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Morihei Ueshiba, Founder Of Aikido (11)

by Kanemoto Sunadomari

Aiki News #82 (October 1989)

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 of aikido. This, the first biography of the Founder of Aikido, was published in February 1969 and is reprinted with the permission of the Sunadomari family.

Training In Yusai

Ayabe, 1922

Later the path of aikido was revealed to Morihei and was expressed through his martial techniques. I will now describe the important subject of the basis for this yusai (an informal method of prayer). Yusai is a method of training which Morihei practiced every day without fail after coming to Omoto in Ayabe. I have briefly touched upon the subject of yusai and will now explain it in more plain language.

When one uses bodily strength to train himself, this is usually physical training. On the other hand, this method of training takes place on the mental or spiritual plane. The action in yusai unifies the spiritual dimension, present in each individual, into a single spirit and places it in the center of the human body. This is called chinkon (repose of souls).

The method of chinkon has been practiced since the remote ages of the kami up to the present, but only the external formality has been transmitted. The actual method fell into disuse for a long period of time. Nowadays only a little about the festival of chinkon is recorded. The “History of Chinkon” written in January of 1845 by 73 year-old Nobutomo Ban relates the following: “Prince Nigihayahi, the ancestor of the Mononobe family clan, offered Wa [Japan] to Emperor Jimmu and served him using the method of chinkon method. From that time on Yamato, where the capital was located, was closely related to the Court of Wa…” As can be seen in this passage, chinkon originated in the age of the kami in the distant past. However, this is the only real form of chinkon recorded. In the “Manyoshu” [the oldest Japanese book of poems containing some 4,500 verses dating up to 759 AD compiled over a period of four years] and other old writings some descriptions of the chinkon method can be found, but the consequences of chinkon are not mentioned anywhere. Thus it seems that the practice of chinkon suffered an interruption during the medieval period.

It was Onisaburo Deguchi who revealed the path of chinkon and manifested its true essence. Morihei observed and experienced its true nature in Omoto.

Chinkon means to calm the world, the nation, the family and many other things. However, the most important thing is to calm the person, the individual self. One should perfect himself by achieving inner peace. Unless a person shapes and perfects his character, he cannot achieve peace within his family, not to mention society or the nation. If a person who has not yet achieved inner calm or who is incomplete attempts something, the result will be incomplete. Thus, one should reflect upon chinkon-kishin.

This involves matching one’s spirit exactly to one’s body. It is a method of filling one’s body with water or gas (either can be assumed) called the “spirit” or “soul” with the body being regarded as a container. This is called the chinkon method. When a container is not completely filled, space remains. The container called the “body” which is filled with gas or water, called the “soul,” is called “man” (hito). However, there are many people who are lacking in water or run out of gas or have thin gas as in a gas cylinder. Also, the content of most people is full of impurities even though they are filled.

First of all, one should reflect on himself and see through to the inside of his soul in order to seek out what he is lacking, what is excessive, and what is pure and impure. In this way, everyone would know the status of his soul compared to a standard. People are referred to as microcosms and their small bodies are objects of infinite breadth and depth. Some souls have enough courage, harmony or wisdom, and some souls have none. Some have all of these to a moderate decree. In order to unify these souls together, people must train and discipline themselves all of their lives. Through training in chinkon, people can become infinitely deep and generous and improve their characters.

To explain this method briefly, it involves cleansing the organization of the body both inside and out, and raising the degree of coordination between body and soul as much as possible while increasing the purity of the spirit (soul). The act of washing one’s body with water or bathing under a waterfall or in the sea which is called purification (misogi) is for the purpose of cleansing one’s body. If one practices this in the cold season, he may be mentally tensed. Chinkon is often practiced to purify the blood through eating habits to connect with the direct soul. This ascetic exercise of chinkon produces totally different results depending on whether it is performed with virtue or an evil heart. It is necessary to understand well the laws of the universe and be prepared to approach death’s door. This is not something easy that anyone can do. We must always pay attention to our physical and mental attitude and make an effort to observe proper behavior. It is not possible to progress through chinkon training over a limited period.

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