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Old 05-28-2008, 08:56 AM   #34
Allen Beebe
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Re: Kisshomaru as Interpretor of the Founder's Words

Prof. Goldsbury wrote this on another thread and I saw it after it was linked to on Aikido Journal. I thought that it was relevant to this thread so I re-post it here as well:

"Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.
I am currently finishing the next column for my Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation series and I had occasion to translate a substantial section of Hideo Takahashi's Takemusu Aiki. Up to now, the only available parts in English have been the few sections that have appeared in Stanley Pranin's AJ magazine & columns, which formed the basis of Ellis Amdur's Three Peaches and Hidden in Plain Sight essays.

One of the issues for my next TIE column is Ueshiba's contribution to the military prowess of the Japanese Imperial army & navy and there is good evidence that this was very impressive. The section of Takahashi's book that I have focused upon appears in Part 4 of Stan's summaries of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography.

The section deals with a mystical experience that O Sensei had in December 1940, two years before he escaped to Iwama, and at a time when he was playing a huge role in the activities of Japan's military government. Much has been made of the Golden Body episode that occurred much earlier, but the 1940 mystical experience is rarely mentioned. In this account, Ueshiba contrasts his knowledge previous to 1940 with the requirements enjoined by the vision. The account of the vision was couched in Oomoto terms and involved his own possession by the guardian deities of aikido. At one point Ueshiba states that he became (= was possessed by) Izanagi-no-mikoto, who played a pivotal role (literally) in creating the world (= Japan). (This was the era of ubuya = birth huts etc). But he had a truly awesome training regime.

The angst caused by his doubts about the authenticity of the vision supposedly caused an illness that lasted one year. I suspect that part of the angst was caused by the need to square the vision he experienced in 1940 with his pivotal role in the Japanese military before and afterwards. Note that the Budo manual was produced in 1938 and consisted of simple effective techniques that Ueshiba considered would have been effective for Japanese soldiers to kill the enemy in the field of battle.

As a result of the vision, Ueshiba explains his method of ascetic training to his audience in the Byakou Shinkoukai and mentions in passing just how wrong the Japanese army was, in its general interpretation of keiko. He resorts to mysterious kanji but basically argues that the military methods focused only on the body and not on the spirit, as he himself conceived this. If they had focused on the spirit, they would have realized that aikido was truly a divine work, dedicated to unifying the entire universe.

The relevant discourse in Hideo Takahashi's book is clearly a reflection made after the events. Ueshiba mentions the effects of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings and he obviously could not have made these remarks in 1940. However, the section is a sustained meditation on the essential divine aspects of training, as he saw it, and how the Japanese military largely missed all these aspects. The message appears to be that killing people does not figure at all in aikido, even for the military (though this is not explicitly stated).

Ueshiba came to this realization when he was closely involved with the Japanese military and as a result of sustained reflection on his training before 1940. He does not state whether there is an essential connection between the realization and his own military experience. Actually, since he believed he was an avatar, I suspect not.

Given the content of this thread, I thought that I should point out that Morihei Ueshiba's own thinking about the issue is by no means as clear as the title of the thread would lead us to believe.

Best wishes to all,
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : Yesterday at 08:06 AM.
P A Goldsbury,
Professor Emeritus,
Hiroshima University"

I look forward to the next segment in Peter's column.

~ Allen Beebe
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