O Sensei, or course, was the Founder of Aikido and universally recognized as one of the greatest martial artists of his time—and perhaps of all time. Merton, was a Trappist Monk, a member of the Cistercian Order, and a gifted writer.
Both men were unique individuals who were constantly moving beyond set boundaries. O Sensei redefined the idea of Budo from one of defeating an opponent to that of embracing one’s attacker(s). His evolution eventually culminated in his own understanding and he could embrace the whole Universe.
Merton, who was an ordained Roman Catholic Priest, almost immediately began pushing against the traditions in his Order. He did this first with his internationally acclaimed book “Seven Story Mountain.” And like O Sensei, he kept growing so he was eventually able to write a gem like “Zen And The Birds of Appetite.”
We’ll explore this unique relationship between these two men in future columns. Both men have influenced countless people in the martial arts community here in the Greater Bay Area. I am always amazed (although I shouldn’t be by now) when I bring Merton’s name up among a group of martial artists at how many are familiar with him and his writings.
Both of these men made a difference in my life and I know in the lives of others.
"Seven Story Mountain" is still in print. It can be purchased from any Independent Bookseller. It is the same with "Zen And The Birds of Appetite."
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