Aikido and Ki of the Universe
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An excerpt from “Book of Ki: Co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life” by Koichi Tohei
Look into the sky. The sun is burning. In what state was it before it began burning? If we ask this of everything in the universe, in a never ending spiral of questions, we approach the concept of something which is almost nothing, yet still exists.
What were you before your birth? A fetus in your mother’s womb. Before that? A union of the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg, of course. But what about before that? Your parents possessed no sperm, no egg before they reached puberty. Where did you fit in then?
Man, like any other creature or object, emerges from “nearly nothing”, from the undivisible substance of which the universe is made. This is Ki. Christians call it “God,” Buddhists call it “Buddha,” Soka Gakkai members call it the “Gohonzon.” These are all names given by different languages and cultures to the same thing, just as what we call “te” in Japanese is called the “hand” in English.
The absolute universe was originally one. Two opposing forces appeared and the relative world was born. We tend to think that the relative world, which we see and hear all around us, is the only one, forgetting the absolute world behind it. The absolute quantity of Ki in the universe is constant and ever-flowing. In Buddhism it is said, “One is not born, one is not annihilated. One is not tainted, one is not immaculate. One does not increase, one does not decrease.”
In 1974 I conducted a six-week course seminar during the summer session at Fullerton College in California. The school established a new course entitled “Ki Development.” “Ki Development” is a bridge between psychology, which concern itself excusively with the mind, and physical education, which deals only with the body. Ultimately, mind and body are one – no borders exist between them. The mind is refined body, the body unrefined mind. It is foolish to consider them two separate things.
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I conducted Ki development and Aikido classes inthe large school gymnasium and every day during lunch hour, held a question and answer session, although I had never intended to lecture university professors. One day, Dr. Melvin asked, “sound and light can be expressed mathematically. Is it possible to do the same with Ki? Has anybody done so?”
[a few lines skipped until the mathematical explanation Tohei gave Dr. Melvin]
“The universe is one. A man is one. A pebble is one. They can all be represented by the number one.” I held up my finger. “Here is one. If I reduce it to half, what remains is one. If I reduce it by half infinitely, will it ever become zero?” “No,” said the Professor, “it won’t.” “It does not become zero. If there is one, half of it always exists. Ki is the infinite gathering of infinitely small particles.”
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This is the subject of a very difficult passage in an ancient Buddhist text, the Hanya Shingyo. Expressed in words, the idea is very hard to grasp, but in this mathematical way, even a child can understand it.Related Information: