“Vigilance,” by Nev Sagiba

The average person of weak resolve is predisposed to celebrating a perceived victory.

This is because understanding is bereft of the fact that victory makes you vulnerable. Particularly when such occurs at the expense of another, as history consistently reveals, everyone has ultimately lost. But sometimes reprisals come quickly.

True victory is inclusive and a paradigm where all win and then sustain. Ultimate victory is an ordinary thing in the universe as the universe does not act against its own interests which are all inclusive. Relative victory and loss are trivial matters only important to small minds, fragmented and separated from the source that temporarily provides their life-breath.

Ultimate victory is where all life wins without victims being exploited. This is a rare skill on this earth. There are no “others.” There is only us.

In relative matters, losses are learning curves and victories are cause for extreme caution. In the long term, apparent losers win and seeming victors lose. Such is the yin-yang balance of the universe. (Or in-yo; or ai-ki or cause-effect or karma, the swing of the pendulum, or whatever label helps clarify this immutable universal principle.)

As far back as history goes, the pattern repeats despite all efforts to make it otherwise. Most empires, in the course of time were swamped out by the very slaves they originally exploited. And when that lot got too comfortable and fell asleep, another despot rose up and the cycle between relative awakenings and considerable unconsciousness repeated until decay set in.

For the useful human being there is a need to look deeper than appearances.

It is said that Napoleon would severely punish his troops if they set about celebrating instead of preparing for the next battle.

Thomas Jefferson made it plain when he said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

There is a fine balance between complacent lethargy which makes you a victim and extreme paranoia which makes you a bully. And yet, it appears that the bulk of humanity do indeed suffer from either extreme and suffer consequences thereby.

This is not an idea of mine, but is denoted not only by our histories, but also the daily news, your workplace and other diseased and afflicted attributes of any society which contains some measure of bullies and victims.

One requires the other to feed the disease. Bullies are simultaneously cowards and merely lining up to become the next victim in due course. They are usually already part of a hierarchy of primates fearfully kicking butt down the line in order to gain approbation of those they fear.

Fear rules the disease like a well established cancer.

“Oh, you’re dwelling on the negative again..” I can hear someone whine.

Waking-up is uncomfortable, but things are as they are and no other way. Denial is not an option and certainly will not make the problem go away or lessen the sting of the lash on your back.

No matter the “positive thinking,” you cannot walk on a broken leg. There are rules of healing, the first being to clearly identify and acknowledge that a problem exists. After that, in the case of the fracture there are medical and scientific processes that will assist nature’s healing magic, which must be skillfully implemented if you are to regain the use of said leg. In this case, bone setting, plaster, nutrition and so on.

Human society is more complex, but the principles of maintenance, ascending into increased civilization and sustainability are the same universal principles as maintaining health and well-being. Unconsciousness means extinction. Imbalance and inequity invites the high risk of revolution.

A poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller, starts off, “”First they came…”; is filled with references of “I remained silent;” “I did not speak out;” and “I did nothing; and ends, “When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

Importantly, this brings me to Budo attitudes. In particular those superior paradigms of human relationship realised, exemplified and propounded by Morihei Ueshiba and some others of the past.

Vigilance begins within oneself. Personal discipline, shugyo, and moves forward to a spirit of excellence where the highest standards are sought after, aspired to and exemplified, as best one can, in one’s own life.

This can only bear fruit as authentic service. Everything requires exchange of energy and there is no one way traffic in the universe. Such would cause depletion. Ancient armies pillaged as they travelled, but still they lost in the end. The women they raped bore sons filled with vengeance against their own fathers who became old, weak and complacent by the time the sons arrived to collect the debt. Who won? Who lost?

Interestingly, the word samurai or saburai derives from the early Japanese verb samorau or saburau, meaning, “to serve.” A samurai is a servant, in this case serving the survival of one’s valued society.

In today’s world, we are evolving towards the status of an emerging consciousness of being global citizens. Possibly, at this early stage, more from the fact we can sell each other gadgets than any true and meaningful spiritual awakening about the interconnected web of life being inclusive of more holistic trade and enrichment through cultural exchanges. But I suppose that will come one day also.

Budo training that is true and not mere sport or blind rote, is training in vigilance. Firstly, vigilant with yourself, then your surroundings. This makes a difference if even albeit a subtle one. And it supersedes relegating undue importance to trivial and relative matters, mere waves in the One Ocean.

High standards of integrity become contagious because these are the very spiritual energies that transmit and infect others with a predisposition to the all-win paradigm as best exemplified by Aikido trained and lived.

Where the all-win paradigm is sought and implemented successfully, immense value follows and sustains because it is the Way of the Universe, Kannagara no Michi which is made by expansion – ki and light – hikari. This is not merely a religious opinion, but a scientifically measured fact.

Active, ongoing personal discipline that provides a mental, physical and spiritual challenge is the best preventive medicine for the tendency to slip, drop the ball, or rest on dead laurels.

Of course, life will have its own attendant challenges.

In facing adversities, do your best and then, “katte kabuto-no o shimeyo.” In other words, “after victory tighten your helmet cords.”

Or put simply, reestablish vigilance immediately.

Nev Sagiba


  1. Brett Jackson says:

    Beautifully interwoven. I’m reminded of the old warning, and one of my favorite sayings, pride comes before a fall.

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