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Positive & Grateful

posted Dec 26, 2018, 6:07 PM by Minnesota Ki Society   [ updated Dec 28, 2018, 8:16 AM ]
by Shaner Sensei, Eastern Ki Federation Chief Instructor

As we approach the 100th anniversary of Founder (Soshu) Tohei Sensei’s birth (1920), I wanted to share with you a story that I try to remember each day. 

You may recall many times when I have shared that Tohei Sensei always taught us to be “Positive and Grateful” every day.  But maybe I have not shared his thinking, reasoning, and logic per how this is possible and why this is important.

I once asked Tohei Sensei, “Do you pray?”  

He looked at me, bowed his head, and simply said, “Hai”. 

[He knew enough about my inquisitive personality to know that “Hai” alone would never do as a complete answer!  He knew it and I knew it. He was just playing with me and giving me just a little bait knowing full well that I would ask a follow up question about something as important as prayer and in the context of many other conversations about philosophy, spirituality, and training.]

With that typical twinkle in his eye and a knowing smile, he looked up at me (as I took the bait and asked the obvious follow up question).

“How do you pray Sensei?”, I asked.

Then he took me outside to the family shrine taught me same the prayer I used for the dedication and blessing of the Place of Peace, including Ki Irei and Ki Barai

This is the same meditation poem as written (actually carved) on the Shomen of the Tenshingosho meditation dojo at HQ in Japan as well as written (Tohei Sensei’s calligraphy) at the Shomen of Hei-Sei-Ji: The Place of Peace temple at Furman University.

Sensei said, “Every morning I first calm myself deeply (breathing/meditation) and then repeat three times... 

'Shinpo Uchurei Kanno Soku Genjo'.

It is very simple.  You calm yourself deeply.  Very deeply. And when you do, you realize there is no separation.  You are the Universe and the Universe is you.  You are One with the Universe. 

This is natural.  When you calm yourself deeply, then naturally you experience directly the meaning of this poem.  “Blessed Universe (Shinpo Uchurei), in this present moment (Soku Genjo), [I am] feeling/experiencing directly (Kanno) [this connection with the Universe Itself]."

"Why is this important Sensei?”, I followed up. 

(BTW: He always had answers to the “why” questions because he thought about everything logically so he could clearly and concisely communicate his lessons to anyone).

Instead of answering directly, Sensei flipped the roles and responded to me with two questions of his own.

“When you wake up in the morning and experience this connection with the Universe that supports your every breath and very existence, do you feel positive or negative?”

“And, when you wake up in the morning and experience this connection with the Universe that supports your every breath and very existence, do you feel grateful or ungrateful?”  

I answered, “Hai Sensei, I feel both positive and grateful.”  

He chuckled, and said, “Of course, you answer this way because it is a universal principle!  Everybody says they feel “positive” when they experience deep connection.  And just imagine, it is such a wonderful thing that you are able to wake up and live your life for another day!  In the same way, we feel “grateful" to have another day to experience the fullness of our connection to friends, family, co-workers and the Universe Itself”.

He added, “When you pray this way each morning, naturally you start you day feeling both positive and grateful.  If you carry this feeling of appreciation and connection with you all day long, then you stop looking for what is wrong and bad and you start seeking out what is right and good.”

And so we now know both how and why. We can all choose to be positive and grateful each day.

During this Holiday Season, I am especially positive and grateful for the growth and development of EKF students and instructors over the last 15 years.  I am looking toward the next 15 years with a positive mind and a grateful heart.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,