Do you watch the nightly news broadcast in your home? – I no longer bother, largely because its not anything like G rated and I don’t want to expose small children to the type of content that we receive each night at 6pm. Gone are the days of good news stories and in its place appears to be a constant stream of information about cruelty, hatred and violence.
It is interesting to ponder the fact that O’Sensei wrote a great deal about turning away from violence and into a life based around peace and love for people and creation. He went as far as to call Aikido “The Art of Peace”. O’Sensei knew a lot about the reality of violence. As a young adult he became skilled in different schools of Jujitsu and then became a champion of Japan in Daito Ryu Jujitsu. Daito Ryu at that time was not simply a martial art performed on a mat for two hours each week, it was a full time commitment and it was and is a killing system.
O’Sensei also saw the most grim realities of war. He served as an infantryman in the Russo-Japanese war and he saw first hand his own countries leadership rise up in a militaristic fashion for expansion into China and the Pacific war. Yet then O’Sensei did something interesting. He was asked to train people in Aikido for the war (WW2). O’Sensei refused, shut down his dojo and relocated to a rural area and went back to farming. One can only guess at how this was taken by his contemporaries and how it was received by the local political leadership at the time.
As the war came to a close and it became apparent that Japan would lose the war and be occupied by the west O’Sensei was reported to have said that this was necessary for the Art of Peace to grow and bring forth fruit. He had no fear of occupation and used the opportunity to spread his Aikido teachings into the western world.
Sometimes I have pondered what O’Sensei might say when exposed to the media in our current world and the current focus on terrorism. Yet I also concede that what is happening today would be likely no different in his eyes than the same violence and hatred that he saw during his own lifespan. O’Sensei spent a great deal of time attempting to speak to Aikido students about his philosophies about world peace, and the encouraging news is that many of his works of philosophy were recorded and left for Aikidoka and others today, to study and to ponder upon. It is my view that within those writings are in fact answers to many of the questions we face today relating to terrorism, hatred and violence.
It is my view that the study of Aikido is much more than just presenting yourself at training each week and participating in the practice of the various forms and techniques. I would like to put it to you that the philosophy of O’Sensei offers you a window into another way to live your life, if you are willing to really accept what he has to say.
My advice to you is to seek out his various works of philosophy, to study them and apply that study on the mat as well as off the mat in your daily life. Allow O’Sensei’s words to challenge you and to take you to a deeper place where the problems of this world fall away and your life becomes an open page with a new story being written each day.
I would like to leave you with this thought from O’Sensei himself on the matter,
“The Art of Peace is medicine for a sick world, we want to cure the world of the sickness of violence, malcontent and discord – this is the Way of Harmony. There is evil and disorder in this world because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. Return to that source and leave behind all self centred thoughts, petty desires and anger. Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything”.