I have never lost my belief in God, just changed my terms of reference.
I can remember when I was about 8 or 9 walking home from Sunday school pondering how any grown person could believe in some big dude in a white gown living in the clouds.
I do however subscribe to the belief in a higher, greater power, or Universal Life Force (Ki in Japanese or Ch’i in Chinese).
Although I was raised in a Christian community and actively involved with church groups during my youth, I have never been able to embrace the ‘God’ concept in that way.
I do also believe in Jesus, the man, a.k.a. Joshua, and all that he stands for, both then and now. I have a high regard for the Church and Christians in general, along with Muslims, Buddhists and other believers who have faith in what they believe.
The reason for this is the questioning undertaken during my teens. When I was 16 I went to church on Sundays and afterward attended Bible Class with other teens. Finding that I couldn’t get the interaction I desired and also finding the discussions very ‘bland’ I started to search elsewhere for the answers I felt were out there, yet hidden.
Since I couldn’t believe in God the same way that others seemed to I wanted to find out why we needed religion at all. Psychology books from my school library lead me on to the work of Karl Jung, Zen and the Asian philosophies.
That is how I came to follow the path, or ‘way’, of Bushido. That is ‘the warrior code’ and is based on the philosophies of Zen and Shinto in general and the teachings of the great Samurai philosophers and warrior monks in particular.
I find it fits with my life very well and have followed this path for the past 40 years. The last 20 years through the practice and teaching of Aikido. Prior to that through the practice of Shotokan Karate and before that, Judo.
The main thing that I discovered from my studies is that we are all different and perceive and accept things differently, moderated and moulded by our unique personalities, upbringing and personal circumstances.
What is truly important is not so much what we believe but how we believe. It is the degree of faith that we exhibit and direct into our belief, whatever it may be, that makes us whole and fulfilled.
I always tell my students “it’s not where you walk, it’s how you walk”.
I also believe and teach respect, tolerance, courage and understanding.
The fear of death diminishes with age and knowledge. Having faced death several times I know that it is the fear of what you leave behind that is the key element. So, be sure to conduct your life in such a way as to leave only good things behind.
This is what will be remembered and this is where, I think, the concepts of Heaven and Hell reside.
The art of being there.
I follow the path of Bushido which is the Samurai Code and is basically Shinto based. I pursue this path by the practice of Budo, or the Way of War. This is a martial art in the loose sense of that description, but more specifically it is the study of tactics and strategy through the practice of sword form and following the warrior code in lifestyle and attitude. … Ex Aikido instructor.
From an early age I was always the ‘outsider’, never quite fitting in and I am not quite sure how I arrived at this place.
From the age of 3 years I was raised by grandparents and they being of the older generation, it was then the 50s, I was subjected to the values not far removed from Victorian England. But I still can’t quite get to grips with how my ‘eastern’ turn of mind evolved from all that.
Being raised by non-spiritual people with general Christian values somehow managed to plant me squarely at the doorstep of Zen. When starting to question the values and lessons offered at Bible Classes when I was 17, I soon found myself searching for answers in psychology texts where I discovered Carl Jung and his collective unconscious mind.
Jung talked about Zen, the asian mindset and the practice of ‘do’ arts as ‘ways’ of pursuing and studying the state of ‘oneness’. Judo was the only game in town at that time so that’s where I started when 19 years old. With that and an armload of books on Zen and asian philosophies I slowly surged ahead. I never became totally involved with judo as my musical skills came forward and I began a seventeen year stint performing with rock bands. But the books prevailed!
In 1984 I quit performing, sold off all my gear, bought a gi and joined Shotokan karate where my Sensei introduced me to Miyamoto Musashi and his Book of Five Rings. The fire was lit and I soon discovered his contemporaries, Takuan Soho the Zen monk and Muninori Yagyu who was chief advisor and swordmaster to the first Shogun, both of whom also wrote very significant Budo texts. I still read their works and also books about their lives today. This is how my lifestyle choice of Bushido came about. Karate soon gave way to Aikido in 1989 and a regime of serious training began. By 1996 I had ‘inherited’ my first dojo and was teaching five classes each week.
This was certainly an exciting segment of my life and I will discuss this another time as there were some significant events and experiences that will interest a few readers.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – Carl Jung. This is one of my favourite quotes and really puts into a nutshell the evolution of my existence. Life really is all about choices and I did make a concerted effort at a young age to shape my development, although I think a lot of it did actually happen subconsciously.
Basically, his is my Journal – Mainly thoughts, observations and advice taken from my journey through the practice and teaching of Aikido from 1990 to 2014, plus observations on life in general. Although I am no longer physically active in the dojo my head thinks I am!
Denton Perry – Aikikai Sandan (2004)
Dojo Cho Greerton Dojo 1996 to 2005 – Kawhia Dojo 2006 to 2009.
Bushin Aikibudo – Tauranga 2010 to 2014
(A work in progress – I will add to this as time allows)