Book Review | The Heart of Aikido

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The Heart of Aikido – The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki by Morihei Ueshiba
Compiled and translated by John Stevens
The Heart of Aikido is the long awaited translation of the Japanese classic Takemusu Aiki.

This book takes you deep into the heart of the spiritual teachings of Aikido in the words of Morihei himself. It consists of lectures that Morihei Ueshiba gave to members of the Byakko Shinko Kai, a group headed by Masahisa Goi. (What is interesting to note for people who practice the system of Reiki is that Masahisa Goi also used the word CKR – the first mantra taught in Okuden Reiki Level II – in his teachings)

These talks draw on the essence of Morihei’s philosophy and spirituality based on Shintoism and his beliefs on the divinity of the true self and the universe. He speaks about the importance of self development through purification, kototama and breathing practices and explains why these are so important for our own spiritual awakening. By reading his words you gain valuable insights in how to practice and how to take your own current practice to a deeper place. This book is therefore a must read for any kind of spiritual practitioner or teacher no matter if it is Aikido or the system of Reiki.

Below are just a couple of gems which can be found in this wonderful book,a book which you could read over and over again to get what he is really saying.

Purify yourself first, then work to purify the world, and that will help the world to progress.

Rites and ceremonies must be performed with sincerity; otherwise they are empty. Sincerity is the fusing of love [of self] to love [of others].

Do not chase after many techniques; practice one technique at a time and make each technique your own.

If we refine our understanding of kototama, and perceive how kototama functions, we can begin to comprehend existence itself. And not just in our own limited sphere, but the entire cosmos, as mapped out in our ancient chronicles.

(As there is no concrete written material by Mikao Usui, the founder of the system of Reiki, it is very valuable to look at like-minded people from his era who were also teaching spiritual practices. This will help us to get a clearer idea of what was taught and practiced at that time in Japan and therefore creates a clearer picture of what the system of Reiki is about and how to take your Reiki practices a step closer to Japanese spiritual philosophies.)

Kototama is mantra chanting. We’ve included a video of John Stevens working with the traditional Japanese practice of vowel chanting. This is similar to Japanese mantra work in the system of Reiki, and was a popular practice around Mikao Usui’s time.

If you are interested in finding out more about the chanting of kototama from around Usui’s time then this book will also be a great guide:
Journey in Search of the Way


Listen to us interviewing John Steven Improving your Personal Practise from a Japanese Perspective with Professor John Stevens.


John Stevens and Frans Stiene


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