Awakening to a Way of Living Life (Section I, Part 2)
Transcript from a talk (Translated from Japanese)
A world in which we are given life
As I mentioned before, I wanted to live the true way, and for that, I thought I must know what is the true way of living. So, I struggled and struggled seeking what you might call “enlightenment.” I felt that if I climbed this cliff and reached the top, I could reach enlightenment for sure. So, I struggled and climbed. However, finally, I was exhausted. My hands slipped away from the cliff and I fell. Below was a rugged, dry riverbed, and I thought I would die there. But, I actually felt that I was supported by something light and gentle, and I was alive.
In this respect, in childhood also, I was a student that fell behind the others. However, am I literally “a failure”? I cannot believe that everything is within one’s power. It was not that “I was living,” but rather it might be closer to my actual experience to say, “I was given life.” By intuition, I felt that this world worked in this way by nature.
Simply live honest to your genuine feelings
From that time, I have felt that I should simply live by following my genuine feelings. Also, I thought that in my daily life, I could work on deepening my understanding of the meaning of life. Among my friends of that time, three or four also were seeking the path and entered the priesthood or became Buddhist monks. Instead of becoming a priest or a monk, I chose to live a normal life.
In normal life, I continually check my mind and heart. I observe to what extent I am remaining true to my heart. If I am not being true to my heart, I reflect on why this is so. I polish myself by checking what I am feeling in my inner heart, and correcting my way of thinking and actions. I thought that perhaps a normal way of life might be better for this. Living in this way, there is the possibility of spoiling myself, so in a sense, this way of life might be more difficult than becoming a priest or a monk. However, I thought that originally, humans had lived a normal life and polished themselves in their daily life, and that this was the proper way. As for my desire to live life in the true way, I had confidence in this feeling and also felt that there was no other option. So, I chose this path.
The Road to Education
In concrete terms, I ended my research path. I wanted to convey to young people the true way of living and the meaning of living that I had become aware of. I thought that perhaps education would be the best way to do this, and decided to become a middle school teacher. At that time, I had reached the final stages of the doctoral course at the University of Tokyo, so in this sense, people asked me why I would go out of my way to choose this path. Some even said it would be a waste. However, I thought it would be the best way of living for me. So, I became a teacher at a public middle school in the countryside of Kanagawa Prefecture.
Am I qualified to be a teacher?
When I decided to become a teacher, first, I asked myself if I had the qualifications to become a teacher. At that time, I did not have a teaching license, so I hurriedly obtained a license. However, the real question was whether or not I was truly qualified to teach.
What does this mean? In the future, I would probably marry and have my own children. Although it would be in a different form, would I be able to love other people‘s children to the same depth as I love my own children? Do I have that kind of confidence in myself? Would I be able to have that much love for my future students? The answer was a clear “yes.”
There is no child who is “no-good.”
There was one more point I needed to check. I asked myself whether I thought there is any child who is “no-good.” I knew the answer from my own experience. In childhood, I was raised as a “no-good” child. But, I was able to overcome this upbringing when my fifth-grade teacher told me, “You can do it. You are able.” Also, I have observed many children, and there is truly no child who is “no-good.”
Some children get 100 points on a school exam, while others get 10 points. The 10 points is actually not the test score of the child, but rather, the test score for the teacher’s way of teaching. In other words, since the way of teaching is poor, the child can only get 10 points. Instead of saying that the child does not have eagerness, it is the responsibility of the teacher who did not teach in a way that the child would take interest and be eager to learn.
In this way, by looking deeply at what is true, you can see that it is not the fault of the child who has poor grades. I think it is a matter of to what extent the teacher will be creative. So, I became a teacher after making sure that I truly feel there is no child who is “no-good.”
Without blaming the other person, find creative ways of conveying
When I became a teacher and actually gave an exam, some children got 100 points while others got 10 points. At that time, I did not think it was because there was a problem with the children. I did not think that the children were not smart, or that they did not study. I thought the problem was in my way of teaching. I tried to be creative continually in my teaching methods so that any student could understand. As a result, I think my teaching skills improved considerably. I have maintained this attitude ever since then. Whenever I try to convey something to another person and the matter is not conveyed well, I do not blame the other person. I feel it depends on the creativity in my way of conveying.
Through continued creativity in my teaching methods, the students’ grades improved and everyone became lively. Further, in spare moments of classes, as much as possible, I tried to find opportunities to talk with the students about the way of living as a human being. I was also active as an advisor in the students’ club activities. In this way, I developed a relationship of mutual trust with the students and was able to spread my wings and enjoy my teaching life.
Seeking a further breakthrough
After about three years, I felt I had reached the limits of what I could accomplish at a public school. I wanted to make a further breakthrough, so I decided to live “free.” After four years of teaching, I quit my job at the middle school. I opened a private school with the purpose of conveying a way of living as a human being, and teaching how to study, more than the topic of study itself. At first, the students were elementary, middle school, and high school students. But, gradually, they changed to university students and now, people in society.
Not only brightening one corner
There is a saying, “Brighten the world at your corner (‘Ichigu o terasu’).” However, I gradually began to feel that this was not enough. I can do my utmost with sincerity, build good human relations, and develop and grow reasonably. But, looking at the world overall, the level has rapidly gone down, or rather, our level as human beings and the level of our way of living has gone down. I sense this kind of trend every year. I feel that each year, we are going down one step. By doing my utmost with sincerity in Maebashi City or Mt. Akagi, I may be able to brighten one corner, but that alone is not enough.
The truth cannot be conveyed even if it is taught
In this way, from 15 years ago, I shifted my focus toward how to change the overall flow of the world so that everyone in the world could become happy and world peace would become a reality. Another point I realized was that “you cannot teach the truth about the way of living life.” Even if you try to teach the truth, it will not be conveyed. The only way is to realize through one’s own experience.
Therefore, in the past 10 years, I have held two types of retreat-style seminars. The “Seminar of Life” has the objective of realizing and grasping through one’s own experience, the true way of living. In the “Seminar of Peace,” we consider thoroughly what we can do to bring about true world peace. The “Seminar of Life” and the “Seminar of Peace” have been held in Europe as well as in Japan. We can try more new creative ideas, but so far, the seminars have had considerably good results. In general, this has been my way of living.
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September 29, 2008