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Old 11-24-2002, 08:24 PM   #26
Rev_Sully
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BTW: No offense with the capital "O". My usage of orthodox meant more stringent adherents of relgions and sects. But I an see how that wasn't assumed since I was using the capital "O".

The Christmas Argument is unfortunate though. Makes great fodder for discourse.

"He who knows best knows how little he knows." -Thomas Jefferson
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Old 12-09-2002, 07:27 AM   #27
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"Has the American view of religion due to the dominance of Christianity taken anything from practicing Aikido? "

As always when you try to remove the roots or original motive of something to suite a larger group opposed to it's motive's, it's meaning is lost

"Along the same lines, does the large-scale commercialization of martial arts detract from Aikido training? "

Watering something down always makes it more apealing to a larger group scince they can apply their own motives to it. The question is if we want to dissect and modify an art with it's roots in a ancient foreign culture just because it takes some effort to grasp the cultural context.

"Do you ever wish that your dojo was a little less religiously sterile, or do you prefer that it be more neutral? "

I've learned to live with the fact that the majority of people (sweden too) do not want any spiritual or religious content in anything scince that means they'll have to ADAPT! to foreign concepts... *shivering*. They just want to come to class and "wrestle in white pyjamases" twice a week, go home and leave their "recreation" behind.

"Is it ok to traditionalize shinto religious practices so that they are acceptible to Americans, or would it be better to drop them entirely since their meaning is no longer present in many dojo?"

Given that you use shinto elements as part of Aikido ritual i think you should either respect them and carry them out in a faithful manner or not do them at all. We might not think that shinto should affect our training and if that is the case we could atleast have enough respect towards practicing shintoists that we don't try to make our own home-made, modified version just to fit our personal whim's.

Aikido is a japanese art created in a japanese enviroment. That's not an oppinion but a fact. Take it or leave it.

/Jesper Arenskog
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Old 12-10-2002, 05:54 AM   #28
Ghost Fox
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[quote="Jasper Arenskogh (JappzzThey just want to come to class and "wrestle in white pyjamases" twice a week, go home and leave their "recreation" behind./Jesper Arenskog[/QUOTE]That's funny, I have to remember that.
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Old 12-10-2002, 06:00 AM   #29
Ghost Fox
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I have a problem with people making Aikido into a Zen thing. Aikido has nothing to do with Zen. O'Sensei never practiced Zen and he wasn't a devout Buddhist. I've only read of one instance of Ueshiba and Buddhism. When he was a child he studied with some Esoteric Buddhist (not Zen), because there was no schools in the area.
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Old 12-10-2002, 11:15 PM   #30
Jeff Tibbetts
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Ghost, I know what you're saying, but you have to remember something about religion in Japan© There is little distinction between Zen something and Shinto something else© It's a fact that most Japanese, even non-religious Japanese, still take part in Shinto festivals, rituals and events every year© This includes Japanese priests of Christian and Buddhist persuasions© Most religious Japanese are more Syncretic than anything, and see no conflict between Buddhism and Shinto, because there is no conflict© There's no conflict with Christianity either, except that Christians see any other religion as a bad thing 9 times out of 10© So while Aikido may have roots deep in Shinto religion and beliefs, there is no conflict whatsoever with Zen, and in fact there are very many similar thoughts and concepts© There are a lot of other concepts in there, too, but Zen is an obvious candidate as it's considered a very Japanese thing© Many people have no idea what to make of Syncretism, as it seems like a lack of commitment or faith in one particular belief set, but in reality the spiritual context of all the world's religions are quite similar to one another© The denominations or Christianity are mostly contrived, for example, and break pretty far away from the true concepts in their bible© Same with the different schools of Buddhism and whatnot© Man has a tendency to overcomplicate everything, adding all sorts of artificiality onto things to suit their needs, whims, or whatever© The fact that O-Sensei grew up in Japan means that there were subtle but real influences of Buddhist thought and morality, wether he even wanted it or not© In a similar way, even non-christians in America pick up christian morals, myths and stories, and live in a society whose laws and structure are based on Western christian ideals© You can't escape that, so if an American made a Martial Art and started teaching it in Japan ¥yeah right©©© just play along¤ the Japanese would no doubt draw very many references to Christian thought, and they would be right in doing so wether the hypothetical American was even a practicing christian or not©

Sorry I got off on a hell of a rant, didn't mean to attack you in any way, just thought it needed to be pointed out©

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:07 AM   #31
Ghost Fox
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Quote:
Jeff Tibbetts wrote:
Ghost, I know what you're saying, but you have to remember something about religion in Japan© There is little distinction between Zen something and Shinto something else© It's a fact that most Japanese, even non-religious Japanese, still take part in Shinto festivals, rituals and events every year© This includes Japanese priests of Christian and Buddhist persuasions© Most religious Japanese are more Syncretic than anything, and see no conflict between Buddhism and Shinto, because there is no conflict© There's no conflict with Christianity either, except that Christians see any other religion as a bad thing 9 times out of 10© So while Aikido may have roots deep in Shinto religion and beliefs, there is no conflict whatsoever with Zen, and in fact there are very many similar thoughts and concepts© There are a lot of other concepts in there, too, but Zen is an obvious candidate as it's considered a very Japanese thing© Many people have no idea what to make of Syncretism, as it seems like a lack of commitment or faith in one particular belief set, but in reality the spiritual context of all the world's religions are quite similar to one another© The denominations or Christianity are mostly contrived, for example, and break pretty far away from the true concepts in their bible© Same with the different schools of Buddhism and whatnot© Man has a tendency to overcomplicate everything, adding all sorts of artificiality onto things to suit their needs, whims, or whatever© The fact that O-Sensei grew up in Japan means that there were subtle but real influences of Buddhist thought and morality, wether he even wanted it or not© In a similar way, even non-christians in America pick up christian morals, myths and stories, and live in a society whose laws and structure are based on Western christian ideals© You can't escape that, so if an American made a Martial Art and started teaching it in Japan ¥yeah right©©© just play along¤ the Japanese would no doubt draw very many references to Christian thought, and they would be right in doing so wether the hypothetical American was even a practicing christian or not©

Sorry I got off on a hell of a rant, didn't mean to attack you in any way, just thought it needed to be pointed out©
I know what you're saying about the syncretic view of Japanese culture (I myself have studied with Taoist, Yogis, Buddhist and Pagans to explore a more syncretic view of reality), but let's be honest. The only reason that Zen Buddhism is taught along with Aikido is mass marketing appeal to a western audience. Zen Buddhism, as it is taught in America, does not have anything to do with religion; it is filtered down to just sitting & breathing. Zen is simple in key principles compared with Esoteric sects of Buddhism, but in the West Buddhism in general lacks the religious overtones of the East. My point was not on the syncretic view of religion in Japan, but the West lack of religious flexibility. I have no real problem with Zen; heck Zazen meditation forms a cornerstone to most esoteric practices in every religion. Zen is taught in Aikido because it "feels" Japanese enough to be chic, without challenging most Westerner narrow belief structure.

Man does have a tendency to overcomplicate things, adding all sorts of artificiality onto things to suit their needs, whims, or whatever. That is exactly what Zen is in Aikido. It is an artificiality to patch up the missing Shinto piece, a crude bandage. Remember, Man is also extremely lazy, and rather than research Shinto and challenge her beliefs, she'll rather take something easier to understand (Zen) and plaster over difficulties & the past.

Like I said previously O-Sensei did have exposure to Buddhism when he was younger, but it was under the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Their practices are a lot more complex an esoteric than Zen Buddhism, including practices of Mantras (Kototama), Mudras (Kuji In) and Mandalas (??). So Buddhism did have an effect on O'Sensei it drove him to pursue more occult paths in his religious practices, namely Omoto Kyo.

To use your analogy, if an American similar to Ueshiba in personality & demeanor created a martial art, he would probably be a devout Christian (probably a Gnostic) deeply versed in Kabbalah. His martial art would be deeply seeded with Gnostic and Kabbalahic practices. Then after his death rather then try to understand those theories; we overlay his martial art with the Quaker practice of silent contemplation during services. That is my problem with Zen and Aikido.



Peace and Blessings
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Old 12-11-2002, 07:53 AM   #32
Peter Goldsbury
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Quote:
Damion Lost (Ghost Fox) wrote:
Like I said previously O-Sensei did have exposure to Buddhism when he was younger, but it was under the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Their practices are a lot more complex an esoteric than Zen Buddhism, including practices of Mantras (Kototama), Mudras (Kuji In) and Mandalas (??). So Buddhism did have an effect on O'Sensei it drove him to pursue more occult paths in his religious practices, namely Omoto Kyo.
Yes. It is a pity that very few of the writings of Onisaburo Deguchi have ever been translated into English (Carmen Blacker's "The Catalpa Bow" contains the only summary & extracts of "Reikai Monogatari" I know of in English). I think the jump from some of the practices of Shingon Buddhsim to those of Omoto-kyo is not very great.

One of my aikido teachers took up Zen because he could not understand the Founder's discourses (all Omoto-kyo), but needed a strong spiritual component to his training, just like the Founder did.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-12-2002, 01:34 AM   #33
Jeff Tibbetts
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I see, Ghost© I'm sorry if I was too quick to judge, you are clearly very knowledgable on this matter© My apologies© You make a good point in returning to my analogy, I think you're right about how people would perceive our fictitious American founder and simplify his views© Some things you mentioned struck a chord with me©©© in my community college I often go to a "Japanese culture club" which is really just a bunch of anime geeks who watch anime© I go to see free videos and watch the hilarious music videos and commercials, but I can't stand the attitudes of a lot of the people© I'm not sure if you're familiar with it, but there's a snack called Pocky that's quite popular in Japan, and even more so among anime geeks© The reason for this is that it tasted EXACTLY like a "normal" American snack and doesn't conflict with our palette the way many Japanese foods do, so it's a way for some people to "feel" Japanese without being adventerous at all© There's nothing Japanese about it other than the packaging©©© I think that people do this all the time, with food, sure, but also with culture and religion© I think that the Zen that you're referring to is more like the "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" variety, in that it's really tailored to a Western view and consequently dumbed down© I think that real Zen is quite esoteric and obtuse to the Western mind in it's own ways, but you won't get that around here© Zazen is, as you said, fairly universal, and I think that when people see others sitting in zazen they just immediately call it Zen© I can really see you're point about how Zen itself has nothing to do with Aikido, but the centering part cannot be overlooked© Much of what Zazen involves is centering, and when people call Aikido moving Zen they're really meaning that this is a way to maintain center in motion, not in Zazen© It would be more accurate to call it flowing Zazen, but that would also be silly in the Western sense© See what's happening here? There is no easy way for the Western mind to quantify a lot of these concepts© I really do think that you're on to something in that Aikido is constantly reworked to fit the comfort level of the "everyman", to the detriment of the serious philosopher, I'm afraid© I guess there's the element of "what can I do" involved at this point, it's out of our hands for now© If you run a dojo you simply will have a hard time attracting students if you're performing major misogi rituals for a half-hour before class and calling out the kami during practice© This is the price of trying to get rid of Christian mental oppression by secularizing the youth© No-one wants to believe anything, and anything that could be a belief is shut down so as not to offend anyone© ugh

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 12-12-2002, 06:42 AM   #34
Ghost Fox
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Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Yes. It is a pity that very few of the writings of Onisaburo Deguchi have ever been translated into English (Carmen Blacker's "The Catalpa Bow" contains the only summary & extracts of "Reikai Monogatari" I know of in English). I think the jump from some of the practices of Shingon Buddhsim to those of Omoto-kyo is not very great.

One of my aikido teachers took up Zen because he could not understand the Founder's discourses (all Omoto-kyo), but needed a strong spiritual component to his training, just like the Founder did.

Best regards,
It is for this reason I am so grateful for writers like you and Stan Pranin who take the time do exhausting research on our part. I just wish more people (especially Yudansha & Instructors) where willing to challenge their preconceived notions on Aikido and actually read the information out there.

The myths in aikido are necessary to satisfy our right brain need for a simple just world, but to often people sacrifice the intellect of the left for these myths. Does that fact that Jesus & Buddha were men who slept, ate and paid taxes a detriment to the philosophy & mythos that followed their passing, or does it strengthen us by putting greatness within everyone's grasp?

Peace and Blessings,

Isaias of Aikido
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Old 12-12-2002, 08:15 AM   #35
Ghost Fox
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Jeff your post was very good on the syncretic nature of Japanese religious practices, and maybe that's what I'm asking for in Aikido. Like I said before I see nothing wrong with Zen or teaching Aikido from that perspective as long as we are honest with what we are doing. The religious teachings of O'Sensei where extremely abstract and difficult to follow, many of O'Sensei's own students admit to not understanding what he was talking about. As Aikido developed for various sociopolitical reasons the Shinto aspects was slowly separated from the art, and for some, Zen was used to fill the spiritual void that remained. I think it's important for modern Aikidoka, especially those who would be instructors, to research, rediscover and reintegrate these traditions back into Aikido, since these sociopolitical stressors no longer pose as much of a threat. As we're slowly reintegrating these "values" back into Aikido, we should utilize philosophies such as those found in Zen, Taoism & Wicca to temporarily fill in the gaps that are currently missing, just like your example on Zen and centering. And by all means bring in those beliefs from your personal life that correlate with the teaching of Aikido, as it can only help your teaching and understanding, but always return to the source.

As a newly honored Shodan (yeah for me) I am beginning the slow, exhausting process of acquiring this knowledge. I hope in 10 or 15 years if I'm blessed with the privilege & responsibility of a dojo that I will have an equally strong grasp on the spiritual side of Aikido as the physical. Your right that I will probably not have many students, I always preferred the Master -- Apprentice model myself anyway. Like the Ethiopian fable by Lokman goes:

A hare meeting a lioness one day said reproachfully, "I have always a great number of children, while you have but one or two now and then." The lioness replied, "It is true but my one child is a lion."

I agree with you point on modern secularism leading to apathy towards religion & spiritual matters. It is for this reason that I began exploring various religious practices over a decade ago trying to find the kernel of truth in all faiths. For me Aikido is a natural outgrowth of my research as it has room for all the 10,000,000 Gods.

Peace and Blessings.

P.S. -- I know what you mean about the Pocky sticks, I buy them all the time the when I'm in Japan, and Anime Rocks!!!!
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Old 12-27-2002, 11:29 AM   #36
Bruce Baker
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Excellent dialog!

Jeff, ghost, and Peter ... quite an excellent dialog.

You covered most of the territory, not much left except ...

Christians don't understand their own religion, so why should they understand the Shintoism, Buddhism, or any other religion outside of their warm fuzzy blanket that gives them a ticket in heaven, Valhalla, the pearly gates, or whatever their illusions of a better life beyond this life?

It, life beyond death, is the creation of our own minds, isn't it? Like a mirage in the desert, we see what we want to see, and no on can change our minds if we do not want to listen or learn.

Of course, this is the mindset of any religion, any person intent on maintaining the closeness of their god, their religion.

In many ways, shintoism resembles the basis of being in touch with nature to understand the forces of this world, but it takes many of its cues from sages and spiritual leaders who have learned methods to become closer to the spiritual rather than the denial of Christianity and most Buddhists who follow the teachings of sacred texts and spiritual leaders who guide our steps to the world beyond. So many spirits, to be aware of in nature, so many things to do to purify the body and mind to become attuned to physical and spiritual aspect of our world?

Aikido seems to be, for most Americans, the past time, with a dabble of study into spirituality to progress in connecting body and mind, while for recreation, it is a soft martial application for the weekend warriors.

I guess that is what we become in time, recreational practitioners who take what we need, and get on with our lives.

Rarely do I see anyone who is astutely aware of Aikido as a martial art not previously engaged in another martial art, crosstraining, or crossstudying other religions ... either for educating themselves or seeking to move on to another type of religion.

Shintoism is not a necessity to study Aikido, although it does delve into the area of clearing the mind, becoming attuned to nature, and using the forces of body and mind to react in unison, these things can be learned, in time, with proper instruction from normal Aikido practice, without inserting the religious content.

Now, if we could just see that all religions are the means for humanity to balance the mind in the face of unexplainable events, death, and a whole host of bad things we need to cope with to balance our minds, we might a grip on this religious zeal and insert some common sense to the scholarly banter.

Most of the drills, the practices of Aikido are a physical practice that can teach you how to train body to connect to mind to be used either as martial techniques or as a means of enlightenment for your life.

How complicated you want to make things depends on how complicated your problems are, and how complicated you make the means to find solutions.

I wish I could remember who said that to me.

Oh, by the way, I do believe we must return to the earth, give up our energy to the universe, and in that giving of energy it is rejoined with all the energy that came before as it is joined the energy being given by all living things, now.

In a way, it is the same as believing in a heaven, but within a more realistic sense that you are born once, in this human form, then you must give everything back to be reformed into energy and matter .... not necessarily reborn but recycled.

Energy becomes matter, then matter becomes energy, and so on, and so on.

Scientific in its means, and yet I do not dispell anyones concept of life beyond death. No one promised you would retain this form or body after death?

Enough theology.

Practice.

Look.

Listen.

Learn.

That is your job while you are alive.

Don't know why, but it certainly is.
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Old 06-21-2005, 09:07 AM   #37
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Re: Shinto

I have been studying kuji-in for a few years now, and it greatly enhanced my martial arts experience, but also my life in general. This is a sacred science that is sometimes thrown away on websites, only picturing the hand position and the quick mantra (RIN, KYO, TOH, SHA....) but i found a school that introduced me progressively and then transmited the entire ritual with some guidance and phylosophy. There is much more to kuji-in than what we see in ninja movies or anime.

There are around 3,800 schools and traditions of kuji-in, and each have their little variations according to each their own experience, and a bit of language translation after thousands of years, but the main practice is the same in all. I studied with the Dragons of Justice (the kuji-in school, not the anime characters) in Canada, but i did my contact on-line thru the web.

The physical strength, the quickness, the flowing adaptation, the awareness of the self and environment,.. are only side-effects of the real kuji-in experience. It is said that the teachers of kuji-in keep their secret intensely, but i beleive they don't have to work hard to keep it a secret, since it cannot be transmited by words. You have to learn the ritual basics, then be guided thru the experience, and then Voilà! There is a new consciousness about things, a new sight on matter, a feeling of "I am spirit within my body".

I recommend learning the kuji-in basics to anyone, and i trust my school, the Dragons of Justice, to be quite efficient at teaching it. I hope sharing my experience can bring some insight to someone.
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Old 06-26-2005, 06:39 PM   #38
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Re: Shinto

Has the American view of religion due to the dominance of Christianity taken anything from practicing Aikido?


IMHO, I don't believe that Christianity has taken anything away from aikido...


Along the same lines, does the large-scale commercialization of martial arts detract from Aikido training?


I don't believe the commercialization of other martial arts affect aikido as a whole as much as it could some of it's students (particularly newer ones) because of the comparisons that could be given between all the MA out there and all that jazz...


Do you ever wish that your dojo was a little less religiously sterile, or do you prefer that it be more neutral?


I personally wish that my dojo spent a little more time on the spiritual side of aikido, but I understand completely why we don't. Also, I don't hold that against any member of my dojo because we try to offer our students as much information as they could ask for regarding philosophy, spiritual idealogies, and if they want it, religion.


Is it ok to traditionalize shinto religious practices so that they are acceptible to Americans, or would it be better to drop them entirely since their meaning is no longer present in many dojo?

While the practices of aikido might "offend" some practioners, I believe that those practices have been set down by the people that have taught us aikido and by that accord, are worthy of being performed and should be performed...

Bryce (posting from the buckle of the bible belt)
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