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    Patrick Augé Sensei's Message for the New Year 2002

    Dear Parents, dear Students:

    The new year is close, and it is time for me to share a thought with each one of you. This year has been hectic for most of us. The recent events have shown what happens when the gap between people's understandings becomes wider. We fail to stop and be calm; we see the facts through the distorting lens of our emotions (positive or negative), and we make bad decisions. A Zen master of the past once said: "A Bad decision taken with good intentions can always be turned into a good thing, but a bad decision taken with bad intentions (anger, hatred) will spell disaster for everyone."

    I have felt negative emotions at those who commit physical or mental acts of violence motivated by ideology or the belief that they have the upper hand. However, that saying reminds me to stop and be calm before making any decision.

    The year 2002 will be a busy one. In addition to the new dojo project, the AIKI EXPO and Friendship Demonstration will be held May 3-5 in Las Vegas. It is the first time that this event is organized out of Japan. I received and accepted an invitation to participate. Our Canadian and US members have also expressed their support by registering for the clinics given by ten world-class aikido teachers. One thousand participants from around the world are expected to attend.

    Holidays: the dojo will be closed from Friday December 21st to Sunday January 6th, inclusively.

    Kangeiko (winter practice): January 20-26

    Children's Kangeiko: March 23-24

    The move to the temporary dojo was made possible due to your support. This reminder of the impermanence of things has had a positive result: a stronger sense of commitment on the part of students and parents.

    Concerning the new dojo, we are in the process of obtaining a building permit, dependent on the Torrance Planning Department's approval. It is a slow process, and we have to be patient.

    I would like to share the following with you.

    Most of us live our whole lives in a dormant state. Budo training is more than learning techniques; it is about developing the ability to live in the present moment. Most of the time, our bodies are here, but our minds are somewhere else: in the past, in the future, in another place... When we practice budo, we have to be physically and mentally present. Once we have experienced that, we can transfer it to other areas of our lives. Then we realize that happiness is a balance between sufferance and excitement which are temporary mental formations resulting from that mind-body disconnection. We feel emotions (a reminder of our humanity), but we acknowledge their existence without being controlled by them, and they disappear as they came. Happiness is a way, not a purpose. The more I reflect upon the time I spent with my teacher, Mochizuki Sensei, the more I realize that his daily life was his most valuable teaching.

    Please keep supporting the dojo the following way: think about what is being taught beyond the technical appearance, look for the deeper meaning of things; keep attending your classes regularly, maintain your tuition up to date; it is all part of budo training. Please remember that recommendations are our most effective source of serious students.

    Thank you again for your trust and support in these challenging moments.

    May you all be happy and healthy in sharing the vision.

    Patrick Augé Sensei, December 2001

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