similar reasons. Gee, gosh, I'm going to treat you nicely because Jesus would poop all over me if I didn't - versus Gee, gosh, I'm going to treat you nicely because that's the right thing to do. One's a guilt trip, one's a moral decision. Gee gosh, you don't believe in god the same way I do so I'm going to kill you and all your relatives, versus Gee gosh, you seem not to agree with me but we can still live and let live...

FWIW, I was raised in what was essentially a Protestant family, and my brother in law is a church minister - but that still doesn't mean gods exist anywhere other than as figments of human imagination.

Or.. was this too off topic?
W

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 02-05-2009 at 03:41 AM.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:36 AM   #52
Buck
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Mr Burgess,

I have the thread and have a few questions & comments.

Don't you think you were perhaps rather rash to tell them 'superficially' about the spiritual thoughts of O Sensei?
Good question. No, I don't. This is because I am not an expert on the spirituality of O'Sensei. You also have to consider who you are talking too. Most people who are not martial artists that are curious about Aikido are not interest in an in-depth lecture which I can't give. It is too much info for them at first and you loose their interest. Then it also depends on how your deliver system and approach of the information. The results can be negative, like it's too weird, it's a cult, it's a religion you want them to join, or its archaic hippy stuff. It is that type of thing. That is what I mean my superficially; not in great depth or detail of what I know and understand about the spiritual side of Aikido.

The thing that I am concerned about is the feedback I get sometimes or hearing myself talk about it. It leads me to question me, to look at myself and see what I am doing. Am I turning a man into deity, being an educated person am I abandoning my own reasoning? Have I made my own kool-aid? Is in't important for me to take a moment and analyze the situation, to think. Isn't being independent more powerful than being dependent? Should I believe without question that it is the truth? Aikido isn't a religion, is it? Is O'Sensei a deity- or did I make him into one?

It is my understanding and I could be wrong that the Japanese idea of a Sensei in the martial arts points you in the right direction the rest is up to you.

Last edited by Buck : 02-05-2009 at 06:42 AM.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:36 AM   #53
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I don't know? I think there is a danger when people take a man then turn him into a myth that turns him into a deity. All of which is done in order to reflect their own beliefs and behaviors/themselves.

Wayne's world is another rock and roll movie that deals with rock gods. A movie where the fans make rock musicians into gods, and their music into religion.
I'm not sure either, but I suspect science cannot address every facet of reality and I value creative intuition as a means of filling in the blanks. I think you and I agree about the dangers of placing people and ideas on pedestals, but I'm not sure "deify" is the right word here. Waynes World didn't deal with deification of pop-stars (although Jim Morrison is a god ), though it did involve idolization which is pretty close to the same thing in many respects.
I guess my point is simply that being dangerous doesn't make it bad, in and of itself. It's human nature to fall in love with awe-inspiring people or ideas and to give yourself over to that which you love. The problem comes when it becomes destructive; when it devalues life.
I would argue no one has much in the way of true knowledge and that we all create our own myths. Today's myths aren't nearly as fantastical as the ancient ones, but they exist and I respectfully submit we all have them to some degree or another. What matters isn't that we misrepresent a truth we're all ignorant of to some degree anyway, but rather what we manifest as a result of those misunderstandings/misrepresentations...in other words, "does it make the world a better place."
Party on!
Matt
p.s. I hope you realize you've just created a day full of Wayne's World impersonations! See what you've done!!! Muahahahahhah!

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:02 AM   #54
Keith Larman
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I remember a saying that the only way to know if someone else is a spiritual person or a fanatic depends on whether you agree with them.

I have deep respect for Aikido. I think the art is full of all sorts of wonderful puzzles for us to work out. I also think some of O-Sensei's words give some insights into life, living, training and direction. But I also try not to forget that those words are and were delivered to us English speakers via not always reliable translations not to mention the assertion that those who knew him personally, fluent Japanese, often didn't understand him either. Or had greatly different interpretations of "his aikido" and meaning. So like with many philosophers and sages *our* interpretations of their words are often more revealing of our own beliefs and needs. Sometimes I'm reminded of Socrates asking questions but taking forever to get to what he really thought himself. Is it so much what he said or is it our process of struggling to understand that make the real difference?

So I don't idolize him. He was a human being. By most accounts a tremendous martial artist. But by some accounts mean, by others wise, by others still all-too-human. But I certainly respect what he did. And I read and struggle to understand. But I'm also very careful not to casually accept or flippantly toss away what I take from that study.

It reminds me of a class I taught to my advanced kids just last week. The hardest part for that teaching kids becoming teenagers is helping them transition from doing being kids that sit quietly in class, listen, then practice to being active students striving to "figure it out" for themselves. In the beginning we need them to sit quietly and learn self-control. But once they have that self control you don't necessarily want them completely subjugating themselves to what they're being taught. Shu-ha-ri. And unlike many who misinterpret that sort of thing it doesn't mean eventually doing their own thing" or "tossing out what doesn't work". What it means is challenging themselves -- struggling with the art, struggling to see deeper, struggling to find higher levels of understanding. You don't progress if you're comfortable with where you are -- you need to find the limitations and be willing to break "things that work" sometimes in order to rise up to a higher level. To me it is kind of like solving just one face of a rubik's cube -- great, but to do the entire cube means being willing to tear that progress apart. It just never ends with Aikido. And aint' that just the coolest thing?

Was he wise? Well, he had some cool things to say that make you think. And his art has influenced a lot of people. Some of those people have really taken the lessons to heart and continuously use the framework to constantly grow and expand and do so well beyond the constraints of the original framework. But keep in mind that many, many more use the very same framework as a place to hide at a comfort level of conformity and externally delivered purpose. They find the parts of the words that fits with what they want/need to believe and proceed to ignore everything else. And it becomes much like a crutch.

I'd rather use it to help me discover the path that is right under my own feet for myself.

So given the art he gave birth to, yes, I think very highly of him. But the issue of the worth of the man can only be answered in context. And there are so many contexts to look at that I think it foolhardy to idolize anyone blindly.

So I think it is a gross oversimplification to assert he was wise, not wise, or anything else really. The hard part is being willing to struggle with what you think you know and understand. And he wasn't exactly the easiest guy to figure out in the first place, was he...

Sorry, not sure of the point but that's my rambling response.
Too early in the morning for deep thoughts.

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Old 02-05-2009, 07:31 AM   #55
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Sorry, not sure of the point but that's my rambling response.
Too early in the morning for deep thoughts.
Seemed like a wise post to me.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:30 AM   #56
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I have always regarded aikido as an activity worth doing for itself and not for any further ends . So I have never regarded aikido as a 'way to the truth'.

I have never accepted O Sensei as being supremely wise and that he speaks the truth without question.

Of course it is a 'way', not because it ends at a destination, which is 'the truth', but because it is completely open-ended, ...
OK. I will get fairly specific about traditions as they relate to truth, since, as I understand it, you and I share a common foundation in that department. I won't presume to inquire unduly into the present situation in that regard -- the Inquisition was a bad idea to begin with. But having said that, I wonder if you would agree or disagree with the following points ...

1) A Way (being a metaphor let us stick to the concreteness of road image that it is) is open-ended but has only two ends. A road that goes nowhere is not worth much. Two very differently oriented directions coexist on one road. One way leads to the Truth and the other -- well, it doesn't. Sideroads there are but ultimately lead one way or the other, or nowhere, at least with respect to the Way in question. Vine, branches, etc.

2) I find that at the root of what O Sensei is teaching is a practice pointing directly at the Truth in the sense I refer to it -- in his own terms, and the images he uses and some history in his own traditions suggests is it a historical not an analogical connection. Apart from those reasons why it was placed there, a copy of this stone and its inscription have stood at the foot of Koya-san, hard by Tanabe, his hometown, since 1911.

http://books.google.com/books?id=GhK...lr=#PPA 15,M1

The original dates to 735 documenting about a century of Christian teaching in Tang China, whre KoboDaishi was schooled, after which it was buried until the seventeenth century. Ueshiba could not have failed to note that monument and its erection -- given his interest in syncretic religious thought drawn from Oomoto. Prof. Saeki was a contemporary of Morihei Ueshiba, and documented in his work, among other things in investigating the nature of Keikyo 景教, a Chinese embassy of the seventh century to Japan that seems to have included a Persian monk, prior the writing of Kojiki.

http://ia311515.us.archive.org/1/ite...00saekuoft.pdf

http://eastasian.lib.umn.edu/Nestori...2008-09-09.pdf

3) O Sensei's references relating his purpose to that of Jesus, and of his spiritual imagery to St. Michael and the fall of the angels and John 1:1 to the basis for kotodama (you yourself have translated) show that these connections are not adventitious. They also show that he did not view himself as aggrandized to the Divine in our terms. As you are aware, to identify oneself with kami, or to be deemed kami by others after death is not the same thing in his terms, as what Jews or Christians view as the Divine. In our terms, that aspect of kami is more like sainthood or angelic (or demonic) status, as he himself specifically draws those parallels above.

4) There are reasons for this art's popularity in the West, and this (largely unremarked) essential affinity between their foundational understandings is significant among those reasons.

Morihei Ueshiba may or may not be wise -- but he partakes of Wisdom and has pointed the Way to it.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:47 AM   #57
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
Part of me envies people who can believe in gods as they can dismiss personal responsibility for moral behaviour and lay it all on their "god" or his "son" or the "ghost" or Muhammad, or, or, or, you name it; part of me pities them, for similar reasons.

FWIW, I was raised in what was essentially a Protestant family, and my brother in law is a church minister - but that still doesn't mean gods exist anywhere other than as figments of human imagination.

Or.. was this too off topic?
No it isn't. If matter explains everything then morality has no basis. I am but the last domino in a long chain to fall, and it matters not, nor should I care who or how many I hit on my inevitable progress down according to the inexorable force of gravity.

No one lives this way. No one can live this way. Those that profess to, do not do so very seriously, and largely simply continue the practices that were justified by others on a sound moral basis, while denying the justification. When they begin to regularly depart from them, the systemic consequences are notable. People that have tried it very seriously ended up killing other people, not by the hundreds or thousands, but by the millions and tens of millions. They are all just dominos, you see.

That is "non-sense." It makes no sense to anyone who has not lost touch with their humanity. And if you are in touch with your humanity you also are in touch with some aspect of the Divine. You can enliven and enlarge that sense by connecting to the same that is in those around you.

That is Aikido -- and it all really is that simple. That does not make it easy, as I know all too well..

As to figments of imagination, what was an airplane before it was realized, what was a submarine? What was an atomic bomb? (not all figments of the imagination that may be realized are good, mind you). Imagination is NOT unreal. We all do really imagine things. They simply remain unrealized. They don't have to stay that way.

The complaint is not that it is not real but that you have not (yet) realized this figment of your imagination. You probably can't build an functioning airplane either, but it doesn't mean you can't learn how, and if you believe you can't if you really set your mind to it -- well, that is just a failure of imagination.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-05-2009 at 08:54 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:57 AM   #58
Mark Peckett
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Mohammed and Gautama Buddha never professed to be gods (I do think if you're going to de-bunk someone's religion the least you can do is be polite enough to spell the names of its founding members correctly) - they both allowed us to connect to the Divine - that is wise.
Did O'Sensei try to help us connect to the Divine. Yes. He is also wise.
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:40 AM   #59
Rob Watson
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

As a self-proclaimed scientist I find myself puzzled and confused by this thread. I think that is a good state to be in because it requires me to rethink my understanding of things and this is exactly the point of this thread. O'Sensei was a voracious reader (based on what little I've read about his life) and was certainly looking for something - must be because the answers commonly accepted were found not to be acceptable. Perhaps I'm assuming too much about his intent ...

George Ledyard always has something thought provoking to say and since I really like his approach to aikido so I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. This is certainly a completely unscientific approach or attitude on the face but really it is not. If science has no reasonable solution for a subject then one must draw inspiration from other sources to stimulate further research. Even a cursory study of the history of science will reveal a great many fellows (great scientists) doing quite odd things for inspiration.

What you will find as a common theme is all scientists must believe there is a rational explanation and try to find it - otherwise there is no point to the scientific method. The other thing you will find is science is replete with partial solutions that were proved, not wrong, but incomplete (Newtons law of gravity versus Einstien). It is an ongoing process of discovery - kind of like martial arts practice. If the practitioner constantly asks how does this work, how can it be better and how best can this be transmitted to future generations there will be great progress. If the practitioner simply takes what is given and does it over and over again then there is no progress.

I consider my grasp of gravity to be pretty good. I can even explain it in such a way that others can very quickly reach my level of understanding. This level of understanding does not really give me much control over gravity! I find this to be a very interesting lesson - even a total and complete knowledge of phenomena does not beget control of it. It does however give me a great tool for working with the phenomena. At sometimes the application of such knowledge seems magical - unless the observer is similarly informed in which case a knowing nod and possibly a smile are the result.

Another thing one will find in the study of science is the use of memory tricks to aid in learning. Only a silly person would make the leap that the memory trick is the secret - the trick helps remember the way to the secret. Much the same is found in Mr. Ledyard's posts - maybe not the scientific explanation but the ability to work around the phenomena. Much like knowing the theory does not really help in the application. Here is a perfect example: E=mc squared is the theory but that does not help much in building a fusion reactor. The guy operating the main switch at the reactor plant what lets the electricity flow from the reactor out onto the power grid may not know anything about the theory but he can work that switch like nobody's business - probably can even teach others how to do it too. Consider O'Sensei as the guy at the switch not knowing the theory trying to explain the ins and outs of the power unleashed. His students ask "how?" and he says 'look, I flip this switch' and nobody gets it. Or, even worse he says 'E=mc squared' and still nobody gets it.

It is a two way street: knowing the theory put not the application is not too helpful. Knowing the application but not the theory is no better. The two need to meet and the result will be a more effective way of transmission as well as a better ability to wield the tools in novel ways.

I like to put it this way. There are martial sciences and there are martial arts. I would certainly like the emphasis on moving the arts into the sciences. As our understanding grows so does our ability to remove the unknown aspects (the arts) into the known (the science). I very much lean towards solving the mystery but then again life without mystery is pretty danged dull.

Thanks
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:25 PM   #60
Keith Larman
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Well, as a guy who worked for too many years in research who came from a family of (literally) rocket scientists... I find the thread quite curious myself. One thing I distinctly remember is talking with a physicist friend about the scientific method and some of the stuff we can pull off in Aikido. When speaking of physical phenomena if the event is not explicable then it is not a "failure" of science. It just means the "reality" is currently "out of focus" given our conceptual framework. Sometimes we're just not up to the task yet. Think of all the advances made after Einstein's two papers. Or think of what happened once quantum theory hit the scene -- a veritable explosion of ideas, explanations and then technology that was "impossible" before followed quickly thereafter. Up until those moments the science just wasn't up to particular task yet. It doesn't make it magic. It doesn't mean science is a failure. It just means the right person hasn't come along yet who figures it out.

And Aikido is a marvelous intersection of physical action (physics) and intentionality (psychology) mixed with autonomic reactions (more biology). What a mess...

Of course that doesn't mean there aren't perfectly good ways to learn these things that miss the mark in terms of absolute accuracy. Heck, we all use visualization, metaphor, analogies to help students understand all sorts of things. And saying "imagine your arm is a firehose" sounds awfully odd if you step back a bit. But it can be a good way to understand the feeling of extension and "ki flowing". So it works fine. But it doesn't preclude a more complete scientific explanation. Of course the scientific explanation may turn out to be of little help in teaching the feeling. But that doesn't invalidate the explanation either.

I'm very happy to accept that there are things I see my sensei do that I can't explain or duplicate. That's one reason I like this stuff so much. But that doesn't make it outside the realm of scientific understanding any more than it makes it "magic". It just makes it something I need to understand better to understand. Maybe I'll never understand what my sensei can do. But that is no different from pre-Newtonian's not understanding why the apple falls down from the tree. They may not have an accurate understanding, but it still falls down. And it ain't magic earth ghostly spirits bringing the apple to a more contented place closer to the supposed center of the universe anymore than the sun is a god racing across the sky...

It is what it is. But figuring what that 'is' 'is' is the tough part...

Baby with the bathwater.

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Old 02-05-2009, 03:33 PM   #61
Walter Martindale
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
No it isn't. If matter explains everything then morality has no basis. I am but the last domino in a long chain to fall, and it matters not, nor should I care who or how many I hit on my inevitable progress down according to the inexorable force of gravity.
(snip)
Ouch. Well. That's one interpretation.
And Mark - I apologise for my spelling errors. I don't like it when others mis-spell or mis-state my name, so.. sorry.

Erick: It took me a few readings to get what you're saying because I try not to be too negative in the way I live. Essentially I think you're telling me that because I don't believe in a divine being, I'm automatically condemned to be a sociopath. I'm going to post this and then not get into a great long argument because I'm not that eloquent and I know I won't convince true religious believers that there's nothing out there because they believe some dusty 2000 year old book that's been translated and interpreted from it's original concepts of a bunch of people trying to explain natural phenomena that they didn't understand or have the tools to explore. (whew - long sentence.)

I don't need the crutch of religion or a "divine" being to behave morally, and to treat others as I would have others treat me. I want you to be polite to me, so I'm polite to you. And so on. Essentially, your right to swing your fist ends just before it makes contact with the ends of the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin.

I coach for a living - I don't treat the athletes as ignorant little twerps, because I know that they're there to learn, to improve their abilities, and I'm there to help them develop. My aim is to help them have a good experience in this sport and develop into kind, caring, hard working, successful people through sport. They choose to let me coach them. Do I need a god to do this? No. I think one of the most ridiculous things you can see in a sports arena is a bunch of stud-muffins circling up and begging on some dead charismatic guy, whose body got snatched about 2000 years ago, to guide their hands (funny - the other team does it too). Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition (a song from WW1). I don't understand what happened - must be a god...

Each society has different standards of morality. What's considered moral behaviour in one society is blasphemous in other societies. For example, if you or I, as decent people in our own societies, went to some parts of the Asian subcontinent, we'd be imprisoned or perhaps killed because we aren't members of a particular religion, or clan, or family. Similar things happen in the Balkans (according to some Balkan friends of mine).

Back to O-Sensei. He is reputed to have had amazing abilities of perception - or - he could observe and act upon things we miss - pick up signals about people's intentions as the intentions were forming. He could sense disturbances in the air around him, probably feel movements of the floor/ground when people near him walked, and it was difficult or impossible to sneak up on him. The thread elsewhere about the hunter and O-Sensei bowing out of the test indicated that the hunter was a technically proficient shooter who was skilled at hitting a target without emotional connection or without giving away signals that would indicate his intent. Good thing O-Sensei recognized the shooter's skill, or we'd have had a lot less Aikido in the world. Was there a god involved? I doubt it very much - just a couple of extremely skilled people who recognized the other's skills. The other day at Aikido I observed that we're all still beginners compared to Ueshiba O-Sensei, and if we ever got past his abilities, we'd be able to replace his portrait with ours - ain't gonna happen. Was he wise? Hmm. Deep thinker with a one-track mind - I guess that's one interpretation of wisdom.

Oh well... We may never agree. Live long and prosper - allow me the same.
Cheers,
Walter
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:59 PM   #62
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I recall a seminar in grad school about shamanism (a long time ago). We looked at a number studies about the techniques used around the world to induce trances. There were explanations and theories about how certain rituals caused the nervous system to react, and reports about the trance states themselves from both the perspective of the participant and the observer.

But it seemed to me the explanations fell short.

They really didn't, for example, explain why the people in the trance state experienced the things they reported.

Nor would they have been of much help if you wanted a practical guide to "trancing."

And they didn't even begin to touch upon the epistemological and ontological claims inherent in the raison d'etre of the underlying rituals and cultural beliefs -- they simply juxtaposed an observer's language for what was happening physiologically for a participant's account of what it meant.

I like scientific discussions of aikido; and I don't think there is something about the physics of an aikido interaction that can't -- in theory -- be "explained" scientifically.

But neither do I think those explanations, forthcoming or not, exhaust the phenomenon of practice, any more than a behaviorist's refusal to consider what goes on inside the organism "responding" to a "stimulus" negates the existence of consciousness.

As for the "spiritual" explanations themselves, like some other posters, I think the work of Joseph Campbell provides a useful perspective for an empirically minded, Western-educated, secular person to approach an understanding of myth and religion that provides room for them to have meaning -- to be more than grunts and sounds referring to some raw emotional response.

When science is thrust forward to displace myth and religion, I believe it tends to misuse science as religion.

FWIW.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:03 PM   #63
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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p.s. I hope you realize you've just created a day full of Wayne's World impersonations! See what you've done!!! Muahahahahhah!
DOH!
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:58 PM   #64
Buck
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I think many people, which I don't judge, who support myth's role in the human experience by default have to believe gods exist. I think that has to do with O'Sensei as well. The Japanese during and before his life-time where very superstitious, tied into the idea of the existence of Kama's. I am sure when science was introduced it had a big impact on the explanation of things. What if science came into being at the same time in Japan as in the west how would that have changed O'Sensei's outlook on life. That would be a good new topic.

But, um...I think even religion, and other myths and not just science discredits other myths and gods as nothing more than imagination. Here again just not science, but religion and myth leads one to question. A very important thing that is over-looked in many arguments of those who are pro-myth - I think it is unintentional. I don't know if O'Sensei really offered anything new or unique rather than making a shift in his beliefs from feudal warrior to modern civilian. I think that transition required a religious base. Much like alt of solider's who go through a similar transformation because of war. Many soldiers who are not necessarily religious become very religious at due to the experience of war. That could have happened to O'Sensei.

O'Sensei combined martial arts (which he didn't originate) with religion, and martial arts philosophy (which was an established standard)and that doesn't mean I should turn him in to an all wise sage , then a myth and then a god and not question. If you question you are genuine in learning and understanding of Aikido.

I am not out to get O'Sensei. I am sure he had personal life wisdom that came from the experience of living and training.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:12 PM   #65
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
OK. I wonder if you would agree or disagree with the following points ...
1) No. You have narrowed down the scope of the metaphor too much.

2) I am not sure of the point you are making here. It seems to be the same as 3), but in different words.

3) You have not pointed to any significant differences between Omoto treatment of the Bible and O Sensei's.

4) Whose 'foundational understandings'? I do not believe that the art's popularity or not in the West is of any relevance to the points I made in my post. So I neither agree or disagree.

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PAG

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Old 02-05-2009, 07:22 PM   #66
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Good question. No, I don't. This is because I am not an expert on the spirituality of O'Sensei. You also have to consider who you are talking too. Most people who are not martial artists that are curious about Aikido are not interest in an in-depth lecture which I can't give. It is too much info for them at first and you loose their interest. Then it also depends on how your deliver system and approach of the information. The results can be negative, like it's too weird, it's a cult, it's a religion you want them to join, or its archaic hippy stuff. It is that type of thing. That is what I mean my superficially; not in great depth or detail of what I know and understand about the spiritual side of Aikido.
Well, I have read all your posts on AikiWeb and this provides the basis for my idea of who I am talking to. Many Japanese people ask similar questions, but they are not so generally hung about about cults, religion or 'archaic hippy stuff'. Thy are not martial artists either and their curiosity rests on a vague idea that aikido is 'like karate, but more spiritual', for example. Though I probably could do so, the one thing I avoid doing is attempt to explain O Sensei's spirituality. This is why I thought it might be rather rash to do so.

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PAG

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Old 02-05-2009, 09:17 PM   #67
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
1) No. You have narrowed down the scope of the metaphor too much.
Ah.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
2) I am not sure of the point you are making here. It seems to be the same as 3), but in different words.

3) You have not pointed to any significant differences between Omoto treatment of the Bible and O Sensei's.
Taken as a whole, O Sensei's teaching is a better fit to St. Jerome's commentary on 1 Cor. 4-11:"All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit." I can reconcile this with the Oomoto concept, which he certainly held, bankyo dokon. However, in the more humble (but expectant) terms that O Sensei speaks of it in the Takemusu Aiki talks, for instance, it is a good fit, whereas the, shall I say, more arch tone of presumption and over-specificity of spiritual events in Oomoto's direct writings does not give me that same comfort. His emphasis on love as final and primary and the concrete nature of his approach is distinctive from Deguchi.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
4) Whose 'foundational understandings'? I do not believe that the art's popularity or not in the West is of any relevance to the points I made in my post. So I neither agree or disagree.
Those of Oomoto's take on the basis for Shinto spirituality and those of Western, and specifically, Christian spirituality. You raised the point when you noted the "alien" nature of O Sensei's spiritual leanings to many of his more mundane contemporaries. That is plainly contrasted to the strong spiritual elements often identified by many Western practioners, who apparently find it rather "less alien." It is a contrast that bears explaining.

Whether we resolve Saeki's thesis of a hidden ur-Christian template in Japanese culture as a provable matter of history or not -- it is a rubric with points of commonality that is more than mere simile and strains coincidence -- as Oomoto, and more importantly, Ueshiba, took it to be. And the experience of Aikido in the West suggests that their assumption as to this commonality was not mislaid.

Ultimately, it seems fairly straightforward to see Ueshiba as being more influential in the world in the future than Deguchi, if for no other reason than his spirituality is embodied in a strong praxis with this seemingly inherent spiritual appeal to the West. I think many of the assumptions of Oomoto, such as bankyo dokon, were essentially correct, I simply do not necessarily agree that their conclusions always are. On this point Ueshiba has the better end of the discussion, because his focus is on practice.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:31 PM   #68
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
Ouch. Well. That's one interpretation.
And Mark - I apologise for my spelling errors. I don't like it when others mis-spell or mis-state my name, so.. sorry.

Erick: It took me a few readings to get what you're saying because I try not to be too negative in the way I live. Essentially I think you're telling me that because I don't believe in a divine being, I'm automatically condemned to be a sociopath.
No, you are fine. You have a deep patrimony to mine for a while. You do not question or even acknowledge the source of that moral patrimony you depend upon. My children will not be hunting you or your children down to take your stuff and enslave you, but my children's children's childern -- that I cannot promise, if things keep on. That patrimony will be exhausted unless it is refreshed. As it slowly loses its potency, sociopathy is rising and will continue to rise. It has happened before; it is happening now. It will happen unless we see it for what it is.

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I'm going to post this and then not get into a great long argument because I'm not that eloquent and I know I won't convince true religious believers that there's nothing out there because they believe some dusty 2000 year old book that's been translated and interpreted from it's original concepts of a bunch of people trying to explain natural phenomena that they didn't understand or have the tools to explore. (whew - long sentence.)
That's not why I believe. I believe to understand. There is no other way, and I cannot explain it unless you do. You have to change your mind to understand. But the blind man cannot easily tell the green fruit from the ripe one, without first tasting bitterness.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:12 PM   #69
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Well, I have read all your posts on AikiWeb and this provides the basis for my idea of who I am talking to. Many Japanese people ask similar questions, but they are not so generally hung about about cults, religion or 'archaic hippy stuff'. Thy are not martial artists either and their curiosity rests on a vague idea that aikido is 'like karate, but more spiritual', for example. Though I probably could do so, the one thing I avoid doing is attempt to explain O Sensei's spirituality. This is why I thought it might be rather rash to do so.

Best wishes,

PAG
I see. what I see is as an American I got hung up on what Americans get hung up on. We take religion seriously it is part of our nation, and our morality. We want a president who is religious, or at least fakes it, vs. a certified Atheist. We have freedom of religion as part of our nation. Which isn't something stressed I bet in Japan. So when something like Aikido comes along and we are looking for something that spiritually or religiously fit us that reflects us we are very committed to it, and will fight furiously to defend it. Often without really understanding it, like we should.

Now we are often zealous and we will communicate and try and persuade what we believe intensely. I have done that in many threads saying that people read into what O'Sensei said to fit them, to reflect them, etc. since it is easy to do. Why? Because O'Sensei's words are alien (Japanese) vague and abstract which are like playdough and we change mold or shape to our liking. We filter the world to enforce, shape and mold what we believe, and in ways we want to believe it. This gives us a way for us to have our preconceived notions confirmed. All in all it is a way to tailor O'Sensei's spiritual thoughts to our liking, to make him like us. Well, as if we where a god. I repeating the human into a myth into a deity thing. That is the hang up.

I want to start thinking about what I am thinking. I want to get it right and communicate it properly to myself and others. Maybe the Japanese don't think that way. I don't know I am not Japanese. In any case, I am an American struggling with an unusual Japanese philosophy that is very vague and abstract to understand, yet has parts that are seemingly very similar to me that I relate to that reflect me. Therefore I don't question, or see things from a different view or in the original context. I might take it too seriously then intended etc. That can then be a problem, solved my questioning, being someone who thinks about what they are thinking. From a Japanese prespective I am probably very rash when I speak about Aikido. Something I never thought of. I guess it is good to break the bubble.
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:08 PM   #70
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I see. what I see is as an American I got hung up on what Americans get hung up on. We take religion seriously it is part of our nation, and our morality. We want a president who is religious, or at least fakes it, vs. a certified Atheist.
Speak for yourself. Quite a large part of the population think all that religious stuff should be totally irrelevant to political life, morality, etc. And quite a few of them are moral, upstanding pillars of society I might add. I must admit I find your broadly brushed strokes to be part of the reason why these discussions degrade so very quickly.

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Old 02-05-2009, 11:48 PM   #71
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I see. what I see is as an American I got hung up on what Americans get hung up on. We take religion seriously it is part of our nation, and our morality. We want a president who is religious, or at least fakes it, vs. a certified Atheist. We have freedom of religion as part of our nation. Which isn't something stressed I bet in Japan. So when something like Aikido comes along and we are looking for something that spiritually or religiously fit us that reflects us we are very committed to it, and will fight furiously to defend it. Often without really understanding it, like we should.
The Japanese had to institute freedom of religion back in the Meiji period, as part of the opening of Japan to foreign trade. So they actually had to coin new words for the concept. I think that the reason why freedom of religion is not stressed so much here, as you state, is that religion is not understood in the same way. It is a source of great interest to foreigners here that many Japanese people are born and die as Buddhists, marry as Christians and live their daily lives as Shintoists--and see no contradiction whatever.

The way I see aikido now is partly due to the way I was taught before coming to live in Japan. My Japanese teachers hardly ever mentioned O Sensei and so I must have trained for many years without ever thinking about the question whether he was wise or had access to the Truth. These questions would not have meant much anyway, for, as I stated, this was not why I was practising the art. Now I know much more about O Sensei than I ever did before, but this knowledge has not changed my basic view of the art.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 02-06-2009, 12:06 AM   #72
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Those of Oomoto's take on the basis for Shinto spirituality and those of Western, and specifically, Christian spirituality. You raised the point when you noted the "alien" nature of O Sensei's spiritual leanings to many of his more mundane contemporaries. That is plainly contrasted to the strong spiritual elements often identified by many Western practioners, who apparently find it rather "less alien." It is a contrast that bears explaining.
With great respect, I think your comment is rather American-centered and breathtakingly general. I think that explaining "this art's popularity in the West" is quite different from explaining why "many Western practitioners" find "the strong spiritual elements they often" identify "less alien". The two might occasionally coincide, but are not the same. As the elected head of a large international aikido federation, I suspect I am on fairly strong ground here.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 02-06-2009, 06:10 AM   #73
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I would think that one of the benchmarks of a wise person would be his followers or disciples. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, had people who lived when they did, learned and understood what they taught and continued their teachings well after they died.

Who are O'Sensei's disciples that learned his religious beliefs from him, understood what he was saying and continued his beliefs after his death. His son didn't, and as far as I know none of his students did or are doing.

David
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:11 AM   #74
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
My Japanese teachers hardly ever mentioned O Sensei and so I must have trained for many years without ever thinking about the question whether he was wise or had access to the Truth.
Best wishes,

PAG
Yea, westerners like myself and like other non-Japanese with strong religious influence focus so much on the leader to guide us to the truth, or give us answers, or guide us in someway, or to fulfill us etc. We transfer that structure to O'Sensei. Maybe it isn't fair to O'Sensei to think of him as wise. Rather putting emphasis (in a really abstract way) on what he thought could better society and the world, the change from violence to non-violence. Rather than what I was shifting to see him like the guy who will take me from sin to salvation, confusion to enlightenment, or being a delivery system of wisdom. Just a comment.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:12 AM   #75
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
I think many people, which I don't judge, who support myth's role in the human experience by default have to believe gods exist
Why do you think this is the case? I think I support the role of myth in human experience and I do not believe god(s) exist. I do not believe they don't exist either. I try to suspend belief where ever I can.
For me at least, myth is usually like a parable. Like a koan, meaning is discovered through individual consideration.

Gambarimashyo!
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