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Old 11-17-2004, 02:04 PM   #1
"Anonymous"
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Question Is Aikido turning me Zen?

(Apologies in advance as this may be a bit wordy but I am not sure how to clearly explain my situation. I am posting anonymously to preserve the identity of someone referenced).

Aikido is taking over my life. I am only a kyu-ranked aikidoka, but I have aikido on the brain, and I think it's great. I hope someday to become an aikido instructor and help others along this path. Aikido has helped me develop more self confidence, discipline and spatial and physical awareness. It has possibly led me to better understanding of (anti)social interaction and an enhanced appreciation of the natural environment. Training provides a sense of calm and satisfaction, with the anticipation of learning and growing over a lifetime. There are probably other aspects of personal change and growth that I haven't thought to mention, but generally do any of you associate this type of transformation with aikido and/or with Zen?

I find myself examining my life and the world around me with new perspective and some kind of new intent. Although, at 30 years old, most people consider me an accomplished professional (at least that's what they say to my face), I realized that I am maybe wasting much of my life being unproductive, not making the most of really living, whether it's because I'm vegging in front of the tv late at night, or wasting energy on useless arguments and negativity, or other matters, I now realize that I need to actively seek personal growth and enriching experiences. Another result of these personal changes is that I realized how inappropriate it was for me to stay in a relationship with a boyfriend who had been pushing to get engaged. He was a good person but caught in a downward spiral of not caring for his physical or emotional well being, and not providing me with consistent respect or courtesy. I think he really needed something more in his life than just his work- religion, art, gardening, aikido- something to provide peace and health. As my brother remarked, people who don't fully respect and take care of themselves aren't too good at respecting and taking care of other people. I may have doomed myself to dying a childless old maid, but I think that's preferable to that particular alternative. At the risk of sounding "holier than thou," I just want my life to be a positive journey, and he is clearly on a negative one. I am mentioning this to show the significant impact of these personal changes.

I don't know much about Zen but I've read of it in relation to aikido on this forum. Prior to that, my only experience with practitioners of Zen was in the small town where I grew up- there had previously been a zendo there but when it disbanded, many of the former members still stayed in the area. I remember thinking they were a bunch Birkenstock-wearing, self-built-cabin-dwelling, no-Twinkie-eating hippies, although otherwise intelligent, educated and decent people. As you can guess, their lifestyle did not appeal to me- I buy organic food when I can too, but I also like my material comforts- stylish clothes, juicy rib eye steaks, and dwellings with air conditioning and digital cable tv. And, although I had something of a Catholic upbringing and don't want to disavow my belief in God (afraid I'll go to hell), I have always been more spiritual than technically religious. Prior to my recent reading on this forum and through some other sites, I had always thought Zen= Zen Buddhism = religion, and perhaps totally incompatible with my (marginally) religious background. Now from what I've been reading it seems that Zen itself is more philosophical than religious? (I have read somewhere that there were some Zen masters in Japan who trained western Catholic clergy in Zen, and that those individuals managed to mesh the two systems -Catholicism and Zen- pretty much seamlessly). Since I am not seriously into dogmatic religion, I guess integrating the two isn't my issue. One issue seems to be, is Aikido turning me Zen or are these changes not necessarily related to Zen? (Maybe this isn't Zen at all. Maybe I am just growing up). For any of you who are or have been Zen practitioners, how important is it to the other aspects of your lives, or is it integral? What was your path like? Was Aikido a cause or perhaps a gateway? Is aikido the catalyst?

At the same time that I feel I am finally finding myself and starting to see the world, I feel kind of… lost.

Any thoughts on how to proceed? PS, there is no zendo in my region.

Many thanks for any discussion on this matter.
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Old 11-17-2004, 04:18 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Just keep training. Sounds like that's where you are finding the questions and the suggested solutions.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-17-2004, 04:49 PM   #3
jss
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
One issue seems to be, is Aikido turning me Zen or are these changes not necessarily related to Zen?
How can it be Zen, if you don't practice Zen?
You can use the word 'Zen' to describe it, but that's a choice you make.

These changes are about you, not about Zen.
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Old 11-17-2004, 05:02 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

IMHO, many of the changes you report are very common through any journey where you are looking at yourself, especially if there is a spiritual aspect to it. Aikido comes more from Oomoto-ryo (a Shinto branch) than Zen. But all mystics and spritiaul path teach much the same things. If you enjoy it, train on. When you drop the question (koan), then it might be Zen.

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 11-17-2004, 08:38 PM   #5
JessePasley
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
Is aikido the catalyst?
Perhaps in your case aikido is the catalyst for a deeper self-inquiry. But really, any activity can be this catalyst. I don't feel there is anything particularly special about Aikido with regards to spirituality, nor with meditation. These things are starting points; real fulfillment comes with application and engagement with your surroundings.


Oh, being both Catholic and Buddhist is a bad idea; God hates Devil Worshipers!
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Old 11-17-2004, 10:57 PM   #6
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Aikido and Zen, Aikido and Catholicism, Zen and Catholicism, they all can be integrated fairly well. Aikido doesn't turn you into anything. Your experiences in practicing Aikido might help you reach a better understanding of yourself and life. There are many people who try Aikido and quit because they don't like the things that are revealed to them either about themselves or about life in general. You aren't turning into a Birkenstock-wearing, cabin-building hippie, unless you want to be. There are people who are well-to-do, that drive nice cars and wear nice clothes that practice Zen and other forms of Buddhism (look at Hollywood). If your curious, read more about Zen and that will help you to understand. The practice of Zen, as well as many other forms of spiritual discipline (to include Catholicism and even Islam), develops a good deal of self-reflection. To attribute this type of self-reflection only to the practice of Zen is a mistake. Aikido, Karatedo, Iaido, Kyudo, (really anything approached as a "do" to include sports) all stimulate the same self-reflection. That is why sometimes people forget the marital aspect to the art…..

joe
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Old 11-17-2004, 11:03 PM   #7
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
Oh, being both Catholic and Buddhist is a bad idea; God hates Devil Worshipers!
And beer leads to heroin, too!
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Old 11-18-2004, 01:30 AM   #8
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
>Oh, being both Catholic and Buddhist is a bad idea; God hates Devil Worshipers!

Does that mean that Buddha hates god-worshippers?

Zen and aikido: two great ideas that often get mixed up but really (IMHO) have little to do with each other.

As for the original posters' query, I'll steal (and likely mangle) a Zen saying: At first the mountain was a mountain; as I learned and grew, the mountain transcended itself and was something more; but after enlightenment, it was, once again, simply a mountain.

Chuck

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Old 11-18-2004, 08:35 AM   #9
"a flower does not talk"
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Circle Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

you can take a Zen approach to anything to find the reality and truth
aikido helps to point directly to one mind.. and the mind of an oppenent!
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Old 11-18-2004, 09:27 AM   #10
cguzik
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
Jesse Pasley wrote:
Oh, being both Catholic and Buddhist is a bad idea; God hates Devil Worshipers!
God hates? Do you really think so?

If you want a good take on Zen and Catholicism, read Merton.
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Old 11-18-2004, 11:41 AM   #11
Matt Molloy
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
That is why sometimes people forget the marital aspect to the art…..

joe

There's a "marital" aspect to this art?

Gosh! I thought that they were just really friendly.

Cheers,

Matt.
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Old 11-18-2004, 02:29 PM   #12
ruthmc
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
I may have doomed myself to dying a childless old maid, but I think that's preferable to that particular alternative.
You owe it to your future children to give them a good father. Your ex does not sound like one to me..

Quote:
At the same time that I feel I am finally finding myself and starting to see the world, I feel kind of… lost.
This is normal. Part of change is uncertainty. Treat it as no big deal and it need not become one

Quote:
Any thoughts on how to proceed? PS, there is no zendo in my region.
You're doing fine! I believe that everyone should make their own religion - you don't have to buy into someone else's, although you are free to borrow bits. Then it becomes meaningful to you. And you can call it whatever you like

Ruth
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Old 11-18-2004, 06:56 PM   #13
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

Quote:
Matt Molloy wrote:
There's a "marital" aspect to this art?

Gosh! I thought that they were just really friendly.

Cheers,

Matt.
Just because we're friendly, doesn't mean we can't muss you up!
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Old 11-23-2004, 09:27 AM   #14
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Is Aikido turning me Zen?

In Buddhism, especially in Zen, it's not the destination that one is trying to attain but the path one walks to attain it. It is true that many people consider Zen Buddhism a religion, it is really just a philosophy that focuses on finding one's way in the world. So, good news then, you can still be Catholic and a Zen practicioner and not make God angry. As far as the relationship between Aikido and Zen is concerned, I believe it would be lose but it does house a lot of the same qualities that the founder's sect of Shintoism believed. What I guess I'm really trying to say is that you aren't going "Zen"...just simply becoming a better person through Aikido.
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