Forgiving Is Not Condoning

This post comes courtesy of the wonderful newsletter “Pure Heart, Simple Mind” (R) the Official Newsletter of Seishindo(tm) Written by Charlie Badenhop, the originator of Seishindo. It is re-printed with permission. My thanks to Charlie Badenhop.

These are Charlie’s words:

I”ve just spent ten days with my 89 year old parents, preparing them to move to a senior citizens home. Wow, what a roller coaster ride!

My father was angrier and more abusive than I’ve seen him in ages.

When he wasn’t lashing out at me he was giving a hard time to my mom, the dog, and the neighbors, who had come over to walk the dog.

Needless to say, it wasn’t easy being around such behaviour, but I definitely extracted some high quality learning from the experience.

it didn’t take me long to realize my father was frightened.

Frightened of dying? Yes, that’s likely.

But more so, I began to realize he was terrified my mom might die first and leave him on his own.

No small fear for a guy who after sixty-three years of having the same bureau, still doesn’t know which drawer his clean socks reside in! And don’t dare ask him to operate the washing machine. He looks at the dials as if they’re written in a foreign language.

On one hand he’s a despot.
On the other hand he’s so helpless.
At times frightening, and even revolting
But then again, he can also be so “cute”

By seeing, and to some extent feeling, my father’s fear, I was able to generate a deeper level of compassion for him. Compassion for a man who knows he’s losing control, and uses anger as a way to keep himself from feeling.

As a child, I was beaten many times by this very same man.

It’s forty-three years now since the last time my father physically punished me. Yet this is the first time I’ve had a clear realization of just how scared he was, and has been his whole life. This is the first time I realize that even then, he was afraid of losing control, and used anger as a way to keep himself away from feeling.

Beating me was his strategy for transferring the fear he felt, onto someone else. His strategy for exorcising his fear.

It’s no small point to note that exorcising and exercising are two very different activities!

Today, I could see my father’s trapped in the jail he’s built.
Unable to admit to himself what he did, he’s unable to admit to others.

Unable to forgive himself, he’s unable to say he’s sorry.

Unable to rationalize what he did, he remains stuck in a state of denial.

Being both prisoner and guard.
He’s in possession of the lock and the key.

With little idea of what freedom would be like,
And unsure that he deserves to be set free.

So I’ve decided to take the initiative, and truly forgive him, for the both of us.

To give him that much more of a chance to free his soul, before he passes.

To give myself that much more of a chance to free my soul before he passes.

Forgiveness and freedom go hand in hand. The more you forgive, the less of the past you’ll need to drag along with you, into the present.

When you’re able to “only be here” you wind up discovering life is everything you’ve always hoped it would be!

Do I condone what my father did to me? No way!. I would never want to condone any parent beating their child.

It’s important to remember though, that “forgiving” and “condoning” don’t at all need to go hand in hand.

Forgiveness is a selfish act. The more you forgive, the happier you’ll become. Believe me, it’s well worth the effort!

Yours in freedom,


“Pure Heart, Simple Mind”(tm) is written and edited by Charlie Badenhop (c). All rights reserved. If you would like to subscribe to the Seishindo newsletter please go to the following link.

Charlie Badenhop
Arati Co. Ltd.
2-23-20-101 Maruyama, Nakano-ku,
Tokyo 165-0021, Japan


The Flow of “Mind in Aikido and Water

This post comes courtesy of the wonderful newsletter “Pure Heart, Simple Mind” (R) the Official Newsletter of Seishindo(tm) Written by Charlie Badenhop, the originator of Seishindo. It is re-printed with permission. My thanks to Charlie Badenhop.

These are Charlie’s words:

Recently, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Senta Yamada sensei for the first time.

What follows is a loose translation of Yamada sensei’s words, embroidered by the “larger picture” I sensed he was pointing towards. Uncharacteristically for a Japanese person, he moved his hands as he spoke, to portray the movements he perceived as inherent in the mind of Aikido and the mind of water. You might try doing the same as you read the words that follow. Take your time, breathe freely, and move your body so as to feel the movement and mind the words suggest.
Water unites all the world’s land masses, large and small, connecting what is seemingly separate, distant, and different into one seamless spherical whole.

In Aikido we strive to embody the mind of water.
We cultivate our energy flow to “become one with” our perceived adversaries and adversities, dissolving any sense of separation, distance, or difference.
We might “move away from”, but we do not “run away from”.
Even when we move away from, we eventually return.

Water not only joins together the land masses of earth,
It also unites the earth with the sky, via never ending cycles of evaporation and precipitation. This process of never staying the same, mirrors the path human beings follow, between heaven, earth, and heaven.
Becoming, being, dying. Life, death, and recycle.

Water expands and contracts depending on circumstances, and the same is true of the human spirit.
When you’re harsh to a child, their spirit tends to contract.
When you love a child, their spirit expands-
Out past the two of you, and into the universe.

The presence of water throughout the ecosystem of earth, is similar to the presence of the body’s fluid system, enveloping and uniting the cells and tissue of the body.
The mind of water, the mind of the body’s fluid system, and the mind of Aikido, all have similar intention.
Moving with, joining with, nurturing, cleansing, renewing.
When everything is experienced as “One” there is no disease, no attack, no separation, death, or destruction.

Rain, mist, steam, dew, snow, ice- Water in all its various manifestations, has a spherical mind. This mind of roundness is a key principle in the mind of non-dissension.

In Aikido we project a full round presence to our adversary and flow with their movements. We offer no hard surfaces to bump up against, and nothing to grab hold of. We encourage our adversaries to follow their course of action to its likely outcome, in the same way water follows the path of gravity downhill. Moving always towards center, until the time for renewal and rising up again.

Regardless of the obstacles encountered water does not stop.
It does not give up.
It does however rest and wait for the proper circumstances··· an opening.

Water joins with, is absorbed by, and surrounds.
It does not strive to act separately, but is moved by··· the forces of nature.

This mind of endless effortless rest, renewal, and movement;
As calm when doing, as when simply being.

Realizing the end of every journey is a new beginning,
We experience every destination as temporary,
Every goal as cyclical.

Beginning complete, we remain complete.

With nowhere to go,
No need to “have to”,
Nothing to fulfill,
Except our destiny.

Our destination of returning is never in question.

Senta Yamada was born in Fukuoka, Japan in 1924, and he is the founder and principle teacher of “Kikusui Kai”.

He began to practice Judo in middle school, and received his 1st Dan at the age of 16. He became an outstanding competitive judoka, eventually reaching the rank of 6th dan under the founder of Judo, Dr Jigaro Kano.

Yamada sensei’s name appears alongside the famous in the historic Sekiryu kan Dojo, as one who completed the session of 1000 throws.

Dr Kano sent Yamada sensei to study Aikido with Morihei Ueshiba Sensei after World War II. As a live-in student he began private training with the founder in Wakayama Prefecture.

In 1959 Yamada sensei went to England to teach Judo but instead introduced Tomiki Aikido to the UK. In 1961 he first published his book “THE ANCIENT SECRETS OF AIKIDO”, this was reprinted in 1962 and then revised and reprinted in 2004. His book published jointly with Alex Macintosh in 1966, “The Principles and Practice of Aikido”, was the first extensive presentation of Tomiki Aikido in the English language and is currently out of print.

Yamada sensei left England in 1965 leaving his original students (to name a few) John Waite, John Wilkinson, John Gay, Jim Elkin, Bill Lawrence, George Chew, Alex Macintosh, Eric Domini and later Loi Lee to carry forward his inspiration.

Since those early days Yamada sensei has been involved in several projects of humanitarian aid to people in countries which need help. He is currently involved in helping the government of Sri Lanka feed it’s people and grow it’s economy by providing information on new farming techniques being used in Japan that are designed to increase crop yields.

He has set up a Dojo there, where students study, regularly train, and enjoy the benefits of his unique style of Aikido.

He has returned to England many times since the sixties and everyone who has the opportunity to meet him comes away feeling blessed to have met, such a great yet peaceful and humble “gentle” man.


“Pure Heart, Simple Mind”(tm) is written and edited by Charlie Badenhop (c). All rights reserved. If you would like to subscribe to the Seishindo newsletter please go to the following link.

Charlie Badenhop
Arati Co. Ltd.
2-23-20-101 Maruyama, Nakano-ku,
Tokyo 165-0021, Japan

When I Am Among the Trees – Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say they save me, and daily.


I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.


Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.


And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

in gratitude,


Inner Voice

Original Post 2007

An anonymous 14th Century poem speaks of his inner voice as a call from God.

Lord, you called to me,
And I did answer thee
With words slow and sleepy:
“Wait awhile! Wait a little!”
But while and while have no end,
And wait a little is a long road.

I find it comforting to believe that there is a force within me perpetually guiding me toward what is best for me…and for the world. This inner voice is a guide to self-healing, self-knowledge, and fulfillment. As does the poet, I often respond with “Wait awhile! Wait a little!”

The beauty of this voice, this inner teacher, is that it reminds me, at any moment I care to listen, that I am perfect as I am; that I need not struggle, and that by letting go of the image of the person I would like to be and by surrendering to who I am, I can stop acting and I can begin living.



Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me Meme

1. I’m ¾ Irish and ¼ Puerto Rican. My grandmother was Maria Urrutia, born in Comerio, PR in 1899. The story of my grandmother’s family is fantastic and she herself was an amazing woman. Her father was a an officer in the military and a pharmacist. She grew up living on the grounds of the El Morro Castle. Her mother was Adele Rieckehoff, the descendent of German traders who had three ships that brought goods from Lipse, Germany to PR. At some point the traders sold their ships and bought a huge swath of property on the island of Vieques. The main school on the island is named after her ancestor, German Reickehoff. He went on to be a legislator in PR and also the founder of the Olympic movement in PR. The Olympic stadium and training center is named after him. Interestingly enough, he was a very tall man. In fact, it is said that when he walked down the street people would call out, “Here comes Mr. Seven Stories!”. At 6’6”, it’s pretty obvious I inherited his height.

2. In 1994, I participated in a work mission to Haiti. Papa Doc was not long gone and I remember distinctly seeing black rings on roads. These were the scars left by tires being burned as part of protests and also used in the deaths of some of Papa Docs vicious army the Ton Ton Macoute. It was amazing to see policemen carrying sub-machine guns.

We worked in 100 degree heat, under Haitian supervision, to build 14×14 concrete rooms which were to be teachers’ living quarters. The school was not much more than two rooms with plain benches and a blackboard in each. There were no bathrooms. Students ducked behind a corrugated 4×8 piece of tin, leaned against a tree, to do their business.

3. In 1995, I was chosen by UNICEF to visit China in order to assess their educational technology progress and to provide a draft plan on how to move forward. I met many wonderful people on this trip and quickly realized that many of the solutions that we had in the U.S. would not scale to meet the challenges of a country as large as China. I met teachers in schools around the country who would rush to my side to speak with me in English because they were English teachers who had never heard the language spoken by a native person.

4. I lived in the Adirondack mountains for nearly 10 years. Winters were long, and cold; but the small town I lived, and the school I taught in were great places. I started with 18 other new teachers from all over New York State. We learned together, taught together, and played together. It was a wonderful cadre of friends and it wasn’t unusual to spend our summers or weekends helping each other build our homes from scratch. Being ‘handy’ was definitely an Adirondack thing. We skied, hiked, boated, fished, swam, and explored. I heated with wood for more than a year when renovating an old house I bought.

5. I am a certified master somatic coach. What the heck is that? It’s an approach to self development that uses the body as a major key for learning. A simple way to experience this is to stand up and put your head down so that you are staring at your feet, round your shoulders. Take a moment to sense how this makes you feel. What emotions or sensations does it bring? Now, stand up straight. Hold out your chin, pull your shoulders back; how does that make you feel. Very different, right? This is just an inkling of what is possible if we pay attention to our bodies and our breath. The way we hold ourselves and the way we move are reflections of our inner state. Change the way we hold ourselves and we change who we are.

Well, I think 5 things for the meme is good for today. It was an interesting exercise for me and I thank Heidi for tagging me.


The Mirror

preilly_smallOur local PBS station is having its annual fund drive and recently ran a lecture by Deepak Chopra. The entire show was thought provoking; but one concept stood out for me. The idea went something like this; I paraphrase…

“Your life is a reflection of you.”

Now that seems innocuous enough; but there is more to it than meets the eye. What I believe he is saying is that if your life has lots of drama, conflict, frustration, and anger. It’s a reflection…not of others; but of you.

Wow! Now that hit a nerve!

For the last month or so, I have found myself with a bit of a negative outlook. I’ve been complaining about some of the folks in the consulting engagements I’m leading. I can feel myself getting increasingly frustrated with the dysfunction I am finding in so many schools and school districts. I’m discouraged with the pace of educational change, and I have been more easily drawn into non-productive conversations.

Is this all a reflection of me?

I think it is. I have been out of touch with my daily leadership practices, so I find myself more easily falling back to my old and familiar, automatic behaviors. These old habits of thought and action don’t work for me anymore. In fact, when just a tiny bit of my old self-righteousness or arrogance shows up, it creates a big mess.

In truth, I have been restless with the pace of my own personal change. I keep getting close to breaking through with a book I am writing and then I choose to let myself get distracted with lots of commitments and consulting. Weeks go by and the book slips out of sight, except that my inner voice won’t let it disappear completely. The more I ignore it, the more I am aware of it. Sounds crazy; but that’s the way it is for me.

So, it’s a vicious cycle. If I let it, my mood gets very self-critical.

Which leads me back to ‘life as a mirror’. Is it any wonder that, when I am frustrated with myself, that I would express frustration with others? And, if I feel negative and discouraged with my own pace of change, that my dealings with others would mirror that negativity and discouragement? Yes, I believe the conflicts and the drama I am experiencing in my life right now, are simply expressions of my own inner drama. It is my own inner ‘critic’ wreaking its familiar havoc.

I know better than to let this happen, I guess that is part of my frustration. It’s so easy to blame the folks that seem so dysfunctional, because in some cases, they ARE. It’s easy to blame the bureaucracy of schools because they ARE bureaucratic and slow to change. It’s easy to blame the administrators who manage rather than lead, because there are so many of them.

All these problems and issues are very real. They exist on their own; but how I choose to deal with them is MY choice. I can be critical, angry, negative and discouraged; which creates conflict and closes doors; or I can choose to deal with these issues with an open heart, with understanding, self-confidence, and gratitude… which opens doors.

Fortunately, I can choose to take a different path at any time. Yesterday, I began my leadership practices again. I believe it was the return to those practices that opened the way for me to write this reflection. Each new day, each moment, is an opportunity to make a different choice for myself. I think that that is extremely empowering and filled with hope.

It’s very easy to get lost on our journey. Sometimes all we need to do is look in the mirror, the mirror that Deepak Chopra talked about… the mirror that is our life, for clues to locate ourselves in our travels.