Sunday, May 16, 2010


In my research on the ethics of love, I came across the Japanese philosopher and founder of the martial art Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. In Aikido circles, Ueshiba is often known as O'Sensei.
I was at first surprised to discover a martial artist/philosopher while researching love, and then intrigued by what I found.
Ueshiba had practiced martial arts from being a child, but had a moment of Enlightenment in 1942 at age 59. In his Enlightenment he saw that budo (the way of war) was actually budo (the way of love). It was then that he formally founded Aikido, as a new way of practicing martial arts. Aikido was to be an internal art, focussed on ki—energy, spirit, breath. Ai-ki-do is the way of harmony through ki. Ueshiba interprets this as the spirit of love. So, in his Aikido there is no competition. There is a commitment to not harm an aggressor, but rather to become one with him/her. Aikido is a martial art based in nonresistance and nonviolence. There is focus on yin/yang, on breath, and on circularity.
Much of this is strongly resonant with Taoist philosophy underlying taiji, and some sources suggest that Ueshiba at one point was influenced by a taiji master.
I will suggest two books to those interested.
The Secret Teachings of Aikido and The Art of Peace. The first is a longer, more intricate book full of metaphysical interpretations of life. The second is a collection of the sayings drawn from the larger work. I prefer the second (in the the Shambala Library edition if you can get it. It has a ribbon marker and each saying is on a separate page. very useful for meditation).
In my research, taiji and aikido have many different schools. Both have traditions that focus on the inflicting of lethal harm to opponents. In Aikido, that is certainly an aberration from the founders teaching.
I would like to think that as I develop my taiji practice that I could do so in the spirit of O'Sensei. Would that be Taijido? An intersection of words, an intersection of languages—a commingling of traditions? Here are a few O'Sensei quotes to whet your appetite:
The Art of Peace is the principle of nonresistance. Because it is nonresistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are vanquished. The Art of Peace is invincible because it contends with nothing.
All life is a manifestation of the spirit, a manifestation of love. And the Art of Peace is the purest form of that principle. A warrior is charged with bringing a halt to all contention and strife. Universal love functions in many forms; each manifestation should be allowed free expression.
The Art of Peace is not an object that anyone possesses, nor is it something you can give to another. You must understand the Art of Peace from within, and express it in your own words.


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