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March 14, 2013

Training in Daily Life

Recently, I remembered lessons I learned from Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei when I was younger. People say that we remember and realize what we are taught after someone has passed away. Apparently this seems to be true.

Of course, during my childhood, my relationship with him was not one of teacher/ student but rather of parent and child relationship. He was of course gentle most times but also strict when he needed to be. The strictness did not come from emotions. He continued to teach me, until I could realize and change my shortcoming. I feel that these were the small things in daily life that really helped me.

One such lesson was about switching off the lights after using them.

One such example was I had forgotten to turn off the light in the toilet after using it. I remember he would call out to me to remind me to switch off the light and it would mean that I had to do it immediately. He expected me to do it right away, not later.

I was not a wise son, so I repeatedly made the same mistake. However my father would remind me constantly without giving up or even raising his voice. It was after a countless number of these reminders that I finally was able to get into a habit of switching off the lights.

Also there was the habit of aligning my footwear after I take them off. I was only able to cultivate this habit after a countless number of reminders from my father.

There were also times when I had to read my Japanese language textbooks from school aloud in front of my father.

To read out loud correctly was the most important point, and if I read in my own careless way, he would correct me to change into the accurate way. When I pronounced the words slightly wrong, even though the meaning of the words was correct, he would still make me correct my reading with much advice and pointers.

As a result of reading aloud many times, I was able to cultivate a good habit of reading and pronouncing everything correctly. It did not matter how I felt about the text, but he was strict in the way I read and understood the correct meaning from the text.

The same applied to tidying up and organizing my things.

My father’s belongings were always very tidy and well-organized. He always knew and could remember where he placed everything. It was not only easy for him to find what he needed but also not difficult for others to find things. Everything was always placed correctly in their respective places.

Sometimes I would borrow his things but I would forget to put it back where it belonged. Every time he would remind me to make sure I put things back correctly in its original position. It did not matter what item I took, he was always able to figure it out almost immediately.

“Could I do it later?” or “I will return it later on,” those reasons were never acceptable to my father. I had to do it on the spot and put the item back in its original location. As a result of this practice, tidiness has become a part of my habit.

As an instructor now, I have been helped greatly by these habits that I have cultivated.

“Turning off the light” is looking back on what I have done in the past. He did not want me to be a person who would leave something half-done, or who could not conclude one’s affairs. This is one of the most important skills for an instructor who influences many people.

“Reading correctly” is seeing things as they are. He did not want me to understand what I see only from my own perspective. This is the basic of learning anything.

“To be organized” also means that I am able to keep affairs regarding daily life straightforward and clear. It makes things easy to understand not only for me but also for everyone else. Thus, it helps me find out various problems that I can prevent before they occur.

I had many other routines learned from him, I noticed that I have practiced cultivating good habits in daily life subconsciously.

The lessons my father have taught me and the practice that I have put into these lessons, even though he may not be around anymore, will always be instilled in me. I realized this as a real education in life.

I would also like to follow the same way and teach students.


March 08, 2013

Our Manner

Our Manner is an Expression or Sign of Our State of Mind

The lack of good manners demonstrated on the Osaka transportation system has been a well known fact for a long time, but recently Tokyo has also started showing the same signs.

People cross the roads regardless of the crosswalks or pedestrians crossings. Some people do use the crosswalks, but often when the signal is red, if they see no car coming. Sometimes parents cross in crosswalks with their young children, but also against a red light. It worries me to think what kind of adults these children might grow up to be if they are being shown these kinds of examples now.

Just as good manners are lacking in the younger generation, poor traffic manners are also lacking in the elderly generation. This seems to show that there is no relation to the age of the person when it comes to bad manners.

There are many reasons and causes that contribute to bad manners. One of the main reasons is “not being able to wait” (being impatient.) This is a reflection of us being very self-centered or selfish, as we are only thinking of ourselves. Of course there may be situations that require that we move quickly, but many people often rush without any reason, just out of habit.

“Our state of mind” is usually reflected “in the state our body portrays”. Therefore it is possible to know the state of one’s mind through the actions of the body. The action of being impatient “in a hurry” shows us that our mind is actually disturbed and not calm.

When we are impatient and “not able to wait”, we tend to make a faulty decisions. This will also lead us to make unnecessarily careless mistakes in daily life. If you are a leader or an instructor, a person who is in a position to lead staff or students, it is necessary to notice your state of mind from your own actions every day.

Not being able to listen to others talking and cutting in on the conversation, rushing into the train at the last minute, or urgently pressing the close button for the elevator door, this is all essentially the same thing. What do you all think?

In addition to “not being able to wait”, this often comes together with being “irresponsible” and “inattentive”.

I have often seen pedestrians with earphones in their ears crossing the street without checking whether any cars are coming or not. It seems like they are leaving their own personal safety in the hands of others. Also some people start crossing the road irresponsibly even when they see a car coming. This is because they think “the car must and will stop for me”.

Not only pedestrians are irresponsible in their manner, but also drivers. There are many drivers that are irresponsible and careless. Especially careless are the drivers that talk on the phone or send mail on their smart phones while driving. These actions cause us to be unable to see clearly the situation on the road, as well as pedestrians that are crossing the streets. We should not leave our own safety in the hands of others.

Even the behavior of crossing the street is a reflection of our mind. By being aware of each action, it is possible to train the mind to be calm. Especially during bad weather or when a part of a large crowd, there are many pedestrians who are not able to keep their awareness and attention on others.

To calm one’s mind before going out is an important training.

I practice this every day.


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