Sunday, September 30, 2012
The following lecture was given at the 55th ISTS in Connecticut in June, 2012:
Thank you very much. In Seicho-No-Ie we often talk about how important it is to have a positive attitude and encourage people to practice the use of positive words such as “I am a child of God. I am happy, healthy and wealthy. Only good things come my way.” You have to know that positive words have power to create and shape our positive destinies. Positive words include our thoughts, utterances, actions and expressions. Why can positive words create and shape a positive destiny? It is because the law of the mind permeates in the universe. One of the very important laws of the mind is that what you recognize appears. Therefore, by learning this law of the mind and applying the power of the word we will be able to realize what we recognize in our minds.
In March my mother visited my family. While she was with us, she said, “I am happy to be here. So, when I return to Japan, I may die (drop dead) any time.” I told her don’t say that and encouraged her to enjoy her longevity. I suggested to her to use more fingers to give a stimulus in her brain or do more exercise. She used to play the piano but quit, so I suggested she resume it again. Then she said, “I want to, but I cannot read the music notes. My eyes become blurry. I want to walk more, but once I sit down then my body doesn’t move as I wish.” What she said was that she wanted something, but her brain denied what she wanted. In other words, something that we want to do is denied by our brain. According to a brain scientist, our body limitation and our brain limitation are different. The brain limitation comes earlier than our physical body limitation. Therefore, although our physical bodies want to do something, our brains stop it. However, In Seicho-No we learn this in the Holy Sutra, Song of Angel as follows: “When we forget our physical body and are in a state of selflessness,/ Our body will function most perfectly.” (p. 19)
We have to know that no one can change or restrict our destiny. The person who can do this is only you. It is obvious that my mother’s physical eyes cannot allow her to read musical notes due to her physical condition. However, the restriction to practice piano because of her eyes is not the true reason. If this is the reason, why do many mothers try their younger child of age 2 or 3 years old to play piano? A 2-year-old child cannot read a music sheet, but he or she can learn from another way. My mom may play the piano not from reading a musical sheet but another way. But, she doesn’t try it because not her eyes but her brain limits her action.
On the contrary, my mother told that she read one Seicho-No-Ie book at least once a month. She loved reading when she was young. According to my mon, when she was a teenage student, she enjoyed reading Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Tolstoy. But recently she can only read a book once a month not because of her eyes but of her ability to understand the content. She said she reads the same paragraph 4 or 5 times to understand. Before she understood almost everything just by reading once, but recently she cannot understand the difficult sentences by reading just one or two times. She still reads every day. For me if her eyes are blurry, I think she cannot read both a musical sheet and a book. But she reads books by using a magnifying glass. It is obvious that her mind or brain confines her action. In order to free our brain’s restriction we need to relax our brain. The state of that situation is called the “state of flow.” Dr. Kenichiro Mogi, brain scientist wrote: “From the viewpoint of brain science we can maximize our potential while our brain is in a state that is relaxed but focused. When our mind and body are relaxed and happily concentrating on something, we will be able to do our best performance.” (The Way of Thinking of the Brain, p. 105)
Then, how are we able to become such a frame of mind? Dr. Mogi said that we need to prepare in order for our brain to be in a relaxed and focused state. To reach this state we have to experience difficult situations. So, he suggested to the readers to have confidence even without a reason, but we should have confidence that we can do it. In other words, we have to become optimistic.
In Seicho-No-Ie we learn how to be positive and optimistic. We have to know that we are all children of God and that we can do anything. We also practice three important Seicho-No-Ie practices which are Shinsokan Meditation, reading Holy Sutras and holy books and performing deeds of love.
I would like to introduce Mr. Tadashi Asoma who, in the beginning, didn’t have any confidence but had great teachers and achieved wonderful art works in his life. He was born in 1923 in a very old farming family which has continued over 200 years and he was expected to succeed in the house. When he was very young, he loved painting, but his father didn’t allow him to be an artist. However, after World War II his father passed away, his mother let him paint. At that time he was an art teacher at a middle school. He really wanted to become an artist when he was 35 years old, but he didn’t have confidence that he could become one. In order to have strong confidence, he thought that he would go to Paris. He asked his art teacher, “Sensei, I didn’t have a formal art study, so I think it is a good idea to go to Paris to study. What do you think?” His art teacher, Prof. Manjiro Terauchi, said, “Then, tomorrow at the teachers’ briefing in the morning, say to everyone that you will go to Paris.”
“Is it okay to say that?” replied Mr. Asoma.
“Yes, that is the best way. Proclaim to everyone at the briefing that you will go to Paris. I will explain you the rest tomorrow.”
Mr. Asoma did what Professor Terauchi said. Then, he was called to the principle’s office and told, “It’s trouble. Although you said that, we cannot help you at all, okay?” That day Mr. Asoma went to his art teacher and asked what he should do next. Then, Prof. Terauchi said, “Wake up at 5 am.” “What?” “You want to go to Paris, don’t you? You need to speak French.” “I see.” “Wake up at 5 and listen to the radio broadcast of the French class.”
In this way Mr. Asoma started learning French when he was 35 years old. When he finished his work at school, he started attending French language school in the evening. In order to go to Paris at that time he needed to receive a scholarship from the government and pass the exam. The first time he took the exam, he was so intimidated by the atmosphere because all the people who wanted to go to Paris were young people who had students of art colleges or who were just graduated from the college. He is the only one who was middle one’s thirty. He failed his first exam. At his second exam he passed the first-stage exam but failed the second one because the second exam was an oral exam. The interviewer was a French teacher and he asked Mr. Asoma if he could speak French. He said he could. Then the interviewer asked many questions in his native speed. Mr. Asoma was not able to reply to anything.
He failed the third, fourth and fifth exams. After the 5th exam an examiner called out and stopped Mr. Asoma and said, “You are a school teacher, so isn’t it enough? You don’t have to quit your job. You should not go to Paris.” Mr. Asoma replied, “But I declared to everyone that I would go to Paris. All students and their parents know about this. They ask me when I will go to Paris. I cannot withdraw it anymore.” “But you are the only one who took the exam 5 times.”
When Mr. Asoma failed his 6th exam, while the examiner was repeating “Trouble, trouble,” he asked Mr. Asoma, “Please stop taking exams.” At his 7th exam he was finally able to pass the exam. Before going to Paris his art teacher, Prof. Terauchi, showed his favorite book which was the Truth of Life. After finishing one year study in Paris Mr. Asoma decided not to go back to Japan but continue his study in New York. After he moved to New York, he notified of his school his decision. He attended the art school in New York during the day and worked during the night because he needed to send money to his wife and three children. It is a big decision to follow his dream although the fact that he has his responsibility to raise his family in Japan. That was 1959 and he studied in New York for 2 years. Then he returned to his old school in Japan and worked for 1 year and returned to New York to continue his study.
Mr. Asoma studied very hard to improve his art skills at the college and worked during the night at the restaurant as a bus boy to send money to his family in Japan. After 5 years he was finally able to call his family to New York. However, his oldest son who was a freshman at college was not able to call him “father” because of a lack of bonding. His wife also had problems adjusting to life in New York. At that time he saw an ad in a Japanese newspaper about the Seicho-No-Ie Public Lecture conducted by Dr. Katsumi Tokuhisa. He and his family attended this seminar and he learned how important it was to maintain a positive attitude and bright countenance. Dr. Tokuhisa had a chance to see Mr. Asoma’s paintings and commented that his paintings were very beautiful but had a lack of brightness. In order to become positive and bright, Dr. Tokuhisa taught the following words to recite anywhere. “I am bright. I am going to improve more and more. I am the best painter in the world. My family members are all wonderful and I am so happy. I am very rich.”
In Manhattan no one cared what Mr. Asoma was reciting. People might think that this guy was talking to himself loudly. So, he continued saying these words over and over again anywhere for many months. These words are a kind of prayer. Without knowing it he was able to restore the harmony between family members and his family became bright and cheerful. Meanwhile his paintings improved and sold more. These pictures are some of his paintings. He moved back to Japan when he was 73 which was in 1996. He succeeded his family line and opened his art studio. His has continued painting up until now and is very successful. I have his risograph and it is very expensive. Even his poster is over $50 or $60. When he came back to Japan, he was able to open up a new field and started painting cherry blossoms.
Mr. Asoma followed the idea to be harmonious with nature which is the teachings of Seicho-No-Ie and put solar panel on his house and studio. The owner of the solar panel company talked about Mr. Asoma’s painting to his friend who was the owner of an art gallery in Ginza, Japan. As soon as he saw Mr. Asoma’s art, he wanted to exhibit his paintings in his gallery. Mr. Asoma said okay, but he didn’t expect a lot because his real paintings were very expensive. However, within a week three of them were sold. He will become 90 next year, but he is still active. He had exhibitions in Tokyo, New York and Florida last few years. He is a Seicho-No-Ie Regional Lecturer and occasionally gives a lecture. He was able to achieve many things including becoming an artist, being prosperous and realizing harmony in his family because he practices the Seicho-No-Ie Sundial Way of Life. I hope those who attend today will practice the sundial way of life which emphasizes a positive life in our daily lives. Thank you very much.