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In Tribute

This article first appeared in the program for the 1996 Seidokan Summer Camp, at the University of Texas Aikido Club, Austin Texas.

Over the past year, we have all been dealing with the loss of Kobayashi Sensei. Services have been held, remembrances have been shared, memorial articles have been written. We do these things collectively, to help ourselves feel that the loss is not a total one, that we all still have something of his spirit with us that we can connect with whenever we need. Naturally, this in turn becomes a very personal and private act.

Because of the obvious compassion that he held for everyone, I eventually learned to feel comfortable around Sensei, even though I never got over the sensation that I was always being tested. He was patient and slow to criticize, but still I always felt self- conscious and a bit awkward around him. Of course, I learned a lot about myself in this manner.

Now, I miss that feeling of being sharpened, just by being in his presence. On the other hand, I can't escape the feeling that I am still being tested by him yet, maybe more so, now that he's gone. Partly, I now realize that life is the one test that we can all expect to pass, and there is some ironic comfort in that. Just as when being tested by Sensei, one would invariably pass, but the real issue then is the quality of the experience. Sensei's own passing has left us with an example of how to approach this test: confront it fully, but with a light touch; be totally involved, but continually let it go.

So, to pass is to move beyond. And "sensei" means "the one gone before".

Then how best do we honor Sensei's passage? He was never impressed with clever words, so let's look elsewhere. He was never regressive, so we should look ahead. He always said "enlightenment is right where you are standing." So let us start there.

Look around you at the people at this camp. There is his tribute. Look at the Seidokan dojo all around the world. Look at the good people at AIA, and in your own dojo who are carrying on. And if aikido practice has ever helped you in any way, or touched the lives of those around you, then look at that. Look at a growing number of people devoting themselves to the hard discipline of "loving protection for all things." Look at the many possible futures, and see one where the tiny seeds of peace that we plant might actually take root. Look, and be glad that you had someone in your life that helped you partake of these things.

There is no tribute to Kobayashi Sensei on this page. The real tribute can only be in the works of those who strive in sincerity and in earnest to manifest the fundamental reality of aikido.

It is in the heart of the one who reads this.