View Full Version : ban yu ai go?

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07-22-2005, 12:47 PM
Can someone break this down for me? Saotome says that it is
"the mission of Aikido, to love and protect all things. Ai is love.
It is not a weak, sentimental love, but the all-powerful universal
love". As far as I've re-read Harmony of Nature, Saotome
doesn't attempt to define what "Universal Love" is, rather he keeps
warning what it isn't.


07-22-2005, 05:36 PM
I think he means that universal love is to do what is appropriate or necessary in a situation unclouded by emotions, desires, or other weaknesses that dilute or deflect the action needed to be taken. But that's just what I think.

万有 愛護

Mark Uttech
07-23-2005, 12:02 AM
It is always left up to the student to investigate.That is practice and the life of practice.

07-24-2005, 08:48 AM
Matthew, I have the idea that what you are writing about is: Satyagraha

Orson Scott Card wrote about that in "Shadow of the Hegemon"
The willingness to endure great personal suffering in order to do what's right. Sometimes, what's right is not peaceful or passive. What matters is that you do not hide from the consequences. You bear what must be borne. But personally, as an individual, if you know that the price of doing
right is a terrible loss or suffering or even death, satyagraha means that you are all the more determined to do right, for fear that fear might make you unrighteous.

Regardless, I love that phrase because it fit my personal beleif system before I knew there was a word to describe it well. I'm still looking for a word/phrase that means "complete self trust" in any language.

If someone is willing to break down and explain ban yu ai go I would be greatful.


07-24-2005, 03:58 PM
Rob, when you say break it down for you do you just mean to explain the Japanese?

Banyuu -> 万有 means everything or universal.

万 -> Ban can mean 10,000 but can also mean all or all kinds.

有 -> Yuu can mean have, possess, be, exist.

Aigo -> 愛護 means protection

愛 -> Ai can mean love or affection.

護 -> Go means protect or safeguard.

If O'Sensei had some sort of play on words with this phrase like kanji with similiar sounds or if it has some sort of esoteric connection in ancient Japanese religion, it's literature, or to Omotokyou I don't know at the moment.

I think I see where you're going but when I read the quote from Mr. Card it seemed great but it all hinged on the person knowing what "right" is. Maybe it's a bad thing to be right as it seems like a stopping point. After all there are lot's of people who thought they were right even when they weren't.

I hope this helps. :)

07-25-2005, 12:01 AM
Thanks. That translation was helpful. I don't actually think anyone can know what "right" is (as some fixed point, or line). I think we can know what wrong is, and so we have a continual process of "righting". (I heard Alan Dershowitz explain that in an interview.)

Thanks for the help!

Peter Goldsbury
07-25-2005, 06:41 AM
Hello Rob,

Without wanting to pour any cold water on the discussion, I think a few critical comments are in order.

1. In ordinary Japanese, banyu is an alternative form of banbutsu, which means everything. For example banbutsu ruten is the Japanese equivalent of the philosopher Heraclitus' Greek proverb, 'panta rhei': everything is in flux. Aigo means care or protection, and is often applied to animals: animal protection societies are usually 'doubutsu aigokai'.

2. The phrase, with handwritten characters, appears on p.33 of Mitsugi Saotome's Aikido and the Harmony of Nature. It is used by the Founder himself on p.53 and 54 of Aiki Shinzui. He uses the phrase in describing the allegedly mystical experience he had in the spring of Taisho 14. As a spur to your study of Japanese and Japanese kanji, here is the relevant sentence in Romaji.

"Sono shunkan, watashi wa
'Budou no kongen wa, kami no ai--banyu aigo no seishin--de aru'
to satori ete, houetsu no namida ga tomedonaku hoho ni nagareta."

(The Japanese is quite straightforward and the content of O Sensei's ecstatic realization apears in single quotation marks.)

I have not studied the phrase, but I suspect that 'banyu aigo' has Omoto overtones and thus, in my opinion, perhaps the best place to look for an analogous Christian experience would be the writings on nature of St Francis of Assisi.

3. In his book Saotome Shihan makes a valiant effort to relate aikido to the harmony of nature, but sometimes the metaphors seem to come out unchecked. For example in a discussion of the 'justice' of nature's harmony, he discusses the relationship between the wolf and the dear.

"The hunted supports the hunter by giving him nourishment. In return, the hunted supports his prey. Aiding in the refinement of the species, he cleanses it of the weak, the sick, and the social outcast, so that its members may grow strong and multiply. This is misogi."

This occurs on p.98 and, if it applied directly to humans, it would be a good argument for eugenics. However, it is followed on the next page by a discussion of the same kind of relationship, but expanded to include human beings.

"Humanity appeared on this earth and continues to exist as an expression of the enduring knowledge gained from the experience of all forms of life. It is a living flow of love that surpasses time and space, the ever-present now reaching from the past into the future. This love, neither weak nor sentimental, is supremely fair and completely unprejudiced. The strong will succeed and flourish. The weak, with characteristics that could threaten the existence of the group, will perish and the group will be cleansed of these flaws. The individual is important first in relation to the group, for if the group is lost, the individual is doomed. And so it is with the species. When a life form becomes perverted and nonadaptive to the harmony of the whole, nature is cleansed of its insolence."

I hope you see why I think the metaphors come out unchecked here. This whole paragraph describes a "living flow of love" that is "supremely fair and completely unprejudiced". However, those termed weak: individuals that obstruct this flow, will be cleansed of their "insolence". Of course, Saotome Shihan adds a paragraph on the need for compassion, to counter the basic instincts for survival that are manifest as hatred and prejudice. However, this does not remove the uncomfortable similarities in my own mind between the above paragraph and certain type of Japanese thinking that led to World War II.

Best regards,

07-25-2005, 08:56 AM
Wow, thanks!

I like the idea of a "living flow of love" that is "supremely fair and completely unprejudiced". I'll check out the writings on nature of St Francis of Assisi. Great tip!

I guess I see aikido as a path for at least some of the weak to eventually get strong (if they do not delude themselves while training!). For instance, if several people want to group attack me, they are of the mind set of the lions, and I'm the zebra. But, after a short amount of time after (hopefully) taking full control of one of the attacker's balance, they (again hopefully) start seeing seeing me as more of a lion and the poor guy's who's balance is at my mercy as being a zebra. I don't really want to test this theory out mind you! But that's kind of the way I think about the justice of nature (lion/zebra or wolf/dear whatever) - less of a forgone conclusion and more of a way of seeing the interchange of how we perceive each other and how that can change with good training.

Regardless, thank you for the excellent reminder about the potential influcene of that Japanese thinking that led to World War II, (and that makes some Japanese people proudly talk about atrocities in China). That is an important perspective to keep as well.


Ron Tisdale
07-25-2005, 11:34 AM
Wouldn't the supreme realization be having enough of an appearance of the lion, where other lions know from the outset that they don't want to attack you? Personally, I've always been more worried about the hyena's...


07-25-2005, 01:00 PM
Well, I heard Saotome sensei explain that the best was the ability to walk into any room and not be intimidated by anyone and have no one intimidated by you. I like that best myself. I suppose I'd rather go for the "chameleon" approach and let the people who want to fight find each other! - Rob

Ron Tisdale
07-25-2005, 01:02 PM
Good one...I think I need to reread "the Harmony of Nature" again. It's been years, and I was very inexperienced at the time...