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Old 07-30-2005, 02:19 PM   #1
senshincenter
 
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Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Anthropologists, historians, and sociologists alike have noted the significance that shame plays in traditional Japanese culture. Does such an emotional content still play a significant role in our training of Budo? Should it?

Have we lost something or do we lose something when our training operates mainly or solely at a level of positive reinforcement? Does our training require at some level some kind of repulsive emotional energy and/or some kind of negative emotional force by which we are guided one way and not another?

Does mastery of something assume the presence of passion? Does not passion, as suggested in the Latin origin of the word, assume the presence of a kind of suffering? If so, can we really penetrate the depths of our art through joy alone?

If more than joy is required, should we expect our dojo to have discourses and/or techniques (e.g. pedagogy) that help us as modern citizens that prone to many levels of alienation demarcate the path of progress through repulsion (e.g. a healthy dose of shame) from the path of further alienation and/or depression (e.g. "I suck." "I will never be any good.")? What might these discourses and/or techniques be?

Does Budo require of us a healthy dose of shame (i.e. the presence of a repulsive energy that is firmly connected to a positive energy - both of which are aimed at the same end or in the same direction) in order for us to truly penetrate its depths? Does a preoccupation with joy, fun, entertainment, peace, and a lack of suffering (i.e. things that mark "wellness" in the modern world) prevent us from penetrating Budo's depths - condemning us to cycle of superficial investments that yield only superficial results?

What say you?

Thanks in advance,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 07-30-2005, 04:26 PM   #2
Mashu
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

If the shame that drives you to advance comes from within it seems to work best. Shame from the outside doesn't necessarily work so well. There comes a point where you have heard so many speeches and lectures from coaches/parents/bosses/gurus that you've figured out their game and it becomes hollow and lacks efficacy. If however you are credulous enough to fall for it over and over then you'll just be a puppet and it may become difficult to escape the cycle of emotional blackmail coming from others. The shame that originates from within is hardest to ignore and will probably be the motivation that will last long after that other stuff has dried up and blown away.

I remember standing after practice and listening to a very high level weapons teacher give his pre-test shaming speech before the all-national examination. Somewhat moving but one of the older students turned around and gave a weak smile and explained how the Sensei always gave that sort of speech every year. There were also many students from other dojo that were decidedly less strict and no matter how many times they were shown the correct form or how loud they were yelled at they kept doing the same mistakes. I then realized that at some point with most students the beatings and cajoling weren't going to propel them any more. The head teacher could then play the tactic of being indifferent to them and just walking by them and telling them they were doing well but that would only work if there was real shame from within the students. It's probably one of the reasons why there are only a few people who genuinely practice that type of art for fifty or sixty years straight.

Joyful training sounds nice but I think joy is another one of those words like love that confuses aikido people more than it helps. Maybe it would be better to replace it with the word positive. I felt no joy when one of the visiting Sensei hit me square in the balls with his jo but it was a positive thing because he showed me where my distancing was off.
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Old 07-30-2005, 04:51 PM   #3
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Does mastery of something assume the presence of passion? Does not passion, as suggested in the Latin origin of the word, assume the presence of a kind of suffering? If so, can we really penetrate the depths of our art through joy alone?

If more than joy is required, should we expect our dojo to have discourses and/or techniques (e.g. pedagogy) that help us as modern citizens that prone to many levels of alienation demarcate the path of progress through repulsion (e.g. a healthy dose of shame) from the path of further alienation and/or depression (e.g. "I suck." "I will never be any good.")? What might these discourses and/or techniques be? dmv
Hi David,

I experienced, in the past 52 years of budo practice flavored by my Zen Buddhist practice for over 40 of those years, the very thing you speak of. I am known to tell my students, "Don't Worry... Nuthin's Gonna Be Alright..."

We hardly ever get what we really want or expect and most of us get caught up in continually searching for comfort, ease, sweetness, and light. Some modern philosophies even tell people that they should "fake it" and keep "positive" and everything will be alright. Well, if we keep breathing and doing what our heart tells us to do, paradoxically, everything turns out all right. We all die. Between birth and death we can experience pain and joy, etc. We may even learn how to live in the moment learning compassion and how to not suffer. We can experience happiness or whatever is appropriate at the time. Training in budo is no different in this regard than anything else. If we train properly, our dojo is a "dilemma rich environment" where the "feedback" is very immediate. If we keep an open, even awareness with as little expectation as possible we can experience whatever is appropriate each instant and learn. The passion will be experienced through the full range of possibilities. We can then make decisions that help us make the best of the situation. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes filled with shame, but always joyful. We create our own unhappiness by wanting "things" to be different than they are.

Japanese art is full of expressions of wabi/sabi, etc. The sadness, the shame, etc. can't be helped. It's human activity that has both negative and positive aspects like everything else. We can practice for the sake of the practice and learn wonderful lessons.

"Don't worry... nuthin's gonna be alright..." Gambatte!

Best regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 07-30-2005, 05:04 PM   #4
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

'internal shame' is guilt, the western equivilant of Japanese shame.

-LK
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Old 07-30-2005, 05:40 PM   #5
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Great replies thus far. Excellent really. Thank you very much. Hope more folks chime in and/or more elaboration is offered up.

For the record, I perhaps should make it clear that I am referring here to an emotional content - thus I am referring to an internal sense of shame (not an external sense of shaming).

I hope to write more soon, but I thought I should state this now so that we don't go too far astray wondering about whether we are talking an internal level of investment (and its ensuing emotions) or an external level of institutional pressures (e.g. hazing). With the word "shame," I am trying to refer to a deeply personal and internal emotional response that is repulsive in nature and that is related to some aspects of our training in some very real and positive ways.

Again, thanks so much for the excellent reflections. Much appreciation. Hope to write more soon.

david

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Old 07-30-2005, 06:49 PM   #6
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Not shame, self respect. Without self respect you'll never be able to feel shame and with a healthy sence of self respect you shouldn't ever have to feel ashamed.
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Old 07-30-2005, 08:15 PM   #7
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hi Alex,

I would like to springboard a bit off your reply -- if you do not mind. Thanks.

I think I can agree with the first part of your sentence - speaking on the intimate relationship between self-respect and shame. However, when you say if one has a healthy amount of self-respect one should not ever have to feel ashamed, I am wondering if you are saying one of two things. Are you saying (a) if we have a good amount of self-respect, we often do little or no things that we should be ashamed of? Or, are you saying (b) if we have a good amount of self-respect, we emotionally are not vulnerable to a sense of shame?

Out of these two, I can agree with the first one - though I might not use the word "never" and instead opt to use a phrase noting the likely rarity of doing things we should be ashamed of once we have a good amount of self-respect. However, if you mean the second one, which I would like to note is (in my opinion) in perfect alignment with how Modernity suggests we should understand our negative emotions (i.e. as things we should evade if we are to consider ourselves well), then I cannot agree with such an understanding. In fact, I would have to note such an understanding as the very reason behind my raising of this issue. In particular, it seems there is a popular undercurrent suggesting that wellness and/or mastery and/or spiritual maturity can only and should only be achieved via a purification (or an extinction) of emotions that once had a very significant place in cultural practices like Budo.

It seems that there was once a cultural place for self-respect and shame to feed off each other in very positive ways. Today, we expect to achieve everything we once did through this coupling via self-respect alone. Today, hardly any of us ask ourselves what "self-respect" might actually mean if we opt to make "shame" meaningless and/or irrelevant. Eventually, when talking about self-respect, or even more so when attempting to practice it, we start to talk about "keeping it real," "staying true," "staying positive," "staying focused," "not getting down," etc. No doubt, these things are all related -- this is the "gambatte" of Chuck's great reply, but where is that all important counter weight of "Don't worry…Nuthin's going to be alright?" Today, it is as if we do everything we can to "respect ourselves" as we do everything we can to ignore those times when we have disrespected ourselves -- those times when we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Here are some examples of what I am referring to… Maybe they will shed some light, maybe not…

Often, we come to our training in some very casual ways. However, we often do not refer to our training approach as casual. Often, we still consider ourselves very serious in our training -- in our training of a very serious thing that is to hold a very serious spot in our very serious lives, etc. At such times, it seems that an overly zealous sense of "self-respect" is preventing us from seeing accurately just how casual we are in our training and thus just how much more seriously we can actually become in our training. Such an overly zealous sense of self-respect blinds us to the actual reality of our lives. It seems then, when a virtue like self-respect is not balanced by a viable sense of shame, delusion is sure to set in.

Here is a simple example. We have classes around three times a day at our dojo. Yet, many students train at or just above our two day a week training minimum. Training is taken very seriously at our dojo -- as a whole. This seriousness is experienced and even expressed by every dojo member -- from those that train daily to those that train just above the two day a week training minimum. I wonder how fair or accurate such a feeling may be. Of course, as a dojocho, I want to support such an investment in the seriousness of our training. However, as a teacher and as a fellow student of the art, I also want to make sure that such a sentiment is being accurately represented. I do not want to leave space for and/or encourage delusion inside of an environment that my own training depends upon.

Therefore, one night I asked my students if they considered a casual softball player -- one in a coed league for example -- as serious a practitioner (of softball) as they are of Aikido. I also asked them how they thought the softball player might describe his/her own investment in their sport. Most easily felt the softball player to be doing something very casual and to be doing that at a very casual level. They also felt the softball practitioner would understand their own activity in softball as such. I asked them to realize that in all likelihood the average softball league practitioner probably easily dedicated more hours to his/her sport than many aikidoka -- even in our own "serious" dojo. Suggesting that it may be true that such a league player might think of his/her involvement as "casual," I asked, what does such a thing say about the discrepancy or the contrast that we see in aikidoka (referring to our own students) that dedicate the same amount of time (or less!) and still feel very "serious" about their training? Why can an aikidoka look at someone doing more or the same amount of investment and call his/her involvement casual but fail to do the same in regards to one's own similarly invested training? Is it not because one possesses too much "self-respect," not enough shame? Does not our over zealous attempts to remain void of shame prevent us from calling our training casual (by allowing us so easily to call our training serious) when it in fact possesses every mark of not being serious? Is it not because there is a "self-respect" that is trying to operate void of its co-dependent aspect of shame that we are both making it hard to truly get serious about our training and making it very easy and important to cultivate delusion?

For me, I am interested in reflecting upon the relationships between our modern inclinations to see nothing positive in negative emotions, our modern attempts to purge negative emotions from our being, and the ensuing great energy we must expend to engineer delusions that prevent us from seeing clearly how alienated we are becoming (from the Truth, but also from ourselves then) when we just try to remain positive.

Thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 07-30-2005, 08:24 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hello David,

Was it not Ruth Benedict who suggested that Japan was a 'shame' society, governed as it was by social norms based on the group, rather than one marked by 'sin', which, along with 'guilt', is governed by a sense of appropriate personal relations and personal responsibility for one's own conduct in conducting such relationships? I would think that such a pristine distinction has been blurred somewhat since she was writing. It seems too neat. Nevertheless, I think that Benedict's rather primitive distinction has played a role among the Japanese in shaping postwar awareness of their own culture: a kind of washback effect, similar to that caused by Nitobe's Bushido.

In the original myths, when Izanagi in the Land of Yome sets eyes on the maggot-ridden body of his wife and flees, the latter declares, "A ni haji misetsu", translated by Philippi as, "He has shamed me". Later, Izanagi decides to purify himself by misogi, because he has been to "a most unpleasant, a horrible, an unclean land." "Therefore I must purify myself" and washes himself in a river. It is the circumstances that have caused the pollution, as much as his own conduct.

I understand that some scholars have tried to equate this episode with the shameful discovery of nakedness in Genesis, as a result of original sin. However, whereas Izanagi washed himself (we never hear any more about his wife), the man and the woman made some clothes.

In the OED, shame is defined as the "painful emotion arising from the consciousness of something dishonoring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one's own conduct or circumstances (or in those of others whose honor or disgrace one regards as one's own), or of being in a situation which offends one's sense of modesty or decency." This is pretty catch-all and covers everything (with the reference to conduct or circumstances).

I have trained in two dojos where one explicit aim of training was to confront the negative side of one's character. Shame and guilt were not particularly distinguished here, but in one of the dojos much emotional damage was inflicted, because neither the students nor the instructor were capable of handling the negative aspects uncovered. It was left to other members of the dojo to do what healing they could.

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P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-30-2005, 08:32 PM   #9
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Another way of putting David's original question is:

To what extent can or should budo training be seen as therapy?

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Old 07-30-2005, 09:32 PM   #10
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Thanks for the reply.

That's an interesting way of rephrasing the original question Peter. I can see how we can and might even want to understand what I was asking in that way. It makes great sense from a certain perspective. However, if in doing so we are opening the door to the dismissals of the person that just wants training to be an athletic endeavor - one that can exist outside of some very obvious and intimate body/mind connections - or if we are opening the door to the efforts of the person that wants to partition deep reflection, contemplation, and/or introspection to the jurisdiction of the licensed therapist only, then I think we might want to leave the question as it is. Or maybe we could re-state it this way(s): To what extent can or should a spiritual tradition include the utilization of negative emotions? To what extent can we avoid our negative emotions without avoiding some very real and deep aspects of our inner selves? To what extent can we remain overly positive without simultaneously engineering the need for self-delusion?

That said, I think the danger of addressing our negative side in dojo that are incapable of supporting such efforts but have deluded themselves otherwise is a very real problem - one that has to be considered relevant to this topic. Even then, however, it would seem that a lack of shame is allowing such a dojo to delude itself in terms of what it is capable of doing and what it is not. It seems a lack of shame is preventing such a dojo from seeing how much destruction it is actually causing, how much alienation and neuroses it is actually reinforcing, how much spiritual immaturity it is cultivating for the sake of its own unchecked will to power, etc. Such a thing cannot be supported - and I hope to make it clear that my questions are not meant to be understood as such support. I just wish to make a space between what can go wrong and what is wrong - so that we can find another option outside of the status quo and the possible doom that may be surrounding us.

Thanks for the reply,
david

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Old 07-30-2005, 09:57 PM   #11
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
'internal shame' is guilt, the western equivilant of Japanese shame.

-LK
I see it differently. Guilt comes from a sense of having done wrong, or having omitted doing one's duty.
Shame comes from feeling oneself is intrinsically bad.

Jeanne
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Old 07-30-2005, 10:33 PM   #12
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Is there a relationship between shame and pride? For example, can we be proud of who we are and what we are doing if we have no sense of shame (i.e. no sense of being repulsed from that which does not allow us to have pride in who we are and in what we are doing)?

The word "bad" kind of goes with the word "good" and when these words go together it usually implies some kind of moral or legal agenda. To be sure, cultures across the world have tried to find institutional support in our positive and negative states of emotion, but isn't there something more primal - more pre-nation state - to our emotional senses like shame? Do we always have to think of shame in terms of good or bad? To be sure, modern culture wants us to see shame always as bad. However, can it be something more related to self-respect, pride, honor, integrity, etc.? For example, can it be something more related to an ideal, a desire to near that ideal, and a proximity (or lack thereof) to an ideal? Can it be something more positive - something we should not want to avoid (assuming we would always want to avoid feeling intrinsically bad)? Such that, for example, we feel shame because of our desire to commit to an ideal while showing a contrary desire to not approach that ideal as near as we can? In this sense, the shame is not really about feeling bad (or being bad) but rather about bringing awareness to a disparity in our desires and thus in our actions, thoughts, and words. In this way, shame can seen as something positive, as it can be the doorway to a reversal in direction - one more in keeping with our stated commitments and thus one more akin to things like self-respect, honor, integrity, etc. (which is ours when we make good on our commitments).

I think that if we can say that every master has suffered for his/her art, then we might also want to say that no master has achieved his/her greatness without some repulsive energy (e.g. shame) that was pushing them toward their ideal in a way very similar to how their desire for achieving that ideal was pulling them. In other words, we might want to suggest that a master is pushed and pulled along in their expertise. They are pulled by their internal longing to achieve their ideal (i.e. a desire to master). But they are also pushed by their internal repulsion toward not achieving it - toward being like those that have not achieved (i.e. a repulsion toward being unable to master). Somehow, in my opinion, the words "bad" and "good" seem to be falling short in describing this particular aspect of mastery.

No doubt, many of us see shame as something related to that which is bad and thus as something we should avoid at all costs and/or whenever possible. I think this is why we often claim a lack of responsibility when responsibility would open us up to a charge of shame. So maybe I'm talking about something else when I am trying to delineate the presence of a repulsing energy that I am suggesting should be vital to our spiritual pursuits. On the other hand, one can see how much leeway there is in the definition of the word "shame" (as offered above by Peter) - so - for now - I'm still one for opting to use this word "shame."

thanks,
dmv

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Old 07-31-2005, 01:54 AM   #13
Mashu
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
That said, I think the danger of addressing our negative side in dojo that are incapable of supporting such efforts but have deluded themselves otherwise is a very real problem - one that has to be considered relevant to this topic. Even then, however, it would seem that a lack of shame is allowing such a dojo to delude itself in terms of what it is capable of doing and what it is not. It seems a lack of shame is preventing such a dojo from seeing how much destruction it is actually causing, how much alienation and neuroses it is actually reinforcing, how much spiritual immaturity it is cultivating for the sake of its own unchecked will to power, etc. Such a thing cannot be supported - and I hope to make it clear that my questions are not meant to be understood as such support.
Dear David,

What sort of dojo would be capable of supporting the endeavor of addressing it's students negative side? What would it be like in your opinion?

Cheers,

M
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Old 07-31-2005, 04:48 AM   #14
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

In my view if you have self respect then you are not as likely to do things which would cause shame. Shame should be the mechanism that pushes you back on the path whenever you wander from it, much like a safety net.
I would say that too much self respect is much like anything in that if it is not kept in check it will invariably cause trouble. When self respect gets too powerful we call it arrogance. In my opinion self repect without shame will pretty much always lead to arrogance.

I think there is also a relationship not between shame and pride, at least not directly, but between pride and self respect. When you have one you have the other. Pride I feel, as suggested, comes from being near to your personal ideal so when you feel this pride you are less likely to do anything which contradicts your ideal and this is what we call self respect. Self respect is in essence an unwillingness to deviate from an ideal. When that ideal is deviated from we feel shame.
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Old 07-31-2005, 05:36 AM   #15
Mark Uttech
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

A sense of 'shame' is absolutely indispensable.
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:01 AM   #16
Charles Hill
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

This is probably not going to help much, but,

Jack Wada, many years back, shared a teaching which he got from Michio Hikitsuchi, who said he got it from Morihei Ueshiba. It was a seven step process to enlightenment. I don't remember much of it, but one of the steps was to feel shame, "hajiru." Anyone else have more info?

Charles
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:21 PM   #17
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
Matthew Zsebik wrote:
Dear David,

What sort of dojo would be capable of supporting the endeavor of addressing it's students negative side? What would it be like in your opinion?

Cheers,

M
I was tempted to answer this in great detail, however let me try to satisfy this very good question with this shorter reply:

Such a dojo would be a dojo headed by a person that was capable of seeing their own teaching as part of the path of spiritual cultivation (vs. just teaching things to others that cultivate the spirit). Such a dojocho would temper his/her practices with enough humility that shame could never (by one of those quirks of human nature) start to act in exactly the same way as an out of control pride would. Such a dojocho would also be able to support his/her students through their darker or more revealing self-reflections via the act of non-judging (i.e. not condemning). With humility and with a will to support, not to condemn, such a dojocho would be able, by example (i.e. cultivating humility and a non-judgmental spirit), to lead his/her students through shame (as a repulsing energy) to all kinds of positive achievements - as assisted by more positive (or pushing) emotional contents. In this way, students could experience the benefits of shame (e.g. clarity) without having to experience greater moments of depression, alienation, and/or any tendency to be abused emotionally or physically.

I would suggest that there are many ways of making one's teaching part of one's own spiritual journey. Thus there are all kinds of concrete examples of how such a thing could be achieved. When I looked at the abusive dojo (plural) where I trained, this is what I saw that was missing. The teachers there did not see teaching as part of their own spiritual practice. They were simply there to teach others how to be spiritual (as if such a thing were even possible). In the end, teaching and learning became more a part of power games than about anything else. As a result, the negative or repulsing energies of our emotional selves was more often used as weapons. They were not tools for further spiritual maturity. They were the sources for further abuse - not the chance for greater clarity.

Only by seeing teaching as an integral part of one's own spiritual maturity can a teacher head a dojo where things like shame can be included - for good reason and for good use. Without such a thing, in my opinion, a teacher becomes more like a raving giant, stomping around on the insides of another's human heart. Such a teacher cannot be the calm and embracing hands that are capable of supporting or assisting us with our deeper journeys into the self.

It should be said, such teaching, and such learning, is not for everyone.

David M. Valadez
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:43 PM   #18
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hello David,

In my 35-year aikido career, so far, I think I have met only one such teacher and I do not know him well enough to know whether this is really true.

I think there is a great danger, where aikido is seen as a mass martial art available for everybody, that instructors who are not mentally or spiritually equipped to do so, will attempt to teach by including shame and guilt as a necessary part of the dojo curriculum, whether or not their students are, in their turn, mentally or spiritually equipped to cope with such training.

A significant part of my aikido career to date, significant enough to be troubling, has involved trying to repair emotional and spiritual damage done to students by such instructors, who believe they are acting in good faith and with the best of intentions.

The problem in such a dojo is to be able to distinguish between different spiritual influences, as Ignatius of Loyola puts it.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-31-2005, 10:37 PM   #19
senshincenter
 
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
The problem in such a dojo is to be able to distinguish between different spiritual influences, as Ignatius of Loyola puts it.


This is very true. This is also the problem for us as deshi - as we come into contact with such dojo - any dojo.

On the other hand, however, it is not like there is zero damage happening (especially spiritually) in a dojo where folks just seek to get as physically dominant as they can over another human being and/or where folks claim "spiritual cultivation" but seek to develop no sense of shame and/or capacity to reflect over such repulsing emotions. It just may be that we are more prone as modern citizens to accept these types of "damage" as part of the "greater good."

Your warnings are extremely relative here, and I too have only been exposed to one such teacher (equally needing to use the word "maybe" here) in (only two) decades of training. However, for me, while it may be that a given teacher MAY come to abuse such emotional contents (in good or in ill faith), it will NEVER be that true spiritual cultivation can do without a capacity to experience shame, to reflect upon shame, and to utilize shame in some very positive ways. For that reason, I keep such wise warnings to heart at the same time that I work to not let my heart close in fear of what could be (i.e. could be abused) - instead keeping it open to what has to be (i.e. addressing the cultivation of my spirit via repulsing energies). After all, isn't that what we have to do with warnings? If we do more, if we hear them and then say "no way," then such warnings would be prophecies.

Is there a way to heed such warning, but remain open to this aspect of a spiritual maturity, and yet not be made victum by some evil or ignorant will should we come to chance upon one? I would like to think so. I would like to think that I have been able to do that in my own training - having trained in three schools where training was more akin to a repeated cycles of child abuse than to anything else. I with my ideals managed to leave and to move forward. Others, others just wanting to train, just wanting to do their own thing, just wanting to practice Aikido, others just wanting to "cultivate their spirit," others just trying to avoid issues like shame, are still there being abused - being made weaker and weaker each year. I, through my ideals (I believe), seemed more able to recognize power for power's sake, seemed more able to identify an absence of humility and a rejection of holding teaching as part of one's own spiritual practice. In some ways then, these ideals, better than warnings, have saved me from emotional hardship at the hands of another that is in a position of authority. So maybe I am not as trusting of these warnings as I should be - maybe I did not need to be - so maybe I am walking alone here or at least out on a limb that has managed to support me just fine. However, as I said, such teaching and such learning is not for everyone. (thinking out loud here at the end)

thanks Peter for bringing up some very good points,
d

David M. Valadez
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Old 07-31-2005, 10:48 PM   #20
Mashu
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Dear David,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question. The description you gave sounds interesting but the fact that most students don't necessarily know what they need when they are searching for this type of thing how can they know if the teacher has the skills and means(houben?) to help them on their path? Sounds like it could lead to some real weirdness. One student might get lucky but another might end up with some crackpot who has unilaterally declared himself "The One" and gathered a small cadre of sycophants around him to help spread his genius. Since there are no organizations who control or police this type of thing how can a person know what to get into and if it's for them?

Thanks,

Matthew
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Old 08-01-2005, 12:00 AM   #21
Roy
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Society does shameful things to people. Perhaps the Society with the greatest shame has the greatest Budo? Out of necessity.
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Old 08-01-2005, 09:33 AM   #22
cck
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I think that if we can say that every master has suffered for his/her art, then we might also want to say that no master has achieved his/her greatness without some repulsive energy (e.g. shame) that was pushing them toward their ideal in a way very similar to how their desire for achieving that ideal was pulling them. In other words, we might want to suggest that a master is pushed and pulled along in their expertise. They are pulled by their internal longing to achieve their ideal (i.e. a desire to master). But they are also pushed by their internal repulsion toward not achieving it - toward being like those that have not achieved (i.e. a repulsion toward being unable to master). Somehow, in my opinion, the words "bad" and "good" seem to be falling short in describing this particular aspect of mastery.
I would think this is a matter of priority - my investment of me and my time in Aikido is made at the cost of time and attention spent somewhere else. I should think any "shame" experienced would go with whatever you gave up and thought less in need of you and your time than "mastery". Hence, more a check on your acheivement than a push to it. Aikido for me occupies a place where I feel that it is necessary for me to practice because of the deep sense of happiness and joy it gives me. Yes, I want to do better while in class, but I am definitely not driven by any need to "master" the art. Aside from indicating some end result that I think most of us agree does not exist in aikido, what I would have to give up simply weighs far more.
Aikido is so many things to so many different people. I doubt that you can distil one truth that is valid for all. A sense of pride can be accomplished by positive reinforcement - there does not have to be an "or else" in my mind. I practice aikido because it makes me feel good, and I try to improve execution because it feels right - not because not doing so would make me feel "bad". Aikido is an entirely positive experience to me. Yes, I discover things I can work on outside the dojo, but that's all part of the fun - it doesn't lead to a sense of shame, as far as I understand it. It's more like encountering a manifest expression of a side of yourself that you may have been blind to. It exists no matter what you do, and now you can learn how and where to apply it correctly. For instance, impatience simply doesn't work well in aikido, but if you can make it support anticipation, you may have something. You don't have to go to some deep dark vestige of your being. To me, that's not what aikido is for. But as I said, aikido is many things to many people.
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Old 08-01-2005, 10:06 AM   #23
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

"budo" probably does require shame. But, our version of it, might not "require" it. The problem, as I see it is that we inappropriately shame children so much that that's the hammer and everything looks like a nail. Maybe if we tried "respect"?! - Rob
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Old 08-01-2005, 10:30 AM   #24
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Interesting thread. I'm not sure I get it though...I'm not sure I have ever really applied the concept of 'shame' to my training in any thoughtfull way. I guess like everyone else, I feel 'shame' when I act inappropriately (in an aikido context), perhaps throwing someone too hard, or using too much physical power rather than focusing on staying relaxed, taking away uke's power, and using just enough of my own to ensure a proper balance break.

I think I'm going to struggle with this thread to see if I can come to understand it more clearly.

Quote:
Why can an aikidoka look at someone doing more or the same amount of investment and call his/her involvement casual but fail to do the same in regards to one's own similarly invested training?
Perhaps an aikidoka doesn't do this...I find no particular reason to make a judgement about someone else's activities in this way. Another reason might be that the aikidoka could be busy 24/7 trying to bring the lessons they learn on the mat to the rest of their life.

Quote:
Is it not because one possesses too much "self-respect," not enough shame?
I equate too much self-respect with an inflated ego. I have suffered from this many times...and will again. I'm not sure it causes me 'shame'...it certainly makes me feel rather silly upon reflection though.

Quote:
Does not our over zealous attempts to remain void of shame prevent us from calling our training casual (by allowing us so easily to call our training serious) when it in fact possesses every mark of not being serious?
Well, different people have different definitions of what is serious. In some ways, I consider my training right now not very serious...because I don't attend physical training very often. I have a whole bunch of reasons for this, some I'm sure have some merrit, some I'm sure don't. In other ways though, I spend quite a bit of my time off the mat trying to internalize what I learn on the mat, trying to apply the lessons in less physical ways at work and at home, etc.

A training partner recently tested for 3rd dan. He has always been much better than I at internalizing his training. He has an extremely busy schedule, and yet was able to prepare for and (in my opinion) do very well on his 3rd dan exam with only a relatively short time (but intense) of preparation. Now, I could say to myself 'I train more consitantly over a longer time than he (this may or may not be true), so why is he able to do this?' Or I could be honest with myself, realize that he has certain abilities that I do not have, and if I wish to do so, find ways to strengthen those abilities in myself. The fact of the matter is, even in those less frequent times he is on the mat, I find something in his training manner that is less 'casual' than mine. I guess my awareness of this difference and how it motivates me is what you are calling 'shame'? Personally, I'd simply call it honest self-reflection, and the ability (when used correctly) to modify my approach to achieving my goals.

Quote:
Is it not because there is a "self-respect" that is trying to operate void of its co-dependent aspect of shame that we are both making it hard to truly get serious about our training and making it very easy and important to cultivate delusion?
Well, I hope I have few delusions about how serious my training is just now. I'm not sure that any amount of off mat reflection, no matter how honest, can make up for time not on the mat. But I do feel that off mat reflection is important, and that it (like mitori geiko when injured) can suplement a less frequent training schedule due to other priorities.

Maybe you could let me know if I'm getting what you're asking...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-01-2005, 11:40 AM   #25
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Ron, I think I can clear some of this up.

When Saotome sensei finishes yelling at us, not many people know how to interpret that. The cultural translation of this is that he wants us to focus on letting go of our habits and really try to see more of what's going on with his technique (application of principles). I'm certain that would happen in Japan.

In the States, that doesn't work too often. How many people in the States get shamed by a big Japanese sensei and the only thing they take away from that expereince is 'well when I have more power and authority, I'll have kohai that I can yell at too'? Probably more people than those who say 'I'd better pay close attention to the difference between my current habits and what sensei is doing'.

As I see it, the majority of the folks training aikido in the States are typically the kids who grew up after the 50s where you were supposed to be a good little boys and girls. The students of today are the generation of people who rebelled against being shamed - of course typically they will shame everyone else but demand respect for themselves. (Read Alice Miller if you dare.)

We have to be careful to treat our kohai with all the same respect and tolerance for mistakes as we treat our sempai. In my opinion, when someone in class hurts someone else due to thoughtlessness or carelessness then they need to be made aware of it; but "shame" is up to them, not up to you to dish out to them. If they are continually not safe, they should be kicked out and again without shame.

Rob
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