Troy’s Book Club: Aikido and the Harmony of Nature

“Aikido and the Harmony of Nature” by Mitsugi Saotome

Finally finished reading this book that has been in my possession for years. I’ve probably spent a year reading it – a few pages here, a few pages there. Aikido is a martial art I first learned of many years ago, in the pages of G.I. Joe: Special Missions #4, to be exact. In this issue, “Lifeline”, the G.I. Joe medic, defeats a much larger opponent with a martial art called “aikido”. Ever since then, I’ve had a minor fascination with the art form.

In reading this book, it’s apparent that aikido is as much a life-philosophy as it is a martial art. The book is written by Mitsugi Saotome, who was trained by Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the son of aikido’s Founder, Morihei Ueshiba.

As always, if you choose to buy this book, please consider a locally-owned bookstore or a used-bookstore. Milwaukee’s Boswell Books can get it for you! Also, you can get this book from the Milwaukee Public Library.

Here are many of the bits I found most interesting in the book:

+”..all actions arise from an unconscious and sincerely felt respect and appreciation for the perfection of nature’s process and from the knowledge that all things have within them a living part of the Divine Spirit of Kami, the Creator and Origin of the universe. The wind has God’s name. The mountains have God’s name. Trees, grasses, animals, all things in nature are the consciousness of the Creator and manifestations of His boundless love.

+”Aikido is the love and protection of all things.”

+”Love is reality.”

+”God is not logic; God is not philosophy; God is love.”

+”…and the only constant is change.”

+”…the truth of Aikido lies in action, the theory proven in practice.”

+”Sitting is an important part of Zen training, but more important is to understand reality, the reality of sweat, of work, of responsibility.”

+”Physical attitude reflects the spirit, for they are one. If we do not train and cleanse the foundation of the body and the mind, truth cannot be expressed and we cannot help society.”

+”Negative power is to be met, not with conflict, but joined, interpreted, and redirected through the power and balance of spiral movement.”

+” ‘I am not a man, I am the universe itself,’ said Morihei Ueshiba. This is not theology. It is truth. We are truly created from the material of the stars, the light of God, for we too began with the great explosion of light.”

+”Harmony does not mean there are no conflicts, for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes. Conflict is the beginning of harmony as death is the beginning of life.”

+”It helps to prepare for the unforeseeable future by “expecting the unexpected and be developing an open mind so that response to the unexpected is without hesitation.”

+”Only intuition and insight can decide the appropriate reaction to an ever-changing situation.”

+”I repeat, harmony is not synonymous with weakness and balance is not another word for stagnation.”

+”The philosophy of the Shinto priests…held that action is the natural consequence of prayer.”

+”He perfected his reflexes, seeking the freedom of a liberated body that could meet any situation spontaneously, without the binding chains of ego and thought.”

+”In that time of war and power struggles, guns were at first quickly adopted, but soon the bushi, who revered honor and bravery in battle above all else, came to believe that to kill with a gun required neither.” (italics added-TF)

+”What is the difference between heaven and hell? Consciousness, compassion and cooperation.”

+”Our society, our economy,our lifestyle is geared to the instant and disposable. We find no satisfaction in the process and no pride in our work or in the community…We are a materialistic society, yet we have no respect for materials.”

+”Elevators, escalators, and the automobile have rendered muscles, once firm and strong from running and climbing, weak and flaccid. Our minds have become dulled from lack of use as we allow calculators and computer to do more and more of the thinking for us. We have at our disposal more free time than ever before, but instead of using it creatively for personal study and inner growth, we lean back in the controlled comfort of our living rooms and demand to be entertained, hypnotized by the endless parade of animated figures on a television screen. …We seek a life of ease and comfort, believing that this is the way to happiness, and then wonder why life has lost its flavor.” (italics added-TF)

+”Our minds are becoming dry and static and square, for we no longer allow an appreciation and respect for creation to touch our hearts.”

+”Experience is true knowledge.”

+”The Way is very strict. You must defend yourself, and you must defend the enemy. This is your responsibility.”

+”The most important point of Budo training is to understand the enemy. If you understand, you cannot hate.”

+”It is the positive ki and reaction that makes a chivalrous, noble and awesome vibration.”

+”The truth of reality cannot be experienced by a heart that is filled with questions of victory and defeat.”

+”How long you live is not important. Life is moment by moment, and the measure of your life is the way in which your spirit blossoms each of those moments.” (italics added-TF)

+”Technique is, in one second, the creation of form.” (italics added – TF)

+”Your life is the sum of its relationships.”

+”Aikido is a dynamic poem of movement. You must become the galaxy and express it with your body. You cannot imitate the power of an ocean wave; you must become the ocean itself. You must see not just small technique but the entire picture of the movement.”

+”He taught that a mistake is an opportunity for creativity; no mistake, only change.”

+”Whenever there is greed, confusion, and a lack of communication, there is a degradation of human value.”

+”You must not spend your life searching for security. If you cover yourself with layer after layer of heavy armor you will be unable to move, unable to fight and protect yourself or others. You will never feel the warm touch of the sun nor the sharp sting of a hard rain. Joy will be lost. Your freedom and independence will be lost.”

+”In the final analysis, you and you alone are responsible for your own growth. You make your own reality.”

+Here is a portrait of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido – TF

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