“ The only cure for materialism is the cleansing of the six senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind). If the senses are clogged, one’s perception is stifled. The more it is stifled, the more contaminated the senses become. This creates disorder in one’s life and, consequently, throughout the entire world, and that is the greatest evil of all. In order to protect the world, we must first rid ourselves of defilements.”
Morihei Ueshiba – Founder of Aikido
What does it mean to purify the senses and why would one want to? In the writings of Morihei Ueshiba, O’Sensei makes frequent reference to cleansing the six senses. Was Sensei referring to the physical functioning of the eyes and the ears? Perhaps. One’s constitution will surely improve by subscribing to the ongoing physical practice of Aikido. You may however have 20 20 vision and great hearing to match. Or you might be optically or auditory challenged and intrigued by what O’Sensei meant in purifying the senses. No matter the state of your physical structure, Ueshiba Sensei was pointing us to the spiritual aspect of our sense perception.
Though your eyes work just fine, what do they enable you to see? Problems…..difficulties? Do they see what is wrong with life? Are you angered, saddened or disgusted by what the eyes reveal? In the midst of this epic creation, can you see the magic and magnificence of life in each moment? If like so many beatific vision eludes you, your vision may benefit from purification; So that you may see what is, not what you think should be.
When someone speaks, do you actually hear them? Or do you hear only your mind, compulsively judging what you are listening to? Are you angered by what you hear? Are you disgusted by what you are listening to? Are you above or better than the other or their word? If listening produces negative energies in your system – be that fear, stress, anger, jealousy, hurt etc is your hearing not in need of purification? What sound in all of creation could possibly be wrong? The absolute harmony of the creator graciously allows all sounds to exist freely in this universe. Are some sounds, words, phrases or statements less worthy than others? Can we know better than the divine energy that manifested creation?
Do you like some tastes and dislike others? Do you accept some food and reject others based on what you “like” to taste. “But I just like certain tastes and dislike others” you may reply. Is it the body that dislikes or the mind? Did nature mistakenly make certain foods with objectionable tastes or smells? Is your tongue free enough to taste without the judgment of the mind?
If you are an Aikidoka on the mat, to put this in a technical analogy, when your partner pushes are some pushes better than the others? Is it our partners “mistake” when they push in a way we don’t like or is it our own opinion/resistance that creates the “dislike”?
Are our minds in need of cleansing? We have been blessed with the cosmic good fortune of human incarnation, giving us access to the most sophisticated brain on the planet. Are we using or misusing our minds? In our daily lives, do our minds come to our assistance and those around us solving problems and creating well being? Or are our minds instead trapped in self-centred patterns of thoughts, judgments, opinions, criticisms (directed to others and/or ourselves) and other “negative” patterns of thinking? If this is the case, O’ Sensei would encourage us to cleanse the mind.
Morihei Ueshiba urged each of us to earnestly fulfil our earthly missions: divine union. To harmonise our individual energies with that of the universe. Purifying our senses is a crucial step in this process for the defilement of the senses is the blockage between us and the cosmos. We “like” and “dislike” elements of creation; we discriminate through bias. To be closer to the divine is to embody more of the divine mind. The cosmic mind accepts everything within it without judgment: It gives all existence and life; the good, evil, right and wrong. The source of creation is the infinite capacity to give; to create. It is only our contracted human mind that believes in the superiority or inferiority of certain aspects of creation. In doing so we create an illusory duality. The most fundamental self-created division is between us the personality and the greater universe “out there”. This is the root seed of our suffering. We believe strongly in our individual identities, our thoughts and logic, causing us to defile the functioning of the senses. We now see “problems” within the perfection of creation. Our human mind cannot bring us closer to the divine for its very action creates a divisive construct that filters and obfuscates reality.
Lao Tzu wrote;
One who seeks knowledge learns something new every day.
One who seeks the Tao unlearns something new every day.
Less and less remains until you arrive at non-action.
When you arrive at non-action, nothing will be left undone.
Mastery of the world is achieved by letting things take their natural course.
You cannot master the world by changing the way.
Does any of this sound familiar? O’ Sensei wrote:
A Path so difficult to comprehend, yet as simple as the natural flow of Heaven.
On a practical level, how can we clean our senses and join with the divine mind? Like anything it will take practice. This practice however is largely done on the inside – not through the use of the movement of the body. It will however have a profound impact on the way the body moves and behaves. It may be confronting to practice inner Aikido at first for it brings one in contact with the true enemy – the one hiding within.
On this O’Sensei wrote;
The penetrating brilliance of swords, wielded by followers of the way,
strikes at the evil enemy lurking deep within their own souls and bodies.
Attempting to effect change on the world without addressing the illness in our hearts will meet with limited success. Fortunately, our consciousness is inseparably connected to the universe enabling the cleansing and harmonising of our wayward aspects to affect the physical universe as well. Science has revealed to us the observer effect – that the mere act of observing a phenomena actually changes that phenomenon. On this Ueshiba sensei wrote:
Sincerely and thus realise
The profound truth that manifest and hidden are one.
O’Sensei beautifully conveys that the hidden, intangible aspects of our being, our thoughts, feelings and consciousness are manifested in the physical world. The harmony or chaos we see in the outside world is the physical reflection of our internal state. How many of us operate each day from the belief that how we feel is a result of what is happening in the outside world? O’Sensei encourages us to move to a deeper insight and realise that our inner experience is the causal principle for the “outside world”;
Aikido is the great Way to purify the entire world of imperfection, malice and ill will.
There is a correspondence between the spiritual and physical realms because all emanate from the same source.
In Aikido we employ a sword to represent the cleansing of maliciousness with a sincere attitude.
That is, we make the physical spiritual. This is the mission of Aikido. In Aikido the physical gives way to the spiritual; the spiritual rises to the forefront
…. Aikido will increase the goodness, love and honesty in this word. Aikido promotes democracy through the virtues of faithfulness and care for others.
All the gods and Buddhas will surely come to our aid and protect us. As the Bible says – Many shall be purified, cleansed and refined (Daniel 12).
To set things aright is our mission”
Ueshiba Sensei points out that by harmonising our own inner discord on the level of the heart, mind and spirit, we will in fact harmonise our bodies and the outside world as well. By following the Great Way and perfecting ourselves, we arrive at the divine state; the core of our being. This state fruits in the manifest world as heaven on earth.
The divine mind transcends all the limitations of the human mind. As a human being, we conceive of and believe in, good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust. The limitations of our memory-based mind trap us into this dual thinking. However, the mind (thinking, logic, reasoning) is but a small, limited aspect of creation; a sub section. It is therefore incapable of capturing reality; the task exceeds the capacity of the tool. We cannot approach the divine with the lens created by the rational mind – it is far too limited.
The divine mind, unhindered by limitation, gives life and contains all things within it; even those we as humans label wrong, evil, ugly, sick and unworthy. The divine mind free from judgment does not differentiate. It caresses all reality with its compassionate embrace and gives life and existence freely to all. That is why we value so highly the unconditional love of a parent – it embraces us totally: even what we consider our flaws. Our individual judgments and opinions, likes and dislikes are the seeds of our suffering. Remember, our personal suffering will manifest in the physical world for the inner is linked to the outer.
To attain to the divine mind is to unconditionally accept all of creation; even the aspects we fear, hate, are angered by and resist in so many ways. Humans who have evolved to such a state have long been identified as saints, sages, prophets and yogis. Their senses were cleansed enabling them to see reality clearly – without personal bias. In doing so they naturally harmonised with the Great Way and their lives and actions remain testament to this. Morihei Ueshiba urged everyone to similarly complete their life mission – to return to the divine mind; to harmonise oneself with the universe/creation.
True Victory is Self Victory!
Harmonise yourself with the
Divine Parent Mind _
Salvation lives right within
Your own body and soul!
Practical Exercise 1: Harmonise with your thinking mind
Spend a minute or two in an upright sitting position. On the floor is best but a chair will also work just fine. Breathe naturally/gently, keeping your body aligned to create a natural ease in your physical structure. Bring awareness to your breath and belly (hara). As thoughts appear in your consciousness practice distancing yourself from them. Categorise all thoughts as equal: none are better or worse than the others. Distance yourself from negative thoughts, positive thoughts, random thoughts, memories, projections etc. We are not trying to stop them, we are instead keeping our distance; let them come and pass freely. To attempt to stop thoughts or think only certain thoughts is to resist the flow of life and once again pass judgment. Do not fear what arises – do not judge. In Aikido we physically accept and blend unconditionally. To do so on the subtle level of the mind we apply the same method. If your thinking is also charged with emotion, distance yourself from the emotion as well. As you get familiar with the process, you will be able to do it anywhere at anytime.
Can I harmonise my thoughts by thinking about Aikido or the philosophy of Aikido eg peace, harmony and flow? When we attempt such a thing we are once again trying to restrict thoughts to certain “better” ones and resist the others; the opposite of Aikido. We may indeed feel good as we react favourably to these concepts and thoughts held by our consciousness; this is not the way, we must go deeper. To harmonise with our thoughts, we unconditionally accept them all by creating some distance from them: just observe. By not trapping your mind in any direction, you will find your natural ease. Totally release the idea of positive and negative thoughts.
Who can make the muddied water clear?
Let it be still and it will clear itself.
By following this method we are untangling our being moment to moment from the activity of the mind that it usually identifies itself with. We are suffering from a case of mistaken identity. How will you know when it is working? You will begin to experience peace, joy and harmony (not think about it). Why would this be you ask? For your true nature is bliss, joy and peace. This is the pure state of consciousness. Loosen your layers of resistance by releasing your life energies from the clutches of the judging mind and you will reveal this treasure.
Remember. Keep your distance from all thoughts – all are considered equal. Establish the difference between your being and the “thinking mind”. If it works for you, why not stay in Aiki healing yourself and the cosmos at the same time? The great Sufi Rumi wrote:
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
May you find your way home to the ultimate nature of your own being.