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Record Type: Review   ID: 241

Aikido and the Harmony of Nature

Saotome, Mitsugi

 Saotome writes that "aikido is not philosophy...[but] the true expression and revelation of the ever-evolving functions of the universe" (p. vii). The aim is to experience "the mechanisms of nature’s truth"—which is very like what happens when one follows the call of an exceptional experience. He calls us back to our roots—to flashback to "the memory of the very beginning of life and the struggle through time and space of the incredible evolution of humanity" (p. xi). He points out that the aim of self-defense is to protect and sustain life. The essence of Budo is "the art of saving life" (p. xi). Anthropologist David Jones says in the Foreword that Saotome extends the vision of Uyeshiba, the founder of Aikido "into the future by interpreting the basic philosophy of Aikido through the language of scientific method, and research findings" (p. xv) in a way that is mutually enriching. He says "Aikido is an art form that seeks to connect the individual with an intimate and personal experience of billions of years of creation" (p. xvi). Saotome was Uyeshiba’s pupil and was with him when he died. The first chapter is a biography of Uyeshiba, and closes with the five principles of Aikido, which seems very much like the EHE process. "Aikido is the principle and the path that join humanity with the universal consciousness" (p. 17). He begins with a chapter on Kannagara, which is a form of spontaneous intuition that moves one to act in a manner that is in harmony with nature and the divine that is a living part of all things. A key point is that without conflict one cannot know harmony. This situation is typified in Aikido training. The end realization is "that our lives and the workings of the universe are one" (p. 23). Thus, Saotome’s teachings in this book are as much about the divine and the universe as they are about aikido. He devotes chapters to the Beginning of the Universe; Perspective on Truth; The Harmony of Nature’s Justice, Justice of Nature’s Harmony, Aggression and the Evolution of Bujutsu, Budo: The Education of Instinct; Aikido: The Transmission of Truth; Ki and Kokyu ("an open-ended process that joins the galaxy to the universe, and the sun to the galaxy, the earth to the sun, and humanity and life to the earth" (p. 154); Marubashi: The Elements of Reality; The Training Process (the longest chapter); The Education of an Uchi Deshi, in which Uyeshiba’s teaching method is described; and the Dojo: Spiritual Oasis, or the rules from the training handbook compiled by Saotome’s senior pupils.
Publisher Information:Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1993. 252p. 129 figs; 450 illus
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