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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Nov 12, 2009

"Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery.
Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice.
The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love

Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei

The month of November begins with All Saints Day followed by All Souls Day, on the 1st and the 2nd. Remembrance Day on the 11th also conjures up the spectres of past sacrifices.

Saints, ordinary people, and brave soldiers: it is a month of reflection on death, while honouring the deceased. The three days honouring the dead are linked with a common thread; each life once bravely practiced and defended beliefs and devotions that eventually defined their lives in history: the self-sacrifice of the soldier, the quiet stoic martyrdom of a saint, the memory of a cherished loved one.

The Saint chooses to live a transcended life, as a conscious disciple of his/her God, despite the allure of the physical world. The ordinary person, makes choices and lives out a life that serves their situation. The soldier serves to honour, defend, and protect his/her country.
As from the quote from O Sensei, all follow the path from loyalty, to bravery, to love.

In varying degrees, and levels, each live out a life of specific disciplines that serves to help fulfil their chosen purpose.  This requires loyalty and devotion to that discipline and belief.  Each path is a choice, even if it does not seem so.  And the fulfilment of each path requires bravery in varying degrees.

In all the fun and desire to master techniques in Aikido, we sometimes ignore the mundane discipline and etiquette that are strictly observed in the Dojo. Choosing the path of Aiki, the student takes on a practice that moulds the practitioner from the inside.  This inner harmony is manifested outwardly in the ability to execute each potentially lethal technique fluidly and calmly.

Being a physically demanding martial art, this is sometimes overlooked.  Within a controlled environment, while mindful of death, Aikido prepares the student for life by the practise of appropriate behaviour, action, and judgement to ensure harmony with everything and everyone.  These become habit through repeated practice in the Dojo.  The habit eventually spills out into daily life; living life with respect, gratitude, purposefully, and without regret.

It begins by ensuring that each step you take in your footwork, each cut you deliver, each hold and lock you reach for, each turn you execute, each throw you reveal, each greeting you offer, and each bow you perform during practice is done with focus, clarity, and precision.  It is a choice and decision that has to be made by the student, and then followed through diligently.  Even sitting upright silently and attentively has its purpose.

Eventually, it will influence how meticulous you are with your work, how accountable you are with your time, friends, family, and colleagues, how you interact and relate to everyone, and so on...

Before you know it, when it is time for you to leave this world, you leave with no regrets, having lived purposefully, dynamically, and courageously; surrounded with loved ones who respect, cherish, and treasure the time you have had with them.

See you in the Dojo soon.

n peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright November 2009: Rafael Oei)

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