Awakening to a way of living life (Section II, Part 1)
Transcript from a talk (Translated from Japanese)
Direction of the Evolution of Humankind
Up to this point, I have talked about my way of living and experiences. Next, let’s consider together the history of humankind, which is the background of the book, “Beyond National Egoism.”
Already, billions of years have passed since the beginning of life on the earth. It appears that, first, viruses or single-celled organisms appeared and evolved into many-celled organisms. It is said that through the process of evolution, mammals came into being, and ultimately, several hundred thousand years ago, the first humans appeared. And now, we have come to the present.
What has humankind been hoping for in life?
What has humankind truly been hoping for over the many years, and in what kind of direction has human society evolved? Speaking from the conclusion, perhaps humans have spent their history seeking things such as safety, convenience, comfort, and high efficiency. Along with that, we have sought material wealth. This is also connected to securing our safety or survival.
I believe the main driving force was the development of the brain (cerebrum). The development of the brain is a critical difference between humans and apes (which are the so-called ancestors of humans) or other animals.
A firm belief in science and technology
In particular, our efforts in seeking convenience, comfort, and high efficiency since recorded history, that is, from about 10,000 to 8,000 years ago until today, gradually have been rewarded. In other words, something like a firm belief in scientific reasoning has spread throughout humankind, although there are still areas around the world that have not developed that far yet.
Especially since the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 18th century, science and technology have been given priority and developed rapidly as people, nations and businesses sought convenience, comfort and high efficiency. In this sense, a major characteristic of human society until now has been this firm belief in scientific reasoning and the rapid development of science and technology. Probably, everyone would agree that this is a major characteristic of humans when considering the difference between humans and animals.
The possibility of humans becoming extinct in an instant
I feel that nuclear weapons are a symbol of convenience, comfort, security, and high efficiency. Recently, “not smoking” has become fashionable, especially in the U.S. A short time ago, there was a cartoon showing that while smoking a cigarette, a person could kill tens of millions of people within 10 to 30 minutes, simply with the press of a button. A person could sit in safe place while smoking a cigarette, and kill millions of people with one finger. This is the ultimate and most efficient in the search for convenience and comfort, and furthermore, the person could remain in a safe place. Humankind developed this type of weapon.
During the most intense period of the U.S. ? Soviet Cold War, there were enough nuclear bombs to kill all humans on the earth many tens of times over. Further, both the U.S. and Soviet Union had many thousands of missiles to deliver these warheads into the enemy country within 30 minutes. This is sheer madness. It is a fact that symbolizes the science and technology civilization. This means it is possible that humans could become extinct in an instant.
Constant and serious possibility that all humankind will fall to ruin
There is a constant and serious possibility that all humankind is at a dead end and will fall to ruin. Problems that you know about such as global-scale environmental destruction, population explosion, food supply shortage, energy crisis and nuclear power, show us this possibility.
There is a trial calculation of the degree of damage and losses that would result if a major accident were to occur when the Rokkasho nuclear spent-fuel reprocessing plant is in full operation. I was shocked when I saw the report. It is said that probably every living being on half of the earth would die. The Rokkasho plant is not the only plant that we need to consider. At the nuclear facility in France, only quick action prevented an accident that could have blown away all of Europe.
It is not emphasized, but the accidents at Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island started from something small. Then, one accident led to another and became a catastrophe. In other words, no matter how much effort we put into preventing an accident, a catastrophe can occur and has actually occurred from an unexpected cause. Further, once an accident occurs, it causes major sacrifice and damage. This means that the science and technology civilization that has sought convenience, comfort and high efficiency has ultimately created these things.
In addition, there is the issue of education. Not only in Japan, but in the world overall, the educational environment is being destroyed. As a result, youth are suffering major emotional damage. They do not have humanistic strength. With regard to the youth, it is pitiful to say, but it has become clear through various studies that there are more and more children and youth whose hearts are not straight.
If we remain in this direction
Not only societal issues such as nuclear weapons or environmental problems, but the human heart has also become worn away. As long as we do not change the path and direction of human society, we will truly come to a dead end. I believe we have come to the brink of a critical dead end now.
So now, is there is a way to go beyond this dead end? I feel this is most important now. As long as we do not change the way of thinking of our civilization that heavily emphasizes science and technology, this dead end and direction toward our ruin will not change. Without changing this way of thinking, basically, nothing will change. It won’t make a difference if we wonder whether we should do this or that. This means that humankind has basically gone in the wrong direction. The result has appeared as the many dead ends we are facing.
Gain a sense of what is true
However, since 2,500 to 2,000 years ago, after much suffering over questioning the meaning of their lives, many sages and saints including Buddha and Christ already had clearly realized the answer to the question, “What am I?” After gaining this sense of what is true, they saw past the dead ends of human society and humankind, and walked their own path beyond these dead ends. At the same time, they explained their discoveries to the people.
People who have gained a clear sense or awareness of “What am I? What is this world?” through their experiences, have said in common that human society definitely is not a collection of separate people. The entire universe, which includes not only humans, but all living beings and non-living beings, is one and cannot be separated. They have said that using the five senses of humans, things may appear to be separate, but the true form or the real nature is one and cannot be separated.
Sunlight and a prism
Based on common sense, it may be difficult to understand that everything is originally one, but looks separated. This is because we are looking from the viewpoint of our five senses. People who have gained awareness see from a point of view that is beyond the five senses. Let’s think about this relationship by using an example. Sunlight is colorless, but if you place a prism in the sunlight, it will appear to be separated into seven colors. In between each of the seven colors, there will be many other colors, and the sunlight will be separated into an infinite number of colors.
If we look at the way things are through the prism of our five senses, things will appear to be separate. However, the true form or real nature is like the colorless sunlight, and everything is one. Perhaps, this is a way to show the relationship.
A characteristic of humans is development of the brain
The development of the brain is the characteristic of humans that is the biggest difference from apes. The human brain can even be considered as abnormally developed. Through the five senses, the brain recognizes and evaluates. Since our brain is developed, we humans have difficulty grasping our original true nature.
In the history of humankind, at least until 100 years ago, there were no large-scale wars in which tens of millions of people could die or the human race could be destroyed. As a result, since there was still some level of comfort overall, many people did not listen to the words of the many great sages, saints, and people who had gained awareness of what is true.
Religions until now
Of course, some people were not like that. It is precious that up to the present, these people have continued their efforts to tell us the essence of religions such as Buddhism and Christianity. However, considering the overall society, I think that people have not listened seriously to the voices of those who taught the essence. I feel that at best, people’s understanding of religion is at the level of worldly benefits, such as praying to the gods or Buddha for the health, safety and prosperity of themselves and their family. By no means do I think that all of this is bad, but I feel that, overall, even followers of Buddhism, Christianity and other religions are like this.
Return to the true nature of religion
To overcome this dead end faced by humankind, I feel there is no other way except to listen again to the voices of the people who lived before us and gained awareness. We need to listen to the voices of truth, and open our eyes to the true nature of existence. I think that we are living in this kind of era. It is very important to recognize this.
One more point is that the dead end faced by human society is a problem of our entire society, and at the same time, involves each person’s way of living. Therefore, I think it is very important to make clear your true way of living, or in other words, become aware of your true self.
A shift in our view of humans and the world
Wisdom is necessary, not knowledge. Knowledge comes from learning about something and analyzing it in detail with the brain. In contrast, wisdom comes from understanding something overall and seeing its true form from the big picture view. Based on this wisdom, most important now are a shift in our view of humans and a shift in our view of the world. This means to become aware of the truth, the true way of being.
In other words, it is necessary to shift from the past scientific view of humankind, which is based on a view that everything is separate, to a religious view of humans in which everything is one, and you and others are one and cannot be separated.
Egoism that arises from the sense of separateness
In the scientific view of humans, which is based on the sense of separateness, other people are considered to have interests that are different from your own interests. Then, egoism naturally arises. It means caring only about your own interests, or the interests of your family, company or country.
Much unhappiness and inconveniences arise from here. Personal problems such as loneliness, superiority complex, inferiority complex, and a way of life obsessed with material things, money, status, fame, or power arise. Also, disagreements between individuals, hatred, grudges, taking from each other, and fierce competition among businesses arise. Then, various problems result such as environmental problems, population explosion, the North-South hemisphere problem, exploitation, discrimination, and unequal ownership patterns.
Among nations, it becomes a conflict of national egoism. Further, when bargaining tactics break down, war results. Once war begins, people risk their lives to fight in the name of survival of the country to which they belong. Since at least several decades ago, many people thought that war could not be avoided and that humans were this way originally.
The egoism of a nation is the main villain
National egoism is adding to and increasing various types of egoism the most. The nation is the base unit in international society. A basic national principle founded on egoism has an endless hunger for the prosperity of the nation and the survival of the nation in a life or death crisis. In most national governments today, these two features have formed the nation’s basic policy. Such a policy has been promoted not only when dealing with foreign countries, but also in policies within the country such as for education, industry and other sectors. This is the actual situation.
Since the nation is headed in the direction of egoism, the nation’s foreign policies, the educational system, and the people, businesses and industries, naturally, are strongly influenced by the nation’s basic policy, that is, egoism.
Let us consider an example to make the situation clear. All passenger seats in a shinkansen bullet train from Kyoto destined for Tokyo, whether in the first car or second car, are headed for Tokyo. In this train, no matter how much you hope to go to Osaka or hope to return to Kyoto, the train with your hopes on board is headed for Tokyo. To say it another way, if you want to go to Osaka or return to Kyoto, you must get off the train at an intermediate station and board a train headed for Osaka or Kyoto. This means you should simply change trains. (to be continued…)
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008