Category Archives: Articles

“A-O-U-E-I….” (3-4)

The central phoneme of the schema is:

taikyokuCROP‘U’: the “empty” center-point of the cosmic spiral, of the Great Absolute – which we know as the  Yin/Yang symbol – which is simply a more dynamic representation of the same thing.

‘U’ allows/enables everything to cohere. At a cosmic level, it is the hub of “Wheel of Life”, around which swirl illusions and contingency/aggregates. It is the double Negative, Not-Not, symbolized by Jade and the Philosopher’s Stone.

On the earthly level, ‘U’ is represented by


kami of the first mud, floating [on the waters], and who transforms himself into


These two aspects of silt – the primal mud of creation – are comparable to Mars and Venus.

* – * – *

This evolution continues with the phoneme:

‘E’ :  the resonance and reverberation of which create a feeling of being touched directly.   ‘E’,  negation of the Universe,  [ – the yin energy of the natural Universe – ]  implies a perception of contact.  It is a gesture of closing off,  after the absorption of energies which, having been collected, now have to be  assimilated.  ‘E’  combines anew Wisdom, Knowledge, Awareness and the Will to Exist, in the moment that precedes birth.

‘E’ ,  when it is un-resisting yet active, adapts freely to the “winds” to produce peace.

According to Shinto mythology, ‘E’ is associated with


identified with “the seed,”  who precipitates – just as Jupiter – a transformation and fertilization in his partner


who is identified with “embryonic life,” and who can be compared to Mercury.

– – – J-D. Cauhépé and A. Kuang, Shobu aïki. La victoire selon l’art chevaleresque de Morihei Ueshiba,  p.181

A change of optic:

Aikido is a gem of many facets – sometimes it seems that every one of O’Sensei’s students remembered a different teacher, and of course, many, many different styles have been preserved and developed – but here is one facet that clicked into focus for me recently:

what if O’Sensei spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo coherently pursuing what he felt to be his “mission in life”?…

what if he spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo creating and nurturing a network of dojos run by Omoto-Kyo, ex-Omoto-Kyo and Ko-Shinto believers ( hand-picked deshi,  some of them raised, almost, as members of his family) – – – and ex-Kamikaze pilots, too (!) – often with his own name on the sign –  in places – and close to shrines…

read more:

…late in 1942…

“….On August 7, after consultations with the appropriate judges, [Judge Takano] released [Onasiburo, Sumiko and Isao] on bail, and they appeared in the outside world for the first time in six years and eight months….

“My cousin Yasuaki Deguchi…writes in ‘Founder of a New Religion’….’To the followers who came to see him, he would say with emphasis, “There will be no divine help in this war,” “This war is a war between devils, so do not get involved”….’

“….even now he did not hold back from his outspoken remarks. ‘On the day I left prison, Japan’s defeat in the war began,’ he said.

“On August 7, 1942, the day Onisaburo was released, American forces landed on Guadalcanal, and the first naval battle of the Solomon Islands began….

“He would say, ‘They did all this to Omoto and don’t even come to apologize. So Japan will be attacked by the foreign enemy and will be beaten.’….’God dislikes killing. Omoto will not cooperate in the war.’

“….Telling soldiers leaving for service overseas, ‘Fire your guns into the air,’ he would give them advice according to their respective destinations….To troops leaving for the front, Onisaburo issued special amulets on which were written the words, ‘Victory to the Enemy’….

– – – – from The Great Onisaburo Deguchi,  Kyotaro Deguchi,  tr. Charles Rowe, publ. Aiki News, pp. 285-9

…1942-1948 – Ubuya…

“It may be that, at the time, we [this young people’s class in Iwama] were the only existing Aikido class in Japan – perhaps even in the world.”
– – – Kazuaki Tanahashi,   Aikiweb interview

“In 1946 when I was admitted into Aikido, the site of the Iwama Dojo with an area of more than 20,000 tsubo was just a forest of Japanese oak trees, dotted with the Aiki Shrine,  Dojo,  and a farm. The location of the Dojo almost eluded detection. The local neighbors had not the foggiest idea of what was going on inside the Dojo and would not dare approach it.”
– – – Morihiro Saito Shihan,  Traditional Aikido,  vol.5,  p.20

“For seven years, Ueshiba O’Sensei hid away in the mountains, and said not a word: he was silent. But by his silence he was teaching, making something very great, by saying nothing.”
– – – André Nocquet Shihan, Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message  p.97


…the Buddha of Infinite Space and Wisdom…


…close to the source: Ame-no-Torifune…

Shrine Shinto instructions for Ame-no-Torifune…

….from Kami No Michi The Way of the Kami, by Yukitaka Yamamoto Guji pp.117-121, and Shinto Norito a Book of Prayers,  by Ann Llewellyn Evans pp.128-132.

O’Sensei’s relationship with Tsubaki O-Kami Yashiro in Mie Prefecture is well documented, and there are some beautiful reminiscences recounted in Susan Perry’s  Remembering O-Sensei.

Seiseki Abe Shihan lineage instructions for Ame-no-Torifune…

…from Shaun Ravens Sensei,  courtesy of a post by jgrowney on Aiki-web.

It seems overwhelmingly likely that O’Sensei experimented in various dojo and over the course of his life-time, with the sequence of kotodama, and with the kami  invoked during furitama. One might guess, too, that he finessed these aspects of Ame-no-Torifune to suit particular students and lineages.

It also seems worth mentioning that the kotodama should be thought of as pairs of syllables, with the first of each pair co-inciding with the inward pull of ki-energy and of the arms. Do not let the mind migrate to thinking of the syllables as starting with the outward movement.

Gozo Shioda Shihan’s Basics for World Peace…

It’s possible to wonder how an art that requires years and years of dedicated practice could possibly be a significant factor in working for peace in the world.

But Gozo Shioda Shihan makes a wonderful point: all that’s necessary is for folks to acquire the BASICS…

‘It is my belief that if everyone were to absorb the basics of Aikido, or in other words, “when confronted with an opponent, [harmonize] with him” and made this principle the basis of their lives, all conflict and strife would disappear.” – In the Aiki News translation and serialization of An Aikido Life (issue 74, p. 46)

…and he’s quite specific: the “basics” he’s referring to are (verbatim):

  •   a pure heart
  •   calmness in movement
  •   “when facing an enemy, unite with him”
  •   balances in the body

…thus 5 or 6 years training (including ki-flow and internal organization) AND a meditation practice…

…it’s a lot, but actually do-able – – – especially if included in a school curriculum…

…the notion of a ‘Way’…

It is easy for us, today, to miss the meaning of a “Way”. As a concept, a “Way”, a “Road”, a “Path” dates back to a time when travelling by land was by far the more difficult option. For most of human history, travelling by water – on a broad river or hugging the coast – was easier, and travelling overland was both arduous and dangerous. It was something one might do to access a sacred site, or some unusual fruit or root, or to acquire some particular knowledge. Traveling in this way changes you, and only by experiencing it can you know why it is also “Tao” – the origin and ground of being…

The Transmission of the method of Water…

by Shido Yamaguchi,  MIZUHO-NO-TSUTAE,  Hi no Maki  fascicle II…

Our normal human voice goes no further than the human ear: beyond that it dies to nothing and is extinguished.  But the breath – iki – that is bright with the light of the kami, being the breath of the universe, does not die out and is not extinguished.  People of the four seas and the ten thousand nations,  although their utterances are many and varied, when [utterance is made with] this breath,  bright with the light of the kami, [and it] is heard,  they become – because it comes from heaven – one people, all as one  in justice and equality.   And so the dharani of India, the eki divination-traditions of China,  the [fire-kokyu and water-kokyu] iki-traditions of Japan,  each of these varied utterances, because they transform [the normal human voice] into the spirit of the universe,  become a way to obtain the heart of heaven.

– – – from the   Kototama Hissho,  by Shido Yamaguchi,  p.29

Tenchi no hajime no toki…

Heaven and Earth are here-and-now ceaselessly creating and beginning again and again.  The beginning of Heaven and Earth that is laid out in the Kojiki is not the origin of physical matter that is discussed in astronomy, physics or history. And this is not because the Kojiki’s chapters on the Age of the Gods naturally deal with things that happened, spontaneously,  a long, long time ago – but nevertheless after that point in time. Now and – for that reason – here  – which is to say “in the here-and-now” – is the place where all the time Heaven and Earth are beginning. That is to say:  Heaven and Earth in reality are ceaselessly – both here and now – continuously being formed and are continuously creating. This “now” is called “the eternal present”.

– – – Koji Ogasawara,   Kototama Hyakushin,  p. 17