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Old 07-21-2003, 12:40 PM   #1
tedehara
 
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The Man in the Basket Hat

There are numerous stories in the Chinese and Japanese tradition concerning a young martial arts student. After developing his talents, he leaves his school and goes out into the world. However he discovers it's tough to make a living and resorts to crime. With his martial arts background, he soon excels in his chosen career.

Then one day he confronts a man in a basket hat. It's a common hat in ancient times. It's a woven hat that usually covers some or all of the head. This particular traveller is wearing one that covers all of the head.

The martial artist turned thief demands the traveller's money. The traveller declines. The thief boast about his ability with a sword and how many men he has killed. The traveller still declines.

The young martial artist draws his sword and charges the traveller. But he is quickly cut down with one sure sword stroke from the man in the basket hat.

As the thief is dying by the roadside, the traveller leans over him and takes off his hat. The young martial artist finds himself looking into the old face of his teacher.

"I had heard stories about you", said the teacher, "So I came to see for myself."

While people talk about how spiritual Aikido is, what safe guards can be implement, if any, to help people make correct choices with what they learn? Even when performed badly, Aikido techniques can be powerful against an unsuspecting person. I can understand why O Sensei had people sign statements that they would not teach Aikido to criminals.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 07-21-2003, 03:48 PM   #2
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IMHO, the best way to instill ethics back into the martial arts is to model them. There are not many "basket hats" left.

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 07-21-2003, 09:04 PM   #3
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Yes, the Maker is responsablible for its creation, neat cleaning, no ashes, no secuels, all returned where it belonged to.

It is a beatiful illustrative tale and it is very, very old.

Due to the Fact that everyone understands moral code and universal principles at different level of deep, the teacher shows preventively the next step on the scale, the student should climb and "live" there naturally, they are no way this can be done "artificial" without falling by its own weight. Same happens with ethics in any student.

Praetoriano
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Old 07-21-2003, 09:47 PM   #4
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I think that an important aspect of the story is that the teacher did not challenge or preach to or upbraid or otherwise try to fix the student in any way. Indeed, the teacher in the story seems to embody two virtues that I think are central to communicating a spiritual message: witnessing and embodying. If you like, you can make it into one princple: witnessing both of others and of ourselves.

The ability to notice (to pay attention, to witness) is one of the most important abilities we have, and its power is often vastly underrated.

Yours in Aiki
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Old 07-21-2003, 10:49 PM   #5
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On the flip side of Opher's comment, I think many folks give up far too easily on others. A "do nothing", vanilla attitude towards someone who needs help, to me, is escapist (I'm not implying anyone suggested this here, though; a very subjective statement on my part, I understand).

Of course, you can only go so far before succumbing to those problems you try to solve -- something possibly implied in the story.

This teacher could possibly have done something else other than pretend to be an innocent bystander. Mind games make me tired. A wo-/man who deceives only to end up with only the option of killing is no moral compass for me.

Manuel said: "It is a beatiful illustrative tale and it is very, very old." An excellent point. The story definitely sounds great.

*Phil

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Old 07-22-2003, 08:14 AM   #6
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Phillip, I'm going to agree with you and disagree.
Quote:
Phillip wrote:
A "do nothing", vanilla attitude towards someone who needs help, to me, is escapist
I don't think that witnessing is the same as doing nothing. Witnessing opens you up to the situation, allows you to perceive your options more clearly, and tunes you into subtleties that disappear when you are focused on your own actions. Witnessing is an active participation that affects everyone else involved and how the situation unfolds.
Quote:
Phillip wrote:
A wo-/man who deceives only to end up with only the option of killing is no moral compass for me.
Excellent point. I hadn't thought of it that way.

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Opher
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Old 07-22-2003, 09:51 AM   #7
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Nice story, but one I struggle to learn from. I'm not sure what the message is.

Do you think martial arts teachers have an obligation to teach morals to their students?

Justin McCarthy
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Old 07-22-2003, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I don't think that witnessing is the same as doing nothing. Witnessing opens you up to the situation, allows you to perceive your options more clearly, and tunes you into subtleties that disappear when you are focused on your own actions. Witnessing is an active participation that affects everyone else involved and how the situation unfolds.
Opher, I agree with this point for certain. I'm looking at it from a "helping" standpoint. The observation you're talking about is an effective method of assisting, but not for most situations. As it goes, if nothing happens, _nothing_ happens.

Sure, you need to understand your situation as much as possible, which enables you to become more adept at helping others, like wayward students. Still, watching, by itself, accomplishes nothing for the person being watched - they're basically a rat in their own maze for your edification. What comes afterwards, yes, may help.

But not in this story's case, which caused my indigestion. The observation only led to the killing of a student who might have had other options. Then, maybe not, which may be implied in the anecdote -- maybe the teacher knew enough about the student and did make the right decision.

I'd like to amend the story: same situation, same teacher, different student. The outcome of the attack is instead a whupping followed by some tea.

Whoa! That's a lot about such a short story! I have issues; I know, I know.

*Phil

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Old 07-23-2003, 06:10 AM   #9
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Is it possible for someone's karmic development to become stagnant during an incarnation?

Rather than allowing said person to develop more karmic debt, is it "allowable" to release his spirit from their current incarnation in hopes of futhering his spiritual development?
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Justin McCarthy (justinm) wrote:
Do you think martial arts teachers have an obligation to teach morals to their students?
My understanding is that O'Sensei required people to sign a waiver that they would not use Aikido in any criminal activities and really stressed not teaching it to someone of questionable character.

Yes, I think if we give someone a tool, we have some obligation to teach them how to use it in a productive way, and have some responsibility for the consequences of their actions with the tool (weapon) they gave them. I don't let my children play with my guns or live blades.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Damion Lost (Ghost Fox) wrote:
Is it possible for someone's karmic development to become stagnant during an incarnation?

Rather than allowing said person to develop more karmic debt, is it "allowable" to release his spirit from their current incarnation in hopes of futhering his spiritual development?
Damion,

That sounds like a very lame justification for murder. Regardless of what you believe happens to the spirit, "releasing" it still requires killing the body -- something that's illegal in most areas. Who am I (or you, or anyone, really) to take it upon myself to decide whose spirit needs to be released?

Regarding the original story: I view stories like this the same way I would a fable or parable. The motives of the teacher are enigmatic (and a little passive-aggressive), but the lesson to the student is very clear. One should be humble, not bully, and use one's skills for good instead of evil. After all, there's always somebody better than you.

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Old 07-23-2003, 10:28 AM   #12
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Post

Quote:
Damion Lost (Ghost Fox) wrote:
Is it possible for someone's karmic development to become stagnant during an incarnation?

Rather than allowing said person to develop more karmic debt, is it "allowable" to release his spirit from their current incarnation in hopes of futhering his spiritual development?
----------------------------------------------

Ask God Damion, any answer on this matters is too relative because we dont control all the causes and variables of the times, or we do?

Besides, how do you define "stagnation"? or how do you can measure sucessfull development on a human being?

What means to you release the spirit from current reincarnation? katancia?

----------------------------------------------

Quote "Do you think martial arts teachers have an obligation to teach morals to their students?"McCarthy

In one sense or another yes, they should, this is just limited by their own level of moral development nothing less.

Praetorian

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Old 07-23-2003, 12:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Damion,

That sounds like a very lame justification for murder. Regardless of what you believe happens to the spirit, "releasing" it still requires killing the body -- something that's illegal in most areas. Who am I (or you, or anyone, really) to take it upon myself to decide whose spirit needs to be released?

-Drew
1) ...and what is a sound justification for murder?

2) What does legality has to do with justice or destiny?

3) ...but you're killing the body to save the spirit.

3) ...and yet we have governments and religous institutions making these decisions all that time. Maybe the Sensei was the tool of Karma by which the student was to realized.
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Old 07-23-2003, 03:08 PM   #14
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Damion,

I think you and I are coming from very different sets of assumptions. Before answering your questions (all three of them ) I'd rather have a better idea of where you're coming from.

I should also apologize for my rather imprecise language. I should have said that your argument seems like a rather lame justification for killing a person. "Murder" has too many connotations.

My initial reaction is as follows:

A sound justification for killing somebody might be self defense, or protecting another person from immediate harm or death.

Legality is very important, and (in aggregate) tends to help provide justice. Neither has much of anything to do with destiny. But how can anyone know their own, or somebody else's, destiny?

Killing the body to save the spirit is a dangerous proposition simply because we can never know if the spirit is saved.

Governments make decisions of life or death as a basic compromise necessary for dealing with violent, deviant behavior. Lack of such institutions make any form of society difficult to maintain. That is, any society must figure out some way of dealing with its deviants. Many, in fact, do not put people to death. But there is an ethical and moral difference between the citizens of a society (or their representatives) administering justice and a lone person taking that responsibility on himself without the permission of that society.

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-Drew

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Old 07-23-2003, 05:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Legality is very important, and (in aggregate) tends to help provide justice.
But it is fallable, and not automatically 'ethical'. The Nazi regime rings a bell. Ethics without law is much different than law without ethics.
Quote:
But there is an ethical and moral difference between the citizens of a society (or their representatives) administering justice and a lone person taking that responsibility on himself without the permission of that society.
Really? Rhetorical question: Which of the two methods is more ethical?

Sorry to nurse the digression here. Any more anecdotes we can beat to death?

*Phil

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Old 07-23-2003, 08:25 PM   #16
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This discusion have degraded into ethical and law, please just left the tale just as it is, it is bannal to bring up to our days without changing the factor "killing the bad student"

and the implications, in the past the tale was moral and ethical, just change the "litle detail"

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Old 07-23-2003, 09:30 PM   #17
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Man,

You guys are tough. However, arguing ethics and legality (which I never said were necessarily related, by the way) is entirely appropriate given the initial story and the following question on teaching others aikido.

And, in my defense, I argued earlier that the master's actions weren't the point at all. To quote from my post:
Quote:
The motives of the teacher are enigmatic (and a little passive-aggressive), but the lesson to the student is very clear. One should be humble, not bully, and use one's skills for good instead of evil. After all, there's always somebody better than you.
I'm sure this isn't the only thread that has wandered a bit, and at least we're still talking about the ethical use of force -- you know, the point of that little story.

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Old 07-23-2003, 09:45 PM   #18
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Yes Drew I can understand from that your point

of view, just some differences, the motives of the teacher are not enigmatic, the main point of the tale is not the ethical use of force, but how corrupted individuals have to stay away from martial knoledge and in this case no better person but his own teacher were "designed" to make the work done.

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Old 07-24-2003, 06:08 AM   #19
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Perhaps the teachers actions aren't the point for you, Drew, but I'm not sure they aren't the point of the story. Certainly, they are much more interesting and powerful to me than the student's actions.

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Old 07-24-2003, 06:08 AM   #20
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Hi Drew
Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Damion,

A sound justification for killing somebody might be self defense, or protecting another person from immediate harm or death.

-Drew
Wasn't the man in the basket hat defending himself from the theif, and futher more by killing him wasn't he defending the people of the land against a theif.
Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Legality is very important, and (in aggregate) tends to help provide justice. Neither has much of anything to do with destiny. But how can anyone know their own, or somebody else's, destiny?

-Drew
The man in the basket hat knew the destiny of the thief he cut down.
Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Killing the body to save the spirit is a dangerous proposition simply because we can never know if the spirit is saved.

-Drew
Agreed. This is the problem with fanaticism and too narrow a world view.
Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Governments make decisions of life or death as a basic compromise necessary for dealing with violent, deviant behavior. Lack of such institutions make any form of society difficult to maintain. That is, any society must figure out some way of dealing with its deviants. Many, in fact, do not put people to death. But there is an ethical and moral difference between the citizens of a society (or their representatives) administering justice and a lone person taking that responsibility on himself without the permission of that society.

-Drew
We must remember in what era and place this story takes place, and adjust our perceptions and logic structure accordingly. This is the problem with using the morales of one time to judge the actions of another time. As society and ideas change and evolve/de-evolve over time the morales must also change with the time. The spirit of a time is only applicable to the time in which it was created; it is up to the future to preserve what was valuable from that time, and adapt it to the spirit of the future.

All in all it was a cool story, about the resposibility and burden of teaching and having the spirit to cut through the illusions that clouds a situation.

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Old 07-24-2003, 10:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
You guys are tough. However, arguing ethics and legality (which I never said were necessarily related, by the way) is entirely appropriate given the initial story and the following question on teaching others aikido.
Sorry Drew, I don't mean to be tough in here, and I certainly hope we're not stifling your thoughts and insights.
Quote:
The motives of the teacher are enigmatic (and a little passive-aggressive), but the lesson to the student is very clear. One should be humble, not bully, and use one's skills for good instead of evil. After all, there's always somebody better than you.
Point well taken.

This story hit a chord with me for some reason, and I'm trying on my own time to understand why.

I think it's because that old stories are "great" and so most people automatically nod their head and say, "Wow, good moral, " just because its an old story.

Others read into a story because they are better learned than I am, and I don't see what they're seeing right away. Thus, I read what I see and not "between the lines". Well, better luck next time for me.

*Phil

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Old 07-25-2003, 11:58 AM   #22
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All,

Overall, I think this has been a good discussion and find it interesting to see what kind of responses we have to stories like this.

Personally, I think the student's destiny was to become a great and widely respected monk. The instructor cut short the student's destiny by killing the student instead of using aikido to subdue and pin him -- thus giving him a chance to redeem himself.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 07-25-2003, 08:50 PM   #23
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Youre smart Drew!

Good related answer.

I think the menace represented by the bad student in the story resembles many situations we get involved in daily life,

thus going farther, interchange "bad student" for one of the many psicological errors all human beings have (greed, envy, violence, etc) and see how it have to come back to you, then, that who is responsabile for its creation have to take care, have to kill, control, save and/or redeem, add some aikido philosophy and it is even more armonious as you suggested.

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Old 07-28-2003, 06:28 AM   #24
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Quote:
Manuel Ch. Anderson (Pretoriano) wrote:
Youre smart Drew!

thus going farther, interchange "bad student" for one of the many psicological errors all human beings have (greed, envy, violence, etc) and see how it have to come back to you, then, that who is responsabile for its creation have to take care, have to kill, control, save and/or redeem, add some aikido philosophy and it is even more armonious as you suggested.

Praetorian
Good Post Praetorian. So can we say that the Sensei represents an aspect of consciousness, e.g our Avatar or Higher Self. And is it sometimes necessary to cut right through some of our more destructive conditionings in order to preserve the rest of the individual(Society in the story).
Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
All,

Personally, I think the student's destiny was to become a great and widely respected monk. The instructor cut short the student's destiny by killing the student instead of using aikido to subdue and pin him -- thus giving him a chance to redeem himself.

-Drew
But Drew I don't think Aikido existed in the time of the story.
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Old 07-28-2003, 07:05 AM   #25
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Damion said:
Quote:
But Drew I don't think Aikido existed in the time of the story.
Of course not. My statement was tongue in cheek.

Still, aren't you glad we have aikido now?

Regards,

-Drew

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