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Old 09-16-2005, 12:07 AM   #51
tedehara
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Many times when we run into difficulties, we take a look around and see what others have done in our place. When we study Aikido, problems arise and it is natural to be curious about the founder and see how he overcame his problems.

However this is a budo. It is not about the theoretical concept of the martial art. It is about the martial artist. It is about the practitioner, not the art. A person is real, an art is an abstraction.

The solution of problems are not in the history of the art. It is in the practice of that art. The martial artist is not only the problem but also the key to the solution. It is through training that the solution can be found.

Knowing the history of the art and understanding the viewpoint of the founder is a valuable aid. Yet I've read too many Aikido Spin Doctors who would use their interpretation of the facts, to misinform you into a false position. Their history of Aikido follows their own agenda. I'm not writing about anyone who has posted here BTW.

O Sensei was a Shinto mystic. One of the properties of a mystic is that they cannot be entirely captured in words. If you have a definition of a mystic which completely describes them and categorizes them in their proper niche, then you know you're wrong. This applies to people like Black Elk, Bankei, Meister Eckhart or O Sensei. For those of you who would like to try, I wish you "Good Luck".

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 09-16-2005, 12:25 PM   #52
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Hi Ted,

I liked your latest post. It was straight to the point and directly related to the healthy training philosophy you obviously hold up for yourself. I posted a few comments, most of which is me cheering on what you said.

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Many times when we run into difficulties, we take a look around and see what others have done in our place. When we study Aikido, problems arise and it is natural to be curious about the founder and see how he overcame his problems.
True. True. This is certainly a place we can look. Our teachers, seniors, heck even our juniors are our best source for information.
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
However this is a budo. It is not about the theoretical concept of the martial art. It is about the martial artist. It is about the practitioner, not the art. A person is real, an art is an abstraction.
True. True. It is the abstraction that leads us to seek out something within ourselves as human beings. In the end all martial artists who train (and continue to train throughout their lives) whether they do or do not ever confront someone in battle are always human beings. In some ways we train for an encounter on a day that we hope will never come, in other ways we train for what we encounter on a day to day basis. In the end all we ever really have is ourselves.
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
The solution of problems are not in the history of the art. It is in the practice of that art. The martial artist is not only the problem but also the key to the solution. It is through training that the solution can be found.
True. True. One must practice to find solutions. However the practice is at one level the solution, but it merely begins there, it does not end there. I am not so interested in the historical perspective that dominates the mind of the academic, or the academic-sage that so heavily weighs down many of the posts in this thread, along with an entire other website noted in one recent post. For me, it is counter intuitive (which is redundant, really) because O-Sensei's message was very simple, Train and then train some more... However his particular path was unique in some ways, but when I say unique I do not mean new or even improved as there are many examples we can find in various cultures around the globe which would mirror O-Sensei's to a "T".
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Knowing the history of the art and understanding the viewpoint of the founder is a valuable aid. Yet I've read too many Aikido Spin Doctors who would use their interpretation of the facts, to misinform you into a false position. Their history of Aikido follows their own agenda. I'm not writing about anyone who has posted here BTW.
True. True. Whole arts have done so maintaining some connection to O-Sensei by keeping the name aikido (snicker) when they are clearly not based upon the Founders thinking or his process. However it is for exactly this reason why it is important that we ask ourselves, "What is this art (from the perspective of what am I doing that is not of this art)?"
Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
O Sensei was a Shinto mystic. One of the properties of a mystic is that they cannot be entirely captured in words. If you have a definition of a mystic which completely describes them and categorizes them in their proper niche, then you know you're wrong. This applies to people like Black Elk, Bankei, Meister Eckhart or O Sensei. For those of you who would like to try, I wish you "Good Luck".
Well, I knew it was too good to all be true...

I do not see O-Sensei as any sort of mystic. The silliness of the argument reminds me of an occasion when I was listening to a fascinating dissertation on some mystical way I should approach my life and training as interpreted by someone whom I deeply respect. When finished, I asked, "Did you base that upon some deeply studied religious text upon which one needed to spend long hours meditating to discover its true meaning?" Answer: "No, this is just simple common sense!" I felt stunned, as if I had received a slap on the forehead. I was so busy looking for the Asian "mystique" that I had completely "missed" the simplicity of the solution.

Having said all of the above, my initial point in chiming into this thread is with regards to a historical redressing of O-Sensei's art by the author of the thread. He indicated in his last post that he bases his opinions on the preponderance of the evidence he read somewhere else, evidence which is in my opinion nothing more than the purely speculative effort of the academic historian. His is but one example which points out the importance of addressing what is found on the internet. I do so for the casual reader who does not know the history of aikido might have counter opinions to balance out his thinking before he is encouraged to go off on some tangent that has yet to be proven to have any positive results with regards to training in the art. Sure, weightlifting, Pilates, skiing and shodo (calligraphy) are all things that might help to improve my aikido, as might the studying of Omoto. However these things are not aikido. Any attempt at calling them "pillars" of the art, or even pillars of the Founder's life should be met with a blank stare, a non-committing nod and a smile, but not much more.



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Old 09-16-2005, 11:18 PM   #53
Mike Fugate
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Question Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Ravens Sensei,
In regards to your comment about the mystics I have a question. Now I have heard my Sifu speak of the"mystics", and also other such as Seagal Sensei. Seagal mentioned that he was training hard and not getting anywhere and wasnt until he studied the mystics that his Aikido took off. In your opinion what is this "mystics" he and others speak of...is it proper understanding and control of ones Ki, to therefor have truly a "soft" art? For having that kind of control could be considered "mystical" by some I guess.
Thanx You and Peace

"When you cease to strive to understand, then you will know without understanding." -- Caine
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Old 09-17-2005, 09:12 AM   #54
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

This is from dictionary.com:

mys·tic   
adj.
1 Of or relating to religious mysteries or occult rites and practices.
2 Of or relating to mysticism or mystics.
3 Inspiring a sense of mystery and wonder.
4 a Mysterious; strange.
b Enigmatic; obscure.
5 Mystical.

n.
One who practices or believes in mysticism or a given form of mysticism: Protestant mystics.

[Middle English mystik, from Latin mysticus, from Greek mustikos, from must?s, initiate. See mystery1.]


mys·ti·cism   
n.
1 a Immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality or God.
b The experience of such communion as described by mystics.
2 A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience.
3 Vague, groundless speculation.

mysticism

n 1: a religion based on mystical communion with an ultimate reality 2: obscure or irrational thought

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-17-2005, 11:00 PM   #55
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

David is not specific about which theme of the quoted definitions he wishes us to focus upon. I will hazard a guess that many who read it may unfortunately focus upon the following:

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
1 Of or relating to religious mysteries or occult rites and practices.
...
4 a Mysterious; strange.
b Enigmatic; obscure.

mysticism
...
3 Vague, groundless speculation.
...
2: obscure or irrational thought
But the ground of mystical experience has been notable for the many common elements in its description across cultures. Current research has found empirical neurological evidence that meditation does indeed involve an other than ordinary experience at aneuorlogical level. See for instance:

http://www.shinzen.org/shinsub2/_disc1/0000003c.htm

Dr. Andrew Newberg, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, undertook a radilogical examination of the neurological basis of mystical expereince. subject included a Catholic nun and a and practioner of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. He later wrote a book outlining called "Why God Won't Go Way"
One subject, typical in feeling to the rest, described his experience at the time of the neurological investigation thus:

"There was a feeling of energy centered within me... going out to infinite space and returning... There was a relaxing of the dualistic mind, and an intense feeling of love. I felt a profound letting go of the boundaries around me, and a connection with some kind of energy and state of being that had a quality of clarity, transparency and joy. I felt a deep and profound sense of connection to everything, recognizing that there never was a true separation at all."

I challenge ayone to compare the report of this experience to O-Sensei's own report of his three revelatory episodes.

At the time of this reported subjective experience, the radiological examination revealed two significant facts, that the attentional center of the brain was extraordinarily active, and the orientation center of the brain ( which knows where "I" stops and everything else begins) was abnormally inactive.

Lest anyone think this a crock or one- off study, other studies have found similar brain activity changes in religious and mystical experience.

http://hendrix.imm.dtu.dk/services/j.../WOBIB_22.html

The short answer is that mystical experience is both subjectively and objectively real experience. It is as empirically verifiable in its neurological occurrence in the brain as the difference in seeing red and tasting sour. It is undeniably repeatable; similar techniques have been taught and similar experiences reported in cultures around the world for countless centuries.

It is also an experience maddeningly evasive of content, famously described by the anonymous English mystic as the "Cloud of Unknowing." How does one describe "this" experience in terms of "that" experience, when the experience itself is defined by the loss of the this/that distinction.

This is why people create myth. They have a very real, and very intense experience that is incapable of description by ordinary means. At the same time it is subjectively perceived as a having profound meaning. It is as real and immediate to the percipient as catching an inflamed hangnail or stubbing your foot on the door.

Myth is a way to try to talk about and to communicate to others in language what is, quite literally, unspeakable in itself. This is also why any mythological system is, in and of itself, ultimately inadequate to describe the real experience.

In the practice of the Way of Harmony, O-Sensei set up a martial art (maximizing the attentional faculties) and which trains to make the Attacker and Attacked gradually become less readily distinguishable (eliminating the perceived difference in subject and object). This practice communicates the enlargement of the sense of self beyond the sphere of ego, without the necessity of mediating language.

As I have said before, the work works on us.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-18-2005, 12:21 PM   #56
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Shaun,

I came across this this morning at AJ.com. I was wondering if this might be part of the total (or alternate/more accurate) history you have mentioned/spoken about several times through this thread:

"More interestingly, also another person is mentioned in this book as a Japanese who did qigong. His name is Bonji Kawatsura (1861~1929). He was originally a political journalist and politician. Around 1900, it is said that he went to the mountain, and trained to rediscover ancient Shinto training methods, using old Shinto text and Classical Chinese text. Later he declared that he had refound these old Shinto training methods which he called "Misogi". A student of him was a person whose name was Ken Tatsumi. The top student of Tatsumi was Dr. Kenzo Futaki. Dr. Futaki was also a student of Ueshiba Morihei during the Kobukan era.

Dr. Futaki learned 8 methods of these "Misogi" methods "rediscovered" by Kawatsura from Tatsumi. These 8 methods are "Norito( prayers)", "Mizu-Gyo (water training)", "Furitama" , "Ameno torifune(known also as "Funakogi Undo"), "Chinkon-kishin" and others. Dr. Futaki also organized an organization called the "Misogi kai", and the first student of this organization was Seiseki Abe Sensei."

Thanks in advance for any reply,
take care,
d

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Old 09-18-2005, 06:04 PM   #57
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Shaun,

I came across this this morning at AJ.com. I was wondering if this might be part of the total (or alternate/more accurate) history you have mentioned/spoken about several times through this thread:

"More interestingly, also another person is mentioned in this book as a Japanese who did qigong. His name is Bonji Kawatsura (1861~1929). He was originally a political journalist and politician. Around 1900, it is said that he went to the mountain, and trained to rediscover ancient Shinto training methods, using old Shinto text and Classical Chinese text. Later he declared that he had refound these old Shinto training methods which he called "Misogi". A student of him was a person whose name was Ken Tatsumi. The top student of Tatsumi was Dr. Kenzo Futaki. Dr. Futaki was also a student of Ueshiba Morihei during the Kobukan era.

Dr. Futaki learned 8 methods of these "Misogi" methods "rediscovered" by Kawatsura from Tatsumi. These 8 methods are "Norito( prayers)", "Mizu-Gyo (water training)", "Furitama" , "Ameno torifune(known also as "Funakogi Undo"), "Chinkon-kishin" and others. Dr. Futaki also organized an organization called the "Misogi kai", and the first student of this organization was Seiseki Abe Sensei."

Thanks in advance for any reply,
take care,
d
Hi David,

May I ask you the exact source of your last post. Please direct me to the thread so that I may read it within the full context. Thanks. I'll make a coment as soon as I am able to find a few minutes to write a reply.



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Old 09-18-2005, 07:24 PM   #58
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Shaun,

Sure thing - it's on at the bottom of the blog comments on the blog entry "Hidden in Plain Sight" - written by Toomo.

Thanks so much,
david

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Old 09-19-2005, 04:31 PM   #59
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Shaun,

Sure thing - it's on at the bottom of the blog comments on the blog entry "Hidden in Plain Sight" - written by Toomo.

Thanks so much,
david
David,

Sorry it took me a long time to read the thread (slow enough not to trip and fall over some of the misinformation, or gag on the "pride" and prejudice" replete within the thread).

You asked:
Quote:
I was wondering if this might be part of the total (or alternate/more accurate) history you have mentioned/spoken about several times through this thread...?
I think the first thing I would need in order to give you any sort of answer is for you to point me to the location within my posts to which you are specifically referring?

The passage indicated in the other thread merely states the relationships between a few individuals, but does not go into the specifics of training at all.




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Old 09-19-2005, 05:33 PM   #60
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Shaun,

Sorry you had to read that whole thing - I should have been more clear that only the comment in question (the last one made by Toomo) contained the context you probably were seeking. Again - apologies. I am sure that was a drag.

I was trying to refer to a couple of questions you asked in your very first post - I think. In those questions, I remember you implying/suggesting/noting (please, you pick the word) that there was another history of Osensei, yet to be fully researched and/or fully written, that went against the hypothetical that Osensei's phrases that are known around the world, and/or those aspects of Aikido that draw folks from around the world, and/or Aikido in general (again - you can pick the descriptive) were based upon Omoto-kyo theology - that there was another history out there that suggested that such a hypothetical was in no way true/accurate/meaningful (again - you pick the word).

I was wondering if Osensei's reliance upon the teaching/practices of Kawatsura was part of that implied history - that if folks knew better, for example, they would not be looking to Omoto-kyo to understand "ichei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki" or to understand "God," or "Love," etc., but to the teachings of Kawatsura instead.

Again - thanks for your time and effort. Much appreciation.
david

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Old 09-20-2005, 12:23 AM   #61
Charles Hill
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I was wondering if Osensei's reliance upon the teaching/practices of Kawatsura was part of that implied history - that if folks knew better, for example, they would not be looking to Omoto-kyo to understand "ichei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki" or to understand "God," or "Love," etc., but to the teachings of Kawatsura instead.
There is an Aiki News interview with Abe Sensei that I read on Matsuoka Sensei`s website. In it Abe Sensei was asked something like if what the Misogikai was doing was the same as what Omoto Kyo was doing. He didn`t answer the question and I was left wishing that the interviewer had asked the question again.

Charles
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Old 09-20-2005, 09:59 AM   #62
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

I read the interview of Abe Sensei. The translation is rough in patches, but a fascinating insight even so.

Shaun, since you have had an indirect connection to Abe Sensei through Matsuoka Sensei, your observations on a few of these points would be of interest.

Abe Sensei clearly spoke of OSensei in terms somewhat different than protraying him as a simple follower of Omoto. Unlike Charles, it seems to me that Abe Sensei's point was to emphasize the distinction between OSensei's thought and that of Omoto, placing him in a far more traditionalist lineage. It is possible that this is true, but it also may be revisionism of a sort to disassociate an honored teacher from a movement that was not well thought of among people of influence in Japan.

"O'Sensei described something about spirituality using easy-to-understand Ohmotokyo-like words, in other words, "kotodama". "

I would like to know what Japanese expression Abe Sensei used was translated as "Omotokyo-like" and its use in other contexts.

He also deals with the Kojiki as though to sever its mythological interprtetation from its use for practice of kotodama. The way it is described seems analogous to a cyphertext read out with a key to obtain plaintext. This is very suggestive to me. There are strong similarities in this sensibility with mantrayana. Nevertheless, Abe Sensei seems to criticize specific aspects of the mythological figures in Kojiki as being too Chinese in derivation, an implicit swipe against ryobu shinto.

"O'Sensei strongly insisted to understand "Kojiki" thoroughly. Story at the mythological time in "Kojiki" is our back bone. Therefore, O'Sensei told us to read "Kojiki" thoroughly and read it by way of "Kotodama". This is what was O'Sensei's desire and our mission."

On the significance of center and breath, Abe Sensei also seems to bring perspective to understanding of Minakanushi no kami, as the kami of the center.

"It means that the smallest of oneself is a dot, which is 'There is a location, but there is no size.' The center of universe does not have size, either. ... [Of breath in the abdomen] It becomes such a small thing, like "there is a location, but there is no size." This is Minakanushi of breathing.

Again, I would love to have the Japanese to compare, and to see what other connotations his choice of words would encompass.

In light of my inquiry into broader and deeper connections, (which David criticizes, although not unfairly) I cannot help but observe that Abe Sensei's description of the qualities of Minakanushi no kami as written in English seems strongly to echo a description of God that has been a topic of metaphysics in the Christian world since the twelfth century.

This translated version was ascribed to Alain de Lille. It was later adopted by theologians Nicholas of Cusa and Pascal in their metaphysics:

"God is an intelligible sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."

The version in the Pseudo-Hermetic text of the Liber XXIV Philosophorum ("Book of 24 Philosophers") is:

"Deus est sphaera infinita, cuius centrum ubique, circumferentia nusquam." "God is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere."

The Pseudo-Hermetic Liber dates to the eleventh century, but of whole Corpus Hermeticum we have only parts, and the Liber text may be a medieval copy or collection from some lost original(s), but it is impossible to know. The Corpus itself reliably dates to the third century of the Christian era together with a number of related Gnostic texts.

While I feel certain that David has already jumped ship on my voyage at this point, these connections are important. Whether they bespeak direct relationship or merely show parallel development is not crucial. This is not mere idle speculation either. Ideas matter. They are the weapons and tools of the mind, as sharp and dangerous as any blade, and as liable to misuse or tragic accident.

Abe Sensei's description gives a powerful point of reference in the Western tradition for the ideas and techniques the OSensei has communicated. This kind of connection allows them more easily to be translated into a native intellectual idiom.

In light of Oscar Ratti's recent untimley death, the singular phrase "Dynamic Sphere" cannot help but remind me of this. For that specific idea imparts a meaningful way of digesting and dwelling upon the function and further exploration of the techniques we practice.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:28 PM   #63
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
There is an Aiki News interview with Abe Sensei that I read on Matsuoka Sensei`s website. In it Abe Sensei was asked something like if what the Misogikai was doing was the same as what Omoto Kyo was doing. He didn`t answer the question and I was left wishing that the interviewer had asked the question again.

Charles
Hi Charles,

You asked yourself, "Where are the follow-up questions???" Great point! I remember having the exact same thought the first time I read that article. However, much of it Abe Sensei had already shared with us privately in one form or another. There is another article Seiseki Abe Sensei Interview - Aikido Journal that I had a chance to assist in preparing for the AJ website. That article is actually a bit more startling in terms of what is revealed. However, as before the interviewer seems to miss it and doesn't ask the follow-up questions you and I might have asked. Perhaps he had a list of questions to get through, or didn't feel comfortable enough to ask what might seem to some to be a question that might reveal controversial information. Both are understandable. Who can say?

Since both interviews left me to wonder about so many things I made it a point to discuss them with Abe Sensei the next time I went to Japan to stay at his dojo. If you think the articles tickled some interest, you can imagine what several extended discussions might do for an eager mind looking for any item it could find to turn over in case a rare gem was to be found lurking below. I have spent more than a decade decoding that initial information, some of which I can't even share with but two or three other individuals to get some outside influence on my thinking. At the time, there was a bit of a backlash from other students over my continuous ventures back to Japan to train with Abe Sensei. However, I had traveled with one other individual three or four times so we could compare notes for a while, but he eventually moved away. I felt I was on my own. I found that the techniques at our dojo, dynamic as they are known to have been seemed quite hollow to me. I was desperate to find some way to reconcile two seemingly opposite approaches to learning the art of Aikido.

As it turns out, once my teacher (Matsuoka Sensei) aligned himself with Abe Sensei in 2000, from that point forward I had the best ally I could ever wish to have working towards that same result - reconciling what we both saw as two completely different systems. Matsuoka Sensei has been the key person in interpreting Abe Sensei's message, both figuratively and literally. Two trips to Japan ago, I was able to spend time with both Abe Sensei and Matsuoka Sensei going very deeply into some longstanding questions that I had always wanted to ask. Some questions took several hours to answer and I simply could not imagine being able to even ask the question should Matsuoka Sensei not have been there to translate it and interpret the answer. Unfortunately sometimes a Japanese interpreter will change a question to soften it so as not to offend anyone. While this is good on one level it tends to distort the intention with which I chose to ask the question.

However it was another chance encounter that I was fortunate to have had that would eventually provide the "language" I would need to learn to decode the information that was coming my way. At one point I had a chance to conduct my own interview with Abe Sensei. I published it in our Dojo Newsletter Aikido (which by the way was supposed to be named Aikido Journal, but alas, Stanley Pranin scooped us when he changed the name of his publication from Aiki-News to Aikido Journal here in America). In that article I was able to ask all of the follow-up questions that I wanted based upon what came up in the interview. Although I didn't know it then, my life would change forever on that very day. I am not posting the contents to what seemed like a long interview. However, to give some context, the next section is basically an overview of our meeting.

The interview was with Abe Sensei and also with Shiro Matsuoka Sensei, the longtime Chairman and President of Seishoku Kyoukai, The Japan Macrobiotics Association. Shiro Matsuoka Sensei is Haruo Matsuoka Sensei's (my teacher's) father. Matsuoka Sensei was an uchi-deshi of the founder of Macrobiotics, Nyoichi Sakurazawa (George Ohsawa). Ohsawa Sensei and O-Sensei knew each other. I believe that Kenzo Futaki Sensei and Okada Sensei had a very strong connection to both Macrobiotics and Aikido. Please be clear, O-Sensei was not macrobiotic. His diet was very particular, and he did not eat meat. However O-Sensei's diet came from a purely Shinto and Buddhist perspective, whereas macrobiotic is based upon genmai (brown rice) and is supported by a more rigorous scientific approach rather stemming from a spiritual (or religious) approach. Abe Sensei used to travel with O-Sensei to visit with Okada Sensei to learn more about how best to prepare food for O-Sensei. As it turned out, Matsuoka Sensei also had prepared food for O-Sensei, probably through Okada Sensei who had founded the Macrobiotic Association in the Kansai area.

So as it was I found myself sitting with two individuals both of whom had a direct connection to O-Sensei and they are both telling me about how Aikido and food are intertwined in a very specific way. I came up with the title, "Eating Aikido" to reflect what I considered to be a major discovery. I still hold that to be true today. Later I was able to study briefly with Herman Aihara sensei, another of the senior uchi-deshi of George Ohsawa. His book on Acid/Alkaline was as pivotal a point in understanding my path as discovering Aikido was towards setting me on it in the first place. When I had enough information to overlap Yin/Yang theory in which Shiro Matsuoka Sensei is one of the world's most knowledgeable people with the concepts of Acid/Alkaline (Aihara Sensei,) both from the Macrobiotic approach, I was able to come up with a total approach to my training and life. I train, teach and live from this approach.

So with regards to your initial question, one would have to know Abe Sensei to understand why he didn't answer it directly. However if you reread it, he actually does answer it directly, but you would have to know Abe Sensei to understand his answer. It is what he said that struck me so hard. I couldn't understand that someone could have heard that answer and not asked a follow-up question. The first time I met Abe Sensei I had asked him something that lay upon the same line of questioning. I was wondering about Omoto-Kyo and was considering what path to take. I asked Abe Sensei the importance of the teachings and just like in his interview with Stanley Pranin, he didn't answer me. However, when I look back on what he said and knowing what I know now (i.e. understanding how Abe Sensei prefers to always be encouraging) I realize that he did answer my question quite clearly. At the time I was very disappointed because I expected one answer and got another so I could not take in what Abe Sensei did say. Fortunately over the years I guess I must have been receptive to Abe Sensei's very gentle guiding hand because unbeknownst to me, I have followed his teachings to the letter.

That is my long answer to your short question. As for the short answer, how's this:

Abe Sensei told me that if I followed his instructions that my Aikido would improve dramatically. In truth what I thought that meant, actually what I wanted that to mean and what it has come to mean turned out to be two very different things. About eight years later, one of my juniors decided that he would go to Abe Sensei and seek O-Sensei's Aikido. I was skeptical as while his waza was certainly very decent I didn't think he would receive Abe Sensei's real message. What I can say is that a few years later his Aikido has changed dramatically and improved immeasurably over where he would be know if he had continued on his old path.

Many apologies for the length of the post.



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Old 09-20-2005, 03:29 PM   #64
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Shaun,

Sorry you had to read that whole thing - I should have been more clear that only the comment in question (the last one made by Toomo) contained the context you probably were seeking. Again - apologies. I am sure that was a drag.
Hi David,

As it turns out, for me it was interesting reading. I enjoyed the back and forth and the mixing of styles of the various key posters in that thread. While I may disagree with some, most or all of it, I still believe that it is interesting reading. In any case, simply reading the one post which contained the section you quoted would not have allowed me to consider answering your question or making any comment.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I was trying to refer to a couple of questions you asked in your very first post - I think. In those questions, I remember you implying/suggesting/noting (please, you pick the word) that there was another history of Osensei, yet to be fully researched and/or fully written, that went against the hypothetical that Osensei's phrases that are known around the world, and/or those aspects of Aikido that draw folks from around the world, and/or Aikido in general (again - you can pick the descriptive) were based upon Omoto-kyo theology - that there was another history out there that suggested that such a hypothetical was in no way true/accurate/meaningful (again - you pick the word).
Okay, let me pick the word... how's "opining" (based upon specific information that I have received, as opposed to something I read somewhere...) Will "opine" work?

While you didn't ask a specific question, I have a few things I would like to point out. First, the reason why I chose not to get involved publicly with the thread: For me, metaphorically speaking most of the people driving it seem to be more interested in who shot JR than they are in JR who just happens to be laying at their feet bleeding to death.

When I met my macrobiotic teacher he said, "If you wait until you understand what I am saying to follow what I am saying, you might not be around long enough for it to matter." While those individuals argue (intelligently and mostly on a dignified level) about how what O-Sensei used to generate his power got to Japan (through China...), or how it got to O-Sensei ( through Omoto-Kyo or Shinto or Buddhist or Shingon practices, via DRAJJ (Takeda Sensei) or via some other art (and its associated teacher) they have simply not embraced the methodology O-Sensei actually used.

As to your implied point:
O-Sensei didn't hide his process. He shared it with those who would follow it. The rest were left to wander 40 years in the desert. O-Sensei didn't obfuscate his process. It is a very direct, multi-pronged approach. Yes he did encapsulate his message in several meaningful languages, ones particularly suited to the audience with whom he was sharing it. However, if I speak French, does it make me French? Surely not... just ask a Frenchman! If I speak about studying the New Testament, does that make me a Christian? Of course it doesn't. (I am going to hell, regardless...)
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I was wondering if Osensei's reliance upon the teaching/practices of Kawatsura was part of that implied history - that if folks knew better, for example, they would not be looking to Omoto-kyo to understand "ichei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki" or to understand "God," or "Love," etc., but to the teachings of Kawatsura instead.

Again - thanks for your time and effort. Much appreciation.
david
One has to look at the totality of O-Sensei's daily life to understand the Founder and his art. It is not going to come to us on the mat, no matter how many hours, weeks, months, years, decades or lifetimes some of us pretend it will take. It is not going to come to us simply sitting Zazen, even if we should do so for eternity. It is not going to come to us meditating on "ichei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki" or "nam-yo-ho-ren-gei-kyo" even if we did so before breakfast lunch and dinner until we depart this very realm. One simply must follow the daily routine, soup to nuts, no shortcuts, like it or not. So sorry.

As for the need for it to be fully researched, there really is no need to do so. There are teachers out there who are preparing their students to receive O-Sensei's message when they are ready. As for writing it, truth be told, those who will follow the path don't need a map to do so. As for the rest, they are already lost and no map will help them. Remember, the menu is not the meal.

If there is one thing people don't like to hear it is that what they are doing, have been doing and will continue to do won't get them any closer to the answer that they are seeking regardless of the passion, sincerity, will, hope or effort with which they do so. Face it, if you are headed in the wrong direction, no matter how fast you run, how high you jump or the myriad of expressions on your face which you choose to adopt along the way, you simply will never get there.



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Old 09-20-2005, 04:14 PM   #65
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Shaun,

Is that a "yes"? :-) I'll take that as a one then.

It is a very interesting view of things. As a historian however, I do not think it would cancel out the significance of Omoto-kyo theology as far as gaining some insight into the more universal and well-known statements made by the Founder. Such a history would simply add to the overall history of Osensei - not force currently accepted parts of it out and/or render them as meaningless. This is not an endorsement suggesting that if you want to do "real" Aikido or if you want to do the Aikido of the Founder you have to do Omoto-kyo theology. I hardly believe that - as I have said many times. This is to say that one is going to have to look at all of these things, and more, if one wants to understand Osensei historically.

On a different note:

As a person that considers himself to be practicing Aikido, as a person that considers himself an aikidoka, I must depart from your concern with pedigree here. In other words, I cannot share in such a concern. Personally, I feel there are two areas where Aikido must survive in order to define itself properly. These are the areas of martial validity (i.e. its capacity to gain victory over defeat in hand to hand combat scenarios) and of spiritual maturity (i.e. social/moral harmony and gaining a proximity to God). As far as these things go, there are many ways for one to achieve them. I cannot look at the obvious multiplicity of paths and denounce one path over another because it does not look like that of the Founder's. I cannot judge or rather condemn one path to futility because it varies either in part or in total from what Osensei did. I can only determine the value, or the viability, of a given path by looking at it in and of itself.

Thanks so much for sharing,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-20-2005, 05:35 PM   #66
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Shaun,

Is that a "yes"? :-) I'll take that as a one then.
Hi David,

Actually, it is not a yes by any stretch of the word. I did answer the question, but I did so in a way that might encourage one where to look as opposed to telling them where not to look.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
It is a very interesting view of things. As a historian however, I do not think it would cancel out the significance of Omoto-kyo theology as far as gaining some insight into the more universal and well-known statements made by the Founder.
Nor should you discard them. I never said that. As a matter of fact, I would suggest everyone to conduct their own investigations of the subject matter. I went to Ayabe and spoke with the Omoto priests there. I had the proper introductions and was there as a student of Seagal Sensei, who was quite well known by the priests there, as he had been there a decade, or so earlier to get his own answers. While I have this, I have also asked repeatedly for anyone to show me any first or second hand source material that indicates that Omoto theology is in any way source material for the art of the Founder. Of course, one could say that anything and everything one encounters is source material for everything that person says and does that comes afterward. On one level this is correct. However I mean that Aikido is directly founded upon the principles of Omoto. I have not presented my own opinion on the matter, either in favor or against the theory. But regardless of whether I am trying to eliminate it as source material for further study, or am merely trying to confirm my own conclusions so as to embrace further study, I have yet to encounter anyone giving any conclusive evidence (or anything even palatable for that matter) that would support it. That is all I have been trying to say...
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Such a history would simply add to the overall history of Osensei - not force currently accepted parts of it out and/or render them as meaningless. This is not an endorsement suggesting that if you want to do "real" Aikido or if you want to do the Aikido of the Founder you have to do Omoto-kyo theology. I hardly believe that - as I have said many times.
However that does not mean that if standing on one's head for two hours before every meal was the answer we have all been looking for that there wouldn't be whole groups invalidating the concept as (take your pick)
  • bad science
  • spiritually void
  • physically impractical for self defense...
As we all know magic is not the thing it seems to be, but rather the slight of hand that we are not supposed to see. If one spends their day, or their life training themselves to levitate (I can say with 99.999% confidence) they will not get any better at whatever David Blaine, or your favorite magician of choice is actually doing when he wants it to appear that he is levitating. Meaning Maybe O-Sensei's waza was misdirection in terms of his own training and goals. In other words the car and the road are not the focus of the journey.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
This is to say that one is going to have to look at all of these things, and more, if one wants to understand Osensei historically.
Perhaps we should start with clarifying the importance, if any of understanding O-Sensei historically versus Seeking O-Sensei's art. I have a pretty good idea of the (current thought on the) historical significance of Jesus Christ, Buddha and Mohammed. However, that doesn't help me even 1/10th of 1% to be a better Christian, Buddhist or Muslim...

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
On a different note:

As a person that considers himself to be practicing Aikido, as a person that considers himself an aikidoka, I must depart from your concern with pedigree here.
While I may have done or said something to which you are referring, I am not sure what you specifically pointing to or at. Would you please clarify as to what statement I may have made that implies such a thing?
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
In other words, I cannot share in such a concern. Personally, I feel there are two areas where Aikido must survive in order to define itself properly.
Again, the term, "define itself" is strange for me. O-Sensei defined Aikido, and it is there for us to discover. I once did a seminar where 3000 people spent an entire weekend discussing how to "define" something. the process directly relates to Kotodama and is immutable. Define, discern discover, etc are fixed variables strung out in a particular order (fixed) along a particular process. In that regard, we don't define Aikido, and Aikido certainly does not define itself. Of course, from your historical perspective, you make a valid point in speaking in such terms. However, as you will notice from the title I have ascribed to my posts, one has to wonder if such a perspective is even relevant.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
These are the areas of martial validity (i.e. its capacity to gain victory over defeat in hand to hand combat scenarios) and of spiritual maturity (i.e. social/moral harmony and gaining a proximity to God).
Well, as for the first, according to the Founder, winning and losing are not part of the Aikido praxis, either on the physical or spiritual plain. So once again, I would have to wonder as to the relevance of that path. Having said that, I certainly would agree that the techniques (the waza itself) must be martially viable - just not in terms of victory or defeat. As for the second point you expressed as paramount, I would again have to question the direction of such thinking. When one stands at the center and breathes in an out with the rhythm of the universe, there is no sense of morality, social harmony or proximity to God as these things are merely the musings of man's small mind and are of no matter or consequence whatsoever.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
As far as these things go, there are many ways for one to achieve them. I cannot look at the obvious multiplicity of paths and denounce one path over another because it does not look like that of the Founder's.
I would agree, especially when one has yet to understand the path of the Founder, to do so would be ludicris. One must first seek the Founder, for that is the center of centers.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I cannot judge or rather condemn one path to futility because it varies either in part or in total from what Osensei did.
If it is in terms of victory versus defeat and morality, spirituality and harmony versus immorality, a-spiritual and discord, I would tend to agree with you. Knowing as you now do how I do not ascribe to the relevance of those terms when it comes to seeking O-Sensei, I would not be able to agree. I would therefore ask, Why not judge (use one's power of judgment) or condemn (using one's power to discriminate right from wrong, better from worse...etc.) in order to better reach your goal?
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I can only determine the value, or the viability, of a given path by looking at it in and of itself.
Without inferring hipocrisy, isn't the difference between your last two points just semantics and in essence the same thing?



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Old 09-20-2005, 06:31 PM   #67
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hi Shaun,

Thanks for writing.

On some historical points:

I think you are either overstating what folks have been saying about the historical significance of Omoto-kyo or understating the implication of your statements made thus for OR that you and I can agree on the position that all of this stuff has to be considered if one wants to do a history of the Founder (which may itself be irrelevant to one's actual practice). I'm going to opt to go with the latter position if you don't mind, so we can move forward.

I agree with much of what you say here, however, where I part is over the type of significance you give to the Founder and/or to his path when it comes to defining things, events, paths, etc. This is read by me in the phrases you use, like, "Osensei defined Aikido..." "In seeking Osensei...(outside of historical investigations)," "According to the Founder...," etc.

Here's an exact example: "Well, as for the first, according to the Founder, winning and losing are not part of the Aikido praxis, either on the physical or spiritual plain. So once again, I would have to wonder as to the relevance of that path. Having said that, I certainly would agree that the techniques (the waza itself) must be martially viable - just not in terms of victory or defeat."

Where I part is where you determine relevance by what the Founder said or did - where you look at one path and then look at what the Founder did, and if that first path is different from how you see the Founder (or even from how it is), you come to determine the former as irrelevant and/or suspect for relevance. That is where you and I part in our opinions. I have chosen not do that. I have my reasons for not doing that - just as you have your reasons for doing that. These reasons are different from each other.

thanks so much for the reply,
take care,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-20-2005, 11:21 PM   #68
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Shaun,

Thanks for writing.

On some historical points:

I think you are either overstating what folks have been saying about the historical significance of Omoto-kyo or understating the implication of your statements made thus for OR that you and I can agree on the position that all of this stuff has to be considered if one wants to do a history of the Founder (which may itself be irrelevant to one's actual practice). I'm going to opt to go with the latter position if you don't mind, so we can move forward.
Hi David,

I am in the middle of writing a long (okay, very long-winded) reply to Erick's last post, but I wanted to respond to yours as quickly as I could, so I am taking a break long enough to post this. I liked your point with regards to a history of O-Sensei and the possible irrelevance of such a history outside of ones training. That is an important point to delineate, if you meant it in the way that I read it.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I agree with much of what you say here, however, where I part is over the type of significance you give to the Founder and/or to his path when it comes to defining things, events, paths, etc. This is read by me in the phrases you use, like, "Osensei defined Aikido..." "In seeking Osensei...(outside of historical investigations)," "According to the Founder...," etc.
Of course, you are entitled to do just this, or even completely invalidate the Founder completely if you like. I have already seen that done in many dojos. All one needs to do is walk into any Aikido dojo and see whose picture is up on the wall, and whose is not. Personally, I have no problem with that (i.e. as Ueshiba O-Sensei's art is separate from Daito-Ryu) as long as the name is changed to indicate such a separation. However it is when both are simply called Aikido that I see a contemporary marketing issue - one for the scholars and academics to revel in and argue over - where the students think they are studying one thing (the art of the Founder), but in actuality are studying something else entirely.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Here's an exact example: "Well, as for the first, according to the Founder, winning and losing are not part of the Aikido praxis, either on the physical or spiritual plain. So once again, I would have to wonder as to the relevance of that path. Having said that, I certainly would agree that the techniques (the waza itself) must be martially viable - just not in terms of victory or defeat."
Well I will let that point stand, as you can not be dealing with O-Sensei's art and disqualify the point made without contemplating changing the name and putting your own picture on the wall. I am all for that, so no worries. Again, anyone is free to do what they will, but be honest with the students. That is all I ask.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Where I part is where you determine relevance by what the Founder said or did - where you look at one path and then look at what the Founder did, and if that first path is different from how you see the Founder (or even from how it is), you come to determine the former as irrelevant and/or suspect for relevance.
Yes, I would have to say that one needs to do this at every turn. However, one quickly realizes that as ones idea of what the Founder was doing changes based upon training or on some new information direct from someone close to the Founder, one has to look back on what one validated or invalidated. In short, be open to something being it, and not being it at any given moment.
Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
That is where you and I part in our opinions. I have chosen not do that. I have my reasons for not doing that - just as you have your reasons for doing that. These reasons are different from each other.

thanks so much for the reply,
take care,
david
I am sure we would both agree that:
  • Opinions are like a$$holes, everybody has one.

    and

  • Not everyone's reasons can be considered reasonable within the context of the stated goal.


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Old 09-21-2005, 01:12 AM   #69
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Omoto-kyo Theology... Relevant?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I read the interview of Abe Sensei. The translation is rough in patches, but a fascinating insight even so.

Shaun, since you have had an indirect connection to Abe Sensei through Matsuoka Sensei, your observations on a few of these points would be of interest.
Hi Erick,

Your post is most intriguing. I had feared that this thread would fall victim to the same things that the AJ thread had, becoming a lengthy exercise where much effort was put forth but no real work got done. I originally chimed in here to provide a bit of balance to the original ideas David raised. However your last post makes things very interesting for me. Although I have been training a scant 16 years, the last 14 I have spent seeking O-Sensei via my relationship with Abe Sensei. I have done so through my teacher, Matsuoka Sensei, for it was he who made it possible for me to have a direct relationship with Abe Sensei. While I may be grateful, gratitude in and of itself is not merely enough. Most of the dojo students simply do not have the kind of access to Abe Sensei that a few of us have been afforded. Therefore, I feel responsible to maintain a sustained effort, continue with whatever suffering maybe necessary and approach this rare opportunity with the level of sincerely it dictates.

I once asked Abe Sensei why he shared what he did and his answer was the single most startling thing anyone has ever said to me. It is personal and therefore private, but I believe it is okay to say that I feel responsible to maintain the closest relationship with Abe Sensei that is possible given that I have a life here in America. Hopefully I have not yet failed in my efforts, and that I will be able to sustain them while I am still alive.

I mention all that so that you understand the context in which I respond to your questions. They are the most direct and intelligent of questions. Since you have asked me to contribute something I feel that I should respond to my best ability. However, I will try to keep things to a minimum simply to conserve time and space.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Abe Sensei clearly spoke of OSensei in terms somewhat different than protraying him as a simple follower of Omoto.
True. Regardless of the prevalent opinion proffered by several particular academics, he was much more than a simple follower of anything, Omoto-Kyo, or otherwise.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Unlike Charles, it seems to me that Abe Sensei's point was to emphasize the distinction between OSensei's thought and that of Omoto, placing him in a far more traditionalist lineage.
Well, I will leave the labeling to the academics. Again, I am no map maker, nor am I interested in spending all day reading maps. I am already traveling on the path. If I can just manage stay the course there is no doubt at all that I will arrive where it is that I am headed.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
It is possible that this is true, but it also may be revisionism of a sort to disassociate an honored teacher from a movement that was not well thought of among people of influence in Japan.
Abe Sensei would never assume enough to do such a thing. I also believe, and this is my "opinion" that O-Sensei had nothing to distance himself from, so the issue is moot.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"O'Sensei described something about spirituality using easy-to-understand Ohmotokyo-like words, in other words, "kotodama".
I am not sure if you were quoting Abe Sensei or O-Sensei here. If you would you please clarify that, I would better understand how to respond. However in either case, kotodama can be at the heart and center of all of one's actions and words. I don't believe that this relates to Omoto (Kyo) directly, but if one determines that Omoto-Kyo was based upon the principles of kotodama, then the comparison could remain valid. Comparison of two things is not based upon the things being equal, merely relative on a particular plain.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I would like to know what Japanese expression Abe Sensei used was translated as "Omotokyo-like" and its use in other contexts.
I do think this was an interview so there must be tapes somewhere. If so, then I would ascribe to the importance of making those publicly available. However, they may already be publicly available in the form of Aiki-News which was and is still published in Japanese. You may be in luck.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
He also deals with the Kojiki as though to sever its mythological interprtetation from its use for practice of kotodama. The way it is described seems analogous to a cyphertext read out with a key to obtain plaintext. This is very suggestive to me.
With regards to kotodama, ki and kokyu, without a practical understanding and a practical course of study there is no real basis in reality in training in these things in relation to one's martial training or an understanding of the Founder. If one is interested in deeply understanding O-Sensei and his art, Abe Sensei's lectures on Kojiki will change your life. It did mine, but that is another story entirely.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
There are strong similarities in this sensibility with mantrayana. Nevertheless, Abe Sensei seems to criticize specific aspects of the mythological figures in Kojiki as being too Chinese in derivation, an implicit swipe against ryobu shinto.
I would need to see a specific passage referenced in both mythological terms and de-mythological terms to know for sure what you mean. I am not sure I have every seen Abe Sensei publicly criticize anyone or anything so again, I would have to have a chance to read the same thing to which you are referring and then would need to ask Abe Sensei what he meant to make any conclusive statements. As for things Chinese, Abe Sensei is a student of classic Chinese literature and calligraphy and is therefore very sensitive to things Chinese. I have only seen him say positive things and attribute much of his own understanding to Chinese people and Chinese culture.

As it turns out, I will be with Abe Sensei this coming Friday. I already have a list of 30 or so questions that have come up since I was with him this past December, but if there is something specific you are interested in having me ask, and there is an opportunity to do so, I would be happy to try to bring you back his answer.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"O'Sensei strongly insisted to understand "Kojiki" thoroughly. Story at the mythological time in "Kojiki" is our back bone. Therefore, O'Sensei told us to read "Kojiki" thoroughly and read it by way of "Kotodama". This is what was O'Sensei's desire and our mission."
It would be of great help if you would please specify if you are quoting Abe Sensei (quoting O-Sensei) or you are quoting O-Sensei directly. Again, in either case, I read that and say a resounding YES! That is the point of the whole process. However that point is infinitesimally small and spinning at the speed of light...
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
On the significance of center and breath, Abe Sensei also seems to bring perspective to understanding of Minakanushi no kami, as the kami of the center.
This is the first lecture I received from Abe Sensei, and is the center of centers when it comes to understanding kojiki, kotodama, and O-Sensei and his art. I can't be any clearer or state it more simply. This is paramount to the entire process.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
"It means that the smallest of oneself is a dot, which is 'There is a location, but there is no size.' The center of universe does not have size, either. ... [Of breath in the abdomen] It becomes such a small thing, like "there is a location, but there is no size." This is Minakanushi of breathing.
Yes! But how does one get there? That is the question that O-Sensei set out to answer for us, and the path which we must understand how to follow. Otherwise it is all just jujitsu.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Again, I would love to have the Japanese to compare, and to see what other connotations his choice of words would encompass.
If you are referring to the interviews that AJ did with Abe Sensei, please let me know if you are able to retrieve the back issues of Aikido Journal (I am fairly sure they are in pdf format on a DVD - at least the English ones are). There really is not a lot of time for this most important of projects.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
In light of my inquiry into broader and deeper connections, (which David criticizes, although not unfairly) I cannot help but observe that Abe Sensei's description of the qualities of Minakanushi no kami as written in English seems strongly to echo a description of God that has been a topic of metaphysics in the Christian world since the twelfth century.
There are some similarities in this area. That had been an interest of mine as early as 10 years before I began my aikido training. With all of the study and training I did before I joined an aikido Dojo I was able, when I first saw aikido, to immediately recognize it as a synthesis of my martial, spiritual and intellectual paths. I was elated to find it staring me in the face. I had a friend who eventually went on to become a great master teacher in his own right. He had been telling me to loo at Aikido for several years before I finally "got it" When I finally did so, and went to tell him his reaction was classic. It was one of those slap yourself in the forehead gags you see in the movies from time to time...
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
This translated version was ascribed to Alain de Lille. It was later adopted by theologians Nicholas of Cusa and Pascal in their metaphysics:

"God is an intelligible sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."

The version in the Pseudo-Hermetic text of the Liber XXIV Philosophorum ("Book of 24 Philosophers") is:

"Deus est sphaera infinita, cuius centrum ubique, circumferentia nusquam." "God is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere."


The Pseudo-Hermetic Liber dates to the eleventh century, but of whole Corpus Hermeticum we have only parts, and the Liber text may be a medieval copy or collection from some lost original(s), but it is impossible to know. The Corpus itself reliably dates to the third century of the Christian era together with a number of related Gnostic texts.
This approaches material I am not ready to discuss in a public forum. However I will say that careful study and consideration is necessary to steer clear of the cliff that lay at the end of the plain. A simple understanding of the word Gnostic gives us a clue where to delineate truth from faith, or the metaphoric plain from the cliff.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
While I feel certain that David has already jumped ship on my voyage at this point, these connections are important. Whether they bespeak direct relationship or merely show parallel development is not crucial. This is not mere idle speculation either. Ideas matter. They are the weapons and tools of the mind, as sharp and dangerous as any blade, and as liable to misuse or tragic accident.
I can't agree with you more.

Philosophy is a wonderful tool with which to dissect the body of human understanding. However, all things can be either a medicine or a poison. A scalpel in the hands of a surgeon may save your life, but in the hands of a madman it may end it. One of my uncles was a musical prodigy and went on to become a well-known, published philosopher in the areas of both religion and government. I was raised in his shadow and challenged throughout my childhood and teens by his consistent prodding of my questionable early mental capacities. I would have to say that I am him in many ways, much to the chagrin of my mother (his sister).

When you mention sharp weapons and tools it brings up the preverbal double edge one must always consider. My uncle could not put down his beloved philosophy, that tool through which he viewed life. I do believe it eventually drove him mad. Again, the plain and the cliff are but married by proximity. Walking along the ledge while exhilarating in one moment may be the last thing one does in life.

That is why I sometimes wonder about David - not his martial path, but perhaps his philosophical one. I don't mean to judge him in any way, merely evaluate his stated goals when mapped against his apparent direction. David may or may not be interested in the issue of, or contention between "direct relationship" versus "parallel development." I would bet based upon what he noted in his last post that this would only be in terms of the historical understandings of Aikido, or the significance or insignificance of the Founder and not related to his own personal views on the desire to improve one's martial (technical) ability.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Abe Sensei's description gives a powerful point of reference in the Western tradition for the ideas and techniques the OSensei has communicated. This kind of connection allows them more easily to be translated into a native intellectual idiom.
I couldn't agree more.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
In light of Oscar Ratti's recent untimley death, the singular phrase "Dynamic Sphere" cannot help but remind me of this. For that specific idea imparts a meaningful way of digesting and dwelling upon the function and further exploration of the techniques we practice.
I had the chance to meet with Oscar and Adele (Westbrook), and was most fascinated by his take on things. He, too, was rooted in martial realities. His attitude and manner were quite refreshing. The few things we discussed were very deep. A mutual friend of ours provided the introduction, one he had been trying to set up for quite a while. After we each had a chance to speak for a while he looked at me and openly wondered as to the source of the material I presented to him. He said something to the effect that I would need to have lived about thirty more years than I already have to have come to the conclusions that I presented. He very kindly offered that should I ever write a manuscript that I forward it to him if I was interested in his input. Needless to say that would have been a great honor, one that I will only have in the form of what could have been. I am not sure what became of the work he and I discussed that he was working on. It was very important stuff - a real breakthrough for martial arts and martial artists. Let' just say that it would be the metaphoric equivalent of reading kojiki from the point of kotodama - groundbreaking in this modern time of openly accepted empty anemic academic materials. His book, Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere was the first book on the subject I ever read. Both he and Adele were very dynamic. I am sure it is not a coincidence. Dynamic Sphere, indeed.

Again, sorry for the length, but I do feel that your post marks a significant turn in the thread, one that warranted such a lengthy effort on my part.

It is clear that with regards to the relevance of Omoto-Kyo as any sort of foundation or Onisaburo as a main pillar in the house of Aikido, that these posts are not related to such issues and probably should have their own thread entitled something along the lines of The significance of kojiki, kotodama and misogi in understanding O-Sensei and Aikido I will leave that up to David to decide as he is the author of the thread.



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Old 09-21-2005, 12:12 PM   #70
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Thanks Shaun:

I will respond in detail later and with some further questions, but I too feel that David's input is important as to the topical nature of these issues. The thread as started is important in its own right, and his efforts should be respected. If he feels it shoould be split, I will be pleased to accommodate.

To clarify some of the points you asked about, as to the quotes they are all quotes of Abe Sensei in the AJ interview reprinted at Matsuoka Sensei's website, which was my most convenient source.

As to the criticism of Chinese mythological symbolism, I infer from the context that Abe Sensei's implied criticism was leveled at the (too often adhoc) admixture of the two streams of tradition, rather than being derogatory to the foreign tradition.

As to finding the AJ versions of the entire Abe Sensei interviews in English and Japanese -- .

A'hunting we will go....

My proficiency is linguistic in nature, rather than having any fluency at all, so it will take me a little while after I find it to tease it apart, although my much more intensive study of Chinese language makes it easier to pull apart kanji for this purpose, assuming anyone has transcribed it in more than simple kana.

On the other issues, I await David's determination before I reply with some additional points and questions.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-21-2005, 10:06 PM   #71
Mike Fugate
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Ki Symbol Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Hello all,
Through reading this forum, I have to my delight seen alot of otherwise "almost dead" information. Philosophy is truly one of my passions. From Daoism, Confuscism, Buddhism, Shinto, Omoto Kyo ect..I love it all. To me, these teachings and martial arts are the same. Martial, medicinal,spirtitual,philosophical...I believe that they are all parts in the same puzzle, and must be studied together in order to achieve a proper unserstanding of martial arts, whether it be Shaolin or Aikido. I see O'Sensei as an individual who succeded in doing just this, a true Master. Although he was a practicioner in certain feilds doesnt mean he nessecarily should be placed with that title. I dont know if this is making any sense, but I look to O'Sensei, as yes a Master, but even more as, One who truly Understood.
I remember asking my Sifu about his Grandmaster. Now although he was a Shaolin preist, Sifu always says " Grandmaster wasnt anything. He was open to anything, as we should all be". What he is referring to was my question of due to his origins, was he "Buddhist", or "Daoist". I wanted to lable him, an all too comon mistake we humans do. Now I understand what he means by that, and I see alot of the same characteristics in O'sensei.
Peace
Mike

Last edited by Mike Fugate : 09-21-2005 at 10:19 PM.

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Old 09-25-2005, 07:38 AM   #72
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Quote:
Mike Fugate wrote:
Hello all,
Through reading this forum, I have to my delight seen alot of otherwise "almost dead" information. Philosophy is truly one of my passions. From Daoism, Confuscism, Buddhism, Shinto, Omoto Kyo ect..I love it all. To me, these teachings and martial arts are the same. Martial, medicinal,spirtitual,philosophical...I believe that they are all parts in the same puzzle, and must be studied together in order to achieve a proper unserstanding of martial arts, whether it be Shaolin or Aikido. I see O'Sensei as an individual who succeded in doing just this, a true Master. Although he was a practicioner in certain feilds doesnt mean he nessecarily should be placed with that title. I dont know if this is making any sense, but I look to O'Sensei, as yes a Master, but even more as, One who truly Understood.
I remember asking my Sifu about his Grandmaster. Now although he was a Shaolin preist, Sifu always says " Grandmaster wasnt anything. He was open to anything, as we should all be". What he is referring to was my question of due to his origins, was he "Buddhist", or "Daoist". I wanted to lable him, an all too comon mistake we humans do. Now I understand what he means by that, and I see alot of the same characteristics in O'sensei.
Peace
Mike
I took all of my students and we are here with Abe Sensei, so I haven't had time to check in until now. This thread sure got quiet in a hurry. I guess we are waiting for David to chime back in and give us his stamp of approval to continue along with the tangential conversation...

...David?



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Old 09-25-2005, 02:06 PM   #73
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

I am sorry if it has been a while since I returned to this thread. I thought we had reached some points of conclusion: that both Omoto-kyo and the various practices and beliefs of the Miitsu-kai/Misogi-kai (plus anything else that could prove itself relevant) would have to be looked at if one were to paint an accurate picture of Osensei's life; and that Shaun and I disagree on how one should relate to the Founder in terms of one's own practice. I felt there was not much more to say since the former conclusion left only the actual research to be undertaken and the latter was simply a personal impasse (i.e. an agreement to disagree).

As for this thread, I view it like Aikido. It is not for me to adopt some kind of fundamentality and/or some sort of dogmatism in attempt to prevent folks from talking about what they may feel is relevant. This thread is a living thing -- made up of many minds and levels of experience. It breathes and lives through this multiplicity. It is not challenged, defeated, nor subverted, by people making connections that are significant and/or that are real for them. For me, there remains a single thread here; as diverse as it is, there is a unity to it. If one wants to understand more these aspects of Osensei's history, then one is going to work to find that single thread that ties all of these posts together -- rather then trying to weed this idea or that idea out because it appears not to "fit." As I said, it is like Aikido for me.

In respect to Shaun and Erick, I would like to stick with my suggestion that all of this has to be looked at historically. I can repeat here that it is my opinion that no one tradition is going to cancel out the significance of any other tradition. Again, in writing the history of Osensei, all of this has to be researched. Human lives are too complex for such simplistic breakdowns that might ignore this for the sake of that -- how much more so the life of another man who lived on the others side of the world on the other side of an epistemic shift, etc. I thus do not doubt that the various teachings of Kawatsura had a great impact on Osensei, and on his Aikido. It is just that that impact is in no way going to decrease the impact that Omoto-kyo is known to have had. This would be true regardless of all the "unsaid" things Abe "didn't say."

In regards to Abe as the source for this implied "alternate" (though I see it as a contributing) history of Osensei, one has to not give more credit to one voice over any other. Thus, one has much to consider when seeing Abe as such a source. This was a point Shaun made earlier in regards to other second hand sources mentioned earlier. Whereas Abe may be one "unsaid" voice to the contrary, there were many people who have openly spoke of Osensei's intimate relationship with Onisaburo and his teachings. These people are people who trained with Osensei before Abe started training in Aikido, who trained with Osensei after Abe started training in Aikido, and who trained more closely with Osensei than Abe, etc. Moreover, while Abe may in the confines of an intimate conversation diminish the significance of Omoto-kyo theology on Osensei's relevant writings and lectures, he has never done this openly. Openly, he, along with everyone else, speaks of Osensei's ties to Omoto-kyo.

Moreover, also in seeing Abe as a historical source, there is the fact that Abe had been practicing misogi, and been familiar with the teachings of Kawatsura and Futaki, for at least eleven years before he came to practice Aikido. This rather begs the old "chicken and the egg" question. We might also want to note that while Osensei was not a brown rice diet -- following Futaki's prescriptions -- it appears that when he visited Abe he would adopt this diet. Could this have been how he came to emphasize Misogi with Abe as well? Knowing Abe was into misogi, it would make sense in my book, seeing where Osensei was coming from, that he would tell Abe, "Yes, misogi, is the key, keep doing what you are doing." In that light, it would be a gross misunderstanding of Osensei's overall history to say, "You see, there you have it -- misogi and only misogi is the key -- forget Omoto-kyo, it won't get you anywhere in terms of your practice or in terms of understanding Osensei's history."

Again, this is not to say that misogi-no-gyo is not a legitimate part of Osensei's history. Most importantly, this is not to say that misogi-no-gyo is not a currently viable way of deepening one's own practice and understanding of Aikido. What this does say is that Kawatsura, Futaki, the Miitsukai, Abe, and misogi-no-gyo are NOT alternate histories to the one being deduced from current research. We are merely looking at a contributing history.

For me, in regards to some of the other things Shaun and Erick have brought up outside of understanding Osensei's history, I think Abe says it better than I ever could. He says the following when asked if it is impossible for Westerners to practice true Aikido if they cannot have access to these more culturally specific ideas/practices:

-"I don't think that is the case. There is no distinction in Aikido between being Japanese and being non-Japanese. This is because as you delve deeper and deeper into Aikido, you will naturally encounter a sort of Kojiki and a sort of Kotodama. In another, broader sense, we can say that Omoto is not the only religion and Reverend Deguchi's kotodama isn't the only kotodama. Also this means that when we go to Europe, we find the Bible; in India, Buddhism; and so on. Nevertheless, whether it is Christianity, Buddhism, or what have you, essentially they are seeking a single goal. In the Kojiki, we find the expression, "Amenominakanushi Omikami." This means to become one body with the Great Universe. It is the same goal simply expressed in different words. If you happen to be speaking about Japan, then you should look to the Kojiki. Therefore, if by chance, you are non-Japanese, it is enough that outside of the (physical) techniques there exists some spiritual direction in your mind. If you have incorporated this element (into your training) then you will develop a kind of Aikido. Anyone who delves deeply into this budo, which we have inherited from O-Sensei, will eventually enter a religious realm."-


Again, I think more research has to be done -- the more the better. Again, I would encourage Shaun to take this on -- to write something up and to put it out there. Such work would benefit us all. If there is anything I could do to assist him with such efforts, he need only request it of me. For me, my personal leaning is to see Omoto-kyo theology as relevant to those ideas/phrases of Osensei that lend themselves to a more universalistic thought. This I do because of where Omoto-kyo fits in the world religion movement (which precisely attempted to do this) and because of where its theology is being repeated almost word for word by Osensei (please see in the essay Osensei's wording of Onisaburo's Omoto-kyo maxim). This does not make me an Omoto-kyo practitioner nor even a proponent of its teachings. To be sure, I am not trying to capture once and for all the whole of Osensei's life, nor of his Aikido, etc., through Omoto-kyo. However, these universalistic phrases are the parts of Osensei that speak to me, that allow me see my personal goal in Osensei's goal -- as Abe suggests we can and should do. This is the spiritual direction that orients me as an aikidoka and that thus connects me to what we have inherited from Osensei. Again, this does not uphold Omoto-kyo theology historically over and above the teachings and practices of Kawatsura, nor even at the level of one's individual practice. And as Erick would note, this does not mean that Omoto-kyo is the only place we can or should look. This only means that there is a historical connection between such phrase and such a theology, and that one could use one to gain some insight into the other.

My many thanks to you for keeping this thread so dynamic and so interesting.

Humbly yours,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-25-2005, 03:20 PM   #74
Paula Lydon
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

~~David, I am awed and humbled by your extensive research and compilation. So grateful, as well, that you chose to share this . In all honesty, I never thought I'd be especially interested in O Sensei's religious background; considered it just one of the many paths that led him to establish and evolve the art I'm studying today. I didn't think it'd have any intrinsic bearing on the Aikido taught today. I think I was wrong and will now consider this more deeply. Your dedication is admirable and a lesson.

Thank you again!

~~Paula~~
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Old 09-26-2005, 12:39 AM   #75
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Re: Omoto-kyo Theology

Thank you David for the quote of Abe Sensei. He sums up my enterprise : "Anyone who delves deeply into this budo, which we have inherited from O-Sensei, will eventually enter a religious realm."

I want to take on Shaun's invitation and flow from what David has provided.

"Story at the mythological time in Kojiki … is our back bone. … read it by way of ‘Kotodama'."

If we accept at face value Abe Sensei's interpretation of O-Sensei's project, a project that O-Sensei himself plainly intended to be carried on after him, we are left with a number of questions that need answering. None of them are simple.

Law is my chosen field, so I will try to do some yeoman work to frame the questions. I have my own ideas about some of the answers.

The first topic for questions is the organizing principle of O-Sensei's program:

In Abe Sensei's "broader sense" we are meant to find in the depths of aikido practice "A sort of Kojiki and a sort of Kotodama." in which "whether it is Christianity, Buddhism, or what have you, essentially they are seeking a single goal."

What is the nature of the single goal?

Is it the goal an effect or a cause?

Or is it more complex, like living things?

A single genotype produces nearly limitless phenotypes, each unique but also functionally equivalent. The phenotype is the necessary condition to transmit the genotype, which also is the necessary condition to produce the phenotype. Chickens, eggs, ... etc. Genotype defines, phenotype expresses.

Based on Abe Sensei's comments, my tentative conclusion is toward the more complex answer. His description of the relationship between Kojiki and kotodama fits this architecture. He seems to say that the elements of the kojiki/kotodama paradigm are available to most any culture. If he is correct, there would have to be to be many possible examples of ur-Kojiki and ur-Kotodama to be practiced. We seem very close in this instance to the archetypes and collective unconscious described by Carl Jung (and presaged by the Gnostics, I might add).

Some more questions on the operative aspects:

What are some examples of a "sort of Kotodama" in terms that are not Japanese?

What is "a sort of Kojiki" in terms that are not Japanese?

How do we identify them if we do not already know what they are?

What is the process by which kojiki and kotodama jointly operate ?

What does the process operate upon?

What is the intended result?

What are the common errors or diversions from the path of O-Sensei's project?

David's quote of Anbe Sensei again:

"If by chance, you are non-Japanese, it is enough that outside of the (physical) techniques there exists some spiritual direction in your mind. If you have incorporated this element (into your training) then you will develop a kind of Aikido."

So a few questions on the nature of these other traditions which have potential for kojiki/kotodama process.

In this light, what is the relationship of other (non-Japanese) traditions to Aikido?

[In other guise, this is the root question about Omoto as it relates to aikido in my view.]

Do they relate in a developmental sense? , i.e. -- are there connections in their history that explain the working correspondences?

[This has been my primary focus of inquiry.]

Do they relate in merely an analogous sense, as similar solutions ot the same essential set of problems?

Does this distinction matter for the future of aikido?

Does this distinction matter for an understanding of the historical and philosophical development of Aikido ?

Is physical practice of aikido enough?

Is the practice of misogi enough?

Is the practice of a particular ur-kojiki/kotodama system enough?

If any one alone is not adequate, in what manner are they best fitted togehert

The Abe Sensei's quote provided by David seems to suggest that the misogi of practice refine the initial trend of the mind/heart, leading it in O-Sensei's path. If he is correct, practice/misogi is essential in some sense.

However, the other portions of the quote suggest that a process of ur-Kojiki/kotodama is available to nearly any culture, and, in some sense, seems necessary to O-Sensei's project as well.

Note that we have not even touched on chinkon kishin, which also has some part to play given the emphasis upon it elsewhere. It played a seemingly larger part of O-Sensei's personal efforts in his latter years.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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