What is the Way
Good Morning, Good evening, everyone. Onegaishimasu. Let me read, “Teaching the Way of the Universe.”
“There is no selfish person who fulfills the way the universe. If you awaken to the principles and the way of the universe, you are given the responsibility from the universe, to share them throughout the world. Do not say that you don’t have the strength to help people. If you have this experience one day, you are already a teacher for that experience. The world is full of people who are lost and are suffering from an unhealthy mind. Let us share this awakening with others with all our hearts. “
So I would like to say something more about this way of the universe this morning. The teacher doesn’t come with a big pile of information. Therefore the students’ job is not to squeeze that information out of the teacher. No, not at all. Actually, the teacher is showing the way to follow the universe. The way to follow the way of the universe is not like a formula, you know. The True Dharma, or whatever we call the teaching that we follow, is not written down somewhere. Do you understand? It’s not like a map. It’s not a story. It’s not a formula that we simply follow, in order to know what the way of the universe is, and to follow it.
That’s what I mean by the teacher isn’t giving out a bunch of information. That’s not his or her job. The way itself, is the way that our life is unfolding already, before our very eyes, and following that way, selflessly, without making demands on it, without attempting to edit it, without attempting to influence and manipulate it, is our practice. This is following the way of the universe. And no one can say which way we will go. There are an infinite number of ways up the mountain. No one can say “my way is the way,” of course, because everybody’s way is unique.
It is a slope up the mountain that we’re moving on. And we’re following the way, hiking up the slope. We might get a glimpse of the summit every now and then. But we generally don’t know how far we’re ever going to have to go to reach the summit. It’s not about a reward of arriving somewhere. Life is following the way.
One important thing about this is that it may sound like I’m saying this is “your” way. Well it is, in the sense that it’s unique to you. But it doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want. Doesn’t mean we can just say to yourself, “Oh, this is my way. So I could just do whatever I like.” No, it’s not like that at all. There is a higher part of ourselves that guides the right way, and that part is so much larger, wise and skillful than our own small mind. So we just need to train our small mind to be like an otomo and the way is the sensei, so we just follow the sensei.
We follow the way, when we’re studying with a teacher, that’s just sort of a metaphor. So, I may not have a single person who is my teacher these days. But the way is my teacher. And that’s actually the same thing that is true for each of you too, if you notice. We do have these classes so that I can support your effort. Because there are things in each of our lives that stand in the way of us being able to clearly access the way, to clearly perceive how the way is unfolding for us. And so the teacher’s job is to help us transform those things that stand in the way into something useful. The students’ job is to accept that support, and to follow that support. And so develop a clearer and clearer perception of what this way is, that we are all following every day.
Probably the most important practices that we do are Ki Breathing, Ki Meditation, and Mind Body Meditation. These practices sharpen our mind and develop a stronger and stronger capacity to be in attention. When we’re in attention, we’re able to most clearly follow the way.
Alright, let’s begin with some Ki Breathing.
Ki Breathing (20 minutes)
Ki Meditation (12 minutes)
Mind Body Meditation (13 minutes)
[You may have noticed that I have changed the name of “Whole Body Meditation” to “Mind Body Meditation”. This is for two reasons. First, the name “Whole Body Mediation” seems to often become confused with “Whole Body Breathing”, the first stage of Tohei Sensei’s Ki no Kokyu ho, Ki Breathing. Second, I think the name Mind Body Meditation more accurately reflects this actual practice.]
In our practice we have many specific practices, as well as principles that describe how to approach those practices. For instance, “Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido,” which as you know are 1) Extend KI. 2) Respect your partner’s Ki, 3) Know your partner’s mind, 4) Put yourself in the place of your partner, and 5) Follow and lead you partner with confidence. Those five are a kind of guidelines, and so we must be very, very flexible in the way that we apply those, because nothing ever is repeated as the same. Everything is unique and original in every moment. So we never know where we’re going to be taken. Following this way of the universe, we don’t know what’s going to happen or open up to us. So life doesn’t follow any principles. The principles are just there to help us understand how to approach following the way of the universe and how not to approach following the way of the universe.
Okay, so maybe you would like to say something or ask a question about your experience following the way of the universe. Christel, would you share something with us please?
Student: Oh, hello, Sensei. During this time I seem to have many obstacles, I practice following the way of the universe, struggling with acceptance, and doing this meditation. I feel that I need to accept how the universe evolves. And sometimes I feel I am doing a meditation that is bright or strong or wide. I don’t know if the English word is correct. Like the wave in the ocean is
getting wider. And sometimes I get a glimpse, but at the moment I have many obstacles to accept. And yes, in my private life, I think I have many obstacles and challenges. That’s how it is.
Thank you. We all have preferences. We all prefer to be very comfortable, and to be made to feel very comfortable by the people and circumstances in our private life. But, of course, that’s not the way of the universe. That’s the way of our small mind preferences. There’s nothing wrong with having preferences, of course. But I think I would take issue with calling them “obstacles.” Yes, we can make them obstacles, but in and of themselves, they’re not obstacles. Everything is here to support us. There’s nothing that happens that is not to support us. There’s nothing that happens that is mean spirited, nor anything that actually wants us to fail. There is nothing that wants us to feel bad or uncomfortable. There’s nothing like that in the universe. We make things like that all by ourselves.
We make things like that when we don’t really recognize the relative condition of our preferences. Of course we all have this challenge that you’re describing. We are all human beings, so we’re all faced with this. I am, and also everyone you’ll ever meet, no matter how great they are, even the Buddha. We all have the same things to address. Naturally, more experience gives us more opportunity to recognize the value of, the relative conditioning that produces our preferences. They’re not wrong. They’re not to be discarded or pushed against, or we are not to be criticized for having preference or non-preference, or even for ignoring something. “Attraction, aversion, and indifference.” That makes up all of our lives. So because of that, not in spite of that, we follow the way.
It is important to recognize that the universe is not standing in the way. You know, in the beginning of class today, I said that one of the duties of the teacher is to help us get the things out of the way that are standing in the way. That’s sort of a standard way of saying that, but I’d much prefer to look at these things as if there’s nothing standing in the way. And if there is nothing actually standing in our way, then there can be nothing inhibiting us, unless we make it that way. So you’re free. Completely free to proceed with joy.
Student: Yes, but I do go back sometimes to some Green Tara meditation. I don’t know if you know it. I know that this is “going back to the old man’s house,” something that I’m used to. I am still unsure about Ki Breathing and so on. So, yes. But it’s not easy at the moment. I study all the teachings from you. I have too much work to do to stay in the lessons on the Zoom site on Saturday mornings. Yes. So I do my best Sensei.
I’m sure it’s just exactly right for now. Okay, thank you.
Someone else please?
Student: Hello Sensei. I see how much like a habit it is, or my nature, that I want to resist things, thinking things are not coming out the way I want sometimes, you know? Sometimes I want to change the dynamic of a situation to try to make things better. But whatever it is, it is not following the way of the universe. I do see, like what you said, that we cannot do whatever we
want, but I am definitely sometimes thinking or feeling that something is not quite right. Then, don’t we have to maybe do something to change the situation before it gets worse? What do we rely on as our compass or our gauge? Just not to manipulate things? Or do we rely on our common sense, our own judgment? Or is it that judgment sometimes what got us into that situation to begin with?
You know, we tend to think that intellectually we know better. We see that there is a way that we need to get to, and that we’re doing things that are preventing us from getting to that way. When you say, “I’m not following the way “ or “I’m using my own manipulative tricks to make things come out the way I want,” I would say, like I was pointing to with Christel, that’s not quite the way it is. You don’t have that kind of problem, ultimately. Well, you do, and you don’t. Instead of looking at that as a problem, why not see it as just the way it is? Whatever we do, the way is always unfolding in front of us. When we attempt to alter that way, to steer things into somewhere we like, the universe is very accommodating. It’s infinitely flexible because it is for you only. It fits whatever you choose perfectly. So then it cannot help but be a perfect mirror for you no matter where you choose to look. That’s the “mirror universe” we’re always talking about. So as you attempt to manipulate things, the universe accommodates that perfectly, and continues to show you the mirror, because that is all that it can do. So that now becomes the way. So you are following the way no matter what. You have no choice, since that’s all the is happening in every instance. The universe is always one step ahead of us.
It may be that you are not always noticing that, because you’re busy, and/or not really in attention. So when we’re not in attention to this, we’re not aware of what’s happening. We might be thinking instead about some further way we’d like it to be, or some further way we wouldn’t like it not to be and attempting to do something about that. This manipulation is infinitely ongoing. But as you can see now, the universe is also constantly changing for us. It’s always being the mirror and always is reflecting us perfectly. Whatever we see, you understand, this is a reflection of how we are evolving. Sometimes it’s going really, really slowly. Sometimes, we have great speed, and it can be a great awakening, there’s a great understanding that comes to us, right? And then other times it seems so dark and confusing and chaotic. But in fact, it’s always the same. It’s only us that makes it something different.
So that’s why I always teach that noticing is so important. Awareness. Even if we’re in the midst of a little action. Noticing that is really important. And we wouldn’t notice it if it didn’t happen. We wouldn’t awaken to it. So is what arises bad, or is that good? Well, it’s not either bad or good. It’s just the way it is. The universe is not busy being something bad or good, it is busy reflecting something. Things come up, we must pay attention. And then little by little by little we add drop by drop into our subconscious mind, of plus. Noticing is always plus. Awareness is always plus. It’s not relatively good and bad. Awareness is just what we call “plus.” In other words, it’s a piece of awakening, a little bit of noticing a little bit of getting it, that goes into the subconscious mind. Ah, it’s a little bit, but some day, that’s a lot. So then subconscious mind changes that much. Just by noticing a little bit, a little bit, a little bit sometime. It becomes a lot.
Okay, thank you. So thank you, everyone, very much.
(Online Training with Christopher Curtis Sensei, 7. March 2021)