On the Passing of My Teacher — Soshu, Koichi Tohei Sensei , by David Shaner
Two days ago (May 19 at 9:14am [Japan time]) the Founder of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Society) passed away at the age of 91. Tohei Sensei was the first to bring the Art of Aikido out of Japan in 1953. I do not have words to describe Tohei Sensei’s influence on my life. His positive impact upon so many around the world is due to his genius at helping people to think and perform to the best of their ability. The learning process is experiential (not mystical); it requires patience, discipline and a commitment tantamount to true spiritual development.
One of the most important teachings of Tohei Sensei is simply to “Be Positive and Grateful”. It is a simple universal principle. If you can learn to choose your mindset and become both positive (in your outlook each day) and grateful in your heart (for simply being blessed with the opportunity to live another day), then you can experience your original connection to the universe itself.
Sounds mystic? It is not. Let’s consider an example. How would Tohei Sensei want his direct students to think and feel at the time of his passing? I can only speak for myself, but I would say that Tohei Sensei would want us to “practice what we preach”. He always said, “you must be able to do it, not just say it”.
Therefore, instead of feeling an emptiness and sadness at his passing, we can choose to be filled with gratitude for the genius of Tohei Sensei’s teaching methodology (pedagogy) that is the direct result of his gratitude to his three teachers. From his first teacher Tetsuju Ogura Sensei he learned how to train (with all your heart as if it were a matter of life and death), from his second teacher O-Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba) he learned how to relax, and from Nakamura Tempu Sensei he learned “mind leads body”.
We can practice today by being grateful to Tohei Sensei who dedicated his life to helping people around the world to “be the best they can be”. His genius, among other things, was his ability to teach and lead people from the exact place of where ever they are in their life. This is also a great life lesson in non-conflict; learning to lead positively without force, tension, coercion and brute strength.
If you are a manager and business leader, imagine the possibilities of turning a work environment into a positive, productive place where each person can flourish. In this way, you can actually see “work” as a kind of training dojo for practicing positive personal development, and even spiritual development. More importantly, Tohei Sensei was able to do this (and even teach others how to do this) by leading people from the best of all possible starting points; that is, the exact place where people are at present in their life.
Just imagine if you were surrounded by people who always think positively! This is exactly Tohei Sensei’s message in his most famous and widely read book entitled - - “Ki in Daily Life”. Being positive is something we can all do if we simply choose to see the best in others and rid ourselves of the tendency (mindset) of blaming, judging, and criticizing both people and the events occurring around you. Tohei Sensei was an infinite optimist and always taught to let go of past hardships and instead strive to live your life positively. To be positive and grateful in daily life was a main message of his lifelong teaching.
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