Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido – Put Yourself in the Place of Your Partner

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.

Put Yourself in the Place of Your Partner (Sep 24, 2022)

Hello, everyone. 


This morning I’ll read to you “The Principle of Non-dissension.”

“There is no conflict in the absolute universe. Conflict arises only in the relative world. If we are to lead others, we must unify mind and body and practice the principles of the universe. 

Do not say that this is the world of survival of the fittest where the stronger prey upon the weaker. The true way to peace is exactly the same as the principle of non-dissension.”

This morning, we’re looking at the 4th of the Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido,  which is: 

Put yourself in the place of your partner.

When we must deal with some apparently opposing force in our world, we have basically been taught just two options. The first of them is, of course, resistance. And the second one is acquiescence.

Resistance means meeting force with force and engaging in conflict with the person that’s challenging us. And acquiescence means collapsing and bottling up that resistance within us, and then living with that conflict as a great burning fire in our belly. These two are clearly not very good options, both tending to build stress rather than to release stress. Sooner or later, as a human being, we’re going to come to the point of searching for a third way. 

If we search far enough, we might find Aikido, the way to union with Ki of the universe. In Aikido, that third option we offer is called “connection,” or joining together with the other person.  “Putting yourself in the place of your partner.” 

Of course, a very important aspect of this is that it doesn’t mean that we are agreeing with the other partner’s position. That might be counter-productive or even harmful. Similarly, we’re not clinging to our own position. It’s not at all about the positions taken, which are at odds with each other. What are we joining with here is the opponent’s deepest need. We’re honoring their humanity, we’re going to the part of them that is one with us. 

In a daily life situation, this means recognizing and embracing their highest qualities. In the dojo on the mat, it means going directly to the center of that person that is opposing us, joining with them, and moving together from there. This is connection. 

We may think that we are defensive to counter-act the other person’s aggressiveness.  But this is an illusion.  Our defense only arises because of our own aggression, not because of the other’s challenge.  An opponent challenges us to discover if we will put up a defense.  If they see that we do, then they have found what they are looking for, and this is their cue to proceed with further aggression.

It is worth mentioning here that the teacher’s job, through the techniques, and through the general teaching of principles, is to challenge us. That part of us that wants to resist or acquiesce must be left behind. The teacher does not want you to resist, but he also doesn’t want you to acquiesce. I am forever asking you, “Please don’t believe anything I’d say. But find out for yourself.” We don’t want a bunch of acquiescent people out there. But we also don’t want a whole bunch of resistance, fighting against itself and getting nowhere. The whole point of us joining together under the guidance of a teacher is for all of us to be practicing following these principles. As your teacher, I’m requiring myself to do this with you, and as my students, you’re required to do this with me. I polish you. You polish me. We’re partners in this effort. 

We recognize that when we come to Aikido and enlist the help of a teacher, that we are training our own teacher within us. We have a higher nature, and we want our humanity to discover the strength, the courage, the insight within us. In other words, we want to empower our own inner teacher.. So, the teacher that confronts us in the dojo, is addressing the teacher within us, to support that part of us. 

Alright let’s begin with some Ki Breathing 

Ki Breathing – 20 minutes

Ki Meditation – 12 minutes

Mind Body Meditation – 13 minutes

We may all be unlimited universal beings. Yes. But at least for this lifetime, we’ve all agreed to take on this body and embrace more limited goals and activities. And the one that is temporarily in charge of those limited goals and activities within us we sometimes call “small mind.” And the Universal Being or unlimited one we call “universal mind.” 

You might find this a useful way to look at yourself, because the drama that’s being played out in the dojo, with your family, and at work is always the same drama that’s being acted out within you. Life is a mirror, and it always represents what’s happening within each of us, between the small mind and the universal mind. You might think of the small mind as a student that’s growing into the position of teacher and think of the universal mind as being already the teacher, the mature, loving, benevolent supportive part of ourselves. We all know that part, don’t we? And we all know that one is in charge of right action in daily life. And we want to always be guided by this mature side of ourselves, and not just our unstable and limited relative nature. But we need them both, of course. They ultimately must become one. 

Okay, so if you have some comment or question, I’d love to hear it. 

Student: I have a question. Please elaborate on the last phrase you used. You said there is small mind and universal mind and then you said that ultimately, they must become one.

Maybe a better way to say that might be that they’re already one. However, there certainly is an apparent separation. Ultimately, we must grow to understand them both, see them both clearly and experience them as one. We are not broken into pieces. But there is a part of us that is currently responsible for finite activities. So, we would like to have those activities pointing toward a loving resolution of this sense of separation. And as I said before, we’re acting out this drama all the time, outside of us with the difference between separation and unification with other people, sometimes with individuals, sometimes with other groups, sometimes countries and sometimes all of humanity, depending on our ability reach out. 

That is what these five principles are all about. Of course, they are five principles suggesting how to perform techniques in Aikido. And all of these techniques in Aikido are designed to awaken us to this dichotomy that exists between an apparent separate sense of self that gets itself constantly into struggles and conflicts with other people, and then this umbrella consciousness, this overlooking, mature, loving, compassionate, benevolent being that’s helping us learn to use our activities to support this ultimate unification. That is the purpose of our practice, to become one with the universe. So, this is our activity on Earth. It’s what we’re engaged in. And the more we can bring it toward this mature realization, the more useful we’ll be as human beings, and the more complete we will all feel in our lives. 

Okay. Thank you for asking. 

Student: Good morning, Sensei. How do you use the third option, connection, to handle somebody who’s passive aggressive?

Passive aggression is kind of like a combination of Option A and Option B, isn’t it? It’s sort of using force but using acquiescence at the same time. So of course we use Option C, connection. 

But let’s face it. We handle others by handling ourselves. Let’s not look over there. Let’s look at ourselves, because we are the most passive aggressive creatures we know of, right here within ourselves. In other words, our own small self is always looking for ways to assert itself. And at the same time, it’s also often held back by the over controlling super ego, and so not allowed to assert itself. So, the small self becomes passive aggressive to get its way.     

Let’s remember that everything that we’re faced with in our daily lives is a mirror. Life out there, whatever we judge it to be, is simply a reflection of ourselves. It’s a teacher, and every moment is a teaching moment. Every moment is a moment for us to awaken to the mirror, to see that, instead of striking out against what we see, we invite it in, and see it for what it is. We accept it.  And we see there’s much deeper, greater, stronger activity going on underneath this that faces us, and which is always to our benefit. That’s why we say, you know, every problem is an opportunity. Every challenge is an opportunity for us to awaken to our ultimate purpose, which I’m repeating here again and again.

Student: When we connect with the universal in the face of someone else and so connect with them, is that like sending an invitation for them? Are we the “inviter?”

Well, I would say that we’re not just inviting, but also being invited. I think when someone challenges us, that is an invitation for us to see ourselves in a new light. It’s an opportunity for us to practice Shinshin Toitsu Aikido

We must get used to the fact of not being the one in charge. Yes, it’s all about us. But the universe oversees it all. Everything is already unified. So, everything is acting in our benefit, ultimately, in every moment. It often does not look like it is acting in our benefit, because we’re looking at it through a very small, limited lens, the lens of the small mind. But once we can stand back and look from a Universal position, seeing the big picture and long term, then maybe we can see the greater good. Everything is an invitation for us to grow and develop. 

Thank you, everyone. 

Domo arigato gozaimasu