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Tesshu’s State of No Enemy

Jan 01 2016 | By: Stewart Johnson

​Yamaoka Tesshu was a Zen master and one of the greatest swordsman that ever lived. Although he lived before Aikido came into existence, his writings capture the essence of Aikido. Here he describes his breakthrough realization when he achieved “the state of No Enemy”. After training for years and no longer making progress, he writes:

“I would continue searching even if swordsmanship disappeared from the world and not one opponent remained. I would not stop until I finally penetrated the ultimate principle. Year after year I practiced; on March 30,1880, I reached the state of no-enemy. I cannot describe my great joy at that time. The traditional, rightly transmitted teaching is kind and true; there is no doubt about it. I was then forty-five years old. As I recalled my previous notions of skillfulness and ineptness, fighting and no fighting, I realized that those dichotomies have nothing to do with the opponent; all those things are creations of one’s mind. If there is self, there is enemy; if there is no self, there is no enemy. If we are enlightened to the truth of this principle, skill-ineptitude, weakness-strength, child-adult, and so on are no longer seen as two separate entities. This is: Lovely snowflakes falling one by one nowhere else” - a marvelous place.

From “The Sword of No-Sword: Life of the Master Warrior Tesshu”, 1984, Shambhala (Random House)

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