Andre Nocquet Shihan’s students: Shinto… Catholic…

At the beginning of every class. Ueshiba Sensei used to call on the Kami. Even before bowing to each other, the ritual requires that the sensei, and the students, too, turn towards the Kamiza, and after a moment of meditation, dive straight into the “Way of the Kami” (gods) of Shinto metaphysics. The invocations are addressed successively to the “August Center of Heaven” (Ame-no-Minaka-nushi-no-kami), to the kami of “High, August, productiveness” (Taka-mi-musubi-no-kami), then to the kami of “Divine births” (Kami-Musubi-no-kami), to the “Sweet reed-shoot prince” (Umashi-ashi-Kobi-Hikoji-no-kami) and finally to (Ame-no-toko-tachi-no-kami) “Residing eternally in Heaven.”

Then their thoughts are directed towards the deity “Residing eternally on Earth” (Kuni-no-Toko-Tachi-no-kami), and towards “Fields of luxuriant clouds” (Toyo-kumu-no-no-kami), who inhere to the play of gods and men, and towards the divine celestial couples, then towards those of Earth, and of the Underworld. Finally, they turn towards the Sun-goddess: Amaterasu-o-mi-kami….

…The [tama-shizume, that is, spirit-calming] ritual, which differs slightly [sic] amongst the various shinto tendencies, includes a number of  phases which consist of:

  • Calming oneself, sitting in seiza
  • Join and extend your hands at the level of the forehead
  • Converge your line of sight on the ends of your fingers
  • Bring your hands down to in front of your Centrum
  • Continue to stare at the same point, eye-lids half-closed
  • Close your eye-lids and keep the same sight in your mind
  • think of AMETERASU[-O-MI-KAMI]
  • visualize in your heart, the sun
  • call on the kami with whom you want to identify
  • see that kami shining like the morning star
  • place your own soul before it
  • think fervently of the fusion of the two souls
  • make the “sword” (soul) of the kami your own
  • imbue yourself with it in such a way as to protect life in all its aspects
  • live in harmony with the kami and the universe

This, then, is the mental activity which used to transfigure the aikido of the wise, old Ueshiba, and which transformed a combat-system into a ritual.  The “Way of the Kami“, it turned out, was there, at the far end of the “Way of the Warrior”. It took hold of his heart, and his techniques, and gave him peace.

If the shinto-practitioner addresses the kami of her/his religion, we Westerners 1) could, in the same spirit, at the start of each class, rest our thoughts on…

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