In techniques using te-gatana, because you should find yourself becoming one with the breath of heaven and earth, you must allow this to influence your practice of te-gatana: both in your movements and in your techniques for working with the flow of in and yo. If you face aite with an expansive, even majestic feeling of enveloping [him or her] in your heart, you will find that you become able to see through aite‘s movements. Along with that, having blended [with him or her], you will find that you can move your body with complete flexibility and freedom to left and to right. And more than this: as you embrace aite warmly in your heart, you will find that you can lead aite in whatever direction you have received from heaven and earth.
– – – O’Sensei, probably audio-recorded by by Masatake Fujita, transcribed by Sadateru Arikawa Shihan, published in Aiki-Shinzui, p.97
When you read a bit about the nature of O’Sensei’s contribution to this old body of knowledge that’s still remembered, a lot of it does not make sense until you take a moment to look at how every culture does its explanation of the nature of reality, and how we participate.
Because they’re all seeing the same world – but they see different aspects of it according to their value systems and their mental wiring and so many different influences… but in essence they all try to come up with words to describe layers of reality and function.
So O’Sensei, as a young child, was exposed to a kind of Buddhist practice in Japan that’s not zen – zen is what we often think about when we think about buddhism…if we were brought up in the sixties – but before zen there was this Tantric, Vajrayana school called Shingon – associated with Kukai, Kobo Daishi – and O’Sensei was exposed to that…
So he was a little boy…
Two main streams of thought…developed within Mahayana [Buddhism], the schools of Consciousness-Only and of the Void…. Mikkyo united those complementary approaches within a symbolic framework that affirms the active presence of Buddha-nature in the world…
…in the Buddhist philosophy of Consciousness-Only… Mind was considered essential, therefore, while matter, transitory and imperfect, was considered no more than an illusion to be seen through.
The teaching of the Void (ku) school held that….all forms were ephemeral, continually coming into existence and passing away. The nature of the void penetrated all things, and so was related to universal truth….a further void teaching… said that the universal void actually concealed within itself a mysterious absolute reality….this teaching dealt with all-penetrating void-reality in terms of universal Buddha-wisdom….
Generally speaking, the esoteric teaching traditions that culminated in the Dainichi-kyô grew out of the Void school, while the Kongôchô-gyô was based on Consciousness-Only….The later union of the two traditions was an important development for Mikkyo.
Founded on the Consciousness-Only perception that everything is actually mind, the esoteric teaching found Consciousness always present also in material forms….Every activity of the universe could thus embody the secret of enlightened mind…..”
– – – Yamasaki Taiko, Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, pp.64-66