I recently discovered this man by stumbling across him during random internet research. Morihei Ueshiba 植芝盛平 was the founder of Aikido, but before he did this he had studied various martial arts, fought in the Russo- Japanese war and joined a sect called Ōmoto-kyō (thought to have been an off shoot of Shinto)1. One of their main principles was working towards world peace, so in spite of being the head of a school of fighting, one of his main teachings was cultivating a peaceful life.
Some of his sayings that have lived on after his passing are very beautiful, here are some that may interest you:
“The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love”.
“The Art of Peace is medicine for a sick world. There is evil and disorder in the world, because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. Return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, petty desires, and anger. Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything”.
“True victory does not come from defeating an enemy, true victory comes from giving love and changing an enemies heart”.
“Nonresistance is one of the principles of aikido. Because there is no resistance, you have won before even starting. People whose minds are evil or who enjoy fighting are defeated without a fight”.
“As soon as you concern yourself with the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weaken and defeat you”.
In this youtube video he talks about his approach to his own aikido practice and to life. Even if you do not practice aikido (I don’t either) you may find his philosophical views interesting.
I like his story partly because it exemplifies one of the main principles that comes up again and again in self-development; paradox. Things we perceive as opposites often go hand in hand, are complimentary even. In this case – the man most likely to be able to whoop your ass is the person who least wants or needs to.
One of Ueshiba’s sayings was Masakatsu Agatsu. The combination of Masakatsu (true victory) and Agatsu (the victory one achieves over oneself) makes up the meaning of the phrase: “The true victory of self-mastery.2” If nothing else, this should sum up the core of what self-development work really means. We are taking responsibility for ourselves.
I’ll leave you with just one more quote:
“One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train”.
1. Morihei Ueshiba – Wikipedia article
2. Aikido Vocabulary by Erik Sotnak