Zen Wood

Why I Make Kamidana

An article by John Clark
Published in Aikido Today Magazine and reprinted here with permission.
The Shinto religion teaches that all things are expressions of One. Shinto honors the living spirits (kami) in all life, in the trees, rivers, and mountains, which are the body and mind of us all.

Heart to heart
the self's communion with the self
each as a known expression
of the One.

In the Japanese martial arts, a shrine is placed at the head of the dojo to honor the spirit of Budo - the training of ones mind and body.

O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, often talked about uniting the universal ki with our personal ki. When this was successfully done, he understood that, "I am the universe". As he understood, we are not separate from the universe, but expressions of it. We are already one.

John Clark, working on a shrine

A handmade Kamidana by John Clark

Every morning, O-Sensei practiced chincon-kishin in front of a Kamidana to calm the spirit, return to the divine, and center the mind and the body. Before training, he sat before a Kamidana to bring his ki and kokyu into tune with the energy pattern of the universe. By placing a Kamidana in the dojo and following O-Sensei's example, we will always be aware that our energy is an expression of the universal energy. We each will have the possibility of realizing that we too can truly say. "I am the universe."


Zen Wood