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Old 08-15-2006, 11:27 PM   #4
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
Location: Three Lakes WI/ Mishima Japan
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 837
Re: The Spirit of Aikido

The quotes are paraphrases or direct quotes from The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba translated by John Stevens.

Ron Ragusa wrote:
"Aikido was born out of three Enlightenment experiences of O-Sensei. One occurred in 1925, after O-Sensei had defeated a high-ranking swordsman's vicious attacks, unarmed and without hurting him. Ueshiba then went into his garden and
This is kind of strange paraphrase.

'Suddenly, the earth shook. Golden vapor welled up from the ground and engulfed me. I felt transformed into a golden image, and my body seemed as light as a feather. All at once I understood the nature of creation: the Way of a Warrior is to manifest Divine Love, a spirit that embraces and nurtures all things.'
This is a direct quote with the strange substitution of "shook" for "trembled."

His second experience occurred in 1940 when,

'Around 2 o'clock in the morning as I was performing ritual purification, I suddenly forgot every martial art technique I had ever learned. All of the techniques handed down from my teachers appeared completely anew. Now they were vehicles for the cultivation of life, knowledge, virtue, and good sense, not devices to throw and pin people.'

His third occurred in 1942 during the most grim period of WWII, Ueshiba had a vision of the "Great Spirit of Peace"

'The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.'"
The direct quotes are exactly as they are in the book and the narrative like parts are close paraphrases. It almost seems as if the writer felt that by changing a few words of the narrative, they were avoiding any kind of copyright problem. IMHO it would have been better to just copy it verbatim and give the source.

To answer your question, Ron, these stories show me that Aikido comes from the things O'Sensei realized from his experiences, not that it leads to them. He seems to be saying that the spirit of Aikido is the spirit that embraces and nurtures all things, not that by practicing this martial art we will somehow be magically transformed into that spirit in the future. It starts with a realization, even if only intellectually, that "I am a good person" and then to endeavor to get body and spirit in line with that thought. (cue Kumbaya background music)

What makes Aikido "radical" is that in the past some warriors who survived battle came to have a spiritual realization about reality. Saotome Sensei writes about some of these men in "The Principles Of Aikido." Morihei Ueshiba went the other way. He began with a spiritual background and then had one intense life or death situation. For those of us who do not face such life or death situations, this provides great inspiration that we too might discover something of value in our hard training and deep learning.

For me, two "spiritual" teachers have been helpful in a practical way. Mikhail Ryabko (co-founder of Systema) says, "First, be a good person." And Pandit Rajmani Tigunait (spiritual director of the Himalayan Institute) says, "First, resolve to always be cheerful."

Charles Hill
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