Each precept begins with the term “Just for today”. This reminds us to stay in the present moment, doing the best we can at any given time. Regretting a past that cannot be undone or worrying about a future that hasn’t arrived only hinders us and keeps us from living in the now. Just for today gives us permission to forgive ourselves for past transgressions and frees us from the impulse to try to control the future.
The first principle is not to turn to anger. Anger is a secondary emotion, a fierce reaction to fear or hurt. If we dig down to the source of our anger, we will discover a raw feeling of pain or fear. For example, if we are cut off in traffic, nearly escaping an accident we may get angry, but the underlying feeling is one of sudden fear. Or if we are treated disrespectfully, our anger stems from hurt feelings. Recognizing the feeling that is at the core of our anger is key to bringing ourselves back to an emotional center, allowing us the opportunity to move into the present moment.
The second principle is not to worry. Engaging in constant worry is extremely destructive to both our mental and physical health. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from worrying about the future or fretting about the past. There is a difference in being concerned about a situation and taking appropriate action and worrying about a future in which we have no control. Gaining clarity around how much control we have over the situation will help guide us back to a place of acceptance and peace.
Living in a place of gratitude is the third principle. We can all come up with things to be grateful for, and some days the list is longer than others. Gratitude can encompass both the big things and little things in life. Good health, loving family and friends, and financial flow are all big things that we are grateful for, but how about when one of these main areas is challenged by illness, loss of a loved one, or financial hardship? We can still be grateful for the sun shining, a place to lay our head each night, or the opportunity to brighten someone else’s world. Even in our darkest hours, we can be grateful that we lived to see another day. Practicing gratitude keeps us in the here and now.
The fourth principle is to do the work that is ours to do. This precept has more than one meaning. First, we are reminded to complete the work that is ours to do each day with honesty and integrity. Next, when one of our tasks is to support and be of service to another, we recognize that our work is not to fix anyone or try to take on their work. This principle is also a reminder to get out of own way and allow Spirit to work in our lives. Discerning the difference in what action is ours to take, and when to let go and let things unfold.
Loving and respecting all is the fifth principle. Sometimes when we strongly disagree or find ourselves engaged in conflict it is hard to remember that we are all divine souls having a human experience, and as such we are far more alike than we are different.
The key to living these principles is to take it one day at a time, acknowledging that we will not live each principle 100% on any given day. But by being mindful of when our thoughts stray to anger, worry, self-pity, frustration, etc. we can more quickly move back into our heart center. Practicing Usui’s precepts will ultimately lead us to more peaceful, joyful and fulfilling lives.