Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art that evolved from and reflects Shinto cosmology. Aikido can be translated as, the way of harmonizing ki. The practitioner harmonizes with, rather than confronts, the ki, energy, or momentum of the attack and converts it into a circular motion that renders attackers helpless.

Ueshiba Morihei

John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci,
The Louvre, Paris
The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. The real Way of a Warrior is the Art of Peace, the power of Love. -- Ueshiba Morihei

A warrior is a symbol for the ruling faculty in man, which tries to bring him back to Divine Presence, a state of consciousness in which the Higher Self is awake and one is at peace with oneself and the world; one experiences true love.



People normally experience love, only when a person that one has fallen in love with stimulates it. For a while one feels on Top of the World as the lyrics of the Carpenters song describe, and everything seems beautiful and special. Things that would normally make one upset, don`t seem to influence one`s state.

Such a feelin’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear
It’s because you are here
You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world
-- John Bettis an Richard Carpenter
When Sufi poetry mentions separation from, or union with, the beloved, the Sufi understands it to mean separation from or union with God. -- Al-Ghazali (11th c. Persian Sufi mystic)
Presence is the one we call the Beloved. -- Rumi (13th c. Sufi mystic and poet)

Experiencing the state of Divine Presence can be very similar as described in the lyrics above, except that it is not stimulated by another person, it comes from within one. The Beloved, one`s Higher Self, is present and has gratitude for this experience and love for anything it encounters.

All love is connected with presence . -- Goethe (18th c. German poet and writer), Maxims and Reflections
Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart. He is the source of love, and may be known through love, but not through thought. -- Upanishads (Hindu text)

An Aikido bout

The way to reach one`s Higher Self is symbolized by a struggle or war. The Aikido and Sumo bout are both symbols for this struggle. All scriptures have passages about war.

There is a war that opens the doors of heaven. Happy the warriors whose fate it is to fight such a war. -- Bhagavad Gita (Hindu text)
A spiritual warrior has no outside enemies. -- Abu Bakr (7th c. first Muslim Caliph)
The weapons of our warfare are not physical, but mighty through God . . . casting down imaginations. -- The Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The enemy of the warrior or steward is inside oneself. It is one`s own lower self, which experiences the state of Divine Presence as an interruption to it`s own existence because it can no longer be in control, but needs to be passive in order for Divine Presence to manifest itself.

God, harden me against myself, this coward with pathetic voice who craves for ease and rest and joys: myself, arch-traitor to my Self ; my hollowest friend; my deadliest foe, my clog whatever road I go.
-- Christina Rossetti (19th c. English poet)
God (the Higher Self), whose love and joy are present everywhere, cannot come to visit you unless you (the lower self) are not there. -- Angelus Silesius (17th c. German priest, mystic and poet)
Step aside Hafiz, you are blocking the way. -- Hafiz (14th c. Persian Sufi poet)

A warrior`s weapons are symbols for tools to help one reach the God within, the state of presence.

Weapons means the tools of wisdom, the work of silent operation of spiritual awareness. If one can prepare the weapons of wisdom to avoid being caught unawares, one will always have autonomous presence of mind, and the jewel of life will not be damaged. -- Liu Yiming ( Taoist I Ching, Hexagram #45 Gathering)

Bodhisattva Manjusri with a sword and bow,
Tibet, 15th Century

The remembrance of God in the heart is the sword
by which we combat our enemies. -- Sufi wisdom
One should ward off the blows of mental afflictions and severely attack them, as if engaged in a sword-combat with a trained enemy. -- Shantideva (8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar):
The penetrating brilliance of swords
Wielded by followers of the Way
Strikes at the evil enemy
Lurking deep within
Their own souls and bodies.
-- Ueshiba Morihei




A relief showing a Pharaoh shooting an arrow;
behind him, unseen except for an extra arm
with bow and arrow, stands the god Amun Ra,
Temple of Ramses II, Abu Simbel, Egypt (19th Dynasty)
Take the great bow of the sacred scriptures, place on it the arrow of devotion; then draw the bowstring of meditation and aim at the target, the Lord of Love. The mantra is the bow; the aspirant is the arrow, and the Lord the target. Now draw the bowstring of meditation, and hitting the target, be one with him.
-- Upanishads (Hindu text)

When one tries to be present one experiences a struggle or war between warrior-like steward and the lower self. The lower self keeps bringing all kinds of thoughts to interrupt one`s focus on the present. The steward keeps reminding one not to listen to these thoughts and to focus one`s attention on the present moment.




Manjoun watching a battle inside his head,
Persian miniature

Shoot the arrows of good thoughts against the enemy.
-- Philokalia, Philoteos of Sinai
We now have to combat the enemy of thoughts, in order for the good thoughts to destroy the bad ones. The real war, the important battle, is this war. -- Rumi

The inner meaning of good thoughts is thoughts that remind one to be present. It doesn`t refer to thoughts that are morally good. In the same way, the inner meaning of good deeds is the effort to actually wake up the God within, after one has the thought to do it. Good deeds that are morally good, but performed in the state of sleep are just that, good deeds performed in the state of sleep; they do not help one be awake.



Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969), the founder of Aikido, was one of the most well-known modern-day exponents of the art of Kotodama, a discipline originating within the Shinto religion, which involves the intoning of sacred sounds. The term Kotodama translates literally as Word-Spirit and is said to refer to a spiritual state or feeling induced by beautiful word-sounds when correctly intoned.

Aikido is a spiritual science. Spiritual science began when islands and deities were born through Divine Works on Ame no Ukihashi (the Floating Bridge of Heaven), and this was realized through the marvelous works of kotodama (言霊 word-spirit). Therefore, aikido is not a martial art created by human beings; it was already perfected from the very beginning before the Universe was created. -- Ueshiba Morihei
God surrounds you with word-soldiers to overpower the enemy. -- Rumi

In other words, a state of Divine Presence induced by short reminders to be present. Kotodama encompasses the notion that good can be brought about as a result of correctly intoned beautiful word-sounds, and evil brought about by ugly word-sounds - or by beautiful word-sounds incorrectly pronounced. Good refers to the state of Divine Presence, in which one`s Higher Self is awake and experiences the lower self as an interesting stranger, while evil refers to the state in which one`s Higher Self is asleep, and one experiences the thoughts and emotions going round in one`s mind as 'I'.

Word-soldiers or word-spirits don`t have any power themselves.

The monk Kuya repeating Amida buddha`s name six times, by Kosho, 13th Century, Rokuharamitsuji temple, Kyoto
Words are just words and without heart they have no meaning. -- Chinese Texts
The secret of a mantra is not something that is hidden intentionally, but something that has to be acquired by self-discipline, concentration, inner experience, insight, and constant practice, under the guidance of a competent Guru. -- Govinda, The Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism


One must learn how to use a mantra and most importantly one must learn how to engage the heart. When one reminds oneself to be present by saying Be (present), and the heart is behind it, then presence can occur. If the heart is not behind it, if the activity one is engaged in at that moment is more important to one than being present, presence will not occur. Ugly word-sounds or beautiful word-sounds incorrectly pronounced refer to saying words to remind oneself to be present, without the heart behind them.

Aikido is the supreme work of Kotodama and the Great Way of Universal Purification. -- Ueshiba Morihei
A warrior is always engaged in a life-and-death struggle for Peace. -- Ueshiba Morihei

Peace refers to the state of prolonged presence, which comes after the steward has successfully focused one`s attention on the present for a while, without being interrupted by the many thoughts that the lower self brings. Ueshiba Morihei had a deep knowledge of the practice of Shinto. He used the symbolism of the triangle, circle and square, to illustrate the principle of ichirei-shikon-sangen-hachiriki, which means One Spirit, Four Souls, Three fundamentals and Eight Powers, a framework that Morihei believed was present in every religious cosmology.

I am one who becomes two, two who becomes four, four who becomes eight, then I am one again.
-- Egyptian texts

A tower with four faces, Bayon temple, Ankor Wat, Cambodia

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. --The Bible, Revelation 22:13
These four are one in God and the one is four. But we cannot grasp the simplicity of God. While we strive to understand that he is as one, he appears to us as fourfold. -- Bernard of Clairvaux (12th c. French abbot)


The eighth day foretells the quality of that state which is beyond nature and time.
-- Maximos the Confessor (7th c. Christian monk)
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