Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido – Lead and Move

The original discussion of the Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido was in during the Zoom online training on June 12, 2022. Subsequently, in September and early October, we had discussions of the individual five principles, for which the transcripts are provided following the links below:
Sep 4: Ki is extending
Sep 11: Know your partner’s mind
Sep 18: Respect your partner’s Ki
Sep 24: Put yourself in the place of your partner
Oct 9: Lead and move.

Lead and Move (Oct 9, 2022)

Hello Everyone.

This morning let’s read Shokushu # 13. “The Unity of Calm and Action”

“Just as a top spinning very rapidly mimics a calm state, true calmness is the height of action. 

As the eye of the typhoon is always calm, movement gains its strength from this calmness. Calmness and action are exactly one. By always experiencing our One Point and unifying our mind and body, spare time appears when busy, and we don’t lose our calm mind, even when facing important jobs. In such a state, we are able to perform extraordinary works.”

This morning, we are going to address the fifth of the Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, meaning mind body unified Aikido. And that fifth principle is:

Lead and Move. 

Yes, I think that it is really important to recognize that when we talk about these five principles, or any principles for that matter, these are not injunctions. These are not things that Tohei Sensei is telling us that we should do. It’s easy to read them that way. However, these are not things that we can do. We cannot make ourselves put ourselves in the place of the other person, we can’t make ourselves respect them, we can’t make ourselves know their mind. It’s not an action that can be done. No, these are descriptions of a responsive state of mind, which means the state of mind responding to the relationship you’re experiencing with another person, your partner. 

So, what is it that we’re going to be doing then? I mean, this is “doing” our practice, and there are known aspects of this practice. These aspects are a way of defining our practice. The principles are descriptions of what it will be like for us when we are practicing Shinshin Toitsu Aikido. We will find ourselves knowing the other person’s mind. We will find ourselves respecting our partner. We will find ourselves standing in the shoes of our partner, or we will find ourselves leading and moving together with our partner. 

Do you see the difference here? This is very important to recognize. Otherwise, we might be chasing something that we cannot catch. So here are the four characteristics or aspects of our practice. I didn’t make these up. The person I first heard them from was Ken MacLeod, who is

person I know that teaches Tibetan Buddhist in California. But he didn’t make them up either. These four aspects of our practice are perennial, never beginning and never ending. These are always the case.

The four characteristics or aspects of practice are, #1, Always “show up.” Don’t just physically show up, but bring our attention to the moment, whatever it is.

#2, “Open.” This is means of course, open our hearts and minds. And maybe the way we experience this is by opening our awareness. We say, “pay attention.” We bring our full attention to the moment and open to this. So, we’re like a flower that’s open so it can receive the sunlight. 

And #3 is “Follow.” We follow the moment with our open attention, we follow the thread, we don’t lose the thread of whatever’s happening in the moment. We’re in it. We’re loving it. We’re enjoying it. We’re in the moment, completely. We are not lost and confused and troubled and resisting. 

When I was a young man, it was called being in “the groove.” But I didn’t really realize what that meant at that time. I thought that just referred to listening to music. However, music is a good example of that. For instance, if we want to enjoy the music, we have to follow completely and we have to be in it. Completely experiencing it, letting it in. And then we can enjoy it. 

And then the 4th principle is to accept whatever is happening and continue. Some people have trouble with this one. Accepting doesn’t mean following any invitation down the proverbial rabbit hole. No, no, no. Accepting means to connect, to be completely present with whatever it is. If we call it good, we’re liable to play into it. If we call it bad, we’re liable to reject it. We just see what’s happening for what it is, not judging it to be one way or the other. 

This is like having a good time. We can’t really make ourselves have a good time. We just find ourselves enjoying something. We find ourselves in a state of delight or enjoyment. We might try to repeat something because last time it was fun, but this time it might not be fun. Then we might find ourselves doing something that we didn’t particularly want to do, and then suddenly realize we’re having fun.! We never know what going to be next. 

We often think that all of this has to do with what’s happening out there. But what Tohei Sensei is teaching us is that everything depends on what’s happening in here, and not what’s going on out there. It’s our response to what’s going on out there that counts. That gives us the freedom to respond spontaneously to “lead and move.” It gives us the freedom to have a good time, no matter what is happening, to be satisfied and fulfilled by our life.

Okay, so I hope this gives us something to sit with.

Let’s do some Ki Breathing.

Ki Breathing 20 minutes

Ki Meditation 12 minutes

Mind Body Meditation 13 minutes

Leading and moving is following the thread of the action. I’m wondering how did you do in following the thread just now?

Even in Meditation or Ki Breathing there are the Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido. Well, as a matter of fact, this is in everything, yes? I mean, just like kakudaiho and shuchuho. Can you follow that? Kahudaiho is infinite largeness. Can you become that infinitely enlarging massive, powerful, ongoing entirety of the universe? What if that’s you? Tohei Sensei says in his Ki Breathing Shokushu, “You will feel that you are the universe, and that the universe is you.” 

Can you experience this? This is what kakudaiho shuchuho is all about, yes? You experience that you are this universe in kakudaiho. We have the experience of being that infinitely immense and powerful. And then in shuchuho, the universe is you. The universe becomes infinitely small. Imagine the intensity of the power of the universe as it condenses, becoming smaller and smaller and smaller in our very center, the One Point in the lower abdomen.  

I’m always amazed at Tohei Sensei’s insight. Of course, this is not something he invented. And by “insight” I mean he was able to perceive that we are the universe, and that the universe is us. And that’s not just an idea, you know, but if we follow the thread as we’re sitting, then we can have this experience to the degree that our capacity of attention allows. 

Please someone tell me what their experience of this is like.

Student: Good morning, Sensei.

Good morning. How’s Germany?

Student: Infinite. Yes. When I do kakudaiho shuchuho, it is becoming increasingly faster.  Like with kakudaiho, it’s not so much larger and larger or more and more. It’s not a process anymore. It’s just instantly here and it stays here. When shuchuho happens, it’s all at once. So as meditation continues, I’m not actually doing kakudaiho shuchuho. It’s just when you say kakudaiho, “Yes.” And when you say shuchuho, “Yes,” One point is here. It’s all here at once.

Thank you. Tohei Sensei says that if we have a different experience with kakudaiho and shuchuho, then this is not correct. It’s just two ways of looking at or experiencing the same thing. So, this is a very nice description of that. Thank you. 

Someone else? What’s it like for you?

Student: Good morning, Sensei. Yeah, so, you know, it seemed at the end of the Mind Body Meditation, that what you’re describing was happening, right? This kind of outgoing. But it’s almost like I was lost in that. Like I wasn’t here. And so, when you hit the sokuboku, it was like, “Oh, right!” It was almost like a reverie in this sense. So, you know, I’m wondering if you could say something about that about that. You know, it doesn’t seem to be quite right. It was more like being lost in it.

Yes, you can get mesmerized, I think. That reminds me of my time in the three-year meditation retreat. When I finally began to get into meditation, I really thought I got it. I finally thought, “Okay, this is what the teacher is talking about” Because I would hear these descriptions think to myself, “Oh, this is it.” And I was truly in reverie. But I had actually learned to hypnotize myself. Sometimes this can happen when we’re listening to music. And it’s not that there is something wrong here. It’s just that this kind of mesmerization cannot be called meditation. In that case we are not alert, we are not following the thread, we have lost the thread and we are off in “ya-ya land.” It’s very pleasant, and it’s fine, I suppose. But look out, as you’re suggesting, if we begin to think it is the real thing. 

This losing of ourselves can, of course happen with thought, following a thought thread. It can happen with an emotion, self-indulgence. It can even happen with a simple intention, a goal. We can lose ourselves in the goal itself. So yeah, this is a good point I think here. I said it’s just like having a good time. But it’s not like losing yourself in the good time. When that happens, the good time is over. 

It’s like people taking a drug to give themselves that sense of losing it. They want to lose the thread because they just can’t stand following it. We must be able to be in the thread no matter how challenging it is, no matter how difficult, no matter how the thing is prying us open and exposing the hot molten emotion that we’ve been carrying for all these years, whatever it might be. 

I am glad you brought this up.  Because I don’t want people to think from my description, or from what anybody is saying here today, that it might be a goal of some kind to become blissfully lost in some way. It’s very easy to forget about being attentive. Some people tend to fall asleep when meditating. This means that your capacity of attention, your ability to follow that thread is being inhibited. It’s a kind of lazy habit, dropping away and moving into a kind of trance. Ultimately, that’s how we go to sleep each night, and of course that’s fine. But if we don’t want to sleep, if that’s not what is happening in the moment, then we need to follow these four aspects of practice, show up, open, follow the thread, and accept and then move on again. And following this is a constant mantra, this is a constant thing that’s happening in our being, and on and on and on. 

Okay, this is the end of the Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido discussions. 

Thank you very much. 

Domo arigato gozaimasu