Don't be taken in by miraculous claims.

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Don't be taken in by miraculous claims.

Postby HanshiClayton » Wed May 06, 2009 8:20 am

As part of my research for Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition, I read a dry little book called Secret Chambers and Hiding Places by Allan Fea. The copyright is 2006 but it feels much older than that, like 100 years old at least. It is a catalog of "priest holes" in the mansions of England.

To judge by this book, all the English ever did was to play "hide and seek" with each other, century after century. There was always some faction hiding in a closet while another faction looked for them.

I discovered a little gem in the middle of this book. It concerns a famous manor house somewhere in England that had a 200-year history of hauntings. Whatever haunting experience you expected, this house could supply it. Knocks, moans, shrieks, chains rattling, etc., all were known to happen with great regularity.

When this house was finally torn down to make way for a new one, guess what? It was riddled with secret passages that all led to the servants' quarters. The house had been built from the ground up to be hauntable. Multiple generations had kept the secret and maintained the illusion. Whenever they had a guest overnight, they got out the chains and started moaning in the walls.

So when something inexplicable or miraculous happens, we need to arm ourselves with Occam's Razor and go for a tour of this house. The most likely explanation of the miraculous is that "somebody is lying." There are people who make a family tradition of it. They enjoy our gullibility.

In the martial arts we have many stories of miraculous power. In his biography, Master Funakoshi told us to test and debunk such stories. I didn't make an issue of it in Shotokan's Secret, but we might learn a lesson from Goju Ryu master Gogen Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi's biography is full of miraculous feats such as fighting a tiger with his bare hands, killing 30 armed Chinese soldiers with his bare hands, levitating around a temple, using a crystal ball to communicate with the dead, and more. His life was a circus of superhuman and supernatural feats. In the cold light of reality, we might note that there were no witnesses to any of these events (and no scars from the claws of the tiger). All of the stories rest on Yamaguchi's word alone.

We can give the man the benefit of the doubt for one miracle. A parade of miracles? No.

People who could not bathe a house cat believe the story about the tiger. Gullible.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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