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Jeffery Brian Hodges
26th April 2001, 02:33
I have experienced two viewpoints on the subject of religion and bujutsu by different teachers. The first being
that religion and martial arts are one and the same, spirituality being all important, etc. The second viewpoint was the warriors were warriors and priests were priests, none of this warrior saint philosophical mumbo jumbo. Question is how do each of you feel about this, what are you taught and what is your personal belief in how religion applies to martial art(if at all)?

sincerely,

Bujinkat
26th April 2001, 03:27
Post deleted due to uninformed, shallow content. ;)

gmanry
26th April 2001, 14:01
Hatsumi sensei states that one must acquire a religious feeling to really tap the full potential in one's budo practice.

Certainly Ueshiba felt similarly about Aikido training, although he also had a particular faith in mind.

Funakoshi said that Karate is like a religion when one approaches it properly (similar to Hatsumi's intentions in my opinion).

Such thinking speaks of an expansive perspective of the world around you. Transcending one's little box of reality and being able to embrace something larger than oneself is important to understanding events around us. It may not be "the" understanding, but it is an understanding that is likely to encompass much more than the typical "end of your nose" perspective that people tend to have (myself included).

I cannot really embrace a particular faith, the "Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao."

I think the reason why Hatsumi sensei says what he does about religion is that it lends a broader perspective. If you focus too much on one doctrine, your perspective will hit a boundary. You might miss a crucial piece of information.

However, to have a religious feeling about you provides you with the sense of child-like wonderment and a feeling of conviction when you decide to act. These two things are very important to one's budo practice.

Son of Thunder
26th April 2001, 17:13
Originally posted by Jeffery Brian Hodges
The first being
that religion and martial arts are one and the same, spirituality being all important, etc. The second viewpoint was the warriors were warriors and priests were priests, none of this warrior saint philosophical mumbo jumbo. Question is how do each of you feel about this, what are you taught and what is your personal belief in how religion applies to martial art(if at all)?

I would go more with the first characterization of religion and the MAs. My religion is fundamentalist Christianity (Praise the Lord and gimme a Bible to thump! :D), and here's how I see it: Genuine faith expresses itself in action. Some of the greatest heroes found in the Bible were men of prodigious head-booting who booted heads as a means of protecting God's people. As a martial artist, I train so as to protect the ones I love. I see religion acting in my life as a motivation to train and to act.

PS- The words "Jehovah nissi" in my signature mean "The Lord is a warrior!"

neb
27th April 2001, 00:37
i believe religion and martial arts can be separate or bound tegether, both are expressions of the self, and can be arranged to fit the individual needs and beliefs of the person in question, but for me i prefer to follow philosophy before religion, to me religion doenst do much, but that just me, if it works for others then thats great, but i draw the line when anothers beliefs are imposed on me of course.

Yamantaka
28th April 2001, 13:43
Originally posted by Jeffery Brian Hodges
I have experienced two viewpoints on the subject of religion and bujutsu by different teachers. Question is how do each of you feel about this, what are you taught and what is your personal belief in how religion applies to martial art(if at all)?

sincerely,

YAMANTAKA : There's an excellent article about that in the Aikido Journal Bulletin Board, written by IAF Chairman, Peter Goldsbury Sensei :
http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/ajArticles/_TouchingTheAbsolute.asp
Read it and give us your opinion!
bEST

fifthchamber
29th April 2001, 17:48
Religion and Budo..... that debate has been going on for centuries as far as I can see. Can you be a 'Divine Warrior' or do you have to make a choice between them?
My two cents worth is this- Martial arts (Modern Budo forms) seem to emphasize that a person can be 'spiritually uplifted' by training (See Aikido in particular) but I think that the two cannot be blended together without a disturbance.. admitedly all through history there have been great warriors who were deeply religious but I think that if you are training to kill other men/women then essentially you should'nt confuse yourself by calling on religion, in any case it is your state of mind that is affected not your spiritual leaders, and if you can live with that then so be it..
Death is a part of life and humanity has always tried to justify the ends by looking to a 'higher consiousness' that may or may not exist.
Buddha, Christ, Mohammed did not kill other men to prove their points, and that was what made them 'different'. Mankind unfortunately kills and to justify it is essentially useless...To find a way to cope with it is what Budoka have been trying to do for years, some better than others. This does not mean that life is hopeless only that death is as much a part of life as life is of death.
Anyway..I'm rambling. Sorry bout that.
What matters is what you deal with and how you deal with it...Religion can help...but so can insanity..does'nt make it an ideal to attain to.
Anyway.. As I go whack my head into the wall...Sorry if you had to read this post..My Bad.

dainippon99
30th April 2001, 02:16
im no religious scholar, but i do know that in the Katori Shinto Ryu, one of the oldest ryu-ha, teaches mikkyo and in-yo at its higher levels.

Son of Thunder
30th April 2001, 14:35
Originally posted by fifthchamber
This does not mean that life is hopeless only that death is as much a part of life as life is of death.

That, IMO, is another key role of religion in the MAs. One fact of life, especially for the warrior, is that he/she has a greater-then-average chance of dying while defending self and others.
Every religion involves afterlife beliefs, and a confidence about where you are going after you die can make the prospect of death less troublesome. The warrior is then able to act boldly.

MarkF
1st May 2001, 09:07
Originally posted by Bujinkat
My view has always been that a warrior is a man of action and can perhaps save a life, whereas a priest can only pray to try and save your soul.



I don't think this is so. I've had priests and reverend people of all kinds who want to learn to fight (no rabbi though). Anyone can minister once he learns the words of peace, but not everyone can teach peace when he hasn't experienced the fight, or violence. It would seem that those most successful are those who know both ways very well.

Verbal Judo has it's merits, but most good teachers will teach in the manner of stopping violence even if it means a violent act of his own.

Strange thing is, though, with all the ministers who have learned to stop violence, those surrounded by it, e.g., teachers, do not.
******

Then again, my Tommy gun will mow down your Verbal Judo, or real judo and just about any other form of fighting.:)

Mark

Bujinkat
2nd May 2001, 20:59
Post deleted due to uninformed, shallow content. ;)

Son of Thunder
3rd May 2001, 20:41
Originally posted by Bujinkat
I don't think that anyone who is deeply commited to religion can practice with the correct spirit that is needed to learn bujutsu. Why? Because most religions preach against killing. I could never envision the Dalai Lama killing someone, even if it meant that it would save lives.

Actually, most religions preach against unjust killing. The Hebrew Tanakh (sp?), which Christians call the Old Testament, is filled with examples of righteous people killing their enemies (David killing Goliath springs to mind). The Christian New Testament shows Jesus attacking the monechangers in the temple, driving them out with a whip. And when Jesus is prophesied to return on Judgment Day, he returns with blood-dipped clothing and a sword in his mouth. I don't have a Quran handy, but I believe that killing is justified in some instances in Islam. A great number of the Buddhist monks who studied the MAs did so for the express purpose of lethally defending their temple against enemies. Hindus are the ones who invented Kaliripayit (sp?), and gave us "peaceful" weapons like the sword-whip.
It is entirely possible to be a commited and genuine person of faith and still be fully capable of killing.
The Dalai Lama may be a pacifist, and I know some Christians who are pacifists, but the idea that religion does not condone killing is simply wrong. What they preach against is the killing of someone who doesn't deserve to be killed.

Bujinkat
3rd May 2001, 21:04
:nono:

Ronin
4th May 2001, 14:01
In a discussion such as this, it is important to distinguish between spiritual practice, and religion. Would anyone care to define the difference?

geosync
4th May 2001, 15:24
Originally posted by Ronin
In a discussion such as this, it is important to distinguish between spiritual practice, and religion. Would anyone care to define the difference?

A good question! I think that it is important that meanings are defined as we all have different conceptions of what these words mean.

I am spiritual but do not consider myself to be religious per se. I know of many people who are "religious" but for them it stops with the outward appearances. Others set the rules of their lives based upon what the priest or the pope tells them, not because of their own convictions.

In regards to religous people not being able to truly train in bujutsu, what a shallow uniformed view. Tell that to the thousands and thousands of spiritual and religous people serving in militaries world-wide. They are more likely to be faced with having to kill someone than most of us will ever be.

I could go on with examples but probably would be wasting my time.

Bujinkat
4th May 2001, 19:25
Post deleted due to uninformed, shallow content. ;)

geosync
8th May 2001, 16:15
Many countries have mandatory military service, so regardless of your religious beliefs you may end up in a war. Also, when you look at the variety of jobs found in the military you will see that the majority of them never involve having to come face to face with someone and killing them.


And many of them do have to come face to face with someone and kill them. You seem to be intellingent. Why don't you study some more history.

Also if I am not mistaken, one of the tenents of Islam is Jihad. Ever hear that word before? Last I checked Islam was a major world religion.


By the way, I was one of those thousands of people serving in the military and unless you were one also, I don't think that you are qualified to speak on our behalf.


does the acroynym ASSUME mean anything to you?

Either way, I do not have to have spent time in the military to be able to think, reason, and get the opinion of those who do.


Someone deeply commited to their faith such as a priest could not undertake the study of bujutsu (killing the opponent) with the correct spirit because his faith tells him that killing is a mortal sin punishable by spending eternity in a lake of fire.

Thats roman catholicism add-ons. The last time I took a look at the Bible it wasn't in there. Of course now you will ASSSUME that I am not Roman Catholic and tell me I have no right to say that.


correct spirit

You keep saying correct spirit. How about defining correct spirit.

I'm saying that to purposely train to kill is not something that a religious person would probably consider.

Now you have moved from definites to probablies. Back to the military. When Joe puts his hancock on the dotted are you trying to say he has no clue that he is making a decision to train to purposely kill?

So basically all religious people who join the military are a bunch of complete idiots? Oh yeah I forgot all religious people are serving as cooks and laundry specialists. I suppose none are serving as Rangers or Green Berets, or SEALs?

Then again since I have never been either one of them I have no right to speak for them.


Unless the person is a madman like the suicide bombers and terrorists that spring from the Middle East.

Ah so when it comes to being deeply religous these types don't count? Once again the word Jihad comes into play


I will say that I feel religion is more responsible for senseless death than it is for serving it's true purpose... peace and brotherhood among men.

And here I agree with you to a degree. This is why I consider there to be a HUGE difference between Spirituality and Religion...

maney
8th May 2001, 20:24
Originally posted by Bujinkat


Originally posted by Son of Thunder
The Hebrew Tanakh (sp?), which Christians call the Old Testament, is filled with examples of righteous people killing their enemies (David killing Goliath springs to mind).


Yes, and the Old Testament also has the Ten Commandments as handed down to Moses by God Himself. Have you forgotten the most important Commandment..."Thou shalt not kill"?


Apparently you missed something in your reading of the Bible. None of the commandments is "more important" than any of the others. They all have the same weight, namely a direct command from God.


Originally posted by Bujinkat
The problem with most Fundamentalist Christians is that they "interpret" the Bible in such a way as to accomodate their own intolerant beliefs. They tend to ignore the parts of the Bible that don't conform with their viewpoint. For example, Jesus preached about loving your fellow man and "turning the other cheek". He did not say killing someone is OK as long as they deserve it!


No, they just tend to be selective about which parts of the Bible they stress (much like you did above with the "most important commandment" bit).


Originally posted by Bujinkat
And of course they completely refuse to accept scientific data pertaining to the theory of Evolution.


Nice non-sequitor. What exactly does it have to do with the discussion at hand?


Originally posted by Bujinkat


Originally posted by geosync
In regards to religous people not being able to truly train in bujutsu, what a shallow uniformed view. Tell that to the thousands and thousands of spiritual and religous people serving in militaries world-wide. They are more likely to be faced with having to kill someone than most of us will ever be.


Many countries have mandatory military service, so regardless of your religious beliefs you may end up in a war. Also, when you look at the variety of jobs found in the military you will see that the majority of them never involve having to come face to face with someone and killing them.


Actually the number of countries that have mandatory service is rather small. That is neither here nor there though. The question here is quite simple, if most of the jobs in the military "never involve having to come face to face with someone and killing them", how come in the Army "everyone is a soldier first" and everyone is required to train and certify on weapons every year? It's easy, while most of the MOSes shouldn't ever come into contact with the enemy, everyone in the military is expected to be trained and prepared for that possibility.


Originally posted by Bujinkat
As to my shallow and uninformed view... I will re-post exactly what I wrote. "I don't think that anyone who is deeply commited to religion can practice with the correct spirit that is needed to learn bujutsu". The key words here are deeply commited to religion and correct spirit.

I will use Catholicism as an example as this is the faith that I was brought up with and practiced for half my life before having my eyes opened to the truth.

Someone deeply commited to their faith such as a priest could not undertake the study of bujutsu (killing the opponent) with the correct spirit because his faith tells him that killing is a mortal sin punishable by spending eternity in a lake of fire.

This DOES NOT mean that a priest or someone devoted to a particular religion cannot undertake the study of martial arts !!! Do you understand??? correct spirit... correct spirit... correct spirit I'm not saying that they CAN"T undertake the study. I'm saying that to purposely train to kill is not something that a religious person would probably consider.


And we are saying that you are wrong because you are basing your assertions on the religions with which you are familiar.


Originally posted by Bujinkat
Unless the person is a madman like the suicide bombers and terrorists that spring from the Middle East.


You mean like the Kamikaze pilots of WWII from Japan who killed themselves in their attempts to destroy their enemies because "God", through his physical incarnation (the Emperor), told them to do so and that it would get them into "Heaven"?


Originally posted by Bujinkat
I will say that I feel religion is more responsible for senseless death than it is for serving it's true purpose... peace and brotherhood among men.


Here's the problem.... religion is not to promote "peace and brotherhood among men". Religion is for the advancement of a certain faith/belief, which in turn is merely a way of explaining what we can not explain. You are confusing spirituality with religion and religion with faith.

fpsm

Bujinkat
8th May 2001, 21:12
OK, I'll come clean. I've just been yanking your chains. I could care less if the Pope likes to blow off steam by firing off a few magazines worth of ammo with an M16.

I just want to see you guys try to smuggle that naginata past St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

By the way, all the threatening, hate-filled e-mails that I have received have been forwarded to the proper authorities.

Here's a new thread for you Holy Rollers... Bujutsu and Cloning!

Thanks for the laughs.

Ronin
9th May 2001, 13:18
Some battles are best to be avoided. :laugh:

kylanjh
10th May 2001, 14:23
I know I shouldn't, but....

Regarding commandments, half the bibles you pick up will tell you not to kill, the other half not to murder. Not reading Hebrew, and not having a Septuagint handy, I would only comment that if the injunction is not to kill, all us hunters and meat-eaters are in BIG trouble. Murder, on the other hand, is a social and cultural convention. What was the right of the samurai, kirisute gomen? To cut and throw away any commoner for any reason, without it being considered murder?

Of course, that commandment only applies to Jews, since according to Paul, Christians have a new convention. It depends on which gospel you prefer, but Matthew does record Jesus as saying "You have heard that it was said to the men of old 'you shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire!" Along with the whole turn the other cheek and give the mugger your coat business, it doesn't exactly shout "Learn the latest koryu techniques to beat the tar out of your brother with our new Dog-Monkey Head Daisho!"

Then again, many conservative and devoutly Christian politicians get hot and bothered about taxes, when the one demonstrable thing Jesus said about government was "Pay your taxes!" I guess they don't see a contradiction there. I always figured that if you really despised wealth, and thought it was bad for your soul, why not give it to the Romans, to hasten their demise? Paul did say that you should always obey every government, because all governments are put in place by God's will, and exist at his sufferance. Luther used that to justify the brutal suppression of the German peasants in 1525 - no matter what anyone does to your body, it doesn't matter: they can't harm your soul, and only your soul can be saved. In fact, by injuring you, they do their own souls harm (except that no one can harm his own soul - all souls are damned, and only saved by... oh hell, I've lost track) ;)

As far as jihad, I was always under the impression that jihad was an internal struggle against oneself until about 1099, when western Christians taught Moslems the proper attitude toward holy struggle. They certainly didn't have any hang-ups with the whole turn the other cheek business, but they tended to like the Old Testament more than the New, even though they were creating warriors like unto their Lord Jesus...

As far as I can tell, no religion is monolithic. All religious people (especially those who adhere to text-based religions) choose certain aspects to emphasize, and other to de-emphasize. Not only that, but you don't turn to a book to tell you how to live each second of your life. It's kind of like tuning a radio to a different channel - you act one way in church, another way trying to get out of the parking lot afterward, and a third way in the dojo...or wherever. So do what you like - doesn't bother me. My waza are bad enough that I should spend more time in the dojo, and less on-line (or grading, for that matter, now that the semester is done!)

Just my two cents.

Kylan Jones-Huffman

Steve C
11th May 2001, 16:50
Just a quickie - I knew a man once who was a slder and is now a priest. For his theology degree, he wrote an essay on just war - his conclusion was that there is no such thing as a just war. The best you can do is define a just peace, and then fight for that.

Kinda unites the ideas of wanting peace but being involved in conflict.

MarkF
12th May 2001, 07:43
Along the same vein, the following link is a pleasant read:

http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_Takesian_0301.htm

Steve C
14th May 2001, 10:51
Going back to the original subject;


Originally posted by Jeffery Brian Hodges
I have experienced two viewpoints on the subject of religion...

Well, since there are faithless heathens out there who are perfectly good martial artists, it would seem that religion is a non-essential part of martial arts. ;)

If you want to turn it into a religious experience, then that's your business, I suppose, but I don't see any reason to do it, in terms of improving your art.

I can think of a number of religious groups who adopted a martial stance on the world, from japanese monks to the Knights Templar, and warrior groups who adopted a religion (the Samurai and Zen)

In all cases I think there was a strong practical reason; defending temples, conquering the holy land, becoming fearless... whatever.

Anyone got a good reason to tie religion with martial arts?

Steve

--
"But whosoever shall smite the on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Then, when he jabs, slip it and launch an uppercut to his exposed jaw. " ;)

kylanjh
14th May 2001, 18:51
Originally posted by Steve C
Going back to the original subject;



Well, since there are faithless heathens out there who are perfectly good martial artists, it would seem that religion is a non-essential part of martial arts. ;)

If you want to turn it into a religious experience, then that's your business, I suppose, but I don't see any reason to do it, in terms of improving your art.

I can think of a number of religious groups who adopted a martial stance on the world, from japanese monks to the Knights Templar, and warrior groups who adopted a religion (the Samurai and Zen)

In all cases I think there was a strong practical reason; defending temples, conquering the holy land, becoming fearless... whatever.

Anyone got a good reason to tie religion with martial arts?



As far as I can tell, believing that god/gods/spirits or whatever are on your side can cut both ways. It can make you more willing to disregard your life and engage the enemy in a fearless manner, but it may also hamper your judgement and lead to a rather fatalistic attitude toward the outcome of the battle or war - charging machineguns with gunto in the name of the divine emperor, for example.

In terms of improving your art, if you believe that the gods want you to practice more often in order to _____, then maybe you'll actually practice more often, or with more dedication - and that will improve your waza more than anything else. Beyond that, I don't see any real reason to integrate religion with martial arts.

If you happen to be devoutly religious, and still want to practice budo, you will have to reconcile your religion with your hobby of learning to kill or maim people. From what I've seen, this is pretty easy for most people to do, though some religions may have an easier time of it than others...

Kylan Jones-Huffman

Steve C
15th May 2001, 10:15
Originally posted by kylanjh
If you happen to be devoutly religious [...] you will have to reconcile your religion with your hobby of learning to kill or maim people. From what I've seen, this is pretty easy for most people to do, though some religions may have an easier time of it than others...

Looking at it in a long-term, historical way, cultures are very adept at modifying their religious interpretation if they want to prosper or survive. If you think about, say, the Knights Templar conquering the holy land, the Spanish conquistadors in Latin America, the early Americans conquering the Native American territories, European imperialists in Africa - all of these groups were using religion as a spearhead to justify their conquests. And from everything I've seen, they really did believe that they were justified.

(NB: Although all the above examples are Christian, it's only because I come from a culture with a Christian history. If I knew more about the wars of other cultures, I bet I'd find similar things across the world.)

I think people with religious belief must have to be very careful, because so many people in the past have fallen into the trap of modifying their religious beliefs in order to justify themselves; But that's exactly what this thread is turning into, so that's cool.

To ask all the christians out there; how do you interpret Jesus' 'turn the other cheek' speech? Seems to be very anti-fighting to me.

--
(Matthew 5:38) Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: (39) But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Jeffery Brian Hodges
15th May 2001, 14:51
Hi,
Thanks to everyone who has participated in this thread. I guess I had a few different things in mind as how ma relates to religion. Viewpoint one religion and martial arts are the same thing, or a part of the bigger picture bumon/shumon, you can't have one without the other as some think. Viewpoint two you can train in physical techniques in the martial arts and have your own religion seperate from martial arts. For example train in the dojo x number of times a week and then go to worship somewhere else seperately.
Now, who would care to touch the subject of kuji kiri in the religion/ma mix. Who thinks kuji kiri is part of a religion(tendai/shingon mikyo, etc) or is it just a tool for the warrior to "Hulk Up" ? :)

sincerely,

MarkF
16th May 2001, 08:59
Originally posted by Steve C
"But whosoever shall smite the on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Then, when he jabs, slip it and launch an uppercut to his exposed jaw. "

I just thought this was pretty apropos to the thread. After all, a hook for a hook.:)

Mark

rainingclaw
23rd May 2001, 16:42
I have posted on this subject before in a much less volatile thread and I still hold true to this belief:

There is no question martial arts is spiritual, the real question should be what spirit do YOU choose to fill it with.

A person's views on their training are their own problem whether it may be from a religious standpoint or some other view. I am a firm believer on Catholicism but I interact very well with Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, and other faiths and cultures all the time. Itís as simple as that and thereís nothing else to be said of it.

Not to say we shouldn't have some fun every now and then though right? Hehehehehe...:D

Steve C
23rd May 2001, 17:28
Originally posted by rainingclaw
There is no question martial arts is spiritual

Ummm... how so? I don't bring anything spiritual or take anything spiritual from my martial arts training. So either a) I'm not a martial artist or b) it _is_ a spiritual thing and I just don't know it. Can you explain your position on this one?

For me, martial arts are a skill, like cookery or car mechanics. Just the learning of an ability. Martial arts can have spirituality laid on top, but they aren't intrinsically spiritual.

Interested in hearing people's replies,

Steve

rainingclaw
23rd May 2001, 21:23
Steve what I meant by there always being a spirit is that even though you donít believe there is anything spiritual you will always possess a warriors spirit by default. Therefore the spirit you fill martial arts with is the spirit of combat.

Steve C
24th May 2001, 09:37
David -

Yeah, I think we've been hit by a classic case of internet misunderstanding.

I tend to think of a 'spiritual activity' as something like prayer or meditation. Something done _because_ of a particular mindset; spirit leading to action

I agree that MA is an activity that helps you _develop_ a mindset -action leading to spirit. (I think the spirit develops, rather than a beginner entering with a warrior spirit)

Do we agree? ;)

kylanjh
24th May 2001, 13:58
Originally posted by rainingclaw
...even though you donít believe there is anything spiritual you will always possess a warriors spirit by default. Therefore the spirit you fill martial arts with is the spirit of combat.

I see what you mean by the spiritual nature of MA from that perspective. I agree with Steve that we have a misunderstanding, or maybe better said a semantic problem. In the sense you seem to be using, everything is a spiritual activity, to the extent that you infuse it with a certain spirit. I could, for instance, take out my trash with a warrior's spirit. While true on one level, I'm not sure how helpful it is.

I think it takes a powerful act of will and imagination to train as though it were a matter of life and death when it truly is not...and for most of us, it truly is not a matter of life and death. I suspect that those for whom MA is truly life-and-death stuff don't spend much of their spare time posting to electronic BBS, either...

I disagree that you can possess a warrior spirit by default, or that most practicioners (even of koryu) fill their art with the spirit of combat. How many of us really know what a warrior's spirit is? Even for those who have been in combat (and let's specify ground combat) does their experience and mindset have a close resemblance to that of the men who founded the arts we study? How would we know? And how many of us would want to go there, psychologically?

I think MA actions can lead to a certain spirit, but that spirit is certainly informed by the spirit in which the actions take place. A dojo is not a neutral place, and I have seen different dojo foster different environments. Action and attitude are intimately related, so I'm not sure I agree with Steve's differentiation between spiritual activity (spirit leading to action) and MA (action leading to spirit). So I'm back where I started, having managed to confuse myself in the process... :)

rainingclaw
24th May 2001, 15:34
I think weíre on the same line of sight now Steve. :D However Kylan, when I said a warriorís spirit by default I only meant it to apply to the martial arts. It is true that not everyone has this mindset when they train and I should correct myself, but I think you can get a grip on what I was trying to say. For most martial artists there is some driving force that makes them want to train. This is also an individual feeling that he or she will not share with anyone; itís unique. I'm not sure how to explain it any better, sorry, but you get my point right?

Subjects like this are some of the most difficult to tackle. With no real end these topics just go around in infinite circles with no final answer because in the end it all comes down to individual beliefs. I understand your confusion Kylan, Iím just as lost at times but Iím getting a better understanding of things as I live each day. I guess thatís what life is all about, trying to figure stuff out-thatís what makes it exciting. :)

Soulend
24th May 2001, 19:33
I wonder how close we can come to summoning and maintaining true 'warrior spirit' in training? Can we train with the intensity and clarity of say, a Taira retainer? Is it possible to achieve the spirit of someone whose very life depends on the skills he practices? One whose use of these skills is not a possibility, but a certainty? I wonder..

BPhillips
25th May 2001, 02:58
This is a very interesting paradox. Spirituality is of prime importance to me, as are the martial arts. I was not seeking one in conjunction with the other when I began MA training--I was only thirteen years old. Somehow, though, they just came together. Ultimately, I think most truly spiritual people would like to see an end to violence in this world. Yet, I don't think any of us are holding our breath. Consequently, I feel compelled to study ways to preserve myself, my family, my friends, and my principles. Martial arts and philosophy meet that need, as do my chosen spiritual pursuits.
The discipline required to succeed in any art may well bring "spiritual experiences" to the artist. I believe martial arts apply. To state the obvious, I would say pray and meditate a lot; treat people kindly (until you can't); and train hard. How can you go wrong? This is my first post on E-budo. Peace to you all.
--William Phillips

:D These smiley faces are really cool!

Soulend
25th May 2001, 21:07
Welcome to E-Budo, Mr. Phillips!

koshoT
3rd June 2001, 03:10
I am not really a religious man, I wouldn't say that I knew much about those sorts of things at all. I do know that religion is important to me, and to a lot of people. I also know that spirituality and religion were very important to the man who brought Kosho Ryu Kempo to America, James Mitose. On the subject of religion and martial arts the only thing I can say is this:
Religions are "ways" or "paths" for people to follow to learn how to exist in harmony with other people, nature, the world, and in fact all of life, and death. It was my understanding that martial arts were created in the same way. Martial arts were a "way" or "path" for people to follow in order to learn to live in harmony with his or her surroundings. If that means dealing with an attacker, or dealing with life. The best advice I have ever heard is when looking for the truth look for similarities... ignor the nit-pickers, they only wish to draw attention to themselves by creating false disharmonies.

Thank you,
Tom Berkery

Jeff Hamacher
8th June 2001, 04:32
it seems to me that virtually any religion or form of spirituality concerns itself at least in part with the realization of an improved form of the self. by studying the teachings and/or following the practices of a given faith, the believer is supposed to become a "better person", perhaps kinder, perhaps more healthy, and perhaps more content. in this sense, training in martial arts may be similar to following the path of faith. i cannot say that "martial arts = religion", but through martial arts training all of us are trying to improve ourselves in some way or another.

i disagree with the notion that martial arts can so easily be equated with war, or simple killing for that matter, but please allow me to explain.

martial techniques (in japan as well as other countries) were originally developed to allow the practitioner to injure or kill more quickly and efficiently than an opponent; there was nothing spiritual about it. make no mistake: the warriors of medieval japan were not adherents to Zen as much as they were vassals to an extremely rigid system of social rules. what they understood of Zen served only to reinforce their resolve to serve their feudal lord faithfully, as well as fight fearlessly and skilfully. even Miyamoto Musashi wrote, "I revere the Gods and the Buddha, but never do i depend upon them."

but consider what has been written about the nature of the jo: naturally, it is a weapon which has the capacity to injure, possibly even kill, one's opponent, and yet one Shinto Muso-ryu-related source i've read states very clearly that the jo must be used in such a way so as to "not cause injury." my training in aikido also suggests that its techniques can be used to subdue a very powerful attack without harming, or at least certainly not killing, one's assailant. martial arts may not teach us to turn the other cheek exactly, but then again they certainly don't encourage us to "go forth and kick much butt at every opportunity." as far as i'm concerned, there's fighting to cause harm and then there's martial arts training; they are not one and the same.

training in martial arts is about learning and growing; if your teacher is skilful and of the right mind you also stand a good chance of becoming a healthier, happier, "better" person. whether or not martial arts training is "spiritual" in nature depends entirely upon the intent of the student.

cheers, jdh

koshoT
10th June 2001, 18:22
I would just like to add that not all martial arts in Japan were focused on killing on the battle field. Remember that martial arts not only come from the Warrior class, but also from Monks. Buddhist monks did not train to kill others more effectively. They trained to avoid conflict, and to be able "reform the attacker" So that if a person did attack them violently they would be able to handle the situation while still seeing the good int he other perosn and allowing that person to see the error of his ways.

Thank you,
Tom Berkery

rainingclaw
11th June 2001, 03:46
Like the Yamabushi right? (Not too sure on the spelling.) I've read many Monks excelled in Bojutsu, Hanbojutsu, etc.

Ronin33
15th June 2001, 20:45
To my understanding the majority of martial arts derive from China who were a major source of cultual influence throughout the ancient far east in all matters.
Buddism was brought to China via the Silk road by Bodidahrma (Chan sect) and taught to the monks of the Shaolin Temple. However; the monks were out of shape and could not withstand the long hours of meditation due to weak stamina and Da-Mo created a set of exercises mimicking the movements of animals as a excersise regimen. Self-defense and "reforming the offender" were secondary.
The earlier "jutsu" techniques were techniques designed for war.
Nothing more than that, just combat!
When the Tokugawa Shogunate began the 200 years of peace many retainers made a living as teachers (among other things) and the "do" versions were created to justify the training adding a spirital aspect to training. Hence Zen which became popular with the warrior class and its tenets fit the bill perfectly. Many warriors upon living to a ripe old age "retired" shaved their haeds and devoted their twilight years to Budda.
My point is don't confuse a persons beliefs by what he does. A warriors business is war and all aspects. If he is genuine than he knows the consequences of his actions but has the spirit of his convictions.
Religon is dogma only. How you worship.
It has nothing to do with what a person does.
Study your history.

Mike Gaudio
Miami,FL.

converted judoka
16th June 2001, 21:35
WOW MIKE!!!! I'm impressed. :cool:






Henry Infante
Bujinkan Miami Dojo

Rob
18th June 2001, 10:41
All

I always used to think of the M.A. as an essentially spiritual activity but the more I train, the less I think that this necessarily HAS to be the reality.

A point was made that like cookery, or being a mechanic, MA training is about learning and applying a skill and while that CAN have a spiritual aspect it doesn't have to.

I think I'd agree with this, but I'd like to suggest why it is that many people do think of it as a spiritual or a religious activity.

Firstly Martial Arts involve violence, pain and injury. At some point all martial artists have to give some thought to whether what they are learning would work, and if it does whether they would be prepared to use it. That inevitably leads to thoughts of justification and morals and when it is right to fight. For many many people religions is where they turn to for these answers.

Secondly many people find that MA training has changed them as people, has turned them away from violent or abusive life styles. Again there is a tendancy to equate this to a spiritual change.

Finally after a period of training many of us have probably experienced feelings or techniques that just feel like more than just physics being applied. Mushin springs to mind as something that just feels more spiritual than pyshchological.

Religion or spirtuality are ways of explaining elements of our lives that frighten us or that we don't understand. Given that Budo makes up a large portion of many of our lives is it really that suprising that many people make a link ?

Jeff Hamacher
19th June 2001, 03:38
Originally posted by Ronin33

When the Tokugawa Shogunate began the 200 years of peace many retainers made a living as teachers (among other things) and the "do" versions were created to justify the training adding a spirital aspect to training.

i've seen a considerable amount of debate regarding the varying uses of the suffixes "jutsu" and "do", and from what i've gathered "do" as applied to martial arts only came into use much more recently than the beginning of the Edo Period. i'm currently reading Go Rin no Sho and Musashi does not use the term "do" in reference to his "school" of swordsmanship. he does use the word "michi", which of course uses the same ideograph as "do", and even in modern japanese is taken to mean, "true path" or "path of virtue". his opening words are "heihou no michi, Nitenichi-ryu to gou shi ..." ("this true path of military strategy I name Nitenichi-ryu").

originally i foolishly wrote: samurai trained in peacetime to maintain their martial skills as a matter of pride and duty. other than obvious modifications, e.g. the use of wooden weapons rather than metal blades, i do not agree with the interpretation that, "'do' versions [of martial arts] were created to justify the training." samurai most likely continued to train in much the same way they had before Tokugawa established his reign. they would simply train in such a way as to avoid killing or maiming a training partner or duel opponent.

proper research reveals: "Moreover, the age in which Musashi lived (late 16thC-early 17thC) was one that saw the transformation of utilitarian combative technique, Bujutsu, into a way of cultivating character, Budo. (p 3)

the only part of my original statement which might hold up is the suggestion that the various Bujutsu did not change significantly on a mechanical level; it was the intent or spirit of training that underwent significant change. i don't believe that "'do' versions" of martial arts suddenly appeared in place of former training methods.



Hence Zen which became popular with the warrior class and its tenets fit the bill perfectly. Many warriors upon living to a ripe old age "retired" shaved their heads and devoted their twilight years to Budda [sic].

originally i foolishly wrote: true, certain tenets of Zen could be interpreted in such a way that they fit with the social obligations and role of the samurai, but to suggest that samurai truly practised Zen is probably overstating the case. ... as i've pointed out, Musashi claimed to have "never relied upon the gods and the Buddha." spirituality did not extend to his practice of "heihou".

proper research reveals: "...Musashi was also deeply immersed in the study of Zen." (p 16)

interestingly enough, however, the same source states, "And, unlike later Budo treatises, Go Rin no Sho does not introduce elements of Zen or Taoism in order to enhance its spiritual content; rather it insists that the mind can be polished to a clear and cloudless state by thorough training in technique." (p 32) Musashi's various studies in Zen, literature, and visual art seem to have informed his practice of martial arts, but in the end his "heihou" did not depend upon external spiritual teachings.

and as for retiring to the life of a monk or nun, this was quite normal for certain people other than aged warriors; widows of nobility commonly became nuns.

having said all that, i do agree with your comments about religion being distinct from martial arts training. both worship and training can help a person to improve themself, but the two are not necessarily one and the same.

cheers, jeff hamacher

bibliographic reference:
Budo Studies, publ. International Budo University, 2000,
ISBN 4-9980893-0-7
"Research of Miyamoto Musashi's Go Rin no Sho", Takashi UOZUMI (trans. Steven Harwood)

kylanjh
20th June 2001, 21:30
Originally posted by Ronin33
Religon is dogma only. How you worship.
It has nothing to do with what a person does.
Study your history.


I know that this is untrue of Greek and Roman religions, which basically didn't have dogma, but emphasized a person's actions as being important. Hence their issues with early Christians... I have heard that classical Roman religion was actually quite similar to Shinto (variety of spirits inherent in the landscape & sky, imperial cult, several higher dieties, etc). Anyone know the importance (or lack thereof) of dogma and belief in Shinto, as opposed to action? Just curious...

Ronin33
20th June 2001, 22:27
"Untrue of Greek and Roman..."

I am not sure what you mean of being "untrue" in the classical religions/worship of the ancient world.
I can tell you that when Constantine had his "dream" of a new Rome under a Hebrew symbol ( the crucifix), it is documented that many Romans were reluctant to "give up " their multitude of gods. Hence, the idea of replacing the Roman gods (the lesser ones) with counterparts was conceived. This idea was realized by the "invention" of our modern day Saints. Instead of the a particular god to pray to for guidance you would now pray to the Christian saint who had the attribute.( ie. St. Francis the patron saint for lost causes etc.)
This praying /offering sacraments/ burning incense/chanting, is the dogma. To pray/ask Aries the god of war to aid you in battle and make an offering to him is the dogma. You find this in all religions, ancient and modern. In fact many of the present day recognized practices, holidays and the like can be traced to ancient gods and forms of worship. Take our names of the days all named after ancient gods and customs. Also don't forget that many civiliztions worshiped nature as well(ie. the moon,sun) itself with no god to hold the attribute.(sun worshipers etc.)
To say that the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece did not have dogma is quite untrue. Rome took many of it's ideas in it's culture from Greece. And many inventions, ideas, cultural,and political institutions we today consider "modern" were conceived and created by Rome. Their influence was worldwide. This is similiar to the way Japan borrowed many ideas from ancient China.
Shinto has Confucian and Taoist elements all throughout itself.
Study your history.

Mike Gaudio
Miami,Fl.

Jeff Hamacher
21st June 2001, 02:11
Originally posted by Ronin33
This is similiar to the way Japan borrowed many ideas from ancient China.
Shinto has Confucian and Taoist elements all throughout itself.

your post is very informative, Ronin, up until this last statement. yes, it's very true that a great deal of Chinese culture was imported to Japan and "domesticated", and Confucian influence is very obvious even in modern japanese social values (much more so then Buddhism/Zen). but i have never heard of Shinto being influenced by other forms of spirituality (such as Taoism) or morality (since Confucianism is not a religion as such but rather a moral code, as far as i know). what parts of Shinto do you consider to be Confucian or Taoist?

cheers, jeff hamacher

Ronin33
21st June 2001, 03:03
"what parts of Shinto..."

I believe the idea of honoring the ancestors and filal piety which is very much a Confucian ideal can be seen in the way honor is shown to the ancestors that have past on and the devotion to family and elders given in general.
Maybe it is the way I perceive this...I do not practice Shinto.
If I am way off base on this matter I'm sorry. I did not wish to offend anyone and welcome any insight you could give.
Cheers.
Mike Gaudio
Miami,Fl.

Jeff Hamacher
21st June 2001, 05:41
Originally posted by Ronin33
"what parts of Shinto..."

I believe the idea of honoring the ancestors and filial piety which is very much a Confucian ideal can be seen in the way honor is shown to the ancestors that have past on and the devotion to family and elders given in general.

i agree that this aspect of Confucian teachings is a very important component of japanese morality or social custom. traditionally speaking, people who are older or who have longer periods of experience with something must be shown unquestioning respect by those who are younger or less experienced.

however, my understanding of Shinto doesn't include this kind of thinking. Shinto is largely made up of rituals, mostly to do with asking for blessings from the gods (of whom too many exist to count) or spiritual purification. reportedly, it contains no real doctrine or teachings other than a regular observance of rites.

the business of honouring one's ancestors is Buddhist in origin, and the tradition of maintaining a family grave where living family members can worship definitely comes from China. until the introduction of Buddhism japanese buried their dead; only after that did they go in for cremation. still, there is a Shinto funeral service, although the majority of japanese opt for a Buddhist ceremony.

i checked in the Shinto forum but there hasn't been any activity over there for the last 15 days. hmmm ... maybe a question would prompt some more knowledgable member to respond. take care and read you later.

cheers, jeff hamacher

Joseph Svinth
21st June 2001, 08:27
Actually, Constantius Caesar's dream was of an ankh, which was at the time a Mithraic rather than Coptic symbol, and favored by his soldiers, most of whom were recruited from Anatolia, Iraq, and Iran.

And, while it is true that Constantius did convert to Christianity on his deathbed, it should be noted that the Christianty to which he converted was Arian rather than Roman or Greek Orthodox, and that Arianism is a sect that both the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches subsequently classified as a heresy.

kylanjh
21st June 2001, 13:17
Originally posted by Ronin33
I can tell you that when Constantine had his "dream" of a new Rome under a Hebrew symbol ( the crucifix), it is documented that many Romans were reluctant to "give up " their multitude of gods.

I checked up on my history, and discovered that first off, the crucifix isn't a Hebrew symbol. It wasn't even a Christian symbol until much later, since it represented an instrument of torture... I'll check up on it some more, but I don't think there is any agreement on what Constantine actually saw, or that all Romans rapidly became Christian after 312. No argument with you on saints: they do seem to replace or simply re-name many previous deities, often heroes who had been elevated to the status of gods (I understand this may also happen in Shinto, when people are elevated to the status of kami?)


This praying /offering sacraments/ burning incense/chanting, is the dogma. To pray/ask Aries the god of war to aid you in battle and make an offering to him is the dogma. You find this in all religions, ancient and modern.

Sorry, but prayer isn't dogma, and Christian prayer isn't ancient prayer. The primary difference is probably the public nature of ancient ritual. Take Diocletian, one of the strongest persecutors of Christians (though he was married to one). He really didn't care what people believed - only that they put the little honey cake on the altar for the emperor. It was like saying the pledge of allegiance or singing the national anthem.


To say that the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece did not have dogma is quite untrue. Rome took many of it's ideas in it's culture from Greece.

Again, I don't disagree that Romans took many elements of their culture from Greeks. Half the empire spoke Greek as a primary language, and dogma is a Greek word. However, "ideas in culture" are not dogma. Dogma in the later sense is an official decree, mandating certain beliefs under threat of punishment. Mr. Svinth brings up Arians, but there were many other heretical sects - people who exercised choice rather than conform to dogma. There is no evidence of this sort of intolerance based on belief in classical religions - only intolerance based on action or failure to act in certain ways, i.e. ritual. Romans might think you strange if you castrated yourself for the Mater Magna, but as long as you supported the state and the imperial cult by your actions, they deeply and profoundly didn't care what you believed.


Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher however, my understanding of Shinto doesn't include this kind of thinking. Shinto is largely made up of rituals, mostly to do with asking for blessings from the gods (of whom too many exist to count) or spiritual purification. reportedly, it contains no real doctrine or teachings other than a regular observance of rites.

This is what I was asking about with respect to Shinto. Ancestor worship was also a big part of Roman piety, for what it's worth. Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. I guess I'll go back and study my history some more... ;)

kylanjh
21st June 2001, 15:34
Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
Actually, Constantius Caesar's dream was of an ankh, which was at the time a Mithraic rather than Coptic symbol, and favored by his soldiers, most of whom were recruited from Anatolia, Iraq, and Iran.

OK, I checked up on it, and there are two different stories. Lactantius, the earlier source (On the Deaths of the Persecutors 44) writes that Constantine had a dream just before the battle to paint the Chi Rho on his soldiers' shields. Eusebius, the later source, (The Life of Constantine 1.27) writes that weeks before the battle God showed Constantine a cross of light in the sky at mid-day, telling him to conquer in that sign. Your guess is as good as mine, especially given that Eusebius' earlier Church History doesn't mention the episode at all....

Anyway, sorry if I've gotten pedantic. Occupational hazard, you might say.... I should stick to being whacked with sticks, rather than all this elevated intellectual stuff ;)

TTFN,

Kylan Jones-Huffman
Annapolis, MD

Joseph Svinth
23rd June 2001, 11:04
For Constantius and his purported visions, the important thing to note are the astrological references -- omens in the sky are part of Iranian war magic rather than Roman: think Daniel in Babylon and the Magii in the Christmas story. For their part, the Romans read the entrails of sheep. Reach in and read the still-steaming liver...

Meanwhile, with his purported conversion to Arianism, Constantius (or more likely, whoever created the story) appears to have been catering to the tastes of the Western politicians, many of whom at the time were Arians.

In other words, in both cases, the pious accounts appear to have been created to suit political needs. Imagine that, politics and religion working hand-in-hand.

FWIW, an ankh is a cross with a loop above its vertical arm. It was originally ancient Egyptian symbol (hence its use in the Coptic church) for life.

kylanjh
24th June 2001, 13:42
Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
In other words, in both cases, the pious accounts appear to have been created to suit political needs. Imagine that, politics and religion working hand-in-hand.

Say it ain't so, Joe! I'm shocked - shocked, I say... Must be the same reason Constantine waited until he was on his death-bed to be baptized, so he could be forgiven for murdering most of his relatives for political reasons. The Emperor Julian has a great story which shows Constantine running around to all the different gods to get forgiveness, and the only one who would take him in was the god of the Galilaeans!

And just one more question - since most koryu seem to have at least outward Shinto trappings, could it be argued that they are really faith-based groups which help to rehabilitate hopeless cases like me, and thus deserve money from the White House office for faith-based programs?

Joseph Svinth
24th June 2001, 23:58
Some might get to heaven on works, and a few claim to be Elect, but for most? Faith...

BTW, your profile says you live in College Park. The National Archives are in College Park, and according to the NARA website, there are a mountain of SCAP documents on the subject of kendo, judo, and budo in the NARA archives at College Park. I'm guessing that most of these have glosses in English in the margins, as they would have had Nisei summarizing interviews, interrogations, and documents for Military Intelligence. If so, you could have a really neat research project waiting right in your back yard. I know, you have lots of things going on, but if you took the whole 400-level seminar class in there as part of a class project on using archives, hey, you could accomplish many things at once, right?

In all seriousness, funding could be available for that project. And even if it isn't, the topic is US military-related, it ties in with your personal interests, and since you live locally, the chief cost would be time. Plan ahead and a week's leave here and there plus a stack of dimes for the Xerox machine could put a serious dent into that stack.

P Goldsbury
9th July 2001, 11:44
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher

your post is very informative, Ronin, up until this last statement. yes, it's very true that a great deal of Chinese culture was imported to Japan and "domesticated", and Confucian influence is very obvious even in modern japanese social values (much more so then Buddhism/Zen). but i have never heard of Shinto being influenced by other forms of spirituality (such as Taoism) or morality (since Confucianism is not a religion as such but rather a moral code, as far as i know). what parts of Shinto do you consider to be Confucian or Taoist?

cheers, jeff hamacher

To Jeff Hamacher,

Consider the following quotation:
" 'Shinto' in its earliest usage in, say, the Nihon Shoki, was ... a referent not for some indigenous creed at all but, rather for Taoism. The characters read as 'Shinto' in Japanese were used in eighth century China to mean Taoism ', and it would have been natural for Japanese to use the same term in the same way. 'Teachings, rituals, and even the concepts of Imperial authority' -- everything from the veneration of swords and mirrors to religious titles and the physical structure of the mosr sacred shrine of Ise -- all spring from Taoism; so, too, were local beliefs defined by Taoist influence. Taoism totally pervaded early Japan's religious milieu, obliterating what indigenous practices may have existed prior to that foreign creed's advent. 'Shinto', in its earliest known usage, was then nothing but a Chinese cultural import."

These quotations are taken from Toshio Kuroda, "Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion", Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol 7, No 1 and Ichiro Hori, "Folk Religion in Japan: Continuity and Change' (1968). The quotation appears on p. 5 of the introduction to "Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami", edited by John Breen and Mark Teewen (Curzon Press, UK, 2000). This is an excellent, but very demanding, collection of essays on the history of Shinto in Japan.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury
____________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Jeff Hamacher
10th July 2001, 01:35
Originally posted by P Goldsbury
" 'Shinto' in its earliest usage in, say, the Nihon Shoki, was ... a referent not for some indigenous creed at all but, rather for Taoism. [...] 'Shinto', in its earliest known usage, was then nothing but a Chinese cultural import."
Prof. (?) Goldsbury,

wow!!! if that's the case, then by what process did Shinto become so different from Taoism? my understanding of the Taoist view of things is that there is no god (or gods) who willingly control the world, whereas Shinto seems to see gods in everything, gods who affect the weather, a person's fortune, or any number of life's "events". have i misinterpreted things?

[...] This is an excellent, but very demanding, collection of essays on the history of Shinto in Japan.
i would certainly be interested to read more about Shinto, although i don't want to bite off more than i can chew. if you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to provide them. although far from perfect, my japanese ability is of a reasonable standard so japanese-language sources are also welcome.

cheers, jeff hamacher

PS i was wondering if i might get your permission to contact you by e-mail regarding teaching at university in japan. i would appreciate any insights you can offer on that subject as well. and please accept my apologies for not knowing your proper title.

P Goldsbury
10th July 2001, 05:02
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher

Prof. (?) Goldsbury,

wow!!! if that's the case, then by what process did Shinto become so different from Taoism? my understanding of the Taoist view of things is that there is no god (or gods) who willingly control the world, whereas Shinto seems to see gods in everything, gods who affect the weather, a person's fortune, or any number of life's "events". have i misinterpreted things?

i would certainly be interested to read more about Shinto, although i don't want to bite off more than i can chew. if you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to provide them. although far from perfect, my japanese ability is of a reasonable standard so japanese-language sources are also welcome.

cheers, jeff hamacher

PS i was wondering if i might get your permission to contact you by e-mail regarding teaching at university in japan. i would appreciate any insights you can offer on that subject as well. and please accept my apologies for not knowing your proper title.

To Jeff Hamacher,

That's OK. I don't use my title because it seems somewhat pretentious on a bulletin board such as this (though I've given it at the bottom of this post). I have no objection to you contacting me by e-mail, either pagolds@hiroshima-u.ac.jp (I do not check this address every day), or pag@mocha.ocn.ne.jp.

Regards,

Peter Goldsbury
_____________
P A Goldsbury, MA, PhD,
Professor, Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Yamantaka
10th July 2001, 10:28
Hey! Peter, Jeff,

In no way interrupt this thread!!! :redhot:
Please, do go on...It's the first time I hear about links so close between Taoism and Shintoism. Let's keep it on!
curious
:smokin:

P Goldsbury
12th July 2001, 07:57
To Jeff & Ubaldo,

I would not claim to be an expert by any means, but much discussion of shinto seems to be dominated by 'establishment' views (the Kokugakuin and Kogakkan people). Such views seem to make a fairly sharp distinction between folk shinto, shrine shinto and sect shinto (of which Omoto-kyo would be an example). The best example of shrine shinto is the devotion of the Imperial family to Amaterasu and this has existed 'from the beginning of Japanese history'. By folk shnto is meant all the various transactions with the kami which do not take place at 'established' shrines. This also has existed from the beginning of Japanese history, and probaly even before this. A leading exponent of the 'establishment' view is Naofusa Hirai, and also Joseph Kitagawa, who both believe that shinto is the 'indigenous' religion of Japan and constitutes the basis of Japanese culture.

The problems here are to define exactly the ingredients of folk shinto and shrine shinto, to state the relationship between them and when the divergence occurred. 'Shinto' uses the same characters that the Chinese used to denote Taoism and the Japanese copied the Chinese originals. The term was coined to disitnguish the 'indigenous' religion from Buddhism, but a symbiosis of the two was effected relatively quickly. But nothing is stated about the possibility of Taoist influences in folk shinto, or even in shrine shinto.

The 'establishment' view has been attacked by the late Anna Seidel, in an article entitled 'Chronicle of Taoist Studies in the West 1950-1990' and by Toshio Kuroda in the article cited in my previous post. Defences were mounted by Fukumasa Fukui, in 'The History of Taoist Studies in Japan and Some Related Issues'. There are two reasonable articles in the Cambridge History of Japan: 'Early Kami Worship' by Takeshi Matsumae, in Vol 1, and 'Religious Practices', by Allan G Grappard, in Vol 2, but the bibliographies do not list the articles cited above.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Goldsbury,
____________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Filip Poffe
10th October 2001, 13:53
Dear Mr. Goldsbury, dear fellow martial artists,

Do you have any information concerning Amatsu Tatara Shumon (spiritual gate - Shinto spirit) ?

One of the main purposes I think of martial arts is the entering of the spiritual world as going through a gateway. I think that spiritual refinement is the most important thing for a true martial artist. This is what Tanemura Sensei also likes to stress.

According to me martial arts and spirituality are undoubtly one.
Type of religion doesn't matter, all religions refer to the same but all teachers that came (Jesus Christ, Buddha, ...) had a different lesson (love, wisdom, ...) they wanted to stress.

You can find some spiritual stories and informations in my websites here : http://users.skynet.be/chiryaku/stories_menu.htm and also here : http://users.skynet.be/genbukan/ryuha.htm

Sincerely Yours,

koshoT
11th October 2001, 20:26
Mr. Poffe

I agree. I thihk you are on to something. I was wondering what anyone elese's thoughts were on the issues of most religions having common threads. And does anyone think it would be possible some day to have a confrence where all religions can come together and discuss, and agree on these common threads?

Thank you,
Tom Berkery

Yamantaka
11th October 2001, 21:38
[QUOTE]Originally posted by P Goldsbury
[B]To Jeff & Ubaldo,

...But nothing is stated about the possibility of Taoist influences in folk shinto, or even in shrine shinto.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Goldsbury

YAMANTAKA : So, if I understand you correctly, Shinto was named because of the influence of Taoism but that influence was not very strong and very soon the japanese began to change shintoism, mixing it with folk superstitions and later with buddhism. Is that so?
By the way, in this same sub-forum I asked a question about the ideogram BU. Can you help me with it?
Best :wave:

Kimpatsu
22nd October 2001, 08:30
Hi, all.
Having read through this thread, I'm of the opinion yet again that people are applying the terminology differently (but I think you've all realised that I'm anal retentive about grammar and language by now :D .)
The first problem as I perceive it is the use of the word "religion." Some of the people here are using it to mean, "spirituality," and others are using it to mean, "theism." For my own two cents, I thought religion meant something you do by rote (as in "wash your face religiously every morning"), but anthropologists use the word to mean theism, and apply "ritual" to the face-washing. Go figure.
Also, and I know I've mentioned this already in another thread, but we're back to which Japanese word you use to translate MA. Members of the armed forces practice bujutsu, so there's no spiritual requirement, but for practitioners of budo, such as Shorinji Kempo, the exhortation not to kill ("Fusatsu katsujin") is drilled into us from the start. The purpose of practice is quite different in any case; a soldier is in a battlefield scenario, whereas a budoka is likely to be facing no more than a pub brawl or a mugging at most, so they don't have to win; they just have to not lose (i.e., keep themselves safe rather than maim or kill an opponent). Also, from a purely "religious" standpoint, if you kill an opponent, you rob them of their opportunity to change, or to learn from their mistake. That's my understanding, anyway.
BTW, Ronin33: The patron saint of lost causes is St. Jude (because people confused him with Judas Iscariot, and nobody prayed to him); St. Francis is patron saint of healers.
Stay well,
:)

Jeff Hamacher
23rd October 2001, 03:49
Kimpatsu,

i'm going to assume you know a great deal more about the difference between the terms "religion" and "spirituality" and avoid entering into that realm of discussion. having said that, i personally use the term spirituality to refer to those beliefs which guide a person's choices or shape their views of the world around them, whether or not there is ritual or scripture to accompany that belief. in that way i hope to capture the broadest sense of this semantic spirituality/religion/faith beast.

Originally posted by Kimpatsu
... we're back to which Japanese word you use to translate MA. Members of the armed forces practice bujutsu, so there's no spiritual requirement, but for practitioners of budo, such as Shorinji Kempo, the exhortation not to kill ("Fusatsu katsujin") is drilled into us from the start.
bear in mind that the japanese themselves don't necessarily draw such a clear distinction between those two terms. true, everyone trains in martial arts for a different reason; japanese police officers probably spend less time thinking about "actualization of their full human potential" and more time on quickly becoming technically proficient, for example.

you also have to remind yourself that Shorinji has some very specific spiritual foundations (from what i understand), some of which may be similar to those found in other japanese martial arts but probably not the same. i believe the spirituality of martial training has less to do with the art being practised and more to do with the practitioner's personal intentions. some students may join a particular school because it fits with their spiritual goals and that same school may reject any potential student who does not agree with those principles. however, many other forms of martial arts embrace students who have widely varied dispositions.

The purpose of practice is quite different in any case; a soldier is in a battlefield scenario, whereas a budoka is likely to be facing no more than a pub brawl or a mugging at most, so they don't have to win; they just have to not lose (i.e., keep themselves safe rather than maim or kill an opponent). Also, from a purely "religious" standpoint, if you kill an opponent, you rob them of their opportunity to change, or to learn from their mistake. That's my understanding, anyway.

tying this line of discussion into the original topic, i assume that a soldier has already made peace with their spiritual convictions before they enlisted, or that perhaps they are being forced to ignore or deny those convictions under compulsory military service. a soldier may still find a path to personal (or perhaps even spiritual) development in martial training, even if that training will eventually be used to kill. if killing contradicts the tenets of their spirituality then you can expect problems, but otherwise that soldier may still kill while acting within the bounds of their beliefs.

to repeat what's been said much more eloquently upthread: every student or potential student must ask themself honestly if their spirituality agrees with, is fostered by, or contradicts the teachings of a given instructor, martial art, or perhaps martial arts training as a whole. their subsequent choice must be the result of the honest answer.

Kimpatsu
23rd October 2001, 06:08
Dear Jeff,

To repeat what's been said much more eloquently upthread: Every student or potential student must ask themself honestly if their spirituality agrees with, is fostered by, or contradicts the teachings of a given instructor, martial art, or perhaps martial arts training as a whole. Their subsequent choice must be the result of the honest answer.

I agree that subsequent choice should be the result of an honest answer to the questions posted above, but in my experience, people join the club closest to their home or place of work without really checking it out first. IMHO, people ignore any ethical dimension because they believe themselves to be "intrinsically good," or "good enough," such that they don't fel they require any additional concrete philosophy to teach them how to behave in a given set of circumstances. I agree that a serviceman (or woman) must have made their peace with their spirituality (or ethical code as you seem to use the term) in order to kill; I must find a serving Shorinji Kenshi to ask them how they feel.
On the point of my quest for a catch-all definition of religion and your statement that SK has religious roots: You're right to the extent that in Japan, SK is registered as a religion (after all, it brings great tax breaks! :D ), but I still think of SK more as a moral code than a "religion" in the theistic sense of the term. After all, a survey of registered Japanese "religions" conducted in 1953 found that onsen, "snakku" (complete with mam-san), and other bodies were registered! (to be fair, I think they were also after the tax breaks). To sum up, my posting was driven for my never-ending quest for unified terminology, so we can be sure we're all on the same wavelength before starting a discussion, especially one as deep as this one. The linguistic minefield is a personal nightmare! HTH.
Stay well,
:)

Jeff Hamacher
23rd October 2001, 08:12
Originally posted by Kimpatsu
I agree that subsequent choice should be the result of an honest answer to the questions posted above, but in my experience, people join the club closest to their home or place of work without really checking it out first. IMHO, people ignore any ethical dimension because they believe themselves to be "intrinsically good," or "good enough," such that they don't feel they require any additional concrete philosophy to teach them how to behave in a given set of circumstances.
as harsh at it may sound, someone who denies their own beliefs has made the wrong choice, assuming that they were free to choose in the first place.

I agree that a serviceman (or woman) must have made their peace with their spirituality (or ethical code as you seem to use the term) in order to kill;
at the cost of repeating myself, my use of the term spirituality denotes any kind of belief or guiding principles based on faith of some kind, whether or not it's part of an organized religion. more on this below.

On the point of my quest for a catch-all definition of religion and your statement that SK has religious roots: You're right to the extent that in Japan, SK is registered as a religion (...), but I still think of SK more as a moral code than a "religion" in the theistic sense of the term.
a double-check of my post confirms that i used the expression "spiritual roots" as opposed to "religious roots". my original comment meant to say that SK incorporates some obvious Buddhist references (swastika icon on dogi, gashhou rather than o-jigi), but i agree with you wholeheartedly that SK is not a religion as such.

To sum up, my posting was driven for my never-ending quest for unified terminology, so we can be sure we're all on the same wavelength before starting a discussion, especially one as deep as this one.
well, then, i guess i oughta define my terms. you introduced the term "theism", which is defined in my dictionary as a form of belief where The Supreme Being has made itself known through direct communication (and subsequent institutionalization) with humankind, which is contrasted by "deism", a form of belief where The Supreme Being has made itself evident in the living universe without any such communication. the same dictionary goes on to say that "spirituality" is essentially a faith or belief itself whereas "religion" is the codeification of that belief. most of these definitions work pretty well for me, although "spirituality" certainly seems a more limited term than i often consider it to be. whaddya reckon?

i'm out of time, but i'll read y'all later.

Kimpatsu
23rd October 2001, 10:32
Hi, Jeff,
I hope we're not monopolising the bandwidth on this thread.
To sum up, I would agree with you as to the codification of belief being the difference between deism and religion. I think spirituality is a looser term, and applies to the "Force" (for want of a better word); it's the identification of the vast pool and swell of life all around us: The life energy of the universe. In SK, we call it Dharma.
Just a few points on terminology: The SK logo is a manji; a swastika faces the other way. Calling it a swastika is to say you can't tell the difference between b and d :D
Gassho-rei is used for several reasons, one of which is because to put your palms together, you can't be carrying anything. The same origin goes for shaking hands in the West, where people used to take hold of each other's sword arms, and not release them until the conversation ended and they parted. It's a gesture of good will. We also don't bow because we consider ourselves to all be equal, so lowering your head is not acceptable.
HTH.
BTW, do you ever make it to Tokyo? Some of us e-budo bods have started meeting for lunch on Sundays, but if you came up on business, say, it would be nice to meet you for a beer or three.
Cheers,
:toast:

Jeff Hamacher
24th October 2001, 04:40
Originally posted by Kimpatsu
I hope we're not monopolising the bandwidth on this thread.
hey, it's not like others won't jump in if they feel like it.:D

To sum up, I would agree with you as to the codification of belief being the difference between deism and religion. I think spirituality is a looser term, and applies to the "Force" (for want of a better word); it's the identification of the vast pool and swell of life all around us: The life energy of the universe.
yeah, that's kind of what i'm driving at. i find that if i use the term "religion" or even "faith" it seems to exclude those who believe in some such "Life Force" so to speak but don't subscribe to a theism.

Just a few points on terminology: The SK logo is a manji; a swastika faces the other way. Calling it a swastika is to say you can't tell the difference between b and d :D
well, since we're talking about the accurate use of terminology, perhaps you'll allow me to nitpick a little further.:D the icon that the Nazis adopted is called a "hackenkreutz" (sp?), which translates literally as "twisted cross". according to what i was taught in high school, the term "swastika" would never be used by germans to refer to that icon. the icon which you referred to as manji is of course flipped and rotated in comparison to the hackenkreutz, but my japanese/english dictionary still translates it as "(Indian) swastika" (or if you prefer, the oh-so-esoteric "fylfot"?!?). i think the misuse of terminology is the result of anglophones confusing the two icons; rather akin to medieval explorers who called native north americans "Indians" because they honestly believed that they'd travelled that far west.

BTW, do you ever make it to Tokyo? Some of us e-budo bods have started meeting for lunch on Sundays, but if you came up on business, say, it would be nice to meet you for a beer or three.
sounds like a plan! i can't say as i go to Tokyo that often, but mail me off-board (or i'll drop you a line if you don't mind) and let's talk. thanks for the discussion thus far and looking forward to more in the future.

yours in budo,

P Goldsbury
24th October 2001, 10:51
Originally posted by Yamantaka
[QUOTE]Originally posted by P Goldsbury
[B]To Jeff & Ubaldo,

...But nothing is stated about the possibility of Taoist influences in folk shinto, or even in shrine shinto.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Goldsbury

YAMANTAKA : So, if I understand you correctly, Shinto was named because of the influence of Taoism but that influence was not very strong and very soon the japanese began to change shintoism, mixing it with folk superstitions and later with buddhism. Is that so?
By the way, in this same sub-forum I asked a question about the ideogram BU. Can you help me with it?
Best :wave:

Dear Ubaldo,

Apologies for the delay in posting a reply. At present I have little time to make any contribution to this and other bulletin boards.

Your suggestion is not quite correct, for reasons I will explain below.

First, however, I want to draw your attention to an article in the International Herald Tribune, dated October 13-14, 2001. The article is entitled "Silent and Sacred: The Hunting of Shinto" and is a report on an exhibition, "Shinto: The Sacred Art of Japan", currently on display at the British Museum. (I have not yet seen the exhibition catalogue, so the article is my only source at the moment.)

The article cites a definition of Shinto: "a folk belief emerging from natural spiritual behaviour, for which reason it has no creeds nor scriptures." The problem is that a very similar defintion could be given of Taoism, especially in the so-called pre-classical period (from around 700BCE). As we all know, Taoism evolved from a collection of folk beliefs into a philosophy, with texts such as the Tao-te ching, and, later still, into an organised religion (20BCE-600CE), as did Shinto, though perhaps a little later. And, like Shinto, Taoism did not abandon the earlier folk beliefs: these were supplemented by other ingredients more suitable for intellectuals, emperors and politicians.

There is, of course, a problem about nomenclature. Can the pre-classical collection collection of folk beliefs really be called Taoism? Probably not, but the same problem exists with Shinto, which name come into use long, long after the arrival and dissemination of Buddhism in Japan.

The Shinto exhibition starts with the Middle Jomon Period (2500-1500 BCE). This was still 2,000 years before Chinese ideograms came into use in Japan, and so the Shinto historian has to rely on archeological remains. The article mentioned earthenware vases with complex abstract patterns (as yet undeciphered) containing traces of carbonized food. Since many other smaller vases were found at the same sites, the conclusion is reached that the larger vases "had a special significance" (a pretty safe bet, one might think) "and were used in religious sites to hold sacred food". There is no evidence for these two assertions. As I have said above, I have not yet received the exhibition catalogue, but the article reinforces my own view that the evidence for the so-called early forms of Shinto is extremely flimsy.

So, what you have are two parallel movements in Japan and China: the distillation of a potpourri of folk beliefs and shamanistic practices into a more defined set of rituals organized around the ruling clans and, later, single imperial clan. Add to this the fact that Japan’s process of acculturation followed largely a one-way route from China, either directly, or through Korea, and it will become difficult to distinguish the contents of these two sets of practices, even after the distillation process has begun to happen. And remember (1) that Shinto as an ‘imperial’ cult did not really have much impact on those who could not read, and (2) that scholarly analysis in Japan has a heavy weight of ideological baggage.

Now the establishment scholars want to portray Shinto as something "indigenous" to Japan, by comparison with Confucian thought and Buddhism. And of course they are right, but only in the truistic sense that Japan happens to be the place where the collection of beliefs and practices later known as Shinto actually flourished. Whether they originated in Japan is moot. It might be true that the Japanese government rejected the introduction of Taoism into Japan in 754, but the evidence is flimsy, to say the least, and does not show that beliefs and practices which could be called Taoist were not already present in Japan at this time.

I hope you can see why the reasoning is suspect if not fallacious. The establishment scholars would argue that the origins of Shinto lie in the Jomon period because the archaeological discoveries have significance in the light of the later history of Shinto as a religion. However, these early artefacts are supposed to be evidence of prehistoric Shinto, not prehistoric Taoism. Why? Because Taoism has never existed as a religion in Japan, since the Japanese government forbade it.

Shinto and Tao are two different readings of the same Chinese characters. Gradually, the collection of shamanistic practices and folk beliefs of a single clan (Yamato) became pre-eminent. Similarly, in 5th century China, Taoism became a 'religion' centred around the Emperor, but the transformation in China occurred first. The blending of Shinto and Buddhism had started at least by the Nara period.

Finally, I could not find your reference to the character BU. What was the problem?

And this, alas, is all I have time for at the moment.

Best regards to all,

Peter Goldsbury,
_____________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Yamantaka
24th October 2001, 18:08
[QUOTE]Originally posted by P Goldsbury
[B]

Dear Ubaldo,

Apologies for the delay in posting a reply. At present I have little time to make any contribution to this and other bulletin boards.
Finally, I could not find your reference to the character BU. What was the problem?
And this, alas, is all I have time for at the moment.
Best regards to all,
Peter Goldsbury [END QUOTE]

YAMANTAKA : Hello, Goldsbury Sama! It's always a great pleasure to learn from you. DOMO ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA
And we're thankful that even with a little time you can contribute so much to all of us...
The problem with the character BU is concerned with its meaning. It's an old and long thread and I would be glad if you could tell us your opinion on it. As it's a bit long, I'm sending it to you by personal e-mail.
Best regards

Kimpatsu
27th October 2001, 01:06
To get back to Jeff's posting again (Hi, Jeff :wave: ),
I agree that I've never heard of the fylfot; is that a made-up word? I don't know about the hakenkreutz, as I don't speak German, but in SK we definitely call our symbol a manji.
HTH,

Jeff Hamacher
29th October 2001, 02:41
Tony,

i promise i'll reply to your e-mail soon; i'm moving this weekend so i'm kinda in the middle of packing frenzy. thanks very much for the note!

"fylfot" is one of the translations that is listed in the dictionary entry i found for manji. i don't have a nice, big English dictionary to cross-reference it, but i believe it's a real english word, not something made up. on an unrelated issue, the same japanese-english dictionary translates "naginata" as "partisan" rather than "glaive" which is what i see much more commonly. perhaps the editors took some kind of strange pleasure in digging up the most esoteric words they could find.

that you use the term manji isn't surprising, since it's a japanese term used in reference to a japanese (or do you consider it chinese? i'd be interested to know more) martial art, or perhaps more accurately it's the japanese word used for that icon. it's similar to the way that non-japanese borrow japanese terminology for any japan-related thing. of course you understand it was never my intention to suggest a Nazi connection to Buddhism or to SK, right?:)

will sign off here, but stay in touch and i'll read you later.

Kimpatsu
29th October 2001, 05:49
Dear Jeff,

"fylfot" is one of the translations that is listed in the dictionary entry i found for manji. i don't have a nice, big English dictionary to cross-reference it, but i believe it's a real english word, not something made up. on an unrelated issue, the same japanese-english dictionary translates "naginata" as "partisan" rather than "glaive" which is what i see much more commonly. perhaps the editors took some kind of strange pleasure in digging up the most esoteric words they could find.
Sorry, I wasn't clear; I have heard the term "fylfot" before, and I know you're not just making it up (you wouldn't be that perverse; that's my domain :D ). All I meant was that it's very rare and not "true" in the sense that no Shorinji Kenshi uses it. In fact, you's is only the second time I've seen it used; the first was a British documentary on Shorinji Kempo made about 1982 or 1983. Also, I concur that "glaive" is more normal than "partisan" (which, in truth, I've never heard applied to a weapon), but I would have thought that "halberd" or "pikestaff" would be more natural, or appropriate, English. I think this opens a whole new can of worms: At what stage does the Japanese naginata cease to resemble the medieval European halberd to the extent that a different word needs to be applied? What's wrong with "naginata?" I notice that (especially tabloid) newspapers write, "Samurai sword," but the better quality braodsheets in the UK use "katana" (which I far prefer). Does anyone else have specific opinions on a subject? Do you say, "samurai sword" or "katana?" "Naginata" or "halberd?" "Shinkansen" or "Bullet train?"
Maybe we should look into writing our own dictionary: "The Budo Lexicon," or something ;)
Hope all goes well with the move, Jeff. Stay cool :cool: .

Joseph Svinth
30th October 2001, 12:45
Now this is interesting -- fylfot entered the language in 1842, whereas swastika (defined as a Greek cross with the ends of the arms extended at right angles all in the same rotary direction) entered in 1854. Neither word was in standard US usage in 1913. http://humanities.uchicago.edu/forms_unrest/webster.form.html .
Therefore I'd guess the first attention most Americans paid to the symbol was when health food companies began using it in their post-WWI advertising copy.

Etymologially, swastika is from Sanskrit, and originally referred to the South Asian Buddhist devices. For its part, fylfot is from Middle English, and its use is primarily British. (The etymology is "device used to fill the lower part of a painted window.") See http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary and http://www.bartleby.com/61/98/F0379800.html

Langenscheidt translates "Hakenkreuz" as "Swastika." The word translates literally as "hooked cross" rather than "twisted cross." (I'd guess the latter etymology is WWII British.) Langenscheidt also translates "fylfot" as "Hakenkreuz."

Anyway, in both English and German, fylfot and swastika are interchangeable terms, with fylfot being rather esoteric. Also, in both English and German, the direction or angle of rotation of the arms is irrelevant. And, while fylot is arcane, some ethnic groups that traditionally use the design in their iconography are starting to use the term because it avoids the unfortunate mental baggage associated with "swastika."

FWIW, the symbol predates Buddhism in India, being popular with Jainists, too. See http://www.dd-b.net/~raphael/jain-list/msg00987.html . The symbol was also popular with Native Americans; see, for example, http://www.rootsweb.com/~iabiog/iastbios/annals/annals-w.htm (use the keyword "swastika" on the site to get you to the article).

Jeff Hamacher
31st October 2001, 00:57
Joe,

leave it to the Moderator-Research Methods to dig up every last scrap of info! thanks for filling in the gaps and keep up the good work.

Kimpatsu
1st November 2001, 06:50
Dear Joe,
Great answer. To learn that fylfot is a British word is interesting, because with the exception of once on a TV show, I've never heard my fellow countrymen use it! "Swastika" seems to be the word of choice, regardless of context, but then again, most people I've met in the West don't realize that the symbol predates Nazi Germany and is found in the iconography of many countries, including the native Americans. Regardless, in SK we prefer to use the manji, because it breaks with the associations with Adolf Hitler and his chums.
BTW: Fylfot originally meant, "Device used to fill the lower part of a painted window?" How did that come to be associated with the shape of the manji? The mind boggles.
Stay cool, my friends.
:smokin:

Tetsutaka
4th November 2001, 05:21
Originally posted by Jeffery Brian Hodges
I have experienced two viewpoints on the subject of religion and bujutsu by different teachers. The first being
that religion and martial arts are one and the same, spirituality being all important, etc. The second viewpoint was the warriors were warriors and priests were priests, none of this warrior saint philosophical mumbo jumbo. Question is how do each of you feel about this, what are you taught and what is your personal belief in how religion applies to martial art(if at all)?

Hey Brian, great topic.

IMNSHO, we are all inextricably linked to beliefs. That includes how we go about considering our potential responses to threats, as well as how we are choosing to view it after the fact. We each embrace a belief or distance ourself from it depending on our previous experiences and our current goals. So, in effect, even if you are choosing to consider your training only from a perspective of combat efficiency during the term of direct conflict, you are still making a spritual assessment and preperation of a sort. It's kind of like the line in a Rush tune; "If you chose not to decide, you still have made a choice" or something to that effect. (my apologies to Mr. Pert)

Bottom line: Merely engaging in that act of self-reflection and psychological preparation is a spiritual process.

Now, if you are asking about spirituality being infused into the actual forms and tactics within the system of study, that's an "animal" of a different sort. Personally, I believe that a person must take a traditional martial art, not in part, but in its entirety - that is, if it is to be more useful than a temporary diversion.

If it is decided by the student at some point to dismiss the "spiritually infused" element for a more expedient path, then so be it. If a person chooses to learn from a teacher that has made that choice for them, then that is certainly acceptable as long as everyone goes into it with the same expectation.

For a teacher to say, "I'm giving you everything that you'd get elsewhere, but here it's *better* because we don't confuse you with all of the mumbo jumbo" is dangerous. They are denying you the opportunity to see for yourself what meaning it has, and whether it is of value to you.

My general Americanized perspective is this: don't underestimate the power of "mumbo jumbo", especially after the "macho macho" has faded. ;)

cindy
4th November 2001, 07:57
"In a discussion such as this, it is important to distinguish between spiritual practice, and religion. Would anyone care to define the difference?"
Chris Neville


religious as i understand the word is in reference to the external expression of a persons inner spirit and how it interacts with and relates to what they define as the divine, a faith, devoutness, and worship. spirit as i interpret it is like the brim of the hat that is religion. i define spiritual as the intangible, and on a more anthropomophic level of the spirit soul that which internally motivates each of us and makes us who we are to a certain degree. so i see the difference to be all religions are by nature spiritual but not all spirits are by nature religious. throughout our worlds history the devout of many "faiths" have slain their foe. i see the religious aspect of a persons ontology to be as important and necessary for them as any other aspect. i can not judge what is right or wrong for another i can only discern what is appropriate for myself and do my best to respect those around me. i do not view religion as being a hinderence nor inapplicable to martial arts as a layer of the onion which is each individual. that is not to say that i believe all martial artists should be religious i think there are many paths which are as much the same as they are different. in reference to an amalgam of a religious warrior...(it may have already been mentioned)... what about the yamabushi?

cindy
4th November 2001, 08:41
Now, who would care to touch the subject of kuji kiri in the religion/ma mix. Who thinks kuji kiri is part of a religion(tendai/shingon mikyo, etc) or is it just a tool for the warrior to "Hulk Up" ?

i do see kuji kiri as an extrinsic expression of ones intrinsic self in realtion to the universe. so in a broad sense yes i do perceive it to be religious because i define the term religion on a very personal level as an externalization of ones internal self in attempt to reciprocate to the whole which one is a part of. i also see it as a tool but not necessarily of the hulk up persuasion. it can be and is utilized but as with any tool its formative and ruinous potential should be understood and respected.

Tetsutaka
4th November 2001, 12:55
Originally posted by cindy
i also see [kuji kiri] as a tool but not necessarily of the hulk up persuasion. it can be and is utilized but as with any tool its formative and ruinous potential should be understood and respected.

Outstanding point! One must have the correct tool for the job, and use it in the correct way. Anyone care to recount the outcome of the boxer rebellion for us? :burnup:

While many people are quick to point to this historical anecdote as an example of the innapropriateness of spiritual practice for modern combat (and I've done that a few times myself :o ), I believe that it has become a popular misappropriation. In fact, it is an example that can serve both sides of the debate.

Anyone who thinks that "spiritually refined" martial arts practice will make their punches stronger, or their kicks faster, or perhaps even will allow them to survive a blow from a stick, sword or bullet is deluded. The mental, psychological and spiritual conditioning that ones goes through during training (all training, not just traditional budo) prepares a person for the mental, psychological and spiritual challenges that will be encountered during a "physical" confrontation.

If a person chooses to abandon the trappings of one system for "their own", then so be it. However, I feel that those "original" aspects of the arts were there for a reason, even if it was a relatively modern construction. At the very least, I want to learn those aspects of the "traditional" arts just so that I can attempt to know the minds of the men that initially brought the fighting components and spiritual components together.