The Curious Case of Morihei Ueshiba

The nature of faith is seeped with intrigue. What Paul called “the evidence of things unseen” is a motivator in every life, and our success or failure hinges on the ability to extend the primary premise of what we believe. The deceived may believe passionately in any number of things that have no foundation in any actuality, and the longer they hold to a false premise, the farther they have to fall, as seen in the Germany of the 1930s and 40s.

As an intellectually convicted Christian, I believe that four logically derived evidential pillars defined personally some years ago support my faith. That the God of Abraham exists, that Jesus was actual and divine rather than imaginary or delusional, that His mission was necessary, and that I personally needed to do something about it. ‘Doing something about it’ for me means many things. One of them is to continuing to extend from the premise, to test what I believe to be real against the framework of other truths. So, ultimately, the nature of faith itself must be examined and understood.

Faith, it seems, is what prevents despair in those who choose awareness in a fallen world. It is the antithesis of cynicism in the same way that life opposes death, and it is the characteristic of those who endure instead of perish. Life is, after all, the work of the Craftsman, the same as the faith that leads us home. Salvation by grace, through faith, is the foundation of Christianity in the studied opinion of Paul, himself an accomplished student of Judaism under Gamaliel. Ergo, belief in things “actual” will lead to life instead of death.

It is a common—and I tend to use that term rather derisively—position that people outside of mainstream Christianity are irretrievably lost, though many of them irretrievably are. I have pulled at some of those trying to get them to the shore, and watched them swim away into the sea instead, often enough to accept salvation as something that God accomplishes far better than we can. But there is life to be found wherever God plants faith in the things that are real, and sometimes it blossoms elsewhere of its own accord.

Morihei Ueshiba is one such case, a life originally studied in the context of his founding of the martial art of Aikido. His legacy includes acknowledgment by some as “the best priest in Japan,” due to the spiritual content of his outlook. Ueshiba sensei experienced several personal revelations that convinced him of the existence and motivation of a Creator as a worker in life, founded in love, and was able to channel his understanding of things that are real into an incredible legacy of philosophy and technique.

As happens with every man, O-Sensei came to his inevitable doorway. It came in the form of liver cancer in 1969, and in evidence of his faith he declined surgical treatment. He defied despair, rising from his bed in seeming immunity to the pain of the disease to instruct a nearby gathering of young people practicing martial arts. Some time later, the man passed though a death from cancer with a dignity and serenity that amazed its observers and spoke very well of his spiritual condition.

So, I think that Ueshiba found his way home, through the path of what I have come to call the Christ Concept, and suspect that it is the innate ability of every human being. No matter their exposure to conventional Christian doctrine, for those that pay attention the work of life is a beautiful thing, and the appreciation of its beauty and fragility foster love: the wish and hope for life in abundance. Connecting backward to the Craftsman as the Source is as natural as the sunrise. A small voice arises then, whispering that we are less than what produced us, and assuring that He can balance the equation between what we are and what we should have been, as a gift, free for the asking.

We are all living the time given, riding the rails that brought us out of the motivation of God in creating those who can choose to love Him in return. You may move to a car farther back in the train. You may even run backwards atop the roof looking for a caboose, but the station is approaching, and the whistle will sound eventually. Morihei Ueshiba did not go gentle into that good night, he went singing, and evidence that he truly understood makes me glad.

Choose to Love, -DA

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4 responses to “The Curious Case of Morihei Ueshiba

  1. Dale, that was beautiful! I am so glad I took the time to read it. You certainly know how to put thoughts together into concise, and real, statements of faith. Sharing!!

    Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Many people make the mistake that only Christians are in that circle. No–“except through Me” means HE will make the decision–it is His movement toward His people, not the other way around. Our choice is to accept or reject–in however way He presents Himself to us. God does not want to lose any of His people, so He presents Himself to all in a way we can understand–through the filter of our cultures, languages, beliefs, etc. However we pray, whatever name we give Him, if we pray through love, He will answer.

  2. You nailed it, Kathy. Thanks so much.

  3. Excellent essay. For a man who studied the martial arts for years, your story of Sensei Ueshiba was spot on. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be looking forward to more.

  4. Thank you, Thomas. This piece continues to be one of the most popular posts on the site.

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