“I Am The Universe!” by Nev Sagiba

A newborn is simple and lives in the moment unattached to the convoluted trivia the confused wrestle with. He or she embodies the whole Universe in each breath.

“Unless ye become as little children… the kingdom of harmony will evade you..”

A very old person about to die becomes as that child again.

How would it be to capture that simplicity whilst in our prime instead of having to lose our faculties before we can do so? The clarity of direct perception every Zen and other aspirant of illumined consciousness seeks. I AM THE UNIVERSE!

I am the Universe..

What did Morihei Ueshiba mean? What was he alluding to?

Recently I heard a goon with megalomaniac tendencies take exception at Ueshiba’s statement and disparage it.

Much like the grain of sand in the oyster, that got me working on making pearls out of the irritation.

The critic felt threatened by Ueshiba’s, “I am the Universe!” statement reaching for the ultimate. Yet, this individual is quite happy to make preposterous egotistic claims that don’t reach the ultimate, rather he flings about wild and unprovable claims to be the incarnation of the biggest and best of history. Once, the lunatic asylums were full of these bogus “reincarnations” claimants.

Ueshiba made the assertion: I AM THE UNIVERSE! Not Leonardo da Vinci returned or Genghis Khan or Napoleon and the like. Notice how no one ever claims to be a reincarnation of one of the millions of beggars, outcasts, criminals, disenfranchised or seven billion unknowns. The nutters always claim famous historical figures to bolster their present insecure frailty. Does it really matter if or who you were in a past life, if indeed such a thing exists as the rather blunt beliefs imply? If so, more so what you did with that experience. What lessons did you extract from the experience that make you a better contributor today. More important are your actions of today, right now. How you contribute usefully to adding value, nurturing and protecting life in the time you find yourself. Your footsteps not your words. The fruit of your actions are what count.

Famous characters of past history are long dead and gone. Forever. Dust. In some cases, their contributions remain. The Universe is not only eternal but also perennial and all the time right here now fully available free of charge. Well, there is a price, but that takes the form of misogi and shugyo, personal disciplines which clarify the body-mind connection. And perhaps how we measurably serve the world, the planet and all life for the greater betterment. To name just a few, Morihei, was responsible for preserving and protecting the Kumano region national parks*, developing Hokkaido, protecting fishermen’s right and numerous socially beneficial and uplifting reforms now nationally accepted in Japan. And of course he has beneficially influenced the world with the advent of Aikido. Posthumously, Ueshiba was honoured as a National Treasure! Not that he would care. He simply did what he knew to be right and had the courage to do so, in many cases in the face of a certain measure of personal risk.

Ueshiba proclaimed,”I Am the Universe!” in such a way as to place this condition, non-exclusively into everyone’s reach. Anyone prepared to let go of the ego, the “I” and the egotistical trivia we hairless half-apes tend to obsess over, will find that it is already so. But it remains a dormant condition until revived. The only wealth that can be taken across the divide.

The Universe is always there. In these bodies we get about three score and ten. When viewed from greater heights, the mere flickering of a firefly coming and then disappearing.

But how can you arrive at a state that you can honestly say such a thing?

Well, I would suggest surrender. Not to anything or anyone outside of you, but yourself, your core. Letting go the excrescences and collected burdens that weigh you down. Then nurture cultivate and protect that connection as the most valuable in your existence. Aikido may assist if practiced with true and unequivocal sincerity.

Instead of waiting to die to have this condition forced upon you unconsciously and often painfully, death being the inevitable for all living beings, choose it daily for a brief period of communion and personal recharging by the Universe. After all we are formed by It’s substance.

Why not?

As part-animals beholden with the gifts of consciousness, mobility and sentience; and also certain responsibilities, we can’t just drop out or drop off. That has proven to not work.

But we can choose to make a few minutes of quietude where we let go and receive the essence of the Great Universal Macrocosm into our microcosmic self. Without the need for the holding of any sectarian beliefs whatsoever, the Universe is always there. Ideas and their cults come and go in the vastness of time, but eternity is always with us here and right now! It never left and therefore is not a goal but ever present, immutable and sempiternal.

We already ARE dwellers in eternity. Some are conscious of this fact, others not and some others hope to somehow attain it after death. But do they?

Why wait?

The immense vast “above” is reflected “below,” but we waste mind and energy resisting and clinging to concepts of “me,” and to temporal things found and fed only in our imagination.

Reality is far greater. We contain it.

Meditation is living with one foot in each world and is not merely something we sometimes “do.” It is, or should be, our natural state 24/7. We may have to practice to reclaim it; that intense calm in the midst of turmoil such as found in the Universe itself and in multiple attacker training of Aikido. And life itself. To find, to honour and to sustain the centre at the centre of the cyclone, the galaxy.. indeed all things including ourselves.

Becoming conscious of the fact that the Hito Jinja is a vessel or conduit for all that, is a great gift. Really it could be no other way. We can’t avoid it. Our “free will” is exceedingly limited, but our ability to navigate the moment as it is, unlimited. Mind has no limit other than what we choose.

Aikido, physical practice combined with spiritual exercise, is a means of clearing the channels to notice that you already are the Universe, unhampered by beliefs, without the need to carry a card or ID to prove yourself. Not even any “belief” is required.

I Am The Universe! is not an arrogant statement at all, but a realization that is cause for immense humility and gratitude. It is the realization that a life of service to life, adding value to other lives by caring, nurturing and protecting are the ultimate riches that transcend all others, and that a life of self-serving parasitical, destructive acrimony is a wasted life.

When you live, dwell and have your being in the Ocean, there is no need to read about details about someone else’s opinions about that ocean or its parts, since you can directly access any part of it at any time. You swim and navigate within it with the sunlight within and the moonlight without. Not the other way around as with sophists. And this without any mundane search engine required. Simply “Ask and it shall be given..” Learn to “listen and “hear” the response of the inner tuition or intuition. Common-sense can become common again.

Persistence being the secret of all success, it may sometimes be necessary to keep seeking and to continue knocking for a while. That’s why we train daily.

A favorite saying of the Founder of Aikido was this:
“Kami no hikari ni hiraku kono michi”
when literally translated means:
“The Divine light within opens up and makes clear the Way.”

The inner net was always there and is vaster and more precise than any recent, small, man made inter net.

I recently saw a movie based on the true life story of a young man who finds his enlightenment then dies. It was named “Into the Wild.” On his journey he wrote with the intention to share some things that came to him at moments of illumination:

“The core of man’s spirit is vivified by new experiences..”

“You’re wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from (clinging to) human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It’s in everything. It’s in anything we can experience. People just need to change the way they look at things.”

“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.”

And possibly the final thing he wrote, “HAPPINESS IS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.”

The only reason I can be The Universe is because we all already are The Universe!

You are The Universe! No-one can take that away from you. Only you. But why deprive yourself of your birthright as so many do? There exists no valid reason. Fear and doubt are the enemies that deprive you.

Why not BE The Universe? Not in an arrogant cloistered, parochially egotistical imagining but in a positive, dynamically humble realisation of the inevitable essential unity of all life serving life. Contributing the universal dues that earn you the privilege of abundant Life.

In choosing to look at life with a universal view, vast and broad, tolerant of infinite variable possibilities within the oneness of it all, we can thrive and co create instead of struggling against imaginary enemies that gnaw at our souls and exist only within the dark crevices of our own minds. Those we fear to face because we are either misdirected in our efforts or idle in being constructively creative.

The Universal Essence is just that, universal. It is not some separate “something” but integral. Including in you. In all of us. Call it “spent nuclear waste” (naturally occurring in outer space) or call it “stardust,” or call it “ki,” there is nowhere It is not. It is at hand. Look at your hand. It is there as much as anywhere and everywhere else.

From Original Substance emerge all sub atomic predispositions (particle-waves), atoms, molecules and all that goes to form life and to sustain life.

It is in and all around us all the time.

I don’t know how this sounds to different people from different backgrounds. Probably “big” and scary. Not so. It’s quite simple. Babies live it. It requires no formal education or more skill than you are born with.

If you breathe you live and if you live you are inextricably interwoven with the great web of life and the Universe itself. There is no escape. Well may we be mere pixels on a thin, glowing surface of a spec of dust within the hardware of an unimaginably immense vast, but these pixels have the capability of reflecting the potentials of the whole kit and caboodle!

Every now and again, simply notice that you are breathing. That’s it! Nothing more to do. The breath connects you with it all. If you want to sit and observe your breathing for an hour or so, that’s good too. In multiple attacker training you have no choice but to breathe well, or go down! Or you can rebel and stop breathing altogether if you so choose. But a force greater than yourself will usually make you breathe again. If not, it has due recycling processes already in place.

Even so at the proper time, even the breath will be taken away.

So while you live, put your petty rage and self-importance aside. Flush it. It has no value. Instead, learn to enjoy life. Learn to enjoy every challenge. Harmonize and dance it. Learn to be happy under any circumstance. Share that happiness.

In the face of experience, words are useless. So get experience. Aikido practice teaches the harmonising of the worst form of challenge: personal life threatening attack. The skills thus developed can be applied to all of life’s circumstances.

Our primary life mission as a human being is: RECLAIM YOURSELF!

Then use your unique skills to help others to do so.

All other considerations are of peripheral importance. Why is it that as a species at this time on the globe, too many seem to have reversed this, prepared to lose their soul to gather things they will at their final breath leave behind?

When the swimmer and the ocean are one, there is no distinction. You will have moments where you will realize just that. Notwithstanding, it is there all the time. Sure, we are indeed limited and flawed individuals. No-one will dispute that fact. But when we consciously aspire towards betterment, we can make a difference no matter how small, than when we simply revert to primitive self serving predatorial instincts to guide our behaviors. Ueshiba was not naive, rather he took the trouble to clarify his mind to see things as they are. He took his gaze from the myopia of only looking at the ground and he looked up to include all of existence! Anyone can make that choice.

We are all little universes reflecting variably the Great Universe we are in. Each individual’s journey is uniquely their own. No one else can or should try to dictate it. Deep inside, you know what your creative mission in life is, your adventure, your Way. You can embrace it, or in the words best expressed in the same movie, “Sit on your butt,” in the same boring job, in the same boring suburb, in the same boring habit patterns… Or you can look up at the peaks of possibility.

Better still, while you live, climb those mountains.. give it a go.. one at a time.. and thereby get a better view of who you really are!

Your unique life journey – The Universe in one of Its myriad rediscoverings of Itself.

* Yoshino-Kumano National Park (吉野熊野国立公園, Yoshino Kumano Kokuritsu Kōen) is a national park comprising several non-contiguous areas of Mie, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures, Japan. Established in 1936, the park includes Mount Yoshino, celebrated for its cherry blossoms, as well as elements of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.

** The Detailed Universe – Best watched in full screen http://youtu.be/_IVqMXPFYwI

*** The Most Astounding Fact
Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked in an interview with TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”
This is his answer:
“The most astounding fact.. is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise the life on earth, the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures… these stars.. exploded scattering their enriched.. carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental elements of life.. ingredients for life itself.. night sky.. the universe is in us.. participants just by being alive..” http://youtu.be/9D05ej8u-gU


  1. I applaud you for tackling this subject, daunting indeed, but I believe you can do better.

    When I first began my studies with Joshu Sasaki Roshi, he would ask seemingly ‘cosmic’ questions like … “when you disappear, where do you go?” Almost instinctively my thought would be something equally ‘cosmic’ like … “I become one with the universe.” Of course, Roshi would boot me out on my cosmic ass! I’m afraid your discussion has this same touchy-feely, cosmic feel.

    Yes, we are all made of similar matter. But the statement “I am the universe” is not touchy-feely, it is not abstract, it is not ‘cosmic’. It must be treated much like a simple expression of a much more fundamental physical law – very closely resembling a scientist’s or an engineer’s unexpected conclusion after years of questioning and observations. (The equivalent of Archimedes’ eureka.)

    So to truly understand “I am the universe”, we must travel that same path … constantly questioning and observing this thing called I, constantly questioning and observing this universe around us. Questioning and observing, questioning and observing with a scientist’s or engineer’s mindset. Wanting to know, wanting to know. Our ‘takeaway’ should be that with enough sweat and enough encouragement and prodding and pushing and guidance and training and practice, we too can have our own eureka, our own “I am the universe.”

    Thank you for the post.

  2. Thank you Nev, yes we are the universe and I agree with you that it was that what O Sensei ment, when he said that famous phrase and that is what we learn when we practice Aikido, to harmonize with the all, because we are all one.
    I would like to share this video
    and please take the few minutes to watch it and reflect about it and what we could change to make sure that our children and grandchildren still will enjoy nature as it is, because they are and will be also the universe.
    Happy Easter and and a joyful begin of spring to all of you!

  3. Impressive article. A generous gift.
    Thank you !

  4. Thank you, Nev. I am a long time practitioner (40 yrs.) and your article is a lovely reminder of why I have continued to train and teach, and reach and search Aikido – for the depth and subtleties of each and every technique from a martial and “spiritual” point of view. The martial, with good, consistent, training, becomes very clear – the spiritual, relieving oneself of the ego, and realizing who and where we are, well that comes a little slower……but it comes, I believe. Your article brings to mind the beautiful Desiderata: “Nurture strength of spirit.” And particularly, “You are a child of the Universe, no less than ……..”
    Happy Easter!!!

  5. lest we never forget the true purpose of Aikido and not be locked in the mundane , rather expand into our full potential. Please watch this. http://youtu.be/xxwG8RxQ5Zc

  6. Thanks for sharing Fran I wish at least all readers of AJ will watch it and also the video I put and think about them!

  7. Bruce Baker says:

    No matter how confused you may get from instruction, lessons, or words … the answers are still there …. and always will be … in the Universe around you. Figuring out those answers … now that is a life-time project…

    • No need to “figure” anything. It is instant and immediate as is is already there. The technique is to make oneself receptive through the misogi of regular training, prayer, meditation, gardening, filepaths, good diet and/or whatever works for you. This attunement to the variables and nuances then begins to take shape. And with time some measure of context. THAT is an enterprise without end, a journey through Eternity Itself. Sometimes conscious, sometimes not, it does not matter. Hito Jinja ia a receiving and transmitting instrument for all possibilities, but only when refined with purpose, the bulk of it not a gift but earned. And when you forget or fail to “get it” It is still just as present providing life, breath, sentience, awareness and sensory and other input. The key is to relax about it and notice the moment in its fulness and the aiki of it is to extract the gift from each experience including perceived attack. We become navigators not academics with opinions and theories, rather capable of extracting nourishment from living experience in the now. Remember your first Nikkyo? How it hurt? Why does it not hurt (as much) or cause fear now? What changed?

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