Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How Can We Realize Our Dreams? (1/6/2013)

Happy New Year! I am so happy to see you all. Today, I’d like to talk about how to realize our New Year’s dreams. We can accomplish great things, but that can only be done by completing it in small stages step by step. We cannot build a great temple like the Main Temple in Nagasaki, Japan with only one person’s strength but can build it with the cooperation of many people. We cannot build a great temple instantaneously but can build it step by step. In the same manner, we cannot make a difference instantaneously but can do it by living each day fully. We need big dreams to fulfill our lives. We must not hesitate to have big dreams, but in order to realize them we have to do what we should do now. We should make a difference in our lives and lives of others and change our environment and the way we live for the better.

Then, how can we make a difference and realize our dreams? We are all children of God, so we can do anything whatever we want. All we have to do is to draw out our infinite potential within us. We don’t have to be enlightened in order to draw out our infinite potential. It is the same that we do not have to be enlightened to experience a great testimony. All we have to do is to apply what we learn and practice it in our daily lives step by step. We cannot accomplish anything without completing each step, just like reaching the top of the tower by going up the stairs one by one. When you finish your current step, you can take the next step up. In other words, reaching enlightenment and fulfilling your life are not your destinations but the journey or the process in realizing your child of God nature.

Seicho-No-Ie Founder Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi explained why someone cannot successfully make his/her dream come true. Rev. Taniguchi said, “The reason things do not go smoothly in life is because we entertain limitations in our minds. As long as we have limitations in our minds—it is like riding a bicycle while applying the brakes to it at the same time—we shall never be able to secure success even when success lies right before us.” He then taught us how we should pray:

“We are not beings that have become separated from God. We are one with God. God is our supporter, and together with Him we fulfill the mission that He has granted to us. We are exactly as God is. We possess exactly as God possesses. We are beings with infinite ability, and perfect success is ours here and now.” (This Is How I pray, p.40-41)

To deeply believe that a human being and God are one is the best way to realize our dreams because with God we can do anything. Unfortunately, however, many people believe that there are circumstances which exist outside of themselves that hinder the materialization of their dreams. In other words, they don’t feel that God resides within themselves. Please let me remind you of the words that Rev. Taniguchi stated, “The reason things do not go smoothly in life is because we entertain limitations in our mind.” No one can hinder our success other than our own minds. Therefore, we must first identify our perceived problems and limitations, and then eliminate them from our minds. Then we will be ready to draw upon our infinite power within to fulfill our dreams.

For the last 12 years in California, every January I offered my prayer to our members for their New Year’s dreams to come true by the end of the year. They wrote their wishes and dreams, and their wishes were consecrated in God. The SNI New York Missionary Area does the same thing. This morning some of you have received your prayer envelope which had been written your wishes and dreams. During the past years I observed whether or not their dreams had come true. Some members realized their dreams while others did not. I wondered why some members achieved their dreams while others didn’t. After much soul searching and consideration of our SNI teachings, I believe that there are 5 reasons why it can seem so difficult to achieve the goal of realizing our dreams.

1)      We sometimes fail to realize our infinite power within and God is within us.
2)     We do not always know how to properly draw our infinite power out.
3)     We will not be able to realize our dreams if our dreams do not improve our souls, or spiritual development.
4)     Our dreams are not precisely defined, and/or we do not think that we have to change ourselves to make the dreams come true.
5)     We often hold a deep fear of failure which inhibits our desire to take risks that could bring success.

The first and most important reason why people do not realize their dreams is that they do not truly believe that they possess infinite potentials within themselves and that they are children of God. Every human being has already received his or her own unique talents. Therefore, all he or she has to do is draw out his or her unique talents out. Because of this reason, many people cannot express their indwelling talents. The best way to solve this problem is to use Shinsokan Meditation to Visualize God who is within us because Shinsokan tunes her mind to oneness of God and her.

Even if we are aware of our infinite potential or talents, people don’t necessarily know how to draw them out. SNI teaches us to draw out our inner talents and strengths with the power of imagination and the power of the word. Every invention and discovery started from people’s minds. People’s beliefs and never-ending endeavors supported by their beliefs have accomplished many successes in the human civilization. In order to accomplish small or great goals, we need positive power that is fueled by our imaginations and our words. Therefore, SNI propagates the use of the positive power of words. Later of my lecture I will introduce a message from “For Young People.”  It motivated me to free my imagination so that I could dream a great dream.

Some people still do not realize their dreams even though they recognize their talents, know how to draw them out and work hard to express them. In this case, they may not have realized their dreams if their goals do not promote their spiritual development. When I speak of spiritual development, I mean our expression of God-like qualities such as generosity, compassion and perseverance. If your dream conflicts with such qualities, your dream won’t be realized. For example, if your dream is to own the biggest SUV ever made, the result will be increased environmental pollution. A generous dream would be one that fulfills your desires and does not harm others. Some people do not care whether they hurt others or the environment and will sacrifice others and nature in order to realize their dreams. However, you have already learned how important it is to accomplish something with harmony.

Finally, people’s dreams won’t be realized if they cannot express precisely what their dreams are. For example, if you want to have a new job or house, you have to write and visualize the exact thing that you want. If you just wish you want to have a new job, you have to know what kind of job you want, how much salary you need, when you want to start working, where you want to work, and so on.

Lastly, we must eliminate our fear of failure. A famous psychologist said many people are as fearful of success as they are of death. Perhaps this fear of failure stems from the fact that we must evaluate and make changes in ourselves and in our lives that seem difficult at first. However, we will be able to eliminate this fear by practicing SNI teachings because what we do is focus ourselves on our True Image. I would like to introduce my own experience with you. I was born in 1959 in Japan, to parents who were already SNI members. My father was a SNI minister who dedicated his life to spreading the teachings and helping others. Because I saw how happy he was to learn and practice SNI teachings I decided to dedicate myself to SNI. 

For a long time I had a dream to work for SNI International Headquarters and devote myself to spreading the SNI teachings. During my school days, I eagerly participated in SNI activities. After graduating from high school, I entered a school specializing in foreign languages where I studied in English. 

After graduation I wanted to work in the SNI Int’l Hqs. My father disapproved of this idea. He said, “Desire alone is not enough. One must have the ability to perform the necessary work.”

At that time I knew I was lacking in ability, but I felt in the future, after polishing my character and improving my English, I would be able to enter Int’l Hqs and contribute to the overseas movement. 

However, I could not get a job at SNI at that time. I was offered a full time position at the Hilton Hotel where I had worked part time while a student. I accepted their offer. After working there for six months or so, I began to dislike the monotonous work and considered quitting. However, I recalled the following passage from “For Young People.” It motivated me to free my imagination so that I could dream a great dream. 

“You must have a dream: whatever is of value in this world started out in the minds of people who bravely dared to dream.  Take away dreams from man’s history and there would be no culture as resplendent as the culture we now enjoy.  Indeed, a person who dreams is a person who stands at an outpost of human culture.  People who succeeded in cutting down the thorns that stood before them, in leveling what was steep, in changing difficulties into happiness were invariably people who had dreams…..
“Dream your dream now.  No matter how poor you are now, you are already wealthy in the world of dreams.  Regardless of how unfortunate you are now, you are already fortunate in the world of dreams.  If you know right now that all things are created by the mind, it will be the same as if you had already left the impoverished, unhappy circumstances of the present and had been reborn in a new, wealthy, and happy world.” (from For Young People)

Reading these words always motivated me and encouraged me. I decided to do my best every moment at my job even if I disliked it, because I was free to quit whenever I wanted. So I did my best every moment. Three months later I was able to move to a new Hilton Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo. My work became more challenging, and I was very busy, but I continued to devote myself to the SNI youth activities more often. During that time the teachings empowered me to do my best at work and to devote myself to enlightenment activities. In addition, working with the hotel guests enabled me to consider matters from the other person’s perspective.

In 1990, I resigned from the Hilton Hotel where I had worked for more than 9 years and had been the assistant manager of the hotel. I had been offered a position at the SNI Chiba Missionary Center. Rev. Yamato invited me to work there, so I agreed and I quit the Hilton Hotel. However, they didn’t employ me as a regular staff member, and in this reason my income was reduced by one-fourth. I worked part time for 6 months. During that time I had no insurance or social security. If I had not known the teachings and had seen this situation as a phenomenon, I would have been dissatisfied and complained.

However, I didn’t want to worry about such matters because it was my decision to work for SNI. The reason why I quit the hotel business and went to work for SNI was because I love SNI and wanted to devote myself to the SNI Humanity Enlightenment Movement. Thus, I began practicing Shinsokan and reading the 4 Holy Sutras everyday for 100 consecutive days from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. during the fall and winter months.

It was very cold at 3 o’clock in the morning in Japan but I didn’t want to miss a single day because I believed if I completed 100 days of practice, the SNI teachings would manifest in my life spiritually, physically, and mentally.

The day before the 100th day, Rev. Yamato went on a business trip in Tokushima where I was born. That was middle February. His business was extended and needed an important document. I flew to Tokushima to bring it to him. I stayed at my mother’s house. The next morning I woke up at 3 a.m. and practiced Shinsokan and read the Holy Sutra. That day Rev. Yamato wanted to go to my father’s grave yard, so we went there and read the Holy Sutra together. In this way I completed my 100th day of practice. After 100 days, I became self confident.

After that, I expressed my desire to go to the United States to study English. I didn’t know when I could go and how long I could stay, because I didn’t have a visa or even a passport. I let go of my desire by giving it to God.

February and March passed by, and the SNI Chiba members started to worry about my trip. Everyone asked me the same question: “When are you going to the United States? Where will you stay?” I left everything up to God, so I answered, “I don’t know. I haven’t yet received any answer from God. I’m just leaving it up to Him.” 

In the middle of April I started to worry about my trip because everybody else worried about it. But my experience of “100 days of practice Shinsokan” helped me to find peace. I had already sent my application to UCLA 2 months earlier and had also asked my friend buy the cheapest round trip ticket to LA. All I had to do was to trust God who was preparing everything for me.

On April 29 my friend suddenly informed me that my flight to LA was the 14th of May. I had not heard from UCLA and didn’t have a visa yet. But the next morning I received a fax from UCLA that permitted me to enter their English curriculum. So, I took it to the American Embassy and got the student visa on the same day. Meanwhile, I was advised that someone had offered me a place to stay in LA. This person was Rev. Yamato’s friend’s wife’s father’s elder sister. She was a total stranger for me but kindly offered me a room and didn’t accept my offer of payment of rent.

Within two weeks I got everything I needed, except money. I had gotten a lump-sum discharge allowance when I resigned from the hotel, but I had spent it for my apartment rent and SNI activities for 6 months. I called my mother and discussed financial situation. The very next day she sent me 10,000 dollars. I was very grateful but the amount was not enough.

A few days before I left Japan, my friends held a farewell party. At the party the greatest gift came to me, and that was 6,000 dollars because my friends knew that I needed money. I really appreciated them. In this way I could study at UCLA for 3 months.

Before I went to the United States, I had planned the youth group summer spiritual training seminar with a totally new format and youth members needed me to be there. It cost about 2,000 dollars to go back to Japan and I did not know what I should do.

However, I realized that I couldn’t have my desires through my efforts alone. My friends, my mother, youth group members helped to make my dream come true. So, I decided to go back to Japan for only 5 nights in that summer.

When I went back to Japan in August and helped the seminar, I was able to find the place after I returned to Japan. One of my friends took care of the lease agreement and also negotiated the rent.  Within 5 days stay in Japan, I found a beautiful 4-bedroom apartment on the 7th floor with 500 dollars rent. 

In addition, SNI Chiba helped my rent so that I only had to pay $200. After 18 months I left this apartment because I had agreed for the owner that whenever his sake I would leave that apartment. So I left there with gratitude, but I had to find a new place within a month. 

Again, I let go of my problem by giving it to God. This time I knew what kind of place where I wanted to live. So, I requested two things to God: First, I wanted to live not an apartment but a house with a small yard because I did not have time to maintain a big yard. Second, I needed almost the similar amount of rent because I sent $500 every month to my mother who had a very few source of income. 

Within a month I was given a house with 3 bedrooms including one Japanese-style room, a comfortable living room and a nice small yard with garage. The rent was $500 but I shared the house with my friend, so I paid only $300 and could continue to send money to my mother. Now this roommate became my brother-in-law. 

The rent was my desired amount; however, this owner placed a condition on the lease that I had to leave the house exactly in one year. Since I didn’t have time to find another place, I said okay. The day I had to vacate the house was in March 1994. I believed everything would go well after 1 year.

In December 1993, it was announced that I would be assigned to New York from March 1994 exactly the same month that I had to leave. God planed everything for me; therefore, He gave me the rented house with such a specific condition. If I didn’t have faith in God, I might have complained to Him about why I was given such a condition. But again I accepted everything as it was. 

I do not want to say that I was grateful because everything I needed was provided. True faith does not change according to material possession. Even if you earned less than half of what you previously earned, or even if you were given all the material wealth you need, do not increase or decrease your faith. God has already within us and provided everything that we need. All we need is to know the 5 important things to make our dreams come true. Please write your new year dreams and send to us. We are happy to pray that your dreams come true this year.