Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)
For most of us, the Shinto backbone of Morihei's own aikido is not relevant, and not even accessible in any meaningful way. But we cannot deny that it was there, and his own deshi had to find a way to come to terms with it, if they were not inclined to follow the same spiritual path.
As TK Chiba wrote: "To begin with, I would like to describe how I began Zen training which, in a passive way, was due to my teacher, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. What I mean by a "passive way" is that he taught me the importance of spiritual discipline along with martial discipline. However, the system of spiritual discipline he followed was based on chinkon-kishin (method of pacifying the soul and regaining or recovering the spirit) derived from ancient Shintoism and its extension - the study of Kototama doctrine (the miraculous power of language inherent within the Japanese alphabet). The composition of O-Sensei's teaching of ancient Shintoism was based upon the Kojiki, interpreted under the strong influences of Deguchi Wanisaburo of the Omoto Religion, who was the spiritual teacher of the Founder. The Kojiki provides an account of the creation and development of the universe, along with the origin of the Japanese race and its state.
Although I was an uchideshi at the time, I found it extremely difficult to follow and I was unable to understand most of the words O-Sensei was using in his teaching. Shintoism was the spiritual backbone of his Aikido, and in order to understand his teachings, one had to understand the Kojiki, which required extensive study. Unfortunately, I belonged to the generation whose education was strongly affected by the post-war policy carried out by G.H.Q. (General Headquarters of the Occupation Army), established in October of 1945 (I entered Junior school in April, 1946), the central premise of which was the systematic denial of the Japanese culture, tradition and history. Thus, the myth and the world view represented by the Kojiki was, for a time, denied as unscientific, an absurd superstition. This view was even widely supported by the post-war Japanese academic world. As for myself, being brought up and educated this way, I found the Founder's teachings not only difficult to follow, but also apparently nonsensical.
Nevertheless, the Founder always emphasized the importance of spiritual discipline ("religious faith", in his exact words) and the practice of farming along with martial discipline, if one wished to achieve one's goals. I had no problem with following the practice of farming and martial discipline (I still do both even up to today). However, I could not avoid the increasingly strong internal resistance that, as time went on, built up within me toward the Founder's spiritual discipline. I suffered from an internal split and feared the loss of unity between the physical art and spiritual discipline which was supposed to be the underlying principle of the art.
I started to look to Zen training as a substitute for the Founder's teaching. As I see it, it was a positive turning point in my Aikido life. However, I can't deny that it was an escape from the Founder. That is what I meant by my reference to "passive way.”"