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The Art of Peace

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The real way of the warrior is based on compassion, wisdom, fearlessness, and love of nature. So taught the great Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969), founder of the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Aikido is a disciple Ueshiba called the “Art of Peace.” It offers a nonviolent way to victory in the face of conflict, and he believed that Aikido principles could be applied to all the challenges we face in life—in personal and business relationships, as well as in our interactions with society. These succinct and pithy teachings are drawn from his talks and writings. The collection is compiled by the renowned modern Aikidoist John Stevens, a disciple of Ueshiba.

192 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 10, 1992

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Morihei Ueshiba

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 338 reviews
Profile Image for Paul.
2,309 reviews20 followers
October 2, 2016
I'm not gonna lie; I picked up this book after watching the episode of The Walking Dead that it featured heavily in. I'm glad I did.

While I can do without its talk of 'divinity', I found a lot of its teachings and philosophy really interesting and, funnily enough, in line with the state of mind I've been trying to cultivate and maintain for the last year.

Having turned forty, I find that peace is the state I enjoy the most. I had a mini-revelation a few weeks ago when I realised I'd rather sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in and listen to the sound of the surf than... well, just about anything, actually. I know this must sound boring to a lot of you but I find that this is how I feel most like my truest self. I think this book will be a useful tool.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
5,112 reviews727 followers
September 20, 2023
Your greatest opponent is always yourself...this book (although focused on Aikido) will help anyone find the 'centering' that is so important before any action is taken which could be used against you if not properly contextualized. This book has many insights that go beyond 'martial-arts' - can be read as a way to interact with the sphere of life we all share.
2 reviews5 followers
March 20, 2008
Granted this is not a Japanese original print of Ueshiba's words. Still it's a decent translation, and does collect many of the concepts that are often discussed in advanced aikido classes or seminars.

For those of you that have never heard of aikido, do not be turned off so quickly. This book reads like short reminders of for better living. If you have more time, explore his words more carefully and you might discover a universe of questions that arise from his words.
Profile Image for 7jane.
683 reviews266 followers
May 14, 2021
3.5 stars, because I didn’t agree with some of his opinions, but most of them were good.

Ueshiba was the founder of aikido, the ‘art of peace’, a non-violent discipline. These short pieces here can be applied also to life outside aikido; they are from talks and writings (with some word-illustrations from him), compiled by one of his disciples. It’s quick enough a read, but one can also read it slowly, appreciating what’s being said.

Do not fail
to learn from
The pure voice of an
Ever-flowing mountain stream
Splashing over the rocks

There are themes, like inner self and its relations to the outer world/universe, the practice and training in the ‘art of peace’, finding a balance in life, the importance of reading and studying, virtues, being present, being positive, techniques, dealing with opponents, etc.

If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through their petty-mindedness and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along a path indicated to you by heaven and earth.

Besides notes for this review, I found plenty of things to note down separately for later applying to my life. The illustrations were beautiful, and the messages mostly quite agreeable. Light but deep kind of short pieces that are easily rereadable.
484 reviews30 followers
December 29, 2022
I highly recommend this book to all. It is a discussion of the author's life, his times, and his teachings on the art of peace. This is a very creative and interactive force we can all incorperate into our lives and relationships.
Profile Image for Brian .
415 reviews5 followers
August 11, 2019
"If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along a path indicated to you by heaven and earth."

I need to read this several times before I can begin to grasp it. I have read the Tao Te Ching every day over the past two years. It can't be "understood" in the sense of the mind. It must be lived, felt, experienced. It leads to peace, love, kindness and soundness of mind. I believe it will be the same process with this this beautiful work of literature. I can't say much more. I recommend reading it. I may repost when I understand it with more practice and further readings.

"The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit."

“The universe is our greatest teacher, our greatest friend. It is always teaching us the Art of Peace. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Everything—mountains, rivers, plants, and trees—should be your teacher."

- Morihei Ueshiba
Profile Image for Jeremy.
37 reviews1 follower
December 17, 2009
Excellent bookend to the Tao Teh Ching...and good for any aikidoka (or any martial artist for that matter) in making peace and harmony an overarching goal in the struggle of the everyday.
Profile Image for Emelia .
131 reviews93 followers
October 9, 2017
Morihei Ueshiba is a Master of Aikido ( translated as The Art of Peace ) as well as it's creator and remains the most profound martial arts teacher known. The Art of Peace contains quotations that have been compiled from his collected talks, poems, and calligraphy by his students. The great Masters refrain from writing books, preferring to speak from the moment as they feel it is up to their students to listen carefully and discern what their master is saying and then pass it on. And so I have read this book, inhaled it's lessons and beauty, and hope to pass it on to the ones who read this review.

Morihei, though a master of martial arts, understood that there is war, however continued fighting - with others, ourselves, and fighting the environment instead of striving to maintain a partnership- leads to the destruction of the Earth and ourselves. Only by looking inward can we achieve enlightenment and true peace, and in this book we are given these keys to harmony and true peace. The path to being a great warrior lies in not fighting and destruction, but creation and tolerance.

By following his instructions we see that everything on this planet, trees, stones, water, air, and the people we meet on our journey are our teachers; we need only to silence the tangents of the world and our destructive selves to hear their words. From our birth til our passing from this world to the next we never stop learning and when we find ourselves short tempered, depressed, angry, or ill-natured it is only because we have strayed from the path of peace and have failed to listen to the words of Nature and the Universe. In all things their must be a balance. In today's world the balance is askew leaning more towards destruction and violence and we must seek equilibrium from within.

I can not stress the importance of this book and I myself will be carrying it with me everywhere I go as a constant guide and reminder of our true purpose here on earth. The path of the greatest warriors are paths of peace, compassion, tolerance, and love. There is an art of war, yes, but the most beautiful art is the art of peace.

"Rely on peace to activate your Manifold powers;
pacify your environment and create a beautiful world."

"The Divine is not something high above us.
It is in heaven, it is in earth, it is inside us."

"There are no contests in the art of peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within."

May you fill your world with the beautiful Art of Peace.
2 reviews3 followers
July 26, 2013

Morihei Ueshiba was ahead of his time in preparing for a crowded, difficult world and his philosophy is extremely refined, non-dogmatic zen buddhism. Unfortunately his legacy has been held to an almost radical traditionalism regarding his teachings through the practice of the art of Aikido. Fortunately, his words transcend the quasi-militarism of the modern "martial arts" describing a state of as near perfection for an individual's potential being as possible.

One of the few books that deserves the energy required to preserve it in physical form and to be a part of one's belongings.
Profile Image for Patrick Gibson.
818 reviews68 followers
October 26, 2016
A page a day spiritual affirmations like:

"Eight forces sustain creation:
Movement and stillness,
Solidification and fluidity,
Extension and contraction,
Unification and division."

got it?
Profile Image for #AskMissPatience.
176 reviews21 followers
March 12, 2022
Morihei Ueshiba’s The Art of Peace: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido translated by John Stevens in book form is very different than the audible version Brian Nishii narrates.

Every year I pick a word to reflect for 365 days. #PeaceistheWord2022

Besides my faith phrase “Peace, be still”, am journeying deeper into what peace means, for me.

How to share this space and energy with others has become a door to a better connection. Great joy. What I wanted to be when I grew up, happy.

Along the way have a stack of books to read to encourage me along the way.

I've been reading the hardcover version which is the same as the pocket-sized one. Except for the number of pages as the smaller ones require more to fit some of the writing.

Truth be told as other reviewers note first learned of the book on an episode of The Walking Dead.

I didn't know the Audible was expanded until after listening to hear it not match the book. Then read the summary with Audible. I intended to listen to the audio of the print and continue reading visually. Reflecting on the many ideas and thoughts of peace Mr. Ueshiba shares.

Tremendous book intro to the print version, for me. Its brief outlining of what to expect has me wanting more.

I'm jumping between the hardcover and Shambhala pocket classic which is a tiny version. Has the same content. I can take it with me to enjoy between appointments or while taking a break from a project.

Past the introduction based on the author's life, the remainder of the book has a fruitful context. Each page is similar to a seven-course meal of wisdom.

The made-for audible version dives way deeper into Mr. Ueshiba’s life. What made him who he is and more in-depth about Aikido.

I like the explanation about this physical aspect of what peace can express.

I think the only part that didn't float my literary boat was the assertion people who ground their life within a particular faith are wasting their time. Man-made belief systems are extinct.

This is my take of what was said. I completely understand where the intention is coming from. But not how it was asserted.

It's my understanding that faith isn't stagnant. If people are compelled to be earthly in their practice it's not for me to judge. Or insist it's irrelevant or worthless anymore.

Grown adults who are living their best life make decisions for the good of themselves, families, friends, others. Whatever they conclude is their belief for whatever reason is up to them. If they believe in God it's between them and God and depending on how they express this is the community in which they vibe.

This all said, I'm super fond and will continue reading the print version.

As for the audible version, it's a lot of interesting facts. But not why I picked up the print version.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for the Audible

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💯 for the print version. Because it's easy to digest. Reflect upon each page where a unique idea is shared.

These remind me of Bruce Lee’s quotes and often compare them to scriptures that are important to my prayer life.

Hope this review is helpful and encourages you to pick a word for the year toward practicing living your best heartfelt life ✌️🏼
Profile Image for Jason.
32 reviews17 followers
November 19, 2015
As a daily practitioner of Aikido, having access to the philosophy of the spiritual warrior, in the founder's own words, has been invaluable to me. I carried the pocket edition with me during my travels in Japan, Thailand, India, and back. It is a great book in understanding how to practice life in the world. Let me know if you need a copy. :)

There is also a copy I have that has all the sayings on a CD that's nice to have around. I don't remember if the tracks worked for the pages well, but it was a good reading to have around on audio.
Profile Image for k.wing.
689 reviews26 followers
October 16, 2016
I hope to revisit this little book often. I found that the passages toward the end resonated with me the most. That the Path is the responsibility of the individual, the focus on mastering one's own self, and also finding the connection in all things.
Profile Image for Karl.
Author 2 books13 followers
April 19, 2016
Prior to discussing content, it is important to note that ‘The Art of Peace’ is literally a ‘pocket book’ - with the physical dimensions being ~ 2.5x3.5x.5 inches (~ 5.5x8x1 cm). Consistent with the small physical size, the thoughts/aphorisms contained in this book, acquired ‘…from Morihei’s collected talks, poems, and calligraphy, and from oral tradition’ are also very brief – most being a sentence or two in length. Translation of the material was provided by John Stevens: a Zen scholar and Aikido instructor.

While John Stevens certainly has the background to compile ‘The Art of Peace’, as the person reviewing this book, I have NO knowledge of Aikido and no prior knowledge of the founder: Morihei Ueshiba. That being said, at the very beginning of the book it was plain for even me to see that the essence of Morihei’s teachings are truly based on a system of harmony within that allows us to interact in a harmonious way without. “Unlike the authors of old-time warrior classics such as ‘The Art of War’ and ‘The Book of Five Rings’, which accept the inevitability of war and emphasize cunning strategy as a means to victory. Morihei understood that continued fighting – with others, with ourselves, and with the environment – will ruin the earth…. What we need now are techniques of harmony, not those of contention.”

Many of the quotes/aphorisms are profound and they inspire the reader to ponder various aspects of life in general. The wisdom is essentially timeless because the ideas are a philosophy on life, a way of living in harmony with the universe, not simply a series of techniques to throw an opponent across the room. Indeed, the “…real way of the warrior is based on compassion, wisdom, fearlessness and love of nature.”

Other ideas put forth by Morihei Ueshiba that I particularly made note of:
- ‘Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead.’
- 'There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit – love.'
- 'A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing.'
- 'Each day of human life contains joy and anger, pain and pleasure, darkness and light, growth and decay. Each moment is etched with nature’s grand design—do not try to deny or oppose the cosmic order of things.'
-'ULTIMATELY, you must forget about technique. The further you progress the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path.'

As much as I enjoyed, and will certainly benefit from, reading the ideas of Morihei Ueshiba, the fact that no specific sources were provided with the individual thoughts is a disappointment. I don’t have any doubt that what John Stevens shares is accurate, it’s just that I would like to examine some of these quotes/aphorisms in context or I would like to follow the train of thought all the way to the station. On the other hand, if the intent of not providing the source information was to compel the reader to go on a journey of discovery, then I would say that the aim was successful because I will certainly be reading other books on the philosophy of Morihei Ueshiba.

In the end, if I had to sum up the essence of Morihei Ueshiba’s thoughts, as they appear in ‘The Art of Peace’, it would be thus: ‘Walk softly and carry a big stick.’
Profile Image for Brett C.
805 reviews181 followers
May 2, 2021
Filled with wisdom and parable about how to have a life based on peace. This book is opposite on Sun Tzu's The Art of War. I thought this book was better and stronger from a philosophical standpoint on dealing with your fellow man as well as your enemy. This book serves as the groundwork for the philosophy-martial are Aikido.
Profile Image for Naomi.
1,388 reviews284 followers
July 28, 2013
Lots of wisdom to meditate on in this relatively slim volume of teachings from the Aikido master Morihei Ueshiba. Although I can't lift a suitcase (Morihei Ueshiba's definition of someone strong enough to practice Aikido), I still observe lots to learn from a great teacher.
Profile Image for Anne Marie.
118 reviews10 followers
July 30, 2011
Is great even just to open at any page randomly each day and meditate on what you find there
Profile Image for ★ℕłℂØℓҾ★ (Nix).
305 reviews38 followers
May 25, 2017
"When you lose your desire for things that do not matter, you will be free."

This is the passage that resonated most with me.
Profile Image for Biniam Biniam.
4 reviews
May 28, 2015
The Art of Peace is a "spiritual technology", which allowed individual persons to better cope with THEIR life. The moral standpoint of martial art of aikido sought the enlightenment of the individual and caring mostly not about politics. In art of Aikido, the focus is on the cultivation of the mind and behavior patterns consistent with spiritual goals. Moral questions on violence The samurai is handed down to us as a symbol of the Japanese warrior tradition and although he greatly from its western counterpart, the medieval knight, is different than martial art of aikido , so it calls its mention an adventurous Image of daring and courage in us. Aikido Ueshiba had nothing to do with stimulus / response. Its about the Art of Peace. Which peace is an active quality. Can you see an enemy in the face and remain in peace ? yEs... Biniam Yibaleh
Profile Image for Geraldo Nogueira.
6 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2016
I confess that I was interested in the book because The Walking Dead. I didn't know about it before.

As the name implies, the book tries to teach the reader The Path, everything regarding balance, non-violence, to be grateful for all hard comings we all experience, because it makes you stronger.

It's the sort of book you always come back and get reminded of a positive perspective of life.
Profile Image for Tanvika.
80 reviews39 followers
June 6, 2017
Very interesting book on the traits of a warrior to emerge victorious over himself. Martial arts like aikido here is used to create a mind- body balance, movement like water, rain,birds etc very much inspired from the way of Zen. I think these virtues of calm, fearlessness, endurance, rhythm can be useful in everyday life as well.
Profile Image for Ryan.
176 reviews2 followers
August 31, 2018
I’ve been vegan for 27 years, and, since at least the eighth grade, I’ve upgraded my religious stance from agnostic to areligious to atheist. Labeling myself as an atheist was primarily politically motivated, an easy way to identify myself as an oppositionist of organized religion. It was an indicator of who I wasn’t, not who I was, and didn’t really express the spirituality that was at the core of my veganism. When I joined Facebook circa 2006, I coined (or borrowed; I don’t recall seeing or hearing it anywhere before I used it, but very well may have) the term “karmic veganism” to describe my religious views. That remains, to this day, a much more accurate descriptor for how I see myself and my place in the world — through a constructive, rather than destructive, lens.

Over the past half decade or so, I’ve increasingly felt as if I’m moving against the grain of the modern world, or at least navigating it at a slower pace. As the world fills up with more things to do, more places to go, more stuff to have, I find myself looking to do less, own less, be less — to get more from less. If my life over the first forty years was about acquiring, the past five have been more about curating what surrounds me so that I might reduce my physical, emotional, and spiritual clutter and create more space for calm, peace, and balance.

It is in this spirit that I approached Morihei Ueshiba’s “The Art of Peace.” This edition, translated and edited by John Stevens, contains a brief overview of Ueshiba’s life and his own spiritual path that led to the creation of aikido and served as the foundation for his teachings. These collected aphorisms weren’t written by Ueshiba himself; rather, they were compiled by his students from his talks, poems, and calligraphy. Although ostensibly aimed at practitioners of aikido, Ueshiba’s words transcend such limitations, presenting themselves as keys to anyone looking to live a life based on the four great virtues of bravery, friendship, wisdom, and love.

In this hectic and crowded modern world, “The Art of Peace” serves to help cleanse oneself of maliciousness, get in tune with one’s environment, and clear one’s path of obstacles. This isn’t a one-time read; these are lessons one can come back to again and again, enlightening and enriching oneself with each rereading. I know I will.
Profile Image for Bernie Gourley.
Author 1 book91 followers
July 25, 2015
The edition of The Art of Peace that I read is divided into three parts. Part I is a brief biography of Morihei Ueshiba, who was known as Ō-sensei to Aikidō practitioners and other admirers. Part II contrasts the art of war to Ueshiba’s art of peace. Part III is a collection of aphorisms and brief statements outlining the art of peace.

Ueshiba is the founder of Aikidō, a martial art that was derived in part from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, but which is distinct from that art in many ways. (e.g. the lack of set forms and emphasis on randori.) Along with Jigorō Kanō, Gichin Funakoshi, and a few others, Ueshiba is one of the pioneers of gendai budō, modern Japanese martial arts that take as their primary aim non-bellicose objectives like sport and self-defense. This is in contrast to the koryū budō (kobudō) which evolved primarily for war fighting. In contrast to Kanō’s Judō, which was first and foremost a competitive sport, Ueshiba’s Aikidō offered a particular approach to self-defense that was purely defensive and in which movement was harmonized to the opponent’s actions so as to perpetrate the least violence possible.

The biographic portion of the book is intriguing, but on a few occasions drifts from biography to hagiography. I feel that the suggestion of supernatural abilities does a disservice in the telling of Ueshiba’s story. By all accounts, Ueshiba was an accomplished and highly skilled martial artist, and I would like to read a full biography of his life (a biography exists, but I can’t comment on how well written it is yet.) Given Ueshiba’s pacifistic views, it would be easy to dismiss him as a pie-in-the-sky idealist who had no idea of the realities of the world. I don’t believe that is the case. However, when the biography tells stories of god-like superpowers, it makes it hard to take the man seriously as a martial artist. Either Ueshiba was skilled as an illusionist / mentalist (a distinct possibility) or some of the stories were embellished to deify the man. The story that comes to mind is one in which Ueshiba voluntarily faced a firing squad and emerged unharmed due to either ninja-like or Hollywood vampire movie style actions. This story is attributed to one of his students, Gozo Shioda, who passed away in the 1990’s.

We may get an indication of the roots of this appeal to the supernatural in an early statement about Ueshiba’s childhood fascination with individuals like En no Gyoja and Kukai who are themselves attributed supernatural abilities in stories. Ueshiba is clearly a man of faith. He suggests life should be lived on basis of 70 percent faith and 30 percent science. Full disclosure: I’m more skeptical than Descartes, and obviously favor an outlook more firmly rooted in science and rationality.

Part two includes extensive quotes from Ueshiba himself. It contrasts the arts of war with Aikidō in mental and physical aspects. A core theme of the book is that the martial arts shouldn’t be about learning to die, but rather learning to live. Ueshiba criticizes the past Shoguns who used the art of war to control people. Ueshiba’s views on the purpose of martial arts are stated in this part. From a physical point of view, Ueshiba emphasizes the lack of forms in Aikidō (Bruce Lee echoed similar sentiments on this subject.) There is an interesting comparison of Ueshiba to swordsman and Zen master Tesshu Yamaoka (about whom John Stevens also wrote a biography.)

Part three reads like the work of an ancient yogi in places, and, in other places, offers the stern admonitions to train hard that one would expect from a martial arts teacher. A recurring theme is that the martial artist should purge himself of pettiness, be it in the form of being judgmental, materialistic, fearful, selfish, or malicious. He goes as far as to say, “Be grateful even for hardship, setbacks, and bad people.”

Another theme is that one should strive to be natural and to make one’s movement natural. Ueshiba’s advice in this book is about virtue and the mind, and rarely strays into the subject of physical tactics. It does offer a little advice about types of distancing, where one should place one’s gaze, the power of circular movement, as well as discussing technique in the abstract. This is not a criticism. There are other books to learn more about physical technique. However, one should be aware that if one would like to know what Aikidō looks like, this isn’t the book for you.

This thin book provided me with a great deal to think about. I’d recommend it for martial artists, as well as for those interested in the life of this extraordinary man.
Profile Image for SaraLaLa.
185 reviews4 followers
January 1, 2016
If you'd like a page-a-day philosophical affirmations book, then this one's for you. I don't mind the bite-sized chunks this book can be broken into, but for the most part, the subject matter isn't my cup of tea. Several quotes did stand out to me, though.

-"Be grateful even for hardships, setbacks, and bad people. Dealing with such obstacles is an essential part of training in the Art of Peace."

-"Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something."

-"Fiddling with this and that technique is of no avail. Simply act decisively without reserve!"

-"Cast off limiting thoughts..." (the rest of that quote wasn't as important to me)

I did, however, notice that other editions are 40-80 pages longer. Part of me wonders what I missed, while the other part is thankful that I accidentally read the shortest version available.
Profile Image for Rick Marcello.
62 reviews2 followers
October 16, 2013
Let me make this clear. I believe that Jesus Christ is God, Lord, and Savior. What does this have to do with this book? Well the Art of Peace is the basically the philosophy behind the martial art Akido. When I read the book I found it to be very poetic. With that being said I disagreed on a some serious religious and philosophical points. The one that stood out to me was the open denial of Christ and His Way. The book itself again was a quick and excellent read. But if you are not studying the Word of God for yourself you can be lead astray by man's philosophy. I gave it four stars.
Profile Image for Ed.
51 reviews3 followers
October 30, 2016
One of the greatest books for Martial Arts practitioners, written by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido’s creator.

“The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love”
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