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Old 12-30-2009, 12:57 AM   #26
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: O'Sensei Thought It Was Important

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
That said... There is another issue and that is to tease out what Morihei Ueshiba meant when he made statements about farming and Budo. Here we have a choice as to how to proceed -- do we interpret it through what we find meaningful or missing in our lives today or do we try to understand the world he was living in, the context he experienced, and the social/cultural/intellectual underpinnings he was experiencing these things from. The former is perfectly fine for each person who is striving to find meaning in what they're doing. That's great -- you're applying things in a new context. But that's not really learning anything about what Morihei Ueshiba was saying but more about what we feel is important today in our context. If his words inspire things today, that's great, but the historical question still remains -- what did *he* mean by it. How did *he* understand it. Asking those questions in no way diminishes the value that someone may gather from the inspiration of his words in today's context even if they go very far afield from the "reality" of the history.
Following on from this post from Keith Larman, I did a little research about what Morihei Ueshiba actually stated, or meant. Here are a few results, and those AikiWeb members who wish to can check the references and add more information if they wish.

I have found nothing related to budo and farming in any of Ueshiba's published discourses (though I have not gone through the Japanese text of Takemusu Aiki). However, there is some mention of the relationship in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography: 合気道開祖植芝盛平伝, translated into English as, A Life in Aikido.

Kisshomaru mentions the topic first on pp.82-83 of the Japanese text and, by coincidence, the translation is also on pp. 82-83 of the English text. The discussion starts with one Kurahashi Denzaburo, who was a military veteran from Kishu (= Tanabe) who settled in a veterans settlement in Hokkaido. Kisshomaru then mentions a very important matter, 屯田兵制度: tonden hei seido, which was the resettlement of samurai who were left without employment after the abolition of feudal domains. These veterans formed a military reserve, but in peacetime they lived by farming. Kisshomaru adds: ー言にしていえば、「兵農一如」実践を主旨とした。"In other words, they embodied the concept of heino-ichinyo (fighting and farming are one), the integration of the military and agricultural lifestyles" (p. 83, both versions).

Kisshomaru does not explain the provenance of the phrase 「兵農一如」and I can find no reference to it in the absence of the other concept, of 屯田兵制度: tonden hei seido. So, the suspicion is that this is an 'invented tradition' (in Hobsbawm's sense) and that the integration of fighting and farming has meaning here only in the purely practical sense of providing a means of livelihood for displaced veterans.

Kisshomaru adds that Morihei Ueshiba took up a similar ideal 「武農一如」(which is translated as 'the integration of the martial and agricultural lifestyles'), when he moved to Iwama in 1942 and, since K Chiba spent some time in Iwama recovering from a back injury, it is probably here that he would have heard O Sensei talk about this. Kisshomaru is in no doubt, however, that the origin of both ideas was the practice of settling retired veterans.

Kisshomaru then adds some history and for me this puts a slightly different slant on the matter. Kisshomaru notes that when Enomoto Takeaki surrendered to the new Meiji government, such settlements were organized for ex-samurai. Kisshomaru is actually discussing the Boshin Civil War, when samurai loyal to the Tokugawa shogunate were hunted down by an army composed mainly of Satsuma and Choshu veterans. Enomoto was one such samurai leader, but there were others, including samurai from the Aizu domain, where Takeda Sokaku was born. The Aizu samurai were also offered similar settlements, but as a punishment, and their form of 「兵農一如」led to starvation and death.

In Kisshomaru's biography, there is more mention of 「兵農(武農)一如」on pp. 257-260 of the Japanese text and pp. 267-271 of the English translation. On p. 267 of the English translation, there is a note explaining Heino-ichinyo / Buno-ichinyo:
"The first of these terms denotes the integration of agriculture and the military, and originally was applied to a Meiji-era program of relocating samurai families to the Hokkaido frontier for both farming and national defence; the second term denotes more particularly O Sensei's own concept of the close and necessary relationship between agriculture or farming and the martial arts, Budo."

The problem here is that there is no explanation in either the text or the footnotes of what this necessary relationship consists in (other than the rather obvious connection of a dojo surrounded by land which has to be farmed). Now it might be that Morihei Ueshiba was indeed thinking of Hirata Atsutane and Omoto, and Kisshomaru mentions that he did, also, farm in Ayabe and Takeda. However this connection is not made clear and it seems that Kisshomaru also believed that this was a personal belief of his father. I think it is significant that this seemingly necessary relationship ceased to exist with the Second Doshu, who was the one who wrote the biography.

There is quite a lot more that could be discussed, but I think this is enough for the time being.

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-30-2009 at 01:06 AM.

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Old 12-30-2009, 05:31 AM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: O'Sensei Thought It Was Important

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Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
I think, whether or not we can actually particpate in farming, some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial, even if it's just noticing the phases of the moon, so we know when we will have light for a late-night walk, or darkness to see the stars better. Tides, seasons, weather, decay and sprouting, predation, planting and harvesting, etc. all feel to me like the same circling, flowing energies in our techniques.
Hello Linda,

Have you ever seen the film (movie ) Tuck Everlasting? It is about a family who breaks the cycle of nature by drinking from a magic spring, which stops them from aging. Together with Benjamin Button, it is a very interesting meditation about linear and cyclic conceptions of nature. I use both films in my classes on comparative culture. Actually, Benjamin Button is quite relevant here, because David Fincher agreed to shoot the film in New Orleans--and change the story from Scott Fitzgerald's original setting--because it offered a chance for New Orleans to recover from Hurricane Katrina. I have never experienced a hurricane, though I have experienced a major typhoon, and none of the doors fit in my traditional Japanese house because of all the earthquakes. So I have experienced nature in ways that I would not like to repeat too often, and with which budo has no relationship whatever, other than the obvious ways of being prepared--as one might be with a possible plane high-jacking.

One of the problems in discussing O Sensei and Nature is that the experience of all who discuss this appears to be so different and selective. The OP talked of Chiba Sensei, who discussed O Sensei and farming. I was once quite close to Chiba Sensei and we used to discuss such questions in some depth. He once took me to meet a 'renegade' Jesuit priest, named Fr Oshida, who was chaplain to a farming commune (of nuns, I believe) in a remote part of Japan. The meeting was at the Buddhist temple in Kannami-cho, run by Chiba's friend Hogen Yamagata.

The problem for me with these discussions was that there was too much of the Bucolic and the Pastoral involved. Nature was always benign; never too raw to touch. It was always presented in the same way that Isamu Kurita (see earlier post) presented the joy of cooperative labor in the process of Japanese car production, or coal mining. Michael Hackett mentioned picking cotton in the Mississippi delta. The foundress of Omoto, Nao Deguchi, had a terrible time because of the failure of crops and there are vivid accounts of the horrors that this led to. These problems are somehow forgotten in contemporary discussions about aikido and farming.

So the major issue for me is that these discussions about O Sensei and the importance of farming seem to share the same romantic mythology as Kurita's discussions--and this includes Chiba Sensei. Chiba was a 'city boy' and never experienced farming in the raw. And--and this is telling--none, absolutely none, of O Sensei's immediate deshi ever took his supposed injunctions to heart and followed his example in establishing 'farming' dojos. Can you really imagine Yamada Yoshimitsu Sensei as head of a 'farming dojo' in New York City? If farming was so essential to O Sensei's vision of budo, why was it never replicated outside Iwama?

O Sensei came from a wealthy family and was supported by a large group of supporters, even in Hokkaido in the depth of winter. His father could afford to send him to Hokkaido, to help him to do something useful with his life. His teacher, Takeda Sokaku, was a samurai and had no time for such ephemeral pastimes as relating budo to farming.

So, people read about O Sensei, usually at second or third hand, and in translations that sometimes do not convey all the sense of the original, and announce that, This is 'What (I feel that) O Sensei Said', or usually 'Meant' (which is much easier to justify). It is about as compelling to me as biblical inspiration based on false texts.

This post was prompted by your earlier remark: "some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial" and my immediate reaction, based on living here for 30 years, was, How about typhoons and earthquakes? Of course, this does not mean that I have no time for dojos that are intimately connected to farming. But these have to be exceptions to the general rule, as Iwama also was.

Best wishes for 2010,

PAG

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:29 AM   #28
Keith Larman
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Re: O'Sensei Thought It Was Important

Thank you as always for great research. Your posts would make a good read for the "mythology" thread as well.

Again, thank you for your time.

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:48 AM   #29
raul rodrigo
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Re: O'Sensei Thought It Was Important

Thank you for your inputs, professor. There is indeed a romantic idealization of nature in the equating of budo and farming that Chiba talks about. And so you do us a great service in enabling us to make these distinctions; farming is not a necessary condition for studying aikido. I live in a country that is often visited by typhoons, suffered a terrible flood just this September, and is going to be struck by a major eruption at Mayon volcano any day now. So in our context, any talk about the uninterrupted benevolence of nature would be something to be taken with a grain of salt.
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Old 12-30-2009, 03:38 PM   #30
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: O'Sensei Thought It Was Important

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
This post was prompted by your earlier remark: "some direct experience of interacting with nature would have to be beneficial" and my immediate reaction, based on living here for 30 years, was, How about typhoons and earthquakes?
They are beneficial too.
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