Brian Kagen pick: “Who Sez O’Sensei Was Wise!,” from aikiweb.com

“Many of the people I talk to about Aikido and who are not involved with Aikido really throw this question at me often. After telling them superficially about the spiritual thoughts of O’Sensei they say, stuff like, who says O’Sensei knew what he was talking about. They are implying that I don’t question him or his wisdom. They think I am make an assumption that his stuff is true and full of wisdom. I am a fool for not thinking he could be B.S.ing and I am fool for it.

That usually gets me thinking stuff like this. When we really get into Aikido do we just accept O’Sensei as being supremely wise, and he speaks the truth without question? I was watching this show about this cult that was started in the 60’s by a Baptist or some type of minister. he attracted a lot of followers, it got really big. And lasted for decades. It was all about love and stuff that was similar to what O’Sensei said. And plus Aikido got big in the US in the 60’s. The people in the cult really where into what this minister turn cult leader who was telling them stuff to believe that was a mix of Christianity, the stuff of the 60’s movement- free love etc, and western philosophy. His huge group of followers ate it up, and his cult grew to thousands all over the place.

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

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  1. Wisdom does not exist.
    No such thing.
    What appears as wisdom is the ability to notice the obvious.
    The obvious is not generally obvious to most people.
    Imparting this ability is difficult but successful teachers sometimes achieve it.
    The prerequisite being, having first noticed the obvious clearly and devoid of opinion.
    Sometimes some parts of the obvious spread and becomes generally obvious to more people.
    When the obvious is noticed by most people, then it becomes common and the gift it could impart is taken for granted as an expectation and not generally appreciated until it is taken away or lost. Otherwise it is exploited by the greedy and the real value of it becomes destroyed.
    The words or other means used to point out the obvious are often clung to by feeble minds who like to uproot and collect signposts which may point the way, instead of using them as pointers to walk the way.
    The valid signposts O’Sensei left are what worked well for him and many others. They are means for finding out the obvious for ourselves. To extract the juice of Aikido talk and debate is not enough. Work the techniques, not for a day or two, but as a way of life and then draw your own conclusions.

  2. bruce baker says:

    What makes anyone think that they are not subject to being taken in by cult thinking or it’s hypnotizing spell today?

    I may be throwing sour grapes on the new presidential administration of Barack Obama, but if you didn’t think you were being taken in by cult thinking, cult speak during the last election, think again.

    Subliminal suggestions, general inferences, appealing to one’s wants, needs, while preying on one’s fears is all common programing for sucking people into a cult. How do I know? I am always the guy who irritates people because I cannot be hypnotized. In short order I am asking the questions that seem to be disrespectful to the group but my questions are just basic deprogramming questions used commonly to deprogram people who have become caught up in cults.

    I am not talking about aikido, but about what I have seen come about from transcendental meditation, from the hari-krishna movement, and maybe some of the crazy movements like Ku-klux-klan/ sometimes reaching into the Southern white christian movement, sometimes in the Black Panther/ Black Power movement, and sometimes reaching into followers of martial arts. People become hypnotized and followers of something making that one thing the center of their lives forgetting to that everything must be taken with moderation or it becomes a problem.

    You know how I deprogrammed myself during the Obama media blitz? What if Obama was a white man speaking as Republican, would he still get the pass he gets as a half-black Democrat? Answer … NO WAY!

    Maybe it is time to crash the internet, or at least force people to pay attention to what is important, and it certainly isn’t their cell phones, their video games, their music, their distractions, but it is the fact the we the people are being turned into drones in a bee hive where most of us are unable to think or see what is important.

    Go into any bar, do a survey of kids from 21-30 years old and see how many can tell you difference between the military incursions of the USA from world war two to present day? Most can’t, but they sure can tell what drink is popular this year!

    We don’t struggle as much as we should to gain an appreciation for simply having the basics, to be alive, which is the nature of nature and what our human existence has been all about. We fall back to this thinking that a small group of people can actually decide what is best for the majority, and in time that small group becomes so insulated from the common people they take civilization into ruin over time.

    If we would just realize that Utopia is the moderation of struggle and still having the necessities of life to make life somewhat comfortable, then we as a civilization would not be so self destructive and prone to this cult thinking as we continually find new ways to build up cults … then we the people tear them down when they begin to fail.

    Will that happen to Aikido in a couple more generations as that generation disconnects from the lessons of history, or to any other martial art? Probably not. Even in Christianity it was not Jesus who built it up into it’s present cult form, but it was those generations who came hundreds of years later who saw it as a tool to control people, even though there were good ideas in there, you have to realize how religions are somewhat cultish their application and membership.

    What is different from a cult, in most instances for both Aikido and religion not that either is related, is how they let people like me ask questions without nailing my butt to a cross! People inside religion realize that their faith is as much a mystery as it is history knocking at the door. I can point out the historical and science that most of religious beliefs come from and yet I can still see how faith calms the mind, the restless spirit of those who would go mad without their faith also.

    Look at Aikido. It’s founder is as much a mystery as he is history knocking at the door. A forgotten little man whose skills reach their peak, but a world war makes him irrelevant in terms of fame, fortune, or in the eyes of history. Everything he knew to be important for becoming important in history was changed when Japan and it’s axis allies lost world war two. Fact is … we all lost no matter who won because it was another of those cult induced episodes of the human race getting caught up in another of their delusions brought about by our ANIMAL INSTINCTS.

    What many people don’t realize … is that the founder was creating a cult because of the cult fever of history, it was the way a person was marked by history. And yet, in the midst of suffering from utter destruction of the war, he could feel that the path of his teachings needed a new direction to heal the world. His efforts to reach out were not working. Either the world would come to understand his words, his ideas, or he would live out his life in obscurity leaving thoughts, words, and ideas in the form of writings or … simply pass on physical practice of what he was taught to students who would have to figure it out for themselves. Simply said … here … this is what I have learned, and I have given you a path to understand some of what I am, now go and figure it out for yourself. Lucky for us … some of them did figure it out.

    “Go figure it out for yourself, don’t worship me” …. is the big difference between a cult and contributing to the evolution of human beings to make a better world.

    My problem with the Obama campaign in 2008 was … you can’t solve every problem and your answers don’t make sense to solve the new problems with old solutions that have never worked in light of history.

    Maybe it is the educational system in the world today, or the subliminal suggestions in all of our media that the majority of young people fall for as they are trapped in this pseudo world of media, but make no mistake …. you can’t escape the world by covering yourself with the blanket of Aikido training. At some point you will have to integrate your training into your life and to do that … you are gonna have to figure it out for yourself. Every single aikido class you take has that underlying suggestion … take what I give you and figure it out for yourself.

    Thank you OSensei …

  3. I guess politics are inevitable. O Sensei for what I believe patriotic (which was quasi-religious in the day) reasons was right in the middle of them. While Mao said that politics come from the barrel of a gun, US martial arts probably don’t have much of a political presence. French martial arts half a century ago, now…

    Cultism is SO 20th century. And who hasn’t known “cult” dojos? I suppose there are still plenty of them.

    Eventually, I live in this body. It’s a pretty good old body. Aikido has helped me live in it more comfortably. I don’t push it as hard as O Sensei. I probably don’t push it as hard as most of his students. And still aikido sometimes gives me odd little insights which might have formed part of O Sensei’s message. So, I train for myself and my students and the little odd stuff suggests I might actually be on the right track.

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