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Founder of Aikido (20): Enlightenment at the Edge Of Death (Part One)

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #49 (June 1982)

We would like to thank Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba for his kind permission to publish these chapter summaries.

After they had successfully left the country, the Master and the Founder reached Hoten on the 15th of February of 1924. They immediately met Mr. Tesshu Okazaki and reached an agreement.

Master Onisaburo insisted that he would carry out his role as a religious leader in the spirit of the view that “All religions have the same root.” As a matter of convenience he created what he called “Omoto Lamaism” and took the titles of Dalai Lama and Su Son Kan. The Master changed his name to O Bun Sho, a Chinese name and the Founder (O-Sensei) became O Shu Ko.

The Founder liked these characters, Shu Ko, so much that he kept the combination as his legal name until about 1941 or 1942, reading it “Moritaka” in Japanese.

Mr. Yajiro Kishi, the head of the Secret Service of Hoten was trying to set up some sort of relationship with Cho Saku Rin, in hopes of convincing Cho to give Ro Sen Kai the title of “General Commander of the Self-Governing Army of the Northwest” so that Ro would acquire power enough to more easily start a war. Onisaburo eventually met with Ro Sen Kai. Both men seemed to instantly perceive the other’s character, and quickly swore to work together on their project.

Actually Ro had a certain fortuneteller disguised as a clothing salesman and secretly sent him to get close to the Master. In this way Ro had Onisaburo’s personality and fate analysed. Ro was most delighted at the news that the diviner had found all the 33 aspects of a Bosatsu (a Bodhisatva) in the Master.

Finally, on the 3rd of March, the group departed Hoten and on the 26th they arrived at the towns of Koyafu and nearby Oyafu, both of which are centers of Lamaism. At this point, two automobiles arrived for them, on loan from Hoten.

Although travel by car was considered a luxury back then, in fact, it turned out to be quite a trying experience. According to the book Onisaburo’s Mongolian Escapade:

The cars jerked and yawed so much that we were constantly bumping our heads or smashing our elbows. Once, the window glass shattered raining Ueshiba’s entire body with splinters of glass and causing numerous small cuts around his eyes which bled profusely…

After their arrival in Oyafu, the Master and the Founder spent about a month there while they made the necessary preparations for their trip to the interior.

The “Mounted Bandits” in that area had promised their cooperation as Ro Sen Kai had ordered them to do, and had started to bring in their henchmen. So many came that even Ro’s most exaggerated expectation started to look like a real possibility. In retrospect, it seems that it was the very ease of this first success in setting up the conditions for starting a war that gave rise to the feelings of overconfidence which were to be Ro’s undoing.

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