My Past Way of Budo
And Other Essays
Mikoto Masahilo Nakazono
101 pages. ISBN 9780971667402. Sound charts included
A book of essays, written by Mikoto Masahilo Nakazono (1918 - 1994). Sensei Nakazono studied Aikido directly under O Sensei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, for many years in Japan. Sensei had the idea to bring Aikido to the rest of the world. He opened the first dojo outside of Japan in Singapore. He was martial arts consultant to the government of South Vietnam. He then went to France. After learning of the Kototama Principle, Sensei changed his understanding of Aikido, and his medical work. When he left to come to America, he had over 40,000 students of Aikido and natural therapy. These essays tell of his application of this principle to all of his life.
"When someone attracts a following by giving a symbolic explanation of what he, himself, has grasped in a priori (spiritual or soul world) and is satisfied with such a state of affairs – this seeker is as yet a beginner. The one who is at the end of his grasping of a priori and still suffers because he is not able to hand it over to others – he is the real seeker."
Mikoto Masahilo Nakazono
I began my studies by practicing Kendo at the age of six with my uncle. At twelve I started Judo practice and, at about nineteen, I began Karate. I studied the lance and many other forms of Budo* and finally Aikido, which I studied with O Sensei Ueshiba, who is now deceased. When I met O Sensei, I believed his was the highest form of Budo.
Since childhood, I had heard the words "Budo spirit" a thousand, million times over and I tried to discover what this meant, asking all of my teachers about it. No one could give me a satisfactory answer. The response was usually, "Don't talk about it - practice! Your exercise will give you the answer." Another response, a reprimand, would be, "Each time before practice, decide to die. There is no need to ask such a question." I tried to follow these instructions, but no answer came to my inner questions. I then studied all kinds of books on Budo that were written in ancient times. I finally got a rough answer; the meaning of Budo is to die. That is why, although I often had broken or dislocated bones or would lose consciousness during a competition, my physical pain or difficulties never stopped or discouraged me. Pain was an ever present reality despite my inner resolve.
At the initial shock of a bone breaking or a bullet penetrating the body, there is no feeling of pain. The mind unconsciously concentrates, but afterwards, when the mind returns to normal, the pain is terrible. I had such experiences many times and, in the beginning, I felt that pain or suffering could overcome by mental control. This kind of transcendence I thought equivalent to what Zen and Budo teachings call the void state. My new perception of Budo was that its purpose was the continued extension of transcending mind. With this new outlook, others automatically began to call me "teacher". I was obliged to explain to them what I had studied and experienced ; younger people very happily studied and practiced with me. However, somewhere deep inside there remained a dark hole or void and as I got older its size increased.
My Budo practice, the meaningless experiences of the war, leaving me with a kind of criminal sense, and feeling this dark void, all culminated in my becoming a perfect nihilist. This was happening around the time when World War II was coming to close; I was twenty-nine years old and in the middle of the Indonesian jungles. The nihilism I was experiencing was antagonistic to my physical life and the society as well.
Although I was totally disinterested in actual life, the inner desire to fill this hole was ever present. It led me to the Shugendo teacher, Sakai Sensei. Shugendo was originally an ancient Shinto exercise to grasp the Kototama Principle. It was later changed into a Buddhist system after the principle was hidden. Many Japanese today believe they are a religious sect. Sakai Sensei addresses Jizo Bosatsu as a symbolic god; a very special symbol, not a god of Shinto or a Buddha. All other named gods or Buddhas are carefully kept in shrines, but this one is different. Statues of Jizo Bosatsu are placed throughout Japan along the roadways and they are as playmates to passing children. When I first met Sakai Sensei he immediately said to me, before I had opened my mouth, "Your ancestors' souls are not quiet, they have no base. If you have a statue of Jizo Bosatsu, this will be their place and they will become quiet. Then your future health and fortune will improve." I asked, "What is Jizo Bosatsu?" He answered, "It is a stone statue which symbolizes all souls which have manifested into the finite world and have now returned to the infinite world. This includes humans, plants, stones, etc., anything which once existed in the limited world. Some happily returned to the infinite but some wished to remain behind, still attached to the finite world. It is for those who remain behind that this statue can offer a space to stay happily in the finite world." This explanation satisfied me. At that time, my body was completely spoiled from the three years spent in the Indonesian jungles and, as I said, my spiritual condition was similar. Like a drowning man who will grasp at anything, I acquired a statue of Jizo Bosatsu as Sakai Sensei had suggested.
At this time, I was studying with Ueshiba Sensei to learn the spiritual base or source from which he had created Aikido. I was also studying the diet principles of Ohsawa Sensei, the founder of macrobiotics. All of these studies and practices greatly added to my growth, yet still my inner void or hole was not filled. My suffering continued as I questioned the reason for it. To society, I was considered a teacher, but inside the lack of complete confidence created a terribly heavy life. Other teachers seemed perfectly content and concentrated on their work and I wondered about their abilities. I continued this difficult life until I finally came to Ogasawara Sensei's Kototama Principle. My age was approaching fifty.
Looking back, the first fifty years of my life were like a spiritual odyssey which had finally brought me to the country of the Bluebird*. With my understanding of the Kototama, my view of life turned around 180 degrees. What I had grasped up to this time, that which had seemed so meaningful to me, I now saw as very small and insignificant. I saw that what I Valued was also the cause of my confusion because I was operating in a world that was only relative. From that moment, my Budo underwent great changes. The practice of overcoming physical and spiritual obstacles changed to one of acceptance towards all kinds of difficulties.
This is no easier than the other way; in fact, it is a much more difficult practice. To accept, one must stand outside of this finite world or there can be no acceptance of it. With the Kototama as a mirror, one can see where spiritual and physical difficulties are being created. Why would one wish to conquer these difficulties? The relationship of one's lower dimensions to a "fighting" mind can be seen at those times. If the origin of difficulties and the source of this "fighting" mind can be seen, and we can accept these things as natural, then we can stand away from them with a perfectly peaceful mind.
When bones break, there is physical pain; when a brother or sister dies, there is profound grief. To try to forget this pain or sadness with a fighting mind, regardless of how much power such a method creates, ultimately cheats our self. This practice becomes habitual and we dig our private hells with it. Because we live in it, we cannot see our own everyday hell world.
There is only one absolute a priori life-will of beings, I, which creates the human body and invests it with physical power, WI. Ueshiba O Sensei tried to explain this with the words "Ki" and "Ko-Kyu", but I could not clearly grasp this from his explanation. I remember that he, too, was not fully clear about this because he followed the Ohmoto Shinto sect. Between the a priori human life-will, I, and the human body's power, WI, there are eight motive powers or vibrations. These he grasped instinctively and wanted to manifest them through Budo movement, thus founding Aikido. However, the Ohmoto sect, as with all other Shinto sects, does not purely transmit the Kototama Principle. That is why he could not exactly explain with words what he could grasp in a priori.
In reference to "Ki" and "Ko-Kyu", "Ki" is already within WI and then expands with movement as "Ko-Kyu", but "Ki" and "Ko-Kyu" imply a manifestation of physical power. This is not a clear explanation of I and WI from the viewpoint of the Kototama Principle. On this point, O Sensei, himself, had some inner confusion. It is at this point that all spiritual and religious seekers finally have difficulty. They can grasp it but without the Kototama Principle they have no way of transmitting it to others.
When someone attracts a following by giving a symbolic explanation of what he, himself, has grasped in a priori, spirit or soul world, and is satisfied with such a state of affairs, this seeker is as yet a beginner. The one who is at the end of his grasping of a priori and still suffers because he's not able to hand it over to others is the real seeker.
As one seriously searches the self and begins to know about it, there develops a deep sense of insecurity, a terrible kind of void feeling which creates fear. Fear automatically gives rise to an attitude of guarded attention, a fighting mind that needs to control. Many leaders in society resort to tricky words and techniques in order to captivate people with their charisma while they dig a deeper and larger hole within themselves. The Budo practicant has this same kind of fear in the very depths of himself as he develops his expertise. He needs his own satisfaction as well as corroboration from others. From my past experience, to improve physical strength and Budo techniques, one must fight to conquer one's physical and spiritual obstacles. However, no matter how far we progress, we can never find a perfect solution for ourself. Physical power and technical intelligence improve but if we seriously watch our inner activity, if we wish to be faithful to ourself, we see the hole getting bigger in proportion to that improvement. It's allright if at this point we can reconcile ourselves to it but I absolutely could not accept it. I couldn't use such cheating words as "that's life!" Hardest of all, there was no place to run.
1. Budo: Bu - physical movement; Do - Tao, Logos. The true way of physical action exactly follows the activity of a priori Life Will. This definition was later narrowed to apply only to the martial arts of the Samurai period of Japan. The goal of their exercise was to open up to their highest human capacity. Today, people misunderstand this to mean self-defense or a sportive activity.
2. Coming from Scandinavian mythology.