Essence of Yoga – from Oki Sensei’s lecture

Today is Oki-sensei’s birthday. At the site of his Dojo in Mishima, Japan, is now taking place a ceremony for unveiling the monumental natural stone. The site is transformed a small park. I will report about it soon. Not being able to join it from abroad, I am posting this to celebrate it. I listened to a tape-recorded lecture which Oki-sensei gave in Japanese with a title of ‘Essence of Yoga’ on 1982.05.06. I summarised it in my understanding. I hope this will be of some help to those who are learning from Okido Yoga. Two native English-speakers, Junko Furugori and Hiroyuki Mori, assisted me by correcting and polishing up my English translation.

1. There are two types of human life. We humans live together. To live a community life and to protect it from outsiders, we make rules according to our convenience. Then giving absolute authority to these rules, we tell ourselves to obey the rules and we even try to make this authority more meaningful by creating ranks among ourselves, which could not have existed originally. This is one type of life. Besides this, there is the other type of life, which seeks freedom, freedom to live without being bound by anything. Of these two types of life, yoga is the one that seeks freedom.

2. However, hearing the word ‘freedom’, many people tend to think they can do whatever they like. But that is wrong. Confucius taught, “One can follow the desires of one’s own heart without overstepping the boundaries of what is right.” This is true freedom. You do as you wish, and that in itself is in accordance with how things should be. This way of living is real freedom.

3. A person who has completely attained freedom is called ‘Buddha’. From this word, most people would think of Siddhartha Gotama as he is the most famous ‘Buddha’, but he is not the only Buddha. The word ‘Buddha’ means somebody who has become a completely free person.

4. To become completely free like this, we must attain satori or enlightenment. The Japanese character 悟, meaning satori, consists of two parts: 吾, meaning ‘oneself’, and 忄, meaning ‘mind-heart’. So the character means, “One grasps the way one lives, is one’s own master, and lives according to one’s own orders.” It may look as though we are in control of ourselves and live according to our own commands, but it is almost never so. “I know, but I can’t stop,” is a common occurrence showing that one disobeys one’s own command. So, someone who has become his own master is an enlightened person.

In Zen Buddhism, the state of enlightenment is called “Flowers are red. Willows are green”. Red exists as red and green exists as green. This is natural.

One knows how one should think, feel and act. One lives as one is, without being dominated by anything else. A person who lives a life like this is called enlightened.

5. In order to attain enlightenment, we must live a life of non-attachment. The state of non-attachment is also called ‘mu’ or ‘kū’. It is also called ‘singa-ittai’’, which means that one becomes totally united with God. By referring to God, it doesn’t mean that there is something special called God. God is what is pure and true, or the truth. Only then can we be in the state as Confucius described, “One can follow the desires of one’s own heart without overstepping the boundaries of what is right.”

6. The teaching ‘Self is God’ is the most eminent characteristic which separates yoga-based teachings, such as Buddhism or Jainism, from other teachings. This is the essence of yoga. ‘Self is God’ does not mean that only oneself is God. It means ‘I am precious and all others are equally precious.’

7. The concept of ‘cause and effect’ comes into being from the teaching that Self is God. It means that we are responsible for all things that come to us. “It is me who defiles me. It is me who purifies me. It is me who creates illness in me. It is me who brings health to me. It is me who perplexes me.  It is me who saves me.” How many people in the world are living following this concept? “My saviour is myself. The creator of my destiny is myself.” This is to be really appreciated.

8. From the teaching that Self is God, I realised that the life which resides in every being is God.  And I created the expression ‘Lifeforce is God’.

9. If we understand that Lifeforce is God, we will understand that all we need to do is live in a way that pleases our life force. The life force never tells lies. When we do the right thing, it will teach us with joy. When we do something wrong, it will teach us with suffering.

10. And, if you turn what didn’t suit you into something that suits you, turn your enemies into your friends, turn poison into medicine, turn sadness into joy, everything will be in your favour. This is the world of gasshō.  The secret of harmony is to turn what didn’t suit you into something that suits you. You can do that if you train body and mind and have your wisdom enhanced. The ability to do this is the busshō or Buddha Nature, which is given only to human beings.

11. The function of the life force is to maintain balance. It brings change, restores balance and maintains stability. Also, it has the nature of bearing seeds. And it creates what is needed where it is needed, and it erases what is not needed. In other words, the life force follows the law of self-existence. To bear in mind this principal nature of the life force, adopt its perspective and live according to it — this is called the way of living with satori or enlightenment. The practice of attaining these principles as truth is the discipline of meditation.

13 thoughts on “Essence of Yoga – from Oki Sensei’s lecture

  1. What an auspicious day! I can imagine the ceremony at the site of the Mishima Dojo was very special. Thank you for making these lectures available to us in this way. I am reflecting on the nature of Life Force and how to refine my sense of listening to it.

    • Oki-sensei’s list about the nature of the life force is remarkable. I, too, would like to refine my sense of listening to it. It seems that is each person’s job to do. Thank you for your help.

  2. Thank you for the clear setting of Master Oki’s wisdom. Tomoko. I remind myself regularly of the continual choice we can make to change the picture to good

    • Jack, thank you for your comment. I think so, too. Each of us is trying to evolve and cooperating each other for making the picture to good. Oki-sensei’s formula will work.

  3. What a beautiful remembrance of Master Oki you have translated for us – my heartfelt thanks to you and to Master Oki.
    Freedom and Life-force these extraordinary elements that Okido Yoga brings to our whole attention in so many different
    ways and this diversity of self inquiry is for me such a teacher and I welcome it.

    • Anna, Thank you for your comment. I particularly like the last part of your comment. Yes, it is a self-inquiry exercise. No need to rush to reach a conclusion. I think: the more we hover in the process, the more we find that the self is not merely the body or intellect or feeling trapped in a small frame so-called ‘myself’.

    • Peter, Thank you for your comment. I find that #10 is the most Oki-sensei-like point. There I feel Oki-sense’s love to humanity. Utilising your experience in Oki-sensei’s Dojo, I hope you will make good connection with everybody around you.

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