I’m not the first to use this analogy and probably won’t be the last. I dislike repeatedly quoting O’Sensei, but I think he said it too: The getting of useful wisdom is more akin to polishing the glass covering a powerful light. If you force it, it breaks the glass and the light dies and goes out. If you do nothing, the mud covering it plunges life into darkness. To best succeed, you have to polish daily, gently, regularly, diligently and with calm persistence, no matter what.
Aikido is one such Way of daily polishing.
It does not take any wisdom to point out the obvious, but to some it may not appear as wisdom until it becomes obvious. To them.
Hey, there’s a river there! Or, there is a mountain! Or a tree, or whatever. I suppose if you don’t often see rivers, mountains and trees; they must appear quite a novelty in the first instance.
I never noticed… and the first glimpse is quite amazing, just like travelling to a far away place.
But we are not tourists of life, but travellers, an immense difference. At least, so it is hoped.
For the travellers then, all light is simply light. It originates at the same source. Both clear sighted visionaries and scientists equally confirm this fact.
Light, or Hikari, is the nature of the universe.
The ideal state for a conscious being is akin to that of Kami, clean filament, equipoised current, fine light glowing brightly and safely, encased in a clear membrane just like the perfect light bulb.
It begins in the firing of neurons in the brain and nervous system, the combustion in the cells and other biological processes that combined, for a receiving and transmitting instrument for all the potentials of the universe.
For the undisciplined majority, peasants concerned only with eating, sleeping and getting things, that glass is covered with a thick layer of stagnant mud. Perhaps there sometimes may be some squiggles that let some portion of light out, but this fixatedly and with strong opinion and delusion.
Everyone else, the rest of us live somewhere between these extremes and during a lifetime we fluctuate. As babies we start off pure as kami and then it’s most often downhill from there until, if lucky, we have a realization that there is urgency to reclaim ourselves.
Wounded by the slings, arrows and vagaries of life, which often either crack our analogous protective or throw mud on it, or both, others seek semblance of palliative in various human relationships, only to find that they always bring themselves to those relationships and that their own rear end is firmly attached and follows them everywhere. Such relationships bring up these unconscious dark spots in ways we would most often prefer that they did not.
For a soldier who’s been on the front line for more than two or three months, the glass starts to crack. If it does so badly enough it will shatter and the raw unprotected light will harm both he and his victims until he explodes. With or without a bomb, it makes little difference. The harm will be irreparable in many cases and such a one sees little more than raw meat to be hunted in some way. You would not trust your kids with him.
Some old warriors, pure enough of heart to keep the filament incandescent, managed to pull themselves from the brink of the abyss, and somewhat restore their broken glass but the repairs left no longer smooth, jagged edges in the glass, rough and difficult to bear comfortably.
In some such as these, the light still heals but it also cuts, like a laser. It is too direct for smarmy verbal massaging of delusion and insincerity.
Much like the sun which gives us life, too much light too fast is as harmful as is not enough with insufficiency of frequency.
Balance is the key to shining brightly yet safely.
How achieve this, the inherited, innate legacy of us all, a too modest inner glow that for too many is but a candle in bad wind?
There are Ways. Some of these Ways are Budo, in particular the Budo of Aiki.
But the caveat is this.
DO IT! It is the Do of Bu not the talkfest of Bu. It has to be done in order to be understood.
Vociferous cerebrality is more for entertainment or to remind us to get up and do it, than to get results. To get results we must Do it.
Too many, want to “understand” before they will make the effort. They want their foibles, faint prejudices and delusions confirmed instead of shattered and dissolved, much like that mud adhering most stickily to that light globe.
It can’t be done. There is nothing you can understand idle. Movement is life, stagnation death. To understand life and the principles of life you have to move or be left behind. That is the nature of the universe and the universe within the nature we can know.
Is it not enough that those having gone before now thrive and are eager and willing to show the Way?
Somewhere between the extremes of shattering the mud along with the glass and killing the light, and living in permanent darkness, there are techniques of body, mind and sprit that will gently massage the mud until it quietly departs, leaving behind the full radiance of the light you already contain, to shine forth without harm.
This is the Way of Kami and the ultimate purpose of Aikido Training.
A favourite saying of the Founder of Aikido was this (I hope I have the spelling right):
“Kami no hikari ni hiraku kono michi”
when literally translated means:
“The Divine light within opens up and makes clear the Way.”
And the way to safely polish the glass without either extreme swallowing you up, is found in regular and sincere, quality Aikido training.
Without action, neurons won’t fire, nor will the cells and organic processes activate to their full potential.
Whatever your art, practice it with sincerity and you will find the Aikido within it, that polishes and strengthens the glass that covers the light thus enabling it to shine in the best way which it was made to.
Enlightenment is not an idea, but a whole body-mind-spirit and total being process that never ends and is equally available to all sentient beings, and this freely.
All you have to do is to move, in regular manageable installments towards a worthwhile goal.