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Old 08-26-2002, 02:28 PM   #1
virginia_kyu
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Lightbulb Misuse of Aikido Philosophy, Part II

Starting over from the beginning, my original point was that often Aikido philosophy is used by some as a tool for world politics when I believe its intention was with reforming the individual.

Last edited by virginia_kyu : 08-26-2002 at 08:49 PM.

-- Michael Neal
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Old 08-26-2002, 05:41 PM   #2
George S. Ledyard
 
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Transforming the World

I think that based on his writings and what I have heard from Saotome Sensei that O-Sensei did believe that Aikido was a means to trsnform the world. What is not clear to me is the mechanism...

Did he believe that a few people would train in Aikido, reap its benefits and then go on to effect the world through their strong leadership? Or did he think that millions of people would eventually start training and the world would change due to their collective influence in the world?

I don't know if either is going to happen. It seems that in the modern era the people who are our leaders are quite unlikely to do anything like Aikido. They are too busy doing whatever it takes to attain and keep power.

On the other hand, demographics indicate that only about 1% of the population has any interest in doing a martial art and of that Aikido is one of the smaller in terms of numbers of people participating.

The Aiki Extensions folks (Aiki Extensions)are trying to find a way to get select Aikido folks to influence the world on a wider scale and many of their ideas are quite interesting. I wonder if O-Sensei had anything like this in mind? I suspect that what he envisioned was much more along the lines of some sort of quantum change on a mystic level created by the energy of the folks training but that's no more than conjecture on my part.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 08-26-2002, 07:47 PM   #3
virginia_kyu
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This kind of goes to my point, if someone with your kind of experience with Aikido and one who trained directly with Saotome sensei is not sure how O'Sensei envisioned this, then how can others with much less experience claim to have such an understanding?

Yes, there are some that get into those philosophical matters but is that not a spiritual journey for themselves rather than an ideology to tell us for example: whether it is aiki or not to fight Iraq?

What bothers me is not those who wish to follow O'Sensei's religion or philosophy, I have the utmost respect for it. I am uneasy about people using their interpretation of O'Sensei's philosophy as dogma to use as a political ideology in world or even domestic affairs.

Last edited by virginia_kyu : 08-26-2002 at 08:59 PM.

-- Michael Neal
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Old 08-26-2002, 10:22 PM   #4
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No, Michael, the problem is some people see Aikido as a way to improve themselves, and hence a way (and a duty) to improve the world. You just disagree with what they see as an improvement, or perhaps the need to do anything other than take care of yourself, or both.

Just because you don't feel that way, doesn't make it right, either, unless of course you got it right from O Sensei's mouth. If not, then you have your views, we have ours, and learn to deal with it.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 12:28 AM   #5
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I think what Colleen says comes off a little harsh, but I agree with the basic idea. Perhaps O'Sensei meant it to be a way of transforming the world, perhaps he meant it to be a way of transforming the individual, and perhaps (as George Ledyard suggests and a number of people also said in the last incarnation of this thread) the idea was to transform the world through transforming the individuals. In any case, the number of people with any sort of privileged claim to knowing Ueshiba's mind on this matter is limited. More importantly (to my mind), AiKiDo is no longer limited or bound by what O' Sensei did and thought. If some people feel that AiKiDo, properly understood, means working for world change, then who are we to tell them different?

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 08-27-2002, 12:34 AM   #6
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In some ways, maybe, there are two separate questions. The first is "are there political lessons to be learned from AiKiDo." This is a valid question about which people can have different views. In some ways it relates to the question of whether AiKiDo should have an impact on your life outside the dojo. I thought Colleen's post on the previous incarnation where she said that the root of AiKi is seeing things through another person's perspective really captured my personal view on this matter (without either agreeing or disagreeing with the politics she was expressing).

The second question is whether it's AiKi to say that someone else is not being AiKi. This is another valid question, whose answer is (for me) not trivial. The role of criticism in AiKiDo is something I've been struggling with for a while. Most people agree that it's good to be positive as much as possible, but it's harder to agree when it becomes appropriate to say, "that's (in my view) just not AiKiDo."

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 08-27-2002, 02:43 AM   #7
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just the facts

Quote:
often Aikido philosophy is used by some as a tool for world politics
Please be more specific. What are some examples of this supposed phenomenon?

It should be noted that the originator of this thread, by implying that aikido philosophy is somehow being misused for political purposes, presumes to have a clear understanding of precisely how that philosophy should be applied in the lives of individuals, based on his teacher's instruction and extensive research. This is also assuming that he in fact has a complete grasp of that philosophy.

P.S. Maybe O'Sensei had something specific in mind and maybe he didn't. Maybe he just had faith that it would grow in various directions like branches on a tree. Take Terry Dobson and his work on conflict resolution as an example.

P.P.S. Regarding the relatively small number of aikidoists in the world, there is a Chinese saying: One ounce can deflect a force of 1,000 pounds. Then again, if we are truly insignificant in terms of numbers, why get paranoid about our influence?

Last edited by mike lee : 08-27-2002 at 06:16 AM.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 06:21 AM   #8
Bruce Baker
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Yep ... O'Sensei meant Aikido practice, in its open forum of violence/ nonviolence, interaction of learning the ways of others, and the persons character that would persevere would lead to a better understanding of both the individuals character for humanity, plus expose the indivdual to a an environment that would lead to understanding the interaction of other human beings qualities.

To understand harmony, we must know the nature of things, and in seeking harmony, we are better human beings ... hence the better human being changes the world, one person at a time.

Aikido strives to give us the tools to be better human beings or give the tools to be the strength of society and its role model... whether we want to be a role model or not.

Aikido changes us, hence makes the world a better place.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 07:27 AM   #9
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Pay it forward.

Think of the number of people you interact with on a daily basis, now an annual basis. Now, think of the number of people each of those people interact with, and so on and so on and so on......

The energy (be it positive or negative) of your interaction with the people you directly deal with will have an indirect effect on their interaction with others and then their interaction with others, and so on and so on.....

So, one smile and kind word from you may indirectly affect someone way down the line of interactions....

This is one mechanism, I believe, that can be used to accomplish what the founder was hoping for. It all starts with us though. We have to improve ourselves through our daily positive practice. Only then can each of us have a positive effect on those around us. It all starts at home then spreads like a virus (which happens to be a very natural method of transmission by the way..)

-Mongo
 
Old 08-27-2002, 08:57 AM   #10
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IMHO, there is an assumption that to transform the individual, Aikido has the potential to transform the world.

This is an assumption that has yet to necessarily be born out. Children in the US were raised under the assumption that if their self-esteem was protected and they felt good about themselves, they would naturally perform better. Instead we got a generation of spoiled children who simply believe they are "entitled" to receiveing without participating and contributing.

Aikido does offer a pardign shift. As a model, it does apply quite nicely to other than just individual trnasformation. But, to make a paradign work, each individual most adopt the new paradign. In other words, the individual must actaully change their individual mind and see themselves as a part of the whole.

Yes, I am one of those people from Aiki-Extensions who are attempting to use the parading outside the dojo. Good results too, I might add.

IMHO, we all win or we all lose.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
 
Old 08-27-2002, 09:20 AM   #11
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I want to appologise for being harsh; I'd like to say it's not the real me, but sometimes unfortuantely, it is.

There are only a few things that I'm passionate about, but God save the person who crosses me on one of them... I'm working on that (but obviously need to increase the effort a bit)
 
Old 08-27-2002, 09:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
No, Michael, the problem is some people see Aikido as a way to improve themselves, and hence a way (and a duty) to improve the world. You just disagree with what they see as an improvement, or perhaps the need to do anything other than take care of yourself, or both.

Just because you don't feel that way, doesn't make it right, either, unless of course you got it right from O Sensei's mouth. If not, then you have your views, we have ours, and learn to deal with it.
Colleen, I think I was saying that I do believe that Aikido is for reforming the indiviual. And I can certainly "deal with" people having other views, I would not have started this thread if I did not want to hear other people's views on it. I would have just posted on the AikiWall if I just wanted to spout of my opinion on it.

You have every right to your opinion and I also have every right to criticise it and raise conserns that I have.
Quote:
In some ways, maybe, there are two separate questions. The first is "are there political lessons to be learned from AiKiDo." This is a valid question about which people can have different views. In some ways it relates to the question of whether AiKiDo should have an impact on your life outside the dojo. I thought Colleen's post on the previous incarnation where she said that the root of AiKi is seeing things through another person's perspective really captured my personal view on this matter (without either agreeing or disagreeing with the politics she was expressing).

The second question is whether it's AiKi to say that someone else is not being AiKi. This is another valid question, whose answer is (for me) not trivial. The role of criticism in AiKiDo is something I've been struggling with for a while. Most people agree that it's good to be positive as much as possible, but it's harder to agree when it becomes appropriate to say, "that's (in my view) just not AiKiDo."
As I said before I think I agree that Aikido is a means for growth of the individual. I have absolutely no problem with people having whatever viewpoint they want on world politics.

I did not say in my post that I don't think people who do Aikido should have views on world politics, I said that it troubles me that people misuse Aikido philosophy as some sort of dogma or political ideology.
Quote:
Please be more specific. What are some examples of this supposed phenomenon?

It should be noted that the originator of this thread, by implying that aikido philosophy is somehow being misused for political purposes, presumes to have a clear understanding of precisely how that philosophy should be applied in the lives of individuals, based on his teacher's instruction and extensive research. This is also assuming that he in fact has a complete grasp of that philosophy.

P.S. Maybe O'Sensei had something specific in mind and maybe he didn't. Maybe he just had faith that it would grow in various directions like branches on a tree. Take Terry Dobson and his work on conflict resolution as an example.

P.P.S. Regarding the relatively small number of aikidoists in the world, there is a Chinese saying: One ounce can deflect a force of 1,000 pounds. Then again, if we are truly insignificant in terms of numbers, why get paranoid about our influence?
The "Aikido and the politics of violence" thread is one example but I think there are many good examples througout many topics on these forums.

Mike, I make no such claim that I have any idea how it should be used in people's lives, in fact I have very little understanding of any of it. Everything I say on these forums comes from me and not my teacher, I don't know what my teacher's thoughts are on this.

I am also willing to bet there are very few people who do have a good understanding and this is exactly why it makes me uneasy when people use it in a political context.

I certainly didn't join Aikido to join a worldwide political movement. Maybe some of you did, and you have every right to spread your view, but I also have every right to my concerns.

-- Michael Neal
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Old 08-27-2002, 09:25 AM   #13
virginia_kyu
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Quote:
Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
I want to appologise for being harsh; I'd like to say it's not the real me, but sometimes unfortuantely, it is.

There are only a few things that I'm passionate about, but God save the person who crosses me on one of them... I'm working on that (but obviously need to increase the effort a bit)
Colleen, I don't think you were being that harsh, just passionate. There is nothing wrong with that. So long as we are not cursing at eachother I think it is ok.

-- Michael Neal
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Old 08-27-2002, 09:39 AM   #14
guest1234
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Good. Then come a little closer, and grab my wrist right here...
 
Old 08-27-2002, 09:45 AM   #15
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Oh, and Mike, I've been thinking about your ancient saying... and about all the difference just a small thing can make: a thin layer of ice on a wing can bring down a plane, a small nail stop a speeding car, a few grains of sand in a ball-bearing joint...not to mention the power of the tiny atom. I have a similar one that sits on the shelf over my desk at work: one person can move a mountain, one stone at a time.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 10:06 AM   #16
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Quote:
I certainly didn't join Aikido to join a worldwide political movement. Maybe some of you did, and you have every right to spread your view, but I also have every right to my concerns.
I'm not really sure what this is about. Maybe I've been gone too long, but I don't know a single individual who thinks that aikido is a political movement. But if there is, I'd surely like to hear their views.

As far as I know, one of the basic principles of aikido is anticipating trouble before it gets physical, and then attempt to find a peaceful resolution. This is what some call "aikido in daily life." Such concepts are promoted by Koichi Tohei and the Ki-Society, and used in reference to inter-personal relationships.

The concept of using such means in world affairs may have crossed some people's minds. I don't really see how this constitutes a "political movement."

Last edited by mike lee : 08-27-2002 at 10:18 AM.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 11:19 AM   #17
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Quote:
Michael Neal (virginia_kyu) wrote:
This kind of goes to my point, if someone with your kind of experience with Aikido and one who trained directly with Saotome sensei is not sure how O'Sensei envisioned this, then how can others with much less experience claim to have such an understanding?

Yes, there are some that get into those philosophical matters but is that not a spiritual journey for themselves rather than an ideology to tell us for example: whether it is aiki or not to fight Iraq?

What bothers me is not those who wish to follow O'Sensei's religion or philosophy, I have the utmost respect for it. I am uneasy about people using their interpretation of O'Sensei's philosophy as dogma to use as a political ideology in world or even domestic affairs.
Michael, I think you also have to take Aikido within the context of when it began to gain prominence in the world. Many of today's teachers began their careers in the 60's or 70's which had certain distinct paradigm shifts going on. One was a dissatisfaction with government and authority. Another was the idea of inner peace, harmony and higher consciousness. That influence is very much alive and strong today. Also, many folks have discovered that you can't easily make money doing conventional martial arts. So you transform your practice into a mystical spiritual thingee. Self-help on the feet and in the air if you will.

I'm fine with this, although I often think that the last thing the world needs is another self-help book. I have, in fact, found value in these realms and I'm glad this sort of thing exists. I also wish them all the best in changing the world. It might, or it might not, be a better place if they succeed.

However, in the end, you have to realize that none of us, unless we live there, know jack about the situation in the Middle East. Hell, I really don't even know much about what's going on in my own country. The Middle East is incredibly complex with many cultural and historical issues. For us to say we have answers there is just water cooler talking.

We bend wrists and we would often be well-served to remember that.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 11:35 AM   #18
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small beginnings

I think most people go to the dojo to train. I don't think that they have the time to talk about the wide range of issues that we discuss on this forum. It would be a great error in judgement to think that what we say on these threads represents aikido.

We talk about sex, drugs and politics. So what?

But remember one thing -- the concept of America began with a series of discussions between Ben Franklin and some others at a small tavern in Boston. I'm sure that at times, some of them felt a little uneasy too.

Last edited by mike lee : 08-27-2002 at 12:50 PM.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 12:06 PM   #19
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I might be taking it a little far by calling it a political movement, but I am not sure. If it is not a political movement it is close.

I read some material in the Aiki-Extensions website and it seems to me that their focus is through the individual, using Aikido to enhance people's lives on a one by one basis. I find nothing wrong with that.

When people go beyond that I become uneasy about it.

-- Michael Neal
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Old 08-27-2002, 12:44 PM   #20
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Erik's comment about difficulty in knowing what is happening in our ouwn country kind of summed up much of what I find concerning about the general US attitude on the world. One game show recently asked a contestant to name the only man to serve as VP and President, without ever being elected to either office. Not a tough one, come on, how often does a VP resign in disgrace and then later the President for similar problems? Her answer: Colin Powell. We are a nation that has trouble thinking outside of sound bits, unaware of our own history but willing to rewrite others', proudly unable to speak any language other than our own, eternally searching for McDonalds when travelling abroad.

As a country, we have one Aikido principle right: we take center better than just about anyone. And we definately see ourselves as the center of the universe, making our partners revolve around us.

Other things that are stressed: be sincere, maintain connection, don't muscle... perhaps not as good at.

I just think we need to take a bit better care of our ukes; someday it might be our turn, and my first Aikido teacher always said "payback is a b----"
 
Old 08-27-2002, 01:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
Other things that are stressed: be sincere, maintain connection, don't muscle... perhaps not as good at.

I just think we need to take a bit better care of our ukes; someday it might be our turn, and my first Aikido teacher always said "payback is a b----"
You see, this is partly what I am talking about. I don't see how we physically do techniques has anything to do with how we should engage in world politics.

I just think some people take Aikido way too far from its purpose.

Last edited by virginia_kyu : 08-27-2002 at 01:42 PM.

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Old 08-27-2002, 01:47 PM   #22
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Not for one minute would I think you would.

But I see connections. I've told folks in my dojos before that I find Aikido, when practiced with good connection, to be a very intimate experience. But even aside from that, I can tell a lot about a person from how they practice Aikido.

I can tell if they are afraid to be close, afraid to trust, if they need to control, if they can't surrender. I can tell if they do things to their partner, or with them. If they want to win, or to train.

A friend has said he thinks you can tell what your partner will be like in bed...I'm not so sure I want to let my mind wander in that direction, but I do think you get an idea of what kind of person they are, and how they view themselves and others.
 
Old 08-27-2002, 06:20 PM   #23
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Mike,

appreciate you trying to understand why others study aikido. It seems that your reasons for studying aikido may be different from others.

I believe I have shared my thoughts on this with you before, so forgive me if I repeat myself.

Aikido can be many things to many people. If someone finds meaning and translation from it into other areas of their lives, then that is aikido and it is a good thing. Some may only get the physical exercise and "self defense" out of it.

I think budo in particular is imitates life, as do all arts in general.

You are forced to walk the paradox of a warrior between life and death and right and wrong. You live in the gray area so to speak. To practice budo is to practice the art of war and the art of peace. You cannot do one without the other.

To answer your question more directly. How can you gain peace on a global or macro scale unless you improve yourself? It starts with you as a person. That is all you have control over. Your personal actions can influence others. As one poster said "pay it forward".

I cannot get into all the ways I see aikido is a great example for peace. Keep looking though and you will see it.

Don't take applying "aiki" to our current world situation so literally. Being aiki can mean harming or killing when it is justified. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Aikido is not about pacifism. If it where then we would all just practice lying down like jellyfish!

If you read O'Sensei's philosophy in various translations, you will find it full of great examples of how to apply it. You will also find that it sometime contradicting in nature, that is the paradox. "Don't do harm, Stop Harm".

This quote from "The Art of Peace" by O'Sensei translated by John Stevens may help sheds some light.

"The real Art of Peace is not to sacrifice a single on of your warriors to defeat the enemy. Vanquish yo foes by always keeping yourself in a safe and unassailable position; then no one will suffer any losses. The way of a Warrior, the Art of Politics, is to stop trouble before it starts. It consist in defeating your adversaries spirituatlly by making them realize the folly of their actions. The Way of a Warrior is to establish Harmony."

 
Old 08-27-2002, 08:54 PM   #24
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Quote:
Don't take applying "aiki" to our current world situation so literally. Being aiki can mean harming or killing when it is justified. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Aikido is not about pacifism. If it where then we would all just practice lying down like jellyfish!
Kevin, yes we discussed this before and I continue to agree with your outlook on it. I also think that you are able to get to the point I was trying to make better than I can.

-- Michael Neal
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Old 08-28-2002, 01:11 PM   #25
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Michael, If I don't vote republican will you still talk to me?

I think it's a misuse of Aikido to use it as a soapbox for politics.
 

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