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Old 11-21-2005, 12:20 PM   #26
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Erick,

I agree with you, however I would choose not to use the word doctrine, but words such as "history", lessons, experiences. We cannot throw away those things that are vital to our humanity and our growth.

We are but what our forefathers left for us, we evolve and grow based on those experiences.

as you state, we must interpret them for ourselves and look introspectively to find the truth and meaning that allows us to escape the confusion, road blocks, assumptions, emotions, and paradigms that get in the way of us discovering "the truth".

I agree just simply don't like the word doctrine as it has so many negative conotations with it.
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:47 PM   #27
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Erick,
I agree with you, however I would choose not to use the word doctrine, but words such as "history", lessons, experiences. ...
I agree just simply don't like the word doctrine as it has so many negative conotations with it.
The word "doctrine" means "teaching" as the word "doctor" mean teacher. The root Latin is in common with "-duct" as in "conduct" and "induct" which has the meaning "to lead."

As to negativity, the negative aspects of having a length of wood swung at my head are very great, but also very persuasive in getting my head out of the way. and quickly, too.

Doctrine per se has the advantage of a well-thought out structure, which may be a cause for disagreement, but the argument is more profitable (and more broadly comprehensible) working from the structure as a template. even for strong criticism, than in abandoning it as a common source for useful discussion.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:13 PM   #28
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Jennifer Johnson wrote:
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith. The teachings the Baha'i Faith focuses on unity and peace, and is also a religion with firm laws and obligations.

As someone who originally came from a completely non-religious background, I embraced my religion on something of an intellectual and emotional level - the meditative and "formal" qualities of my religion have been somewhat awkward for me to embrace. In the six short weeks I have taken Aikido I have felt enhanced in my religious life.

My dojo actually offers seminars on things like non-violent communication with Aikido principles. My schedule doesn't permit me to attend them but, interesting! My religion has teachings on the same topic, as most religions do I imagine.
I've been practicing aikido for about 5 years and the way I understand the principle and practice of this art has nothing to do with the enhancement of my spiritual life. My constant practice developed my balance and timing which in my part is the best important factor in my aikido training in order to achieve the effectiveness of the execution of my technique, while the rest is secondary. My spiritual progression still lies on my thinking and my conviction to myself. The act of discipline I express on dealing with my fellow aikidoka and senseis while in the dojo is to give myself the chance to express my thinking as a disciplined practitioner . So to conclude if aikido has something to do with my religious life is absolutely not accurate but practically a common adroitness of physical pursuit as any other martial art.

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Old 11-26-2005, 01:08 AM   #29
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Jennifer Johnson wrote:
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith.
I would say Aikido is highly compatible with religious/spiritual intentions. I was attracted to Aikido because it seemed to embody my spiritual and ethical convictions. The ideal of connecting to things in a meaningfull way and blending with them to create something which benefits all that's involved was very attractive to me. Aikido, in my opinion, has something to offer anyone, whether they're Strong Atheists or any given spiritual practice. At the very least it will teach them things which can protect them physically and allow them to continue living and learning.
Take care,
Matthew

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 11-26-2005, 06:30 AM   #30
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Myself, I find Aikido completely incompatible with my religion and dealing with that has been an interesting struggle.

The goal of my religion is nicely summed up in the title of a book by Thomas A'Kempis, "The Imitation of Christ". Or to put the question in contemporary terms, Would Jesus practice Aikido?

Let's start with the dojo fees and ancillary costs. We live in a world of hunger and want amid plenty and followers of Jesus are explicitly called to give everything that we own to the poor. "So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." (Luke 14:33) We can't afford Aikido if we don't have any money left.

And we're on this Earth only a very short while. There is too much to do serving God and God's people to spend time at the dojo.

Refusing to see the attacker as the opponent, that's right on from the Christian perspective. But then what? In Aikido we make certain that nobody gets hurt. In my religion we're supposed to sacrificially allow the other to hurt us. We're supposed to follow an all powerful God who let himself be crucified. Jesus wouldn't, and didn't, practice Aikido.

That said, or written, I'm not going to come anywhere close to imitating Christ. The money that I spend on Aiido I'm not going to give to the poor. But the practice of disciplining the body does also discipline the mind and the spirit. And who knows, perhaps that discipline might strengthen me enough that one day I can give away all that I have.
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Old 11-28-2005, 04:11 PM   #31
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Charles Scheid wrote:
Myself, I find Aikido completely incompatible with my religion and dealing with that has been an interesting struggle.
The goal of my religion is nicely summed up in the title of a book by Thomas A'Kempis, "The Imitation of Christ". Or to put the question in contemporary terms, Would Jesus practice Aikido?
I suspect that Thomas á Kempis would say "Yes."
In the Imitation of Christ, he wrote:
" The Voice of Christ - MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed. Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.… Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle."

A Christian statement more consonant with the practice of Aikido I cannot imagine -- except -- perhaps these:

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." St. Matt., 10:34

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." St. John, 14:27

It is no concern whatsoever that the source of the teaching and practice of Aikido is not explicitly Christian.

"All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit." St. Thomas Aquinas, cit. 1 Cor. 12:4-11.

In this context, compare the above statement in the Imitation of Christ with the words of O-Sensei:

"The Way of the Warrior [budo] has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.
Morihei Ueshiba, 1942.

There are many struggles for us in the world, I agree, but your concern over such a struggle between Aikido and Christian teaching is not among them.

Pax Christi,

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 11-28-2005 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 12-02-2005, 08:30 PM   #32
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Smile Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Jennifer Johnson wrote:
I'd be curious to hear any insights from any of you that are religious. Do you feel Aikido has a spiritual component that enhances your religious life, or do you consider Aikido to be an entirely seccular activity?

I am religious (Baha'i) and while I didn't sign up for Aikido for spiritual reasons, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much Aikido complements my religious faith. The teachings the Baha'i Faith focuses on unity and peace, and is also a religion with firm laws and obligations.

As someone who originally came from a completely non-religious background, I embraced my religion on something of an intellectual and emotional level - the meditative and "formal" qualities of my religion have been somewhat awkward for me to embrace. In the six short weeks I have taken Aikido I have felt enhanced in my religious life.

My dojo actually offers seminars on things like non-violent communication with Aikido principles. My schedule doesn't permit me to attend them but, interesting! My religion has teachings on the same topic, as most religions do I imagine.
Hello Jennifer San,
as my frist post here I hope I dont brake any rules :-)
O'sensei once said that
"Aikido is the religion that is really no religion, it perfects and completes all religions."

You see, Aikido does nothing but enhance my spiritual and physical life. I am not what you would call a "Christian" perhaps, but I dont really fit into any catagories. Budo is my way of life, and I know it does nto contradict any religion except maybe extreme christianity. Aikido is a way to develope peace, harmony, and compassion in your life so as to live in those concepts, having them you pass them on to the rest of the world, creating a better world, aikido teaches us to respect life, and nature, and to love all living things. The highest level of Aikido is such where you will not need your hands and fist to defend yourself, but your mind, heart and spirit. You will beable to avoid a physical encounter, and is it does come to that, you will be able to defend both the life of yourself and the life of your opponet whihch is how things should be done. In this way you fight the fire of hate, anger, and fear, with the water of compassion, love, and kindness. Your two bodies become one and the motions flow outso you treat your opponet as your own body with respect and love, so you put out the firse before it comsumes the situation. In this way you spread the love of Aikido, and better the world, and our personal community.

This is the highest spiritual leval in Aikido in my eyes, realizing that true defense and strength does not lie in agressive actions, and harfull course of action but rather in the true path of love, kindness compassion and respect. This is the way of the warrior, and the spiritual side of Aikido that enhances all of our lives consciously or sub-consciously.

Truly yours in
--joshua paszkiewicz
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Old 12-02-2005, 08:35 PM   #33
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Hello again,
after further reading through the posts the issue of christianity comes up again and again. i would like to address "would Jesus practice Aikido?" Who knows...but they do fit together. Jesus always acted with compassion, love, kindness, courtesy, and humility. These are both the basic and most advanced princibles in Aikido. O'sensei once said "Aikido is the manfestation of love" I know this in my heart and soul to be true. Aikido is what you ,ake it to be from the teaching that is there. What I mean by what you make it to be is that it is an endless path, and we choose how far we continue up that path. But there is definatly no conflict with christianity.
Truly yours in aiki,
--Joshua paszkiewicz
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Old 12-08-2005, 08:20 AM   #34
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Joshua Paszkiewicz wrote:
"would Jesus practice Aikido?" Who knows...but they do fit together. Jesus always acted with compassion, love, kindness, courtesy, and humility. These are both the basic and most advanced princibles in Aikido. ... Aikido is what you take it to be from the teaching that is there. --Joshua paszkiewicz
Thanks Joshua.

I was struck in rereading this, that the Doka for today (thanks, Jun!), speaks to this quite eloquently.

The Pine, the Bamboo, and the Plum.
The make up of Ki that we are training to purify
From where do they arise?
The Water and Fire of the change in the self.

Two observations:

This doka resolves objections that aikido training (or any work of self-improvement) creates spiritual value in itself. O-Sensei makes clear that spiritual value is there all along, untouched, in all things (symbolized by the three trees) We simply have to clear away the rubbish for it to shine out in its original brightness.

The last line shows how to grasp this value by twofold means, a dual baptism, of both water and fire. (This is too explicitly Christian in feeling to need much further comment, even though the symbolism is quite universal.)

Whether a person or sword, water covers, cleanses and tempers; fire makes dull iron bright and lumninous, sharing the nature of fire, destroying its impurity and without changing its own nature.

And, oh yes -- as to both people and swords -- much beating is also required.

Let the beatings continue, then ...

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 12-23-2005, 08:39 AM   #35
IlyasDexter
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Re: Religion and Aikido

I started Aikido shortly after found Sufism(Esoteric Islam), Aikido definitely provided me with a good foundation particularly in the practice of ettiquette and many other priciples they are only different by degree not kind. When i'm at the dojo training it is like prayer because of the postures that we use are virtually identical to those in the Islamic method of prayer, ie Shizentai(natural standing posture) the standing bow,Seiza (sitting) and the seated bow.
Consider this:
"As long as people are alive, human relations is an important matter. If respect and affection towards others are lost, then we are just like animals. Hence, "bowing" etiquette is important. Just as the character [Chinese character] indicates, the left half symbolizes the "gods" and the right half symbolizes "a religious offering". In an agricultural society an offering was made to the gods at the end of the harvest as appreciation and to pray for further divine protection."
The Way of Seiryoku Zenyo-Jita Kyoei and Its Instruction
By Shinichi Oimatsu (Kodokan)
The Bulletin for the Scientific Study of Kodokan Judo, Volume VI, 1984

As for the question would Jesus Peace be upon him practice Aikido? Of course he does. Harmony of spirit is his way.
Peace be on you all,
Ilyas

Last edited by IlyasDexter : 12-23-2005 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 12-27-2005, 12:31 AM   #36
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Allah'u'abha Jennifer,
seems you and i are in the same boat. i feel that aikido compliments being a baha'i very well. aikido seeks to eliminate aggression and violence, while at the same time promoting love and harmony. sounds like a match made in heaven to me
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Old 12-28-2005, 11:41 PM   #37
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Hello all-

Let me first say that this has been a very interesting thread to read so far. It seems that almost everyone on these threads has seen Aikido as a complement or as a conflict with their proclaimed religion. Some people may deny that Aikido is anything more than martial arts, and that the philosphical and spiritual aspect is just something vestigial to training. Others may lavish in the spiritual and philosophical aspect, and see this as the true foundation of all Aikido, and of their own personal beliefs. For some people, Aikido bridges the gap between Western thought and religion, and Eastern thought and religion. Possibly it is a way to "keep" the religion you may have grown up with, and exercise an interest in Japanese culture, religion, and thought.

In short, Aikido is either a manifestation of another religious doctrine (as I might classify Erick Mead's perspective), or of an innate spirituality that hasn't really fallen into a specific religion (like Joshua Paszkiewicz). But what if we say that Aikido is religion? I'm not saying that Aikido should be made, or has been made into some sort of weird cult. All I'm saying is that what we do, what Aikido has always been, is a form of religious practice, and is therefore religion. Look at what we do--is a dojo really so different from a church or temple? On the mat, don't you respect your sensei with similar reverence as a priest? Don't you connect to the people at your dojo just as you might with the people in a church community? Wasn't that first roll a sort of "leap of faith?" You wear your nice pants to do Aikido, and your other nice pants to go to church. My point is, Aikido is inherently religion, we just don't call it that, and we do it very differently. The foundations of our religion is getting sweaty and smacked around, while manifesting peace and harmony. The foundation of one school of Buddhism is sitting on your butt for extended periods of time, while manifesting compassion and wisdom.

Of course the upshot of all this is that Aikido is not just religion, nor is it just some sport. Anyone can say that a sport is a "way of life." Before I did Aikido, skiing was my "way of life." So to fully realize the depth and breadth of Aikido, we have to strive to fully understand the mundane, everyday side. How do to Ikkyo, how to apply atemi, how to roll. But we also have to fully consider the "big idea" philosophical side. What is peace, really? Why not use force? How does this apply to my life? But you can't have one without the other; Aikido provides both the questions and the answers.

So I'd encourage people who've been struggling with this issue to see that Aikido is, for each and every practitioner part of their lives, and by being part of their lives, it's also an intrinsic part of their individual spirituality. How you deal with it is up to you.

Peace,
Tom Newhall
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Old 12-29-2005, 03:28 AM   #38
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Tom, Thanks for your thoughts.

I think there is a distinction that can be made between religion, spirituality, and ritual.

Capitalism can be argued to be a form of religion as you believe in it, practice it,and it does have a dogma. Many would argue that it to is an opiate that distracts us from happiness.

You can go into many, many examples.

Point is, what one person labels as religion the other says "no" it is not. We'd be here all day.

What I think is important is the underlying dogma or manifesto that restricts, or does not restrict your practices.

Aikido philosophy does not exclude or require you to profess any particular believe or renounce any. Therefore it can be applied universally.

If it is accepted or not, it up to the individual. Each person must make his/her own religious or spiritual choice as to if aikido detracts, or adds to their practices.

Thanks!
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Old 01-18-2006, 05:14 AM   #39
Mark Freeman
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Hi,

I am pleased for all those who's practice of aikido enhances their religious life.
Personally I see some fundamental differences between aikido and religion. While I agree with Tom that similarities can be drawn with some of the rituals, that doesn't make the repeated behaviours any more religious than say putting your rubbish out for collection on a set day.
The main difference I see is one of 'faith' in that to practice aikido you don't need any ( I do and I don't ), to practice a religion you do. Early on in my aikido practice my Sensei said " Don't 'believe' what I tell you, do what I show you, and decide for yourself! " Now some aikido students may have the same reverence for their Sensei as a member of a congregation has for their priest, I can't imagine a priest saying those words.
Aikido is a practice, a 'do', a 'way'. The founder was not a deity and didn't make any claims as such, he founded a system he called "the art of peace", which has spread worldwide and is practiced by many people of different 'faiths' and 'creeds'. It seems to me to be all inclusive, there are folks who do it for mainly physical reasons, some for the spiritual aspects, some for the mental development, and many do it for all three. Ultimately I see it as a way to hone oneself as a human being, and for that to happen I must practice overcoming 'my own' issues that may impede my progress. To achieve this I do not need an afterlife punishment/reward system, a doctrine, a book, or any other trappings ( apart from kit and a mat ). But hey, thats just me.

I love the idea of peace and goodwill to all men, if only it were so.

If God created all men in his own image, why did he create atheists? perhaps to give himself a challenge?

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 01-18-2006, 08:41 AM   #40
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
...If God created all men in his own image, why did he create atheists? perhaps to give himself a challenge?
"To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition."
Woody Allen

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Personally I see some fundamental differences between aikido and religion. ... The main difference I see is one of 'faith' in that to practice aikido you don't need any ( I do and I don't ), to practice a religion you do. ...
Religion does not require faith, which is perhaps one of its blessings for those who doubt they will ever find any. Indeed, a particular religion may be practiced without much faith at all to speak of. Amongst modern Jewry this is not uncommon, and an atheist Jew is not a contradiction in terms in today's world. It is not too dissimilar in many Christian communities. This same sensibility in religious observance is virtually endemic in Japan.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Ultimately I see it as a way to hone oneself as a human being, and for that to happen I must practice overcoming 'my own' issues that may impede my progress. To achieve this I do not need an afterlife punishment/reward system, a doctrine, a book, or any other trappings ( apart from kit and a mat ). But hey, thats just me.
Religion is not necessarily about life after death. Religion has a function apart from metaphysics. It happens that this also serves its metaphysical function, but in does so whether you choose to "believe" this, that or the other thing.

"Religere" is the Latin root, which means "to bind together." That is what religion does -- it binds individuals to one another in a way that both celebrates the fact of individuality while diminishing the pain of separateness. Religion makes concrete the reality of "Tat tvam asi" "This thou art."

The recommendation of practice and observance over "faith" is a constant, whether you be Catholic, Methodist, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jew. Not so different after all from what Mark's Sensei said:
Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
"Don't 'believe' what I tell you, do what I show you, and decide for yourself!"
Faith is not required, only practice. Practice is good, useful and requires work. Plowing will not make seeds sprout, but it makes it more likely than on hard earth. Faith will look after itself if the work of practice is done.

Aikido is just such a practice. If try to avoid the word "religious", we fear a vibration in the air. To fear a word is mere superstition of magic. Aikido helps to bind and connect us to one another in an exceedingly concrete way. I agree that faith is not required, but I disagree that religion is not involved.

Religious practice makes us realize we are one, even when we are at odds and in actual physical struggle. That is Aikido. If we realize this fully, we are enlightened -- in every sense of that word. If we live our lives in such practice we are saved -- from the false sense that we were ever truly alone.

Northern Europeans had a different sensibility of faithfulness, fate, nobility and obligation to forebears in their religious thought that still survives in Christianity today even in the context of salvation theology. It echoes in a different tone and flavor the ethics of bushido that Aikido exemplifies.

He "saw in his thought the brave men of old
walking under the vault of heaven
upon the island earth beleaguered
by the shoreless seas and the outer darkness,
enduring with stern courage the brief days of life,
until the hour of fate,
when all things shall perish,
light and life together."

J.R.R. Tolkien, Preface to Beowulf

And yet that precise sensibility was the predicate for a glimmer of joy in an unlooked-for hope:

"From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring,
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king."

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


Aikido is that glimmer of joy found underneath the falling sword.


Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 01-18-2006, 11:45 AM   #41
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
[snip]
"Religere" is the Latin root, which means "to bind together." That is what religion does -- it binds individuals to one another in a way that both celebrates the fact of individuality while diminishing the pain of separateness.
[snip]

Is religion not more about 'binding' ourselves to God/Source (and the question of origin, purpose, etc) than 'binding' ourselves to each other? Yes, church binds the people together but I see religion is the linking of God/Source to the individual.

Christianity posits one such explanation. Outlining Jesus as *The* way.

Aikido (even the words Ai Ki and Do) seems to posit another explanation. *This* way seems to provide a *way* or path to union with Ki (understood as *The* Source) or Aiki. If that's the heart of it, then Aikido would be seen as a religious practice, no?

What u say?

FWIW
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Old 01-18-2006, 02:47 PM   #42
Mark Uttech
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Re: Religion and Aikido

God doesn't believe in atheists
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Old 01-18-2006, 03:31 PM   #43
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote:
Is religion not more about 'binding' ourselves to God/Source (and the question of origin, purpose, etc) than 'binding' ourselves to each other? Yes, church binds the people together but I see religion is the linking of God/Source to the individual.
Christianity posits one such explanation. Outlining Jesus as *The* way. ...
What u say?
There is no difference in Christian thought:

"Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'"
St. Matthew 25:34-40

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 01-19-2006, 02:12 AM   #44
Mark Freeman
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
God doesn't believe in atheists
Does that mean we don't exist!

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Old 01-19-2006, 03:13 AM   #45
Mark Freeman
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Hi Erick

Quote:
Religion does not require faith, which is perhaps one of its blessings for those who doubt they will ever find any. Indeed, a particular religion may be practiced without much faith at all to speak of. Amongst modern Jewry this is not uncommon, and an atheist Jew is not a contradiction in terms in today's world.
Now I'm confused here Erick, Religion does not require faith, and an atheist Jew is not a contradiction in terms. I realise you are a lawyer, and from your posts a very erudite and eloquent one at that, so I'm sure you will advise me further on how you can be a fully functioning and practicing member of a religious community and not believe in the reason for the religion existing in ther first place? And if faith is not required to believe in the existence of God ( in light of there not being any evidence that the atheists of the world can see ) then what is?

Quote:
Aikido is just such a practice. If try to avoid the word "religious", we fear a vibration in the air. To fear a word is mere superstition of magic. Aikido helps to bind and connect us to one another in an exceedingly concrete way. I agree that faith is not required, but I disagree that religion is not involved.
I agree that the practice of aikido helps to bind and connect us to one another as does belonging to a religion (your own), but so does supporting a sports team.
I have no fear of magic, and I do see how parellels can be drawn between aikido and religious practice. However, I'm sure my problem is that I have so many views of fundamentalist religion and all the negative actions that are carried out in the name of it, that I would rather like to continue my aikido practice and develop my own mind body and spirit, without any connection to even the idea of it being 'religious'. There is no reason for me not to.

I like the passages from Tolkien, thanks, I never expected to see him quoted on an Aikido forum.

My experience in the past, has led me to realise, that a discussion between a believer and a non believer is one destined to be long, drawn out, and usually frustrating for both sides. So I wish you well in both your aikido and religious practice. You seem to be from the moderate and reasonable end of the spectrum, but probably not as far to the left as an atheist catholic though!

Cheers,
Mark

Last edited by Mark Freeman : 01-19-2006 at 03:16 AM.

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Old 01-19-2006, 05:57 AM   #46
aiki-jedi
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Post Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
God doesn't believe in atheists

Did you hear about the dyslexic atheist?

He doesn't believe in dog.

Wow...my first post is a joke. Quite the auspicious beginning. Back to lurking.

Chris

Last edited by aiki-jedi : 01-19-2006 at 06:06 AM. Reason: Can't spell for nothin' early in the morning.
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Old 01-19-2006, 09:57 AM   #47
Russell Robinson
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Re: Religion and Aikido

I have often found that a discussion about religion and/or politics, after the lengthy comparisons, examples, refutations, etc. boils down to a fundamental difference that can never be reconciled. That doesn't mean they can't be extremely interesting and engaging though! In these cases I can't help but think it's the journey, not the destination.

Thanks,
Russ
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Old 01-19-2006, 11:50 AM   #48
jonreading
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

As an instructor, I hear this question alot. As a Christian, I hear this question alot. A couple of things help me answer from both ends of the spectrum. O'Sensei never professed that Aikido was a religion; he was a [zealously] devote follower of Omoto Kyo religion. However, he did structure the teachings of Aikido as complimentary to many religious teachings, and he spoke openingly about Aikido as a suppliment to religious beliefs.

Aikido is a tool to to improve your life. You may use it or not, but it will only ever be what you make of it. Some people do not want to include Aikido beyond physical training, others do. In any case, everyone has the choice to include Aikido in their life and use it how they see fit.

As a Christian, I believe that Aikido is a tool to strengthen my body, my mind, and my spirituality. Aikido does not interfere with my religious beliefs, but it strengthens my resolve in those beliefs. I do not fear false idols or misleading paths because my Christian faith guides my beliefs, aikdio gives me the strength to support those beliefs.

Tough question and everyone has to deal with it in their own way.
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Old 01-19-2006, 12:42 PM   #49
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Religion and Aikido

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
how you can be a fully functioning and practicing member of a religious community and not believe in the reason for the religion existing in ther first place? And if faith is not required to believe in the existence of God ( in light of there not being any evidence that the atheists of the world can see ) then what is?
Oh, I don't know that I would recommend it -- but it is a fact. It does not do to overburden rationality in religious decisions. Existence and contentment predate rationality. That is perhaps the best ad hoc argument against atheism. The rational argument is Gödel and Heisenberg. But that gets us nowhere.

We are in this age, a very few of us excepted, uncomfortable with things unseen. The hazards of an instant video era, among other things. "It's not real unless its on tape" There are many levels of irony contained within that statement.

At the same time we hesitate to believe what we see. At a vicsceral level, we sense an increasingly constructed reality, increasingly rational, and yet very unsatisying and suspect for that same reason.

Perfunctory religious observance is common in the modern world. The point of practice is to assist a person, even absent conscious perception of the faith that practice represents for oneself. So many different practices may be adaptable to diferencet trafditions during such a time of instability. The cross-pollination of Zen and yogic practice into western religion is occurring today, as Western religion was earlier crosspollinated into Pure Land Buddism in the post-Hellenic period in Asia. Aikido, and the ideas of budo more generally, are becoming yet another graft onto the stem of Western culture.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
I like the passages from Tolkien, thanks, I never expected to see him quoted on an Aikido forum.
Tolkien is moving to believer and non-believer alike, as is Aikido. I think, if my intuition holds true, that what motivates most atheists or agnostics is a kind of iconoclasm, a deeply felt need to make no image or statement and to attempt no description of that which cannot be described or defined. Carl Sagan, as vehemently reductionist and empirical as his philosophy was, wrote about the beauty of universe he could describe with a spirit that denied his words. This sensibility too has a long tradition, both East and West. I am not offended by what an atheist may think or believe. It is what we do that defines us.

I can respect this -- as long as they do not disrespect Tolkien or O-Sensei.

"Renewed shall be blade that was broken." A resonant Aiki sentiment, to my mind. Tolkien deserves more credit, and he is beginning to receive it. His example showed how moving religious feeling could be expressed in non-religious contexts. His work bears much reflection. He, while exceedingly devout in his own habits, deplored the kind of literalism and dogmatism that is so prevalent and deadening to both non-religious as well as religious life today.

Tolkien's method, as you will see from the question below, I think has much in parallel with that of O-Sensei in an utterly different medium. Both transmit an intentional religious sensibility without any direct or even allegorical religious statement.
Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
My experience in the past, has led me to realise, that a discussion between a believer and a non believer is one destined to be long, drawn out, and usually frustrating for both sides.
You are so right. The splashing is wildest in the shallow end of the pool. I prefer those who will quietly contemplate and when prompted by someone else's desire for it, discuss the effects of faith, not its presumed content, which, frankly, is not describable. On this, I and any atheist would agree.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
So I wish you well in both your aikido and religious practice. You seem to be from the moderate and reasonable end of the spectrum, but probably not as far to the left as an atheist catholic though!
A good bit further right is fair to say. If I may ask, and I will not pursue where the discussion is not wanted, I wonder a couple of things. Some thoughts from those on the committed secular side may help others, both secular and non-secular.

I will not use the terms atheist or agnostic (a quick philosophy dig -- atheism is defined by something that it claims to have no existence, thus an atheist has a kind of second order non-existence). The problem is truly broader than that.

O-Sensei's spiritual sensibility was important to him. This much is clear. He had no concern about the particular spiritual sensibilities of others as to their aikido practice. But he also thought that aikido was a good adjunct to the practices of any religious person.

Mysticism across the globe has the flavor of faith without conscious content. Aikido as taught by O-Sensei was in this vein. These practices have very similar reference images and effects on adherents, across many cultures and religious beliefs.

So-- the question.

If one is without faith, how does one fit the groundwork for the moral elements of aikido, which are closely woven into its practical elements, without taking on board the mystical side? I have met very few second dan or above, and none that I can recall fourth dan or above, who did not take that side very seriously, although there are wide variations in emphasis, surely.

I wonder what is the experience of others in this regard.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 01-19-2006, 03:23 PM   #50
Mark Uttech
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Re: Religion and Aikido

My experience is that 'everything is as it is'.
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