“Aiki: The Ethic of Non-Imposition,” by Nev Sagiba

The Buddhas and wise people highly recommend non-infringement where interference is not requested. The reason for this is that the results generated lead to an entangled mess.

Whilst some cultures took this to the extreme and misunderstood non-imposition to mean to not ever intervene, and on this basis not assist other living beings based on a complacently resigned view of so called “karma;” others never learned to stop interfering in the affairs of others at all.

But cause and effect is more complete than such extreme views. It enables credit as well as debit and there is right and wrong action as well as right and wrong inaction. Knowing the difference comes from clarity of mind. Sometimes less is better, other times more.

What is “right?” and what is “wrong?”

Right begets harmony. Wrong begets discord.

One thing is sure, once a person crosses the line there is no return. Or if there sometimes is, it’s hard, long and grueling climb to re-earn any measure of grace.

Myths of vampires are indicative. Murderers often get addicted. Soldiers and other killers are haunted. In the case of cannibalism, prions (CJD) destroys the perpetrator in a way more cruel than cancer.

In any event, anyone having killed is followed, and it sits in their aura even if they think they hide it well because they are “believers” in the state religion. They don’t. You can “smell” a killer. His ghosts sit darkly all around him. Who can stop the nightmares, the ghosts and the often long road of incessant torment? Not alcohol. Not any substance. These compound the problem. Observe the eventual fate of perpetrators.

That’s reality. The movies portray killers as heroes, but the universe knows the law. It is an exacting law. Riding into the sunset is no escape from inevitable restitution.

This brings us to the vital question in the minds of all reasonably sane individuals who want to neither be a bully, nor a victim. How can I protect myself without adding to harm in the world? It’s almost an impossible riddle. I say almost.

The way of aiki, or recoil is karma free. The skill to reposition yourself so as to not receive attack, with skill, can enable it to recoil back to the generator of the ill-intentioned action. Hopefully this educates them. Otherwise it destroys them to a level commensurate with their own intention to do harm.

I won’t re-quote the Founder of Aikido again and again. His writings confirming this are sufficient.

Following vast periods of the known prehistoric cannibalism, archaeologists prefer not to talk about, the desire to impose, rape, murder and steal still afflicted many. Whether these dispositions are genetic, psychiatric or both, would take some measure of serious research. That they arise from the processes of the R Complex, or brain stem, is a known fact. Whilst this is an essential part of our survival engine, related to breathing and many other essential biological life support functions, it still retains some rather nasty potentials and predispositions, which when unleashed, give rise to psychotic and dangerous conditions.

Even following the prehistoric, such beliefs in black and white magic arose from predatorial habits. No magic was involved in so called “dark arts.” It was simply predatorial activity such as bullying, rape, torture, murder and generally behaving in ways not human, that impose and show no respect for another life by crossing a well identified and acknowledged line. Those knowing the line learned it by experience. Empathy too, has a price. The desire for mass mind control is another psychiatric illness and whole religions grew around cannibalism, drinking blood and eating flesh, where this gruesome symbolism was considered a sacrament, thereby tying minds to lower aspirations in the false belief of thereby gaining higher forms of escape from otherwise uncreative miserable lives of mediaeval slavery.

Creativity begets light and expansion such as no form of theft can. Murder and theft, no matter how sweetened by any rhetoric, is motivated by darkness of mind and insecurity. Unfounded fear drives it. In short, it is an illness. The fact it is common does not somehow constitute a vote for remaining in the quagmires of mental disease.

Inside our mental and biological processes is the only true jurisdiction anyone can have during the brevity of a life. Before you can do an action, it has to be created inside yourself, your thoughts, imagination, inner vision, intention, etc. By definition, by design, you have inevitably begun reaping karma before you even started sowing. This is not a religious matter, simply the universe as it is.

What we do to others. we are really doing to ourselves. Hate is a mirror. So is love, compassion, mercy and goodness. That’s why it comes back. There is no real mystery since the universe is a symbiotic unit. This is not mysticism but science, although anyone is free to view it either way.

Violence Is Not An Isolated Problem

When you hear people talk about violence, they try to distance themselves from the problem by the way they speak and try to proclaim their “higher stance,” or superior moral ground.

Only “they” do violence. When “we” do violence it has another name, a righteous one.

Really? No, not really! The results are identical if not worse.

Violence happens because you support violence in the way you think, live and the things you choose to consume. The various distanced contributions we pretend to ignore and be unconscious of. Ignorance of the law, whether man-made or natural, cannot be used as an excuse for breaking it. The grinding wheels of the universe roll on impervious to our excuses. Or medication.

Voluble arguments trying to justify discord, do not change outcomes and consequences once they are set into motion.

A cancer is not separate from the body that supports it. A society is not separate from the crime it foments. Just like cancer, violence does not just jump out from behind a tree “because of a devil.”

If there is a devil, it is the devil of complacency, unconsciousness, disregard, conformity and self-serving that is contributing; and that devil lives in all of us.

Some choose to feed him, others not.

If you are attacked, blame yourself. Then take responsibility to make changes starting with yourself.

Again, for clarification, read Morihei Ueshiba.

This is not blaming the victim. This is taking charge to make changes. No one is exempt. We vote with our thoughts, actions and desires and how we go about our lives, whom we support, whom we fail to protect and who we choose to be. We cast that vote by either commission or omission.

It is as if each cell in your body is representative of each person on the planet and resonates with that individual.

That’s why the Buddhas repeatedly proclaim that you can only change the world by changing yourself. Consciousness, awakening, enlightenment, kami no hikari. And then we become empowered to generate constructive influences into society without imposing.

Still think you are separated and exempt?

Science demonstrates beyond doubt that when you are in an enclosed space for more than 10 seconds you have already exchanged sub-atomic particles and atoms with the other people present.

Don’t do it for you? OK try this. The world’s limited water supply has been recycled from day one. The water and fluid content you drink has been passed by everyone that went before! A fact that cannot be changed.

Yes, they good names and the bad.

The air we breath likewise. We are all more interwoven than we care to admit and there is nothing you can do about it. Well, almost nothing. You can make changes inside yourself that will reflect on those corresponding cells. This is a slow, progressive, patient, dedicated process without end.

As Morihei Ueshiba would say: “Getting on with your creative mission in life!”

After that, there is no guarantee except this: Light shines into darkness and not the other way around.

And it is this small point of light, that can give us all the edge, if we choose it. And we owe a duty of care to those dark parts of ourselves, whether cells, mental attributes or corresponding individuals in the world. Not by doing to them what they do wrong in the world with a deemed “superior” form of violence. RATHER, by illustrating how to live harmony by our own example, not violence at all, but creative harmony. Just like training children. Some people slap them and say, “No!” Then the child grows up slapping society with various innovative forms of “no.”

Conversely, how easy it can be, instead of generating conflict and blaming, to simply redirect the child’s attention to creativity.

This too takes skill. Willingly going through the pain of improving ourselves.

Nev Sagiba


  1. Brett Jackson says:

    This is great writing, aikido-inspired writing at its best, IMHO. It’s very powerful. A buffet dinner. I’ll need to read it a few more times and see if I come up with anything useful to add. For now I will just mention that I liked this point a lot: “The way of aiki, or recoil is karma free.” I’ve experienced that myself, performed aiki on an attack which then recoiled on the attacker, with only positive karma impact on me. Hopefully it helped to open his eyes to another way, harmony.

  2. Yan Young says:

    I concur with Brett Jackson. This is an excellent article, one which bears reading again and again to glean all the gems hidden therein.

  3. Brett Jackson says:

    Stop here (above) if you were wondering what Aiki philosophy looks like or would look like.

    “There is right and wrong action as well as right and wrong inaction. Knowing the difference comes from clarity of mind.” So it is that attaining that clarity — and just that — is the gateway to understanding. How to gain that clarity? Our practice, one way.

    “Right begets harmony. Wrong begets discord.” Harmony-based ethics, inspired by the practice of aikido, supersedes utilitarianism (Alas, J.S. Mill, you never got to practice aikido!)

    “Once a person crosses the line there is no return.” If you doubt it, have a look at the recidivism rate. That’s why the images they paint of hell are so horrendous (no exit).

    “[What you are] ….sits in [your] aura.” How well aikido prepares us to read a person[‘s aura]. Something like lifting the lid on the pot to smell the soup, fair or foul.

    “[To] … neither be a bully, nor a victim. How can I protect myself without adding to harm in the world? … The way of aiki, or recoil is karma free.”
    Where is the bully or victim when karma-free aiki walks this way?

    Other great lines which I will just highlight by repeating: “Before you can do an action, it has to be created inside yourself, your thoughts, imagination, inner vision, intention, etc. By definition, by design, you have inevitably begun reaping karma before you even started sowing.” “Light shines into darkness and not the other way around…. And it is this small point of light that can give us all the edge.” “RATHER, by illustrating how to live harmony by our own example.”

  4. Yes, this article is very refreshing and re-inforces my belief that even if it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, by living the way of aiki and creating harmony, we can spread our harmonious particles in the world and shine our light into the darkness.

    I loved the part about right and wrong action and inaction. I have thought about this many times, too, especially when discussing things with a friend who tends to take the aggressive (active) path to help others, while I tend to take the peaceful (inactive) path. I have often doubted that the peaceful path is always right. Sometimes, action is necessary to protect and harmony. See Sun Tzu’s writings. No fighting is always preferable but not always viable. The next best is the most efficient strategy to win. = Aiki.

    Also, thank you Brett for your inspiring comment putting harmony-based ethics above utilitarianism. I have always thought of myself as a utilitarian, but you have brought up a very interesting point that has steered my thoughts onto new and exciting paths.

    Thank you every one for all the great energy!

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