“Don’t Waste It”

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs
Commencement Address, Stanford University, June 12, 2005

Full text here.  Video here.

I know not how, but martial men are given to love: I think it is but as they are given to wine; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures. There is in man’s nature a secret inclincation and motion towards the love of others, which if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable; as it is seen sometime in friars.

Sir Francis Bacon

Book One of the Novum Organum 

When Master Morihei Ueshiba, or “O-Sensei” (Great Teacher), as his students fondly called him, first began calling his art aikido (in 1942) he had already accumulated years of experience in other Japanese martial arts. By studying and mastering Daito-Ryu jujitsu, sword, staff, and spear, Master Ueshiba rooted aikido in the ancient Bushido tradition. Testing his ideas in actual combat and armed confrontations he established aikido as a potent self-defense form. At the same time he spoke of aikido – The Way of Harmony – in a revolutionary way, a way previously unheard of among the martial traditions. He taught that aikido is a budo of love and that its purpose is to unite the people of the world. He repeatedly told his students that aikido was not to be used to hurt someone, but to provide loving protection for all people. It was as it the Secretary of Defense suddenly announced that the role of the Armed Forces was to provide a safe, loving environment for the entire world. There were, of course, guffaws when the word got out about a “budo of love” and many came to challenge Ueshiba and his new art.

Richard Strozzi-Heckler

In Search of the Warrior Spirit – Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Military

Have Fun

From the Aikido of San Diego Membership Handbook, by Dave Goldberg Sensei:

Have fun.

Aikido practice should be a joyful experience, and playful most of the time. If you aren’t having fun, you may be treating yourself too seriously. Don’t be in a hurry to master anything. You have the rest of your life to enjoy your training, benefit by it, discover, and grow.

True for Aikido training, and for everything.

Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there.

~Henry Miller, Sexus

(via Roos View, on Facebook)

Knowing the Principle

This excerpt from The Book of Five Rings reminded me of something Sensei said in class recently, in the context of techniques versus principles. My recollection of the point is that if you hunt for techniques in jiyuwaza (“When my partner attacks like x, I should do technique y.”), you will be limited in the freedom, flow, and appropriateness you can achieve. Even if you get really good at it, you will still be only really good at a self-limiting system of operating. Your mind will always be getting in the way of free expression. Instead, by internalizing the principles, the appropriate techniques will appear easily. 

“The Great Learning speaks of consummating knowledge and perfecting things. Consummating knowledge means knowing the principles of everything that people in the world know. Perfecting things means that when you know the principle of everything thoroughly, then you know everything, and can do everything. When there is nothing more you know, there is nothing you can do either. When you do not know the principle, nothing at all comes to fruition.

In all things, uncertainty exists because of not knowing. Things stick in your mind because of being in doubt. When the principle is clarified, nothing sticks in your mind. This is called consummating knowledge and perfecting things. Since there is no longer anything sticking in your mind, your tasks become easy to do.

From The Book of Five Rings – A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword
By Miyamoto Musashi
Translated by Thomas Cleary

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman (1900-1981) minister, educator, civil rights leader

Posted by Japanese Weapons on Facebook, and shared by Jeff Black.