When I saw volunteers rushing to the rescue after the earthquakes that struck Niigata and Ishikawa, I wondered how I could become positive in order to help others,
let alone myself. I am not too healthy, nor am I doing well in school; neither do I desire to cooperate with others to do volunteer work. I don’t last long in my club activities
or my part-time job, and I am constantly burdening my parents. There is nothing I can do for others. All the same, if I can be reborn, I would like to change myself.
(A.J., 21 years old, male)
Response given by Reverend Masahiro Takemura, Seicho-No-Ie Ordained Minister
As I read your letter, I had a strong feeling that you wish to “live life being useful to others.” This is your desire for self-improvement and that’s wonderful! You have a lot to look forward to with such a desire at the young age of 21. The first step in self-improvement begins by knowing that within you dwells a desire “to be useful to others” and by positively affirming this. The reason such thoughts and ideals well forth is because the essential nature of humankind is “good.” If not, thoughts of “I want to do good deeds,” or “I want to be useful to someone!” would not arise.
You seem to be overly caught up in your past. However, only regretting your past events will not help you change your life towards the positive. What is essential is to know what you have learned from your past and how you will interpret what had happened in the past. What I want you to do is “see the bright side of things.” In other words, it is the “Sundial Way of Life.”
Are you familiar with the example, “A cup half-filled with water?” When a cup is half-filled with water, you have the choice to think, “There is only half a cup of water,” expressing your dissatisfaction, or say with gratitude, “The cup is already half filled with water. Oh, I am so grateful!” In spite of being in the same situation and condition, whether you view things positively or negatively greatly changes your destiny and environment.
You disappointedly say, “I’m only bringing trouble to my parents”; however, your sensitivity in recognizing that you are troublesome to your parents is in itself wonderful. Some people do not recognize that they are a burden to others and continue to do as they wish. Those who do know that they are a burden to others can calmly observe themselves objectively. Those who know the answer to “What can I do so that I won’t be a burden,” or “What can I do to make others happy” are able to find the answers themselves.
Do not blame yourself if you have difficulties in continuing your club activities or part-time job but instead praise yourself for having accepted the challenge. Do not be caught up in not being able to make them last but think positively. People who do not last in doing something are called mikkabôzu (a person with no perseverance); however, a mikkabôzu (Ed. Note: mikka means three days in Japanese) is not only a person who lasts three days but also one who does it continuously for three days. You do it for three days and rest one day and if you do it for another three days, it means that you have done it for six days in one week!
In this way, whatever it is, put it in a bright light and do not rush through it but begin by doing what you can and proceed to your ideal destination by taking one step at a time. Although some things may turn out to be a negative experience, there is nothing wasted in what you are doing. What is important is what you learn from each experience. When you can accept every experience as a “lesson,” it will become the power to realize your ideal.
Today we are faced with a very serious problem of preventing global warming. However, even with the problem on a global scale, we can help by picking up empty cans and discarding them in designated places and thus contribute to the conservation of the environment. When you go shopping, take your own bags and refuse plastic bags or when you are out eating, take your own chopsticks and do not use the ones provided. This is something we can all do. If you always live with a smile, it will help put peace in the minds of the people around you. Let’s begin by doing good in our close surroundings and express our indwelling “goodness.” I sincerely pray that you will lead a life filled with joy to realize the ideal world.
From Riso Sekai (Ideal World), October 2007, pp. 14-15
©Reverend Masahiro Takemura