Just published in Aikiweb, the second installment of the Hiden Diaries of Morihei Ueshiba. You cannot miss this one!
Third Auspicious Day of the Sixth Moon
Got up and went up to the roof to greet the Sun Goddess. She was still feeling sore about Susano O, her wayward brother, and at one point threatened to go back behind the Stone Door. Since we are still celebrating her original August Exit (recorded in her memoirs, which our non-Japanese students know as the Records of Ancient Matters) and are applying the lessons from this August Exit to our own training, as we constantly strive to keep the Three Worlds in harmony, I was—luckily—able to persuade her against taking this drastic step. I reminded her of what had happened the first time: all the myriad calamities that beset the Central Land of Reed Plains like swarms of flies in the fifth moon.
I saw it was obvious that Amaterasu needed to get tougher, so I told her about the men who walk into the jaws of tigers. When she asked why they would do such a dumb thing, I realized that she had no clue about IHTBF, so I put her straight about this. Heck, even the kami sometimes need to go back to basics and put their supposed abilities to the test! I think the Chinese call this tiger-jaw-walker training ‘internal', but I never heard Master Takeda use this term: he always used to talk about aiki. And the thing is, he never taught it to anybody. Anyway, this training is what sorts out the men from the boys, who find that all they can do is mew like housecats. I think people can guess which training leads to better results. I was concerned that she was losing the ability to discern: what is more useful and more martial in keeping the kami in their place, and there was a chance she could spend a few millennia chasing a dead end. So I suggested she do some serious tiger-jaw-walker training, learn to uproot a few heavenly trees and what-not, so that she could stand up to Susano-O with more backbone, sorry, more aiki. And, especially, learn the POWER of INTENT.
As well as toughening up, it was obvious that Amaterasu needed cheering up, so I informed her that the first installment of the diary that I decided to share with the world had gone down quite well, especially among our beloved American students. But there was some speculation down in the human world about the person I used as my messenger. I think people have to realize that the kami move in DEEPLY mysterious ways. I assured her that the person I used had no clue whatever about the deeper aspects of this unique mission: to assist the Aiki Avatar in the work of harmonizing the Three Worlds. I have learned by experience that humans actually spend a long time debating about the meaning of harmony—but to little avail. As well as doing tiger-jaw-walker training, they should really learn our wonderful native language and explore the full range of possibilities offered by the phrase Aiki is Aiki.
Only the other day, I chanced upon a discussion about the definition of aiki. People were disputing as usual. When will they ever learn? Of course, we Japanese have had our share of disputes. I still remember the dispute between Kisshomaru and Koichi T. Now that was a dispute worthy of the name. Talk about two queens in the same beehive...
As for aiki, what is the English phrase I have heard somewhere recently? Hidden in Plain Sight. Very well put. That reminds me of another phrase, used by some English writer named Shaw, I think, who was almost contemporary with me. What was it he said? Those who can, do; those who can't, teach. Absolutely. This phrase is very applicable to the martial arts and especially to my new budo.
I think that Aiki Avatar is a very good phrase and the initials AA are simply brilliant. For those who don't know much English, both begin with the first letter of the English alphabet, which is the primal sound AAHHH and has a very long history. Doesn't quite measure up to SUUU, though. It doesn't have any kokyu, which is what was lacking in the martial arts before Deguchi Sensei came along and taught us all to do chinkon kishin. Ah, I do miss Deguchi Sensei and his chinkon trances. The thing is, you never knew whether he was in a trance or not: it was all the same to him.
But I've heard that AA also has other meanings, mainly to do with automobiles and drinking too much alcohol… Not that this is a problem with many of our deshi. Only the other day I encountered a young deshi with a bandaged hand—I think he was one of Kisshomaru's deshi. I expected to be told that he had been testing the effectiveness of aikido techniques outside the dojo, as any deshi worth the name ought to do, but he looked down at his feet and said he had a fight with a door, on his way out of a bar. Resolved to tell Kisshomaru to warn his deshi to be more discreet about what they were up to outside the dojo. I am all for showing the effectiveness of my techniques—and, Heavens, I had a long enough dispute with Master Takeda about reducing the number and cutting out those that were ineffective in maintaining the proper balance with the Three Worlds, but the deshi should pay much more attention to the essential distinction between omote and ura and not fight battles they can't win. (That's a good phrase. Who first said that, I wonder? I think it was some Chinese general… Trust the Chinese to have thought of it first. However, we Japanese are noted for borrowing foreign ideas and greatly improving on them. I will use it in my discourses.)
In view of the recent movie about the blue people with long noses and tails, perhaps Aiki Avatar is a phrase best not used too often—perhaps only to the members of Deguchi Sensei's and Goi Sensei's groups. I am sure that both Deguchi Sensei and Goi Sensei will understand everything about avatars. Actually, Deguchi Sensei sometimes shocked people by using his Male Member exactly like a tail: perhaps he had already seen the movie in another life and had noted the contents. That would be typical of the unpredictable Deguchi Sensei: he always did everything ‘back to front', so to speak.
Took breakfast with She Who Must Be Obeyed. Enough said. In fact she didn't say anything, beyond telling me to get ready for another trip to Iwama. Of course, I retorted that I AM ALWAYS READY, but my words yet again appeared to fall on stony ground.
Encountered Kisshomaru and discussed demonstrations. I myself have no time for them, really, unless they are in front of His Imperial Majesty. For my assistants never manage to align their ukemi to illuminate fully the divine quality of my techniques. Yukawa was quite good and Tamura sometimes came close, but Kisshomaru always tells me that we have to keep up with the times and I gather my grandson Moriteru thinks the same way. I understand that they now do a big demonstration once a year just down the road from His Imperial Majesty's palace. The place is opposite the Yasukuni Shrine, where the souls of many of our dear wartime students are enshrined. One year I took a short break from my work up here on the Floating Bridge of Heaven and had a peep at the demonstration. I was quite stunned and asked myself: What on earth is going on? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY AIKIDO? Actually, I once found myself shouting this in the dojo and everyone was cowering at the edges of the mat avoiding eye contact. All except Kisshomaru, who sat there wiping his nose on his sleeve. I must talk to his mother about this.
Set out for Iwama. Arrived at Ueno Station without incident, but had an urgent message from Deguchi Sensei advising me not to take the first train. Thinking the advice was probably connected with Amaterasu and the Stone Door, I quickly left the train and returned to the platform, using a special technique that Master Takeda perfected. I think our non-Japanese students call this ‘moving without being seen' and, needless to say, it worked very well with my deshi, whom I found later, wandering up and down the platform in a panic. I came up silently behind him and gently bopped him on the head. "Aaagghhh," he said. "I didn't see you." "Absolutely." I responded, with just the right combination of gentleness and severity necessary for an effective pedagogical encounter.
Went outside to the shrine before practice and encountered a statue—of myself. Where on earth had this come from? Summoned Isoyama for an explanation. I know that after Saito's passing things had changed, but another statue, especially this one, with my beard perfectly trimmed and skirt perfectly pleated, was not at all what I expected. Of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed would like it, but I think it makes me look too much like that dictator in Russia, or is it North Korea? He has more hair than I have, but it seems artificial and it is obvious he's never done a day of serious training in his whole life.
Had another long discussion with Amaterasu, who had been doing some very serious tiger-jaw-walker training and felt much better, but she still had problems with INTENT. She couldn't direct it where she wanted to. Of course, she has to give it time and put in the mileage. She was very concerned about her offspring (and my favorite deity) Masakatsu Agatsu. She thought he might fall into Susano O's clutches. Actually, she told me off for shortening his name and emphasized that his name was Masakatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi Ame no Oshi Ho Mimi no Mikoto. She thought the rest of his name would be forgotten. Well, it was obvious I had to put her right about this. For a start, his name was a mouthful and even remembering it would be way beyond the mental resources of our dear American students. And that was just the pronunciation. As for the meaning, we all know that our august national language is far better equipped to exploit the rich resources of such a fine name, but what to do with the dull English version: ‘True Victory My Victory Heavenly Deity Ruling the Rice Ears'? I learned a lot from our foreign deshi, especially the Big American. He taught me about slogans and sound bites, for he used to use them all the time. So I laid it on the line. "Amaterasu," I said, dropping the formal bits and speaking frankly, kami to kami, "You need to get clear about my students, especially the ones who walk into the jaws of tigers. True Victory My Victory Heavenly Deity Ruling the Rice Ears doesn't DO anything, but True Victory is Self Victory, which is how the professor who wears flowery skirts and chants kotodama translates it? Well, it GRABS people. It shows their INTENT. It makes them feel part of the team." (Who said that, I wonder? I think it was a rather nasty man who used to club people over the head with a baseball bat during dinner. He should have used one of my favorite weapons: nothing to match a spear or bayonet. Of course, these wouldn't work in confined spaces like dinner tables. But this is where you need oshi-uchi. No, that doesn't sound right. Oki-uchi, okichi-uchi, okoshi-uchi… Damn these English spelling rules! ...)
My, it's tough being an AA. As somebody else once said, "I need a vacation." Strangely enough, I believe he was an avatar as well: at least, he behaved like one. But he, or perhaps ‘it', was a much lower-level, mechanical, sort. I believe they opened him up and all they found were a few nuts and bolts and something called a CPU. I don't know what they thought this thing was, but to me CPU is obvious: it means Central Peripheral Unity, or, the Three Worlds in constant harmony.