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Morihei Ueshiba, Founder Of Aikido (07)

by Kanemoto Sunadomari

Aiki News #78 (September 1988)

The author, Mr. Kanemoto Sunadomari first met Morihei Ueshiba in 1928. A devout follower of the Omoto religion, he delves deeply into the influence of this religion on the art and philosophy of Aikido. This book, the first biography of 0-Sensei, was published in February 1969.

During the month of August 1897 Kisaburo worshipped at the Obata Shrine in Ubusuna each night to pray for divine instruction. After fulfilling his vow of three weeks’ continued prayer he had a sudden inspiration. He perceived very clearly with his spiritual eyes the following revelations:

1. Understanding of the substance of the authentic Supreme Being through observation of the true phenomena of heaven and earth.

2. Understanding of the authentic Supreme Being through observation of the unerring operation of all things.

3. Understanding of the spirit of the authentic Supreme Being through perception of the nature of all living things.

These revelations were for Kisaburo grandiose and upon receiving them he began to elatedly preach the Way of the Kami. However, no one treated him seriously. Rather, they thought he was a lunatic or a fraud. Even his family and close friends started avoiding him. We will not retrace the 27 years of Kisaburo’s life up until this time but suffice it to say that it had been a continuous struggle against every possible hardship and poverty. His innate quality of gallantry and the bitter, mortifying experiences of his younger days of abjection drove him to such reckless acts as clashing with gangsters and engaging in numerous fights. On the night of February 8, 1898 Kisaburo was again attacked by a large number of ruffians. He was seriously injured and lay in bed all day and night, his body covered with bruises. He was severely admonished by his grandmother and mother for his conduct.

Kisaburo felt as though he had been pierced by the sword of penitence. Notwithstanding his oath made in the presence of the Kami to save the world and its people and his good intentions to fight for the cause of justice, he had behaved in a completely imprudent manner. He finally became senseless and fell into an semi-conscious state. While in this stupor a man attired in western clothing appeared before him. The man asked Kisaburo a few questions and then departed leaving behind a letter. When he became conscious again, although still half in a dream-like state, Kisaburo found himself in a grotto on nearby Takakuma Mountain without knowing how.

This was a condition known commonly as “kamikakushi” or being spirited away. Kisaburo received an order from the divine world to engage in unprecedented spiritual training for one week in this rocky cave. During this period of training, his spirit wandered in the faraway spiritual realm to fully observe the conditions of heaven and hell. He became aware of his divine mission to become a “messiah” and, moreover, understood the general principles of divine powers -the power of divine hearing, the power to penetrate people’s minds, and the power to see karma. As a result, he was able to perceive the past, present and future. In this way, he achieved an understanding of the secret principles of the divine world. He furthermore had insight into all matters including the future of Japan and all world events.

On February 15, Kisaburo emerged from the grotto and returned home. His family and relatives who had been in a hue since his disappearance crowded around him firing a barrage of questions. However, on this occasion, beginning on the morning of the 17th, Kisaburo’s body somehow became stiff and he was unable to utter a single word. His consciousness was still clear and sharp enough to hear the clicking of a pocket watch. This condition lasted for three of four days and visitors including a doctor, a teacher of the “Tenrin Omyosei Church, an old lady of the Tendai Buddhist Sect, a faith healer and others crowded into his house. Thus he had a continuous stream of visitors who came to examine him, to offer prayers on his behalf or to give oracles. However, since each one made such wild guesses about the cause of his unusual condition, Kisaburo thought to himself, “I am not sick at all. I am doing training in the divine world.” Yet when he attempted to arise to surprise everyone, his body would not budge even an inch. Neither could he talk. Finally, one of his relatives came and attempted to kick Kisaburo on the head and pinch his nose. After these attempts failed, he said that Kisaburo was possessed by a badger. The man finally tried to drive the devil out of Kisaburo’s body by fanning the smoke of pine needles and red peppers into his nostrils and mouth. Kisaburo’s mother, Yoneko, finally arrived to stop the man. She shed drops of tears on Kisaburo’s cheeks. The instant his mother’s tears dampened his cheeks, his body was released from this stiffened condition which had seized him a week before and he was able to move about freely.

The Founder and Onisaburo

After this experience, Kisaburo stopped working on the stock farm. He finally entered into a life of training as a “yusai” in an inner room which he rented from one of his friends. “Yusai” is a method of training where one attempts to merge the divine spirit with his own spirit irrespective of place, time or festival. On the other hand, a divine service in which people worship giving offerings and holdings festivals, the enshrining of a deity in a particular shrine or altar is called “kensai”.

Thus, he was to carry out the divine law given by god. This was when he first began giving instruction in the spiritual sciences, a practice he would continue later. It seemed unlikely that people in a remote country location would understand him even if he started preaching the Great Way of the Kami and lofty ideals. Thus, he began curing sick people around him as did Christ. The number of persons saved by him are too numerous to note. But the blind regained their sight and the crippled stood up and walked. Kisaburo’s fame spread near and far.

He was continously active day and night practicing “yusai”, repeatedly detecting and getting rid of evil spirits in various locations including the Kanto and Kansai areas, and giving lectures on the Great Way of the Kami. In March 1898 he went to Osaka to disseminate his teachings. The young Kisaburo impulsively traveled from the countryside of Tanba Province (near present-day Kyoto) to the huge metropolis of Osaka, a cutthroat competitive city, and used up all of his money except for one yen before he knew what had happened. He went to the Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka and bought a dish of feed for one sen (1/100 yen) to give to the cranes and horses which were kept within the shrine compound. Noticing that someone was calling him from behind, Kisaburo turned around to find an old man with white hair and a white beard. He was sitting on a chair behind a shabby table with a fortune-telling sign hanging in front of the table beckoning to Kisaburo.

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