Good afternoon, everyone.
Koichi Tohei Sensei said, “The purpose of our Shinshin Toitsu Aikido practice is to become one with the universe.”
Each one of us here has the responsibility to awaken to our ultimate purpose for being born here on this earth. I am not talking about our relative purposes, yours being unique to you and mine being unique to me. In that regard, you may feel you have already found, and may even be practicing, your purpose. Or maybe you feel you’re still searching for your own individual purpose. However, here I am talking about the purpose of our being born into and living in this physical body in the relative condition called “life on earth.” This ultimate purpose has nothing to do with you as a separate and unique personality. This is the purpose that Tohei Sensei speaks of, when he refers to being “one with the universe.” Our responsibility is to discover this oneness, even though we find ourselves living in this condition of apparent separateness from each other and from everything else in this world.
If you recall, earlier one student was telling us about how grateful he felt during meditation this morning. He reported that he was seeing this incredible body that he is in very clearly for the first time and wondering what he could have done to deserve this gift. He felt he must have been great sometime in the past.
This is a mysterious enigma, isn’t it? Nobody can tell us why we have what we have, are where we are, or are who we are. We’re inexplicably born into a world where each thing is compared against every other thing, and hence everything is in conflict. We experience this conflict, these relative opposites, and we often may wonder why we find ourselves here in the middle of all this.
So, as we move toward fulfilling this ultimate purpose of realizing our unification that I am speaking of, one of the first things we learn is that we cannot control what arises around us in our life situations. We may notice that when we attempt to go out into the world to try to calm these rough waters of life, even with the best of intentions, we only succeed in accentuating, and perhaps perpetuating, those conflicts. Finally, hopefully, we realize our task is to see that we are not required to reflect the conflict of the world within us, even when there is great challenge in the world outside of us to do so.
In other words, we don’t have to conquer war outside of us to have peace within us. We don’t need to reach out and grab other people and insist that they agree with us to feel responsibly fulfilled within ourselves.
In every generation and in every culture, there is someone who notices that the way we feel is dependent upon our own state of mind, not the condition of the external world. This awakening that I’m talking about here, this noticing, we can share with others, but only if they ask. Our responsibility is never to force our understanding of reality on another.
I have a landscape company. In this business most do not know that I also practice Aikido. Some may have discovered it somehow, but not many. I never tell them. I don’t talk about Aikido. If you come to my house and you ask me, then I might say something about this. On the other hand, as you know, in the dojo I am very liberal with my sharing about my discoveries because you are asking, and so this has become my responsibility.
If you have any questions or comments about what you learned this weekend, please ask now.
Student: I would like to know a little more about what it means to be one with the universe. How do we know when we have it, or when we’re in it? I really would like to hear what you have to say about how we know, or don’t know this. What makes you feel you’re lucky as somebody with access to the way of the universe. We may know the way of the universe philosophy, and that the best practice is to follow the way of the universe. But how do we know when we are doing this?
The way that we know we’re following the way the universe is that all other possibilities have been burned away by this fire of noticing within us that I speak of. What is left is just the way that remains for us. And this way is not always the one we would like. Sometimes it’s a relief when we see it, sometimes not. If we see it clearly, then we see that it is neither good nor bad, but that it as the path to which there is no other choice but to follow. This is following the way of the universe.
However, I think this is a much deeper question than what you are asking. We need to boil the sauce down and down before we can serve it. I would like you to wait, and then ask me again next time you see me, “What is this way of the universe?” I think that this question is not burning enough in you yet, yes? Everyone generally has this question. Am I right? We are curious to know, but we are maybe not yet needing to know.
The “way of the universe” is not what I say it is, just because I practiced Aikido for many years. This right here is either the way of the universe right now at this moment or it is not. You tell me?! I am either following the way of the universe right now at this moment or I am not. It’s always now, and right in front of us. To know this directly means we must open our hearts and our minds to that which is noticeable. We must surrender to the moment, no matter what the moment brings.
Student: That makes me want to make a comment. This morning when you asked about our experience in the meditation, my response was not sincere. Because when I was meditating, I was actually thinking about what I had done yesterday at home. I was remembering that I was telling myself, “There’s no way I’m going to finish in time.” And because I was in such a hurry, I suddenly dropped a pitcher of water! Oh, wow! Now, of course, I had to clean it up. So, it was one more thing added to what had to be done to finish in time. All of this happened yesterday, okay? And I just realized during our meditation that I wasn’t here, and that when I was at home, I wasn’t at home. And this is what I noticed today during meditation.
Thank you very much for being sincere and honest about this. Of course, everyone has this same problem you have. Right? Does anyone here not have this problem? Of course, we all have this kind of inconsistency, by not being mentally where we are physically. You may have it a little more intensely than some of the people at this time, since right now you have a huge responsibility. because you’re busy arranging the seminar, and on top of that we are all coming into your home tonight for dinner! I hope you have not changed your mind because the water pitcher broke! Yes, you’ve taken on a lot. So that gives you a lot of pressure.
This is the kind of lesson that teaches us to see, what our purpose is beyond our everyday purpose. Here we can see the importance of shugyo practice. When you had that moment of calmness, when you noticed that you were not present in any situation, here or there, that noticing was awareness awakening anew. This is incredibly valuable. So, thank you for sharing this with us. You were completely out of the moment, and so the universe had to arrange for you to suddenly drop a pitcher of water to get your attention. Sometimes we demand to be reminded. This reminding gave you just a little awakening and then the calmness of meditation allowed you to fully notice this morning. These little awakenings are the most valuable jewels in the universe.
And now please, don’t be shy. I mean, let me say that whatever you ask is always something that many others also have a question about.
Student: I have to say that my ability to concentrate during the meditation took place very quickly this morning. I was amazed! I realized then that maybe it was because the group was somehow helping me to attain this kind of concentration. When I’m at home, during my meditation it is not so easy.
Thank you. This was just this morning. Of course, it is always a help to join with others in any kind of practice like this. However, none of you have had the opportunity yet to do this same kind of meditation [Mind Body Meditation] at home on your own. So, you cannot be sure that this will not be easier at home in the future. We’ll see. Each of you please practice this at home alone, and in the dojo together. When the year is up, I’ll see you again, and you can let me know how it is coming along.
Student: What certain people in the world have been doing lately really bothers me.
Student: The general situation in the world upsets me. It is just not fair.
Can you give me a specific example?
Student: A specific example? Well, you and I together can look at the way things are and see how wrong they are, and see that there might be something that we can do to change this all by ourselves. Can we not? By stepping in to say something, would we be helping or making things worse?
Well, first, we need to have a specific example of this. Because right now you’re thinking conceptually only. I mean you are thinking “what if?” “What if this happens?” Or you are thinking “I need to know what to do if such and such a thing happens.”
We can never know what to do with an imagined situation ahead of time. And worrying about “if” something should happen sometime in the future just makes life in the moment now worse, and does not prepare us in any way. Worrying never helps. The best approach is to practice shugyo, which is practicing resting in the present with equanimity and full attention. This way whenever anything untoward happens to us, we are in the very best state of mind and body to deal with it calmly, peacefully and effectively.
I am not saying “don’t do anything.” I’m saying, “do nothing.” In other words, let’s find the patience and insight within ourselves to calmly allow ourselves to see through the fog of emotional reactivity, which is actually what is causing this disturbance to begin with. This way we can intuit the way of the universe and know the path that we are to follow. In this way, when we come upon a specific situation in the future, we will know immediately what needs to be said or done, if anything.
We often imagine that our first reaction to a difficult situation is the correct response. Yes? But that’s rarely true. Maybe, if we are completely free of emotional reactivity, we could depend upon our first response being useful.
However, for most of us, we need to calmly see if the situation is something we want to take action on, and if so, exactly what kind of action. We may have to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to die for this.” Do we simply want to be of true service to the people in our lives? This is very fine. But are we very clear what that may mean, ultimately? In my business office we have the “24 hour rule.” This means that, if we receive a phone message, a text, or an email that disturbs us in any way, we must wait 24 hours before we respond. This rule reflects a sensible requirement for most human beings.
Of course, we are always perfectly free to do as we feel works best in any situation. And doubt is a good thing. I don’t think we should believe outright anything a teacher says. But if you respect what I am suggesting, you may want to find out for yourself. Perform an experiment. Try every way you feel moved to bring change in the world, and in one year you can report back to us what you have discovered. You can then tell us if you have found what you have been able to change and what you have not been able to change. You may discover that changing the world is not done in the way you imagined at all. Usually, when we go about trying to change the world directly, we simply make things worse. Change does happen, and yes, we can certainly be involved in that change, but the method this takes may not be necessarily as obvious as we think. Occasionally, because someone is in the perfect place at the perfect time and that is the only thing they can do, we see something amazing happen. But this is very rare. Most change does not come about this way. Please note that your teacher, Carbonell Sensei, is nodding his head in agreement right now.
These are very good questions, important things to bring up. It is always good to share this kind of thing that you might have going on inside you. Because if we don’t speak up, the problem just holds on to us with a kind of grip that we carry around within us. However, if we bring it up and share it like this in this kind of moment, then maybe some clarity can come to us as a result.
Well okay so let’s talk about this again in a year. It may seem like a problem is all consuming to you, but I suggest that it is not all consuming enough yet, that unless you are burning inside with this, it is not sufficient merely to be bothered by it. This must become such that we cannot go on without it being resolved. When we reach that point, the answer will begin to appear right in front of us. Until then, we are just bothered by the problem and wondering about what might be done about it.
I hope all this helps just a little bit. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.
Domo arigato gozaimashita.