Body and Mind

Onegai shimasu. I hope everyone is very good today I’d like to read Shokushu #17 tonight, “Reiseishin.”

We as human beings are given a mind that is directly connected to the universe. This is Reiseishin.
Water, when it settles, can clearly reflect the moon. When our mind becomes calm, Reiseishin expresses itself clearly and unmistakably. Once this mind arises, in that moment any selfish urges and desires disappear, and the universal mind of love and protection for all things shines forth.

Let us polish our Reiseishin.“
Tonight is our second saying of Koichi Tohei Sensei on our list of 37: “The body has limitations but the mind has none.”

Now, the fundamental teaching of Ki Society is that mind and body are one. Right? Mind and body are unified, not separate, not two different things. And yet right here in only the second quote, he clearly says the body is one kind of thing with limitations, and the mind is another thing altogether with no limitations. So my question is, how can this be?

While we consider that we’ll do some Ki Breathing. (19 min. Ki Breathing)

Ok, stretch …
Before we go any further, I’d like to ask Sayaka Reasoner to read “The body has

limitations but the mind has none” in Japanese for us. (Reading in Japanese)

Thank you very much. So the body, in this sense, is the world of the senses: smell taste, sight, hearing, feeling. It’s the dualistic world, the relative world, the world Tohei Sensei called “shoga.” It is a world of limitation: it’s up and down, left compared to right, good compared to bad, pleasure compared to pain. Everything is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Nothing is by itself, separate from everything else. Everything is interdependent. Everything in the world of senses and the world of the body is limited by everything else. Every time one little thing happens, it changes the entire physical universe. Everything is always relative to something else.

So nothing stands by itself in the world of the body. That’s what the limitation is. This limitation means it’s not free, it’s tied to all these conditions, whereas mind is completely free and without limitation. But if I can say it this way, body has its own little mind, it has a little body-mind. We call it the “selfish mind” or the “ego.” And that little mistaken notion is given enough of mind, just enough to get itself into trouble and just enough to get itself out of trouble. So it is a practicing mind: keiko, it’s always trying to improve itself, it’s always trying to get out of the worst condition and get into a better condition. But it’s very limited! It doesn’t have freedom to be completely free of that striving. The striving is required for it to be, for its very existence. So that when something comes along that challenges that, we either fight it off, fighting to survive and using whatever power we can find to win, or we collapse and just give up in the face of it all. We are unable to resolve that without big mind. We can’t connect with everything and everyone that’s around us without big mind or universal mind or Tohei Sensei calls “Reiseishin.”

Now, he also has another word I want to remind you of: “taiga.” So he calls the physical world of the senses – the body world, that small body mind – he calls that world “shoga.” The kind of training we do to improve that world is called “keiko.” When he uses the word taiga, that’s not just mind world, it’s mind and body world together, unified. It’s mind and body naturally connected. It’s everything as it is already without struggle. We often see taiga as off against shoga, as if there is this relative mind and then there is also this absolute mind, and they’re completely separate. But that’s not what taiga means. Taiga means everything at once. Shoga means small mind only. Taiga means big mind and small mind, unified. We call this “mind and body unified.”

I always say, “When you come to the dojo, bring everything.” Don’t leave the part of yourself home that has bad habits and never bring that person to the dojo. Don’t leave the part of you at home who has tendencies, who carries baggage, who has a lot of stuff. Bring that with you to the dojo because that’s where it gets resolved, because that’s where mind and body unification can take place. That’s what we’re all focused on when we’re in the dojo and when we’re in this class, same thing right here.

I wanted to read Reiseishin tonight because it talks about calmness. When the pond is really still, it reflects the moon or a bird if it’s flying by. It reflects you; it reflects your partner; it reflects everything in the sense world, clearly. So he says when we are experiencing Reiseishin, then mind and body are together. And then he says that all those concerns – he calls them “urges, desires, and fears,” all those distractions born out of delusion – those things are all set aside. It’s not because they’re wrong or we judge them as being bad. It’s because when we’re filled with, as he says, love of the Universe, when we’re in Reiseishin. When our mind body are unified, then we’re very satisfied. There’s no room for negativity of any kind. It’s not that it’s wrong or that you’ve chased it away or that you’re too good for it. It’s just not necessary any longer. Negativity is only necessary when we’re afraid and confused, when we’re dependent upon that little bit of selfish mind that we took from big mind. Well, maybe we were given it but we certainly misuse it, don’t we? When that’s active, that’s when there can be no peace on earth. Within you, when you have mind and body unification, you are at peace. You are living love. Everything is complete and satisfactory.

The mind that has no limitations is the mind that we want to use to join with the body that has all these limitations so that we can live in this world, in the sense world, and still have peace and love and limitless freedom. In the dojo, that’s what we are practicing all the time. When I grab your wrist and hold it, when I give you any kind of a Ki test, I’m checking to see if you have mind-body unified. In other words, are you going to fight back, or give up and collapse, or are you going to meet me and connect with me as unified. If you do that, then you pass the Ki test.

So every technique that we have –hitori wazaoneness rhythm taisotoitsu taiso, all the different exercises, kiatsu, bokken and jo – everything we do is for this one single purpose: That’s to be in mind-body unification while in the body. Even in meditation – Ki breathing is much more obvious because we’re actually concentrating on the breathing. We bring mind to body, and let the mind guide the breathing. So we have mind-body unification. Even when we’re sitting in meditation, we’re resting in the body, in our kinetic sense of feeling.

The question that I gave you in the beginning of class was: “The body has limitations and the mind has none, and yet mind and body are one. How can these two things both be true?” Do you have the answer now? Taiga.

I want to say one other thing. I noticed last Friday that each of the groups came back with a question, but the nature of the question was always the same and it was: “How do I deal with the other person that’s causing the problem?” That made me realize that maybe it isn’t real inquiry this’s going on here. Our practice is to notice that which is going on within us, not with others.

This discussion, the way we do this is, we practice noticing, but in a group. First of all, every subject that we have as a point of interest in our Aikido practice is somewhat difficult to understand. We all understand different parts of it, perhaps. Maybe no one sees the whole elephant but everybody sees different parts of it. Ok? So if you sit for a full 15 minutes discussing what it is that each of you doesn’t understand about this, if that’s the query you have, if you’re truly inquiring into the nature of this subject, the first thing you’ll come up with is at least one of the things that you don’t understand about it. And there you have: your particular question. Then you get all of those questions from each person together and you pick a spokesperson and you pick the overall question you all agree to ask. There’s simply no way that you can have a discussion of this kind, for 15 minutes on a challenging subject, and only come up with, “Well, we don’t have any questions.” You might as well say, “There’s nothing we don’t understand about this. We understand it completely.”

Of course, we know that’s not the case, and it only happens because the discussion is not being used to discover what it is that it does to you, personally, whatever it is. What is it that I don’t understand about this subject? Your job as an individual in this group is to inquire into your own nature, to notice what it is that you don’t understand, and bring it up boldly and discuss it with each other. Then once you come back, you’ll have something pretty meaningful because it will come from all of you.

(15 minute discussion break)

Student: Hi everybody. Good morning, good evening. We had a very interesting discussion, and everyone basically had a similar way of thinking about this: that one saying uses the word “mind” in a certain aspect, and then another uses the word “mind” in a different aspect. We‘re always using the word “mind” and it seems to be using different definitions of what we talk about. Basically, our question is: I can see all of this. I see my thinking mind causing separation, but then I can see that my mind and body are one when we have a Ki test, and my state of mind is very calm and I have universal mind. I can see all that. I can see my body, I can see my thoughts, I can see my state of mind. So who am “I” in all this? That would be our basic question.

That’s your question?
Student: Yes.
That’s a good question. Ok, let’s just take a look at this for a minute.

First of all, when you have thoughts about something, there’s a reason for that, and the reason for the thoughts tells you where the thought came from and what it’s for. If it’s organizing the sense world for you, then that thought structure is important to listen to, all right? But if you get interrupted by a thought in meditation, probably there’s a desire or a fear that’s driving that thought. That’s a completely different kind of thinking. So that distinction is important.

You asked me, “Who am I?” This is the oldest question in the Universe, of course. If there was a descriptive answer to that, you would already know it. “I” is a little bit like “mind.” It depends on what you mean by “I.” Usually when we say “I”, we’re referring to our constructed being, our shoga personality that has a name and has a body and has a personality, a job, a family, a constructed identity of sorts. That “I” is the “I” of the sense world. That is the “I” of the body and that is an “I” that is borrowed. It’s limited and can never be free because it’s borrowed from something infinitely larger. In the introduction at one point I said it was “stolen,” and another time I said it was “given.” I think it’s more accurate, and more generous, to say that it’s “allowed” to take place for our own benefit, so that we can see just where that will lead us. So in illumination in surfeit, when we’ve noticed this enough, then we’ll stop trying to imitate God and we’ll start listening.

Now that doesn’t mean there is no center to you, that there is no “You-ness,” there is no “I-ness.” There is the “I” who is “I,” but that can never be known because the only one to know it is the “I” itself, and that “I” is the one that’s looking to begin with. So there’s no way it can see because it’s the seer, never the seen. Always, it is awareness itself. That’s not what Tohei Sensei means when he says “mind,” in this case. “Mind” here is the manifestation of “I” who is “I” on all levels. In the introduction, I tried to define the levels, the way they are and the way we use them. I didn’t take a lot of time to do that but here again, that’s basically the sense body and the relative condition, and the limitations of that, and the taiga mind that includes everything. When we get an inspiration, when we get creative, when we are loving, when we’re truly supportive and holding someone in our arms, then mind and body unification is happening. Tohei Sensei used to say, “Whenever you are hungry and you eat a meal, that’s mind and body unification.” In some sense he’s saying when you move beyond the limitation, when you’re not suffering, you’re getting a glimpse of what it’s like. But of course it’s only a glimpse. So that’s why we practice, so that our glimpse of the unseen becomes seen, that which is not immediately available to us through a period of years of practice gradually becomes made available to us.

That’s all I have to say about that. Thank you for the question. It was cheeky that question, but thank you.

Student: So we had a discussion and different points of view to look at. One was, for example, to look at this like a car and driver. They are somehow together but still separated. What came up in me during Ki Breathing was to notice that what I see depends on how I look at it. That’s always the case: what I know, how I see something depends on how I am looking. So when shoga and taiga came up that just underlines that if I look at it from a shoga type of view, I will see separation. And if I look at it from taiga, I will just see how it is unified. So the question has to be, “How to get more into taiga? How to see more of the complete view?”

Yes, well of course, how to see more of taiga, how to experience taiga on a deeper and deeper level, is our practice. Right? That’s why we’re practicing with that in our mind, in our heart. We want to open more and more to that. The only reason that’s difficult for us is because of the conditioning and structures that are in the subconscious mind and that blind us to the light. They obscure, they screen out the light so that we can’t really experience life as much. And we’re constantly revealing those screens when we speak, when we act in the sense world, we’re constantly expressing those things that are hidden in our subconscious mind. Everybody else knows more about me than I do; everybody knows more about you than you do. Because everybody listens and hears, “Ah, very interesting.”

Very often we don’t see it for ourselves. So we must learn to listen to what we say – I was talking about this last class – we listen to what we say. We see what we do in our actions and we notice these again and again and again. We don’t judge them. We don’t try to change them. We don’t do anything in that regard. We just notice it and sooner or later the self-insistence begins to wear out. It just can’t act anymore. It doesn’t have the power. It loses its ability to control us. Those conditioned structures begin to fall away through our noticing.

That’s our practice – noticing. If you think about it, that’s everything we’re doing in the dojo. Even when we’re doing physical Aikido. Right now I am pointing it out to you. But in the dojo I might be moving or doing some kind of cutting or some kind of exercise that demonstrates this practice. While you and I are doing this in the dojo, we are busy noticing. We are in awareness. So we’re noticing what it is that’s being revealed through our movement about our subconscious mind, about what we’re holding on to that we won’t let go of. It’s a wonderful thing, our practice. I’m very grateful for it. Thank you for your question or your comments.

Student: Hello, Sensei. Actually, you answered my question several times already with the other questions. It was about the bridge between the shoga mind and the taiga mind that can be achieved through the training of Aikido.

Did you want to say something else?

Student: Well, since you answered a lot of that already, I would like to what is maybe it’s more like a testimony from myself. Through the training of Aikido I have achieved infinite possibilities that I had no idea before I started. And not only in my mind but in my body, the limitless possibility of the body, through having access to the wider possibilities to the training or maybe accessing more of the taiga mind.

Yes, I would like to repeat that the One Point is that transition point. It is that bridge. It is that gateway between the body and the mind, in other words, between shoga and taiga. When we Keep One Point, we are instantly – not instantly, we don’t have a word for it because it’s before instantly – we are already in mind-body unification as One Point is activated. Because One Point is that. So it’s not right to say we are instantly plunged into taiga like that, but instead it is already taiga. It is our very nature, in other words. Then there suddenly is, “Oh, right! Unlimited possibility. Oh, sure, yes, of course.”

I think it was Kayomi who mentioned one time when she got upset about her computer, she completely forgot what she was doing. She forgot all about taiga. She forgot all about composure. She forgot all about not being pissed off. And we all know what that feels like: when we lose it, when we lose our One Point. Sometimes we forget even when we’re sitting in meditation. We just become distracted by an urge of some kind, a need of some kind is arising and makes us think about something. Then we wake up from that and go, “Oh, unlimited possibilities. Oh, mind and body unification. Oh, right, One Point.”

Your mind-body unity is what is used to access taiga, because it is taiga. It’s not from thinking about taiga. You don’t think about One Point. You just are in One Point. You just are, you just remember One Point. It’s not the same as thinking about the aspects of One Point on and on and on. You could write a book about it – I have – but that’s not the same. Reading that book doesn’t make it for you – you have to actually do it. It’s the mind-body unity. That is the secret.

Always nice to hear what you have to say. Thank you. Next.

Student: Hello. Good morning, good evening. I suppose what you said covers pretty much the point we wanted to make. But the background is that people express a feeling of deprivation about the lack of body contact, the lack of physical contact and the fact that they’re missing the possibility in the dojo to be in contact with people and this feels like deprivation.

At the same time, people observe that the current situation is offering us plenty of opportunities to experience our lack of unification because we are so much disturbed by things that are happening in our life, in our countries, etc. People are confronted with difficult situations and they can see they are having troubles keeping this unification. Then there was a discussion about do we really understand what taiga mind is about. Because in the sentence “The body has limitation but the mind has none,” when reading the sentence, are we not understanding mind, well, the word “mind”? We understand it wrongly because we have difficulties grasping what taiga mind is about. We end up confusing this with what we experience mostly, which is the shoga mind. I’m not sure I’m passing across the message clearly enough. Basically there’s difficulty grasping what taiga mind is about. At the same time people understand the idea of unification. Earlier, you said, “When we are not suffering, we are experiencing taiga.” So these are easy things but …

I think maybe the simplest thing to look at here is the simplicity of a toolbox. What we call “shoga” is like a toolbox. Some people have really sharp tools in their box. With some people, the tools are all rusty and dull, not so good. Because you have to take them out and use them, and you have to sharpen them all the time. You have to take really good care of your tools, right? And you have to develop better and better tools. That’s all of our keiko practice. That toolbox is very very useful. However this depends completely upon who is using it and who’s taking care of it and what the nature of it is.

When we have mind-body unification, we cannot do any harm with out tools. We can be nothing but supportive with the tools that we have. It might be as a butcher, as a baker, as a candlestick maker; it might be his peace corps worker; it might be as a college professor and it might be as a government official and it might be as a simple contractor like me. Whatever it is that you use it for, the ultimate use of the tool is to Keep One Point.

As I was discussing with Olaf, the “I,” the original I, is awareness itself, and is accessed through free will. That’s the will that everybody talks about, that we’re given: we have free will. So when we use that free will to choose to Keep One Point, when we choose taiga, when we choose mind-body unification, then the tools are all used exquisitely in the way they were made for. That’s what Tohei Sensei means when he says, “all wicked desires and urges fall away.” In other words, all the negative uses of the tools don’t come into play as long as we are connected to who we actually are, our source, awareness itself.

That’s what I have to say there. Thank you very much.

Student: We had a very lively discussion, some great ideas, and it also proved to be kind of a frustrating subject for some. For some maybe we can’t even imagine limitlessness, can’t even conceive of it. So how can we possibly experience it? And then for some of us, we can imagine it and we can conceive of it but how can we actually experience it? It’s not the same. And I’ll go even one further here and ask: How can we truly know that we are experiencing limitlessness, mind-body unification, and not just thinking about it?

Ok. That’s great! The nature of limitlessness or infinity is that it cannot be conceived. That’s the nature of it! That’s what that means: inconceivable. It cannot be imagined. It cannot be conceived. That’s what’s so beautiful about it! It can only be experienced.

Now, here’s the interesting thing to me about this: We live in this limited world of senses, this relative world, and yet we constantly experience the infinite, relatively. But we only experience so much of it at any one time. Of course, while we’re in the body we don’t get to experience all of infinity. That is a non sequitur anyway. There’s no such thing. There couldn’t be an “all of infinity” because infinity is infinite. There’s no “allness” to it. It is infinite. It’s beyond anything we think of as whole. In other words, it’s beyond this relative world. So as long as we’re in a relative condition, we’re only going to be experiencing some degree of taiga, some degree of the unseen. But our practice brings us closer and closer and deeper and deeper and fuller and fuller so that as the energy of the subconscious mind – that is bound up in all our garbage, all our baggage, all our stuff – is released, then we begin to experience more and more of the unseen, of infinity, of the normally unavailable. And as that begins to happen, of course, it feeds itself. So as we begin to see more, we see that there’s an infinity to be seen. So it’s very humbling, but at the same time it’s tremendously exciting. What a journey! What an adventure that is infinitely opening to us all the time, but we can never reach all of it and that’s the nature of, not just our practice, that’s the nature of life itself. That is why we’re here.

Thank you very much. Ok, next.

Student: Sensei, I actually do have a question. “The body has limitations but the mind has none.” This kind of reminded me of a saying in a movie. It’s basically Birth of the Dragon, and one of Bruce Lee’s opponent’s says, “Oh, now you begin to see your limits.” And Bruce Lee says, “What limits?”

I do have a question. You know, with some of these sayings I feel like there’s a positive and a negative, in a way. I feel that there’s a great deal of pain and suffering that can be caused by “without limitations.” And folks think in their mind, sometimes they feel like they don’t have any limitations. Their mind doesn’t think that they should have limitations and so they’re depressed. And of course, with a lot of change and with a lot of limitations there’s a lot of sacrifice. Right? You sacrifice certain things by not having limitations.

Hmmm…when I was in college, I remember one evening realizing that I had lived my whole life up to then thinking that I was looking for freedom. And by “freedom” I meant “free to do whatever I wanted to do when I wanted to do it!” At that time I suddenly realized that’s not freedom at all. Freedom is being free not to do it! In other words, true freedom is being free not to be a slave to anything within yourself. This is a part of awakening. It’s a little tiny part but it’s an important part because there’s still a lot of that at large in our world. For instance the mask-wearing thing: People say, “That’s not freedom! I’m not going to wear a mask!” And a lot of harm can come from that fundamental misunderstanding of what freedom is. That’s adolescence, not freedom.

Mind is limitless, but the body definitely has limits.
Ok. Thank you very much. Stay healthy! Domo arigato gozaimashita.

(Online Training with Christopher Curtis Sensei, 20. October 2020)