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Old 02-09-2009, 09:29 AM   #101
Keith Larman
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

What you wrote.

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
That's the first time I have heard someone dismiss religion as a "convenience."
I in no way dismissed religion as "convenience". My point was that since religion provides a very strong basis for morality due to its very nature it is an easy position to defend assuming you accept the religion as true to being with. Non-religious ethical systems tend to be much more difficult to discuss due to the lack of an appeal to a higher authority. The convenience is not one of the religion per se but of the difficulties presented to the moral theorist. And I don't think the distinction is all that subtle nor difficult to understand.

I was asserting that one position is much less difficult to defend and many tend to wave away the more complex explanations citing more complex and difficult to understand. As if our ability to understand something is somehow a condition of it being correct. Much like the ad hoc attempts to explain the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment via ether wind rather than relativity theory. The ether wind was the more "comfortable" explanation for many physicists rather than the more difficult to accept (at the time) relativistic explanation Einstein had offered up. The point here is the psychology of acceptance of an idea rather than the actual truth value of it.

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Old 02-09-2009, 11:07 AM   #102
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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What should happen is that ideas get tested to see if they're true. If they fail the test, they get ditched. There must be a name for doing that...
I think the point had to do with what happens when a scientific test isn't readily available though didn't it?

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There is no evidence for it, and if you think it is a form of energy, you are provably wrong using very basic physics you can try at home. None of the other explanations for it make any more sense (and the fact that there are multiple explanations is a telling point).
Would you be willing to describe the experiment for me?

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:48 AM   #103
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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No, what we have here is a lack of understanding. ... I comprehend the shortcomings of "traditional" Chinese knowledge perfectly well, thank you. The same cannot be said of your understanding of scientific processes. I will continue to denigrate things that are provably wrong, thanks all the same.
A lack of understanding. Shortcomings. The subject of "convenient" and "convenience" brings ot mind on this topic another related word --- "convention" -- which is applicable here.

If one dismissed the value of the H convention of the magnetic field because of the shortcoming that it could not admissibly explain properties under observation according to the B convention, then one would neither have a solid grasp either of the nature of magnetism, nor the limitations of our constructs to adequately define it. You will never understand what you refuse to test simply because you dismiss the source of the observation a priori -- which is, among other things, unscientific.

You simply say that the information does not fit your received categories and therefore is of no value. That is a category problem, like I said, because you are insisting on a sole convention when other, equally admissible might well work better to fit the form of the data in question. You can irrationally hand-wave it all away as as being "unscientific" -- which is true -- but irrelevant at the moment. You cannot rationally determine a conclusion until both sets of observational data are organized according to the same scheme of categories -- a convention -- because until you do, you do not actually know what it says or might predict. It is irrational to dismiss the information until you have done this. It takes good deal of work to frame a hypothesis -- and even more to falsify one.

It isn't false just because ya label it "unscientific" even if that is a true label -- which it is.

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If not wanting to spread falsehoods is prejudice, then yep, I'm prejudiced.
... Ah, yes. The immemorial response -- "Heretic! Renounce the lies of the unbelievers! Repent of your False Belief!"

More to the point, you do not even recognize the epistemological source of the scientific method. "Believe that you may understand." This is the foundation of taking a hypothesis as true in order to reason out its likely consequences, and then to test reality to see if it reveal to the pattern of the construct of the truth in the hypothesis. We only ever test the predictions of our constructs. Reality is never tested -- it only reveals the truth -- assuming that we ask the right question.

Whatever the abuses of religious sentimentality in the West with regard to the proof of nature's ways -- Western spirituality resulted in the scientific method -- which now too often demands to subsume the whole truth from which it sprang. Bacon said that "Nature, to be commanded, must first be obeyed." A humble submission of our construct of the truth to the testing of what reality reveals is all science is. Science is, and always has been, a process of revelation. I simply suggest that if you have not understood what it is the traditional forms of observations actually teach -- you are in no position to frame predictive conclusions to test on a scientific basis.

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Erick Mead wrote:
You cannot say in terms of science that KI cannot be real
I don't see why not. There is no evidence for it, and if you think it is a form of energy, you are provably wrong using very basic physics you can try at home. None of the other explanations for it make any more sense (and the fact that there are multiple explanations is a telling point).
I don't think it is A form of energy -- it is THE form of energy -- and of matter -- for that, er.. . matter. (words words, so many words, mean different thing in different places, wrong things in wrong places, ) Categories again. The evidence has to be in places that you have decided to look, which you determine by setting of the parameters of the problem initially. If your convention is wrong, your problem is wrong and the results meaningless.

Ki constitutes both matter AND energy -- which if you studied the traditional understanding, you should know. Ergo, Ki is not energy, as such, although Ki forms energy. Similarly, Ki is not matter, as such, although Ki forms matter. And furthermore, Ki as traditionally understood, forms the interchange of matter and/or energy by the same mechanism that it forms energy or matter of whatever category. The mechanism is very simple, it is right there in the traditional sources and it is categorical -- just not according to your preferred categories. But there are plenty of scientific conventions to choose from, depending on the problem and your purpose, as with H or B magnetic conventions, cited above.

But first, you have to change your mind.

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Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
I sorted it out some years ago.
You show me yours, I'll show you mine. Or, you could read what I've written here, ... well, elsewhere, "here," actually. [Categories, darn it!]

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Erick Mead wrote:
Chinese traditional knowledge does not do this -- therefore it is not capable of being "proved" "wrong" by science
So, to paraphrase, you're saying I should believe these highly unlikely explanations, some of which are provably wrong, because you don't think they can be proven wrong?
No. First you have to convert the existing body of knowledge into categories that provide you with testable conclusions. Saying that the data has no testable conclusions is a non-sequitur if it claims none apart from systematic correlation of observations. That is all it claims.

The system by which correlations are organized for recall is not intended to be, nor does it present a testable hypothesis of causation -- it simply doesn't pretend to be one. It is a tool to remember the correlations -- and nothing more -- until you draw a hypothesis from it and then test it. If you think that a systematic body of correlations has no value as a starting point for scientific analysis, then... cashier the last five hundred years of study -- 'cause that's what they all start with.

"Believe that you may understand." If you do not initially fully accept the premises, how can you rationally extend their necessary conclusion so as to test them, and then modify them based on predicted evidence? No one says you have no right to amend your beliefs based on evidence, or that one's beliefs are worth much untested -- for that matter, [that WORD again!]

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You might want to consider that ideas that have been around for a long time and are not part of the scientific canon, are normally not part because they aren't true.
Or, because there is prejudice to give them value as worthy of wrestling with in their own terms for purposes of testing. The words "Yellow Peril" are only out of date by less than hundred years, and black chattel slavery is only a hundred and fifty. No one plausibly claims that latter prejudice is done away with altogether, either. That is not to make a personal conclusion, in any way.

It is simply to say that things "in the air" at a point in time determine the sources of information that are historically given presumptive value. Being given value initially -- more value is reposed in them over time. The gap of valuation widens as things develop naturally in historical process from that point. "Those that have shall get; and those that do not have, shall lose what little they do have." That is a statement of a natural process. It doesn't mean that things ignored necessarily have value, but being ignored does not mean that they have no value, either. The humble and scientific approach avoids this; it assumes some value and then tests it, it does not assume no value so as to dismiss it.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-09-2009 at 11:51 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:50 PM   #104
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

The interchange is very good, and I hope on a better foot than before. Thanks.
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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I in no way dismissed religion as "convenience". My point was that since religion provides a very strong basis for morality due to its very nature it is an easy position to defend assuming you accept the religion as true to being with.
That was actually Voltaire's point in rebuttal: If He did not exist we would have to invent him. He contended that some understanding of God was proved by history to be necessary to human societies, and even systems that seemed to espouse being explicitly non-theistic ended up creating "gods" by other names (viz. in no particular order, Maitreya, Amida, Marx, Lenin.) Now the live question in that inquiry is: "Does God exist or did we invent Him?" O Sensei seems to affirm existence vice invention.

The answer actually seems resolved against any active invention on our part. http://www.newscientist.com/article/...html?full=true

We seem evolutionarily hard-wired to perceive the nature of universe as being on personal terms. To say that evolution would construct a perceptive illusion requires a bit of explaining -- which some one will, no doubt, now busily be doing... but surely (complete solipsim aside) the default hypothesis is that if humans are evolved to perceive something there is a reality to be perceived. Even if it is a "illusion," maya -- many of such brain tricks are representational illusions that actually get at deeper revealing of truth -- for instance, stereoscopic vision takes a two dimensional retinal field as a three dimensional construct -- because our brain has evolved to believe that reality is three dimensional -- no matter what our lying eyes say ....

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Non-religious ethical systems tend to be much more difficult to discuss due to the lack of an appeal to a higher authority.... The point here is the psychology of acceptance of an idea rather than the actual truth value of it.
Whitehead and Russel tried very hard to reach a point where mathematical conclusions could be made without resort to higher authrotiity. They ended up by determining the formal impossiblity of making even mathematical conclusions without ultimate resort to higher authority outside the axioms of the system. Whitehead and Russell showed empirically, in exhaustive logical effort, what Godel later showed formally -- that the "meta-position" outside the problem can never be logicked away.

Science is process of revelation, meaning something is there to be revealed -- but it has come to believe that it is the ONLY valid process of revelation, which is close to identifying itself with the reality it is attempting to reveal -- leaving no conceptual or emotional space for the "meta-position" outside the problem. Religion would call this blasphemy, but science has no ready label for it, which may be why (in addition to human nature, which aspires to god-hood) it falls into this error from time to time.

Whitehead ended by essentially concluding that the positing of God was necessary to the positing of reality, and could not be avoided, rationally. Or in short, he took Voltaire's inquiry that next step and determined that "We could not even invent Him." In fairness, Russell's work was later taken by the logical positivists to conclude the opposite -- that neither reality nor God could be posited, a position he himself never held. One wonders who was doing the positing.

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Much like the ad hoc attempts to explain the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment via ether wind rather than relativity theory. The ether wind was the more "comfortable" explanation for many physicists rather than the more difficult to accept (at the time) relativistic explanation Einstein had offered up.
The ether boat has actually come back into port under a new flag -- in the form of the vacuum flux and "dark energy/matter" --- so hold the phones on that one.... What M&M measured did not seek to address what the vacuum flux turned out be (or whatever the dark energy or dark matter may be -- since those are at the level of accounting problems at the moment.)

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-09-2009 at 12:53 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:58 PM   #105
C. David Henderson
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Do you think we can have "knowledge" of anything except in the sense of "scientific knowledge," i.e., hypotheses that have been subjected to and not disproven by scientific testing?

If the answer is "no, only sceintific knowledge is really knowledge," would you also agree that we really "know" very little compared to what we think we "know" in conducting our everyday affairs?

What skill based knowledge (martial arts, or surgery)-- isn't that an oxymoron to someone holding to a rigorously scientific ontology?

What about art, literature, business, government -- how is it all the products in these fields are produced and reproduced, modified or discarded "unknowingly," that is, without "knowledge" in the sense that we use the word?

If the answer to my first question is "yes, I recognize other categories of knowledge, besides scientific knowledge" then wouldn't acupuncture fall into that category?

If the answer to this question is "yes," then doesn't that get back, basically, to some of the things Erick was saying?

Just wondering.

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Old 02-09-2009, 02:18 PM   #106
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I am really staggered by how many people are resistant to the idea that someone might know something they don't. I suggest that O-Sensei might have a certain traditional knowledge or wisdom that would be worthwhile for us to understand. The next thing I know adjectives are being thrown in that I have NEVER used. I talked about wisdom, not supreme wisdom, not ultimate wisdom, not some level of insight that causes us to give ourselves over to some external power.

I suggest that we need to have O-Sensei's insights and vision influence our Aikido, which I see as pretty much a no-brainer as he was the Founder of the art. The next thing I know we are talking about Jim Jones. How did we get there? What are people so afraid of?

If you don't think that Aikido was created as a means to accomplish personal transformation of some type, what do you think it was created for? Does anyone seriously think that O-Sensei believed that he was creating a fighting style? Is the art about throwing opponents on the ground and pinning them, is it about cranking a nikkyo on someone to control them, is that the purpose? I can't imagine that anyone but some new beginner might think that.

The underlying current at work here is that people don't really want to change. Change is terrifying. Who would you be if you started to let go of what you hold on to so hard? So its way easier and far less threatening to take an art that was clearly created as a practice that would accomplish some sort personal transformation and turn it into a system of physical skills. We just practice and gradually acquire the skills. Nothing deeper or more profound is required.

But beware... it might just be that to get to the real goodies, you might have to start changing yourself. On some level I think this is why many people feel the need to devolve Aikido into some sort of fighting system. What they want is an art that doesn't call for them to change. In fact what they really are looking for is an art that will let them be so powerful that no one can make them do anything they don't wish to. If I can just be sufficiently powerful, I won't be afraid any more. Then when Aikido shows itself to be less of a "fighting" system than some other martial art, the flavor of the month being MMA now, then we jump ship entirely or start to reshape Aikido to make it more like the other art so we can continue to feel safe and powerful.

O-Sensei asked us to stop approaching everything from a resistant point of view. To find the path that brought things together rather than keeping them apart. This is far more difficult to do than fighting. Quite clearly our entire human history would show us that fighting is our default setting. O-Sensei created an art that does not seek to suppress that essential nature but rather to transform it. The people who strive to make Aikido about fighting are simply wrong; it is about not fighting. The folks who take all the conflict out of the art and dance around being "peaceful" are wrong. That's no more transformative than its opposite.

This whole idea that we can't accord the Founder, or anyone else for that matter, any special knowledge and that we rely only on ourselves and our rationality to guide us is pernicious. I went to group counseling for a while with a bunch of other men. Working in a group like that taught me one thing more than anything else... our capacity to tell ourselves what we want to hear is almost infinite. We'd sit there listening to one of the members justifying some particular action or behavior and it was clear as day that he was telling himself his own story. We could see how dysfunctional he was. But to him, the story made perfect sense, at least until the group starting calling him on it and demanding that he take a closer look. And what was really shocking to realize that no matter how incisive a person's perception could be about the others in the group, when it was their own stuff, they could be as murky as anyone else.

When it comes to the issues of personal transformation, I am often the last one I'd trust. The whole "I'm ok, you're ok" thing was a huge copout. In the reaction against New Age fuzzy thinking, it later became "I'm ok, you're not." So Aikido divides in to these two camps. In one we create wonderful "feel good" dojos in which like minded folks tell each other that they are all ok. Everyone is happy and they love Aikido. In the other we focus on stronger and stronger technique. We introduce other martial arts as we realize that just Aikido alone won't make us powerful enough. We train for conflict and we imprint a conflict mentality through our training.

In my opinion, one of the most important things we learn from Aikido is how to lose. Half our training is taking ukemi. The folks who talk about training with full resistance completely miss the point. In Aikido we commit fully and completely in order to connect. Then we take the ukemi. It's ok to take the fall. To equate the uke role with the "losing role" is a complete misunderstanding of the whole process. In the classical Japanese martial arts, the teacher or senior takes the so-called "losing" role.

The moment you were born, you became engaged in a battle for your own life which you cannot win. You are going to die, period. Resistance to this fundamental fact causes huge suffering. Becoming a warrior doesn't mean getting so powerful that one can defeat all comers. It means losing ones fear of death.

We hold on so tightly to this life of ours that we end up looking at anything that might cause us to change or to not have what we think we want as a threat to our own lives. Look at what we do to each other in the world because we think someone else is threatening us or even just getting something we don't have. Someone else's acquisition is somehow a loss for me.

It's this thinking that causes so much resistance to O-Sensei as a teacher figure, to practicing Aikido as a transformative practice rather than a fighting style. I take the fall and I am losing, he is winning. I treat O-Sensei as a person possessing something I don't have and I am less in doing that. I don't want anyone telling me what to do or what to think. Well, the problem with not listening to anyone else is that you only hear you. If you think that you have reached your full potential as a human being and that you are totally content with who you are and how your life is going, how your relationships are, then you don't need a practice and you don't need a teacher(s). Write a book and go on Opra because most folks definitely don't feel that way.

No one is saying that O-Sensei should be the focus of a cult. No one is saying that he or anyone else had "supreme knowledge" or that you should set aside your judgment or rationality. But there are all sorts of folks out there who know things you don't, have experienced things you haven't and they might have some thing to tell you, which you should hear.

O-Sensei was a teacher. He was an extraordinary man. For folks who have accomplished a fraction of what he did to think that they know enough to simply pick and choose what they think is worthwhile from his art, technical and spiritual is a bit arrogant. I'm not saying that we can become just like him, we can't, nor should we try. But to understand what Aikido was created for, to make it everything for ourselves that it should be, O-Sensei is the starting point. You can't even understand why techniques are done the way they are if you don't understand his spiritual take on things.

The attachment to rationality over everything else is just another form of fear. Folks who have logical, rational, linear minds often find the intuitive baffling and even frightening. But the Japanese arts, martial and otherwise are about training the intuition. The body is brought into accord with this intuition not the other way around. This insistence on taking O-Sensei's non-rational, non-liner, intuitive framework out of the art of Aikido guts it of its power to transform I think. Virtually all Eastern spiritual practice is about teaching the individual that letting go of the thinking mind isn't a loss for the individual but rather it opens up a vast area into which the person can grow. You don't lose anything here, you gain.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 02-09-2009 at 02:23 PM.

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Old 02-09-2009, 03:09 PM   #107
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Do you think we can have "knowledge" of anything except in the sense of "scientific knowledge," i.e., hypotheses that have been subjected to and not disproven by scientific testing?

If the answer is "no, only sceintific knowledge is really knowledge," would you also agree that we really "know" very little compared to what we think we "know" in conducting our everyday affairs?
...
If the answer to this question is "yes," then doesn't that get back, basically, to some of the things Erick was saying?
For what it is worth, the lowly hunch is gaining in empirical respectability:

http://www.physorg.com/news153323737.html

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:59 PM   #108
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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The next thing I know we are talking about Jim Jones. How did we get there? What are people so afraid of? ....O-Sensei asked us to stop approaching everything from a resistant point of view. To find the path that brought things together rather than keeping them apart. This is far more difficult to do than fighting.

In my opinion, one of the most important things we learn from Aikido is how to lose.
Good point. The myths of Budo across culture and history all center -- not on the glories of surpassing victory -- but the magnificent, almost grandiloquent losses. The victories are tallied, like a ledger, and are remembered half in shame, it seems (as perhaps prevailing in dealing death always ought to be, in a way). But the losses! Oh the losses, are sung when the ledgers and battle standards have long rotted. Why is that, I wonder?

Alamo. Pearl Harbor. Dien Bien Phu. Valley Forge. Need I say Thermopylae. Little Big Horn. Shiroyama. William Wallace was quartered and piked after his entrails and manhood were cut away and burned before his eyes -- and he is a national hero. The Iranians sing of the demise of the Persians at the hands of Iskender -- Alexander. More than 23 centuries later, they still sing of it.

Only undeserved, seemingly divine rescues through stubborn endurance can compete on the victory side -- The Winter Campaign/Moscow 1812. The two "divine winds" that beat the Mongols' invasions of Japan. Stalingrad. Crossing the Delaware. The Battle of Britain. Gettysburg is not celebrated because the Union won that battle, but because Lincoln hallowed the losses on the field, there and by extension, the whole war, into something greater and worth, not the win, but dying -- of, by and for a divinely given principle of self-rule. There is budo.

The Achaeans won and destroyed Troy. The Iliad is a dry and dusty mouthful of vainglory & victory by the end. Achilles is a warrior all but invincible ( to whom many aspire so as to conquer all objects of fear). But even his anger cannot be quieted. The Iliad begins with the line "The rage of Achilles, sing thee, oh goddess, of that destroying rage that brought countless ills on the Achaeans." The tale of the most famous military victory in Western history or myth begins in a lamentation. It was remembered when the very place it happened had passed out of all memory. The lesson -- you will lose -- and if you wish to be remembered -- Lose well.

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The moment you were born, you became engaged in a battle for your own life which you cannot win. You are going to die, period. Resistance to this fundamental fact causes huge suffering. Becoming a warrior doesn't mean getting so powerful that one can defeat all comers. It means losing ones fear of death.

The attachment to rationality over everything else is just another form of fear. Folks who have logical, rational, linear minds often find the intuitive baffling and even frightening. But the Japanese arts, martial and otherwise are about training the intuition. The body is brought into accord with this intuition not the other way around.
O Sensei spoke of his mission in terms of St. Michael the Archangel driving the demons out of heaven in the Book of Daniel. The nature of the demons being driven out is the thing to see. Conquest it is, but of the subject, not the object, of fear. If you review the Bible to see where a divine messenger appears, the message, more often than not, begins, "Be not afraid!" That also happens to be the end of the message, as well, but people complicate it.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-09-2009 at 04:05 PM.

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Erick Mead
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:27 PM   #109
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I suggest that O-Sensei might have a certain traditional knowledge or wisdom that would be worthwhile for us to understand.

I suggest that we need to have O-Sensei's insights and vision influence our Aikido, which I see as pretty much a no-brainer as he was the Founder of the art. The next thing I know we are talking about Jim Jones. How did we get there? What are people so afraid of?
George I must apologize now before I go any further. I didn't read your complete posting. I just got as far as what I quoted. Now that means if I am off-base am sorry, but what you said, as far as I read, urged me to respond. I think it was the name dropping.

Agreed he did have a certain traditional knowledge. I started questioning that too, but only touch on it here. Perhaps, I should have talked about it more. I will here but not too much. O'Sensei didn't say anything unique or new, putting it in a very abstract form. We can call that new or unique, the form that is. What of that wisdom did he use to direct Aikido? As I see it as a result of questioning, it seems to be non-violence in opposition to the violent feudal past of Japan. And not in the same context of non-violence of say Jesus, or Gandi etc. It also seems he incorporates elements of the samurai culture that directs how a person should train in Aikido. The closest thing I can related that to or parallel it to is thinking that Japanese martial arts for Japanese is what sports culture is for us in the west.

Now if I didn't question it and accepted the myths surrounding O'Sensei then I am believing stories told by others as fact. O'Sensei for example, could dodge the bullets of a firing squad. No bullet could ever touch O'Sensei no matter who or where it was fired he could sense bullets flying through the air. Here is a good example of how myths can evolve due to that telephone game we played as kids. A game where information gets distorted, added to etc. and isn't accurately passed on from one person to another.

I am not saying myths are bad, I am just showing what can happen to a myth, which it often does. People can get information that is not accurate and distorted thinking it is fact or truth. These kind of things need to be kept in check.

O'Sensei's insight is something I don't disagree with. But do we follow his insight or do we follow our own.

I am not sure if you mean by vision in the spiritual or as a leader having a vision for the organization and people that follow. Or as in a business venture sense, having vision as part of your organization. If it is spiritual then I think we should have our own and not someone else's.

Those who survived Jim Jones kool-aid, questioned. Those who died (those not forced to drink the kool-aid) believed, had faith. It goes the same for many mass suicide cults. Heaven's Gate is a good example. That is how that started, as an example of the concern I had where I stopped questioning. Which was upsetting because I was educated to question. Questioning is learning. If it wasn't for questioning we still would be into sacrificing animals or humans to the satisfaction of some displeased god. Thinking the world is flat, and rulers are descendant of gods or actual gods. There is allot of mythology that people still believe in remote areas of the world. I got so caught up, I wasn't questioning anymore.
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:16 AM   #110
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I think questioning for me is very important, other wise I would be not be learning, mistaking myth for fact. I would be at the mercy of someone telling me what to believe, instead of myself. I don't think myth isn't important if looked at properly. It is more interesting, more colorful, than fact. But, it is fact that is real. Fact is the truth. In that case, the myth (stories) about O'Sensei should be questioned so we have an accurate picture of him, and not want we want to see him as. Here in lies the rub, that is what I was doing. I was not seeing him in an accurate picture. If that was happen I wasn't seeing Aikido or myself as an Aikidoka accurately.

I've come to realize that I own it to myself if I am really serious about Aikido, I need to have an accurate picture. I need to be able to not get carried way with myth. I do it with questioning, and why is that wrong?

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Old 02-10-2009, 08:52 AM   #111
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I think questioning for me is very important, other wise I would be not be learning, mistaking myth for fact. ... I've come to realize that I own it to myself if I am really serious about Aikido, I need to have an accurate picture. I need to be able to not get carried way with myth. I do it with questioning, and why is that wrong?
Myth and fact. Is it a myth or a fact that man can fly? At one time myth and at a later time fact. Most people would agree that lies do not lead to truth. But the fact came from imagining the myth to be true -- so which is true and which is false? Or have you set the wrong categories for your question?

You cannot learn what questions to ask by assuming it to be false in the first place -- falsification as a questioning method only comes after unbiased observation. The problem is not that it lacks sense,-- it is perfectly sensible in its own terms, -- it just does not yet make sense to you. You will not know what questions to ask of the myth unless you first take it at face value as possibly true in the largest sense. When you understand how the myth makes sense of itself, then you will know what questions to ask of it that will help it make sense to you. Until then it will not make sense. Asking unfounded questions is just nonsense.

Myth is like language in that it imparts meaning with words and image. Imagine trying to ask questions about the play of meaning in the grammar of French -- when all you have learned is the names on the menu. To know if an extended essay in French makes sense to you as an English speaker -- there is no substitute for learning the complete sense -- in the French. No one says you have to give up your mother tongue to do that, and this is no different.

"Believe that you may understand." Ask the question, "What if it were all true in some sense?" Play with the possibilities and permutations. Then ask "How it is true in its own sense?" After all, if you change your mind once, there is nothing to stop you from changing it back again. I swear, there is no evil demon meme ready to take your brain hostage, like some computer worm .... but then, again, maybe I have been taken over, and IT IS EATING MY BRAIN !!! AAAAAGGHHHHH!!!

Or not.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-10-2009 at 08:56 AM.

Cordially,

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Old 02-10-2009, 10:05 AM   #112
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Any married person could tell you there is a big difference between being 'right' and being 'wise'.
Wisdom involves the heart.

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Old 02-10-2009, 12:04 PM   #113
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Erick,

I understand what your saying. I guess I am saying that you can't mistake myth for fact. There is a danger to that i.e. the Jim Jones folks. I am not saying myth isn't something it was in my view what lead people to science for answers, i.e. is the moon really made of cheese? Or do we accept the moon as being cheese? When science advanced enough to send a man to the moon it was then we knew what the moon was made of. If no one questioned if the moon was made of cheese would we have ever ventured into space?

I re-realized the importance of questioning to find the truth instead of accepting myth for the truth. I do understand and have experience that some myths are true, after questioning it.

Is O'Sensei wise, who sez's he is? Let me discover and find out for myself, rather then being dependent on the views, myths, etc. of others telling me so.

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Old 02-10-2009, 12:08 PM   #114
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Any married person could tell you there is a big difference between being 'right' and being 'wise'.
Wisdom involves the heart.
Wisdom involves common sense of a man knowing that a woman is always right.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:47 PM   #115
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Erick,

I understand what your saying. I guess I am saying that you can't mistake myth for fact. There is a danger to that i.e. the Jim Jones folks. I am not saying myth isn't something it was in my view what lead people to science for answers, i.e. is the moon really made of cheese? Or do we accept the moon as being cheese? When science advanced enough to send a man to the moon it was then we knew what the moon was made of. If no one questioned if the moon was made of cheese would we have ever ventured into space?
There is truth and there is lies. One cannot avoid the fact that liars spin yarns, too. Sometimes they are very pretty -- and very poisonous.

But a myth is not a lie -- it is the truth in fancy dress. Myth allows us the conceptual space to enlarge and accommodate the immensity of a truth beyond our immediate (or conceivable) circumstances. The moon and green cheese is a child's fancy, not a myth. Beowulf is a pagan myth that is used to express Christian truth without doing any injury at all to the integrity of the original. The Iliad is a myth and also happens to draw from some historical events, to speak of things far beyond the matter of the events themselves. Tolkien invented an entire mythology to speak truths that are at once Christian and yet universal, without every touching on a single Christian image.

Myth is a very powerful vehicle of truth -- much more so than mere chronicle of fact. O Sensei therefore chose his vehicle wisely. For you cannot dismiss him -- unless you first wrestle with him.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-10-2009 at 02:51 PM.

Cordially,

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Old 02-10-2009, 06:35 PM   #116
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Myth is a very powerful vehicle of truth -- much more so than mere chronicle of fact.
That's an important point, in terms of understanding "mythological truth." Myth is more than "fancy dress," in this sense -- it is a transformation of (possibly) factual datum into a form that is meant to throw light on a more fundamental (if encoded) programmatic truth.

Therein lies, to quote a figure of "myth," the rub: to apprehend the "truth" of myth within the mythic tradition involves accepting and appreciating the myth as though it were factual.

I highly doubt those of us raised to believe the "myth" of rationality really can access "myth." Instead, at best, we can only appreciate the metaphoric structure and the virtual lesson embedded therein.

At worst, we will simply accumulate a ledger of nonconformity between the story and the evidence.

In between (perhaps) we will construct a new version of the "truth," whose mythic implications remain implicit (since we're too smart to fall for that kind of thing)....

As for marriage, I sure hope my heart is smarter than to think wisdom is no more than a pretense that my wife's heart is smarter.

By contrast, to
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:02 PM   #117
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
As for marriage, I sure hope my heart is smarter than to think wisdom is no more than a pretense that my wife's heart is smarter.
Wisdom has it's place in the space in between.

In fact, to quote a wise man on the subject:
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David Henderson wrote: View Post

In between (perhaps) we will construct a new version of the "truth," whose mythic implications remain implicit (since we're too smart to fall for that kind of thing)....

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Old 02-10-2009, 09:22 PM   #118
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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That's an important point, in terms of understanding "mythological truth." Myth is more than "fancy dress," in this sense -- it is a transformation of (possibly) factual datum into a form that is meant to throw light on a more fundamental (if encoded) programmatic truth.

Therein lies, to quote a figure of "myth," the rub: to apprehend the "truth" of myth within the mythic tradition involves accepting and appreciating the myth as though it were factual.

I highly doubt those of us raised to believe the "myth" of rationality really can access "myth." Instead, at best, we can only appreciate the metaphoric structure and the virtual lesson embedded therein.
"Not all those who wander are lost..." There is a reason Tolkien is considered by many to be the author of the century. The quintessential genre of that and this century was and continues to be science fiction and fantasy of various stripes. We are no longer mere recipients of myth -- we are invited to become active participants, and many are becoming creators. Jules Verne imagined the modern world into existence. We are called to be prophets now, for better or worse.

There is a stuff -- a working medium -- that we all share, and then are invited to shape and build from the foundations of sound traditions. Taken in that mode it is not "art for art's sake" but "art for truth's sake." Willing suspension of disbelief is the operative mode that the creator must elicit in the reader and the reader must accept in order to enter the story and find the truth in it.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-10-2009 at 09:25 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:23 PM   #119
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I is smarter than i figured, it seems.
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:34 PM   #120
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Ron Ragusa wrote:
I think it's easy to confuse O Sensei's message with the imagery he used to explain it.
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Peter Goldsbury wrote:
I think that Onisaburo Deguchi's theology, for want of a better term, and the ways that Morihei Ueshiba adapted, improved, or simply used this theology, are matters of some importance in their own right. Thus Prof. Saeki's researches have a place. (Of course, like any research, it has to be examined and evaluated.) So, I do not believe that the 'medium' and the 'message'--including the provenance of both--can be separated to the extent that Ron Ragusa appears to believe.
It isn't a question of separating the medium from the message. I specifically chose the word imagery hoping to avoid confusing what I was trying to say with the medium/message relationship written about by Marshal McLuhan in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.

O Sensei's spiritual views aren't the medium; they're the content of the message. The images he used to expound his views aren't the medium either, they're the descriptors used to flesh out his message. My point is that, as it relates to the study of Aikido, not only is it possible to separate the message from the imagery, but that it is desirable to do so. If, and I believe it is, the study of Aikido is, as George Ledyard has pointed out more than once, a transformative process then focusing on O Sensei's imagery as a source of personal understanding of the process will prevent one from turning inward in order to find the true source of personal understanding. Aikido transforms the body, the mind and the spirit. Getting caught up in the process of trying to puzzle out O Sensei's cosmological imagery in order to understand one's own Aikido is a way of remaining outwardly focused. Doing so, one risks missing out on the inward journey that begins with the first touch of foot to mat.

Ron
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:36 PM   #121
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Hello David,

I think it is somewhat oversimplifying to talk without further qualification of the 'mythological truth' of Morihei Ueshiba's discourses. It might help the discussion if the focus was narrowed down to some myth or other. How about the myth of Oedipus?

Quote:
David Henderson wrote: View Post
That's an important point, in terms of understanding "mythological truth." Myth is more than "fancy dress," in this sense -- it is a transformation of (possibly) factual datum into a form that is meant to throw light on a more fundamental (if encoded) programmatic truth.

Therein lies, to quote a figure of "myth," the rub: to apprehend the "truth" of myth within the mythic tradition involves accepting and appreciating the myth as though it were factual.

I highly doubt those of us raised to believe the "myth" of rationality really can access "myth." Instead, at best, we can only appreciate the metaphoric structure and the virtual lesson embedded therein.

At worst, we will simply accumulate a ledger of nonconformity between the story and the evidence.

In between (perhaps) we will construct a new version of the "truth," whose mythic implications remain implicit (since we're too smart to fall for that kind of thing)....

As for marriage, I sure hope my heart is smarter than to think wisdom is no more than a pretense that my wife's heart is smarter.

By contrast, to
Best wishes,

Peter G

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Old 02-10-2009, 10:45 PM   #122
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
O Sensei's spiritual views aren't the medium; they're the content of the message. The images he used to expound his views aren't the medium either, they're the descriptors used to flesh out his message.
With respect, I disagree. With 'content' and 'descriptors' you have added a few more concepts here which obscure, rather than clarify. I used medium and message because (I think) Erick Mead used them and they seem to be understandable. What you appear to be stating seems fine--if you understand the 'content' to begin with. I believe this approach is simply begging the question.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 02-11-2009, 12:16 AM   #123
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Here is something to help, I think, with the discussion.

I went with George on myth because it was interesting. But it wasn't something I thought to make it a major focus. It's fine that it did.

How I use the word wise: mainly as an adj. at times used as a verb.

Who sez O'Sensei was wise. The word "wise" is referring to knowing. Knowing means O'Sensei internally questioned, that is based on a Bushido dictum (or as I like to say, "thingy") of, "Bushido consists in dying." That dying thingy is a mental attitude to act without hesitation, doubt, thought of consequences, without heed. It is a pure and simple act, no complications of thought etc. Beside the actually physically dying. Supported by a vow of a samurai to be ready to die at any moment, thus fulfilling the duties of being a samurai to die a samurai's death and not a dog's death. That vow as a practice was to be repeated constantly to the very last instant of life. I mean wow, there was no room for any questioning. Talk about drinking the kool-aid. Point is O'Sensei question the dictum, because he edited it keeping it a part of his Aikido.

O'Sensei questioned, he questioned the ways of old Japan. It is clear with his words, his creation of Aikido in sync with the other arts created at that time, his beliefs (Omoto) and his life. He didn't support the blind sense of service of a samurai to the master, literally. And the dictum that samurai was the property of the Emperor. Or all the other old samurai code was as dictated by things like the Hagakure. O'Sensei was about change. Change that came about during his life, as a result of his experiences as a soldier, and a prisoner of war that lead to that important walk and talk with God. That allowed him to personalize Aikido as his. And was the point where Aikido and himself would take a new direction. A direction away from the feudal past of Japan, and into a new world.

What do I mean by personalize? Aikido takes heavily from both Japanese and Chinese cosmology stuff. Cosmology, and Japanese mythology and esoteric Omoto religion with such practices, is a huge part of the complete Aikido. For O'Sensei to personalize Aikido making it distincely his art form it would be done by adding an abstract cosmological /spiritual side, apart from the samurai way. Leading me to think he questioned. He question because he sought out Omoto. And he created an abstract cosmological /spiritual side of Aikido that mixed from traditional bushido, Japanese mythology and Omoto, all that is what made Aikido unique, a design thought out by O'Sensei, showing he questioned. Should any of that be removed as the result of questioning? In the purest sense no, we see it for what it is. But, not manifest it into something it isn't or can't be. It isn't the divine way to the after-life, or the cosmic profound. It can't make you imprevious to bullets, or can it lead to shooting lighting from your finger tips. It isn't religion or what ever we want it to be to reflect for ourselves. Stuff like that. But what it is, is Japanese.

P.S. I see PAG has helped the discussion allot. I really think it is George's fault for making this discussion more interesting with the addition of myth to the discussion. To bad I didn't think of it and start it.

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Old 02-11-2009, 12:40 AM   #124
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Getting caught up in the process of trying to puzzle out O Sensei's cosmological imagery in order to understand one's own Aikido is a way of remaining outwardly focused. Doing so, one risks missing out on the inward journey that begins with the first touch of foot to mat.

Ron
Hi Ron,
I understand what you are saying but there is another factor at work I think. There is a fine line between an "inward journey" and narcissism in which its all about me, me, me. O-Sensei's take on practice was bringing our nature into accord with the Will of the Kami. In fact that is one of the really brilliant things about Aikido as a practice... it's mostly paired. So you can't just focus on you; it's all in relation. The partner changes and you must change.

Understanding the Founder's imagery so to speak isn't going to cause you to miss anything, as long as you are training seriously. Quite the opposite. It can serve to direct your attention to what is important in your practice, a counter to the tendency to miss the forest for the trees.

People often insist that just training is the answer. That if we just train hard it all becomes clear. I do not think that is true and it only takes a good look around to see that history would put the lie to that idea. No, your practice will yield answers only to questions you are asking. It needs to be directed. If you make it about street fighting, then that will be all you see. If you make it a feel good dance, there will be no depth to the practice. The Founder was the one who points the way. He showed what was possible technically, spiritually, etc. People can choose to take it or leave it. They can take as much as they can digest and no more. That's fine. But I still maintain that Aikido with little or no understanding of the Founder is a shadow of what it should be.

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Old 02-11-2009, 06:52 AM   #125
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I really think it is George's fault for making this discussion more interesting with the addition of myth to the discussion. To bad I didn't think of it and start it.
Hello Mr Burgess,

Don't feel bad about yourself . It might be George's fault for adding myth to the discussion, but I myself think that adding myth was something of a mixed blessing. With myth there is a lot more to explain and so I think that myth should not become a convenient receptacle for making otherwise intractable statements or activities suddenly 'true' or 'wise'. My life in aikido has taught me the great value of Occam's Razor. (Entities--such as deities, demons, myths, inaccessible concepts such as KI--should not be multiplied beyond what is necessary.) An important consequence of Occam's razor, as it applies to aikido training, however, is that it is up to each one of us to apply it as he/she thinks fit.

I agree that Joseph Campbell made a very good attempt to explain myth, as James Frazer did before him, but to what extent will you apply the Hero with a Thousand Faces paradigm to Morihei Ueshiba? Of the 17 'features' of the Hero's Journey, some fit, some do not. Where does that leave us?

A few years ago I taught a class on Oedipus Rex (to a dozen Japanese students, completely unconnected with aikido). I am sure that you know the story as Sophocles tells it. Oedipus had a cleft foot and was abandoned at birth. He was rescued, grew up, and did brave deeds, like destroying the sphinx--and also killing his father and marrying his mother. But he was fated to do all this and my Japanese class felt that this was hugely unfair to Oedipus, for he could not help himself by escaping from the bounds of the prophecy. He was fated to be a scapegoat.

So, in what sense is the Oedipus myth 'true'? (Note that I have used Sophocles' version of the myth, which he used for his own purposes. Aristotle did the same, for he used Sophocles' version to explain the importance his own theory of tragic drama as a means of catharsis.) Incest is bad, certainly. Anything else?

(It's somewhat like Harry Potter. The prophecy requires that he or Voldemort dies, but J K Rowling does not explain why there should be such a prophecy, or why it should prophesy such an outcome. And, obviously, the mythological element in Harry Pottter or Tolkien would never work with aikido, because, as O Sensei allegedly tells us, aikido transcends victory or defeat, which rather nullifies the point of Harry's final battle with Voldemort and Frodo's battle with Sauron.)

In respect of the 'myths' of the Kojiki, O Sensei is, frankly, all over the place. One can ask similar questions about the Kojiki myths as about Oedipus. The Kojiki / Nihon Shoki attach the myths of the creation of the world & (especially) Japan to a political tract, the aim of which is to demonstrate the claims of the Yamato clan to be the rulers of Japan, just as the creation myths in Genesis are part of the larger account of the origins of Israel, as recorded in the Pentateuch. So, in what respects are the Kojiki myths themselves 'true' and, consequently, in what sense are O Sensei's statements based on the Kojiki myths 'true'?

Note that I have put 'true' in quotes, because I doubt that it is the appropriate word to use here, for I do not really think that myths are 'true' or 'false'.

Best wishes,

PAG

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