©™ 2003 - 2007: OWH International - Ueshiba Aikido : Victoria, Canada
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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Jan 15, 2007

"One should be prepared to receive an attack
and stare death right in the face
in order to illumine the path."

O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba

Thank you for a wonderful first week of practice. It was a great start to the new year.

I had an excellent trip back to Singapore, practised with my Sensei, and attended my sister's wedding in Melbourne, Australia - in Victoria, down under. It was a long, restful, and enjoyable vacation. Our vacation ended with a visit to the "Body Worlds" exhibition at the Vancouver Science Centre. Walking through the exhibition of perfectly preserved bodies and body parts, I was struck by how meaningful it was. It is interesting how an exhibition of actual dead bodies and dead tissue can be a celebration of life, and a testimony of how perfect creation, or life, is. And so the quote above, from O Sensei, seemed appropriate.

By facing death constantly, warriors like the samurai strived to live meaningful lives. The paradox of practising a deadly art to preserve life echoes how, to some, the awareness and acceptance of death expands the perception of life. On another level, it can also mean being prepared enough to calmly face the challenges of life which, paradoxically, can also reveal a way through it. In both cases, a pathway is "illumined".

Preparation involves the anticipation of things to come. A reference to a famous quote, about not looking back as soon as one's hand is on the plough, comes to mind. Then wisdom comes from people like Gene Wilder, as Willy Wonka in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (1971), who urged his guests,: "You can't get out backwards. You've got to go forwards to go back. Better press on."

The relentless march of life moves us ever forward. As we begin another year, we will inevitably meet new people, and say an appreciative goodbye to some. We may want to look back with regret, but that will distract us from what is coming up next. All we can do is press on, maximise the life we have together, and enrich all with whom we come into contact with. That is "Ai-Ki". That is harmonising with the ultimate force, life.

Have a most wonderous and miraculous year ahead.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright January 2007: Rafael Oei)

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