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Old 02-15-2003, 07:16 AM   #1
Kung Fu Liane
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Confused Spiritual side of martial arts without a teacher?

My Kung Fu teacher told me that everyone who trains in the martial arts for long enough will eventually 'find themselves' - he meant this in the context of by training in the martial arts with a teacher, you will find the spiritual side yourself. This is all he has ever mentioned on this subject. My Aikido teacher has never mentioned anything on this subject either.

I'd like some guidance, but i have the feeling that this is something i have to go through alone. Should students ask their teachers for guidance, or just trust that they will discover things themselves?

Incedentally, just before i started thinking about this, the article i read was:

http://www.kiyojuteryu.org/soke/articles/kensho.shtml

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 02-15-2003, 09:34 AM   #2
mike lee
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a long and winding road

The path of MA is a path of self discovery because in order to approach mastery we must know as much about ourselves as possible. The path is continual.
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Old 02-16-2003, 05:32 AM   #3
Erik Young
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It's been my experience that when one studies any art or process intently, one learns a lot about oneself. I believe buddhists call this "mindfulness."

In any event, I've had spiritual awakenings thorugh my aikido studies, through my music studies, through my psychology studies, through being a parent/husband, through reading a good book, walking the dog, etc...

Every moment has a potential for learning and discovery, we just have to be open top the experience.

my $.02

Peace,

Erik

HAve you heard the one about the agnostic dyslexic? He wasn't sure if he believed in the existence of Dog.
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Old 02-19-2003, 12:58 AM   #4
PhilJ
 
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Erik has an agreeable point: mindfulness. We pursue this "on the side" in aikido, without really ever mentioning in cirriculum or a technique.

Liane, trust your instincts on this one, it's a tough subject. You will learn loads about yourself in class, and infinitely more as you practice applying your knowledge outside class (non-physical situations).

There was a story of a man who went off to meditate in the mountains for years and years. He became a master, and could sink into a trance deeper than the losing record of the Minnesota Vikings. but when he returned to the city, he had a nervous breakdown.

Practicing what you know in realistic situations will teach you more about yourself than you want to know. And, as time progresses, your opportunities to practice this will increase. You eventually will have "TOO MUCH" time to learn about yourself.

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
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Old 02-19-2003, 12:59 AM   #5
PhilJ
 
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I should add that these forums are a good sounding board for guidance as you develop questions. Your sensei should be happy to help too, all you need to do is try asking.

*Phil

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Old 02-19-2003, 03:40 AM   #6
paul keessen
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This a nice subject! especialy cause aikido is a very spiritual martial art! the way i see it, it's that it's a never ending road with big mountains and very deep valley's. I think everyone has to go trough a very rough period. In such a period you will think about yourself and question "WHY" you are doing aikido...

When i had such a period i red a lot of books. But they will not give an annwer. If you just keep training the answer comes by itself ( i think) and it's never the same for everybdoy. just train....
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Old 02-19-2003, 11:42 AM   #7
ian
 
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Within Buddhism the understanding of truth (spiritual realisation) has to be something accomplished by yourself and although people can point the way, a book, a set of rules or a religious practise is not going to get you there alone. It is like a path, in that sense (you walk it yourself).

I would disagree that asking your sensei is the best way. Talk to everyone, read, try to seperate truth from dogma.

What people absorb from aikido is different, and often those with a profound spiritual understanding cannot communicate it very well to you:

======

a student of Bankei's once said to him; before I was enlightened I thought everything you said was in clever riddles, designed to trick me or impress others, now I'm enlightened I realise that everything you said was just the pure and simple truth.

============

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-19-2003, 11:47 AM   #8
ian
 
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You have to realise also that what Ueshiba believed in was Omoto-kyo (a shinto/christian cult), which I don't think many people are really interested in. Myself I have been very interested in zen buddhism and taosim for many years.

I recommend this as an immediate buy (and it is very cheap)(prices are UK amazon)

The Way of Chuang Tzu (Thomas Merton)8.99

Also interesting (for Zen) are many of the books by Alan Watts e.g.

The Way of Zen

The Watercourse Way

These should be light enough to get to grips with, but are excellent books. If you are interested I have also written a single page on main concepts in buddhism (since so many people ask what it is). E-mail me and I'll send it to you.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-19-2003, 06:39 PM   #9
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Just to be a pain but I have met people who read all about samurai and Aikido and never got on the mat. They then tried to interest me in a discussion about "samurai philosophy" which they were studying - by themselves.

Sorry not interested. The person did join my dojo for a time but it seemed he was more interested in talking than doing.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-19-2003, 10:00 PM   #10
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, you can ask for guidance from those who have shown they have something to offer you. Many people separate the martial arts from the spiritual practices. At best, they engage in intellectual discusssions rather than practicing. When you meditate, simply meditate. When you read, simply read. When you train in Aikido, simply train. They will come together on their own.

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!
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Old 02-20-2003, 01:33 AM   #11
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Lynn Seiser (SeiserL) wrote:
When you meditate, simply meditate. When you read, simply read. When you train in Aikido, simply train. They will come together on their own.
Yes

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-21-2003, 12:09 AM   #12
PhilJ
 
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I agree Lynn&Peter, good point. You can only get so much from a book, video, or fireside chat. No one here said asking sensei was the "best" way.

Go and experience, test what you've been told, and see if those words hold up. Kiss the mat for a while, then help others kiss the mat too. Absolutely no susbstitute for experience.

*Phil

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Old 02-25-2003, 09:48 AM   #13
John Boswell
 
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Lynn said it VERY well.

But Lynn, I have a question for you...

what does "KWATZ!" mean??

(* No, seriously! I wanna know!*)

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Old 02-26-2003, 08:41 PM   #14
SeiserL
 
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Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
what does "KWATZ!" mean?
It's a shout used in Zen to startle you out of internally absorbed intellectualization and into present experience awareness. Also helps me stay awake.

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!
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Old 03-20-2003, 09:43 PM   #15
DaveForis
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I think Lynn and Erik hit it pretty well, but I'll add my two Abes.

To be blunt and get to the original question, no you don't need a teacher so long as you take the responsibility of being your own teacher upon yourself.

Also, to clarify, spirituality is best defined as "finding yourself". You don't need a teacher to give you some great secret to figure that out. They can't. Instead, you have to work yourself to find your own personal answer. Don't expect a teacher to hand it to you. In all reality, follow your instincts. If you feel the urge to ask something, ask it. If you feel the urge to read a book, read it. If you feel the urge to discuss something, discuss it. If you feel the urge to do something, do it (In the context of that little voice, of course. I'm not advocating wanton hedonism or destruction.) Then be aware of where that little nagging feeling wants you to search next. If you follow that little pull, you'll find yourself in some really amazing places. It's so much fun. Maybe you'll screw up once or twice and go down the wrong path. Oh well. Steps can be retraced and lessons can be learned.

It sounds like you've already started on the path reading some zen stuff. Play with that, ask questions, and look at it from every angle. After a while, you may find a side avenue you want to explore for a while. And then another. And then another.

That's how it works.

Looking at what I've written, though, I think my best advice would be to play. Play is the most spiritual activity of all. Find what you like, what you're interested in, what fills you with meaning, and follow it, being mindful of all the people and ideas you encounter that come together to make the sum of your experience. That's your best teacher.

So, of course, you already know the anser.
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:20 PM   #16
Lyle Bogin
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Read, ask, train..decide nobody knows what they heck they are talking about.

"The martial arts progress from the complex to the simple."
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Old 03-27-2003, 06:16 AM   #17
taras
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So many things put so well! Just wanted to add that when talking about spiritual enlightenment we are talking about something beyond verbal communication, there is no way to describe it in words. Yogis would tell you that even the great Hindu sages who wrote the Upanishads could not communicate sufficiently what they were trying to explain. For the same reasons even the best MA master on Earth could not answer all you questions. Simple as: there are things that can be only learnt personally. I found these quotes from OSensei:

Quote:
"True Budo cannot be described by words or letters; the gods will not allow you to make such explanations."

"Techniques of the Sword cannot be encompassed by words or letters. Do not rely on such things - move towards enlightenment!"

"Sincerity is said to be shown by those following the Path of the Sword; you may petition the gods for it but there is no need for them to reply."

Budo, Morihei Ueshhiba, 1938

Last edited by taras : 03-27-2003 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 03-27-2003, 07:33 AM   #18
MikeE
 
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Being Buddhist I really like this thread. Mindfulness. To me, very much the same as awareness. Of self, others, and surroundings. I think the thing has helped me most is that I don't really subscribe to the "moving towards mastery" thing, that is so popular with Aikidoka today.

Instead of mastering self and Aikido, I try to let the principles of Aikido master me. Take them to my core and be "mindful" of them.

This is very hard for me to explain....because like everyone else said; self-discovery is a personal and very intimate journey.

Good Luck.

Mike Ellefson
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Old 03-27-2003, 08:16 AM   #19
mike lee
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Quote:
To be blunt and get to the original question, no you don't need a teacher so long as you take the responsibility of being your own teacher upon yourself.
Very difficult to do. People who try to be their own teacher generally make very little progress, while at the same time getting entirely full of themselves which just further hinders any real progress.

A good teacher can show you many fine points that would take 1,000 lifetimes to learn on one's own not to mention the fact that he can help to keep that nasty ego in check.

It's good to take responsibility for one's training and to work extra hard on one's own, but there's no substitute for having a good teacher even if you have to travel many miles and only see him once a month.

The danger of practicing too much on your own is that you could end up practicing your mistakes. A very big waste of time. Until you're really sure that you know what you're doing, it's always best to retain a good teacher for guidance.
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Old 03-28-2003, 12:18 PM   #20
PhilJ
 
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I concur with Mr. Lee's post here...it's hard to get outside of what you already "know" without help from another party. And, especially hard when you are frustrated or emotionally involved with a particular situation (in or out of the dojo).

I believe you can go to a certain point without this help, but I think it's a point reached fairly quickly.

Taras's list of quotes is a good example of something already said here many times: you can explore it only by experiencing, not by reading/watching. I liken the latter form of 'learning' to a parrot: it says the words, but has no idea what they mean.

*Phil

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Old 03-31-2003, 09:35 PM   #21
Pretoriano
 
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The answer is simple, did someone teached Einstein physics? or Mozart music? or Gandhi to pray and meditate? or Bill gates computers and investment? or Bruce Lee Kung Fu? of course Yes!

.-Do they achieved sufficient autorealization in their lives compared to other people?

.-Do their developed and expresed their spirits each one in their own field?

Easy questions, easy answers.

Although the ammount of excitemnet for to walk deep on the woods at night is superb, where youre going? dont you need a path? how many looses to nowhere and falls do you need?

Guidance is a Must, is the upper scale step that always shows you there is something else. Do you remenber J.Vernes travel to down earth? AS? well, same Some have gone REAL FAR, and you just have their signals, even the responsability to have the work done is solely yours, time is running, is your choose to go in groups to a certain point, after that you start travelling fast.

Your spirit is the same as all the others and you know it, could be dusty,unveiled, ignored hided,lazy, put it aside, and apparently weak, etc. But just same one, so you you will be able to reach what others have.

Get a Teacher.

Cheers,

Pretoriano
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Old 04-01-2003, 01:56 AM   #22
aubrey bannah
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Your teacher should be able to introduce you to the differenct aspects of creation. This allows you to present your questions to the gods directly.

This is also the real definition of the qualification of teacher. To be enabled to bring the presence of the different gods unto your presence.

Such powers I poccess for working in the political field have been derived from the spiritual field. Mahatma Gandhi.
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Old 04-01-2003, 02:29 AM   #23
PeterR
 
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Let's not forget it is a path of self discovery. A good teacher knows when and how to tweak you in the right direction and is well aware that as the student grows there should be a lot less intervention.

That occaisional intervention is absolutely necessary. Compare Budo to the study of philosophy. It's very easy to read what you like and avoid what you don't. In the end you are very well versed in Jung (for example) but very poor in understanding the full context. Remember the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" where one man only read a particular philosopher and then spent the rest of the time overlaying his own warped insights, quite removed from what the philosopher was all about. We see the same with Budo. Aikido is not the only victim but it seems we, as a group, attract some ripe ones.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-01-2003, 04:21 AM   #24
mike lee
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just about right

I'm beginning to like you, Peter!
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Old 04-01-2003, 06:16 AM   #25
ian
 
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Hi Peter,

I'd agree with what you say to an extent - however reading widely is not the same as understanding deeply; also, what you understand about a situation or reading is shaped very much by your previous experiences or understanding.

I recently started reading a book on Rael (Raelians are a cult who did a mass suicide) and found it to be complete rubbish; evidently he was just trying to start up an alien loving religion based on Chrisitnaity which he hoped would make the world a better place.

Whether we like it or not I think the truth of our experiences is what tests our philosophy; if our experiences do not stand up to our philosophy it is likely we have a misunderstanding or the philosophy is wrong. In the end your life is your journey, and it is unique to you.

PS Manuel, Einstein was a failure at school, as was Darwin, and taught himself mathmatics whilst working in a patent office.

Bankei (a Zen buddhist) was quite insistent that what most of the zen buddhists where teaching at the time was rubbish and caused more problems than it solved; he said satori was simple and did not involve all the processes that students are often pushed through. I think many of the buddist practices relate more to discipline and producing a religious order than to enlightenment. No matter how good your teacher or book is, understanding comes from a recognition of some truth within that which you are learning. I think our subconcious has already grasped satori, but we chase these religious beliefs to represent what this means to our cerebral cortex and thus actually realise that we are enlightened.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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