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The Tattooed Soul

Of course, not among the moderns that devoutly practice the religion of secular-materialism, but amongst the moderns that have come to sense or that have come to experience either firsthand or through a family member the pending doom Modernity’s nihilism brings to our mental health, our physical health, and the health of our relationships, there is what one can call a growing dabbler’s interest in premodern wellness systems. Examples of this are mythology, ritual, and, at times, traditional religions as a whole. This, for example, is what is supporting interests in thinkers such as Jordan Peterson, amongst others. Thinkers such as he make use of the common ground between the rational elements any premodern cultural system must contain in order to have been socially viable in the first place and the modern’s prioritization of his/her intellect as the a priori only valid way of experiencing the world and of gaining access to truth. Like this, for example, pulling on fields such as psychology and sociology, premodern mythology however is reduced to allegorical thinking, a kind of coded wisdom, that when observed "properly," that is through the intellect and without belief, can be taken apart and then (supposedly) used by us moderns, used in a way that does not disturb our rational sensibilities because it makes use of our ethnocentric bondage to rational thinking - that is to say, to thinking.

What such thinkers fail to understand, and eventually their followers, is that this is not how these premodern wellness systems actually functioned, and therefore that they will thus not function for us today as wanted. As a result, no real solution is found nor practiced as a remedy to Modernity’s nihilism by adopting or by bringing these types of practices and ideas into our lives in this way. The mistake being made is modern thinkers still thinking. In that act, they inadvertently focus in and mistakenly prioritize the inherent rationality that rests within any social construct, such as a myth, but they wrongly attribute the functionality of the myth to a rational processing of the myth by the user: They fail to realize that while a society may use a myth rationally, a human being has to use a myth irrationally - or it is not used at all by him/her. Meaning, the functionality of the myth takes place not through a rational processing, such as in the interpretation of an allegory, but rather by bypassing rationality altogether as well as those parts of being that support and are supported by rational thinking – particularly the conscious mind, the intellect, language, etc. Contrary to the ethnocentrism posited by such thinkers and dabblers of premodern wellness systems, things like myth, ritual, and religions as a whole, functioned by targeting the subconscious mind, by bypassing reflective thinking, and targeting instead our level of being itself: belief.

Because the circumventing of the conscious mind was pertinent to the wellness function of the myth or ritual, the body was always used, and it was always used as the primary gateway to the subconscious. In that sense, the body was starved, tortured, and exhausted, and it was not allowed anything as comfortable and uninvolved as sitting in a chair in an air-conditioned lecture all. It was through the body that, for example, myths were not pondered over but rather tattooed on the soul of the practitioner. Far from being something to contemplate, myths were designed to be believed, that is to say, to be not thought about but to be thought with or through. It is this thinking through, this tattooed soul, this starved, tortured, and exhausted body, in all its irrationality, through its irrationality, that the premodern wellness systems functioned, or they function not at all. This, I would suggest, is something to be mindful of as one becomes interested in reinserting the Founder’s religiosity into his/her own Aikido practice. While indeed this reinserting is a must, said reintegration must not occur and cannot occur without this venturing into irrationality, without the extreme involvement of the body, and without true belief – the tattooed soul.


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