The Art of Peace is about the founder of aikido and his philosophy. The book is an expanded version of a previous publication by Shambhala, but is still a quick read. It is divided into three parts: a short biography on Morihei Ueshiba, an essay discussing Ueshiba’s views, and a collection of his poems.
Book: The Art of Peace
Editor & Translator: John Stevens
Original quotes: Morihei Ueshiba
Print year: 2002
Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston
Extra info: I don’t judge by the cover but I do judge covers. This book cover manages to look really nice with simple black calligraphy on white background detailed with some red and gold.
Nekomata’s thoughts on the book
I have read a couple other short biographies on Ueshiba but somehow this still felt fresh. I think the author did not get stuck on the same parts of Ueshiba’s life as other biographers. Either that or it’s been too long since the last time I read about Ueshiba’s life.
The biography and the essay describe what Ueshiba had to go through before he got his revelation and developed his philosophy of non-violence. It also reveals his contradictory teatching methods and sharpness of his personality.
”The base of a spiritual martial art is love.”
The last part of the book contains a collection of doka, or poems of the path, translated into English. (It should always be noted that Japanese is a very difficult language to translate and that a lot is lost in translation because kanji characters can hold double, triple or kami knows how many more meanings. Also, what was implied by an original poem may be lost to everyone else but Ueshiba himself.) My advice for this part is to just read it through and not even try to understand everything. If something sticks with you, pause on that and contemplate. If you ever read this book or another collection of Ueshiba’s doka later, a different poem might grab your attention because you will then be a different person. It just means you have grown.
”Every sturdy tree that towers over human beings owes its existence to a deeply rooted core.”
As a final thought, I was amused to see a similarity between Ueshiba’s ”no-form” teaching and Bruce Lee’s ”no-form” teaching. Both had a solid background in other martial arts, the ”deep roots”, and both preached to let go of the form, ”to become empty of all limiting thoughts”. Probably not a coincidence.