Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Osensei and Lao Tsu

I've been having lots of fun recently interpreting my aikido practice in relationship to t'ai chi ch'üan (henceforth "tai chi") principles. The more I try it, the more I'm sure there is nothing unusual about this approach.

Aikido is littered with allusions to tai chi and Taoism. Both on the physical level of the waza and the philosophical level.

Osensei's commentaries makes a lot more sense when viewed from the viewpoint of the Tao. I've been reading Osensei's quotes for a few years, Taoist philosophy for a lot longer than that, yet I never made the connection until I tried tai chi.

Almost at random, I quote here from Osensei and from the Tao De Jing, written by Lao Tzu or the "Old Master."

"All things, material and spiritual, originate from one source and are related as if they were one family. The past, present, and future are all contained in the life force. The universe emerged and developed from one source, and we evolved through the optimal process of unification and harmonization."

Lao Tzu:
Empty the self completely;
Embrace perfect peace.
The world will rise and move;
Watch it return to rest.
All the flourishing things
Will return to their source.

Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything.

Lao Tzu:
The sage experiences without abstraction,
And accomplishes without action;
He accepts the ebb and flow of things,
Nurtures them, but does not own them,
And lives, but does not dwell.

All the principles of heaven and earth are living inside you. Life itself is the truth, and this will never change. Everything in heaven and earth breathes. Breath is the thread that ties creation together. When the myriad variations in the universal breath can be sensed, the individual techniques of the Art of Peace (aikido) are born.

Lao Tzu:
There was something undefined and complete, existing before Heaven and Earth. How still it was, how formless, standing alone and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere with no danger of being exhausted. It may be regarded as the mother of all things. Truthfully it has no name, but I call it Tao.

Consider the ebb and flow of the tide. When waves come to strike the shore, they crest and fall, creating a sound. your breath should follow the same pattern, absorbing the entire universe in your belly with each inhalation. Know that we all have access to four treasures: the energy of the sun and moon, the breath of heaven, the breath of earth, and the ebb and flow of the tide.

Lao Tzu:
The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

Those who practice the Art of Peace must protect the domain of Mother Nature, the divine reflection of creation, and keep it lovely and fresh. Warriorship gives birth to natural beauty. The subtle techniques of a warrior arise as naturally as the appearence of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Warriorship is none other than the vitality that sustains all life.

At first I tried to find quotes that can be directly compared with each other, but I realized that was trying to exert a force upon the process that wasn't necessary...

If I ever feel really industrious, there is a paper in here somewhere.

If you have not
Linked yourself
To true emptiness,
You will never understand
The Art of Peace.

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