Sunday, April 9, 2017
The Seicho-No-Ie New York Japanese Special Seminar started yesterday (March 11, 2017). The theme is “All About Meditation.” There are different choices of meditation such as Zen meditation, Yoga meditation, prayer, etc. In Seicho-No-Ie we practice Shinsokan Prayerful Meditation. Similarities and differences between Shinsokan and other meditations are explained in the Truth of Life Volume 8, Shinsokan Is Wonderful, and other books and manuals. First, I will quote from the Truth of Life Volume 8. It explains why Shinsokan is important. This is a long quote but I will read it slowly, so please listen to it carefully.
True growth takes place only when man unites with the infinite and boundless great wisdom of God and brings this wisdom out into the open where it can take concrete form. To put a plug in the pipeline of infinite supply that lies within and to seek only externally for one’s prosperity is just as foolish as to attempt to get beautiful blossoms and leaves without watering and nourishing the plants. In the case of plants without adequate roots, the more their branches and leaves flourish, the faster they die. When we transplant and cause root damage, we have to prune the branches back so as to give the roots a chance to recover. The outer part consisting of branches and leaves must be pruned for a time in order to strengthen the root system. In the same way, when we discard for a time all outside human intellect, our “root system” will flourish. And when there is renewed strength in our root system, this time, good wisdom begins to sprout in the outside world as well because of the revived power of the roots. When this happens, the wisdom that appears is true wisdom, and since it is rooted in good soil and fed by the real underground water source, it cannot die.
Even though we may take the wrong path in our lives and fall ill or meet with financial disaster, such mistakes would not be because of any shortage in the underground water supply called God’s wisdom. It would be because we did not allow the roots, which are necessary for absorbing the underground water of God’s wisdom, to spread. God is not at fault. We are at fault. Since the fault lies with us and we had made the mistake, the way to correct the situation is not to blame God or cry before him. All we have to do is to nourish the roots so that we can absorb God’s underground water. (Truth of Life Volume 8 , pages 55-56)
The followings are gest of three important parts:
- To unite with the infinite and boundless wisdom of God from within is the true growth of human beings. [(1) Unite with God.]
- When we fail at something, by discarding all outside human intellect our “root system” will flourish because we have already connected to the resources of God. [(2) Discard human intellect and nurture our roots.]
- Failure is not God’s fault, but we did not spread our roots to absorb God’s wisdom, love and life. [(3) Absorb the resources of God.]
These three are very important. To accomplish them we have to practice Shinsokan meditation because Shinsokan is the way to unite with God, discard our physical attachment because Shinsokan is to practice to leave the phenomenal world and receive God’s infinite life power.
When we practice Shinsokan, we will be able to find a way to alter our perception. This is important because by visualizing the True Image we are able to change our world.
This is an example that I will share today. Last Tuesday I had a very uncomfortable encounter on the train on the way back home. I took the 9:09 pm train from Grand Central Station. I sat on a seat for two people. I put my bag on one side and started learning Portuguese with a lower sound voice. I thought I would move my bag as soon as someone asks me for the seat. Once the train left, I just relaxed and concentrated on my study.
Then, a businessman in his 40’s wearing a suit put his bag abruptly on the train rack above my head. His face was slightly red and he also grabbed a beer can. He thudded into the seat right next to me and pushed me to the edge. It was uncomfortable because I understood he did it on purpose.
Then, he suddenly started singing out loud an ABC song. I politely asked him, “Is my study voice too loud for you?” He said, “Yes,OBVIOUSLY.”
He almost started fighting with me, so I said, “You don’t have to be cynical.” Then, this made him upset and he vented his spleen at me, “Your attitude is passive aggressive. Do you know it? You cross your legs and put your bag on the seat. Sitting down first doesn’t give you any rights to the seat. You are an idiot assxxxx.”
I was not able to believe what he said. He obviously had something wrong at his job place or somewhere. I told him that he should watch his mouth. But I did not want to continue this, so I zipped my mouth and kept silent. I was thinking why he picked me. There were a couple of two people seats. In front of me an older white man was sitting by himself alone. Behind me a middle aged African-American woman was sitting. He picked me because he might think that I was the weakest link. Many thoughts were flying in my head.
However, as a practitioner of Seicho-No-Ie, I pretended nothing happened and continued learning Portuguese silently, but in my mind I started the forgiveness prayer. “I have forgiven you. I have forgiven you. I have forgiven you. You are a wonderful child of God.” I repeatedly prayed this way for 5 or 6 minutes.
What happened next was that I became so upset. I realized that my prayer was wrong because I prayed to forgive him. The more I repeated it, the more I impressed the negative feeling in my mind that “I am not wrong, and I am a good person so I forgive him.” In other words, although my prayer said I forgave him but the true meaning was that I was not wrong but he was the one who was wrong. I only focused on him whom I perceived him as wrong. Therefore, I was emotionally upset.
Thank God that I was able to notice it and changed the words of prayer to “I am grateful to you. You are a wonderful child of God. You are the Bodhisattva. Thank you very much. I love you.” I repeated these phrases as long as I could. When my station approached, I put my study materials in my bag. Then, he moved to a different seat. I approached toward the door and he was there. I again became cynical and wanted to say to him, “I forgive you.” To avoid this, I reversed myself by moving to the car behind and got out of the train.
Everything comes from our mind. However, we sometimes pray wrong way although we think we prayed correctly. Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi wrote:
We must be extremely careful about the words we use in our prayer and about how we pray. Prayers using negative words bring negative results; therefore, such words must be avoided at all cost. However, there are times when we may believe that ours is a positive prayer but, in actuality, we are offering a negative prayer. Therefore, as stated above we must be very careful and evaluate every word in our prayer. Jesus Christ never told us that we are to use negative words in our prayer. As indicated in the Holy Bible, He never used such expressions as, “Please remove this suffering” or “Please heal this disease.” He taught us to pray with words expressing happiness and joy without using any words pertaining to poverty, suffering and the like.
(This Is How I Pray, #95 p. 124)
Rev. Taniguchi said that The Lord’s Prayer especially is a good example of how to use creative words in our prayers. By using The Lord’s Prayer, we can (1) Unite with God, (2) Discard human intellect and nurture our roots, and (3) Absorb the resources of God.
In the The Lord’s Prayer there is not a single word which is negative. Let us pray together The Lord’s Prayer and conclude my lecture.
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil…
Thank you very much.