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Old 09-11-2005, 10:22 PM   #26
MM
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Shaun wrote: I ask this question over and over and really don't get a satisfactory answer (read: I get answers contrary to mine…) Do you believe that O-Sensei would be able to watch someone practice Aikido and say, "that is not aikido" My answer is a resounding yes, there are things that are not aikido. As an example, as many Daito-Ryu practitioners would have us believe, Aikido is just watered down, or a pared down practice of DRAJ. Of course, you and I do not really support that view. As such we believe that even if on the surface if a specific Aikido & DRAJ technique looks the same, in fact, one is Aikido and one is not. Therefore, is it not empirically logical to say that one is Aikido and the other (being DRAJ) is not. From there is it not plausible to say with some certainty that two Aikido dojos, while have Aikido in their name, may in fact also be doing different things, and for the sake of this argument, one of them is Aikido and the other is not…

David's Reply: I can agree with this -- at a personal level. That is to say, for me, I believe what I do is Aikido. I believe this because I feel that I am doing Aikido. For those folks that do what I do, personally, naturally, I feel they do Aikido too. For those folks that do something close to what I do, I feel they do Aikido too, only I dismiss the notable differences to variations on a single theme (which I note by what I do). For folks that do not do anything close to what I do, I do not think they are doing Aikido -- even if they claim to be doing Aikido. For the latter, group, if I thought that they WERE doing Aikido, I would stop what I am doing and then do what they are doing, but then they would not be in this group at all -- rather they would fall into the first group. However, this is all purely subjective. The historian must seek to transcend his/her own subjectivity and thus his/her own limited point of view. This is the angle I am coming from.

My Reply: I would have to disagree to a certain extent here. While those who practice Aikido in one way, others may practice Aikido in another way. The two may not overlap in their teaching methodologies nor their curriculum, but the two can be Aikido. As the founder knew when he gave his blessing to several people to go out and teach their Aikido. Tomiki style is definitely not the same as Tohei style, yet both were and are acceptable. I think this is from Yagyu Munenori - "To reach a house you must first enter the gate. Learning is a gate, the way to a house. Do not mistake the gate for the house." Each dojo is merely a gate. The training merely a gate, but the destination is Aikido. Just because training looks different from what one is doing, doesn't mean the path won't take you to Aikido.


===

Shaun wrote: Like Erick, I too would have such a long road if either of us tried to prove such a thing on our own. Fortunately we do not have to do any such thing. I am not sure that Erick was even attempting to say that O-Sensei did such a thing, as from what I gathered he was merely another type of revisionist, the one that says we do not need to travel along the path O-Sensei traveled in order to come to the place O-Sensei ended up. As you might have guessed, I don't concur with that view of history, at least not lock, stack and barrel. My own opinion is that while we certainly don't need to travel exactly the same path, there are certain points along that path that must be visited, taken in and digested in order to understand what the next point along the path must be. I do believe that you fall somewhere in between Erick's and my view, but I could very well be mistaken.

David's Reply: I am not sure Erick has tried to address this point at all -- of how close we have to get to Osensei's exact path. So I do not think we really can speak for him. For me, however, I would say that I am in 100% agreement with your position: That while we do not have to travel exactly the same path, there are certain points along that path that must be visited, taken in, and digested in order to understand what the next point along the path must be. I am sensing that our only disagreement here is that you feel (I am assuming based upon what your teacher has told you, etc.) Osensei consciously not only distanced himself from Omoto-kyo socially but also epistemologically.

My reply: I don't believe you have to travel Osensei's exact path, but saying that there are points along the path that must be visited, is like saying that grass is green. Every art has these "points along the path that must be visited", no matter what art it is. Could either one of you, or both, address that issue in more specific terms? Personally, I believe that you don't have to be part of Omoto-kyo to gain understanding of Aikido. However, I do believe that if you are to progress to the higher levels, that you must have some understanding of spirituality. That you must progress to a place where you know without knowing how or why, just that you know. There are many examples of this in Budo where a martial artist knew what his opponent's attack was even before the opponent attacked. I believe that if you train long enough, you can become very proficient in Aikido. But you won't reach any higher than that unless you add the spiritual aspect. I don't think Osensei spoke about this because of the time period he lived in. A lot of his peers went through much the same training and life that he did. There were very good martial artists who attained a level of physical prowess and spiritual prowess. I believe that's why Osensei never talked about having to join Omoto-kyo as part of Aikido. I believe he understood that each martial artist takes his/her own path in that area. In that, I believe there are points along the path. From what I've seen and from the people I've talked to, shodan ranking is one of those points. It's a pinnacle where one starts to see Aikido in a new light and begins to understand things on a different level. Although that level is still mostly physical training related. I also believe the yondan level is another point. That's an area where one starts to catch sen sen no sen timing and that is the start of knowing without knowing. I don't believe that spirituality plays an important part in Aikido until some time after shodan level. While it may start there, it slowly progresses to playing a more vital role as one climbs in rank. And one can certainly avoid spirituality and achieve a purely physically proficiency and gain higher ranks. But others who add spirituality will progress beyond that point. My opinion anyway.
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:45 PM   #27
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Hello Shaun

Your post, BTW, is an excellent example of "enter and blend." Much appreciated.

As to David's objection, it is reasonable to make. While I could could argue hammer and tongs the specifics of the Neo-Confucian revival of the Ming, the results of that experience in my education attuned me to patterns and processes of interaction between different modes of thought as they historically encountered one another ultimately affected and adapted, both one another and the societies that they serve (or disserve, as the case may be).

These processes turn out to be remarkably similar in their shape and nature the world over, even where the specific cultures in conflict or transmission involved may vary greatly from circumstance to circumstance, and even though the results, highly contgent as they must be, vary also. I do not feel it improper to examine the matter on such broad scales, because a worldwide culture is in the process of forming around us. It is of a scale and coherence not before seen. That said, it is however, not the first example of this process, by any means.

That "meta-question," if you will, is my chief interest, played out with as much specifics as the situation demands for sound observation and analysis. To me, the meta-question is indispensable precisely because Aikido is encountering numerous particular idiosyncratic traditional cultures, a rising worldwide culture that is, to various degrees, encountering each of them at the same time, (in some cases threatening to supplant them), as well as number of the synthetic cultural movements (the cultural salvage missions as I have desribed them). I do not place any value judgments on any of these classifications, as each has it respective merits and demerits depending on the issue at hand.

My point is this that this process has happened before, a number of times, just not at the same pace or with the same seemingly irresistible flood.

Now as to David's points :


"Aikido is an antidote to exceptionalism," David says that no statement could be further from the truth.

On this I submit only the experience of the dojo. Ikkyo requires, REQUIRES, for its effectiveness that in performing the initial irimi that one not care about the fact that one is stepping under a sword, a shomenuchi, into munetsuki or what have you. Ego is self-consciousness, because the conscious appreciation of "me doing [fill in the blank]" is what ego is all about.

If I am self-absorbed to any extent, to that extent I am a danger to myself in trying to step under a sword. The conscious part of my brain is busy watching me step under the sword, when it could helping out more with its focussed observation ability or even by just getting out of the way and quit commanding attention to itself. That does not mean that innocence without technique will not be brutally cut down, but that a new innocence, (the beginner's mind so bandied about) must be regained through the learned technique, once its rudimentary forms are grasped.

Ego is thus reduced through the medium of practice (how much depends on the will of the practitioner). This process is evident in watching anyone who sticks with practice. The objection will be made as to the self-selection of this group, but this is an unavoidable fact.

David also challenged:
"Moreover, when you say such things, you need to manufacture support for such claims, and hence you say things like, "Osensei pursued the same ideal as Omoto but using non-mythological tools." Again, from my perspective, nothing could be further from the truth."

Ask and it shall be given:

It is undeniable that O-Sensei spoke freely about his own understandings of the cosmological and psychological principles underlying aikido, and that these were from traditional sources, given his own idiosyncratic interpretation framed by his Omoto experience, and colored by explicit early Shingon teaching as a child. David had asked for more specifics on the Shingon aspects of O-Sensei's systematic thought. A good discussion with references on the correspondences between Shingon mantrayana and the kotodama system developed by O-Sensei, and a few too brief points on his early education in Shingon is here:

http://www.lpc.ufrj.br/~jmarcelo/kit.../kotodama.html (if it is no longer there, Google it for the cached version)

It is equally undeniable that virtually none of his first line student had any of the necessary background in such matters to thoroughly understand what he was saying. They largely did not see its significance to their practice, much less to try to convey to others in turn. It is, in fact, from the third and fourth order students that detailed interest in such things has been awakened, and not from his direct students.

This is not to say that O-Sensei was some idiot savant, whose only competence was the physical art of aikido, far from it. He explained what he was doing, and why he was doing it, simply in terms that do not translate well to post-modern observers, because of their specific mythological basis, and the reliance upon cultural allusions that are esotreic and difficult even for ordinary Japanese to appreciate.

Many of these students around trhe world are already fully invested in aikido and understand to varying degrees its practice and significance in its own terms. They are now trying to translate its significance into terms that their cultural references make available. This is strongly suggestive. They are looking Omoto and Kokugaku and other aspect of Pre and Post War Japan for clues that will tie in more readily to their own cultural systems, to furthr aid their own students in turn.

The point is, O-Sensei had developed an art of intuitive physical and spiritual significance which did not depend on the mythological underpinnings he used to develop it and to understand its significance for himself. Aikido as he developed it did not require his particular mythological foundation to teach it, as few if any of his primary students ever learned it. He also made clear by his continued teaching that aikido did not require scientific validation in order to justify its effectiveness. (Science is but another, vastly more rigorous, highyl effective, form of mythology. If you disagree with this, ask any handy quantum physicist.) It is not too far a leap to suggest that he intended his art therefore to be taught in terms that were spiritual, but not mythological, and physical but not physics.

But I do not have to make that leap because he said it for himself.
He did not intend for his own mythological understanding to be a limitation on the understanding of his art in extremely large terms. He meant his art to be understood in any mythological tradition, and thus it could not be dependent upon his own.

For such traditions to survive for any length of time they must speak to truths of the human condition that are relatively timeless, and therefore common to all human societies. When references become stale, they necessarily change, but the core content (while not rational in nature) is true, coherent and preserved. In making the multifarious connections I have discussed, I am, indeed, merely following his lead.

"Kirisuto ga ‘hajme ni kotoba ariki' to itta sono kotodama ga SU de arimasu. Sore ga kotodama no hajimari de aru." (‘In the beginning was the Word', spoken by Christ is this kotodama SU. This is the origin of kotodama.) See "Andre Nocquet Returns To Japan," Aiki News #85 (Summer 1990).

Some ideas or observation have been made in one place and then and transmitted around the world. These broad connections have potential significance. Some ideas echo around the world and then are given new and different voice when they are heard across the seeming chasm. Aikido is one of these ideas.

I will immediately depart from the particular content of the quote, if only to avoid the crows squawking "Christian" "not Christian" in the "are not" "are too" mode that tends to be prevalent in other threads that venture into the topic. Do not infer any disagreement on my part with the quote, however.

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
Hi David,

I do not want in any way to make it seem that I am in support of Erick's point of view, which by and large I am not.

If someone watched a thousand hours of aikido videos and read 100 books in various languages, and yet had no interaction with any aikido teacher, is what he is practicing with his next door neighbor in his garage aikido because it looks like the aikido he saw in the pictures and videos? How does he even know what Aikido is, or that any of the individuals in the videos or books did not garner their understanding of the art in the exact same fashion as he - that being completely disconnected from the art.

What separates most from the founder is their own ability to say, "Yeah, this is what the founder was doing, cause if I'm doing it, and I say it is Aikido, then it must be aikido…
.
Shaun leaves me teased and wondering on what we may disagree, but I will await the opportunity for him to elaborate.

I find Shaun's point a useful observation, because Aikido has often been described by the unknowing as somehow related to Zen when it comes from a different Buddhist lineage altogether, and that only derivatively as a result of ryobu shinto and continued transmission of that line of thought through Omoto, and other dissident to the Meiji kokugaku official orthodoxy.

Aikido does relate to Zen, but rather by right of common function. They are in fact two examples of the same class of teaching methodology even though they are only very loosely related in historical terms. The classical definition of Zen, which focusses on the manner and purpose of its method, resonates well with Aikido as it is taught by those generally acknowledge to be among its best teachers.

A special transmission outside the scripture;
No dependence on words or letters;
Direct pointing at the mind of man;
Seeing into one's nature and the
attainment of enlightenment.

This perspective also makes a significant reason for aikido's cross-cultural success intuitively obvious. It is the things taught that are not said in books, or said at all, and certainly not capable of being seen on video, that define the art. For this reason lineage of teaching still matters, not for narrow parochial competition, but to understand one's place and role in the universe of teaching that exists.

That is why Omote matters to me, as it lies in the lineage of my teaching, as does Shingon, and perhaps as well some of the more interesting connections that I explore.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-12-2005, 01:14 AM   #28
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comments and your participation in this very good thread. I will try to add my thoughts to yours, and address any questions you put forth. I giving some clarification to my previous remarks add something to the thread and moves your thoughts along if at all possible.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
My Reply: I would have to disagree to a certain extent here. While those who practice Aikido in one way, others may practice Aikido in another way. The two may not overlap in their teaching methodologies nor their curriculum, but the two can be Aikido. As the founder knew when he gave his blessing to several people to go out and teach their Aikido. Tomiki style is definitely not the same as Tohei style, yet both were and are acceptable. I think this is from Yagyu Munenori - "To reach a house you must first enter the gate. Learning is a gate, the way to a house. Do not mistake the gate for the house." Each dojo is merely a gate. The training merely a gate, but the destination is Aikido. Just because training looks different from what one is doing, doesn't mean the path won't take you to Aikido.
Mark, I agree with everything that you wrote, completely actually. However, many gates will, in fact lead you to the wrong house. Of course, this can't be judged by looking at the gate, or even at the house, as some houses on the same block may be exactly the same. As you have said, there is no way of knowing which until you get all the way in and see the familiar face of the family member you are there to see.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
My reply: I don't believe you have to travel Osensei's exact path, but saying that there are points along the path that must be visited, is like saying that grass is green. Every art has these "points along the path that must be visited", no matter what art it is. Could either one of you, or both, address that issue in more specific terms?
Sure, thanks for asking... I would say that while each art has points along a path, I don't believe that they are the same points. I do not relegate Aikido to a simple physical activity as I so often read other's comments so indicating. Aikido is not dancing, golf or race car driving, and I have heard it compared to these things on many occasions. On a very simple level what I mean by that is that with the latter endeavors, while one may use them or study them in whatever capacity or for whatever reason they may see fit, and while they may grow as individuals on physical, mental emotional and even a spiritual level, there is something inherent to understanding aikido that is not part of those other practices. My own personal view on what that might be is not germane to this thread, and I reserve them for my private students.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
Personally, I believe that you don't have to be part of Omoto-kyo to gain understanding of Aikido. However, I do believe that if you are to progress to the higher levels, that you must have some understanding of spirituality. That you must progress to a place where you know without knowing how or why, just that you know.
I agree with you 100% here. However it is how and why one achieves those goals that may separate our individual perspectives. I do not know what you might say, but to expand the thread, how do you believe one achieves this? As for me, I have in mind a very specific route on a physical plane to achieve a very specific goal along a spiritual one.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
There are many examples of this in Budo where a martial artist knew what his opponent's attack was even before the opponent attacked. I believe that if you train long enough, you can become very proficient in Aikido.
As for me, while typically share these thoughts with my private students, I will offer one glimpse of my personal view, and that is to say that I do not believe if one merely participates with a sincere heart, or practices with intensity, or maintains any other type of linear performance for some extended period of time that they are guaranteed any modicum of success at understanding O-Sensei's Aikido. While those things are a bare minimum in that pursuit, there are many other things involved that one's own teacher can't even give you, teach you or otherwise. In actuality I believe that they are in 99% of the cases wasting their time. Not that they will not benefit from their practice in many ways or that other people within their circle (friends& family, fellow students or their own students should they eventually teach) will not benefit from their practice, merely that they will never discover Aikido as O-Sensei meant it.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
But you won't reach any higher than that unless you add the spiritual aspect.
Well I am not sure what you mean here. Should we put hope or even faith in the mere coincidence that two aikidoka, Sam and Mary, Sam seeking his spirituality from Zazen and Mary seeking it from piercings and tattoos that either will eventually manage to trip over the answer? Many people feel that their religion gives them spirituality, but I would say that is most often the exception, not the rule.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
I don't think Osensei spoke about this because of the time period he lived in. A lot of his peers went through much the same training and life that he did. There were very good martial artists who attained a level of physical prowess and spiritual prowess. I believe that's why Osensei never talked about having to join Omoto-kyo as part of Aikido. I believe he understood that each martial artist takes his/her own path in that area.
With regards to your last point, please see my comments above.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
In that, I believe there are points along the path. From what I've seen and from the people I've talked to, shodan ranking is one of those points. It's a pinnacle where one starts to see Aikido in a new light and begins to understand things on a different level. Although that level is still mostly physical training related.
Hmmm, well the points which I have mentioned are not points along a linear path, for those are too easy to reach and become predictable merely with time spent in the art. Many people know nothing about aikido at Shodan. I have met Godan that couldn't do tenkan when I grabbed their wrist. As for what they have learned or have yet to learn on a spiritual level, one can only guess. It is unfortunately predictable that these same shodan if they continue to practice for a long time will reach Godan and the Godan in question will reach Shihan and be accountable for hundreds if not thousands of Aikido students, Go figure.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
I also believe the yondan level is another point. That's an area where one starts to catch sen sen no sen timing and that is the start of knowing without knowing.
DANGER!!! I have never met anyone who used the term sen sen no sen timing actually know anything about it to the point that they could demonstrate it effectively against even a low level attack. That is not to say it is not an important aspect of one's training, only that those whom I have seen demonstrate it at a high level never, ever use the term in English anyway…
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
I don't believe that spirituality plays an important part in Aikido until some time after shodan level.
This is the only point that I would caution anyone against adopting for themselves or advocating for others. My own personal path has always been a spiritual one. It is that very fact that when I first saw Aikido I understood it to be a spiritual path that I must seek out. When I had the opportunity to look deeply at the practice O-Sensei passed on, it was long before I was able to achieve Shodan which was more than six years later. It was my unwavering penchant to shake the tree that bore me the fruit which I now seek to consume and from which I seek to take sustenance.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
While it may start there, it slowly progresses to playing a more vital role as one climbs in rank. And one can certainly avoid spirituality and achieve a purely physically proficiency and gain higher ranks. But others who add spirituality will progress beyond that point. My opinion anyway.
I am sure that your mention of rank is not to indicate that two individuals both sincerely interested in assimilating spirituality into their practice will do so in a linear fashion proportional to their rank. My own view is (and this is not to say that your view is contrary) that it never matters what one's rank is, nor if one is a higher rank today than yesterday. Thus, spirituality can not be any more important tomorrow than it already is (or should already be) today. It also is important to note that spirituality has about as much to do with technical ability as technical ability has to do with spirituality, as while they may overlap at some point the two are (in 99.9% of the people) unfortunately mutually exclusive.



.

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 09-12-2005, 10:08 AM   #29
MM
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Thanks for the reply Shaun. It's been a great thread, but I'm still trying to wrap my mind around some of it. Definitely worth trying, though.

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
Mark, I agree with everything that you wrote, completely actually. However, many gates will, in fact lead you to the wrong house. Of course, this can't be judged by looking at the gate, or even at the house, as some houses on the same block may be exactly the same. As you have said, there is no way of knowing which until you get all the way in and see the familiar face of the family member you are there to see.
True. But, the only point I was trying to make here was that two schools of Aikido can be vastly different in training methodology but can still be doing Aikido.

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
Aikido is not dancing, golf or race car driving, and I have heard it compared to these things on many occasions. On a very simple level what I mean by that is that with the latter endeavors, while one may use them or study them in whatever capacity or for whatever reason they may see fit, and while they may grow as individuals on physical, mental emotional and even a spiritual level, there is something inherent to understanding aikido that is not part of those other practices.
Ah, but Aikido could be compared to dancing. In both you learn physical steps, blending, movement, etc. And like dancing, some people can study Aikido and grow as individuals such as you state. But, you are right in that the points are different while studying either. Is Aikido truly comparable to dancing? No, I don't think it is just for the reason you state. There is something that is a part of Aikido that isn't a part of those others and that something is what I call spirituality. Well, spirituality on a grander scale.


Quote:
Shaun wrote:
I agree with you 100% here. However it is how and why one achieves those goals that may separate our individual perspectives. I do not know what you might say, but to expand the thread, how do you believe one achieves this? As for me, I have in mind a very specific route on a physical plane to achieve a very specific goal along a spiritual one.
Wow, there's a great question that a lot of people are still looking for the answer. I think you're right in that physical practice of Aikido does help one along this path, but I wouldn't say it helps everyone. But, to answer your question, I don't know how to achieve that. Just that I keep stumbling along learning.

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
As for me, while typically share these thoughts with my private students, I will offer one glimpse of my personal view, and that is to say that I do not believe if one merely participates with a sincere heart, or practices with intensity, or maintains any other type of linear performance for some extended period of time that they are guaranteed any modicum of success at understanding O-Sensei's Aikido.
No, they may never understand Osensei's Aikido, but they can become physically proficient in Aikido. See below for rest of explanation …

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
Well I am not sure what you mean here. Should we put hope or even faith in the mere coincidence that two aikidoka, Sam and Mary, Sam seeking his spirituality from Zazen and Mary seeking it from piercings and tattoos that either will eventually manage to trip over the answer? Many people feel that their religion gives them spirituality, but I would say that is most often the exception, not the rule.
What I mean is that while someone who goes through training, may gain a proficiency in Aikido, it will not be an understanding of Osensei's Aikido. Look at it this way … Osensei studied many martial arts and was considered very proficient even before he joined Omoto-kyo. So, sometime afterwards, either from Omoto-kyo or age, his Aikido transformed. But we also have other martial artists from Japan who were also exemplary in their arts but never belonged to Omoto-kyo. However, you can usually find some spiritual aspect like Zen, etc amidst their personal history and learning. So, yes, you can become physically proficient in Aikido and never understand Osensei's Aikido as he knew it towards the end of his life. Can body piercings and tattoos get you there? Personally, I don't think they can. But you may find one in a million who can use that. After all, Omoto-kyo wasn't exactly your mainstream choice of "religion".

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
Hmmm, well the points which I have mentioned are not points along a linear path, for those are too easy to reach and become predictable merely with time spent in the art. Many people know nothing about aikido at Shodan. I have met Godan that couldn't do tenkan when I grabbed their wrist. As for what they have learned or have yet to learn on a spiritual level, one can only guess.
I'm not saying that achieving any of these points will let you understand or know Aikido in any depth. Um, let me try this analogy. When a baby learns to walk, it crawls around, then it pulls itself up using the coffee table, then it stumbles along using the coffee table as a crutch, then it finally lets go and takes that first step without the table, using its own legs. Course, the baby falls after one step, but reaching that one step is definitely a pinnacle of learning how to walk. I view some points in Aikido like that. Shodan, Yondan, etc. Not that they are exact points, but merely areas where the points occur. Did I explain that any better?

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
DANGER!!! I have never met anyone who used the term sen sen no sen timing actually know anything about it to the point that they could demonstrate it effectively against even a low level attack. That is not to say it is not an important aspect of one's training, only that those whom I have seen demonstrate it at a high level never, ever use the term in English anyway…
I use those words because that is what was taught to me. But I was on the receiving end as uke just one time with sen sen no sen and it opened my eyes to a whole new world in Aikido. I have never been able to do that again, but the experience remains with me. So, no, I can't demonstrate it. Heck I can't even explain it very well, but I do know what it is in relation to being uke. I can't imagine what it would be like as tori, let alone if I could manage to do it even 50% of the time. But I do know that it is something in my training that I know is there and can be done. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it, but it's a worthwhile goal.

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
This is the only point that I would caution anyone against adopting for themselves or advocating for others. My own personal path has always been a spiritual one.
Oh, no. Sorry, let me explain. I didn't mean that one shouldn't have spirituality throughout their training. I started Aikido as a spiritual path. But, what I meant was that to truly understand Osensei's Aikido, Shodan is a minimum to having spirituality play an important part in one's study of Osensei's Aikido. In other words, I view it as there being a physical training that one must complete before one can start understanding Osensei's Aikido. You can have spirituality when you start, but you really won't understand Osensei's Aikido until some time after Shodan level.

Quote:
Shaun wrote:
I am sure that your mention of rank is not to indicate that two individuals both sincerely interested in assimilating spirituality into their practice will do so in a linear fashion proportional to their rank. My own view is (and this is not to say that your view is contrary) that it never matters what one's rank is, nor if one is a higher rank today than yesterday. Thus, spirituality can not be any more important tomorrow than it already is (or should already be) today. It also is important to note that spirituality has about as much to do with technical ability as technical ability has to do with spirituality, as while they may overlap at some point the two are (in 99.9% of the people) unfortunately mutually exclusive
.

No, I don't belive that two individuals will move in a linear fashion proportional to their rank. Everyone progresses differently, in technical ability and spiritual understanding.
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Old 09-12-2005, 10:58 AM   #30
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

In discussing Omoto, I feel disposed to be eclectic. While I both distinguished and compared Aikido and Zen earlier, I happened on the following commentary on a koan by Ekai (Mumon) which is perhaps apropos to finding the right way both to practice a true path in aikido, and to know it when we see it practiced.

To tread the sharp edge of a sword
To run on smooth-frozen ice,
One needs no footsteps to follow.
Walk over the cliffs with hands free.

This precise sentiment is echoed in a number of the doka.

In my view, the surest way to test if you are practicing good aikido is to irimi without caring what you end up doing, and see what happens. If you blend and flow, it is good aikido, if you struggle or catch yourself in the process, it is not. Whe you stop getting hit, you know you are getting better.

Omoto has this quality in a theological sense. Onisaburo similarly felt no sense of boundaries in putting his foot in to comment upon and amalgamate anyone's mythological system into Omoto's understanding of the Divine. At bottom, that is the chief significance of Omoto to me, the process rather than the content.

Omoto denies pantheism, as there is but one Divine and the sum of the universe does not equal God. However, it embraces a multiplicity of aspects of deity present in creation that, while not polytheistic, is much like the Christian Trinity of hypostases, or persons of God, and incarnational theology, all run amok.

It is unclear to me if Onisaburo denies what would be decribed in the West as as "orthodox" panentheism, that God "indwells" all creation, which maitains the separateness of the created and Uncreated. That would be opposed to the heterodox type of panentheism that holdsa that all things are part of God, in which the created partakes of the same nature as God, but God is that, plus more.

The doka make clear that O-Sensei adopted the Omoto Mizu/Izu dichotomy of material and non-material aspects of existence (seen/unseen, omote/ura). It seems to me that he departed from the Omoto's "watchmaker" model involved in the temporary inattention of the Ushitora spirit that Nao Deguchi asserted as authority for her revelations that Onisaburo interpreted.

O-Sensei's focus upon the emanations of kotodama SU, Amenominakanushi no kami, and the two Musubi deities (respectively the seen/unseen, mizu/izu) suggest that he agreed with the operative theology the Deguchi espoused ( the Isu/Mizu), but departed from them in terms of ultimate cosmology. O-Sensei's position is far more orthodox in term of Shingon Vajrayana trinitarian AdiBuddha cosmology and the five-fold Vajkrayana desription of created nature (i.e.-- four souls, one spirit, connoting the four-fold emanations of the central Vairocana Buddha in the Diamond mandala) as it was elaborated through Ryobu Shinto.

Omoto, as a dissenting group from the kokugaku, which expressly existed to create support for Imperial cult nationalism, helped to preserve both the substantive and operative elements that underlay ryobu shinto and its organic syncretic process. In my view however, while the synthesis Onisaburo worked out is useful, it does not on its face seem to create a real basis for syncretism of the type I have described, precisely because it is too systematic. Certinaly as its history has played out, it also did not succeed in translating its message to a great number of adherents who could "make it their own."

It seems to me that O-sensei's thoughts are much closer to the ideal for syncretic thought. Apart from the physical system of aikido he did not attempt to rationally systematize his thought to any significant degree. That makes his kotodama system and the doka based upon it far more suggestive rather than authoritative, connatative rather than denotative.

This requires one to struggle with the meaning and to give it context. This makes it more, rather than less, successful in this regard. Certainly it is more organic in feeling for this reason. The comparison of the relative success of his message, and the maintenance of its essenitla integrity in the process of itsa expansion, especially when compared with that of Onisaburo Deguchi, is significant.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-12-2005, 01:12 PM   #31
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

- On the issue of Aikido relativism:

To be clear, it is not that I would say that everyone has to be doing the same Aikido or even that only one Aikido exists, can exist, or should exist. As I said, from an objective point of view, there are many Aikidos and one either has to ignore that there are many takes on what Aikido is or is not OR one has to adopt a completely unfounded position of authority and then the gall to go around and point a finger so as to say, "you are doing Aikido," "you are not doing Aikido," if one wants to deny this social fact.

However, subjectively, we do not live like this -- we ourselves do not practice many Aikidos. We practice what we consider to be Aikido and we mark this as different from any will or capacity to practice everything that has ever been called Aikido by anyone or that has been understood to be Aikido by anyone. In short, in our own practice, we do not practice just anything, nor do we seek to (nor can we) practice everything. Our own practice is made up of judgments, decisions, etc., and thus it consists as much of rejections as it does of acceptances.

The short of it is this: As much as we can understand that there are many Aikidos (i.e. many understandings of what Aikido is or is not), we must understand that our own version is not universal in light of this multitude. For this reason, we can note the great multitude that makes up Aikido as a cultural phenomenon. At the same time we can be reflective enough to know that our own Aikido is just one take of many -- knowing that there are things we have rejected in the practice of our own Aikido, that these rejections are there by the very nature of accepting the things we have opted to include in our practice. We can thus say what is and is not Aikido according to our own subjectivity, knowing that by someone else's subjectivity our own Aikido is likely to be rejected as such. However, by understanding the larger objective sense of all these individual struggles/practices, we can remain wise enough, and thus compassionate enough, to feel strongly about what we do while not acting toward another who does something differently than us in a manner that is lacking in moral virtue.



- On the manner of Osensei demythologizing Aikido:

Erick, I think you need to make a distinction between these two phrases:

"Osensei demythologized Aikido/Omoto-kyo." (or any variation of this phrase)

and

"Aikido can be demythologized." (or any variation of this phrase)

My position is with the latter. You first seemed to be saying the former phrase, but then later you have moved slightly toward the second phrase. However, these phrases are very different in meaning and it is the first phrase that I suggested is not supported by current historical research (acknowledging that Shaun has said that there is a history out there yet to be known by everyone).

For me, when you say the following, you cannot go on to say that Osensei demythologized Aikido/Omoto-kyo, etc.:

"It is undeniable that O-Sensei spoke freely about his own understandings of the cosmological and psychological principles underlying aikido, and that these were from traditional sources, given his own idiosyncratic interpretation framed by his Omoto experience, and colored by explicit early Shingon teaching as a child…It is equally undeniable that virtually none of his first line student had any of the necessary background in such matters to thoroughly understand what he was saying. They largely did not see its significance to their practice, much less to try to convey to others in turn. It is, in fact, from the third and fourth order students that detailed interest in such things has been awakened, and not from his direct students."

When you acknowledge all of this, you can only speak of the demythologization of Aikido as either a philosophical potential or as a historical act carried out by others. It is not an act that can be attributed to Osensei -- which was what was at issue here -- (currently) that data is not there to support such a view of agency. We can thus only go with the second phrase, "Aikido can be demythologized" -- which I agree with and even recommend.



- As to Mark's charge of "grass is green:"

I will have to side with Shaun here when he states that such information is really for one's students. I do not say this to mean that such knowledge is hidden and kept from others, etc., for whatever reason, etc., but rather that such teachings are better understood through the daily ins and outs of actual mentorship, training, etc. This was the same way I replied to Shaun when he asked me "How?" - how should one address the developing of a sense of shame via one's training, etc. Therefore, I still do not feel that I can at this time or via this medium go into "How?" -- as in many ways, such a question contradicts and/or subverts the entire process (e.g. by having us think linearly, or having us plagued by notions of attainment and/or of progress, or having us think outside of an actual practice, etc.). Still, if one wanted to have a better idea of what I might be referring to, outside of actually training at our dojo, Senshin Center (where all are welcome, of course), one can easily go to our web site and get a better than average view of what we do, and why we do it, just by reading the all the writings and watching all the videos.

That said, I think I can still give you an answer if you do not press me into trying to answer "How?" in too detailed a fashion. Small "Hows?" I might be able to answer here should you request of me to do so in a follow-up reply.

For me, after a level of basic acquirement (e.g. physical fitness, body/mind coordination, discipline, commitment, endurance, DAILY practice, etc.) Aikido training should be marked by the following (not necessarily listed in sequential order but to be understood interdependently):

- A reconciliation of Pride, Ignorance, and Fear
- A cultivation of Humility/Selflessnes, Wisdom/Truth, and Love/Compassion
- A cultivation of a capacity for Non-Attachment
- A cultivation of a capacity for a detachment from Materialism
- A reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy/spontaneous expression of the above reconciliations/cultivations

This is how I have chosen in my dojo to demythologize Aikido. For me, in our dojo, these are the "steps" we should see in our training. If we do not see these "steps" in our training, we are still in the process of waiting to train (which is a stage we all must go through, according to our understanding) -- not quite training yet (even if we are on the mat working out, etc.)

Hope this explains a bit more. Feel free to ask for more information if you feel it might help, etc.

Thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-12-2005, 07:28 PM   #32
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Thanks David.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
- On the manner of Osensei demythologizing Aikido:

Erick, I think you need to make a distinction between these two phrases:

"Osensei demythologized Aikido/Omoto-kyo." (or any variation of this phrase)
and
"Aikido can be demythologized." (or any variation of this phrase)

My position is with the latter. You first seemed to be saying the former phrase, but then later you have moved slightly toward the second phrase.
...
When you acknowledge all of this, you can only speak of the demythologization of Aikido as either a philosophical potential or as a historical act carried out by others. It is not an act that can be attributed to Osensei -- which was what was at issue here -- (currently) that data is not there to support such a view of agency. We can thus only go with the second phrase, "Aikido can be demythologized" -- which I agree with and even recommend.

dmv
My position is not binary. That is to say, that the light is not either on or off, but neither is it anywhere in between. It is the two sides of the coin (Izu/Mizu again). Heads is up, but tails is still there even if not seen.

O-Sensei achieved a severance between the mythological environment in which aikido arose and the manner in which it may be taught. The effect of this was to allow aikido to be effectively taught in almost any cultural environment. I contend this was O-Sensei's purpose, based on his own statements and his willingness to engage his students on their own cultural basis, as the experience of Andre Nocquet in the late 50's shows. The essential elements remain, but in much more effectively translated form.

One face of aikido is a spare schematic, stripped of its original mythological basis; the other face is fully fleshed in the garb of the cultural environment in which it is taught. The first ensures the skeleton maintains its fundamental shape. The second allows exploration of the universe of creativity in its expression that the specifics of a given culture permit.

They are complements, not irreconcilable alternatives. One is a check upon the other. Either alone could not survive for long. It would either collapse as a shapeless mass under accumulated novelty, or remain a figure of dry bones. Together, there is, apparently, no cultural landscape in which they cannot flourish.

This is the effect of the substance and form of O-Sensei's teaching. Given his willingness to explain himself in Christian, Buddhist or Shinto terms as needs must, it is not too much to say it was intended so.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-12-2005, 08:17 PM   #33
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Until you can demonstrate clearly that this was Osensei's intention and not a merely a philosophical potential of the practice in general that others were able to rightly tap into, it is indeed quite a bit to say it was intended so. Of course, please feel free to believe this, and to do with this position as you will. I'm not out at all to stop such things - having no will, no right, nor any power to do so. However, from a historical point of view, what you say is without support - and this remains true whether we wish to step out of dualistic thinking or not.

As I said, if you can offer some actual historical evidence, I would be most glad to reconsider and/or to continue this part of the discussion, but if all you can offer now is that "it must have been intended so, because we have seen it done," then we must simply acknowledge that this conversation has run aground, as that premise would never hold up in any kind of forum on the history of anything - including Osensei. For me, that is what we were trying to discuss. Outside of that, I really have little to offer regarding the contemporary practices of how Aikido is or is not marked by the culture in which it comes to be practiced and/or what general traits are related to that process across the globe and across time. For me, as you can guess, outside of what universal traits that I believe we practice at our own dojo, I would hold myself uninformed to comment on such traits in regards to the multiple cultures that Aikido is or has been practiced.

Thank you for your reply,
dmv

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Old 09-12-2005, 08:34 PM   #34
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

I must admit I am really in awe of so many people knowing what O'Sensei meant and intended.

I never trained with him, nor can I read the original caligraphy, so I personally have no idea.

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 09-12-2005, 11:23 PM   #35
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Until you can demonstrate clearly that this was Osensei's intention and not a merely a philosophical potential of the practice in general that others were able to rightly tap into, it is indeed quite a bit to say it was intended so.
...
As I said, if you can offer some actual historical evidence, I would be most glad to reconsider and/or to continue this part of the discussion, but if all you can offer now is that "it must have been intended so, because we have seen it done," then we must simply acknowledge that this conversation has run aground, as that premise would never hold up in any kind of forum on the history of anything - including Osensei.
dmv
Evidence is good, but your standard is overly narrow.

Explicit evidence of intent, speaking as a lawyer now, is rarely if ever admitted. Nearly every issue of intent or purpose has to be proved by circumstantial evidence. Some are not convinced that by raising one's hand, one intends to -- raise one's hand.

But let us examine what was said, since some find actions and results ambiguous evidence of intent.

Kisshomaru, 2d Doshu, reported O-Sensei to have said, on his deathbed, "Aikido is for the entire world. Train not for selfish reasons, but for all people everywhere." In common law jurisdictions, dying utterance is admissible. Hopefully, this passes evidentiary muster.

O-Sensei did not say Omoto was for the whole world, nor that Shinto or Shingon or anything other than aikido was for the whole world. He did not commission his students to teach these things through the medium of aikido, he simply commissioned them to teach aikido.

If he directed his teaching at the whole world, did he intend thereby to have Omoto taught as a necessary precondition? Is this not especially probklematic since he dod not require this of his own students in Japan? I think the case in rebuttal has to be made if this is seriously contended to be O-Sensei's objective intent.

When O-Sensei went to Hawaii to visit and teach he said this, so his son reports: He had come to "build a Silver Bridge of Understanding. . . overseas and through aikido to cultivate mutual understanding between East and West." "I want to build bridges everywhere and connect all people through harmony and love. This I believe to be the task of aikido."

A number of doka translated by John Stevens in "The Art of Peace," follow this theme of the individuation of aikido in each place it is practiced, without losing its essence.

Leaving aside the nature metaphors and psychological observations, only about twenty or so, of the one hundred fourteen doka, use mythological allusion. In this number I include those speaking of ki, God, or gods the divine, buddha and suchlike.

"Each and every master, regardless of the era or place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit - love." Doka 30
"The Path is exceedingly vast. From ancient times to the present day, even the greatest sages were unable to perceive and comprehend the entire truth; the explanation and teachings of masters and saints express only part of the whole. It is not possible for anyone to speak of such things in their entirety. Just head for the light and heat, learn from the gods, and through the virtue of devoted practice of the Art of Peace, become one with the Divine." Doka 113

Theological irimi, indeed. And:

"The Art of Peace that I practice has room for each of the world's eight million gods, and I cooperate with them all. The God of Peace is very great and enjoins all that is divine and enlightened in every land." Doka 103
And as to the nature of technique and its relation to the larger goals of Aikido, this:
"Ultimately, you must forget about technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path." Doka 102
"The Art of Peace is the religion that is not a religion; it perfects and completes all religions." Doka 112
"Instructors can impart only a fraction of the teaching. It is through your own devoted practice that the mysteries of the Art of Peace are brought to life." Doka 46
"Even though our path is completely different from the warrior arts of the past, it is not necessary to abondon totally the old ways. Absorb venerable traditions into this Art by clothing them with fresh garmets, and build on the classic styles to create better forms." Doka 37
"Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, and take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your own door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything - even mountains, rivers, plants and trees - should be your teacher." Doka 14

Kisshomaru Doshu reported in the appendix to "Aikido" his father's words upon other occasions:
"This is not mere theory. You practice it. Then you will accept the great power of oneness with Nature."
"When anybody asks if my Aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say, ‘No.' My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion."

And lastly:

"I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind. This is Aikido. This is the mission of Aikido and this should be your mission."

O-Sensei was not engaged in a forensic exercise. But his own statements in context support both a decoupling of his art from its native culture and mythological structure, while intending that it simultaneously serve as a tool to link people among all cultures and for aikido, and be able communicate its understanding through the myths and religions of all people.
I could probably find more, but this is what I have on short notice.
Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:34 AM   #36
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Erick,

Like I said, you need the evidence to show intent not possibility. That is the differences between the two phrases I suggested you needed to distinguish from each other. In that light, we can hardly consider the requesting of ANY evidence "narrow." One either has it, or one does not. Moreover, by any standard of history, what you have provided here is not the evidence you would require to show either an intent to demythologize and/or a demythologization by Osensei. In fact, even what you quote has several tones and undertones of what are normally considered mythic themes (e.g. bridge, heaven and earth, saints, light, heat, gods, divine, eight million gods, God, religion, holy books, etc.) - AND THAT IS WITH STEVEN'S ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS.

You must understand that there is a difference - a very big difference - between Osensei demythologizing Aikido and Aikido being an art that need not be housed in any one/given cultural discourse. The latter is perfectly true - and some of what you quote lends itself to the position that Osensei would agree with you there. However, as I said above, this is different from Osensei demythologizing Aikido. It is even very different from saying that Osensei sought to create a distance from Omoto-kyo theology because he saw it as too culturally limiting for the art he wanted to spread to the whole world. For this last phrase, you would need to show where Osensei has said something to that effect: "My Aikido goes beyond Omoto-kyo." or "I have moved past Omoto-kyo." etc. What is particularly interesting, if one looks more closely at Omoto-kyo teachings at the time of Osensei, is this: Osensei is only saying things about his Aikido that Onisaburo said about Omoto-kyo. This notion of "completing all religions, being beyond all religions," etc., is standard Omoto-kyo discourse at that time. In all likelihood then, Osensei's poems are not a moving beyond but the simple act of repeating what someone (Onisaburo) said and sticking it on top of "his" own thing and then feeling justified for such an act by the system of correspondences that those folks all felt perfectly comfortable within.

Is Aikido open to all cultural interpretations and/or discourses? Yes, indeed. Did Osensei feel that one could only do this if one stopped referring to the Kojiki, kami, etc.? No way. Did Osensei feel that Omoto-kyo was too limiting a cultural discourse? I do not think we can really say at this point, but it would be highly unlikely since Omoto-kyo could hardly be called exclusive in any way, nor could it have been experienced by Osensei as exclusive.

Perhaps we are using our methodologies differently here - and so we have different understandings of the word "intent" and/or even the word "demythologize." Perhaps that is why we seem to be talking past each other. In the history of ideas and in the history of religions, these things mean very specific things. Then again, there is a very good chance that you have put all of your eggs in a basket that is made up of a backwards argument: Today, Aikido is taught all over the world; being all over the world, it must contend with different cultural discourses in order to remain meaningful; Aikido was created by Osensei; Therefore, Osensei designed Aikido to be beyond all cultural discourses; Therefore, Osensei had to first move beyond his own cultural discourse; Therefore, Osensei had to demythologize Aikido/Omoto-kyo.

I get it. However, going backwards like this never makes for good history, as one is sure to miss all of the relevant discontinuities - which I feel you have - for the sake of recognizing the present in the past.

Thanks for the reply, and for taking the time to cite those quotes.

dmv

Last edited by senshincenter : 09-13-2005 at 01:37 AM.

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Old 09-13-2005, 08:12 AM   #37
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Erick,

Like I said, you need the evidence to show intent not possibility.
.....
Then again, there is a very good chance that you have put all of your eggs in a basket that is made up of a backwards argument: Today, Aikido is taught all over the world; being all over the world, it must contend with different cultural discourses in order to remain meaningful; Aikido was created by Osensei; Therefore, Osensei designed Aikido to be beyond all cultural discourses; Therefore, Osensei had to first move beyond his own cultural discourse; Therefore, Osensei had to demythologize Aikido/Omoto-kyo.

I get it. However, going backwards like this never makes for good history, as one is sure to miss all of the relevant discontinuities - which I feel you have - for the sake of recognizing the present in the past.
....
dmv
The problem you identify is known as "stacking inferences." Ordinarily, it is admissible to infer one fact from given evidence that will support it, but not admissible to make a further inference from the fact thus inferred. This is as impermissible in my field of law, as it is in academic arguments, where I suspect your chief efforts lie.

Respectfully, I have not done this. It is fair to say you remain unpersuaded. It is not correct to say that my argument is unsupported or fallacious.

My conclusion flows from two prongs of argument, independent and mutually corroborating. The first prong is the evidence of what O-Sensei did, and the further fact of what those student he directly taught did in turn. This is action with meaningful content, what we lawyers like to call res gestae. This is probative evidence of intent, precisely because usually one does what one intends to do. The desired consequence of an act may or not be achieved as contingency dictates, but the intent to do the thing immediately done speaks for itself.

O-Sensei taught many students Aikido. To my knowledge, I have never seen evidence that he failed to advance a student of aikido because the student was insuffciently founded in Omoto, or indeed had any knowledge of it at all. After some considerable time knocking around the aikido world, from ASU, Federation, Iwama
a little Yoshinkan and Ki society, I have yet to here of such a case.
O-Sensei selected the methods in which he instructed his students.
He could easily have made a grounding in Omoto a condition of his grant authority to teach. He did not.

If O-Sensei had cared care that his aikido students transmit an understanding of Omoto, he took no care to ensure they were trained in it before they were authorized to teach aikido. Thus the contrary inference of intent, that he wanted Omoto to follow aikdo is not supported by evidence from which it may be inferred, and is not admissible.

It is therfore permissible to conclude from this evidence and argument, at a single level of inference, his intent on this point: that he did not intend for Omoto theology to follow his aikido.


A different argument can be framed from his statements and about the desired conseuqences of his teaching. As with the res gestae argument where it is possible that the ultimate consequnces is not intended, while the immediate act is, similarly with stated intent. It is possible that his means were ill-fitted to his desired ends, and that his immediate intent in teaching was ill-conceived to effect the conditions necessary to achieve it.

The citations of the doka and other statements that I provided, indicate an O-sensei's desire that the aikido that he taught be able to function in and among the various cultures of the world. He taught his students with this thought in mind. I have shown with but one permissible inference, that he did not condition the teaching of aikido on the teaching or knowledge of Omoto.

I have shown by his stated intent that he desired the ultimate consequence of aikido's success throughout the world that has been to a degree achieved by those students.

O-Sensei's statement to Andre Nocquet about whether he should remain Christian is probative on this poitn, as he could told that man he could not practice aikido without believing in Omoto. He did not do this. Andre Nocquet recounts: in Aikido Journal #85 (1990)

"Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect. I asked him one day if there wasn't a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my Aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian"

And in this same article Nocquet recounts a spiritual crisis of his own, resolved neatly by O-Sensei himself:


Doka 8

Shin no bu wa True bu[dō]
fude ya kuchi niwa cannot be described
subekarazu by the brush or the mouth
kami wa yurusazu kami will not allow you
to rely upon words!


Doka 9

Aiki towa Aikido (its mysteries)
fude ya kuchi niwa can never be encompassed
tsukusarezu by the brush or by the mouth
kotobure sezuni Do not rely on words to grasp it
satori okonae Attain enlightenment through practice


And Doka 42

Bu to wa ie Bu[dō] --
koe mo sugata mo no voice, no form,
kage mo nashi no shadow
kami ni karete Question kami as you like
kotau subenashi but there is no reply.
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Old 09-13-2005, 11:34 AM   #38
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Erick,

Thanks for writing.

I understand the problem of stacking inferences - which is permissible in the field of History but only as to formulating one's hypothesis. What was problematic, rather, was exactly what I said: That you are going backwards in time in your reasoning. You are looking at the present time, seeing a unified Aikido in the sense of it being demythologized, and then attributing that (hardly supportable) interpretation of Aikido to the designs of Osensei. As I said, the problem with this is that it fails to recognize the discontinuities of history. Moreover, it purports a view of agency that today is simply not acceptable (for one million and one reasons) in the field of History as a whole. This may be one reason why we have lawyers and we have historians -- because these folks do not do the same kind of work in the same kind of way. This is what I have been attempting to suggest for a while now -- that we are perhaps looking at certain things differently because of our training.

As I said before, I feel these differences are really centered on one or two elements in your position that simply cannot be supported historically. THE MAIN ONES TO NOTE ARE THESE:

- There is a difference between demythologizing something (which IS what you first said and IS what I first -- and have only - had a contention with) and saying that we do not need to practice or know Omoto-kyo theology in order to do Aikido.

- There is also a difference between Osensei demythologizing Aikido and/or Omoto-kyo theology and he not feeling that we have to practice Omoto-kyo and/or any of their other traditions and/or practices he himself practiced.

The issue here is with the word "demythologize." In short, you are using it incorrectly. Moreover, because you are using it incorrectly, you have tended to say things that make little sense and/or that cannot be supported historically. Please allow me to explain a bit on this word for those that might not be familiar with it:

Though in Western civilization the act of demythologization goes back to at least the Greeks, the pivotal figure in the History of Religions and who gives us our current meaning of the word -- what one would see if you looked it up in a dictionary -- is Rudolf Bultmann. In short, demythologization means, "the restatement of a religious message and/or myth in rational terms." An example of demythologizing Aikido/Omoto-kyo theology would be my reply to Mark -- which I did in fact call then a demythologization. Osensei did no such thing. Osensei freely expressed his art and his understanding of the art via mythic themes. When you say he did not, when you say he demythologized Aikido/Omoto-kyo theology, THIS is what history does not support. It is an ungrounded claim and therefore likely to be considered false.

More on "demythologization:"

According to Bultmann, the Bible with all of its mythic themes presented a problem for us moderns. We, with our modern worldview, simply were no longer capable of believing what we were reading or hearing. Too many elements now understood as fantastic were in the way of us understanding what was at the heart of the message. As a result, we as a culture tended to throw out the baby with the bath water -- dismissing the inner message (which is True) because of its context (which cannot be True -- by our modern standards). Bultmann sought a solution to this problem by examining the Bible -- and the New Testament in particular -- to see if it presented a deeper message that did not so depend on its mythical themes. He concluded that it did, and, as a result, he concluded that the only purpose of the myths was to give expression to an inner message that was stated for a given and dated culture that is not our own.

Undoubtedly, this kind of thinking that was coming out of Europe at that time had some impact on the World Religion movement and thus also most likely on Omoto-kyo. However, when we see Osensei telling Nocquet that he can keep his beliefs in Christ, etc., we are not seeing an act of demythologization. We are merely seeing an act of religious inclusiveness. There are no attempts to rationalize either the teachings of Omoto-kyo, Catholic Christianity, or Aikido discourse. On all accounts, the mythic themes of each discourse are allowed to remain and moreover they are not thought to be distractions that are false and that prevent us from seeing some inner message that is thought to be true.

Again -- you got the wrong word here. However, as I said earlier to Shaun and to you as well, I do agree with you here again that this sense of inclusiveness (especially religious), that an absence of exclusiveness (especially religious), was indeed part of Osensei's understanding of his art. Yet, there is one more small point here that needs to be addressed and that I feel comes from you misuse of the word "demythologization." Namely, it is your earlier suggestions that somehow Osensei's sense of inclusiveness and/or his lack of exclusiveness were something that was beyond Omoto-kyo theology. I do not believe it is accurate to say that he went beyond said theology when he is in that very act practicing said theology. Allow me to explain…

On top of Japan never really having a religious history of exclusivity (though there were attempts to be sure), Omoto-kyo was itself all about trying to find the inner truths of all religious messages, myths, traditions, etc. In this way, as I said above, there is some overlap with Bultmann's efforts -- only Omoto-kyo, or Osensei, never felt that the mythic themes of a given tradition had to be seen as false and/or therefore rejected. Omoto-kyo, as the tradition states, was into discovering that message that was beyond all racial divisions and all creeds. To be sure, in adopting such a position, they were also aware of other religious traditions that for centuries had practiced no such thing -- that were into exclusiveness, antagonism, war, etc. The World Religion movement, and thus Omoto-kyo, was itself an alternative to this path of intolerance. As I said earlier in the thread, it seems that Omoto-kyo saw itself as a kind of meta-religious movement or a para-religious movement -- as something that met all other traditions in the light of this deeper truth or this deeper bond that all traditions were thought to have in common. So, in a way, they were a religion, and they were not a religion. They were a religion in that they existed in common with all the other religious traditions of the world that stated the universal truth of Man, God, and existence, etc. Yet, they were not a religion in the sense of a tradition that sought exclusive rights to the one and only truth that was theirs and theirs alone. This is what Osensei was exposed to if he was exposed to Omoto-kyo theology.

Now, is it a transcendence of one's theology when one allows for inclusiveness and/or universality if one's theology is itself a message of inclusiveness and/or universality? That is the question to ask as far as determining whether Osensei did or did not teach Omoto-kyo theology and/or base his understandings of Aikido on said theology. It is also the question to ask if one is seeking to determine the basis under which folks were not "required" to learn Omoto-kyo theology, etc. For me, it is Omoto-kyo theology to not have one pressed into learning Omoto-kyo theology. Moreover, it is extremely Japanese, especially during the years in question, to not force anyone into following a specific religious doctrine as a requirement of anything. In fact, as I said, particularly during the years in question, even if Omoto-kyo were not a theology of inclusiveness and/or universality, Osensei probably would have had no epistemological, ontological, or cultural recourse for requiring students to learn Omoto-kyo in order to understand Aikido, etc. Thus, we are not seeing an act of agency -- a conscious intent to demythologize Omoto-kyo theology for the sake of worldwide cultural dissemination. We are simply seeing a man of his times acting in the only way he could have: A man understanding his art and practice through a theology of universality and inclusiveness that was itself loaded with mythic themes.

Why might this be important to note? Well, in many places, in many cultures, we do see a demythologization of Aikido. Demythologization, as a sign of modernity, is indeed something that has become a part of Aikido history. If we want to do that history, we are going to have to distinguish where then the discontinuity arose -- because there is one - because we see no such thing in Osensei's thinking or his actions. Along side this discontinuity, something else has crept in that was not of the Founder's doing nor of his position but like demythologization is indeed a part of Modernity. This is the secularization of Aikido (e.g. the training in Aikido for mundane reasons). For all of its inclusiveness, and for all of its universality, neither Osensei's message or his understanding of Aikido, nor Omoto-kyo theology, can create space for the secular trends we see gaining dominance today. This secularization, in my opinion, is very much related to the discontinuity of the demythologization of Aikido -- as demythologization and secularization tend to always have a close relationship. Nevertheless, this is Aikido history, and thus, for better or for worse, this is Aikido. If we want to understand Aikido history, and thus if we want to understand Aikido in this larger objective sense, we are going to have to be able to note these discontinuities more accurately than the position of "Osensei demythologized Aikido" currently allows for.

Again, thanks for the discussion,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-13-2005, 12:02 PM   #39
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Apologies, but a stray keystroke posted my last before it was intended. So here is the the latter part as it was was intended

Erick Mead
............................................
And in this same article Nocquet recounts a spiritual crisis of his own, resolved neatly by O-Sensei himself:

"Sensei should I remain a Christian?" He replied,
"Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian." If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost. "

From this evidence I can permissibly infer that O-Sensei did intend
that aikdio should function as well in a Christian spiritual mode as it would in Buddhist (or Omoto) circumstances.

As to further evidence for the "stripped down" mode of aikido teaching the following may also be of interest:

Doka 8

Shin no bu wa
fude ya kuchi niwa
subekarazu
kami wa yurusazu

True bu[dō]
cannot be described
by the brush or the mouth
kami will not allow you
to rely upon words!

Doka 7

Aiki towa
fude ya kuchi niwa
tsukusarezu
kotobure sezuni
satori okonae

Aikido (its mysteries)
can never be encompassed
by the brush or by the mouth
Do not rely on words to grasp it
Attain enlightenment through practice


And Doka 9

Bu to wa ie
koe mo sugata mo
kage mo nashi
kami ni karete
kotau subenashi

Bu[dō] --
no voice, no form,
no shadow
Question kami as you like
but there is no reply.


With these two lines of argument corroborating one another as to both directly intended act, and stated intent, I feel comfortable in standing by the validity and support for my position,. You may remain unpersuaded as you wish. But that is an objection to weight, not suficiency.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 09-13-2005 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:18 PM   #40
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I understand the problem of stacking inferences
...
What was problematic, rather, was exactly what I said: That you are going backwards in time in your reasoning. You are looking at the present time, seeing a unified Aikido in the sense of it being demythologized, and then attributing that (hardly supportable) interpretation of Aikido to the designs of Osensei.
....
The points I have made are not post-hoc fallacies either. He said things he said; he did (or omitted to do) the things he did or omitted. The statements and actions together evidence an intent that supports my position for at least one valid forensic methodology, if not all.

I think your other observations are more on point, however, and get to the heart of the matter. The point, after all, is what we do now, and whether it is in keeping with the teaching we have been entrusted to maintain.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
As I said before, I feel these differences are really centered on one or two elements in your position that simply cannot be supported historically. THE MAIN ONES TO NOTE ARE THESE:

- There is a difference between demythologizing something (which IS what you first said and IS what I first -- and have only - had a contention with) and saying that we do not need to practice or know Omoto-kyo theology in order to do Aikido.

- There is also a difference between Osensei demythologizing Aikido and/or Omoto-kyo theology and he not feeling that we have to practice Omoto-kyo and/or any of their other traditions and/or practices he himself practiced.
A predicate needs discussing, and that is one of human nature. It is my position that human beings mythologize to the same degree that they use tools. We chip stone and fashion metal and we tell stories to make sense of what we may have done or regret doing.

When I speak of demythologizing something it is only the clearing of deadwood, because it will be re-mythologized in short order. That is the source of my heads/tails observation. The foolish, "demigod" crowd touting magical stories of O-Sensei's invulnerability and war time exploits are a perfect example of this process in the last two decades.

"Dewatering" means causing there to be less water in the ground not no water in the ground. I propose that O-Sensei demythologized aikido, to reduce the operation of that content. He did not suck it dry of all mythological significance or possible connections. By purifying it, minimlaizing it it made the possibility fo greater and more numerous connectison than there would have been without that effort in its development.

This is process is equally evident in science, where despite an unstated pretension to rise above the human nature, mythology prevails equally. A prevailing view in a field will hold on for a time quite well past the loss of evidence for it. Science incorporates its own system of meta-rules about how to redress such a state of affairs. It is the experimental testing of falsifiable, material statements. Law and history operate in different forensic arenas but similar meta-rules can be found in both.

Mythology establishes tradition, which is important to stability, but after a time, accretions can be deadly to integrity. Without a means to clear the decks of the increasing elaborations, the identiy of the core mesage can be lost.

O Sensei's emphasis on the ontological significance of physical practice is this meta-rule for aikido, that strips away the accretion of particularized ideations and gets back the essential of spirit and body in one concert.

"The only thing I do is leave everything to God's will and give birth to techniques according to the divine law of the creation of islands and deities. Thus, all my techniques are purification (misogi)."
Takemusu Aiki (lectures), Sonoko Tanaka , tr., See Aikido Journal # 118, Fall/Winter 1999


Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Now, is it a transcendence of one's theology when one allows for inclusiveness and/or universality if one's theology is itself a message of inclusiveness and/or universality?
This almost posits O-Sensei as the anti-Groucho Marx, who famously said he would not join a club that would have him as a member. I have images of eyeglasses and mustaches adorning the kamidana.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
That is the question to ask as far as determining whether Osensei did or did not teach Omoto-kyo theology and/or base his understandings of Aikido on said theology. It is also the question to ask if one is seeking to determine the basis under which folks were not "required" to learn Omoto-kyo theology, etc. For me, it is Omoto-kyo theology to not have one pressed into learning Omoto-kyo theology.
....
There is no need for determinaton on the first point. He did base it, in part from what he learned in Omoto. But Omoto while eclectic, is not so without boundaries that it cannot be distinguished from more conventional Ryobu Shinto, however much Omoto may owe to the predecessor.

In the "Divine Signposts," Part 1, Ch. 2., Onisaburo posits the one-four-three-eight revelation that remarkably corresponds to aspects of the Christian trinity, and the Buddhist trikaya and esoteric systems from both faiths:

"85. God is one only. He is the holy God, without beginning and without end.
86. In the universe there exists nothing other than these three elements: spirit, power and body.
87. By spirit is meant God. The human soul, too, is part of God.
88. By power is meant motive power. The movement of the sky and the earth and the changes of the
seasons, are all the power of God.
89. God divided His spirit, power and body and created all things in such a way that He created first the
body and later gave to it power and spirit.
90. By body is meant matter. The body of God consists of three functions, which can be named solidity,
softness and fluidity. These three comprise the Divine body.
91. Spirit consists of four distinctive qualities: activity, harmony, love and wisdom. These four comprise
the complete Divine spirit.
92. The human soul, too, is endowed with these four divine qualities.
93. Although human beings are endowed with these four workings, they make their souls impure and
degenerate into devils. Whose fault is this?
94. The power of God has eight functions, otherwise called the "eight powers". This is called "the
complete power of God":
1. Power of movement
2. Power of rest

3. Power of dissolution
4. Power of coagulation

5. Power of tension
6. Power of relaxation

7. Power of combination
8. Power of separation"

A Christian would find little of substance to object to in these statements, although it might be expressed in a different anaytical convention. So, is Omoto distinguishable from Christian theology in any meaningful way at this root level? Omoto is also hardly distinguishable from the ryobu shinto syncretic expression of these same basic points. JIgohei Tanaka plainly sees shinto as a complement not an antagonist of Christian teaching. Clearly, when we get to the level of soteric function and redemptive processes we see some of these far more critical differences. But did O-Sensei adopt any of these more idiosyncratic elements of Omoto in the development of Aikido? I find no evidence of it.

And at what level do we define a difference of meaning, and on what criteria? Is a proposed difference merely the product of the analytical convention, which the quoted Omoto material would plainly support, or is it a real, substantive conflict?

The same question then arises whether O-Sensei's teaching differs from Omoto and then at what level do we determine the difference. If as I suggest, he was operating at the level I have generally identified, his teaching is little at odds with Omoto as it is with Christianity or Buddhism. In terms of his adoption of Omoto's teaching into his own Ichirei-Shikon-Sangen-Hachiriki is among the most explicit Omoto legacies. Izu/Misu, the trinitarian Amenominakanushi and the two musubi deities all are nearly indistinguishable from Ryobu shinto and are hardly even remarkable even in kokugaku, which would add only their own parochial take on Amaterasu omikami.

The development of O-Sensei's thought along the lines described in his Takemusu Aiki lectrues makes the objection largely a distinction without a difference. He sees the significance of his effort in cosmic terms, but does not depend upon his students seeing it for his work to be continued through them.

The only question for us lies in the work, "Is it worth doing?" All else is tossing slippery names back and forth.

"No matter what name you assign or change, it only means that a human being changes or assigns a name. From my point of view, aiki is a great purification, a wonderful, healthy method, and a Grand Way to bear and cultivate all things in nature. Therefore, I know that takemusu aiki, as one flow of the world, is the Way to serve the Supreme Truth which fosters and protects the World of Universal activities." from Takemusu Aiki (lectures), Sonoko Tanaka , tr., See Aikido Journal # 118, Fall/Winter 1999






Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
This secularization, in my opinion, is very much related to the discontinuity of the demythologization of Aikido -- as demythologization and secularization tend to always have a close relationship.
Again, thanks for the discussion,
david

I agree that secularization is occurring, but it is being subsumed about as fast by the re-religioning. I do not think that the issue is as ipso facto as that. Demythologization is distinct from secularization. After all, Protestantism was the demythologization movement toward Catholicism. Then the Counter-Reformation was provoked. Now Catholics are the majority group of Christians on the planet, superseding even the Orthodox of all stripes.

The feedback mechanisms purify, misogi creates a healthy body, whether individual or social.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-13-2005, 06:23 PM   #41
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Erick,

Thanks again for writing.

It is not that the points in your position are post-hoc, it is that your position makes use of notions regarding time and the passage of time (regarding human culture) that allows you to see the present in the past -- which allows you to travel from the present to the past in your method. There are these grand underlying theories to your methodology that by today's standards show no reflexology regarding the point of view of the observer -- in this case you. It is these grand theories that allow you to connect things across time and across space (which I mentioned before) and that thus allow you to see the present in the past. This type of methodology has been under serious critique since the late 60's and has for the most part been under serious rejection since the mid-80's.

Another such theory that I did not bring up, but one should have been able to locate it just the same, is your notion that myth makes things resistant to cultural transmission and/or migration. This, as you can note now, is obviously a post-Enlightenment idea that for us (us moderns) has its source in late 19th century European thought. This is not a view that the majority of human history shares with you -- as mythic discourses have never had a difficult time in crossing borders. In fact, many have believed and still do believe that mythic discourse is much more open to cultural migration than rational thought. In the 19th century, such a view was only a competing alternative in determining the truth of anything. In other words, such a view was just one more player in the game for determining Truth. Back then, not many folks bought the notion -- though it ultimately came to be the dominant position in much of (Western) academic thought -- especially regarding the study of religion.

Nevertheless, for Osensei, he certainly does not at all seem to be of the notion that myth and/or mythic discourse was resistant to cultural migration and/or discursive penetration. This is your view, a view you yourself have come to adopt as part of culture that had adopted it for you. Being self-reflective would have you attempting to better adopt the view that Osensei had of his own time -- regarding the cultural truth-games that Osensei was working with and/or within -- by having you be more aware of how your own cultural is playing its truth-games with you as a pawn. If Osensei had thought that mythic themes and/or mythic discourses were resistant to cultural migration and/or penetration, we would have seen him speaking and acting thusly. Many folks of his period did precisely that. However, in the case of Osensei, we do not see him acting like that, we see him continually using mythic themes and mythic discourses and we also see him making room for more (across cultures) -- not less.

Now that you have opted to define "demythologization," which is fine by me as your working definition, it still does not suffice that this is something Osensei felt or did. Moreover, just as before with Bultmann's understanding of the word, Osensei's historical evidence still has him acting within mythic themes and discourses as comfortably as ever. It is not that Osensei sought to demythologize anything because of some negative notion regarding the transmission potential of mythic discourse and thus said (as you quoted),

""The only thing I do is leave everything to God's will and give birth to techniques according to the divine law of the creation of islands and deities. Thus, all my techniques are purification (misogi)."
Takemusu Aiki (lectures), Sonoko Tanaka , tr., See Aikido Journal # 118, Fall/Winter 1999"

Rather, it is that he had NO problem using mythic discourse, that he used it frequently, and that he NEVER for a second felt that it might provide some sort of resistance to the seeker trying to find the "true" message, that he THUS said,

""The only thing I do is leave everything to God's will and give birth to techniques according to the divine law of the creation of islands and deities. Thus, all my techniques are purification (misogi)."
Takemusu Aiki (lectures), Sonoko Tanaka , tr., See Aikido Journal # 118, Fall/Winter 1999"

Here you wrote: "O Sensei's emphasis on the ontological significance of physical practice is this meta-rule for aikido, that strips away the accretion of particularized ideations and gets back the essential of spirit and body in one concert."

- But let us look at how Osensei himself addresses this issue of dealing with the ontological significance of things. In the article that my essay is attempting to summarize, after Osensei says that Aikido is good for the weak people of then Japan, what does he recommend to make them stronger? Does he, like many Aikido instructors today might, recommend more suburi, more randori, or more work on tenkan or irimi-ashi, Suwari-waza Shomen-uchi Ikkyo? Nope. He only offers several religious practices and makes ample use of mythic themes to make them "clear." He writes:

"In the early morning hours, before dawn, at 4:00 I am out of bed, and immediately perform a misogi (purification ritual)…Then I go outside barefoot, and pray to the eastern sky. "Tying my ki together with that of the Universe, I greet and commune with all creation. This is when I become one with the Universe and imbibe and inhale the holy teachings of Heaven and Earth. My form, standing in front of the shrine (of the Universe) is in a state of harmony with the Heavens and the Earth…Next I pray to the 4 directions and lift my eyes to the shrine of the eight gods in the Imperial Palace wishing his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor, long life. So doing we placate all the gods and pray for their pacification…There is also the method of vocalization known as Aikido Kotodama. The intoning of the 75 sounds forms words of purification for the universe…Next I stand before the household shrine. After a short time I perform prayers before the nearby Aiki Shrine which honors Hayatakenushi No O Mikoto, Sarutahiko No O kami and various others of the gods…In summary, weak people are the result of not knowing the truth of the unity of mankind with the Heavens and the Earth. By realizing the principle of unification with the Universal (tenchi) and making it active in your daily life, human beings become capable of sending forth the "holy technique of the gods"."

For some today, practicing tenkan is just like praying before a shrine. For some of us today, these things are very different. For Osensei, it was undoubtedly the same, and that is precisely why he did not, could not, feel it warranted to separate Aikido from any type of mythic discourse. Whether using your understanding or Bultmann's there is no demythologization going on here.

You wrote: "There is no need for determinaton on the first point. He did base it, in part from what he learned in Omoto. But Omoto while eclectic, is not so without boundaries that it cannot be distinguished from more conventional Ryobu Shinto, however much Omoto may owe to the predecessor.

In the "Divine Signposts," Part 1, Ch. 2., Onisaburo posits the one-four-three-eight revelation that remarkably corresponds to aspects of the Christian trinity, and the Buddhist trikaya and esoteric systems from both faiths:"


- To be sure, one could at a practical level site differences between Omoto-kyo and another tradition. However, theologically, Omoto-kyo sought not to do this -- but perhaps for those theological stances that were explicitly exclusive (and thus, in their opinion, leading to the world's capacity for hatred, war, etc.). That is what is at issue, and in particular, it is only one aspect of that theology that is at issue -- hence the key question remains: "Is it a transcendence of one's theology when one allows for inclusiveness and/or universality if one's theology is itself a message of inclusiveness and/or universality?" Omoto-kyo would of course say "no" and Osensei seems more to have followed that than what you are suggesting he felt and/or could have felt.

- It is not remarkable that Onisaburo posits element key to some schools of Christian theology. He exposed himself to it via the World Religion movement as he came into contact with groups that were using theologies from Christian mystic traditions to achieve the same thing - i.e. peace on Earth)via the formation of a "World Religion." We are not looking here at any kind of Campbell-esque archetype. This is pure borrowing.

You wrote: "But did O-Sensei adopt any of these more idiosyncratic elements of Omoto in the development of Aikido? I find no evidence of it."

- Here, I am beginning to wonder if you read the essay we are centering this discussion on or the article that that essay was centered on -- since what you quote by Onisaburo in this last post is nothing more than ichirei-shikan-sangen-hachiriki -- the phrase Osensei was known to use quite frequently in most of his lectures on Aikido. Assuming you did, let me answer your question briefly then: Though I certainly would not what to put the development of Aikido all on the shoulders of Osensei, if we are interested in his own practice, it is (currently) clear that he did indeed bring these "more idiosyncratic elements" of Omoto-kyo into it. For example, something relative here is his usage of the circle, triangle, and square -- which as you may know were themselves items meant to correspond between the various aspects of ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki and various tactical architectures of Aikido waza. I imagine there are much more such correspondences. The research has not been done, and it will not be done if we stick with the view that Osensei sought to demythologize Aikido/Omoto-kyo, but I would propose the following: If Osensei did in fact create some sort of distinction between his Daito-ryu training and his own art (what came to be called "Aikido"), there is a very good chance that it was laid out according to those principles, tactics, strategies of Daito-ryu that Osensei felt he could more smoothly connect to theological propositions like ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki.

Again -- thank you,
dmv

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Old 09-13-2005, 10:35 PM   #42
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Now we are making some progress. Thanks David
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
It is not that the points in your position are post-hoc, it is that your position makes use of notions regarding time and the passage of time (regarding human culture) that allows you to see the present in the past -- which allows you to travel from the present to the past in your method. There are these grand underlying theories to your methodology
...
This type of methodology has been under serious critique since the late 60's and has for the most part been under serious rejection since the mid-80's.
Again, a point about predicates. Human society is an organic complex system which therfore obeys mathematical rules of organic (i.e. self-maintaining) complex systems. These systems demonstrate patterns that while unique and unrepeated are mathematically similar in shape across multiple scales of observation. Clouds form identifiable but unique patterns and tend to look the same whether seen from near or far, at a variety of scales.

Patterns of human organization obey similar laws. Really. People make money on the commodities markets with these algorithms.

The history establishment may question the relatively unsupported pattern theories of the mid century, but the math has now definitely caught up. Toynbee's intuition is vindicated in many ways by present science of complex systems.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Another such theory that I did not bring up, but one should have been able to locate it just the same, is your notion that myth makes things resistant to cultural transmission and/or migration.
...-- as mythic discourses have never had a difficult time in crossing borders.
Tell that to the marriageable Hindu singles in India who cannot easily marry a Jain, Sikh or Muslim, and their parents will object in any event, despite the fact that these different cultures have existed side by side for a couple thousand years, and share as many references as they do not. (We Indo-Europeans will look for any excuse for a good argument.)

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
However, in the case of Osensei, we do not see him acting like that, we see him continually using mythic themes and mythic discourses and we also see him making room for more (across cultures) -- not less.
...
It is not that Osensei sought to demythologize anything because of some negative notion regarding the transmission potential of mythic discourse ...
"Thus, all my techniques are purification (misogi)."
Takemusu Aiki (lectures),
A simple question. If aikido technique is misogi and misogi purifies, what is discarded?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Here you wrote: "O Sensei's emphasis on the ontological significance of physical practice is this meta-rule for aikido, that strips away the accretion of particularized ideations and gets back the essential of spirit and body in one concert."

- But let us look at how Osensei himself addresses this issue of dealing with the ontological significance of things.
...
"In the early morning hours, before dawn, at 4:00 I am out of bed, and immediately perform a misogi (purification ritual)…
...In summary, weak people are the result of not knowing the truth of the unity of mankind with the Heavens and the Earth. By realizing the principle of unification with the Universal (tenchi) and making it active in your daily life, human beings become capable of sending forth the "holy technique of the gods"."
O-Sensei clearly believed that personal strength came not from individual achievement but from realizing unification with Heaven and Earth. This is but a commonplace of Western amd Eastern thought for several millennia now. This is not at the level of mythology. More importantly, O-Sensei did not say that if you fail to observe Ueshiba's misogi regimen your are unworthy of his aikido. Describing one's personal observance is exemplary but not bay any menas command. Plainly, his direct students did not take it that way, why should I?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
... he did not, could not, feel it warranted to separate Aikido from any type of mythic discourse. Whether using your understanding or Bultmann's there is no demythologization going on here.
And again, I think we begin to talk past one another
Once again, wherefore misogi? What is discarded?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
You wrote: "But did O-Sensei adopt any of these more idiosyncratic elements of Omoto in the development of Aikido? I find no evidence of it."

- Here, I am beginning to wonder if you read the essay we are centering this discussion on or the article that that essay was centered on -- since what you quote by Onisaburo in this last post is nothing more than ichirei-shikan-sangen-hachiriki --
...
Of course I did.. I simply thought it would be useful to see the actual text under discussion and see how unremarkable ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki, really is in context. Most of those reading this without a background in serious history of East Asian thought will be struck by the use of conventions that are novel to the Western ear, but unremarklable when compared in a ssytematic way with ordinary tropes of Western thinking.

This is opposed to the truly idiosynctratic elements of Omoto. The "God in exile" trope, the positing of Onisaburo as a savior in the Maitreya mode, as opposed to an inspired prophet (a proposition I am not arrogant enough to dismiss, even as I question the totality of the proposed revelation). Most unique is the eschatological component of Omoto. This distinguishes it in Eastern religions, even from the very schematic Pure Land (and was a cause for much the Japanaese State's concerns with Omoto, in a way similar to the Chinsese government's dim view of Fa Lung Gong). The presence of eschatology betrays its Western influences, even as the particulars bear no relation to one another whatsoever. These unique elements of Omoto find no expression in O-Sensei's thought.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
If Osensei did in fact create some sort of distinction between his Daito-ryu training and his own art (what came to be called "Aikido"), there is a very good chance that it was laid out according to those principles, tactics, strategies of Daito-ryu that Osensei felt he could more smoothly connect to theological propositions like ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki.

dmv
On this I think we agree. But the circle square and triangle have physical meaning. Technique is ontologically significant even if we keep our mouth shut while teaching it. If the lesson can be taught through the mythological symbol, or by conceret action without words, it is demythologized by any definition.

That which is a precondition for creation is not ipso facto a preconditon for continuity. As a matter of fact it was not made a condition of cointuity by O-Sensei, when he could easily have done so. Why did he not?

One of the frustrating things for practitioner intersted in placing these matters in context is the paucity of sources for the material. The only reason we know about his "Takemusu aiki" lectures to Nakazono's macrobiotic movement, which also flowed from Omoto is that a kindly attendant transcribed them for her colleagues. To my knowledge they have never been conventionally published.

O-Sensei was not reputed to be a habitually careless man ( except as is tyoicla of an aged man in later years. He took no care to ensure the transmission of the unique aspects of Omoto. HIs Doka, while a marvelous insight into his thought, are conventional examples of the type (even antiquated in style at the time he wrote them), and not exceptional either in style or content.

Aikido was not made a vehicle of Omoto. His direct students barely attempted to understand it. Although O Sensei's goal shares much with that of Onisaburo, O-Sensei particularly lacks Omoto's very particular eschatology, while the ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki rubric is not exceptional in its essential content as a point of theology and involves no particularized myth-making of its own.

I therefore end with my same question, which by now seems almost koan: Aikido practice is misogi; what is discarded?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-13-2005, 11:58 PM   #43
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Erick,

You are using that same theoretical groundwork again - I do not think I can comment upon it any more than I already have. I am sorry. This medium, in which only our two voices are speaking, where we are not being weighed against a larger field of research, etc., is allowing us to too easily ignore each other's relevant points. I do not think we can accomplish more here than we already have.

As to your new question - it is a different matter entirely and it would feel somewhat foolish to take on a new question when the old one had us going from using a word incorrectly, to not using it, to having a working definition, to going on to a new topic altogether. I am going to have to bow out respectfully at this point. Thank you again for the conversation and I wish you the best with your continuing studies and your practice.

peace be with you,
david

Last edited by senshincenter : 09-14-2005 at 12:02 AM.

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Old 09-14-2005, 10:12 AM   #44
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

David,

And here I thought it was going just swimmingly.

I do not come from the school that holds history to be just one damn thing after another. Santayana said to the effect that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This position presupposes that there are patterns of similarity, repetition such that, within a certain margin, likely consequences of certain circumstances can be avoided, or at the very least preparations for them made in advance.

There is an obvious risk of assuming teleology from these intuitve meta-theories of history. The suspicion of historians in the last several decades about this problem understandable in our highly empirical age. You have on more than one occasion, incorrectly, inferred precisely that from my argument. But complex systems theory has now provided an strong empirical basis for confiming the viability of such theories, if not their particular conclusions, and which, emphatically, do not involve any kind of teleology.

Finding ways to test historical conclusions in light of our greater knowledge of the nature of complex systems is the real challenge. I do not suggest that because meta-theories can have validity that my conclusions flowing from such a theory are necessarily correct. However, my arguments cannot be discarded on the basis that meta-theories of history are inherently unsupportable. That is simply a fasle premise based on our empirical knowledge at this time.

For an art that hopes to endure for any significant time, Aikido must endure the vicissitudes of fashion and cultural interplay. It cannot easily do that if its mythological base becomes overcommitted, unduly fixed, or exceedingly idiosyncratic. People simply cease to care, as it has no references for them to connect to.
Such an art would lose musubi, actually, because it becomes too committed to its own idea of what must occur next. At the same time it must maintain an core essence that preserves its identifiable integrity.

These are really my only points. Omoto went too far the other way, to the point of near irrelevance at this time. Its conflict with the kokugaku establishment and ultimately with the Imperial State were most un-Aikido like, I would note.

O-Sensei seems to have provided a suitable antidote or astringent through the ontology of practice that allows the accumulated glosses of mythological components of teaching to be stripped away from time to time and preserves the core meaning through the misogi of practice.

I hold this was done intentionally, on some evidence. You do not seem disagree that it has happened and functions this way at least in a few dojos. You seem to hold it occurred by mere happenstance, but respectfully, you have not rebutted my case for the intent with conflicting evidence. You have simply insisted on a different mode of argument upon the same evidence.

I do encourage you to look further into complex systems theory and its utility to good historical analysis. My own interest in this has led me to begin looking at the Chou I Ching in this light, as a basis to see if the Chinese historical works which trace the patterns of changes in the mode created by that work can be mapped upon, or alternatively, be shown to be unworkable, with analytic tools in complex systems theory.

It has been interesting all the same.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-14-2005, 09:44 PM   #45
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Thumbs down Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Geez Erick, you use such big words, how are the simpletons like me supposed to understand anything??? . If I may so approach the bench and resound the Big Green Drum...

I agree that many people try to follow the words and teachings of O'Sensei without going to deeply into it. Is it really neccessary that we have a complete understanding of Omoto-kyo or Shinto, or of every other thing that had an influence on O'Sensei's life to understand his teachings? It is quite a task to take on, but even though, is it necessary, or even possible? The intricate and deep study of Omoto-kyo philosophy may give some insight as to the meanings of things he mentioned in his lectures, but how much did HE or his closest students really know about Omoto-kyo? I know some very devout and religious Christians who practice and pray diligently everyday and can even quote the bible, but they are not expert theologans. I am saying merely that perhaps we are looking to deeply into this. I do believe that in studying Aikido, the study of Japanese culture and expecially the language does help to reveal its true nature. As for O'Sensei's writings in particular, I don't believe we can accurately depict what was going on in his head when he said those things, and then if he would still agree with those same things he said today. I myself have kept a personal journal of my thoughts and ideas since I have begun my journey in Aikido, and sometimes I even look back at things which I wrote years ago and think, "What the heck I mean by that?". I have heard that Saotome sensei sometimes regrets the videos that he made because people analyze them to much and fail to understand the big picture. How many people try so hard to understand the writings of the bible, yet come up with so many interpretations? Is it possible to understand truth through words?

So, until I someday master the Japanese Language, and can read his writings myself, I'm just going to go with the following explanation of Ichi Rei, San Gen, Shi Kon, Hachi Riki to mean; the one spirit of the universe (or emptiness); the three fundamentals of Irimi, Kokyu, and Tenkan (or the plum, the bamboo, and the pine); and the eight powers of movement, calm, extension, contraction, solid, fluid, unification, and division (heaven and earth). I can't for the life of me remember Shi Kon off the top of my head right now.

I so rest my case Erick, and plead guilty to the charge of ignorance. (By the way, ikkyo is the one where uke falls down on the floor )
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Old 09-14-2005, 11:20 PM   #46
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
Geez Erick, you use such big words, how are the simpletons like me supposed to understand anything???
(By the way, ikkyo is the one where uke falls down on the floor )
And here I kept thinking it was where I fell to the floor regardless. This explains a lot.

Good to hear from you John.

Big words are lonely and don't get out much --- so it's a kindness really.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-15-2005, 12:09 AM   #47
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

While I've been following this thread with some interest, I notice a failure to mention the simple fact that O Sensei was a devout believer in Omoto-kyo. It is this position of faith that separates his perspective from most of our own.

The religious experience of a devout believer in any religion, be it Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Shinto, is very different than someone trying to intellectually analyze it. You can call it theology, but for the faithful religion is life itself, not some intellectual study.

I think this is why most of O Sensei's direct students did not even attempt to investigate Omoto-kyo. They simply realized that there was no personal belief in Shinto or Omoto-kyo. Because of that, the personal perspective was radically shifted. They were not Morihei Ueshiba, but themselves.

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Old 09-15-2005, 10:57 AM   #48
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

I tried to continue to avoid the word battle between the didactic quasi-historians, as I really didn't agree with the facts supporting either postulation. However, I did enjoy reading all the jargon (we love jargon) and I truly learned a thing or two about the subject matter each was quoting. I think from a philosophic level I could reach similar conclusions as each David and Erick have regarding their own process, but the facts dictate that neither process was the one of the Founder. If I had to pick one, I would lean towards Erick's view, but that is mostly because he correctly identifies the very large hole in David's argument, something that I have pointed to in so many arguments by many other, even more well known historians, that being that just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there.

However, when I read Ted's last post, and particularly the tone he may have inadvertently used, I had to chime back in.

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
While I've been following this thread with some interest, I notice a failure to mention the simple fact that O Sensei was a devout believer in Omoto-kyo. It is this position of faith that separates his perspective from most of our own.
I notice that you fail to mention any source for your astounding revelation... On what source do you base it?
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
The religious experience of a devout believer in any religion, be it Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Shinto, is very different than someone trying to intellectually analyze it. You can call it theology, but for the faithful religion is life itself, not some intellectual study.
True at some level. However, there are many whose devout appearance is but a sham. As for (theology) and what anyone (faithful) calls it, being convinced of something that isn't really there in most circles is defined in terms like, paranoia, schizophrenia and insanity. Remember it was the faithful that kept the world flat and at the center of the universe. They are still keeping stem-cell research at a minimum; teaching Intelligent Design (creationism with a new name) as an option; don't believe in global warming, and kill people in the name of their lord and savior... and that is just the ones in this country… Need I go on and on and on?
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
I think this is why most of O Sensei's direct students did not even attempt to investigate Omoto-kyo. They simply realized that there was no personal belief in Shinto or Omoto-kyo. Because of that, the personal perspective was radically shifted. They were not Morihei Ueshiba, but themselves.
While this seems like a great explanation on the surface, it simply doesn't hold any water. O-Sensei is thought to have taught Aikido to many within the Omoto circle. The postulation repeatedly made is that "we" (us non-Japanese, or even Japanese non-Omoto followers) are missing something and that the delving into Omoto mythology (sincerely or analytically) would somehow serve to unlock the key in terms of O-Sensei's aikido (or even our own) at some mythical, mystical or magical level. If this were correct, it would seem quite logical that there would be scores of high level Omoto theologists (devout or otherwise) who would be proportionally skilled in Aikido as O-Sensei. We don't see this at all. Why, because the two are not related to each other. Any attempt to create some connection between the two is still unproven at best.

I think it important to note, and something I especially acknowledge David for doing, that these discussions are discussions of theories. More importantly, that the so-called source material 99% of people are basing their arguments on are the theories and postulations of other historians. To quote them and theirs as one might quote the Bible and then drown it all in a see of historical metaphor skillfully contrived as evidence and expect the rest of us to simply swallow it hook, line and sinker, just does not go very far towards establishing a concrete argument.

What I liked most about David's posts is where he turned things around and said, it really doesn't matter if it was the training of the Founder because if you believe it to be, then you believe yourself to be on the right path. He extended that to include all others doing the same and that group as that which defines Aikido on the world stage. I would agree with his estimate that the world would see aikido in this light. However, while this is what I liked most about his posts it is also what I liked least. Simply - just because everyone believes it to be true, does not make it O-Sensei's aikido.

There is a dual nature to Aikido training, the first being seeking O-Sensei and the second being seeking the art of the Founder. There is certainly a divide between the two. Through training, one's efforts should be focused on first developing an understanding of what each is on its own followed by creating a bridge between the two. That is the first ten or twenty years. The rest of one's training (in my opinion) is creating an overlap between the two where one sources the other, feeds off the other and the process accelerates. This is O-Sensei's actual process. The clear sign post was his mantra "Masakatsu-Agatsu-Katsuhayahi" which is the process described above. Historians have gutted this expression to mean "true victory is victory over oneself." While this too is clear on its face, it is fortune cookie clear at best. It does describe the end result, but it does nothing to indicate what to do or how to do it. This is what my exception is with David's original postulation. Where is the How and What within Omoto? More directly, where is the How and What of incorporating Omoto into Aikido? While his idea "sounds great…"just like "true victory is victory over oneself" sounds great, it just doesn't help us at all in our quest to seek O-Sensei or the Art of the Founder.


.

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Old 09-15-2005, 12:34 PM   #49
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

I am glad to hear more voices -- not that I did not enjoy Erick's -- but that it is nice to hear other viewpoints along ours. I thus feel a bit better in trying to restate things more clearly -- trying to again at least.

I think my point is being slightly misconstrued. Moreover, it is not a flaw of history to say "We cannot say yet" or "We do not know yet," so I don't think it is accurate Shaun to say there is big whole in one's theory if conclusions must remain hypothetical. For a historian, because we cannot see it/something, it does not mean it does not exist, it simply means we cannot say it exists historiographically. That is tenet of History that any historian is perfectly fine living with. Today, historians that are good, choose to wait for further evidence before they imply that something exists because we do not see it.

I imagine my essay was read by many folks as a kind of attempt to summarize a "gospel" (once and for all) of some sorts. This could only take place for folks that see Osensei and his practice of Aikido as the source for their own practice. I must tell you, personally, I do not understand my own practice in that way.

Reading an essay like the one I wrote, I presume, would make such folks all ruffled up if they could not see themselves in the piece in some way. As a result, they would most likely have to reject what was said and/or reject the relevance of what was said. Somewhere in there, for those reasons, because of those efforts, I am being tagged with things I did not say and/or mean.

In particular, through the thread at least, I tried to point out that I did not say or mean that Osensei felt that we had to learn Omoto-kyo theology in order to understand him and/or Aikido.

Personally, as I said earlier, I do not think we have to do any such thing -- that in fact, it would be better not to -- that I myself do not base my practice on Omoto-kyo. Etc. So there is no reason to see the essay as a reason for suggesting that one's, everyone's, practice must look one way, or this exact way, and not some other way or any way. That is a direction that one takes as one's own accord to see Osensei as some sort of beacon for his or her own practice. For me, this is a strange thing because none of us study with the man.

However, because my piece did suggest a connection between Osensei's own understanding of his practice and Omoto-kyo theology, two more issues were raised.

There was the suggestion that this hypothetical (i.e. cultural influence) is a weak one because more evidence shows that he was not so connected or invested in Omoto-kyo theology than does show that he was. As I said, I have not seen this evidence. This does not mean it is not there, but it does mean that I cannot say it is there. My own support comes mainly from second-hand accounts that say that Osensei was greatly influenced by Omoto-kyo and by Onisaburo (that he was involved with these people and exposed to their ideas, practices, etc.), from what appears to be an exact borrowing of discursive elements by Osensei from Omoto-kyo (e.g. ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki), and even from things that show that Osensei did have a relationship with Onisaburo (e.g. a picture drawn by Onisaburo that Osensei had in his position, copies of texts by Onisaburo in Osensei's possession, accompanying Onisaburo on trips, etc.).

Shuan has suggested that there is evidence out there, yet to be published, that would make us look at all this other evidence in a different light. I look forward to it -- should it exist -- but for now the ball is in the other court. It is not necessary for this side to every time say how we know Osensei was influenced by Omoto-kyo theology when everything that is currently available is pointing toward that. Rather, it is the other side, where proof is required, that must seek to explain away points of contact and such things as identical discursive elements, etc. If such support comes out for this other side, and if it holds water, we will only be presented with a more accurate history of the Founder -- which would be good all around. However, such things do not currently gain weight because present theories of influence are willing to remain hypothetical. You got to do the work before you can start rejecting things properly when you are dealing with hypotheticals. So until then, until the contrary evidence is published, until, for example, something comes out that can reject all of the research that has been done by AikidoJournal.com, for better or for worse, the dominant hypothetical must remain that Osensei was greatly influenced by Omoto-kyo theology and that therefore if one wanted to understand Osensei's more enigmatic phrases, one could gain insight into them by understanding more of Omoto-kyo theology.

The second issue raised suggested that Osensei in some way rejected Omoto-kyo theology and/or attempted to distance himself from mythical discourse in general for the sake of cultural migration. My position here was not that Omoto-kyo theology alone held the answers to Aikido or to Osensei. Nor was it my suggestion that Osensei felt such a thing. I agreed with the position that Osensei would not have felt that we NEEDED to learn Omoto-kyo theology in order to understand him or Aikido. I also agreed with the fact that Osensei made no attempt to establish Aikido practice as something to be practiced in conjunction with the Omoto-kyo religion. There was no attempt by Osensei to have Omoto-kyo be the established religion of Aikido. My rejection of this position was that no evidence suggests that Osensei either rejected Omoto-kyo theology for himself or his own practice and/or that he felt that mythical discourse was in some way a hindrance to the art migrating across cultures. Pointing out that today Aikido has been demythologized in most of the world is not proof that Osensei rejected Omoto-kyo theology for himself and/or his own practice of Aikido and/or that he felt that mythical discourse was in some way a hindrance to the art migrating across cultures. Again, there may be evidence to suggest otherwise, but right now, the current body of research (e.g. AikidoJournal.com) suggests something very different from what Erick has been trying to posit regarding this very specific point.

What people seem to be misunderstanding is the concept of "influence." In the field of History it is an age-old concept and it has gone on to develop itself in some very refined ways in the field of cultural studies. When I say Omoto-kyo has influenced Osensei's thought, I do not mean to suggest that Osensei does not exist outside of Omoto-kyo theology. It is like this when one says that Japanese culture has been influenced by Chinese culture. In saying that, one does not mean to suggest that there is no Japan -- only China -- that there is not Japanese culture, only a Chinese one. At the same time, however, when we mention an influence, we do note that we can indeed gain more understanding of one thing by knowing more about one if its foundations or points of origination, etc. In common terms, it is very much the same way that a spouse gets to know you more once they meet your parents and hear stories of your upbringing. When they hear those stories, and when the come to know you more, it is not that you become a child for them -- they are not now married to the boy or girl you once were. However, they do gain some insight on why you might be uncomfortable at a formal dinner party, and/or talking on the phone, and/or still afraid of shots, etc.

If one wants to have the suggested (hypothetical) notion of influence rejected, one will either have to show how Osensei actually had a different understanding of ichiei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki (different from the one of Omoto-kyo's understanding) or one will have to show how no such influence existed and/or ceased to exist at a given point of time. That work will be huge, and that work, to date, has not been done. We, as folks wanting to talk about the history of Osensei, are currently left with the immense block of research done by the folks at AikidoJournal.com that is by far the largest and currently most sophisticated work done to date -- a body of research that does indeed suggest that such a cultural influence is a very supportable hypothesis.

To really get what I have said, you are going to have to separate a work of historical and/or cultural analysis from a religious commentary on some sort of doctrine. If you can't, you are going to force yourself to ask questions like Shaun's: How? What? But you are going to be shocked by the historan's answer to those questions: Who cares.

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-15-2005, 11:55 PM   #50
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
I tried to continue to avoid the word battle between the didactic quasi-historians, as I really didn't agree with the facts supporting either postulation. However, I did enjoy reading all the jargon (we love jargon) and I truly learned a thing or two about the subject matter each was quoting.
That's the problem with theology and philosophy. Better than half the argument is usually about defining terms. Tedious but necessary, and lending one to seek out those godawful big words, for precision, if nothing else.

I suspect Shaun's point is not theological in that respect, so small words should suffice, at least for my good friend, John

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
Simply - just because everyone believes it to be true, does not make it O-Sensei's aikido.
I had the same impression. David's position is by no means in this category or to such a degree, but it is in the negihborhood of the Humpty Dumpty tendency in Aikido:

"When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
There is a dual nature to Aikido training, the first being seeking O-Sensei and the second being seeking the art of the Founder. There is certainly a divide between the two. Through training, one's efforts should be focused on first developing an understanding of what each is on its own followed by creating a bridge between the two. That is the first ten or twenty years. The rest of one's training (in my opinion) is creating an overlap between the two where one sources the other, feeds off the other and the process accelerates. This is O-Sensei's actual process.
I also find this duality in patterns of religious thought, as I have indicated, as well as O-Sensei's thought. Metaphor (or myth) seems to play a necessary part, even as it is often troubling and misleading. The core truth is ineffable, evading attempts to fix it in one place.

A sword truly functions only because it dwindles down to nothing. In fact it, it is this almost-nothing at the edge that does all the work. But it is a very dangerous and powerful sort of nothing.

Everything else about the blade furniture is about US, not about the essential truth of the blade. The things we attach to the essential and vanishingly insubstantial truth of the blade provide us a means to grasp, employ, store and transport it without undue risk of injury to ourselves or others.

To a significant degree, essential truth is similarly dangerous to approach without mediating structures. It may be contemplated. But to grasp it nakedly is fraught with peril. Esoteric traditions the world over caution about this danger. Mediating structures can seem highly idiosyncratic, even arbitrary. The mediating structures are often mistaken for the thing they serve. But this risk cannot be avoided.

I do not think human beings can get rid of mediating structures altogether. And sometimes they teach us things we could not learn about how to practically employ the exceedingly subtle truth. One simply cannot afford mistake the one for the other.

The physicality of aikido practice, the ability to teach and learn without even speaking, if you choose, provides a fundamentally different way to grasp the problem than mere intellectual understanding will permit.

I see the process that Shaun describes as O-Sensei's process, as it seems to me: Constantly seeking ways and means to grasp and move around the irreducible fact of the blade without getting cut, or having to cut another.

This was, I have reason to believe, O-Sensei's intent. To let practice strip off as much of the acquired layers of metaphor as is safe. That allows one to seek out other metaphors, other techniques, that may also allow us to work safely perhaps even closer to the blade.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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