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Old 12-14-2009, 11:56 PM   #51
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
This thread is becoming a pissing match.... how aiki!
I don't think so. At least...I didn't...
I'm just trying to understand clearly, but perhaps I was rude somehow. I certainly didn't mean to make it some kind of competition. Maybe I should have taken more time to explain myself instead of trying to be to the point. At least, I can see where that might seem a bit abrupt. Was that what you were referring to?

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Old 12-15-2009, 02:01 PM   #52
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Dean Suter wrote: View Post
What does spirituality mean to you as a practitioner of aikido?
What the heck, I'll bite.

First, The Spirit of Aikido is a great book. I think Doshu was trying to prepare Western culture for an Eastern martial art and he spends significant time addressing the culture shock as Westerners absorb aikido. For the purpose of my continued response, I will clarify that Eastern spirituality is different than my spirituality [Western].

Second, I believe spirituality is the part of our bodies that gives us uniqueness within the world. Spirituality in not religion, but is kindred to religion because it is not tangible. Spirituality is the essence of who we are and our impact on the world around us.

I believe individuals can have strong spirit, weak spirit, good spirit or bad spirit. Like our bodies and minds, we can have healthy sprirt and we can have sick spirit. I believe our actions and the worthiness of our lives conditions and refines our spirit. I also believe that we make poor decisions that damage our spirit.

My instructor once said that you cannot hide who you are on the mat. Your personality will eventually show itself if you train long enough. I do not believe more truer words have been said concerning this statement. The connection I draw from spirituality to aikido is that you will eventually face your true spirit on the mat, not the one you profess to have. In this sense, akido serves as a mirror to reflect your spirit so you may improve upon it.

Religion serves as judgement (and absolution) for the poor decisions we make in our lives as we seek to improve our spirit. "Big Brother" comes to mind, but each religion sets forth rules that govern judgement and absolution. Religion allows us to secretly confess those poor decisions, and receive support to deal with the consequences of those decisions.

Allow me a moment of admonishment based upon my above statements... When given to opportunity to improve our spirit on the mat, how many of us find an excuse to not train? Was it the long night out? Homework? A special episode of Family Guy? Think of the spirit Osensei's uchi deshi (and other today) must have to perform the work they did and train the hours they did. Think of the committment those students must have to train early in the morning and after a day's work. I know I fail to compare the spirit these students had (and have), and I struggle to be a little more resolved in my committment when I hear inspiring stories about students who exemplify what aikidoka means.

This is why aikido is more than physical exercise or mental training. This is why we train when we are tired, or distracted, or hurt, or any of those other little reasons that keep us from class.

Last edited by jonreading : 12-15-2009 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:01 PM   #53
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

I've thought up a new alter ego for myself: The Plonkmeister.

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I don't think so. At least...I didn't...
...But I'll take the dead air as some form of confirmation. Sorry folks. I thought the thread was going well and really didn't mean to put anyone off on it.
Taking a seat,
Matthew

Last edited by mathewjgano : 12-15-2009 at 02:04 PM.

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Old 12-15-2009, 08:12 PM   #54
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
David Board wrote: View Post
My wife is a yoga teacher she has a series of exercises that strength your, um, internal power that might help this situation. Depends if your looking for an external solution or a more internal one, kegel.
yeah, the gyno suggested those exercises as well.
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:12 PM   #55
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
...But I'll take the dead air as some form of confirmation.
Matthew,
No; I disagree; and don't think that's right; and i don't think you should take it that way.
The issue is; this is difficult to discuss.

For many people this is a lifetime's culmination of moments, decisions, commitments, thoughts and positions.
It is difficult to make a bridge to one another so briefly.

Usually the mechanics of these conversations go one of two ways
1) try to outline with absolute rigor the mindset/backdrop/etc and then discuss in neutral terms (that is correct; but boring as all heck; and usually dries up any of the passion that originated the conversation) or 2)be direct about what you think; as innocuously as possible; and ride the wave; and see how it goes. (usually starts flame wars and invokes hurt feelings)

Frankly; the fastest way is 2) but usually it gets out of hand and rude because; unlike most thoughts or facts of knowledge; here we 'identify with the thoughts/roles/beliefs' and it is implicitly personal. So... all that to say...

many beliefs are inherently self-contradictory and having a discussion that pretends there are no substantial differences is disingenuous. trying to hash out the differences in an open format is also difficult because there are invariably a thousand good questions; that must be addressed. Also; some 'truths' are mutually exclusive and will be shattered when tested in the light of all knowns; and 'most-likely' considersations. Then there is the issue of willful pride which we all face. But that is a story for another day.

belief should not be easy; and in fact it should be agonizingly difficult and precise such that any rest or solace you take from where you end up should be a concrete firmament on which you would bet your very existence. "Would you bet your life on it?". Because we literally are.
This does not come cheap; and it is so very hard to express in a precise way. That said; it can be done; but it is oh so hard.

m2c
--Josh
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:14 PM   #56
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I've thought up a new alter ego for myself: The Plonkmeister.
i also have the 'dim mak' and apply it often to threads.

aaah sooo

<zoink>
{....fades to black....{
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:52 PM   #57
thisisnotreal
 
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Hello again, Mr. Barrish,
Thank you kindly for your detailed response. I appreciate it; I have a few ideas and questions I will share... but I don't know if they are even possible to answer. There may be some disconnects in the way I phrased some things. Also, I hope to give no offense; but to share a different point of view and some thoughts and questions.
Please, you may call me Josh, if you like.

Quote:
Lawrence Koichi Barrish wrote: View Post
1st may I say I did not write the prayer Itadakimasu.. the Kami mentioned are:
1) Hi-no-OO-Kami = a way to refer to Amaterasu Omikami meaning the sun/ taiyo= the solar progenitor. In Shinto thinking all life dependent on divine sunshine. If we think deeply about it maybe is natural to be grateful for sunshine.
2) The other kami mentioned in this prayer is Toyoukehimenomikoto, who is kami of foodstuffs as well as things made by human effort to sustain human life. Maybe it is also natural to be grateful for life sustaining food. If we hike in the mountains and become very hungry we can really savor the nourishment and taste of a snack…if we are living a life seeking meaningful connection to and harmony with life giving forces we might be really grateful for the gift of nourishment, which is ultimately dependant on divine solar power.
These names come from the Jinja Shinto -- but the forces involved exist outside of that paradigm.
I think I understand. In the way you wrote it; "the forces involved exist outside of that paradigm": Would it be fair to say that ultimately; what you are talking about is a worship of the nature powers?
In this worldview, I struggle with the answer about the explanation of ultimate origins. Where did the original sunshine come from? If I understand correctly; the 'origin stories' are, for instance, particular in this case to a Shinto backdrop, but again, I believe; the forces involved exist outside this; and we are left with an allegory or archetypal story. At it's limit; is not the universal ultimate force relegated the 'ki'; viewed as unmanifest; and the source of all potentials? I always struggled to understand if this was yet another force (i.e. a law; akin to gravity) or if there was a consciousness directing the flow of the tao. My question may be faulty if I have assumed too much. Any comments you offer I am sure will be interesting.

Quote:
Lawrence Koichi Barrish wrote: View Post
In my opinion as the licensed Jinja Shinto Chief Priest and the person who has studied Aiki movement for some years (40) esoteric Shinto thinking re: the Oharahi-no-kotoba (the most important liturgy of Shinto) and the founders thinking re: mission of Aikido are quite analogous- but that is just my opinion.
I am not sure, but I may have missed your meaning here. Is there somewhere you wouldn't mind referring me to that liturgy (with translation?). I would like to read it.
I am curious; you mention the movement of aiki:: Do you feel strongly in one way or another about the way aiki in-yo ho has been discussed on these boards?

Quote:
Mr Philipson wrote:
Is Aikido or does Aikido presume a religion? Do some 'fit' better than other? Was it 'designed' with a 'fit' in mind? As Aikido comes from O-Sensei, so the source of the spirituality in Aikido is from O-Sensei (is it right?) and all that informed his beliefs. I do not think he separated Aikido from his beliefs. In fact; I think this wholistic view is implicit. This is something I have not yet settled for myself. Put another way: Is there an intended immutable spirituality in Aikido?

Again I can only offer opinions, it is my opinion that Aikido= Jujitsu + Shinto. May I say at this point that Shinto is not Religion, rather a Natural spirituality and a reflection of a time when humankind was connected to Divine Nature and able to intuit certain things about life by that connection to life giving forces.
That is very interesting.
I think that you are right about Aikido=Jujitsu + Shinto. This is personal; but I am not Shinto; and I wonder sometimes if and what it means to not 'fully partake' in Aikido. Is it even possible to 'do Aikido' if you are not doing the whole thing. There was another 'mathematical' expression I read on the boards where Aikido=1/2(aiki) + 1/2(spirituality) ....actually that is the exact same equation, is'nt it (i just realized that).

Quote:
Relative to an "immutable spirituality in Aikido" I would say certainly not..of course everyone's Aikido is their own.
Thank you for your thoughts.

Quote:
Ancient peoples thinking did not divide material and spiritual existence, but considered that the both were inseparable, seeing everything to be spiritual.
These are very interesting times we see in the world. Many ways to think and see it all; but one thought that occurs to me is that It seems that there are two main camps of people; one that seek to adhere to reverence and spirituality; and another that seek to throw off the 'shackles of old beliefs'. Depending on who/what you read (online and/or off) it seems really it is an intense and changing time.

Thank you for posting the explanations from the FAQ; and especially the parts about kami. It was very interesting and well written.

Quote:
Therefore, Shinto does not percieve substantial difference or discontinuation between Kami and man, Kami and Divine Nature, or nature and human beings. It can be said that Shinto is basically the faith in Kannagara /the continuous positive movement of the life-giving forces."
Quote:
Again in my opinion it is not at all necessary to anthropomorphize thinking re: life giving forces … if we can stand firmly on the Earth and receive the rich vitality of Earth while being nourished by and receiving inspiration for the sun we feel really alive and naturally be grateful to forces and the actions of others in the past present and future who support us. How exactly each individual thinks of and relates to these forces is very personal.
I wonder (aloud) is there not a commonality of perception and thought at 'high level' shinto? Is 'communication' a valid concept...meaning is there a back and forth. Please pardon me if the question is out of line by being too personal. It is something I wonder.

Thank you for sharing.

Mr. Barrish, thank you again for the rare conversation. It is my hope and intent not to be anything but sincere and honest. Sometimes my instinct to ask questions or share thoughts outweights my sense of decorum; and I hope I have not done this here.
Respectfully,
Josh P.
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Old 12-16-2009, 12:22 AM   #58
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I've thought up a new alter ego for myself: The Plonkmeister.

...But I'll take the dead air as some form of confirmation. Sorry folks. I thought the thread was going well and really didn't mean to put anyone off on it.
Taking a seat,
Matthew
Sorry haven't had time to respond to much.

In addtion, with respect to the topic of the thread, and what we are discussing It appears that there are two polar view points philosophically concerning what constitutes "truth" and who can dictate it.

As religious beliefs/convictions typically run strong for folks, especially when it is based on a particular faith believe as is covered in a book such as the Koran, Bible, or other scripture. (Not knocking it by any means), and that faith holds certain truths as fundamental and absolute....it doesn't do much good past a certain point to continue the discusison as it degrades into an "I'm right, your wrong" kinda conversation.

I respect peoples freedom and choice to believe whatever they want to, and as I stated, I am good with that as long as that belief does not adversely affect someone else.

As such, I don't see much point on continuing the discussion along these lines.

I think it is best to get back on the topic of spirituality of aikido and discuss issues related to this.

If someone doesn't see the point or believe that some of the things that are done in the practice lend to spiritual development/enlightment in some way...no problem...drive on and let those that do discuss it without interference!

Thanks all for the discussion and keeping it polite and respectful!

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Old 12-16-2009, 12:51 AM   #59
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
..
If someone doesn't see the point or believe that some of the things that are done in the practice lend to spiritual development/enlightment in some way...no problem...drive on and let those that do discuss it without interference!

Thanks all for the discussion and keeping it polite and respectful!
Hi Kevin,
Here's a question for you: if you don't mind sharing your thoughts:
Quote:
some of the things that are done in the practice lend to spiritual development/enlightment in some way
May I ask; How (& what) do you think this happens?
In my first post I linked to some of Mr. Hebert's posts; and I thought that was a good answer to it. I am curious to hear your, and others', views on it.

Cheers,
Josh
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Old 12-16-2009, 01:14 AM   #60
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

I think I've read some where that Osensei did say that Aikido will perfect your religion. I don't think he was concern so much of it replacing your religion. Rather I think the spirit one would cultivate in the proper practice of Aikido will help you attain a higher spiritual level in your present religion, if that is what you're looking for in the first place.

Lets face it, most who abide by a religious order today are probably doing things by rote. Sure do the good deed and avoid the bad so that our soul will go to heaven or at least spend as little time as possible in hell. But truly understanding religion is probably something that most wouldn't spend too much time on. Afterall, there's all that worldly stuff to do and too little time do it all.

Before Osensei died, he called all his senior students to see him and he will impart the secret of aikido. The first day, everyone came. Pack to the brim. The 2nd, half came. The 3rd, only what you can count with your fingers. When asked, some of the students will say we don't know what he's talking about. All he talked about is God. There is no secret!

This was related by a Shihan who was an uchideshi to Osensei, to my sensei. So forgive any error on my part. But I understand the predicament. Osensei was enlightened in a way beyond the physical aspects of martial arts. That's why in his later years, the emphasis was never on the technique per se. I believe he wanted us to adjust our attitude and heart. Aiki no kokoro...

Most students however did not come to Aikido practice to learn how to be priests. They came to learn how to be strong, how to defeat countless of people the way Osensei did. Its not fair that this old man has the secret but keeps teaching nonsense, so they stopped hearing what he had to say and tried to unravel the physical aspect of it. Just like Tohei who found another path. He believed Osensei did things a different way to what he was telling his students to do. Like to grip hard but in actual fact he gripped softly. Tohei thought he found out the secret. But in reality, you can grab Osensei hard or soft and the result will remain the same. Tohei used awareness to counter sneak attacks by his students. Osensei's awareness didn't come from smart thinking or observation. His awareness came from his enlightenment. What opening can you find on someone who's level is, if you attack you are in fact attacking yourself?

I think its fair to say, Osensei was trying to teach the secret but no one believed him.

I believe Aikido is a path that can lead to spiritual fulfilment. Its goal of harmony encompasses a lot of what religion ask of their followers. When we understand our point of origin is the same as everyone out there, we understand Aikido and we understand religion.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:15 AM   #61
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
Hi Kevin,
Here's a question for you: if you don't mind sharing your thoughts:

May I ask; How (& what) do you think this happens?
In my first post I linked to some of Mr. Hebert's posts; and I thought that was a good answer to it. I am curious to hear your, and others', views on it.

Cheers,
Josh
Looked back at Mr Herbert's post. I am not exactly sure what part of it you are talking about, however, I do not agree with his model that has spirituality and martial effectiveness on the same axis. that is, spiritualilty on one end and martial effectiveness on the other.

I would submit that they are not even on the same axis. Maybe parallel to each other and maybe not even related at all.

More later as I have some time...gotta get to work in a few.

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Old 12-16-2009, 11:38 AM   #62
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Hopefully I am in the ballpark on what you were asking.

I think spirituality is a individual thing for the most part, what one person finds significance in might be different than another.

From my readings it appears that O'Sensei felt that it was and a good path to communicate many of his thoughts.

Yoga is another one that seems to have a high affinity for sprituality.

However for many Yoga is a form of exercise. Heck what most people know about yoga is only the exercise. Most don't know that there are different types of Yoga as an integrated practice and what most people in the U.S, at least, call "Yoga" is "Hatha Yoga" or exercises. There are many other dimensions of yoga that are comprehensive. The intent of Hatha Yoga is really to prepare the body for meditation to be over simplistic, and meditation is related to calming the mind, which leads to a greater happiness and/or enlightment.

Does Aikido have such a defined path as say yoga? Or is it that most of the AIkido we practice simply the "exercise" or physical part of the practice?

Surely for some, there is a deeper meaning for Aikido, but for others, it is simply a physical pracitce/martial art.

What does it matter? I don't think it does at all. Aikido is a martial art cerntered around martial principles of movement and it is based on a philosophy of the founder. As a methodology I think our primary function is to learn it as a martial practice first and foremost...and to be honest to that practice. Failure to do so I think is dishonest both martially and spritually.

Maybe this is the real rub for alot of folks. That is, placing attachment that is not real.

I think that trained hard, honestly, and correctly that budo will change you, I don't think this is avoidable if you are sincere and honest in your practice.

Is that change spiritual to you? Some may say no. Can we agree that it expands your understanding and thus make you a "better you". I think most of us (hopefully) will agree on that.

To me, this is spiritual...to others, they may not label it this way.

I think both are fine.

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Old 12-16-2009, 02:39 PM   #63
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Hello Everyone,

Hello Josh-san, I am sorry to be slow to reply, the New Years Season is the busiest time of the year at the Shinto Shrine and now we are working to prepare to welcome many many shrine visitors-- so I have not been able to visit Aikiweb for a few days.. Josh-san, you wrote:
“I think I understand. In the way you wrote it; "the forces involved exist outside of that paradigm": Would it be fair to say that ultimately; what you are talking about is a worship of the nature powers?
In this worldview, I struggle with the answer about the explanation of ultimate origins. Where did the original sunshine come from? If I understand correctly; the 'origin stories' are, for instance, particular in this case to a Shinto backdrop, but again, I believe; the forces involved exist outside this; and we are left with an allegory or archetypal story. At it's limit; is not the universal ultimate force relegated the 'ki'; viewed as unmanifest; and the source of all potentials? I always struggled to understand if this was yet another force (i.e. a law; akin to gravity) or if there was a consciousness directing the flow of the tao. My question may be faulty if I have assumed too much. Any comments you offer I am sure will be interesting.”

It might be useful to think in terms of gratitude to and relationship with the life giving forces… something analogous to relationship with a very respected Grandparent. As for original Sunshine the Shinto thinking is that Takamanohara/ our Sun and Solar system where created 7 generations /sometime after the origin of Takaamahara/ the Universe. As for Ki in Shinto thinking: KI is primal causer…everything is started by KI. The Great Universe is started by KI. Your mood, decisions and actions are initiated by Ki. Of course negative Ki exists but we can purify ourselves to sense Ki and to receive positive Ki.

Josh-san, you wrote:
“I am not sure, but I may have missed your meaning here. Is there somewhere you wouldn't mind referring me to that liturgy (with translation?). I would like to read it.
I am curious; you mention the movement of aiki:: Do you feel strongly in one way or another about the way aiki in-yo ho has been discussed on these boards?”

Oharahi-no-kotoba is really long.. if you don’t mind please send me a direct email and I will send you a file. Oharahi-no-Kotoba is associated with Sarutahiko Okami----Ancestor Kami of Aikido is the Kami of Ki: SARUTAHIKO OKAMI who presides over all matters within the atmosphere of Onogorojima (Earth) as ancestor of all earthly kami. Sarutahiko Okami carries the great mission of activating/ vitalizing the soul, enhancing spirituality and guiding humankind. Ooharahi-no-kotoba teaches us that the mission of Human beings is to become interchangeable with the Kunitsu Kami...this is exactly as Kaiso (Aikido Founder) stated when he said " all movements of Aikido were gifted by SarutahikonoOkami and the ultimate aim of Aikido was to become like SarutahikonoOkami. ..................................................my thinking is that ultimately Shinto and Aikido aim to answer the common desires of humankind (FUTOMANI).
As for discussions of Aiki In-Yo ho, I am sorry to say I have not read that thread yet…
Josh-san wrote:
“That is very interesting.
I think that you are right about Aikido=Jujitsu + Shinto. This is personal; but I am not Shinto; and I wonder sometimes if and what it means to not 'fully partake' in Aikido. Is it even possible to 'do Aikido' if you are not doing the whole thing. There was another 'mathematical' expression I read on the boards where Aikido=1/2(aiki) + 1/2(spirituality) ....actually that is the exact same equation, is'nt it (i just realized that).”

Shinto is natural spirituality in contrat to Religion, so there is no Shinto/ not Shinto.

Josh-san wrote:
“I wonder (aloud) is there not a commonality of perception and thought at 'high level' shinto? Is 'communication' a valid concept...meaning is there a back and forth. Please pardon me if the question is out of line by being too personal. It is something I wonder.”

Thank you for your kind thinking. Please don’t be at all concerned--- I am happy to do my best to answer questions. Interestingly enough the job of Shinto Priests is to conduct rituals…. Shinto is very “undogmatic” so if you asked 15 different Kannushi (Shinto Priests) the same question you would likely find differing opinions except about the precise nature of Gishiki/ritual. Josh-san thank you again for your kind thinking.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu
K. Barrish
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:48 PM   #64
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Hi All,

My thanks to everyone for an interesting discussion.

I would like to expand a bit on my post that Josh Phillipson has so kindly referenced. In that post I asked myself two fundamental questions:

1. Why do I continue to practice Aikido?
2. Is there a spiritual component that is specific to Aikido and if so is anyone practicing it?

The answer to my first question is connected (but not fully answered) by the ramifications of the second question. Despite having my original post referenced, It don't expect that anyone is interested in why I am practicing Aikido. However, since the "Spirituality of Aikido" thread now has over 60 posts, it might work to address some comments to question 2.

My sense from reading and talking to people who knew him, I don't think that O'sensei had a vague, generalized sense of spirituality in Aikido. On the contrary it seems evident that he had very concrete spiritual ideas and goals and that his creation of Aikido was as much an outcome of these efforts as it was a tool to achieve them. Many of his spiritual ideas were taken from his long association with Shinto and Omoto-kyo. Nevertheless, despite his compelling personality, few of his students understood or cared what he was talking about. Almost no Aikidoists active today incorporate these spiritual approaches in their own practice.

Yet a spiritual thread persists in today's Aikido and people sense its undercurrent, even some who would disavow it. This spiritual association is what often draws people to Aikido in the first place and after they start they often remain hungry for some sort of spiritual food from their training.

Here is one example. Consider the existence of illusions that exist on the path of Aikido. It seems to me that some of the teachings of Aikido entail grappling with the illusions that Aikido can present. One might say that beginners are most susceptible to these illusions, but I notice that some of us who have practiced a long time have hardened our illusions into personal reality. One of the biggest example of this is the illusion of invincibility. Don't many Shihan express amazing powers when demonstrating their art with skilled ukes? Aren't we all interested in the stories of O'sensei remaining undefeated as fighter, even into old age? Telling stories of fights and battles are an ancient form that are magnified many times over in our culture through movies and other media. It is safe to say that our culture is literally entranced by the archetype of the warrior who wins through against all odds.

The illusion of power is the source of a lot of stuck energy in Aikido (although paradoxically offering a solution). I see this in the way we think about Nage/Uke. When I first started Aikido I dreamt that I found a way that enabled me to Nage my way through life. By studying the principles and becoming skilled enough, one could prevail in any situation. This is the same thinking that fuels many of the forum discussions about martial effectiveness.

Problem #1 with my dream is that my skill level has failed to rise (ahem) to that of Jedi status. But problem #2 is that it is actually unattainable. Striving for excellence (and even beauty) in our training is a good thing. Martial skill is an edge we train and as such can be a servant of a higher purpose. However, Invincibility is a spiritual (and physical) illusion that can lead us into a confused landscape.

I recall the famous Holocaust author Primo Levi recounted an incident that occurred while he was a prisoner in Auschwitz. The Germans always recruited certain prisoners to be the ones in charge of each hut and conditions were such that these prisoners became as brutal as the German guards. They were cruelly efficient at crushing the spirit and resistance of all newcomers. However, despite their status, these hut leaders were only marginally better off than the other prisoners and existed in a malnourished, weakened state. One time a new prisoner was assigned to his hut - a young man in the prime of his strength. I believe that he asked a hut leader a question or perhaps protested against some order. The result is that the hut leader struck him. The young man instinctively struck back. The other prisoners threw in with the leader and ganged up on him. Although he was far stronger than any individual opponent he could not out-fight them. In the end, they drowned him the soup. Does anyone seriously think that O'Sensei himself could have fought his way to some kind of victory in this situation?

In Aikido, our invincibility stories are teaching us something. The short answer to the illusion of invincibility is that no amount of skill will prevent any of us from experiencing decline and death. However, spiritual work might help us understand and live the predicament of our mortality. From this perspective one could say that the role of Uke is ultimately the more important one - how can we gracefully take the fall. I have come to appreciate the physical practice of Ukemi and the way it informs an important personal spiritual question.

For me, Aikido is like dreaming. Information comes up from some well whether I want it or not.

I think most Aikidoists resist a spiritual orthodoxy in their practice and I think this skepticism is well justified given the current state of the world's main religions. Yet I still remain interested in Aikido's potential as a unique spiritual way and I remain curious as to how others think about this.

Kind Regards,
Don Hebert

Last edited by donhebert : 12-16-2009 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:47 PM   #65
Abasan
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

"The young man instinctively struck back. The other prisoners threw in with the leader and ganged up on him. Although he was far stronger than any individual opponent he could not out-fight them. In the end, they drowned him the soup. Does anyone seriously think that O'Sensei himself could have fought his way to some kind of victory in this situation?"

Personally, asking this type of question is pure rhetoric. Osensei has had his fair share of adversity and overcame them. That he didn't overcome every sort of human adversity that ever existed does not demean his ability in anyway.

Gozo Shioda was witness to Osensei's feat against armed man who shot him but missed only to find Osensei throwing him from behind. It wasn't something related by Osensei as a gospel, it was a remarkable incident related by witnesses. Osensei was no God either. He met a marksman whom he knew he couldn't dodge and called it as it is thereby holding the man from pulling the trigger.

To me, the question that Spirituality gives you strength was never in doubt. But if you confuse that with invincibility than I suppose that's where we'll be rudely awaken.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:35 PM   #66
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

Any activity can be done in a spiritual way. Life itself can be seen as a source of spiritual lessons. Equally, it can be lived with out any consideration or interest for these aspects of it. Likewise aikido.

That said, some activities more than others are conducive for being carried out as a 'way'. Artists, craftsmen, athletes, farmers, fishermen, intellectuals and so on... nearly anyone can integrate spirituality with what they do. However, aikido seems, to me, to have encoded in it some very important things in it's makeup that are isomorphic with the way life and the universe seems to work, and as such it especially lends itself for use as a tool for personal and spiritual growth. But not everybody needs to carry it out in that way. We are all aware of very highly skilled martial artists who do not have the goal of spiritual understanding or development Power to them! I would also add my voice to those that assert that martial intent and seriousness is hugely valuable in and of itself, and for the spiritual project.

Interestingly - I know somebody who is a serious student of martial arts (not aikido) who categorically denies any spiritual element to their practice. However he has deeply improved certain character flaws since he started and seems more balanced, open, and well.. human dammit. Obviously there is no cosmology or any of the more dogmatic and structured "truths" of spirituality that he's thinking of, but in my view any of these ways of engaging with reality are just another interim point on the way, no better or worse than simply practicing and living, and forming your own opinions.

I know another man who drives a garbage truck for a living and seems to me to have many of the qualities associated with what has been described as enlightenment in some traditions. I'm not sure how he got there, maybe it was driving the garbage truck, maybe he was born that way. i don't know. i don't know if he would either.

I also think aikiweb is a great place to observe and understand some of these different ways of engaging with practice and self and life in general, and with each other AND with the conflicts that result. Thanks everyone! My first proper post - thanks for reading.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:48 AM   #67
Xue Kli
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Re: Spirituality of aikido?

I haven't read through entire thread, but I have looked at a few other threads here and couldn't actually find the original one about Christianity and Aikido.
My own experiences in combining Aikido and Christianity are these: I am an Orthodox Christian for over 22 years and also a martial artist for pretty much the same amount of time. I managed to combine the two for the most part by making a compromise. I don't practice certain aspects of martial arts.
When I decided to start Aikido practice I asked my priest if this is something I could do(Orthodox Christianity is pretty strict about most ideas of this kind) and was surprised by priest's answer that i could do so. Yes, he put certain conditions, as to putting my religious practice first and so on. But no one stops me from attending Aikido school and ALL of my classmates there are pretty supportive. yes, we differ on our religious views, but we not only accept each other but care about each other in a very deep way.
And actually, surprisingly, I found that my life has changed to a better because i learned to compromise. My religion helps me at the Aikido school and learning conflict management helps me to be a better Christian.

Last edited by Xue Kli : 06-28-2010 at 11:50 AM.
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