Last week I published a blog post on “The Buddha’s Advice To An Aikido Sensei” which covers the teaching of the 5 Qualities Of A Spiritually Mature Teacher. I got a lot of great feedback on the post and it seems to have struck a chord in the greater aikido community.
The martial art of Aikido is a spiritual practice. It is a spiritual practice because the technical application of Aikido is “nested” within a universal humanistic philosophy. And this philosophy is further nested within an Absolute spiritual perspective.
Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, referred to this as the manifest, the hidden, and the divine. The manifest is the realm of physicality and techniques. The hidden is the realm of principles and philosophy. The divine is the realm of spirit Absolute.
This is a developmental frame that reflects the spiritual potential of human beings. Practicing Aikido in this framework activates growth and development. It will constantly challenge your egoic limitations, and continuously lead you forward into your spiritual potential.
The word Dharma is an ancient Sanskrit work meaning “Spiritual Teachings”, “Universal Principles”, or “Ultimate Reality.” And even though it isn’t always held this way, Aikido is an art that rests on the foundation of universal principles. This is the “Dharma Of Aikido”.
By all accounts, Aikido’s founder O Sensei had a profound spiritual awakening into ultimate reality. It was this awakening that transformed his martial arts into Aikido. Ueshiba’s Aikido was a profound expression of the Dharma, which in Aikido has one fundamental taste: Conflict becomes resolved into wholeness.
In our previous chat, master facilitator Mark Walsh and I spoke about 3 phases of our personal development, namely “retreating from the world, returning to the marketplace and expressing our practice in virtual space” – and how each one of these moves comes with its set of challenges and learning curves.
The Art of Peace: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido (Shambhala, 1992)
This beautiful little handbook contains the inspirational teachings of Morihei Ueshiba, O’ Sensei himself. Each of its 112 short verses describes O’ Sensei’s perspective of the real way of the spiritual warrior. If you seek to explore the greater meaning of Aikido, and what it means in your life, then this book will give you a deep dive into the enlightened mind of the founder of the art.
Aptly referred to as the “Einstein of consciousness”, Ken Wilber is perhaps the most significant philosopher of our times. He is the mapmaker that has synthesized all of the human wisdom traditions into his famous Integral Model, which applies to every aspect of life. Integral Spirituality illuminates the promise and potential of the spiritual path like never before. Through “multiple perspective taking” you will gain a powerful map of the classical path of spiritual states and the skill-sets you need to reach higher and higher stages of spiritual development.
Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution (Shambhala, 2013)
Diane Musho Hamilton is a good friend of mine. She is a gifted Zen teacher, master facilitator, and professional mediator. In her first book, Diane brings a Zen approach to conflict resolution. You will learn from her to work with your personal “conflict style,” discover the creativity that lies at the core of all conflict, and the 3-fold practice of showing up, listening and witnessing. Diane is just great, and this book will introduce you to the art of conflict, and how to work with it in all aspects of your life.
Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path (Sounds True, 2009)
In “Eyes Wide Open” Mariana Caplan has created a first of its kind “field guide” for walking a spiritual path. She has laid out a post-modern map of the major interior spaces you need to consider on your path – cultural, psychological, tantric, and shadow work. She also writes on the critical issue of what it means to be in a relationship with a spiritual teacher in a postmodern world. For anyone interested in cultivating wisdom, orientation and clarity on the spiritual path, “Eyes Wide Open” is essential reading.