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Re: Evil Ninjas???
Villager
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Great Post Darren!

I stronger believe the Ideas of Budo and faith completely coincide with one another. Now I'm speaking from a Christian view and not other faiths, so I might be wrong here, but for example;

In Togakure Ryu Ninpo, you are to try to avoid killing your captures, why because they are only doing there job, why should they die? In ninjutsu I strongly believe the ideal is to not win, but not lose. There are other ways of not losing that don't involve winning. In Ninjutsu, by simply avoiding the aggressor, or running from him rather than risking an injury or death, in a sense in the end both are winners.

Christ teaches us in Matthew 5:5 "The meek shall inherit the earth". Meek tends to be thought of as someone who is weak, but not really. There is a lot of power in being humble, forgiving, loving, and selfless. So rather than tearing an attacker in two, ending the fight in humility - giving him the money and maybe more - he will simply run off, now in the end we both win... no one truly loses... sure I lose a few bucks, and he breaks a law, but lives truly outway these materialistic things.

Posted on: 2005/8/20 8:25
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Dustin Alexander
Kingsburg/Fresno Bujinkan Dojo
"But I didn't even do anything?"
"Then you just did it right"
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Re: Evil Ninjas???
Village Old Timer
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From Dayton, Ohio
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I don't mean to imply that all christians are closed minded. No more than I would say that any follower of any religion is closed minded. There are plenty of people however - that use their particular religious belief to close out anyone who is different from them. Living in the mid west and growing up in a very catholic family, I have been predominantly exposed to many close minded christians. Also for the same reason, I have never met a close minded buddhist.

I like the shinto religion - if you take a metaphysical and physical chemisty point of view but lets face it, during WWII it was certainly used to exclude the other "pagan" world.

I feel that if your religion is threatened by any of the symbols used in Bujinkan training, you need to look more into the meaning behind the threatening symbol. Those that close their minds, or cannot accept that someone else could look at things differently than they are - will not be able to see the cool things that an open minded person does when they train.

I do not think that my Medical or Scientific training has turned me away from religion - my Historical education has done that. I feel I have a very strong personal theology, and great faith in My God. I think it is a very different god that many other people worship - or fear. If it works for you - great!

Marty

Posted on: 2005/8/20 14:45
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Re: Evil Ninjas???
Village Old Timer
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This may contribute more to the discussion than any of my comments.


The following article is from Mark Gregory. Mark is a 3rd Dan student of the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo. He runs his own martial arts club in Blue Ash, Ohio. The article discusses a question from a potential student about Christianity and the thoughts of training in the Bujinkan. Afterwards, Mark comments additionally about folk laws and beliefs. Mark holds a B.A. in Theology and a Masters of Divinity. He is currently a methodist minister in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Quote:
I am sure as a Christian, you often get strange looks from people about your interest and participation in a martial art. I have found that there are basically two issues a Christian faces when in your shoes. The first issue you have to face is the Eastern vs. Western religious issue, and the second is over the use of force and personal
responsibility.

Christianity (AKA Judeo-Christian tradition) is a belief structure that demands a rather strict adherence to one's God, particularly in the area of worship. Many of the most popular martial arts come from the East, and bear the stamp of the religions of those who developed them. I am sure you have encountered both Buddhist and Shinto practices and
philosophies in your study of the Bujinkan. This is because we study a martial art from Japan, of which these have been important influences.

Religion and culture are hard to separate. For example, you might say "God Bless you" when someone sneezes. This comes from a pseudo-Christian belief that when you sneezed you lost the breath of God breathed into you at creation, and you need to be "blessed" before Satan can inhabit you, since the breath of God was lost by sneezing (I know, neither scientifically nor theologically sound!).


Now, if you said, "God bless you" to someone who sneezes, are you a practicing Christian? No... It is a part of your culture. There are many things we do in our training that reflect (in particular) Shinto practices and even prayers. This could be problematic for some Christians. Each person must decide for themselves if they are comfortable with this. Yet, are these practices in our training religious or cultural? If we share in a Shinto prayer have we denied our
faith?

As I understand it, the Bujinkan is not a religion, nor does it demand that a student practice any particular faith. It is my understanding that our Grand Master Hatsumi Sensei has taught that the Bujinkan is not a religious group, and as such, one can be of any faith they choose.
Furthermore, one is encouraged to find how the principles of budo can be expressed in the culture and beliefs of their native lands. The idea is that the highest principle in life is justice, and religion falls under that. A faith is of value when it is guided by the universal principles
of justice and rightness.

Now, a Christian may have some problem with the semantics of this thought. Yet, given the events of our world (radical religious beliefs) we can see that this thought may have some practical value for us. Even Plato himself wrestled with these kinds of issues, as he discussed the
nature of the divine and the universal principles of justice. What this means to you and me, is that we can be Christians and train in the Bujinkan, we are not asked to convert to another faith in order to train or understand the [martial] art.

Most people I have trained under would have no problem, if you objected to a certain practice, not engaging in it. I have found (for the most part) people are very open minded and tolerant of other beliefs within the Bujinkan.

I don't claim to be an expert on Shinto thought or practice. What I would say from my limited understanding is that trying to understand Shinto and Christianity is like comparing apples to oranges. They are both fruits, but the similarity ends there. They are both religions, yet they are very different in theology, and philosophy. Because of this, I have found that one can engage in a Shinto practice with the heart of a Christian. For example, when you bow in, I am sure you say the same thing we say "Shikin haramitsu dai komyo". Which I have been taught means "Look for the divine in the light" meaning that from every experience we can learn something. Now, why would we have a problem with that? And the "Divine" I am looking to find might be different than the person next to me. It is a Shinto prayer, but one I don't have a problem praying to my God. I am sure a Jewish student could say the same, as
well as a Hindu student. If this bothers you as a Christian, then a history lesson is in order. Christmas? Was the churches' attempt to take a rather pagan holiday (mid-winter festival) and make it a Christian
one. Most of the practices in a Christian wedding are Roman and pagan in origin (rings, wedding dress, throwing of rice, etc). Many of the classic hymns of the Church are converted bar songs. Does this make us drunkards? Don't think so... In our own United Methodist Hymnal we have
Christian Native American prayers, that have origins in "native" Native American religions, yet now are "Christian". It is my belief that when we line up and say that prayer, there are as many "gods" being prayed
to, as there are people lined up there. Does this take some
"sophistication" in your faith to be able understand this? Yes it does. Not something that everyone will have.

As for Buddhist influences, this is another matter. Frankly a Buddhist and Christian can make rather cozy bedfellows. Smarter folks than myself have pointed out the similarities between Buddhist and Christian thought. So much so, some have put forth ideas that Jesus must have studied in the East at sometime. This belief is not historically supported nor necessarily needed.

We as Christians believe there are universal "truths" that have been revealed to all people. I think this is the reason for the commonality of Buddhism and the teachings of Jesus. Things like the value of suffering, perseverance, and the quest for meaning, are all similar themes. This being said, a Christian might often find themselves saying
"amen" to something a Buddhist friend many have said.

Moreover, traditional martial arts develop not only a fighting spirit, but the character of a "warrior". Why do you think so many parents have their children in marital arts training? To learn respect, honor, courage, discipline, perseverance, to name a few things. I could spend days pointing out how these values are also important in our Christian faith. From a "character" standpoint... We often find ourselves on common ground with someone from a different land and religion. And furthermore we often are surprised that this relationship does more to strengthen our faith, than destroy it.

In saying all this, one needs to find a school, and a teacher whom you are comfortable with. One who respects your person and beliefs, and who you feel comfortable training with from a safety standpoint, from a quality of training standpoint, and personal standpoint. As you may have found, there are many different dojo's in our art, and many people who can teach us. You may find a teacher who does not agree with anything I have said, and you may find many that do.

The other issue folks may bring up with us, is the objection that we are learning to fight and hurt people, and that seems rather incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. To be honest, when the whole of the Christian scriptures are taken into account... We find rules for making war, and taking of life. Where those laws in the Old Covenant deal with the "state" (the nation of Israel), the New Covenant deals with the individual and the Church. Issues of the proper and responsible use of force, how to justly wage war, and capital punishment, are not the
jurisdiction of the individual disciple of Christ nor the Church (in spite of what some may say), but are better dealt with by the civil authorities who have been given the responsibility to deal with such things. That being said...

To say to someone that they are some how confused if they study a martial art, and try to also follow the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus taught "peace" is to over-simplify a rather complex issue. In the end I simply tell people, that studying a martial art is teaching me how to be more peaceful. They never understand this, and I can see why. Yet
in the end I have to understand that if it makes sense to me, that is all that matters.

Well, those are sort of my rambling thoughts about Christianity and the Bujinkan. I don't claim to speak in an "official" sense for the Bujinkan...

You will have to research that for yourself. I only speak from my experience at dealing with these questions in the 7 or so years I have been training.

Hope this inspires some thought.

Mark Gregory


(A side note to Jeff Ochester from Mark when he and I spoke about his article.)

Jeff,

One more interesting issue on the "turn the other cheek" statement. In the ancient Near East, to strike one on the cheek was meant to insult someone. The point was not to beat them, but that the action was considered a personal insult. Jesus' statements dealt more with this issue. If you said, "if someone insults you, walk away" makes much more sense to us, than "let someone beat you senseless!"

As for the "Thou Shall Not Murder"... Modern interpretations are woeful at best. The Hebrew term used carries more of the meaning of "murder". Also keep in mind the contextual issue. In the same broader law that the
10 Commandments are a part of... there is establishment of capital punishment, rules for war, and the detailed instruction of the ritual killing of animals. The laws of the Old Testament are legal material, and law must always be interpreted... Something not all people are
willing to do. You have to take a code of law from over 2000-3000 old, written in a different culture in a different language, and make it make sense in your world. Can be done, just not as simple as people make it.

Mark



I train at a really cool Dojo, with some great people in it!

Marty Dunsky

Posted on: 2005/8/21 13:33
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Re: Evil Ninjas???
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Excellent quote mrdunsky -

A clear and detailed explanation of how one might resolve personal conflicts or doubts with participation in Bujinkan training.

I decided a long time ago that some one else's view points or comments about how I live my life as more of a control issue. Meaning that it is not something they are comfortable with, hence the desire to make my life or actions fit their model.

I view those difficult exchanges as not my problem, yet something I must deal with on occasion in many facets of my life. This quote will help me with that in the future.

I agree, your group does train at a cool dojo, each of you is the reason for that experience.

Posted on: 2005/8/21 14:19
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