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Old 05-21-2015, 05:27 PM   #1
Cnaeus
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Love and that posture in kenjutsu

Hi,
I have recently read a very inspiring interview with Osensei, but one particular part just left me puzzled. Osensei remembers:
"One day I was drying myself off by the well. Suddenly, a cascade of blinding golden flashes came down from the sky enveloping my body. Then immediately my body became larger and larger, attaining the size of the entire Universe. While overwhelmed by this experience I suddenly realized that one should not think of trying to win. The form of budo must be love. One should live in love. This is aikido and this is the old form of the posture in kenjutsu. After this realization I was overjoyed and could not hold back the tears."

Could anybody shed some light on how "living in love" and "the old form of the posture in kenjutsu" is related in Osensei's thought?

thank you for your kind attention
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Old 05-21-2015, 10:04 PM   #2
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Love and that posture in kenjutsu

"posture" is probably kamae - and in this case, doesn't mean a specific stance, but an attitude. He's claiming, as so many do, that he's discovered something old rather than something new.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 05-22-2015, 01:46 AM   #3
JW
 
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Re: Love and that posture in kenjutsu

I have an on-topic and an off-topic contribution:

1. This business of what Ueshiba meant by "love" is complicated, and many, MANY words have been written about it. See Prof. Goldsbury's T.I.E. series here on aikiweb, and Chris Li's Aikido Sangenkai blog. If "love" can mean anything from normal "love" to right-wing imperialist war, who knows what these kinds of statements from Ueshiba mean.
But here's my favorite interpretation: "In other words, love is the spirit of aiding the universe in its process of positive development, and the spirit extended to the objects of that development." [from Chris' translation of Takashi Sasaki's words] If my understanding of that is right, this could mean that the behavior of the attacker is encouraged rather than opposed. Thus the skill in aikido is the skill of changing the martial interaction such that the attack fails to harm, rather than the skill of fighting and stopping the attack. (As in "You convert the violent opponent in a gentle way," from the interview you cited, Peter.) Chris' Sasaki article also mentions filling space and time in order to manifest this "converting" skill. "Change" and "filling" are classic internal martial arts concepts.

2. I've recently been studying a bit about Therevada Buddhism. Thanks to your post, I've just reread the interview you quoted, from the point of view of the system of progression of trances (the jhanas) that the founder of Buddhism practiced and taught.
There are 4 trance states (1st to 4th Rupa jhanas) involving both the mind and the body, and beyond that, 4 more states of pure consciousness (the Arupa jhanas, sometimes called the 5th through 8th jhanas). One description of the 4th jhana involves the sensation of bright light. Maybe the Buddhist cannonical references to terms like "bright awareness" are only intended as metaphor, but maybe not (see Leigh Brasington's description of the special light of the 4th jhana--"my visual field would go all white"). The next state in the progression, sometimes called the "fifth jhana," is usually called the perception (or dimension) of Infinite Space. Next is the perception of Infinite Consciousness. (Commentary and citations)

Talk about discovering something old-- the ancient Buddhist tradition from around 400BC involves a progression of meditative states that go through:
- bright light, then
- the perception of the infinitude of space, then
- the perception of a continuous consciousness filling all of space.

We can all imagine these things, especially if we have a spiritual or metaphysical bend. But beyond all imaginings, the practice of the jhanas is supposed to provide a direct experience of feeling these things for yourself... exactly as O-sensei describes.
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Old 05-22-2015, 09:40 AM   #4
Cliff Judge
Dojo: Aikido Shobukan Dojo
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Re: Love and that posture in kenjutsu

That's good stuff, but I don't think Ueshiba would have been directly influenced by Theravedic teachings. More likely it was filtered through Mahayanan and/or Vajrayanan traditions, and possibly through Shinto before he would have had that in his head. I'm just saying this to point out that there are some other places to look for references to the type of state that Osensei describes.
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Old 05-22-2015, 10:59 AM   #5
JW
 
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Re: Love and that posture in kenjutsu

No kidding! What's the Nihngo racist term for Indian?

Personally I'd be really interested to see how knowledge of those states could have made their way to O-sensei. (Considering they're mostly lost even from lots of Mahayana traditions... despite the fact that the word "Zen"/Chan refers to jhana.)

Or maybe he had NOT heard of it from any such sources, and just honestly experienced these things. Meaning that if unrelated practices give rise to the same subjective phenomena, then that might mean there is some exciting underlying human physiological basis for these things, and it's not all fantasy!
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Old Today, 03:45 AM   #6
DSB
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Re: Love and that posture in kenjutsu

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Or maybe he had NOT heard of it from any such sources, and just honestly experienced these things. Meaning that if unrelated practices give rise to the same subjective phenomena, then that might mean there is some exciting underlying human physiological basis for these things, and it's not all fantasy!
Quite. Jhana is not exclusive to Theravada, it is the result of relaxation and one-pointed concentration on an object such as the breath or pleasant bodily sensations. Sound familiar?
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