I grew up with bullies. As far back as I can remember bullies were present, as well as the victims who supported their habit.
When I was born, I had to scream the hospital down to get some mother’s milk. Not separation. I won. The chief of staff capitulated and ordered I be placed on my mother’s breast in accordance to the laws of nature.
It was then I learned that the laws of bullies are invented and that there is nothing they can do to stop the Laws of the Universe. Short of murder. Even then, it recoils.
If you ever meet someone who has killed, you can smell it on them. Dark patches sit in their aura where hungry ghosts feed on their brain, bone marrow and try to get into their genitalia to be born as their children. Cosmic revenge is ultimate revenge. Nations who live by the sword end up multicultural in more ways than one. There is nothing any human agency can do to stop this universal process. Willfully terminate a micro universe before its time and it follows you until you pay. With interest.
Belief has nothing to do with the laws of the Universe. They operate regardless. And they go deep. Every atom has to be repaid over and over until the lesson of empathy is learned. One way or another, the Universe will have its paramount mandate fulfilled: Reconciliation. You may stall it but you cannot stop it and no-one can who remains unreconciled with all creation can return to the Source.
As humans beings we have two choices: The long hard, painful road fraught with aeons of suffering. Or the direct path of addressing reconciliation deliberately and purposefully as choice despite any discomfort this may bring. This could be called the Budo of Aiki.
Sometimes the awakening to reconciliation happens in one life, but not often. That is when you hear the sinner to saint stories.
In killing, physical distance will not save the killer. The Universe knows well the point of delivery, the cause and the propagator. Just look at those whom profit from death and ask yourself. Would I want to end up like them? Press a button or play computer games with real lives and ammo from a distant helicopter and the ghosts find you within seconds. Drink and drugs will not keep them out. If anything, it enables them to entrench deeper and drink your soul. Not that you would have much left. A few years pass and if these perpetrators haven’t capped themselves, they have begun to wake up the fact that they were badly used. It is then confession time and between the haze of alcohol and drugs we hear how their conscience is bothering them and how the hope to find a reprieve from the hungry ghosts.
Time is a great healer and it is also the propagator of revenge. Divine retribution. The Biblical injunction: “Vengeance is mine.. sayeth the Lord,” Romans 12:19-21, is no myth.
17 If someone wrongs you do not repay him with a wrong…” 18 “Do everything in your power to live in peace with everyone…”19 “Beloved, never take revenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lord…” 20 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but instead conquer evil with good.”
That you took bad orders is of no concern to The Law. That you committed the deed makes you doubly guilty. The Law is not set aside for accomplices.
But sometimes waiting is not possible.
Neither is descending into mutual revenge, which goes nowhere. It spirals downwards into deeper and deeper debt and infinite unnecessary suffering.
At age 2, an older neighborhood kid tried to forcibly enter my home. I blocked the way and asked him not to. He pushed. I grabbed his hands. He pulled and I let go. Down he went, about four or five steps.
Whilst I felt bad for releasing him, I realized that he had done it to himself. Something sparked inside me at that feeling of not using power, but letting the opponent do the work to his own defeat. This “something” would guide my life thereafter, and would lead me to find the Aikido of Morihei Ueshiba through my sensei.
After watching many bullies, from elders, to abusers, to schoolteachers who were in those days encouraged to beat, strap, throw kids across the room, hit them in the back of the head, cane them, yell at them, revile and torment them, humiliate and when they could, sexually molest them, I decided I wanted to become a monk and get away from it all to seek answers.
The Universe had other plans and the crime surrounding me escalated. At age 6 or 7, I took up Judo. I was a sickly kid, but I would get up out of bed, walk-run to a practice hall, get bashed by bigger, older and stronger kids then go back home to my sickbed.
Then we moved. To a new area, also crawling with bullies. More refined ones. The “higher” end of town meant absolutely nothing. If anything they were more prolific and more perverted. Nice facade though. False manners everywhere. Crimes better hidden.
Ay age 10, I took up Judo again and met some of the best people. I also took up swimming and cycling and sports, athletics and weight trained, buying health food supplements and reading all the muscle mags to learn more. Yoga enabled the body-mind connection. Zen more so. But I had to covertly “borrow” these from the school library because a fundamentalist bigot teacher would not let me borrow them officially.
I got a job delivering newspapers and bought more books relevant to my search. I’m not sure where I found the time. Possibly because socializing, getting up to no good, making girls pregnant and drugs and alcohol had no attraction. Well, girls did, but in those days they all lived up on a pedestal of my imagination with goddesses and angels. Marriage would later teach me differently.
In those “good old days” I thought, like everyone else, that mine was the only dysfunctional family. Every one else’s social front being as good as the expected, the cover up was so good that everyone pretended to believe it so well, I think they all convinced themselves. Despite their pain and misery. Some were worse and some better and some kids committed suicide.
Despite lack of support and being self-funded, as a result of my passion for swimming, I was set for the Olympics. Swimming.
But we moved and I was to discover something better than medals. The Coral Sea and the Torres Strait, sharks, wild people and the powers of nature. These restored my soul, which by now was close to breakdown.
I spent some years in the saddle rounding up cows and horses and discovered Hara before I even knew it.
And more bullies. These mental and moral cripples seem to be everywhere you go.
I managed to survive and retain my ideal to become neither a bully nor a victim and sought solace in books about The Buddha and Jesus and other wise people. And anything I could lay my hands that would hopefully provide a glimmer of answers.
I became a bookworm. A physically fit one.
But books were not for ocean and warriors of that region so I learned more fundamental lessons. Such as how to communicate with sharks in their own language. Sticking them with a sharp piece of metal or ripping their gills before they ripped my flesh. Much was simply a standoff, the teachings of body language and strong intent- ki!.
All good. But I had still not found myself amid now raging hormones and a deeper desire, that of seeking and finding the ideal.
My first marriage failed, being based on a false premise. I learned a lot. Fighting fire professionally was good. And bad. More bullies and idiots hiding this time, behind uniforms. Many were good men. The others shall have their reward. Some already have.
Other battles, too long to go into here. Distant jobs. Many rescues and lessons learnt and many errors and mistakes made. Mistakes are the beginnings of the learning curve if we choose to embrace them as such.
But after ten years fighting fires in a way now known to be criminally negligent of staff safety, ill heath caught up and I was facing death. Six months or a year, I was told.
I decided to die doing what I loved, Aikido.
Never trust “experts.” Following some controversial natural therapies, and daily Aikido I’m still here 25 years later.
It was not an ideal time. The rollercoaster which suddenly stopped one day when I took the initiative to make changes.
Looking back there were some very narrow escapes with life and death amid some of the most deadly criminals of the time. Yes, much of survival is “luck,” of sorts. The “luck” of leaving everything to the control of the Universe. And regular training that is high quality, honest and properly presented.
Because, sure as hell, it’s not often yours to entirely control.
Very little is. And yet Aikido training enables a higher dimension of sorts. Without the need for hubris. Simply a realization that it’s there all the time, regardless.
I began working with that little, and stopped “seeking enlightenment” by sitting naked on freezing hilltops . Maybe that did some good too, but unless moderated, it would have simply killed me.
From 1970, aside from the first year, my Aikido practice was often broken up with travels and then the need for its application to survive bad situations. I was lucky my teachers were good, because I did not really understand how it all worked to save me. Although ukemi saved me from numerous horse falls and what would have otherwise been a deadly motorcycle crash, there were other battles too.
But from 1985, onwards I never stopped training.
Finally I had a responsibility to try to understand what the heck it was I was doing. Slowly it dawned, in increments, small steps. It still is growing and looking forward, I can see no end to the possibilities and the learning. There is no arrival in Aikido. It is indeed as the Founder said, a path without end.
Many years ago, I read a statement the Founder made. It always was a question in my mind.
“There is no time and space for Ueshiba of Aikido.”
At first, I tried to read many things into it. And I’m sure it means many things more than I will ever understand.
But one thing today stands out. And that is this. To be neither a bully nor a victim requires that one achieve what takes nature long periods of time, in an instant, by allowing the forces of the Universe to operate. By getting out of the way. By putting ego to one side.
Humankind is unique like that. We have the ability to notice natural process and to then synthesize it to an immediate technology or human function.
Given, Aikido is good for many, many things: fitness, social life, endorphins, health, exercise, and all that.
But it is salient in that it ADRESSES CONFLICT, not as a mystical martyr like pipedream. Nor as a method of counter conflicting and adding to problems. And not as some magical delusion that will do all the work for you. But in many relevant aspects that synchretise into One Universal Principle to deal with conflict creatively.
By neither gratuitously attacking nor receiving the attack, but by harmonizing it. This means nothing at all until you realise that an attack is merely intention and energy gone wrong and running counter to that other 999% we are not usually ready to see or understand, but which rules all existence.
Because of our aligning ourselves daily with that Great Harmony, any attacker thereby places himself in opposition to the Universe itself. Timelessly.
As Mr. Koichi Tohei sensei, once wrote, By living a life of becoming more in harmony with the Universe, we make ourselves worthy of protection by the Universe.
Of course we are obliged to do our part as well. Trusting in God does not preclude tethering your horse! Training does this.
In that instant of real and emergent need, we neither attack nor submit, but letting even the opponent, we move so as to maintain our safety and integrity, a duty we owe the Universe for the gift of Hito Jinja, sentience, mobility and consciousness.
The attacker has to deal with the force generated by their own action, in equal measure. Not after aeons, but in that instant, as it rebounds on him immediately because we simply got out of the way of the attack! This enables the attacker to destroy himself, or to learn empathy. Either way there is no loss and all round gain of the best kind.
Aikido does not participate in either victimhood or bullying, but lovingly allows all expressions to experience themselves in the full measure. Without sanctimony or the need for pretense.
Aikido is neither “powerful” nor weak. Simply truthful, neither “weak” nor “strong” in the conventional sense. Rather, it is The Essence of the Harmony of the Universe which transcends these trivial concepts.
Aikido goes beyond fighting, protection and relative defence. It partakes and enables the partaking Kannagara no Michi, the Eternal River of Life.
Harmony with the Universe, means harmony with oneself, which prerequisite is harmony with all life.
Learning to harmonize conflict in any form is the epitome of Budo, as it is also becoming completed as a human being.
This finds itself in Aikido, in all its attributes as one.
Aikido, one of the earliest books re-published in the early 60s translated from Aikido Giho, 1962, and from the earlier Aikido, 1958. was published by Hozansha Publishing Co., Ltd. To the immense credit of compilers and publishers, on pages 177 to 181, the following from the Founder of Aikido was available to be read. Occasionally touching base with its content has sustained me through good and bad times; and now is beginning to a make a little more sense than it may have back then. I would like to share it here.
MEMOIR OF THE MASTER
As ai (harmony) is common with ai (love), I decided to name my unique budo Aikido, although the word “aiki” is an old one. The word which was used by the warriors in the past is fundamentally different from that of mine.
Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile to world and make human beings one family.
The secret of Aikido is to harmonize ourselves with the movement of the Universe and bring ourselves into accord with the Universe itself. He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the Universe in himself and can say, “I am the Universe.” I am never defeated, however fast the enemy may attack. It is not because my technique is faster than that of the enemy. It is not a question of speed. The fight is finished before it is begun.
When an enemy tries to fight with me, the Universe itself, he has to break the harmony of the Universe. Hence at the moment he has the mind to fight with me, he is already defeated. There exists no measure of time — fast or slow.
Aikido is non-resistance. As it is non-resistant, it is always victorious.
Those who have a warped mind, a mind of discord, have been defeated from the beginning.
Then, how can you straighten your warped mind, purify your heart, and be harmonized with the activities of all things in Nature? You should first make God’s heart yours. It is a Great love, Omnipresent in all quarters and in all times of the Universe.
There is no discord in love. There is no enemy of love. A mind of discord, thinking of the existence of an enemy is no more consistent with the will of God.
Those who do not agree with this cannot be in harmony with the Universe. Their budo is that of destruction. It is not constructive budo.
Therefore to compete in techniques, winning and losing, is not true budo. True budo knows no defeat. “Never defeated” means “never fighting.”
Winning means winning over the mind of discord in yourself. It is to accomplish your bestowed mission.
This is not mere theory. You practice it. Then you will accept the great power of oneness with Nature.
Don’t look at the opponent’s eyes, or your mind will be drawn into his eyes. Don’t look at his sword, or you will be slain with his sword. Don’t look at him, or your spirit will be distracted. True budo is the cultivation of attraction with which to draw the whole opponent to you. All I have to do is keep standing this way.
Even standing with my back toward the opponent is enough. When he attacks, hitting, he will injure himself with his own intention to hit. I am one with the Universe and I am nothing else. When I stand, he will be drawn to me. There is no time and space before Ueshiba of Aikido — only the Universe as it is.
There is no enemy for Ueshiba of Aikido. You are mistaken if you think that budo means to have opponents and enemies and to be strong and fell them. There are neither opponents nor enemies for true budo. True budo is to be one with the Universe; that is to be united with the Center of the Universe.
A mind to serve for the peace of all human beings in the world is needed in Aikido, and not the mind of one who wishes to be strong or who practices only to fell an opponent.
When anybody asks is my Aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say “No.” My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion.
I am calm however and whenever I am attacked. I have no attachment to life or death. I leave everything as it is to God. Be apart from attachment to life and death and have a mind which leaves everything to Him, not only when you are being attacked but also in your daily lives.
True budo is a work of love. It is a work of giving life to all beings, and not killing or struggling with each other. Love is the guardian deity of everything. nothing can exist without it. Aikido is the realization of love.
I do not make a companion of men. Whom, then, do I make a companion of? God. This world is not going well because people make companions of each other, saying and doing foolish things. Good and evil beings are all one united family in the world. Aikido leaves out any attachment. Aikido does not call relative affairs good or evil. Aikido keeps all beings in constant growth and development and serves for the completion of the Universe.
In Aikido we control the opponent’s mind before we face him. That is how we draw him into ourselves. We go forward in life with this attraction of our spirit, and attempt to command a whole view of the world. We ceaselessly pray that fights do not occur. For this reason we strictly prohibit matches in Aikido. Aikido’s spirit is that of loving attack and that of peaceful reconciliation. In this aim we bind and unite the opponents with the will power of love. By love we are able to purify others.
Understand Aikido first as budo and then as the way of service to construct the World Family. Aikido is not for a single country or anyone in particular. Its only purpose is to perform the work of God.
True budo is the loving protection of all beings with a spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation means to allow the completion of everyone’s mission.
The “Way” means to be one with the Will of God and practice it. If we are even slightly apart from it, it is no longer the Way.
We can say that Aikido is a way to sweep away devils with the sincerity of our BREATH instead of a sword. That is to say, to turn the devil-minded world into the World of Spirit. This is the mission of Aikido.
Aikido is the principle of nonresistance. Because it is nonresistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with the evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished.
The devil-mind will go down in defeat and the Spirit rise up in victory. Then Aikido will bear fruit in this world.
Without budo a nation goes to ruin, because budo is the life of loving protection and is the source of the activities of science.
Those who seek to study Aikido should open their minds, listen to the sincerity of God through Aikido, and practice it. You should understand the great ablution of Aiki, practice it and improve without hindrance. Willingly begin the cultivation of your spirit.
I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind. This is Aikido. This is the mission of Aikido and should be your mission.