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Old 05-20-2003, 09:06 PM   #26
Jeff R.
Dojo: River Valley
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Techniques aside, as there are only so many ways one can twist a wrist, I think that Aikido may not make a very useful [barometer] relative to morality, but at least a practical foundation anyway.

If we can find the purity of the philosophy without tainting it with interpretations, then we have a morality to strive for. For example--once again for those keeping up with the spiritual threads--Preserve all life is one of the most significant of the doctrines. There is no interpretation needed, no reading between the lines. If we live by the purity of the teaching, then we are living by the true meaning of Aikido. And if this Way is valuable enough for us to endeavor, then it is worth the effort to uphold it's philosophy. Why do anything if we're only going to do it partly?

Purity is relative to the purest things in the Universe--and the purest spiritual manifestation is unconditional love--no good, no bad--absolute unbiased love.

Aikido is definitely viable as a foundation for morality, but whether we are ready to embrace that morality or not, only time will tell.

Last edited by Jeff R. : 05-20-2003 at 09:09 PM.

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Old 05-20-2003, 11:08 PM   #27
PhilJ
 
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I'll sound off for a bit...

We're talking about "good" and "evil", but as adults, we know this isn't obvious, and certainly not a realistic assessment. The people I meet are more shades of gray in-between.

Life has a way of sorting some things out for us. So does aikido, I think. Classes attract people who are like the teacher, not "evil" or "keen" people -- our students are the "worst" reflections of ourselves.

We can't treat aikido as a filter of absolutes, because we don't practice that way. We practice in reality, practice dealing with reality, and living in the moment. Aikido deals with reality folks, I believe it's the people who look through the filters and apply perceptions and judgement.

*Phil

Last edited by PhilJ : 05-20-2003 at 11:10 PM.

Phillip Johnson
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Old 05-22-2003, 08:02 AM   #28
DGLinden
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Does anyone have a problem with my quoting you in an article? I have found many comments insightful and intelligent. If you would prefer not to be quoted, please e-mail me directly.

thanks

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Old 05-22-2003, 09:05 AM   #29
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Daniel Linden (DGLinden) wrote:
Does anyone have a problem with my quoting you in an article?
No problem for me (I already published it here.)

What's the topic of your piece?

Where are you publishing it?

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 05-22-2003, 09:27 AM   #30
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: If/Can - Aikido as a moral thermometer?

Quote:
Daniel Linden (DGLinden) wrote:
This question came up after class. Since the spiritual mandate in Aikido requires us to '"Foster and protect all life", OSensei', and despite the varying degrees of interpretation, (Please save the spirtual discussions for that forum) can an individual who is essentially an evil person, and I mean a bad guy, come on the mat, gain rank, start a dojo, and be considered to be doing Aikido? We're talking no morals here. Steals from his students, trys to bed all the women students, likes to hurt people. A bad guy. Is what he does on the mat, Aikido?

It is a question.
Hello Dan,

In some way, I am surprised that you are asking this question, after 30-odd (?) years of training. Since you have simply asked questions and not volunteered any of your own thoughts, I wonder what you yourself think. Could it be that the thermometer is not functioning properly. If so, this would not be surprising.

For me, aikido is morally neutral: it is not a 'thermometer', or barometer, or a means of measuring anything, unless it is the quality of your irimi-nage (when I am uke). It is a complex set of activities/habits/dispositions we become involved in for a huge variety of reasons. And I think it is pretty pointless to quote the Founder here without putting his words into some sort of cultural context.

Like you, I face my students in the dojo week by week, but there is no question of measuring anything from a moral viewpoint. The dojo population is a cross section of Japanese society as a whole and I assume that they find the training enjoyable in some sense, but the entire operation could be analyzed in utilitarian, even Hobbesian, terms.

On my own experience, I think that aikido training is a great leveller. There is sometimes a hidden 'dark' side to the most charismatic of instructors, who have produced excellent students who are far better moral exemplars than these instructors. But if you ask whether these instructors were 'really' 'practising' 'aikido', then I think the question becomes like a medieval disputation, turning on definitions.

I think there is an assumption lying behind the original questions which is culture-based, and I suspect is in some sense Puritan. By this I mean something like the idea that an action should carry its moral credentials on its sleeve, so to speak. Thus you can place something like aikido on a moral graph and read off the daily progress you are supposed to be making. I have called this culture-based because I suspect this way of thinking is quite prevalent in the US. It is not at all prevalent in Japan.

So I have come to believe in the value of Ockhams's Razor when discussing the moral/spiritual/religious value of aikido.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-22-2003, 09:52 AM   #31
Jeff R.
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Re: Re: If/Can - Aikido as a moral thermometer?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
For me, aikido is morally neutral: it is not a 'thermometer', or barometer, or a means of measuring anything, unless it is the quality of your irimi-nage (when I am uke). It is a complex set of activities/habits/dispositions we become involved in for a huge variety of reasons. And I think it is pretty pointless to quote the Founder here without putting his words into some sort of cultural context.
So where do morals come from? What does one use as a frame of reference for morals? And if we have morals, how do they apply to the philosophy of our Aikido?

Should all of mankind have a consistent set of morals and ethics in order to establish a unification of our world? And, if so, what is the thing that cannot be biased but that we all must accept in order to establish that code?

Aikido may not establish morals, but I think it could be a useful tool in finding the frame of reference for establishing that code.

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Old 05-22-2003, 10:29 AM   #32
mike lee
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the Great Way

Morality is one of the most basic components for anyone who is engaged in following a "Do" in any form. Since "Do" is the final character in aikido, I would think that an aikido practitioner would want to know what following a "Do" involves and would begin to master those components in his effort to fulfill his mastery of his art.

Perhaps morality, as one of the most basic components of a "Do," and by inference aikido, has been taken for granted for so long that some have long forgotten about its importance and significance as a basic foundation and building block for good character.

In fact, during the course of my training, morality was never discussed, but I think that over the long-term its development has always been expected.

So I would think that it would be reasonable for students of a "Do," or a Way, to expect an instructor to be of sound moral character. It should be one of the most basic of requirements.
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Old 05-22-2003, 05:15 PM   #33
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Re: Re: If/Can - Aikido as a moral thermometer

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) stated:

So where do morals come from? What does one use as a frame of reference for morals? And if we have morals, how do they apply to the philosophy of our Aikido?

PAG: It is not my place even to attempt to answer these questions, and certainly not for the students in my dojo. My system of moral values was in place well before I discovered aikido and the frame of reference for this system was the entire spectrum of human activity, including aikido training.

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) stated:

Should all of mankind have a consistent set of morals and ethics in order to establish a unification of our world? And, if so, what is the thing that cannot be biased but that we all must accept in order to establish that code?

PAG: I have no deep interest in establishing a unification of the world and this is certainly not why I have a life-long commitment to aikido training. So, likewise, I have no interest in giving mankind any moral recipes or such like. Training might help students to find such codes for themselves, but there is no obligation for them to do so.

Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) stated:

Aikido may not establish morals, but I think it could be a useful tool in finding the frame of reference for establishing that code.

PAG. Well, as Mike Lee has stated in his post, aikido is a DOU (with the same Chinese character as TAO) and the 'way', especially of the warrior, is a very powerful motif (a metaphor, perhaps) used in religious systems. John Bunyan is a good example here. In Christian terms the road can lead upwards or downwards, depending on other choices made.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-23-2003, 08:25 AM   #34
Dennis Hooker
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On September 11, 1998 President Clinton promised the "most ethical administration in the history of the country." What was his definition of ethics?

Ethics is important in all areas of all societies. It is critical when educating young people that they receive values that provide lasting benefits. Morals are the rules and ethics are the measure of those rules. They are concerned with the human action and the judgment of the goodness or badness of that human action and character.

They are concisely expressed precepts or general truths and may change according to cultures.

In American society morals and ethics are habits and rules of conduct, especially of sexual conduct to which you allude. They refer to references to standards of right and wrong. We used to use phrases such as "a person of loose morals; a decline in the public morals." That seems to be changing now days and what was once considered unethical and immoral is now simply a "life style". I think there is no longer "A set of principles of right conduct." Or "A theory or a system of moral values" " It seems very true in Aikido that "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook).

My ethics and morals, and those of my generation, culture and ilk are under attack. Aikido like many things today is a study in the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a teacher. In many instances we are considered moral philosophers, like it or not. In the since that every man and woman outside a sociopath has moral and ethical choices then I would say that even those who make choices that rub against the grain of our moral fiber are still doing Aikido. When dealing with a sociopath or a person devoid of a since of right and wrong then I would say they are not doing Aikido.

Dennis Hooker

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Dennis Hooker: (DVD) Zanshin and Ma-ai in Aikido
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Old 05-23-2003, 09:32 AM   #35
happysod
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Dennis, interesting that you brought up the sociopath as I was wondering along those lines as well. I would agree that a sociopath couldn't practice aikido, but an "evil" person may be quite capable. This is because (as already mentioned) morality may depend on your cultural referents, but at least there is normally a societal code acknowledged, even if it is ignored.

Whereas for a sociopath (or equivalent, may be a better term people?), the idea of any code which includes others doesn't exist. So, in effect, a sociopath is always "playing with dolls", not practicing aikido. (Am I making any sense or is it just end-of-day babbling?)
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Old 05-23-2003, 09:38 AM   #36
DGLinden
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Gentlemen,

Thank you so very much for your insight and skill at unraveling this subject. Yes Mr. Goldbury, you noticed. And no, my thermometer works just fine, thank you.

Mr. Lee set the stage and Mr Hooker finished both asking and answering. So... The real question then is, if an individual is not following the 'way', is he, not his students, practicing aikido. And the answer is, of course not. Without the benefit of the 'way' in aikido, we are merely training at aiki-technique, or worse.

So then, the moral obligation to lead a life 'on the path' is part of the the path - the 'do' and must be observed or one cannot be 'on' the path.

I have asked students to leave my dojo because I found that they were cheating on their wives. Asked others to leave because they have lied, been found duplicitous, or have done things I found not to be of the 'way'. My students were wondering who is responsible when an alleged 'sensei' acts this way. I confessed that I didn't know. As it does not concern me directly, I'll leave it to wiser heads than mine. After all, if it is only semantics, and no one cares - then what is the purpose of the path? What is its value? Why do we bother?

Peter, I know why.

Thank you Mike, Dennis, et al.

Last edited by DGLinden : 05-23-2003 at 09:40 AM.

Daniel G. Linden
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Old 05-23-2003, 09:51 AM   #37
Jeff R.
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Well, shoot. Apparently I was VERY wrong, and I apologize.

According to the majority of responses I've received in the Spiritual threads, Spiritualism is garbage, Aikido has little or nothing to do with spirit, Ki is something to be analyzed in order to be understood, and living the Way means kind of doing things that O'Sensei defined as "The Way," as long as they fit into our lives, or just leave them out and practice the techniques.

So, no. Aikido cannot be used as a barometer, thermometer, sphygmomanometer, tachometer or otherwise.

Sometimes, however, I think a good "crapometer" would be handy.

Exercise and extend your Ki with conviction; feel its awesome power--just smile.
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Old 05-23-2003, 10:11 AM   #38
DGLinden
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What the...?

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 05-23-2003, 10:28 AM   #39
Jeff R.
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Yeah, I know. Go figure . . ..

Exercise and extend your Ki with conviction; feel its awesome power--just smile.
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Old 05-23-2003, 12:25 PM   #40
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Daniel Linden (DGLinden) wrote:
Gentlemen,

Thank you so very much for your insight and skill at unraveling this subject.
So, what is your article about and where are you publishing it?

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 05-23-2003, 04:33 PM   #41
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Quote:
Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) wrote:
Well, shoot. Apparently I was VERY wrong, and I apologize.

According to the majority of responses I've received in the Spiritual threads, Spiritualism is garbage, Aikido has little or nothing to do with spirit, Ki is something to be analyzed in order to be understood, and living the Way means kind of doing things that O'Sensei defined as "The Way," as long as they fit into our lives, or just leave them out and practice the techniques.

So, no. Aikido cannot be used as a barometer, thermometer, sphygmomanometer, tachometer or otherwise.

Sometimes, however, I think a good "crapometer" would be handy.
Tending to agree, I liked your post. I have come across many who devoid there aikido of "spirituality" however, there always seems to be something incredibly lacking in their techniques. This is regardless of rank. However, it is just as likely to find empty technique in those who spend way too much time delving into matters of the spirit. Certainly, it comes natural to those who seem to just be of a spiritual nature.

I wanted to clarify a statement from my other post. So here goes...
Quote:
As aikidoka, our hope lies in our ability to seek, discover and nurture this individual's desire and ability to be at and act through his highest intentions. Call it what you like, but anything less is spiritually empty, new age packaged Ju-jitsu, nothing more. Call it what you like, but anything less is spiritually empty, new age packaged Ju-jitsu, nothing more.
It is important to understand that the second statement relies upon the first. However, just as important is to realize that this could take place on a solely physical level - devoid of a "spiritual" meaning or effect, altogether. When I say highest intention, it can be restricted to apply to "survival" only.

The most important thing is to realize that there is nothing wrong with practicing Jujitsu, of a new age, or any other. However, doing so may mean that you are not practicing aikido, regardless of what it says on the brochure, sign or website.

For me, connection is the key to "KI" - and Kokyu is the method of connection. However, what I am connecting to is as complex as the connection, itself. The person on the other end is not a simple set of mechanical actions/reactions as some would have us believe. There is any number of other things going on with the person on the other side. This could be on the level of personal belief system, thought, emotions, etc.

As aikidoka, we can better control a purely physical confrontation if we hold the strings tied to each of these factors. Our path is made up of milestones which mark

1. a point when we uncover them within ourselves

2. figuring out how to connect to them within another

3. discovering ways in which to apply them at points of high stress.

Then we have the long plateaus that we spend searching for other levels of interrelatedness that can be discerned and deciphered, only to start the whole process over.

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 05-23-2003, 06:19 PM   #42
Usagi Yojimbo
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By definition, no. He may practice the technique, but not the art. Art is what makes the spirit of something, and thus, how we are able to fully understand and to utilize such a thing. The art or spirit of such a thing is a necessity and may not, can not, be simply tossed aside for one's own personal goals and selfish desires. They may master the technique, but there will always be someone better, because there are always those who just fully understand the technique, as well as the art.

My head hurts...
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Old 05-23-2003, 09:05 PM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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I see that Mr Linden asked for our opinions in this thread, and I assume by this he meant our own, unglamorized, personal opinions.

I began aikido relatively late, at the age of 25, after having spent a number of years in a monastery (which I assure you is an excellent place for pondering the issues raised by this thread).

All my teachers without exception have been Japanese and I became aware at a very early stage that there was a gap, if you like, between what one might call 'moral' teaching or awareness, sometimes preached from the tatami, and actual behaviour.

Some of these teachers would have been asked to leave Mr Linden's dojo and according to other contributors of this thread, were not even teaching the 'art' at all; they were teaching mere 'technique'. Well, they are still at it and appear to be producing excellent pupils, proficient both in technique and art.

Mr Linden began the thread by asking about a really evil person practising aikido. Who is such a person and how would we recognize him/her? I suppose a good place to start would be the New Testament, but a more graphic presentation can be found in Milton's "Paradise Lost" or in Tolkein. It is a pity that no one has done for Milton what Jackson did for JR Tolkein, because Tolkein has the same Christian roots as Milton. It is also important to see that the presentation is sterotypical and that, if the NT is to be believed, a really evil person does not exist. And if the person did exist, then, again if the NT is to be believed, that person is to be tolerated and forgiven.

So I am not in the business of making judgments about the morals of my own students outside the dojo. I myself happen to believe that aikido training is an intensely moral activity, but this is because I believe that life in general is an intensely moral activity, not because I believe that aikido is intrinsically a 'moral' martial art.

As for the spiritual dimensions of training, I would prefer not to discuss this. I think it is too private a matter for discussion on a bulletin board such as this.

Yours sincerely,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-23-2003, 10:24 PM   #44
Jeff R.
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Hello, Shaun. Thank you so much for the new info.
Quote:
Shaun Ravens (Misogi-no-Gyo) wrote:
The most important thing is to realize that there is nothing wrong with practicing Jujitsu, of a new age, or any other. However, doing so may mean that you are not practicing aikido, regardless of what it says on the brochure, sign or website.
I do agree.
Quote:
For me, connection is the key to "KI" - and Kokyu is the method of connection. However, what I am connecting to is as complex as the connection, itself. The person on the other end is not a simple set of mechanical actions/reactions as some would have us believe. There is any number of other things going on with the person on the other side. This could be on the level of personal belief system, thought, emotions, etc.

As aikidoka, we can better control a purely physical confrontation if we hold the strings tied to each of these factors. Our path is made up of milestones which mark

1. a point when we uncover them within ourselves

2. figuring out how to connect to them within another

3. discovering ways in which to apply them at points of high stress.

Then we have the long plateaus that we spend searching for other levels of interrelatedness that can be discerned and deciphered, only to start the whole process over.
This is fascinating, but it seems like it moves to a different level from the base relationship with Uke (or the attacker). If someone pops out of an alley and tries to mug me, I want to lose all sense of ego, all sense of bias and emotional connection, and have only a connection of pure, universal movement with the attacker. I want to reflect his movements and enter with no fear. This unconditional connection allows me to interact with this person in the unconditional way that natural forces interact with nature.

If I try and find connections on an emotional level with someone, there is the risk of offending, embarassing, or hurting them, or myself. This is something that I think should be attempted in a very careful and deliberate manner when utilizing this set of Aikido principles in relations. I think I see how it can be useful and successful, especially in more familiar relations, and even more so in--actually, in a forum such as this one!



Thank you very kindly, Shaun

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Old 05-24-2003, 01:06 AM   #45
otto
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A person by my standards is measured and defined by its acts...so in any case an "evil"person would be one whose acts and behavior can or could be described as "evil"....

I highly doubt such and individual would reach a high level of proficiency in what we call AiKiDo , much less the title of Sensei-Teacher-Instructor.

Naive?....I hope not.

Plus KI!.

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Old 05-24-2003, 01:30 AM   #46
Hanna B
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Peter - applause.

Quote:
Shaun Ravens: I have come across many who devoid there aikido of "spirituality" however, there always seems to be something incredibly lacking in their techniques.
This is not my experience.

Quote:
Ottoniel Ojeda: A person by my standards is measured and defined by its acts...so in any case an "evil"person would be one whose acts and behavior can or could be described as "evil"....

I highly doubt such and individual would reach a high level of proficiency in what we call AiKiDo , much less the title of Sensei-Teacher-Instructor.

Naive?....I hope not.
I have met more evil in the aikido world than anywhere else. I do not think that aikido people are more evil than others; probably I have met evil in the place and activity where I spend a big amount of my free time.

Last edited by Hanna B : 05-24-2003 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 05-24-2003, 02:37 AM   #47
mike lee
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judgment day

So, if a student or a teacher cheats on his or her spouse, are they "evil" and should they be banned from aikido?

Personally, I'd say Hitler was evil, but a wife beater is bad and needs counselling. A cheat needs some guidance.

But that's just me. Every culture, society, religion and individual has different standards and levels of tolerance.
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Old 05-24-2003, 08:03 AM   #48
jss
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other perspective on ethics

It turns out that Buddhist really are happier:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3047291.stm

Or you can read 'Zen and the Brain' by James H. Austin (a physician and a zen meditator) who shows that meditation will change your brain on a physiological level and for the better. You become less self-centered and more compassionate.

The most stupid experiment he talks about shows that if you are to find a (planted, for the sake of the experiment) dime in a phone boot, you are for a brief period more likely to be kind, helpful and see the brighter side of things. Just by finding one lousy dime!

Since aikido is in several though not all ways zen in movement, aikido should make you a better person. Of course the real world is much more complicated. The point I'm trying to make is that everybody is going into deep philosophical arguments and as a philosophy student I know what a total mess the academic philosophical discussions are about ethics and about meta-ethics even more so. Aikido is fun and it makes me feel good, so it does make me a better person. If aikido has advantages in that respect to other activities, is quite a complicates discussion. So I'll go no further than saying I think it has.
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Old 05-24-2003, 12:33 PM   #49
Jeff R.
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If a man cheats on his wife (or vice versa), the vows are effectively broken, and the marriage no longer exists.

If a priest molests a child, he is no longer a priest.

If we don't practice the philosophy of Aikido outside the dojo, are we still Aikidoka?

Once again, Aikido is a Way. You either live it, or you don't. Techniques don't mean crap, even if they look beautiful.

I built a beautiful shelter once (in fact my teacher writes about his same experience in his books) and though it was aesthetically pleasing, I froze that night because I missed the point of the construction.

The techniques of anyone can look hot, especially in the dojo, especially with a good Uke, especially when we are exercising cooperation to some degree in order to grasp the techniques. But it's pretty plain and simple: if you don't have a spiritual grasp of a life threatening situation, if you can't connect with the attacker, if you get too caught up in emotions at all--your beautiful techniques will be but a fleeting glimmer of what you wanted to do before you were beaten down--or worse.

Don't believe it? That's fine. Don't worry about the spiritual "garbage." You can only find the truth of it all yourself.

The only exception to the above seems to be:

If we do horrible, rotten things all week, we can still find forgiveness as long as we make Sunday Mass.

Exercise and extend your Ki with conviction; feel its awesome power--just smile.
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Old 05-24-2003, 02:50 PM   #50
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
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Quote:
Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) wrote:
If a man cheats on his wife (or vice versa), the vows are effectively broken, and the marriage no longer exists. (1)

If a priest molests a child, he is no longer a priest. (2)

Techniques don't mean crap, even if they look beautiful. (3)

Once again, Aikido is a Way. You either live it, or you don't. (4)
1) In a vacuum. But in the real-world? Some are more forgiving than a person embracing the opinions you post here. Perhaps it is not the only function of "marriage" to prevent infidelity, but to provide a bond in spite of it.

2) "Priest" is a position and thus less subject I think to romantic disclaimers about "essence" (as I'd expect to hear if I noted that city hall still recognizes a marriage as such, howsoever adulterous, until a divorce). As the church's scandal shows, the pedophilic priests are, indeed, still priests.

3) Unto themselves, I agree. They probably provide grist for reflection for attentive individuals, though.

4) Don't agree. Life is more an issue of gradations than pat pronouncements. Confucius himself, a bastion of morality as some would have it, confessed that he was still suffereing urges which went against law and nature until he was seventy.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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