"Rain drips from the  trees, a school of fish." Here is a famous Zen story that may or may not be true about the famous swordsman and calligrapher Yamaoka Tesshu.

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku. Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.” Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry. “If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”

For the US, the month of July revolves around our independence day which is on July 4th.  For martial artists, we train to attain a state of nothingness or emptiness.  Emptiness or nothingness is erroneously equated with some type of nihilism where we will reach a state of not caring.  Emptiness is quite the opposite where rather than not caring we have a deeper sense of caring and maybe even care more.  The idea of emptiness is more about attaining a state where the "you" no longer exist because of the realization of how we fit into the larger picture.  The idea of being independent is a myth.  Can you grow, harvest and cook your own food?  I know I can't.  Everything and everyone depends on one another and without this cooperation we would all perish.

Aikido is the physical representation of people living at a higher consciousness.  Think about what it means to take someone's ukemi.  By taking someone's ukemi what you are saying is, "I will sacrifice myself for you, please use me to develop yourself to a higher state or a better place."  So taking someone's ukemi is possibly what Aikido is really all about.  Every religion talks about being of service to your fellow man.  But what they aren't telling us is that when we do something for others we are being the people that we always wished we would become even if it is for just a moment.

If nothing exists, do you?  Please think of others before you think of yourselves.  If you can't, then maybe just try and take someone's ukemi until you figure it out.  It just might make the world a better place.  For if they exists, so do you.