Saturday, April 18, 2020

The AI of Aikido

            O-sensei stated, “Without understanding the Kojiki, you can’t grasp the reality of Aikido.” The Kojiki, or “Record of Ancient Happenings,” is the Japanese story of creation.  It is a symbolic explanation of the dual opposing forces of nature. When we speak of these as universal function, they are called Kami, or "Deity" in Japanese. When we speak of them as the breath of life, they are called Iki. Kami is fire and water circling around and enveloping each other each in its turn. This derives from the word Karami, "To wind around, or encircle." 
          The creative function of the Kami is expressed through fifty word souls or kototama, beginning with Mu, the vast emptiness, and Su, it's creative movement. Inside of the steamy mist (Musu), spontaneously, a point (I) appears. From this point expansion (A) reaches out in all directions. This is AI. I have addressed this at some length in relation to Aikido training, yet the physical training alone may not always reach the depths of what, I believe, O-sensei's was trying to express.  
            From a universal point of view, the expansion that gives birth to all things is infinite compassion, the kototama of A. The Point from which it expands is the root of wisdom, the kototama of I. This is the real meaning of AI. It is compassion, never withheld, and forever overflowing. It is balanced by wisdom, the ability to stand in the center, using skillful means rather than force, to alleviate suffering in the world. 
            The essential point to grasp here is that these two forces are completely interdependent. Compassion (fire) and Wisdom (water) can’t exist, or function successfully, without each other. Attempting to help others, without having clear vision yourself, you may create more problems than you resolve. More misplaced however, is wisdom without compassion. It is dead and cold. Unable to maintain its balance, even potential genius may drift into insanity.
             In order to utilize the gifts of wisdom and compassion that lie at the very root of our nature, we must train both body and mind. We cannot be said to understand the message of Aikido if we are unable to manifest it in our physical practice. In the words of the founder, "Aikido is the superlative way to practice the kototama." Especially at this difficult time, let us keep our spirits high, and keep moving forward towards the goal of AI