Morihei Ueshiba: On the Art of Peace

(Morihei Ueshiba c. 1957)

(Morihei Ueshiba c. 1957)

"When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back; when you call out the name of God, it echoes inside you."

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Poet, mystic, and founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平, 1883 – 1969) and his reflections on peace within the warrior tradition:

A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.

Balance in the mind and body should not be in dissonance but in harmony. A proper body leads to a proper mind, and a proper mind leads to a proper body.

All things are bound together harmoniously; this is the real law of gravity that keeps the universe intact.

Rather than particular ways, the peaceful warrior seeks the Way, an approach that works in all matters. Rather than borders and categories, see the uniformity.

Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through forging, it becomes steel and is transformed into a razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion.

Too much emphasis is placed on the self. Greatness does not solely arise from implicit qualities, it also comes from the quality of the process. For strength to increase, the process must be hot, and the self must melt away.

If you have not
Linked yourself
To true emptiness,
You will never understand
The Art of Peace

When the self melts away, you will link to the emptiness of the universe where there is only harmony and peace. Chaos exists only within our self-centered opinions. When we remove our judgments, there is only what is and what isn't.

The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen up the body, and polish the spirit.

This is the forging process. Polish the spirit and remove selfishness and hate.

The essence of The Art of Peace is to cleanse yourself of maliciousness, to get in tune with your environment, and to clear your path of all obstacles and barriers.

The obstacles of the mind only exist within the mind. Then to clear a path, you must aim the blade toward yourself.

The way of a warrior is based on humanity, love, and sincerity; the heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love, and friendship. Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.

Our physical qualities are limited, our human qualities are not. Place the emphasis on humanity.

Foster and polish
The warrior spirit
While serving in the world;
Illuminate the Path
According to your inner light.

Your strengths are not meant to serve your best interest, they exist so you can light a path and serve the world. Only then will you have any purpose.

Large does not always defeat little. Little can become large by constant building; large can become little by falling apart.

Success is relative. For you to surpass others does not only mean you increased your own level, without any improvement in yourself, if everyone else diminishes, you will once again surpass them. Getting better is the same as others getting worse. Getting worse is the same as others getting better. Nothing is static — you can be David and you can also be Goliath.

Never fear another challenger, no matter how large;
Never despise another challenger, no matter how small.

Fearing a challenge is like fearing yourself. Despising a challenging is like despising yourself.

Do not look upon this world with fear and loathing. Bravely face whatever the gods offer.

An adversarial mind will only find enemies. It takes bravery to accept what is.

As soon as you concern yourself with the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weakens and defeats you.

Only you will grow sick from the ill you hold for others.

When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back; when you call out the name of God, it echoes inside you.

But if you approach the world with compassion, like the moon on the surface of a lake, it will reflect it back.

When your eyes engage those of another person, greet him with a smile and he will smile back. This is one of the essential techniques of The Way of Peace.

There is no difference between you and another to the universe. You are one and the same — more universe.

A true warrior is always armed with three things: the radiant sword of pacification; the mirror of bravery, wisdom, and friendship; and the precious jewel of enlightenment.

The weapons of a peaceful warrior are not his fists or any material weapon, they are the strength of his character, the size of his heart, and the pureness of his spirit.

At the instant
A warrior
Confronts a foe,
All things
Come into focus.

And when confronted with a challenge, the peaceful warrior is prepared.

Face a single foe as if you are facing ten thousand enemies; face ten thousand enemies as a single foe.

Do not go where your opponent is strong, go where he is weak.

If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing, Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly.

Do not strike with hate but approach even conflicts with compassion.

Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength. Draw him outside of that sphere into your own, and his strength will dissipate.

Rather than focusing on his strengths, focus on your own. Everyone is limited within their spheres of comfort. Then be comfortable in all situations, do not restrict yourself to any sphere.

All of life is a circle, endlessly revolving, and that is the center point of the Art of Peace. The Art of Peace is a seamless, inexhaustible sphere that encompasses all things.

And when unrestricted, you will see unity.

Face any challenge head-on. When an attack comes head-on. employ the principle of ‘moon reflected on the water.’ The moon appears to be really present, but if you strike the water, nothing will be there. Similarly, your opponent should find nothing solid to strike. Like the moonlight, envelop your opponent, physically and spiritually, until there is no separation between you.

You, like the moon reflected on the water, are an illusion. Your opponent, too, is an illusion. The battle is within yourself. This is why you will never find anything solid to strike. There is no separation between you and your opponent for you are one and the same. The Art of Peace is the art of change and you are the only thing that stands in the way of self-change.

Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the highest peak, and the deepest ocean, empty of all limiting thoughts.

Empty your self and you will be boundless.

Life is within death, death is within life; you must exist right here, right now.

The past melts into the future; the future melts into the past. Life and death are locked in a state of flux. All illusions, not a place anyone can exist in. Then be here now. You can only exist now; because only now exists.

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