MORIHEI UESHIBA - the founder of Aikido
O'Sensei's personal horoscope
He was a famous teacher and a master of martial arts. Some even regard him as the greatest that has ever lived. Whatever impression he had left as a warrior and a martial artist, Morihei Ueshiba was above all a devoted seeker of the true essence of martial arts. Led by the realisation that the divine expresses itself in each and every thing in existence, he had crowned the years spent in his search with aikido – an original and unique martial art, and even more than that, an art form designed to lead its practitioner towards inner harmony and ultimately – love. In spite of its relatively recent birth in the mid twentieth century, aikido immediately singled itself out from the multitude of martial art forms. Its outstanding blend of technical and spiritual elements, ingrained into its very foundation by its founder, presents an instrument and a vehicle for self-development to all the future generations: “If you understand aikido, you will understand the purpose of the Universe – you will know yourself…”
In the following text I will attempt to unveil the hidden factors in the creation of aikido and in so doing reflect on its original meaning, by looking at some of the key astrological elements that have shaped and influenced its originator, his life, his ideas…
In search of the essence of martial arts
Morihei Ueshiba was born on December 14th, 1883, in the sign of Sagittarius, with his Ascendant in the sign of Aquarius. The symbol of Ascendant, depicting “The two swords crossed and bound with a wreath of laurels” has shown that his life path will be connected with the ancient samurai tradition, while the Sun's powerful influence will lead him, through the development of his talents and his potential, towards attaining the very highest of all achievements – enlightenment.
If one was to look at Ueshiba's childhood alone, one would be very hard pushed to predict that such a child would grow up to stand amongst the greatest of martial arts masters. Ueshiba was born in a farming family as one of five children, in an area of Wakayama Prefecture now known as Tanabe (the island of Honshu). Due to his fragile health and frequent spells of illness, young Ueshiba used to spend a lot of his time indoors reading books. He would to go to a near by Buddhist monastery for his primary school education and for some time he even entertained a thought of becoming a priest, an idea much supported by his mother Yuki.
Being the only son in the family, he had grown very close to his father Yoroku. In his attempt to strengthen a young and frail Morihei, Yoroku used to take him swimming and sumo wrestling and tell him stories about his ancestors, who were renowned samurai. Morihei's father, who was a respected member of the local council as well as a successful land owner, managed to achieve a very important role during that period. By being receptive to his father's guidance and advice, thanks to the position of the Sun in the tenth house, Ueshiba's interest in the martial arts continued to grow, while a regular practice of meditation continued to occupy an important place in his daily life.
In his youth, Moon square Uranus used to bring him unexpected twists and turns, showing in the frequent changes of residence. After finishing the high school he worked briefly as a tax office employee. Soon it become clear that this type of work was not for him, so he made his way to Tokyo to try his luck in the sales business. He was seventeen years old. On his arrival in the capital, he was immediately faced with an infinite range of opportunities for growth and development. He began to practice jujutsu (of the Tenjin Shin'yo-ryu Jujutsu lineage) under the tutelage of his first teacher Tokusaburo Tozawa. Shortly after he had moved again, this time to the town of Sakai, to study fencing (Yagyu Shinkage Ryu). In the fifteen years that were to follow, Ueshiba visited many places, met many teachers and mastered all of the present jujutsu styles, as well as judo and kendo...
The sextile between Mars and Moon refers to his boundless appetite for martial arts. In them he saw, at least in the beginning phases of his search, the best way for channeling his aparently inexhaustable energy and for strengthening the body. However, horoscope actually speaks of a much more significant consequences of his daily practises. Since the full Moon was in the sign of Gemini on the day of his birth, it had a task to bring Ueshiba some degree of discontent, as well as the need to keep mobile and to maintain a level of physical dynamism. So, the best way for him to harmonise these restless emotions and thoughts and bring peace to his mind, was to devote wholeheartedly to training. This aspect points to the quality he was to experience quite early in his practice - it related to the inner rather than the outer benefits, manifesting in greater concentration and mental clarity. The influence of the intercepted sign of Pisces in the first house would in time bring about in Morihei the need to delve deep within him, and would ultimately lead him towards the total transformation and self-realisation. However, many years were still to go by before his arrival at the most suitable way to express his vision of the true way of the warrior.
Morihei Ueshiba possessed an extraordinary self-discipline and the ability to entirely devote himself to an object of his interest. His natal chart also points to determination and great courage, while the position of Saturn in the third house signifies his innate tendency towards being a man of action rather than words. In youth he often expressed impatience and a sort of sharp manner in his communication. At the same time aspects of Uranus to the Moon and the Sun have brought along a whole host of life's changes, paving the way towards his spiritual maturing, which in turn had had a reflection on his relationship with his immediate surroundings. Eventually, in the second half of his life, he shown great serenity of mind and love towards all whom he met, bringing them into a state of harmony with his sheer presence. Astrologically speaking, aspects of asceticism were not very prominent in his life and were for the most part reflected in his disciplined spirit and considerably underdeveloped interest in sensory pleasures and popular entertainment. The position of the Moon in the fourth house had brought with it a need for expression through marriage and family, so at the age of twenty, the man later referred to by thousands as O'Sensei, entred into marriage with Itogawa Hatsu, a girl from his home town of Tanabe. In the course of their married life, Itogawa and Morihei brought four children into the world. Due to Uranus being placed in the seventh house, Ueshiba's family life was not a peaceful one, which was reflected in the fact that his work and other commitments had often forced him to be apart from his wife and children. For example, only some months after their marriage ceremony, he was required to go to war to in Manchuria, where he fought in the already raging conflict between Russia and Japan. Two years later, when the war had ended, he was offered a place in a Military Academy, but in spite of the planet of war - Mars that was placed in the sixth house forming a trine with the Sun in the tenth house - a combination that created a strong pull towards an army career – what has had an even greater influence on Ueshiba at that time was the North Node, positioned in the eighth house - the house of inner transformation. The experience of war, however, had initiated some very strong changes in him bringing him face to face with these questions: What is death and what is the purpose of violence? During that period, the Neptune aspect was qualifying South Node, bringing forward the inclination and yearning towards inner harmony and the realisation that the path of war is actually not his life's path.
And yet, in the following years Ueshiba continued to practise martial arts. Remaining true to his continuing efforts to support his son, his father Yoroku decided to build Ueshiba his own dojo
on the family estate, where he had invited the famous judo teacher, Koichi Takagi. Even though he applied himself earnestly to the practise of judo, Ueshiba was also working on mastering many other martial art forms. This variety of interests was brought about by the square between Mercury and Uranus, which was pointing towards his great ability to master any martial arts technique, but also his actual need to direct his efforts across several different areas. In time, Ueshiba had learned to persevere in the practises and that had led him towards the true progress. This was also verified by the sextile between Jupiter and Saturn that shows that he had always expressed great admiration and respect for his teachers, who were all renowned and famous masters in their respective fields: “While I was visiting different schools, I have never challenged the teachers of those dojos. Person responsible for running of the dojo has many burdens on their shoulders so it is very difficult for them to show the full range of their abilities. I would pay a teacher the respect that's due and aim to learn from him. And if I would judge that my abilities were superior to his, I would still pay him due respect and return home.”
The influence of Sagittarius had brought a great breadth into Ueshiba's ability to consider and accept different ideas, as well as a pull towards distant lands. Being keen to acquire his own property assets and to financially secure his family, at the age of twenty seven he leaves with his wife for the remote and largely uninhabited island of Hokkaido, where he took an active role along side other settlers in the needed works such as forest clearance, agricultural land preparation, building of homes and amenities, schools, temples, etc. Ueshiba had managed to acquire a large estate during this period, which had also been marked by births of his daughter Matsuko and son Takemori. His martial arts practise continued to grow and develop also during this period, which first and foremost reflected in his ability to harmonise and quieten his mind, through surrendering to and identifying with the training process, which in turn led him towards perfecting the techniques and developing his energetic as well as spiritual potential further. His time in Hokkaido had also brought about a very significant meeting and connection with the reviver and teacher of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu, Takeda Sokaku. Studying under Takeda sensei has taught him, and eventually helped further crystallise, certain crucial elements of martial arts. There is a strong opinion poll among the historians and scholars of martial arts that considers Takeda's to have been the major influence on Morihei Ueshiba, meaning that Takeda was his main teacher. However, looking at all the elements from an astrological point of view, it becomes clear that, even though he played an important role in Ueshiba's development and maturing as a martial artist, Takeda's hand lay in helping Ueshiba complete and round off the already existing and established body of knowledge. Since that period, Ueshiba had gradually started to incorporate and apply different elements into his training, eventually giving rise to an entirely new form of martial art. Greatly helpful attribute in this was his excellent analytical sense as well as his ability to hone in during practise on those technical elements which were directly related to initialising and channelling of energy. As the influence of his Ascendant in Aquarius and that of Uranus, the planet of change and innovation, became increasingly prominent, Ueshiba begun to realise that he could attain a more perfect form of martial art. He then started looking into the actual causes of various deficiencies within the martial arts in general, eventually realising that faults did not lie within any particular technique or a system, but rather with the attitude and the approach to the martial arts in general. These observations were a product of his own self-development, and that was exactly where his objection was coming from and the rejection of the notion that the martial arts, be they defensive or offensive, are taught and practised purely for the purpose of inflicting pain.
About ten years later he received the news from Tanabe that his father's life was drawing to a close. This prompted him to return to the Ueshiba family estate to be by his father's side during his last days. On the way back to Tanabe they stopped in the place called Ayabe, which was a centre of a neo-Shinto Omoto-kyo religion. Attracted to the ideas and beliefs of this spiritual school and wanting to get more familiar with its teachings, Ueshiba decided to buy a property on the banks of the holy mountain near Ayabe and move his home yet again. At this time, astrologically speaking, at the age of thirty seven, Ueshiba was facing a very difficult period. It was characterised by the progressed Mars entering the conjunction with Uranus, which has not only manifested through his father's death that year, but also through the loss of his first born son Takemori, and finally the loss of a newly born second son Kuniharu. In spite of being deeply affected by such a high rate of loss of his closest loved ones, Ueshiba's spirit remained strong. Instead of giving way to despair, he decided to direct his energies towards prayer, all the while maintaining his martial arts practice as well as looking after and ensuring his family was taken care of. The heavy astrological aspects of this period have had a positive influence on Ueshiba's further spiritual development after all, in the sense that they seemed to have given him the necessary impetus for overcoming the obstacles to awakening his mind and for a greater ability to surrender to God. The time that followed was for Ueshiba family a much happier one. In year 1921 a fourth and final child was born, their son Kisshomaru. Many years passed still before young Kisshomaru Ueshiba took on his father's legacy in the vast field of martial arts.
Seven years spent in Ayabe, between the age of 37 and 44, will prove to be crucial for Morihei's spiritual development. That time was accentuated by the positioning of Venus in Capricorn and by its correlating Sabian symbol:“Poised beneath mountain peaks a fire worshiper meditates facing East”, which shows Ueshiba's connection to oriental spiritual practices and his sincerity in the search for the essence of his own existence. During this period, the influence of Venus and Neptune – planets related to the awakening of Love, had brought about in him a realisation that the divine is expressed in each and every thing, which further explains why he was so attracted to the Omoto-kyo religion that promotes harmony amongst all people. However, a deep sense of longing for realising the true essence of martial arts and a need to discover the real meaning of his own path was occupying him more and more: “I got interested in Budo (the Way of the Warrior) when I was 15 years old and so I visited various fencing and jujutsu teachers in many different provinces. I have mastered their schools' secrets, having spent several years with each. However, there was not one amongst them that would offer me a way into the true essence of budo and completely quench my soul's thirst. That is why I went knocking on the doors of various religious sects. Still, even there I was left wanting for that final, satisfying answer.”
Mutual reception of Jupiter and Sun imposes the conclusion that Ueshiba was considerably more talented than his teachers and that his search for the essence of budo through visiting all the different teachers and schools had left him with a feeling of constantly coming back to the beginning. All this had directed him to turn his mind inward and to realise that all the answers are within him alone. The position of Mars on the zodiac's degree of illumination reveals that he became aware of the divine within through his martial arts practise, and it was that that had brought him to the answer he was looking for all along: “”The way” (budo) means that we must become One with the Divine…”
Morihei Ueshiba was 42 when he became aware of his spiritual maturity. It was 1925. It was also the time transcendental planets had the greatest number of aspects with his Sun. He described his experience of enlightenment as follows: “As I was strolling through my garden I felt the Universe suddenly quake, and that a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed it into a golden one. At the same time my body became light as feather. I was able to understand the whispering of the birds, and was clearly aware of the mind of God, the creator of the universe. At that moment I understood: the source of budo is God's love - the spirit of loving protection for all beings... Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature…”
He concluded with, “…Tears of gratitude and joy streamed down my cheeks. I saw the entire earth as my home, and the sun, moon and stars as my intimate friends. All attachment to material things vanished”.
Having understood that, in his search for the true martial art, he had actually found God inside him and equally the beginning and an end of all techniques, Ueshiba realised that the essence of budo is not reflected in martial arts techniques, but in one's awareness of one's divine essence. Thus he discovered for himself that the path of ultimate ability includes becoming aware of Divine Love in oneself and in others and entering a state of emptiness of mind where there is no opponent: “In true budo, there is neither the opponent nor the enemy.”
This is why he kept pointing out that the “correct victory” (masakatsu agatsu) is the victory over oneself, meaning being able to overcome the obstacles in one's own mind: “Victory means overpowering one's own disharmonised mind. That is the completion of the highest mission you can ever be given to complete.”
Having founded aikido on these precepts, he was now facing a complex task of bringing all of his martial arts knowledge into a single unified form. This intense process lasted all together about sixteen years, right up to 1942, when aikido became officially registered in Japan's Ministry of Education, following which Ueshiba had entered into a state of complete stillness of the mind. During that period he opened a dojo in Ushigome, and then moved to Tokyo where he built the Kobukan dojo. In the meantime, he taught budo at the Naval Academy, and several years after he had set up a faculty for aikido studies in the Military Police Academy.
The uniqueness of looking at one's personal horoscope with its multitude of aspects is that it can reflect on the background of the entire range of particular and the unusual talents of a person. In this case it can help us by shedding light on all the hidden factors responsible for their shaping and bringing them into force to form the martial art form known as aikido. Ueshiba had a tremendous energetic potential and great ability to instigate, direct and transform the energy… His horoscope has many astrological factors that support this, although there is one that is worth isolating for its particular prominence and that is the link between his Sun and the galactic centre
, because it accentuates Ueshiba's gift for bringing the emptiness of mind into conscious presence: “If you connect your thoughts and desires with the Universe, your whole body will become one with it. You shall be able to stand in the centre of the Universe and elevate yourself from this world, which will then simply vanish.”
The strong influence of Uranus had brought him an insight into the form that is the most suitable for the ease of constitution and transformation of energy. This explains his choice of the spiral, or more precisely of the spiral movement, supporting its application as the basic principle in aikido techniques. Equally, the position of his Ascendant, Pluto and the Lunar Nodes on the 29th degree of the zodiac points to his potential for development of paranormal abilities, which would have enabled him to mentally see the energies and so to be able to accurately predict his partner's (attacker's) movements during practise or combat. Thanks to spiral development and the practise of aikido, Ueshiba had gradually developed and perfected his unusual talents. However, time and again he would say that his personal ability is neither unique nor limited to a selected few. Aware of the fact that every man and woman is manifesting the divine, he kept urging his students to strive towards realising the very essence of aikido and to follow and persevere on the path of self-knowledge: “It is not talent that one needs to conquer the power of thoughts in one's heart. The moment you overcome the delusion of “victory” and “defeat” you will realise the true meaning of things.”
The primary position and aspect of the exalted Jupiter in the heliocentric horoscope is to describe Ueshiba as being primarily a spiritual teacher, whose way just happened to be expressed through teaching aikido. In his own words: “The teacher is required to strengthen the spirit of inner self-search in his students…”
While teaching he was aware at all times of his student's obstacles to self-development and would have had a conscious effect in removing the respective energetic blockages. Sun in conjunction with a (fixed) “healing” star Rasalhague shows that his daily work with people not only lead to energetic harmonisation, but also to an overall improvement of their health. And yet, Ueshiba did not spend much time explaining all aspects of aikido. Instead he chose to teach his aikidokas
by example and so inspire them to press on in perfecting themselves. He would mostly refer to the basic aspects of aikido, but at the same time he'd continually stress the importance of overcoming one's own negative emotions and thoughts through turning the mind inwards: “In order to practise aikido correctly you must first calm your spirit and return to the Source; purify your body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness and desire.”
Due to his exceptional energetic abilities Ueshiba was capable of lifting objects of excessive weight with apparent ease and to stand immobile while several persons much larger than him would try to push him over. The reason he had chosen to use such displays was to show that his martial art is not based on physical strength, inspiring those present to contemplate other than just physical aspects of martial arts: “I was invited once to come to the school of budo in Toyama city by the few captains who taught there. They wanted to test their strength against mine. They were all very proud of their abilities saying things like: “I have lifted such-and-such weight,” or “I have smashed a piece of wood of such-and-such thickness,” and so on. I replied: “I don't have your strength, yet I can bring people of your size to the floor with my little finger. However, as it would make me sad to have to resort to throwing you about the place, I propose to do something different.” I've placed the tip of my right index finger on the edge of the table, extending my arm and I invited them to come over and lie over the arm on their bellies. One, two, three officers laid themselves over my arm while the others just stared in wonder. Still, I continued until all six were lying on top of each other across my arm and then I asked an officer standing next to me for a glass of water. As I was drinking the water, everyone around me kept exchanging incredulous looks.”
Ueshiba saw the divine in everyone. Since he was acutely aware of how the entire manifested world springs from within him, he had never expressed any antagonism or had caused a conflict, and all who would attack him he would defeat with ease and without injury. He used to apply energetic and spiritual components of aikido to get his partner (opponent) to give up the idea of an attack and see the futility of violence and conflict. The following is his account of an event that took place in the Military Police Academy where he had taught and is a witness to exactly this: “One evening while walking through the camp, I felt there was something odd happening. I felt something in the air. Suddenly, about 30 or so soldiers jumped out from all directions – out of the bushes and from the pits in the ground and surrounded me. All of them were armed with wooden swords and wooden rifles and so they begun their attack. But, since I was used to such situations it did not bother me much. While they were busy trying to hit me, I kept turning this way and that and as I was pushing them gently they kept falling like cut grass. Finally they all got tired. Anyway, the world is full of surprises.”
While applying the aikido techniques in his training and other martial encounters, Ueshiba would channel the energy through the spiral movements and thus enter a state of no mind which made him invincible, even when engaging more than just one or two people. Not hiding that his abilities are rooted in the serene and awakened mind, he would prompt his students to use aikido as a way to their own divine nature and so as a way of overcoming their attachments and limitations and finally attaining the supreme mastery: “I am calm whenever attack comes because I am unattached to both life and death. I leave everything to the Divine. Remaining unattached to life and death and redirecting one's mind towards the Divine needs to be maintained always - not only when attacked, but in everyday life also.”
Inhis lifetime, Ueshiba has gained enormous fame and respect. The position of the Sun in the tenth house backs that up. His ability would enthral even the very top martial artists. Having witnessed one of Ueshiba's aikido demonstrations, the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano, said: “For me, that is ideal budo… I would like to send some of our talented students to learn from Ueshiba.”
As the popularity of aikido grew, Ueshiba's efforts were channelled not only through demonstrating and spreading aikido as a particular form of martial arts, but also through presenting the essence of the Way of the Warrior as he saw it – founded on the idea of inner harmony and expressing love for all of creation. As the Kobukan dojo in Tokyo has gradually turned into Aikikai Foundation, the number of training centres across the country grew, as well as various branches of his Society for the promotion of martial arts. Ueshiba had his best students take aikido outside Japan. First it arrived in United States (Hawaii) and Europe (France). At that point he had already left the dealings and the running of Aikikai Foundation to his son and heir, Kisshomaru, but had continued to teach. Ueshiba received great honours from the Japanese government as the founder of aikido and also for his contributions and achievements in the field of martial arts in general – the Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon and the Order of the Rising Sun. In spite of this publicity and the fact that everyone who knew him or knew about him would refer to him as O'Sensei (Great Teacher), he remained aware at all times of his and everyone else's divine essence and thus he remained unattached to the idea of being special or famous: “For me there are neither disciples nor students. All are from the very start my friends and teachers. I think that every one of us is a saviour.”
From 1942 on, Ueshiba chose to settle in Iwama, some 100 kilometres from Tokyo. Here he would teach only a handful of selected students, and while not teaching he would usually spend time looking after
the garden with his wife Hatsu or would devote himself to his favourite hobby, calligraphy. Here he had had a dojo built as well as an Aiki shrine where he had regularly performed his morning and evening meditations. With his Moon in Gemini, he still travelled, contrary to the expectations of old age, visiting instructors and overseeing the working of central dojo in Tokyo. In spite of his age and thanks to daily exercise he maintained exceptional vitality, and his movements continued to give off an incredible level of agility. He gave his last public aikido demonstration at the age of 86 in January 1969. Only four months later he peacefully passed away in the early hours of the morning of 26th April 1969, sitting in a meditative posture. Following the funeral ceremony in Tanabe, Morihei Ueshiba was pronounced “a holy treasure of Japan” by the Japanese government.
Ueshiba's secret of aikido
Aikido was a result of Ueshiba's effort to express his awareness of the true essence of budo. Amongst the astrological elements which have shaped and influenced his forming of aikido, the most prominent was the link of his Sun with the galactic centre, in other words - the energetic centre of Milky Way, whose excessive gravitational pull causes all mater in our galaxy to revolve around it following a spiral movement. That is why ideas about the Universe, the energy and the spiral movement have occupied Ueshiba so strongly, leading him towards a deep understanding of these concepts and their practical application in a modern day martial art: “Aikido was born in accord with the principles and the functioning of the Universe. That is why it is a martial art of absolute victory.”
His ability to bring different elements into one harmonious whole is revealed through observing his natal chart from the position of the Sun
, which contains “the kite configuration” (diamond). This configuration in Ueshiba's chart connects harmoniously those planets which relate to action, movement, processes of constituting energy, principle of harmony, idea of Divine Love and of Infinite Knowledge, etc. Heliocentric horoscope thus shows how Ueshiba had managed to gain such deep realisations through his dedicated training, which in turn had a positive effect on his development and self-mastery in the martial arts field. The very process had lasted right until he had overcome all the limiting concepts and had finally grasped the true essence of his path, which had in turn led him to complete illumination and ultimately crystallised in the creation of aikido.
Bearing in mind the earlier point of how Ueshiba's natal chart reflects the elements of this martial art, it is possible by using astrological approach, to determine aikido's material, energetic and spiritual aspects more precisely. The material aspect of aikido is governed, so to speak, by the position of Jupiter and Mars in the sixth house, which amongst other things shows that Ueshiba had noted the importance of movement and of physical exercise for maintaining good health. This was what had inspired him to make aikido into a martial art which through establishing an inner balance has a beneficial effect on all the physiological processes. The best witness to having achieved this aim is Ueshiba himself, with his own exceptional physical vitality and agility that carried unwaveringly throughout his 86 year long life. Even though he subjected himself in his youth to a very rigorous, physically demanding martial arts training and had made his body very strong, all this in time grew less and less important to him, as his understanding and apperception of the true essence of budo deepened. The superior importance of attaining a greater agility over the raw muscle strength became very clear to him in the second half of his life and with it his physical appearance changed significantly. Having understood that the raw physical strength is not a crucial factor in this field, he devoted himself to exploring energetic and spiritual aspects of martial arts: “…Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.”
“A technique that is solely based on the physical strength is weak; a technique based on the spiritual strength is strong.”
Thus in forming aikido, he had adopted elements that were more apt to such a philosophy. In other words, he relinquished those based on strength and harshness, and focused on the ones rooted in softness and awareness during their execution. This search for the most suitable form of martial arts is to a large extent exemplified in the astrological elements of fire, earth, air and water. In the geocentric horoscope, the one reflecting the first half of Ueshiba's life, it is evident that earth and fire were the two dominant elements, while air was accentuated only very slightly and the planets related to the element of water were simply not there at all. In astrology, the earth element relates to the strength and stability, as is the case with any technique that's based on principles of grabbing, locking, leverage and generally speaking those designed to overcome an opponent on the ground, i.e. on tatami (the dojo floor mats). Hence his attraction during his youth days to a so called “earth techniques” in judo and jujutsu, but also those which were related to the element of fire, like the fast direct strikes and sword techniques. Being true to the astrological principle of the lack of any element in one's personal horoscope to result in one's search for it, Ueshiba gradually begun to turn towards the water and air elements which relate to speed combined with lightness, that manifest as the skill in avoiding the punches and an exceptional adaptability during movement. Ueshiba's heliocentric horoscope, which speaks of perfection and self-development, contains those elements missing from the geocentric one, meaning that his change of focus onto the “air and water” techniques had a very important role in shaping aikido into a form that balances all the elements.
In creating aikido, Ueshiba's advantage also came from his ability to spot a link between form, movement and energy. This is revealed in the degree his Sun had in relation to the image of the Zodiac: “A magician in priestly head-dress points his wand towards two interlaced triangles surmounted by third in gesture of conjuration.” Since this degree is related to the unveiling of the symbols, the geometric forms and their energetic aspects, Ueshiba's take on these is reflected in aikido movements which describe certain symbols and shapes. The said astrological image leads to the conclusion that in his jo
techniques he had consciously used specific movements and shapes in order to constitute energy: “The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolises serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for stability, the basis of applied control.”
“…On a deeper level, these three shapes represent the basic principles of change assuming those processes where one passes from one shape into the next. Change is the basic attribute of Nature. All that exists is always changing, sometimes even so fast, you have no time to see it.”
Born with a strong influence of Uranus, Ueshiba chose the spiral as a primary guiding principle in his techniques. This principle is found in Cosmos (spiral movement of the galaxy) as well as in human bodies (DNA molecule). In his horoscope, as bearers of the Yin-Yang principle, Moon and Sun have formed a planetary configuration with Uranus (the spiral principle), which has lead him to realise that spiral movements, unlike linear ones, constitute energies in such as to achieve a specific sort of balance – balance between Yin and Yang. Another one of Ueshiba's tendencies is also prominent in his horoscope through an exceptional position of his heliocentric Mars inside the harmonious “kite configuration”, i.e. his interest in and search for those techniques in which, in stead of loosing energy, it is constantly being channelled and maintained. And yet, the most interesting influence here was brought by the degree of his Ascendant (29th degree in Aquarius), linked to the idea of the unity between micro and the macrocosm, infinite and individual, God and man. Having brought this unity into awareness, he realised that the so called split between individual and universal energies is only illusory. Concurrent to this realisation was his view of the concept of life force
, which has since become much broader and eventually got to imply the unity between the individual and the universal, which has led to his introduction of the concept of Unified Energy (aiki) into his way of working. It can be concluded from this that spiral movements were the technical elements of aikido which he used in order to constitute energy in the hara
and to consciously direct it as needed, thus exemplifying with his movement the vibrating of energy. By choosing to base the aikido form on mutually connected spiral techniques, Ueshiba had created a martial art that allows for an exceptional level of harmonising with the energy of environment, as well as for its transformation and channelling while constantly maintaining the energetic balance. Hence the name: aikido – “the way of unifying with Ki of the Universe”, or simply “the way of unified energy”. However, the meaning of Ueshiba's martial techniques lies way beyond the mere practise and perfection of energetic power and energetic transformation, in the realms of conscious use energetic aspects of aikido for the purpose of self-development: “Practise generating powerful force and courageous ki and practise moving like a ray of light. Thanks to the techniques and stories of old it was said that movements could fly like lightning, and attack to be like thunder. These principles can be seen with a naked eye, but you must practise diligently and strive towards the Divine, and master the principles hidden to human eye…”
In order to decipher the astrological aspects of aikido, it is necessary to take a look at Ueshiba's horoscope of Knowledge, Love and Power. The equal spread between three major sectors of this chart accentuates yet again the guiding principle of harmony that has led him throughout his process of maturing. This is also stressed by North Node in Libra, which speaks of his deep yearning for balance in every aspect of his life (his mind, body, energy, martial techniques… his whole life): “Your mind and body must be connected with the Divine, and between manifestation and that which is hidden, between water and fire, there must be perfect balance… Move in harmony with the Universe which is moved by the Divine.”
Ueshiba's Power sector is related to the planets that govern martial arts training and transformation of energy. It would be safe to conclude that he had gained most of his insights regarding man's ability to manifest the power of the Creator through these kind of activities, or better still regarding the question of how self-realisation (i.e. maturing of Consciousness) opens up infinite field of possibilities for unobstructed expression of individual's talents and potential: “When you are absolutely awakened you can freely use all the elements, be they in heaven or on earth, regardless of the conditions around you. Change your observations regarding how the Universe actually appears and functions and turn your martial techniques into the vehicles of Purity, Goodness and Beauty. Perfect these principles. Once the sword of harmonisation (of aiki) that connects the Heaven, the Earth and mankind is expressed, you are free and you have the opportunity to purify and master yourself.”
Ueshiba's natal chart through the horoscope of Knowledge, Love and Power
The largest number of planets in Ueshiba's horoscope reside in the Love sector signifying that awakening Infinite Love had a very important role in his particular process of self-realisation. Positions of Saturn and Pluto reveal that, in this sense, insight he had into the real source of conflict and animosity (in all cases originating from inner imbalance and representing a projection of an unawakened mind) was for him crucial. Having once realised that everyone carries the divine spark inside them, Ueshiba was always radiating love towards all people, while equally encouraging his students to strive towards awakening to the Infinite Love in order to pacify and awaken their mind: “So, in what way can the mind be stilled, the heart purified and harmonised with all of Nature? Well, by making the Divine Heart your own. That Love is magnificent – omnipresent from the very moment of creation of the Universe. In Love there is no disharmony, no enemies”
In Ueshiba's horoscope of Knowledge, Love and Power the most important role has the Knowledge sector which shows that by advancing in the knowledge of martial arts he was turning towards the divine within through awakening to the energetic link between man and cosmos, the emptiness of the mind, the omnipresent love as being the origin of everything… Position of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn in astrological Yod configuration (“the finger of God”), shows that by constantly directing his thoughts towards God he was connecting with the hidden knowledge stored in the collective conscious of humanity: "Around two o'clock in the morning as I was performing ritual purification, I suddenly forgot every martial art technique I ever learned. All of the techniques handed down from my teachers appeared completely anew. Now they were vehicles for the cultivation of life, knowledge, virtue, and good sense, not devices to throw and pin people."
The search for the true essence of martial arts has led him to his most important discovery: “The Divine is not something high above us. It is in heavens, it is in earth, it is inside us.”
His God seeking path was that of Knowledge to which as a witness stands a connection between the North Node and the image – “Mankind's vast enduring effort for knowledge transferable from generation to generation.” This Sabian symbol describes Ueshiba's yearning to express his insight into the inseparable nature of man and God through the appropriate form accessible to everyone: “Aikido is not intended for one country alone, or for a particular individual. Its only purpose is to facilitate the awakening to God.”
Ueshiba had conceived aikido as a way that leads to self-development as a direct response to having realised that the essential goal of every human being is to become aware of the divine within. There are many elements of his geocentric horoscope that refer to all the obstacles he himself had to face during a process of his own maturing, revealing at the same time another layer of the very foundation of his art. The square of Mars in the sixth house with Pluto in the third house shows that Ueshiba was very clear about the detrimental effect of negative thoughts and emotions on one's health and one's ability to initiate and channel energy (i.e. ideas about animosity, feeling of fear, insecurity, rage…). He was aware that aikidoka will not be able to express his or her full potential as long as he or she does not relinquish the ideas which do not reflect a complete harmony of mind and the awareness of the unity with the Divine: “An idea must not be in conflict with the Universe, as that would block the energy. …If your thoughts are in conflict with the Universe, your body will also be destroyed.”
The position of his Saturn in Gemini accentuates the importance of total serenity of mind, or rather of stopping one's thought flow during the performance of martial techniques: “Once we detach ourselves from thinking and we return to the energy of Heavens we shall overcome both - defeat and victory (loss and gain) and we shall stand in the middle of Heavens. This is the holy principle of budo. If the thoughts are left in the body, you will not be able to make progress...”
Having taught aikido over many years, Ueshiba was aware of the fact that people turn to martial art training for many different reasons (health, fitness, body co-ordination…), but mostly for the sake of self-defence and knowing how to overpower stronger opponents. He maintained that essence of aikido lay in the development of consciousness, or rather in the complete and utter elimination of the very notion of antagonism and it is there one should look for it. He repeatedly stated that only those who are unaware of their own divine nature can carry on harbouring a thought of an enemy, or rather an opponent: “Only ununified mind thinks about the presence of an opponent, and so is not in harmony with the Divine will.”
The astrological aspect of Uranus with the Moon in Gemini specifically stresses the importance of overcoming the dualistic concepts of the mind (good/bad, friend/foe, victory/defeat…), which present real obstacles for self-development and progress in one's practise (of a martial art). This is why Ueshiba insisted on the importance of becoming aware that everything in existence springs from one's self, and that all ideas, thoughts and experiences are merely projections of one's mind and so one should overcome the dualistic views of the world, including the very idea of existence of an enemy: “There are no enemies in aikido. You are mistaken if you think that in true budo your partner is an enemy whom you need to overpower by force and who must be brought down. In true budo there are no partners, no enemies; the goal of true budo is to become one with the Universe and to reside in the very centre of Its Heart.”
In order to get his students to turn inwards and realise that the only “enemy” they ever need to conquer is their ununified mind, Ueshiba refrained from introducing until then traditional and widely used sport style kata
competitions in aikido. He had chosen the contrary approach, building his students' training on the stepping stones of pair work in order to encourage them to awaken to and attain unity with the partner. The influence of the Sun which carries “the principle of unification and the concept of Oneness” shows that the basic aim of this approach was to enable aikidokas to overcome a concept of separateness from the manifested world. This was designed so it would enable one to become aware of one's partner as a mere projection of one's mind, and so through harmonising with one another's energy one would be able to eliminate one's mind and enter a state of Oneness (“I am in all, all is in me”): “True budo is not a mere negation of the concept of opponent, but rather the total absence of the very spirit of resistance – when you and your partner seize to exist in order to become one. This is true aikido and true budo.”
Ueshiba used to encourage his students to maintain self-discipline and to persevere in their study and practise of aikido. He maintained that a lengthy period of mastering technical elements was necessary at first in order to reach a phase in which, having infused a particular technique sufficiently, aikidoka was not concerned with what moves and how, and instead would enter a state of complete identification with the training process (“flow”)
, thus allowing for the space for a next step into a realm of “no mind”. Neptune, a planet linked to the house ruling the subconscious, with the way it is positioned in Ueshiba's geocentric and heliocentric horoscope, reveals what Ueshiba intended to achieve. Square of the geocentric Neptune and Mars shows that in the early period of his own martial arts training, Ueshiba had mostly come across techniques designed to strengthen and order the contents of the subconscious through a lengthy repetitive approach, ultimately turning the techniques themselves into an automated response when it came to their application/execution. Such an approach had proven to be unacceptable for him as it did not provide for an optimal channelling of energy, nor did it stimulate self-development. His heliocentric horoscope, with its Neptune positioned in the Grand Earth Trine configuration, shows that here too he had opted for a different approach when forming aikido. In his teaching he was taking care to stress the importance of performing the spiral techniques as they allow for a greater ease of movement and maintenance of energy, as well as for stimulating the process of harmonisation of the mind. The ultimate aim of this approach was to induce a thought free state of emptiness (meaning: opponent/struggle/one's own individuality free space). However, this did not assume the control over the contents of one's mind, but rather a conscious surrender to the divine within. The basic sense of this approach lay in aikidoka's disassociation with the manifested world and their entry into a timeless state, without past or future, but rather with Love as the reflection of awareness of their own divine essence: “If you practise the spirit of the Heart earnestly, “things” will actually seize to happen… the past itself will seize. Why? Because that is Love.
…If Love is reached, a country, a world, Universe itself will disappear.”
The idea of the emptiness of mind occupies the most prominent place in his horoscope, as it is reflected in the conjunction of the Sun with the galactic centre in the tenth house, the most dominant position of the natal chart. It can be concluded that in aikido, Ueshiba didn't regard supreme mastery as something that lay hidden in one's perfect execution of techniques, but rather in one's attaining such a level of perfection (different for each aikidoka) that would induce the thought free state of conscious emptiness: “Free yourselves from all thought and return to true emptiness. The secret of the Way of the Warrior is to be able to stand in the centre of Great Void.”
Amongst other astrological factors that stand out as ones that refer to the importance of this concept, is the trine of Uranus and Pluto, showing that Ueshiba did not overcome his attackers by causing them any sort of injury, but rather by completely “blending” with them during execution of techniques, while entering a state of mental stillness through which he actually influenced the transformation and harmonisation of their thoughts and emotions. Each confrontation would end in his aggressor's actual loss of the very desire to attack and fight: “…The Way of the Warrior, the Art of Politics, is to stop trouble before it starts. It consists in defeating your adversaries spiritually by making them realise the folly of their actions. The Way of the Warrior is to establish harmony.”
Ueshiba used to say that the attacker is defeated the moment he decides to engage him in the conflict, because in doing so he would be disrupting the harmony of the Universe. In this way he actually expressed that on a battle field, an aggressive attitude represents a weakness because it reflects an inner imbalance, whereas invincibility lies in one's harmony and love for all of manifested world (universe), whenever it is firmly anchored in the knowledge that all of it springs from oneself in the first place: “Aikidoka's mind must be calm and absolutely free of violence. More precisely, it is a state of mind that transforms violence into a state of harmony.”
Therefore, the pinnacle of aikidoka's growth through all elements of aikido (material, energetic, spiritual) represents a state of the fully awakened and serene mind in which aikidoka, aware of the divine in oneself and others, by one's very existence emits the vibrations of Love in others, thus eliminating the very possibility of an attack: “Master the divine techniques of the Art of Peace, and no enemy will dare to challenge you.”
In order to explain the purpose of aikido and as an adherent of the Shinto religion, Ueshiba used the terms and phrases present in that spiritual tradition (Kami, Nature, Universe, Heavens…), which is why some of the spiritual concepts may or may not at times, be entirely clear to a western practitioner. Still, it is important to point out that the essence of his ideas (“All is Love”, or “return to the Source”…) carries a universality that transcends narrow religious boundaries: “When someone asks if the postulates of my aiki budo were derived from a specific religion, I always say “No”. The postulates of my true budo shed light on religions and make them complete.”
This is why the spirit of aikido can not be exclusively viewed through the prism of Japanese religion, but rather as a path which, through what happens to appear as a practice of a martial art, leads to self-realisation: “…through the virtue of devoted practise become one with the divine. Look for the enlightenment inside yourself.”
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In forming aikido, Ueshiba has highlighted a very important and only too often neglected dimension of martial arts. With his deep insights and an all-encompassing approach, he had gone beyond all martial arts techniques designed for defence, combat or nurturing of the sporting spirit, and with his own example had shown that a true progress through aikido involves striving towards wholeness, rising above mere form and searching for the true essence of one's existence: “Aikido has no form, it is teaching of the spirit…”
“Ultimately, you must forget about the technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great path is really No Path.”
Ueshiba's supreme martial artisanship rests on his spiritual maturity, which is why the very essence of aikido carries a universal truth accessible to all. Those who are sincere in their pursuit of the true fruits of this outstanding martial art need only to dive into their own depths and look for it there, for - to decipher the secret of aikido is nothing less than to realise the truth every one of us carries inside.
Author: Gorana Matijasevic
Translated by:Dusan Djurovic
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 13.
Dojo - Japanese for the training hall
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 71.
Morihei Ueshiba – warrior for all times, Metaphysica, Belgrade 2005, pg. 37.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 68.
Ueshiba, Kisshomaru. Aikido Hozansha Publications, Tokyo, 1985.
THE ESSENCE OF UNIFIED ENERGY, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 59.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 62.
Morihei Ueshiba – warrior for all times, Metaphysica, Belgrade 2005, pg. 121.
Galactic centre is a gravitational centre, around which revolves the whole of Milky Way galaxy. According to the recent scientific discoveries, that is also the location of a large black hole that transmits extremely powerful gravitational pull. This causes a spiral movement of cosmic dust and all the cosmic bodies within the galaxy. It was estimated that its mass is 100 million times greater that that of our Sun and that it is about 28 000 light years away from it. Seen from here, the galactic centre is located in the direction of constellation of Sagittarius – i.e. at 26 degrees in the sign of Sagittarius as it is now. From an astrological point of view the effect of the connection with the galactic centre affects one's energetic abilities, as well as things like knowledge about the Universe, the idea of emptiness, of the Source…
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 10.
THE ESSENCE OF UNIFIED ENERGY, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 79.
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 52.
Aikidoka is a person who practises aikido.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 75.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 66.
Morihei Ueshiba – warrior for all times, Metaphysica, Belgrade 2005, pg. 44.
THE ESSENCE OF UNIFIED ENERGY, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 27.
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 69.
Heliocentric horoscope – an astrological chart viewed from the position of the Sun. It complements the standard (geocentric) horoscope revealing individual's talents and potential that can, for the most part, be developed during the process of maturing of that individual's Consciousness.
The Art of Peace – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, by Morihei Ueshiba, Shambhala pocket classics, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1992, pg. 59.
HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 60.
Bokken – (From Japanese bok(u), "wood", and ken, "sword"), is a wooden Japanese sword used for training, usually the size and shape of a katana, but sometimes shaped like other swords, such as the wakizashi and tantō. They are also known as bokutō ("wooden sword"), which is the usual term in Japan.
The Art of Peace – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, by Morihei Ueshiba, Shambhala pocket classics, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1992, pg. 78.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 70.
Life force – ki in Japanese (in Chinese it is chi and in India they call it prana)
Hara presents a centre for accumulation and emanation of energy. It is located in the lower region of the lower abdomen. In Chinese tradition it is known as the lower Tan Tien.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 42.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 45.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 14.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 73.
THE ESSENCE OF UNIFIED ENERGY, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 26.
The Art of Peace – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, by Morihei Ueshiba, Shambhala pocket classics, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1992, pg. 119.
Morihei Ueshiba – warrior for all times, Metaphysica, Belgrade 2005, pg. 125.
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 59.
THE ESSENCE OF UNIFIED ENERGY, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 79.
Morihei Ueshiba – warrior for all times, Metaphysica, Belgrade 2005, pg. 121.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 69.
Kata – Japanese term for a set of techniques choreographed into a form.
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 57.
Flow is the state of ‘no ego' in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, one-pointedness of mind, trancedence of ego boundaries...
THE ESSENCE OF UNIFIED ENERGY, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 98.
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 28.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 76.
The Art of Peace – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, by Morihei Ueshiba, Shambhala pocket classics, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1992, pg. 103.
AIKIDO – THE PATH OF LOVE, thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 69.
The Art of Peace – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, by Morihei Ueshiba, Shambhala pocket classics, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1992, pg. 104.
Morihei Ueshiba – warrior for all times, Metaphysica, Belgrade 2005, pg. 123.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 36.
THE HEART OF AIKIDO, Thoughts and ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, Liber, Belgrade 2006, pg. 77.
The Art of Peace – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, by Morihei Ueshiba, Shambhala pocket classics, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1992, pg. 114.