I have more reflections on Osensei's period in Iwama, but first I'd like to recall points of my most recent visit to the aiki shrine, which was in June of 2006. It was part of Nadeau sensei's group if 50 that visited Hombu dojo for about a week. Wednesday of that week we visited the Aiki Shrine and also the Iwama dojo. I have described that visit in previous blogs. But for me the most memorable part of that visit was Osensei's spirit passing through. As a group we were allowed into the inner part of the shrine. I asked through Laurin Herr, who served as translator, if I could chant Amatsu Norito. Isoyama sensei, who is currently the shrine's guardian, said it was okay. But Nadeau sensei went first and did the "Suuuuu....." chant he learned from Osensei himself. Then I followed with the norito. And the whole group felt a palpable change in the energy of the place. I have only felt anything approaching that once. In the Self-Realization Fellowship garden in Encinitas, California, while I was meditating, I had a visit from Paramahansa Yogananda. When a being of that magnitude visits there is a definite change in the whole vibe of a place. Intense, light, and at the same time very calm.And very powerfully loving. I wish we had been able to commune with his energy longer, but we were summoned to lunch.
The first picture is of Nadeau sensei with me in the background. It was taken in the dojo just before lunch. I think it is fitting that the photo of Osensei is featured prominently just behind Nadeau sensei. The two were very close. The next photo is of me with Lou Bermingham and Frank Silvey senseis. It was taken in front of the shrine. And the last is the second group photo taken in front of the shrine. It differs from the one I put in the last blog.
I think the Iwama period was very important for Osensei. The world had gone crazy and was at war. I think during this period he more clearly saw his purpose and his life's mission. So amidst all the turmoil these very important things in his life were more substantially forged. During this period he his mission was revealed to him and the spirit of the dragon king, ame no murakumo kuki samuhara ryuo, was said to have entered his blood. Osensei backed off from accepting his mission, feeling it was much too exalted for him, and became seriously ill. It was only after accepting his mission/purpose, that he recovered his health.
With the world in a very uncertain and chaotic state, I feel we have all entered an Iwama phase in our training. With the economic uncertainties and the recent geological upheavals, there is clearly massive change flowing through the entire fabric of our existence. We are probably not going to move to a farm in Northern Japan(although read the previous 2 blogs for the possibility of an aikido living situation locally). Yet I do feel that this will be a difficult yet very important period during which to clarify our mission/purpose, and, with the pressures of what may be hard times, forge ourselves further along the path of aikido.
The farming was very important for Osensei. For me music has become very important and complementary to martial study. I have recently begun to play with an exceptional musician, Tom Landry. The following is a piece we recently did at his recording studio in Campbell: