Meditation Lecture

Meditative Theme for 2023

At the end of Kagami Biraki this morning, I reviewed our meditative theme for 2023:

“三美 – 誠 善 仁”

“Always practice the three virtues of sincerity, kindness, and benevolence!”

These virtues are fundamental to the practice of our karate-do and our interactions with others and the world around us.

Sincerity and kindness are two virtues that must be intertwined in our daily practice. Sometimes we are somewhat genuine in our words and actions, yet not necessarily kind. Similarly, we can sometimes be polite or nice to others without truly being honest. However, when we can cultivate these virtues simultaneously and together within ourselves, our actions towards others no matter how small, become great acts of benevolence.

When we practice sincerity and kindness in the dojo every day, we create a positive and loving atmosphere. We genuinely practice our karate for ourselves and yet are kind to each other, especially those who may be less skilled. This truly creates a special place to practice our karate-do, where we can all learn and grow together.

But the benefits of these virtues do not stop at the dojo. When we embody sincerity and kindness in the dojo, we can easily apply them in other areas of our lives, such as at school, work, and home, amongst our friends, and within other social groups. Over time, these virtues define us as students, as a dojo, and as an organisation.

Not coincidentally, we represent these important virtues in the final two ripples of the Jin Sei Ryu Karate-Do symbol, so that we never forget their importance in our daily practice as students and leaders.

“Positive Karma Paid Forward”

Yesterday morning, Shihan Leigh and I decided to take a walk along Bondi Beach, something we haven’t done in a while. We were able to find a car space and paid for a 3-hour stay. We had a very nice stroll and stopped for a relaxing coffee.

After just over an hour, we decided to continue our morning by driving to Watsons Bay for another stroll and lunch. As we pulled out of our car space, I realised that almost 2 hours remained on our car space. I approached one driver to offer her our ticket. She thanked us but said she already had a beach parking pass. I then approached another driver – an older lady. She was pleasantly surprised and gratefully accepted the ticket. She then thanked us and wished us a very Merry Christmas.

We then drove to Watsons Bay. As we approached, it was difficult to find a space. First, we tried to find curbside parking to no avail, then we drove to the small local parking lot which was full. We pulled out of the car park and started to drive around, thinking that we might need to return home.

Just then, an elderly couple started to pack up their car, preparing to leave. We asked if they were leaving soon, and they said yes. However, cars started to pull up behind us, and another car pulled up by them to take their space. We drove away, thinking that we had missed that space, and tried to find another one elsewhere.

After about 10 minutes of driving around, we decided to circle back one more time as a last resort. As we drove along, we noticed the elderly couple was still parked in the same space! We slowly approached them, pulled down our window, and asked again if they were leaving soon. Amazingly, they said that they had been waiting for us to return and had waved away many other cars – for almost 15 mins! They said they knew we would return. As they pulled out, we thanked them for their kindness. For the rest of the afternoon, we were so grateful for the positive karma that had just returned to us!

Our experience at Bondi Beach, then Watsons Bay, is a perfect example of positive karma in action. Our small act of kindness at Bondi Beach brought a little bit of unexpected joy and convenience to another person’s day. Hopefully, they may have been more inclined to pass this gesture forward.

We then experienced an act of kindness at Watsons Bay when the elderly couple waited for us to return to their parking space. This thoughtfulness made our own day.

By being kind and considerate towards others, we can create a chain reaction of goodness and positive energy that has the potential to spread far and wide, in ways that we never could imagine.

“Year-End Reflections”

According to Confucius, “The man who commits to studying himself will draw near to wisdom.”

Particularly at the end of the year, it is important to take a step back from our busy and hectic lives to reflect on all that has happened, considering both positive and negative experiences. This process of reflection allows us to learn from these experiences and grow as individuals.

During this period of self-evaluation and reflection, we remain mindful and in the present. We review our present situation and all the lessons we’ve learned without passing judgment. When we calmly observe our thoughts and actions with a clear and open mind, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, and the world around us.

This is also an opportunity to review our current progress in many aspects of our lives and set new goals for the year ahead. In our practice of Jin Sei Ryu Karate-Do, we strive for constant improvement through our daily training, and this requires a willingness to be honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses. By reflecting on our personal training and identifying areas for growth, we can create a roadmap for continued self-improvement.

Ultimately, the end of the year is a time for reflection, growth, and renewal. By looking back at the past and setting intentions for the future, we can continue to cultivate our minds, body, and spirit, to reach our true potential.

“Small gestures, big impact.”

This morning, I woke up to read about the bomb cyclone affecting North America, and especially Buffalo, NY. It made me think about the many who are struggling to survive in the face of these extreme conditions.

As someone who now lives in a warmer climate, I am fortunate to have been spared the harsh winters that many people in Canada and the United States are currently experiencing.

I also thought about our own situations relative to others, especially during this Holiday Season. While most of us can retreat to the comforts of our homes, with stable shelter, warmth, the company of family or friends, and other healthy distractions, I cannot help but feel for those who do not have these basic necessities to get through this storm or their daily challenges. It is a stark reminder of how fortunate many of us are and the many ways in which we are blessed.

In the face of such hardship in the world, especially during this Season, acts of kindness and compassion for those who are suffering or less fortunate is important. We may be far away, but a small donation to local charities to help with their relief efforts; reaching out to help family and friends who have been especially affected; or if we’re close by, volunteering our time to provide direct assistance in the face of these disasters.

“Small gestures, big impact.”

“Standing Meditation 1”

Place your hands in front
Focus on the present
As you slow your breath.

Raise your hands above your head
See the sky above
As you inhale through your nose.

Bring your hands down
Take in the power of the universe
As you exhale through your mouth.

Pull your hands in slowly
Gather this energy into yourself
As you inhale through your nose.

Relax your mind and body
Feel the power grow
As you exhale through your mouth.

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