Takemusu Aiki - Lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido (4)
Aikido Journal #119 (2000)
This is the fourth of a series of lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. These talks were transcribed and edited by Hideo Takahashi of the Byakko Shinkokai (see interview in AJ115) and originally published in Japanese in 1976 as Takemusu Aiki. The importance of these lectures as the primary source of reliable material on the spiritual views of Morihei Ueshiba cannot be overstated.
Readers wishing to plumb the depths of the philosophy of the founder will face a challenge when exploring these texts. The symbology and metaphors employed by O-Sensei originate from Shinto texts such as the Kojiki and are, moreover, influenced by the Omoto religion and its co-founder Onisaburo Deguchi. Also abundant are references to the kotodama, a Shinto belief system incorporated into the Omoto religion that holds that primordial vibrations before letters and sounds have an intrinsic value capable of influencing physical reality. The meanings of many passages are obscure and therefore we have often resorted to the use of footnotes in an effort to assist the motivated reader in navigating the difficult text. The extensive use of footnotes will necessarily oblige the reader to refer to previous issues of the magazine and we apologize in advance for this unavoidable inconvenience.
I would like to sincerely thank Sonoko Tanaka for her diligent efforts in rendering the Japanese into comprehensible English and for researching the material used in the footnotes. - Editor
3. Aikido is the Great Way of Harmony and Devotion to the Way of the Universal Plan
Aikido is the Way of Harmony manifested as the One World Family, that is, devotion to the realization of a Heaven on Earth. Religious devotees would call it the establishment and clear manifestation of Takaamahara.1
Those who desire world harmony must dedicate themselves to its realization and to the accomplishment of the Divine Plan for their own nation. The assigned task of a nation is the realization of national harmony as One Family. We must all accomplish our own missions, that is, our assigned duties, as our share of the Divine Plan. Thus, we must perfect our own selves before the perfection of others in order to render any service in accordance with the Will of the Great God. The very act of perfecting oneself is a rendering of services towards the perfection of the Universe. This is, therefore, the Way of Loyalty.
We need to hurry to perfect the Way of Loyalty. Our mission is to accord a place to everything existing in the Universe—all manner of animals, birds, fish and insects—and to set them at ease. This mission is solemnly and clearly manifested in the Great Way wherein the birth and growth of all nature occurs in accordance with the Universal Plan.
Together we must study very deeply the principles of this Universal Plan while showing respect to Heaven, God, individual human beings and ourselves as well; then we must accelerate our efforts to accomplish God’s Work. This is how we can demonstrate the true existence of spirituality in aikido.
First of all, it is important that we ourselves set good examples for others and live up to the Way of Supreme Loyalty and Sincerity, and the Way of Supreme Mercy and Supreme Goodness, by devoting ourselves wholeheartedly. This is my dearest wish each and every day.
I have thus far each day dedicated myself to eliminating attachments to life one after another. This spirit is needed to perfect the Way of Budo, that is, the Way of Supreme Sincerity and Loyalty. That fact is we have not been truly sincere thus far and, without being aware of our behavior, we have been acting upon aggressive ideas of killing and fighting each other.
There is no enemy on the Way of true budo. True budo is the work of Love. It is the action of giving birth to and nurturing everything in nature, and not of killing or fighting. Love is the principal guardian of all things. Nothing can be achieved without Love. The Way of aikido is the very manifestation of Love.
With old-style martial arts it took many years of hard training to realize the true self. However, I have established a Way that can be understood immediately and this is the difference between aikido and old-style martial arts.
Power and authority must be vested in those who are vessels of flowing ki energy and of the force of attraction that binds everything together. Aikido works to achieve this end. The goal has been established and everything is ceaselessly improving each day with the realization of one achievement after another.
The Universe is immense and its truth is also limitless. The life of human beings has no beginning and no end, and continues throughout the past, present and future.
We must assimilate Eternal Life and the Universe within and become the Universe ourselves. We become one with the Universe, that is, to become one with Takaamahara.
Our actions performed in oneness with the Universe will resound splendidly throughout its expanse. This is the view that devotees of aikido should cultivate while completing their missions.
Aikido must be the Way of perfecting human beings, the Way of God, and the Way of the Universe. Aikido is the manifestation of Ichirei Shikon Sangen Hachiriki2; it is the true nature of the Universe, the manifestation of the activities of the Great God. Human beings share a common destiny. Our task as human beings is to fully assimilate the truth of the Universe and allow it to permeate within us.
God manifests Himself in this world only through living vessels. Living vessels are physical human beings. Deities gather even at the wooden shrines built by human beings; therefore, there is no doubt that they gather in the living vessels of human beings, the children of God.
Human beings must fully assimilate the principles of the Three Worlds— the Divine World, the Spiritual World and the World of Appearance; they must become vessels in order to harmonize these Three Worlds. Otherwise, no matter how much time passes, we will never be able to grasp the Will of the Great God even though it is already manifested on Earth.
When I think of the World of Appearance, I enter into the bright world illuminated by Heaven as a brilliant human being. I can perform my practices while observing the Spiritual World and the Divine World as well. Human beings are given the ability to freely act in the Three Worlds every day and to enter into the Universe just by having their minds in the right place.
It is my hope that soon you will all awaken to the truth and perform your duties as children of the Great Deity of SU (see AJ117) together with me, Tsunemori (Ueshiba Sensei), a servant of Aiki, while enjoying ourselves in the joyful gardens of the Three Worlds. We can always remain happy by having our minds in the right place. Please ask me directly in person, not in writing, if you wish to ask me how to accomplish this. I am a man of action and will personally teach you through my deeds.
I do not need a dojo. Neither do I need honor, position or wealth. I can explain the teachings even from under a tree or while on a stone. Wherever I am, I will stand on Ame No Ukihashi (Floating Bridge of Heaven, see AJ116) above the Earth, and be happy to explain the teachings whenever I am asked. Please question me.
All things begin when “one stands on Ame No Ukihashi.” This has gone unchanged in Japan since ancient times. When you pray while standing on Ame No Ukihashi, you must straddle between Heaven and Earth and your mind should not be overly focused on either Heaven or Earth. You must proceed while uniting yourself with the Heart of the Great God through your faith. Otherwise, you will not be able to perform O-Musubi3 between Heaven and Earth, nor between the Universe and yourself. While standing on Ame No Ukihashi, we fully absorb the splendid energy of the Universe into our souls. We stand there as the deity of Ame no Minaka Nushi.4
Every time we offer a prayer, we must offer it to the Universe, then we will be assimilated into the center of Heaven. You can never find Takaamahara in Heaven or on Earth no matter where you look. Where is it then? The Great Universe itself is Takaamahara. It is the foundation on which the Universal Plan is carried out and it is Life itself. This is the true principle of the union of government and religion.
How was I able to understand the true bu that had eluded all others? Where did I find the answer? I had looked for it in all kinds of martial art schools, but I was not able to find it in any school conceived by human beings. Then, where on Earth was it? Everything was within me. I found it when I became enlightened. Well then, how can one achieve enlightenment? The answer is that we must stand on Ame no Ukihashi. All things that have life must awaken to truth; first of all, human beings must become enlightened so that humanity can be saved. This is because human beings are the principal vessels through which the Divine Plan of Heaven and Earth will be carried out.
This world is the Divine World and human beings are the children of God. Our physical bodies are the vessels in which deities abide. Therefore, you are on the wrong path if you jump around or scream being possessed by low-level fox spirits or other spirits of nature. Human beings only need devote themselves in order to accomplish their assigned missions. The time has come. Human beings will be perfected in the present age.
We must accord a place to each plant, tree, insect, fish and animal, then devote ourselves to continuing to build a paradise. This requires that you yourself become a sacred place of the Great God of the Universe where deities abide (Himorogi).5 This is what we should keep in mind while going forward.
Thus far only physical science has progressed while spiritual matters have been neglected. Today we live in a time when we should place spiritual science—that is, the spiritual civilization of Japan—parallel to physical science. Otherwise, world harmony will never be achieved.
Aikido is a spiritual science. Spiritual science began when islands and deities were born through Divine Works on Ame no Ukihashi, and this was realized through the marvelous works of kotodama. Therefore, aikido is not a martial art created by human beings; it was already perfected from the very beginning before the Universe was created.
I do not deal with human beings. If I really need to express with whom I am dealing, then that will be God. Relationships among people in this world do not go well because everyone is dealing with human beings who do and say trivial things to one another.
Both good and bad people are part of the family of World Harmony. Aikido instructs us to give up all kinds of attachments, and not to consider the matter of good and evil as a problem since it is only relative. Aikido protects the Way according to which all things in nature are born and nurtured. This Way educates and leads us to devote ourselves to the perfection of the Universal Nation.
If you want to confine deities in small spaces such as shrines, they will feel cramped and not be happy. This whole Universe is the manifestation of God. We ask all the deities of Heaven and Earth6 to enter into the living vessels of human beings, not into wooden shrines. Then we should immediately open up ourselves and allow the whole Universe, that is, Divine Life, to reside within. Thus, we will come to understand that today also existed thousands of years ago and, at the same time, the days of thousands of years ago are here now; today is also part of the future and contains the future too.
The past, present and future are manifestations of the Universal Plan that constitutes the history of Japan. This history is at the very heart of aikido and the principle of cosmic science. We are advancing scientifically every day and, at the same time, we are pursuing science in accordance with the Heart of the Great God.
(from the talk “Meeting in Aiki”)
Although people all over the world desire and pray for peace, this world is still full of fighting and hatred. This is because physical science is not in harmony with spiritual science. It now appears that physical science has reached its zenith while spiritual science has been neglected. This world has thus far been the material world of the physical body (haku), but from now forward the spirit (kon) and body must become one. The physical world and the spiritual world need to be equally balanced.
Human beings cannot work only through the spirit. We need a physical body. At the same time, if we lack spirituality, we will not be able to truly carry out our duties. We will only be able to carry out true activities when the physical body and spirit are united and assist each other.
A spirit receives a physical body in order to look at and interact with the Bright World. The physical body is the medium through which all lives are given birth and grow. Therefore, the spirit must educate and cultivate the physical body. On the other hand, the physical body must follow and work entirely through the spirit leaving everything to it. The Way will be realized only after the physical body has been developed and become capable of protecting the spirit. The Way is incarnated and contained in the blood and flesh. Therefore, we can never separate ourselves from it even if we so wish.
The blood is constantly working throughout the body. However, we must always continue to purify the workings of our sensory organs7 that perceive and come in touch with this world. Spiritual flowers will then bloom and bear fruit. The very wish and virtue of the Original God is to cultivate flowers and fruits in the Three Worlds—the Divine World, the Spiritual World and the World of Appearance—and to prepare the place of Great Virtue (Iwasaka) where deities abide peacefully; the necessary preparation of the land is the very activity and purpose of Virtue.
When physical science unifies with spiritual science, it will progress far beyond its present level. Then world peace will be realized. Heaven and Earth have been completed and become beautiful, shining worlds. Only the awakening of human souls is still being awaited. The entire Universe would be sad if human beings did not improve themselves.
Some people in the world say that one only needs to worship the One Original God. However, if one does this, he will not be able to understand the truth. All the deities of Heaven and Earth are the history of the workings of the Great God. Without knowing this history, one cannot understand the Great God. One would not be able to perform aiki without the existence of this history dating from the Age of Gods.
Even if one single person achieves enlightenment it is very significant because this will permit all the ki of the Universe to be fully and naturally assimilated within himself. Then he will understand all he needs to know.
Takaamahara is in ourselves. You will never find it either in Heaven or on Earth no matter how hard you look. You must realize that it is within you. Takaamahara is an instrument of creation. Human beings are also instruments of creation having the same nature, the same circle and the same movements as Takaamahara. You must ask yourself for Takaamahara instead of asking for Heaven and Earth.
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