The following is a lecture by Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. It seems to be important to our journey here as noders, as well as our lives as scientists, geeks, and humans. It is copied here from Mitsugi Saotome's book The Principles of Aikido. Shambhala sue me, but I believe that both O-Sensei and Saotome Sensei would agree that allowing others to enjoy the benefits of this speech is important enough to allow the text to be reprinted here. If the Powers that Be deign it not so, please let the node gods know ASAP.
"First You must gain insight into the natural world. You must learn to see the depths of its reality. I you glance casually over the things of this life, their real significance eludes you.
"I want my students to observe all of life's phenomena. This includes listening to people, taking what is valuale from what they do and say and making it your own. All of this is raw material for your reflection and your inspiration. I can begin to open your soul. Paying attention to the realities of this world will lead you to fresh insights. If you make use of these insights in your daily life and contemplate the results, your life will beome more orderly. Step by step you will raise your spiritual level. Persevering in this kind of honet and open-minded examination of yourself and the world] will eventually enable you to grasp the divine wisdom and supreme consciousness that inhabit the material world. I want my students to accept life in all its forms as their teacher. If they succeed in doing this, they will grow in both depth and purity. The vital energy of nature is the gratest teacher of all.
Examine the orderly cycles of the sun, moon, and stars, the gradual change of the seasons, the flow of a river through an open valley, or the graceful movement of water as it rushs between rocks. You can learn to see parallel movements within your own body as well. You will also gain knowlege and progress toward true understanding by reading ancient texts and studying the many wonderful interpretations of them by teachers past and present. You must then translate the insights that you gain into your daily life and practice them through the way of bu. As you experience things on an increasingly deeper level, you must continually reexamine the truth of your understanding of reality and nature. Both the written and the spoken word will help you toward this goal. It is the task of the budoka to make what he learns new and to make it an integral part of himself. The student of budo cannot afford to overlook the fine arts or the sciences. Knowledge surrounds us in an infinite variety of forms. Do not slight any of them or take any of them lightly.
"There is nothing in this world that cannot teach us. Some people, for example, will shy away from the teachings of religion. This is evidence that they have not grasped the deeper meaning of these teachings. Religious teachings contain much insight and wisdom. You must understand this and express your understanding through budo.
"In my younger days, I became a convert of a certain religion, and in one of its songs I discovered a phrase concerning "the plum flower that blossoms once in three spiritual worlds." First, the five petals of the plum blossom represent the five forms of universal energy: earth, water, fire, wind, and sky. If you think of the plum blossom in this way, you will discover in this phrase a lesson about the universe itself. You can see the plum blossom as an actual manifestation of the universal spirit. Also, in the way that the plum blossom opens only once and never again you can see the reflection of the unique beginning of creation. Looked at differently, the opening of the plum blossom represents the opening of the rock door of heaven told in Japanese mythology.
"This world is actually a complete manifestation of Heaven and Earth. We, as human beings created in the same divine, universal image, must make this earth into a truly heavenly place. We must complete and perfect human society. It is important that the people who train themselves in budo encompass the universe within themselves. The mission of Aikido is to achieve this harmony with the universe. To accomplish this must become your whole mind and heart."