“I am mind itself 8” by Koretoshi Maruyama sensei

“I Am Mind Itself 8” Koretoshi Maruyama, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

Happy New Year everyone.

Every year, the chief abbot of Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto chooses a single character that encapsulates his impression of the previous year. For 2018, he chose the character for “disaster.”

For many years, public sentiment has indicated that Japanese government has comported itself poorly, and it has been said that the impurity (kegare) of this has reverberated throughout heaven and earth, causing both natural and man-made disasters.

The current emperor has taken responsibility and will abdicate. When that happens, the Japanese calendar will reset. Strangely, although the current emperor stepped down from his position last year, we must wait until May of this year to welcome the new emperor.

I pray that the New Year will be the start of a better age.

In my previous article, I said that aikido should aspire to ai-nuke as expressed by Sekiun Harigaya. The sword style that Sekiun studied is Shinkage-ryu, and the founder of Shinkage-ryu was Kamiizumi Isenokami Nobutsuna.

Kamiizumi learned Kage-ryu swordsmanship with Aisu Koshichiro, who was the son of Aisu Iko (1452-1538). After intense sword training, Iko secluded himself in a cave at Udo Jingu in Miyazaki, Kyushu, when he was in his late 30s, in order to gain deeper insight into swordsmanship.

The motivation for this was that, just like Sekiun, he had grown tired of survival of the fittest and when he wished to abandon the way of the sword, an old man made him realise that “the gods do not grant insight to those that blindly follow others, such as by forsaking pain and joy and refusing to seek only their own comfort. Rather the gods only show the way to those that follow a higher path.” Therefore, there is no easy option like retirement for a true Japanese budoka that is respectful of the gods (the universe) and seeks to become one with the gods. Morihei Ueshiba-sensei, never announced his retirement until he drew his final breath. As a result of 21 days of ascetic practice in the cave, Iko brought forth the following teachings: “Do not fear. Do not allow yourself to be startled. Do not doubt. Do not become confused. Observe nature and learn from it. This is how to become one with the gods.” “Remain calm and detached (mujushin). Just be, as if you were asleep.” These are the teachings that were passed on to Kamiizumi Isenokami and in time, to Harigaya Sekiun.

Sekiun said that “swordsmanship is simply a matter of raising and lowering the sword.”

I have also studied Shinkage-ryu, gained an understanding of the hanmi stance, and served Morihei Ueshiba sensei, who devoted himself to following the way of the gods day and night, which allowed me to observe a budoka that walks a higher path.

“The flame of evil burns the fuel of evil. If the fuel is removed the flame dies. A pure heart is infinite. To develop a pure heart is the way of the gods.” So said Sekiun Harigaya when teaching the concept of ai-nuke.

Translated by Robin Boyd