Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido – Know Your Partner’s Mind

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.

Know Your Partner’s Mind (Sep 11, 2022)

Hello everyone.


 This morning, I’d like to read Shokushu #17  “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 expressed 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.”

These Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido; Ki is extending, Know your partner’s mind, Respect your partner’s Ki, Put yourself in the place of your partner, and Lead and move, are not just a way to learn how to perform physical techniques of Aikido. They are much more than that. This is a code from Tohei Sensei, a code to us for how to become a loving and useful friend.

We are often challenged by people. It might be a stranger that challenges us, but it’s much more likely to be someone that we know, someone who is or has been a friend, and for some reason is feeling disenfranchised or dismissed. Somehow, some misunderstanding has taken place.

And for that reason, we’re being confronted in some way. This is when we need to know our partner’s mind. When we say, “know someone’s mind,” we don’t just mean their specific complaint.  That may or may not be useful.  What we need to see is their overall need, their life’s intention, which is always to be seen and respected. Therefore, we must come to them openly and vulnerably. If we bring defensiveness to this kind of challenge, naturally we’re emphasizing their immediate complaint and inviting defeat. Defensiveness is defeat, because when we are defensive, we have already agreed that we are a victim. Instead, we bring exactly what the other person is really looking for, which is loving kindness and compassion. And if we don’t have that in our hearts within ourselves, then there’s no way the other person will find it in themselves. Again, the other person probably has some specific grievance that they would like resolved. However, simply attempting to resolve that problem through explanation will never work. It’s not just dealing with their aggressive reaction directly or logically. It’s not trying to resolve the issue for them. What is required in “knowing the opponents mind” is knowing that what everybody in every moment is looking for is love. 

To know our partner’s mind, we have to open ourselves lovingly. In other words, we must bring Reiseishin to the situation. Once Reiseishin is openly present, then the problem is resolved already. Because the partner, whoever it is, already can feel it. And once that happens then it’s just a matter of working through the movements.

Knowing our partner’s mind is a state of mind for us to always maintain.

Okay, thank you very much. Let’s begin our Ki Breathing now.

Ki Breathing – 15 minutes

Ki Meditation – 15 minutes

Mind Body Meditation – 15 minutes

These five principles are five hints for us how we can become a true and loving friend. This might be someone new, or maybe somebody that we’ve known for a long time. Aikido is all about how to be a true and loving friend. That’s what this “intense connection” we’re always talking about is about. this connection is not just between you and me between two people, rates recession, this connection is between ourselves and the universe. This is love. Reiseishin is just love. Our degree of awareness and participation in Reiseishin is basically how much we love. This “degree of awareness and participation in” is our degree of connection.  This is a description of love. And this is something that we’re actively engaged in, in every moment together, or not.

So, when we know our partners mind, it means we recognize what their relationship with this Reiseishin, this connection, this love is. And we move forward then to support and enhance that connection, then that is what a true friend is and does. 

Okay. Please. Talk to me about this. I’d love to hear your feelings about this. Your thoughts? Your connection with this? Share with us please.

Student:  Earlier, you told us about a business friend of yours.

Oh, yes.

Student: And you asked us now to consider what the relation of our partner, in your case your business partner, is with Reiseishin. And if I understand what you wrote, your business friend did not have much of a relationship with Reiseishin because he wanted to conquer other people. And he thought he was doing the same thing as you were doing, yes? But you didn’t tell him that he was not. So, I was just wondering, what would be a reason for you not to tell him? Because wasn’t he looking for a connection with you somehow? And when would it be sincere to actually open up to and accept that wish to have a connection with you, and tell him? 

That’s a good question. And my answer is always the same. I never correct someone, or offer them advice, unless and until they ask. He was not missing a loving connection with me, at least not consciously. He was quite sure that he had one already. He was wrong. He wasn’t experiencing a true connection on the level that he was aware. That was not possible for him at that time. And there’s no way that I could have forced that on him until he opened himself to it. 

I still know this person. And there has been progress, I would say. But it’s very small progress. For some people this does not happen in this lifetime. That’s just the way it is. 

When we consider these five principles, we’re not looking to make everyone love us. We’re talking about loving everyone else. Being a true and loving friend to my friend, the businessman at that time, was just being there for him in his obscure confusion. And maybe that’s something that someday will cause him to say to himself, “Wait a minute. What was that feeling that guy Curtis had that I used to know?” Who knows? Maybe not also, and it is not to be expected.

I think this is a good question. Because we can easily become campaigners for love. We can easily become (what do you call it when you go door to door?) proselytizing.  We may think we do this for the other person, but this is looking for love in all the wrong places. 

In the tradition of spiritual teaching, this is simply not done. The rule is to always wait until someone comes to us and says something like, “I don’t understand why I can’t be friends with this person.” Or, “I don’t understand why this person doesn’t like me.” But even then, it still may not be time to say anything. Maybe it’s just time to ask a question or better yet to just listen, just to be there for that other person. 

For instance, when everyone else in the office is having a fight or gossiping or worrying or downtrodden and fearful about something, just support them by not saying anything and being present for them. Can you see that Tohei Sensei is really pointing to a way to live and not a way to be more liked or to be popular. No. This is just a way to be a true human being. What is it to be a human being? What is it for us to be a true friend to humanity, to everyone we meet? This is something worth devoting our lives to, I think, because I just don’t think there’s anything else that compares. 

Student: Thank you, Sensei. Good evening and morning everyone. I have some trouble with knowing the opponents mind as it sounds like a little, can I say arrogant? For instance, in all these relationships, it sounds like I know what is going on. But I cannot talk about it or I’m not saying it. But that sounds to me like as a teacher you are, or you should be, always be right. Or you should know things, you should be the one to know things. That’s also a little bit, what? I don’t know how to explain this, but it sounds to me like it’s not an equal relationship there. Is it an equal friendship? Because what if there’s an argument and you say you can see what is going on? Is that not arrogant?

That’s, that’s interesting that you would ask it that way. Okay. So, I love you. And I know that you love me. Is that arrogant? No. Is that unequal somehow? Just bear with me please. “I know what you’re thinking right now” can sound a bit arrogant. But knowing your opponent’s mind, or your partner’s mind, is not knowing what they’re thinking. 

Imagine, when you give a Ki Test. Your instruction, your intention is to discover what is their state of mind? Is their state of mind open and loving and therefore incredibly stable and immovable? Are they connected to you? 

I would suggest that to discover that is not arrogance, but to discover that is supporting that in the best way, because the only way you can discover that is to open and to do that yourself, to open yourself to resolution so that you’re experiencing it too. Then when you touch them, you know it too. There’s no other way. And of course, this person has asked you to test them in this way, so you are not imposing on them in any way.

Maybe this goes back to the previous question, which is if we do this even when we have not been asked.  To do so, that would be arrogant.

Here is something. Many years ago, my first teacher said to me that we have to learn the difference between ego and egoity. It sounded like the same thing to me. But my teacher said, “No. Ego is thinking that you know something, and imposing that thinking on someone else. That is a form of arrogance. Egoity is just knowing what is there to know, and having no selfish need to tell others about it.”

But that’s not what the teacher knows. A teacher only knows one thing. A teacher knows that experience of connection with the universe and shares it with everyone who asks. That’s all the teachers doing. 

You know, friendship can be shallow. Often, someone is considered a friend only because he or she believes what we believe, or the other person supports us because they need us in their life for some reason.  But then, if that person suddenly decides they don’t believe what we believe anymore, then we are no longer their friend. So, was that friendship? Yes, that may be considered casual friendship, but that is not what we are pointing to today as true friendship. True friendship is unconditional, meaning it requires nothing at all in return.

Compassion is not something that is necessarily returned. There’s nothing to be gained from it. So, there’s no arrogance in it. There’s no selfishness. There’s no claim of any kind. 

That’s an important question. And I think maybe not something that I can completely satisfy you with, but you can resolve it and that’s what this process is all about. Let’s face it, don’t you think so?

Student: Yes, thank you sensei. Yeah. Oh, I will sit with it.

Yes, that’s great. I didn’t say that. You did. That’s great. 

Thank you very much. 

Domo arigato gozaimasu.