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KOFUKU, an Aiki perspective

Sensei's thoughts and writings

KOFUKU, an Aiki perspective

Postby Francis Takahashi » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:38 am

Kofuku, means “happiness” in Japanese. It refers to human happiness, bliss, felicity and extreme good fortune, hopefully attainable in this lifetime. As utopian as any concept can be, this ultimate state of personal achievement remains high on the dream list of most people during their lifetimes. Although perceptions and beliefs greatly vary, it remains a concept, a romantic ideal, and a goal for the majority of human beings in their lifetimes, if not for themselves, then for those they care for very much.

Happiness, for the Western mind may not be so very much different or lesser prized as a concept over that of Kofuku. After all, some people do win the Lottery every year, don't they? Of course, agreeing to call such good fortune “happiness”, may very well generate a host of divergent, even vehement arguments. Yet, they are seemingly alike in that both interpretations consider some form of happiness or Kofuku attainable, or even worth dreaming about, mostly, it seems, for entertainment.

Throughout the societies of the world, the end of each year reminds us all of the impermanence of living a “full and successful” life, with the illusion filled examples of the Holiday Seasons, which revolve mainly around Hannukah, Christmas, and other culturally identifiable celebrations. Even the New Year celebrations evoke a sense of embarking on “new beginnings', while hopefully dispensing with any of the undesirable reminders of the failures, and consequences, from the year before.

In the world of Japanese martial arts, there is a tradition of greeting the New Year with a “clean slate”, and with instituting the beginnings of hope, optimism and achievable states of happiness for the coming year. It is called “Kagami Biraki”” and will be treated more appropriately in some other article.

There is nothing inherently wrong with optimism, even in the face of imminent danger and possible catastrophe. It seems that not a day goes by without the media in all its forms, strangely reveling in negative news, graphic stories about crime, and dire predictions for our future as a society. Even comets and asteroids, decades distant, are getting into the act. Our entertainment industries are doing their consummate “worst” in reminding us of mankind's darker sides and proclivities. I do hope that this current round of internationally prevalent pessimism will shortly run its course, and more positive stories, happy news events, and predictions of universal optimism can emerge, sooner than later. Alas, a sober and objective review of recorded history proves otherwise. As Anne Murray sang, “sure could use a little good news today”, we all long for balance in news reporting, citing the countless “senseless acts of joy, and random acts of kindness” that occur all around us daily. But then, isn't it really up to us, the all too Silent Majority, to demand and settle for no less than what we really consider positive, beneficial and heart warming?

Yes, it sad;y remains us after all, the greater majority, that really keep these glum naysayers, semi competent commentators, and irresponsible movie moguls in business. All we need to do is stop buying their worthless products and offerings, and perhaps optimistic talent will once again take the lead. The current momentum can only change with a tsunami like tide of public awakening, and create an overwhelming demand for better products, positive reporting of value, and programming of shows and movies that serve the mental, psychological and spiritual needs of our youth more responsibly.

A huge selling point of Aikido has always been its message of optimism, cultivating a positive self image for young and old alike, and of principle based values we can all agree to support as a society.Yet, the preponderance of attention seems fixated on Aikido's martial identity and tradition. A pity, since the real message of Ueshiba Aiki is really about the vast potential of the human mind and spirit, a resource bonanza we have barely begun to appreciate, to explore, and to make available for all.

We must also deal more effectively with any arbitrary cultural differences that unwittingly interfere with human cooperation, and stymy the advancement of mutual understanding amongst diverse cultures. We must resolve to overcome racial and cultural stereotypes, and interact better with each other for for mutual gain, and universal prosperity. This is surely the Way of Aiki, in my humble opinion, and a way to think outside of the tatami.

Why does it take natural disasters like those occurring in Iceland, Japan, the Philippines, the United States and other lesser known locations to bring needed compassion and generosity back into fashion? And what of the man made varieties of heavy handed cruelty, genocide, and cynical government policies etc. that seem to fuel the fires of desperation, despair and disconnects amongst the people of civilized societies. Don't they too simply want peace and a positive future for their children? When will we ever learn that we are all indeed brothers and sisters on this mortal coil?

And what of our beloved aikido practitioners, instructors and, dare I say it, our beloved “teachers and leaders”, who all claim to drink the “Kool Aid” of correct thinking, correct action and correct behavior towards all sentient beings? When does romantic fantasy finally develop into something more tangible in terms of actually transforming our brave words, and beautifully crafted movements beyond the confines of a dojo setting, and incorporated into cooperative and humane behavior in our respective communities? We surely can “talk our walk”, so can we now commit to “walk our talk” as well? When do we begin? Now, of course, but it will take much much more than merely speaking about them.

So, as we initiate our respective preparations for “Kagami Biraki” in January 2014, let us each and all think hard and long about what changes we will commit to make, not only in our dojos, but with our peers, and our very own families, to become stronger, wiser and kinder. This is the real message of the Founder's reference to the building of a Silver Bridge of Aiki for all of mankind.

Yes, Aikido has had a good beginning, but where do we go from here? The real message and power of Universal Aiki has yet to be adequately studied and its many potential benefits fully explored and implemented. Are we ready to do the real work from this period forward? I'll be happy to participate.

May the very best of this Season, give us all every Reason, to wish everyone an exceptional 2014 Celebration for the sake of world prosperity, and for lasting peace!
Francis Takahashi
Posts: 411
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:51 pm

Re: KOFUKU, an Aiki perspective

Postby Carina Rei » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:53 am

Thank you very much for this beautiful thoughts provoking article Takahashi Shihan.
And call it coincidence, but when I began to read about happiness I was immediately reminded on an article somebody shared today in Facebook "The 5 Things People Regret Most On Their Deathbed"

You are right we are all indeed brothers and sisters on this mortal coil, so why not act with more compassion, kindness and help, and normally happens that if our approach is that way, the reply will be alike, and we could make a chain of kindness to spread the message and power of Universal Aiki.
Carina Rei
Posts: 461
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:50 am
Location: Gran Canaria - Spain

Re: KOFUKU, an Aiki perspective

Postby Carina Rei » Tue Dec 24, 2013 5:42 am

Here some comments in my spanish Blog

AikiGuille says:
Nice text by Takahashi Shihan, tell him my best wishes for these days, and of course Merry Christmas to all readers and Carina.
A hug.

Thank you very much Guillermo, Merry Christmas to you too and all your family and dojo peers,
a hug

Ricardo Amorim says:
Hello Carina,
Beautiful text byTakahashi Shihan. I wish you, the Shihan and your family a Happy Christmas, a New Year full of Joys.

Hello Ricardo,
Thank you very much for your wishes, also to you a Merry Christmas
a hug

Puedes leer este artículo en español en Entrenando Aikido

Bitte lese diesen Artikel auf Deutsch in Wir trainieren Aikido
Carina Rei
Posts: 461
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:50 am
Location: Gran Canaria - Spain

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