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"It is one of the hardest things in this prison life: the strain caused by being continually in the power of people who are only half-sane and live in a twilight of reason and humanity." Wrote Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, during his internment as a prisoner of war, of his Japanese captors in WWII.
Pls read links first. Caution war isn't pretty- some links have graphic images and content. Could be disturbing and upsetting to some.
Once you have read all this, does O'Sensei's philosophy of love, peace, harmony, and so on make more sense? Does his philosophy become more clearer? Does Aikido make more sense?
O'Sensei being a soldier and then a prisoner of war, I can't imagine he wasn't effected by the brutality and inhumanity impose on the Chinese, Americans, and Philipino soldiers and people. After the hideous war crimes committed by the Japanese army and their obsessive and fanatical power lust, I can't imagine that he didn't want to change the world.
O'Sensei's process of change was evident in his life after the war, and it obviously profound and lasted a life time. It was a very powerful change, that effected his entire way of life and for us how he would practice budo. He clearly had a fierce love for budo. Budo was something that was his soul. It wasn't a hobby, but the very culture he grew up in, a culture that raised him, schooled him, and shaped his very being. His experience as a soldier was so powerful that it changed him so dramatically he was to form a new relationship with his soul. A change continued through out his life driven by powerful insight as a result of inhumanity.
Budo wasn't something he completely abandoned in his life, and I can't see that he could. But it was something am sure was a conflict within him that he found a way to resolve. The budo that spirited Japan's involvement in WWII was not the budo of yore and folklore. It wasn't the budo that shaped O'Sensei, rather developed from the budo of long days past, and lost in romanticism. A modern budo, it was that some say was misunderstood, abused, and thus becoming a perverted ideal. An ideal of which, had lead to the emaciation of Japan.
Possibly, and highly likely, O'Sensei was conflicted between the fantasized budo ideals that he cut his teeth on, and the perverse emaciated budo that spurred the Japanese into WWII that he followed. O'Sensei clearly didn't hang on to the modern budo, nor did he abandon the old budo. Budo was something he could not rid himself of, no more than he could rid himself of his heart. His resolution was a full press regression into the embracing of ancient romantic budo, and its mysticism that was of old Japan. A Japan that was once pure and clean from the grotesquely warped illusions of a polluted nationalism and misguided power lust that lead to the shame of Japan, at the end of WWII. It is the salvation of holding on to the values of the ancient romanticized budo (that he was born into that existed in every fiber of his soul), rather than hold to mutilated way of a failed modern budo that twisted glory into an orgy of blood lust, cruelly and criminal acts where no humanity could ever exist. O'Sensei found resolution by cling to the past, to yesteryear, to a way that is more palatable as it is diluted with time and fancy. It was more powerful with the addition of spiritual teachings that brought balance to the soul. Or was it not at all about that, but rather a forced resolution, of seeing the budo that was so highly romanticized and sugar coated that didn't match up with the reality of budo as being cruel and ugly as it was and he seen in WWII. What ever the conflict was and its resolution, be it the humanitarian view or the view of a reality over fantasy and myth, never the less, the heinous crimes of war suffered at the hands of the Japanese military can be seen as the drive for O'Sensei to promote love, peace, and harmony for the world through Aikido. When we read about love, peace and harmony, where we are taught to refrain against violence and competition we must know the horror that he lived to truly understand Aikido.
This is the stuff they don't teach in Aikido class, this is the stuff they don't teach at seminars. This is the stuff kindly swept under the rug. This is the stuff hidden by reference of an eccentric old man and his equal eccentric ramblings of the Cosmos and spiritual bodies. The stuff they don't teach, the ugly stuff that is hidden, avoided, package so artistically beautiful as any special Japanese gift. But this stuff, they don't teach, that is not put out in the open, is so very important to know, to understand O'Sensei, to understand what he was about, and what he was trying to achieve. To know where he is coming from, is to know the whys of Aikido.