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Mayumi Kudo reviews “Oral Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei” by Morihei Ueshiba

Aiki News #55 (June 1983)

Author: Morihei Ueshiba
Edited by: Hideo Takahashi
Language: Japanese
Date of Publication: July 15, 1976
Publisher: Hakko Shinkokai Seinen, Aikido Dokokai

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
This book entitled “Takemusu Aiki” is a transcription of the contents of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei’s oral teachings edited by Hideo Takahashi (O-Sensei did not like being taped) and was serialized in “Hakko Shinkokai Magazine” from June 1958 to March 1961 in 32 installments. The book opens with a poem “God Incarnate in praise of Morihei Ueshiba” (from the collection of poems entitled “Inori” by Masahisa Goi) and includes remembrances of O-Sensei by Mr. Goi and Mr. Takahashi.

The words which O-Sensei spoke when he talked to Mr. Goi about “Aiki” are the essence of Ueshiba Sensei’s philosophy. Here let me quote a portion of O-Sensei’s thoughts. “Aiki is not a technique for fighting or defeating enemies. It is a way to unite the world and unify mankind into one family. The secret of Aikido is to harmonize one’s self with the movements of .the Universe and to achieve oneness with the Universe. For those who understand the secret of Aikido, the Universe is in their heart (lit., “stomach”), “I am the Universe’. I realized this through ‘bu1 (martial arts)…. The bu of those who cannot harmonize with the Universe is a destructive bu and is not true ‘Takemusu’…. Thus, true bu is not for winning and losing. True bu is always invincible. That is to say, invincibility means never fighting with anyone. Winning is to defeat the ‘fighting mind’ inside oneself and accomplishing one’s assigned mission. No matter how difficult the explanation of the theory is, unless one acts on it he is just a human being. Only when one acts on the theory can one obtain the great power and be able to unite with Great Nature.”

This is indeed the philosophy of O-Sensei. When I myself read these words, I felt a warmth throughout my body due to the emotion I experienced. Next, I will select some items from O-Sensei’s oral teachings and will summarize their content.

1 - The mission and principles of Aikido.

There is no enemy in true budo. Uniting oneself with the Universe is budo. One’s activities for the purpose of purification and ablution as a member of the universal family and also as a leader in pursuit of world harmony is Aikido. Harmony is helping others accomplish God’s will and as you yourself pursue the same goal. Thus, in Aikido one should not train in order to become stronger or defeat his opponent. But, one should have a mind which attempts to unite oneself with the Center of the Universe for the sake of however small a contribution toward peace in the world. Aikido moves towards the perfection of the world, the perfection of mankind and the perfection of all on behalf of world peace becoming one life. In other words, Aikido is training in attracting all to you. Instead of having enemies you absorb and harmonize them into your self.

Not correcting others but correcting your own mind should be the mission of Aiki and also your mission.

2 - Aikido and Kotodama

The Universe and spiritual world originated from kotodama. In the Bible it is written: “In the beginning was the Word”. This is the beginning of kotodama. The condition of the Universe is the condition of all living individuals and families breathing in unison. This is called “takaamahara”. If one understands the meaning of takaamahara, the principle which combines the paths of all “original spirits” and functions through united breathing to accomplish the mission of Heaven, one has understood the great principle of Aikido. Aiki is the secret of kotodama. The secret of kotodama springs from the infinite Great Spirit which animates the Universe.

3 - Aikido Training Method

It is important to train your mind in this way where one leaves everything to the gods rejecting fear and attachment to life and death not only when practicing in the dojo but also in daily life. Only by training in this manner will it prove useful when the need presents itself. However, an intellectual understanding only is not sufficient. One should act on a practical level in addition to understanding the words.

4 - Aiki and God

God manifested Aiki, that is, the “Way of God” for the purpose of making true persons and to spread His word through Aikido. Aiki creates the cosmic dual forces, the breath of Earth and breath of Heaven. The forces of In and To (Japanese for “Ying” and “Vang”) united with other cosmic dual forces create all things. Human beings using these cosmic forces talk and give birth to techniques.

Aiki, in a sense, chases away devils with the truth of one’s breath instead of using a sword and transforms “haku” (matter or flesh) into the world of spirit. Matter becomes the underside and the reverse side and the spirit becomes the upperside and the surface. This is the mission of Aikido.

Aiki does not restrict freedom. It purifies evil spirits and unravels all ties of cause and effect and links one’s behavior and thoughts and accomplishes it own mission.

As mentioned above, I have attempted to summarize a number of the ideas presented in “Takemusu Aiki”. In this book there are many difficult passages, hence, without a knowledge of O-Sensei’s life and experiences and also his philosophical background it is, I would say, difficult to understand this book. I would recommend readers refer to the “Doka” published in AIKI NEWS No. 46 for assistance. Needless to say, a reading of the “Biography of Morihei Ueshiba” (summarized in English in installments in AIKI NEWS) will improve one’s grasp of the contents of “Takemusu Aiki”.

The notes O-Sensei himself wrote are said to now be lost, thus, this book is highly recommended to acquire some measure of understanding of the “Aiki spirit” which O-Sensei explained.