The following lecture was given at the 54th ISTS in California.
Thank you very much for attending the 54th International Training Seminar. I will discuss “The Law of the Mind and the Power of the Word.” When I looked at the list of the attendees, I saw many familiar names from the Southern California Missionary Area, and I saw names for the first time. So, before starting this session, I will ask you about your philosophy of your life. I will distribute to two different sheets of paper. First one is a copy of a page from Sundial Dairy. I call the second one a gratitude note. On the opposite side of the paper there are 3 lines on the top. So, in 25 words or less, please write down your philosophy of life in two minutes.
“I always see the bright side of people and things and never their dark side because God’s created world is already perfect and harmonious.”
Some of you may have finished writing and some cannot write your philosophy of life in 2 minutes. It is okay. The reason why I asked you to write is because by writing it will give you a chance to think of your life philosophy. Now, I will explain what kind of philosophy of life a Seicho-No-Ie member should have. When the Seicho-No-Ie Founder Masaharu Taniguchi published the very first issue of the Seicho-No-Ie magazine in March 1930, he wrote the article, The Seicho-No-Ie Way of Life, and introduced three ways of life. They are: In Seicho-No-Ie we live laughing merrily, The way of life of the sundial principle, and Seicho-No-Ie is a way of life based on the worship principle.
The situation at the time when Seicho-No-Ie started is similar to the recent year in the United States. Since September 2008 when Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the US economy has deteriorated. The average unemployment rate in 2011 was a little over 9%. Before starting SNI, the situation was very similar. In 1930, Japan fell into total economic chaos. The most important industry at that time was the silk industry. The price of raw silk fell 55% between 1930-1931. Related to this was the 52% decline in price of cotton thread. Rice fell 50% to half price. Exports fell off by 43.2%--about half—and imports fell by 40%. In 1930, the number of unemployed was 2.37 million; in 1931, it was 2.5 million, and in 1932, it was 2.37 million.
In that situation Founder Masaharu Taniguchi published the Seicho-No-Ie magazine and wrote the Seicho-No-Ie way of life. This way of life is expounded in the Truth of Life Volume 7. When you open the contents of the Truth of Life Volume 7, you will be able to see many ways of life. They are:
1. Make the Most of the Early Morning
2. Live Laughing
3. The Sundial Way of Life
4. Revere the True Image of the Life Dwelling in Others
5. Leap Right Into the Realization That You Are a Child of God
6. Burn Your Bridges Behind You
7. Rule the Kingdom of Your Mind
8. Always Entertain Good Thoughts
9. Let the Future Take Care of Itself
10. Be Decisive, Determined, and Courageous in Carrying Out Your Plans
11. He Who Staunchly Refuses to Anticipate Defeat Eventually Wins
12. Bring Light Into Your Home
These ways of life is to only focus ourselves on the positive side. For example, in the section of The Sundial Way of Life, it is stated as follows:
“Let us become as sundials which record only the hours of sunshine. What is there to gain by keeping sadness forever in our minds? What profit is there in recalling our losses forever? No one receives any benefit if we keep regretting our mistakes and become despondent. These are only the dregs among the events in our lives. Do not be bothered forever by the dregs. Throw them out. Cast them out of your mind in the same way that you would throw out a thief. We must know that our minds are worth much more than these dregs.” (p. 35)
“If you wish spiritual growth, do not be seized by your emotions. Do not allow yourself to be controlled by violent emotions. Do not become a slave. He who is seized or controlled is a slave. Make your emotions do as you bid. Control violent emotions. Become sovereign over your own mind.” (p. 123)
We should know how our destinies are created. They are created by our words which are thoughts, words and actions. The following message by Rev. Taniguchi shows an important truth:
“Bright and Cheerful Thoughts
We human beings, who are children of God, are bestowed not only with a free will and the right to select and determine our own fate, but also with a tool whereby to materialize what we choose. This apparatus is nothing but our own thoughts, words and actions. In other words, if we exploit thoughts, words and actions which are positive and constructive, we create a good, fortunate destiny, whereas with those of a pessimistic and destructive nature, we forge an unfortunate, ill fate.
If we wish to generate good thoughts, we must not turn our minds to the evil portents in our actual life, such as misfortunes and illnesses. First we must focus our being upon God, impress all the attributes of God deeply upon our minds, and then exalt them and inundate ourselves with gratitude for them.” (365 Golden Keys to the Summit of Fulfillment, pages 14-15)
When we use and think positive words and thoughts, our lives will definitely change. However, how can we focus on only the positive side when we are sick or have pain? How can we not think of our failures or mistakes which caused a great damage in our lives? Unfortunately, if we repeatedly recall our failures and mistakes in our minds, we will only reproduce similar situations in the future. Therefore, we have to practice positive, bright thoughts, words and actions. Practice is important.
It is easy to worry about your job if you lose your job. It is natural to have fear if your family member suffers from an illness. What should do is the opposite thing. When we are sad, let us laugh out loud. When suffering a difficult situation, be joyful. When in fear, be brave. When depressed, be bright and cheerful. These are practices.
Last week I read a book, Flourish, by Dr. Martin Seligman who started Positive Psychology in 2005 and Positive Psychology is currently being used as a recovery program of post traumatic stress disorder in US Army and many different places. One of the reasons why he started Positive Psychology was that he really wanted to help his patients. He wrote: “As a therapist, once in a while I would help a patient get rid of all of his anger and anxiety and sadness. I thought I would then get a happy patient. But I never did. I got an empty patient. And that is because the skills of flourishing—of having positive emotion, meaning, good work, and positive relationships—are something over and above the skills of minimizing suffering.” (p. 54)
The positive thoughts have power. Dr. Seligman utilizes the power of positive thinking. In his book it is written as follows:
“Having established that positive emotions can be very useful, it is critical to pause and draw attention to the fact that people often do not know that they have such power within them. You have the power within you to figure out what inspires you, what makes you laugh, or what gives you hope, and to cultivate those emotions…This can help you optimize your life by setting up moments of genuine positivity for yourself. Do not underestimate the benefits of doing this.” (p. 141)
I have not yet visited his website and tried his program, so I don’t know the whole procedure of his well-being program, but he mentioned here and there what he does. For example, Dr. Seligman suggested to write down three things that went well today and why they went well. In Seicho-No-Ie Readers Meeting program, we share good things that happened since the last meeting. Sharing the positive happenings with participants, we are able to enhance our feeling of joy more. We also suggest to members to write things daily that go well. We have the Sundial Dairy. You have received a copy of the today’s page. So, you can write down your positive thoughts in it later.
Dr. Seligman also suggests for readers to write gratitude letters. He said, “Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.” (p. 30) Therefore, it is important to express your gratitude. The Divine Message of Grand Harmony clearly states, “Be reconciled with the whole universe. When you are so reconciled the whole universe is your friend. When the whole universe is your friend nothing whatever can harm you…True reconciliation cannot be achieved by patience or forbearance with one another. To be patient or forbearing is not to be reconciled from the bottom of your heart. When you are grateful to one another, true reconciliation is achieved…Be grateful to the blessings from your country. Be grateful to your parents. Be grateful to your husband or wife. Be grateful to your children. Be grateful to those who serve you. Be grateful to all people. Be grateful to everything in the universe. Within those thoughts of gratitude you will find me and receive my salvation.” In Seicho-No-Ie we have Gratitude Practice. Some members practice thank you very much recitation ten thousand times a day. When we practice, practice makes us perfect. Dr. Seligman said, “World-class piano soloists log 10,000 hours of solo practice by age twenty, in contrast to 5,000 hours for the next level of pianist, and in contrast to 2,000 hours for a merely serious amateur pianist…The advice that follows is straight-forward: if you want to become world class at anything, you must spend 60 hours a week on it for ten years.” (p. 115)
In Seicho-No-Ie we do not recommend extremes. To apply the positive way of life we optimize our words, thoughts and actions. Please write your positive things in the Sundial Diary. I would like to suggest to not only write things that went well but also write why. This is an example: “My husband gave me a bouquet of flowers for our anniversary. He remembered our anniversary and showed his love for me. I am delighted.”
So far I explained how important it is to think positively when we encounter negative things. But, the question of how to deal with a negative situation in a positive mind still remains. To solve this, first we have to think clearly about our problem or adversity. We should know Albert Ellis’s ABCDE model pointed by Dr. Seligman: “C (the emotional consequences) do not stem directly from A (the adversity) but from B (your beliefs about the adversity). This simple fact comes as a surprise to many of the sergeants, dispelling the common belief that adversity sets off emotion directly.” (p. 167) When we are fearful or angry at something due to suffering an adversity, consequences appear because of our feeling of resentment or terror. When we can change our feeling of resentment or terror by the power of the positive words, we will be able to change our adversity to a chance to become better. In the Truth of Life Volume 7 it is stated as follows:
“For us human beings, who are light and also life, there is no real darkness, nothing that we can call a real obstacle. Darkness serves only to sharpen the brilliance of light as the latter advances. Obstacles serve only accentuate the hidden freedom that lies in life. Because there is resistance in the path of electrical flow, electricity becomes light and heat. Electricity without resistance and water without an obstacle are not really free, for they are not faced with adversity.
Indeed, is adversity not something that gives greater freedom to our lives? Is the aircraft not able to fly because there is the resistance of air? Is the automobile not able to run on the ground because there is friction between the tires and the ground? A world without obstacles, a world without resistance, a world without friction, may appear to be free, but its freedom is never to be displayed. As such, does it not remain forever a world of seeming possibility?
Therefore, an obstacle is what makes our lives shed light. Resistance is what makes our lives leap upwards and rise to the highest world. Hardship is what actualizes the freedom that our lives possess.
If so, regardless of what hardship we might face, we do not need to look at its dark side.” (pages 224-225)
Let us practice focusing ourselves on only positive side. Thank you very much.