Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Morihei Ueshiba

Japanese Martial Artist and Founder of Aikido

"True budo cannot be described by words or letters the gods will not allow you to make such explanations."

"To those of you who wish to train in budo in a spirit of blending with the Truth of the eternally changing Universe, let me say once again; never be unmindful of the spirit of the Single?Origin of all things, a spirit which loves and protects all that is. Such people must defend the Path of a surpassing sincerity which embraces love with love. They must then persist in their Aikido without falling behind the unfolding of the universe, making every effort to manifest the honored spirit and from of the Single-Origin."

"True Budo is done for the sake of 'building peace'. Train every day so as to make peace between this spirit [Budo] and all things manifested on the face of the Earth."

"True Budo is practiced not only to destroy an enemy, it must also make him, or his own will, gladly lose his spirit (seishin) to oppose you."

"True Budo is the cultivation of a power of attraction. Capable of absorbing the opponent?s entire being. Therefore it is enough for me to merely stand in this way."

"True victory is self-victory!"

"Unite your mind and body, and proceeding on, you will lay the foundation from which technique originates. Your technique will then spring up without limits through your nen -, the thoughts, feelings and desires within. Needless to say all technique (waza) must be in harmony with the principles of the Universe. This can only happen when you possess the proper nen. When you accumulate the right kind of training it must be done with the correct nen. Should your nen be tied up with improper, selfish desires your training will come to nothing. This is the evil or perverted way."

"Unifying the Echo of the Body with the Echo of the universe. The echo of the body is in the first place the foundation of the unifying of the spirit/mind and the physical body. It is necessary that this echo be made one with the echo of the universe and that the two mutually interact. If you wonder why this is so, it is because having appeared within the universe the echo of the body reverberates against the universal echo and to do so one must possess a body that has strong power. The subtle variations and alteration of this echo are the root source of Bu."

"Use the one to strike the Many!"

"When facing the realm of life and death in the form of an enemy's sword, one must be firmly settled in mind and body, and not at all intimidated; without providing your opponent the slightest opening, control his mind in a flash and move where you will - straight, diagonally, or in any other appropriate direction. Enter deeply, mentally as well as physically, transform your entire body into a true sword, and vanquish your foe. This is Yamato Damashii ("spirit of Japan" - patriotism), the principle behind the divine sword that manifests the soul of [Japan]."

"When an opponent comes to attack you, you just move your body slightly to avoid his attack, and let him go wherever he wants. This is Aiki. In other words, you give him freedom."

"When one has garnered the Circle in the physical soul of his whole body then it gives forth the elemental necessities for bringing techniques into being. This productivity is without limit. The Circle reveals itself by becoming a mechanism that fulfills all needs most abundantly. The Circle gives rise to arrangements that protect and bring to fruition and completion all that exists and all that lives in the entire universe by means of ki-musubi and iku-musubi; that is, by the generation of ki and the bringing forth of life. In this world even the karma-like action of cause and effect is in harmony with round movements. The Bu of Aiki, too, is something circular."

"When surrounded by a host of enemies think of them as one; when facing a single foe think of him as many. This is the best strategy. Learn how to use the one to strike the ten thousand without offering your opponent the slightest opening [for counter-attack].""

"We should not depend too greatly upon the Six Senses. While Buddhism talks of purifying the Six Senses, it should be understood that the senses are made available to our physical bodies in order that we can observe the brilliance of the phenomenal world. Even at this level of perception, it is necessary to clear the way for the Six Senses. Should we fail to keep them clear, they will clog and only let in static. This, in turn, causes the Six Senses to move in the entirely wrong direction. In a word, this is the beginning of a disrupted world. To upset the harmony of this world is the greatest of all evils. To prevent this from happening, all one has to do is to cleanse one's heart and brighten the way of the Spirit to enable the Six Senses to operate freely. Once this is accomplished, the Six Senses become light itself and manifest on the surface. Once the Six Senses begin to emit light, everything is made into the vibrations of the Spirit. The Self, then, begets things; the internal freely flows into the external, and vice-versa; everything heretofore on the outside becomes understood together with the Self. When viewed from the perspective of the Self we sense that all material things belong to the same universal family. One's spiritual training is, thus, not something to be taught to the other members of this family. It is, rather, to be practiced with them. In the process of this shared spiritual training, I think it then becomes necessary to put others ? everything and everyone ? before oneself. Should you first know yourself you will come to understand all. Everything in the Universe is, in other words included in the Self. This is the reason for the Self's existence. This is also why it is possible to clarify the natural (original) instincts of the Self. It is at this point that we then commence work on our individual missions. Such work cannot, however, be performed alone, and is only possible because of the entire Universe. It is, therefore, imperative that we understand the relationship between Self and the realm I speak of."

"When surrounded by enemies, you will be able to draw them out to attack in the direction you want, turn in the appropriate manner, and then down them from behind. One must illuminate the border between life and death. Regardless of what may arise, one should be prepared to receive ninety-nine percent of an enemy's attack and stare death in the face in order to illuminate the path."

"When the congealing of breath, kokyu, has taken over in the body, one will naturally become one with the universe, without even having to consciously think about it, and you will be able to feel the universe expanding in a sphere, roundly. Once the kokyu has expanded you will feel it condensing and concentrating again. When you have become able to perform this sort of kokyu, the actual reality of existence becomes concentrated in your surroundings and one is able to remember them in an orderly and structured fashion. This state is the direction of the first step in the subtle efficiency of Aiki, a delicate function that is a necessity if one is ever to derive Aiki freely and unconsciously. Then when you have excelled in directing these subtle uses of Aiki you will be imbued with the moral virtue of Holy Creation. Your kokyu will soar up in a rightward turning spiral and then descend down again spiraling leftward. You will give birth to the "iki no musubi" (the union of water and fire) and bring forth the "continuous action of friction" This "iki no musubi" is the ultimate and underlying root of the totality of the things that exist in the universe. It has neither form nor weight. And once you have been able to bring forth the continuous action of friction you will become able to grasp the essence of Aiki."

"When the enemy attacks with fire you defend with water. When you invite your enemy to strike, water should surround you from start to finish and you should move within that water."

"When we view it form the Truth of the Universe, Aikido has to be an ideal road of the natural. The "Ri" (principle) must be the base which gives coherence and reason to all things. If we were to analyze or breakdown the Ri as .a scientist might, we can call the things that we find manifested on the physical surface (omote) "Ho", [that is to say a rule or method or law]. Aikido is one such Ho. It is one .of the subtle laws of the heaven-sent .truth of Takemusu Aiki ( !it. Bu generating Aiki). We can also call it the "Way of Accord between Heaven, Earth and Man," and therefore it can be described as the Way of reconciling the myriad essences and their multiple manifestations. You must know that Aikido techniques are a Way of Misogi, [that is, of ritual purification] of the body and the spirit/mind ( , kokoro) and a way of training. That fact is what makes us aware of the laws of the universe and that same fact is the core truth of the workings of the Universal."

"When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back; when you call out the name of God, it echoes inside you."

"Within the subtle variations and flux of the universe there are spring, summer, autumn and winter, just as we humans feel joy or anger, love and pleasure. As much as possible we must diligently work so that second by second the eternal fluctuations of the universe become the same, a continuum. As I said before, all the laws of the universe have a single root or origin, the great workings of which are the Universal Truth. Those who would train in Aikido should research deeply the functions of this original, unitary principle, and so imbibe Universal Truth; in other words to become more and more like the spirit of loving protection of all things which is something that never misses being aware of anything."

"You must maneuver your opponent so that he is drained of his fighting spirit. He will then move in on you as you wish and you should then be able to handle him at will."

"With spirit in its center, a circle contains elements which would create numerous techniques. Circles are rich and abundant by nature."

"Your mental activity must never conflict with the universe, for in doing so "ki" is broken. To cut off the "nen" of this body from the universe is unthinkable. Should thoughts in conflict with the Universal occur, then surely ruin will befall the physical self. The refinement of your thoughts, feelings and passions occurs through an unconscious unification with the Universal. Again, through tying in with the "Subtle Functions of Ki" your left side becomes the foundation for "Bu" while the right side acts as the base for manifestations of the blending of "ki" as received from the universe. If you first consummate the blending of these two, the left and the right, then you are able to live a free existence and act at will. Enter the realm of freedom of existence by making the left the root and basis of "Bu", then you will experience the lightness of a body transformed by the Divine. The right puts forth the main force through the left. Correspondingly, the left is your shield and the right the basis for forming technique. This is the Law of Nature. With this Law implanted in your "hara" (lower abdomen), it is necessary to move freely, adapting to every circumstance."

"Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout. Just as a lotus flower springs from the mire to bloom splendidly, the interaction of the cosmic breath causes the flower of the spirit to bloom and bear fruit in this world."