Know Your Limitations of Judgment and Listen Humbly to Others (Part1)
World Teacher's Message No.296


The Question:

When I reflect upon my words and actions in relationship with other people, I tend to have a self-centered view. Could you give those of us who study religions some hints to reflect upon in light of the heavenly world and Buddha?

Excerpt from Master’s lecture and Q&A, “How to Possess Different Perspectives in your Mind” at the general office on November 14, 2019:


I think that your question is something to do with democracy. I was lucky enough to have work experience in New York when I was young. Unlike in Japan, there are many people of different races with different skin colors living in New York. They all speak different languages. It was a little shocking to me to experience New York society where people adopt and respect different cultures. It was a different democracy that I had known in Japan.

In America, they explicitly recognize people at both the top and bottom of society, in both high and low positions as well as differences in academic abilities and academic backgrounds in the work place. They also carefully consider their manner of speaking according to their position.

However, I noticed that they have a strong sense of equality among human beings once they are away from work. I never had experienced this in Japan. Japanese people also have a strong sense of equality, but it is based on the equality of the village community in olden days when a person couldn’t survive if he or she were left out in the community. This is the Japanese sense of equality. Whereas, the American sense of equality is that all human beings are created equally by God. We may appear differently on the surface, but if we were all created by God, we must possess the same innate nobleness. I think this is how they think.

Differences emerge due to the place where people are born, their occupation, their experiences, their education and so on. Because these differences need to be considered fairly, there are differences in wages. Depending on their career and work experience, different wages are accepted. If there is no difference and everyone was treated equally, some people would get furious saying, “I have studied so hard and accumulated adequate work experiences. Why am I treated the same way as this other person?” American people say these things clearly. However, they fundamentally believe that all human beings are created equally. It was slightly shocking to me. Now times have changed so I don’t know if it’s still the same.


I Was Able to See the World From New York

You can’t really see the whole world when you are living in Japan. However, you feel like you can see what’s going on in the world from New York as if you are looking at the globe. You feel responsible for what is happening everywhere in the world, such as incidents and wars. You feel like you are asked your opinions and what you would do as a responsible adult who lives in the center of the world. You need to think what is right and what is wrong. For example, you would think that communism is wrong, but there was a time when communist North Vietnam was so powerful that the capitalist South Vietnam was about to fall. Can we allow this to happen? Which side is right? These questions arise moment by moment.
Also, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis during Kennedy’s presidency. The Soviet’s constructed a number of missile launch facilities in Cuba and the missiles were facing towards the United States of America. It is the same situation as North Korea building missiles that could reach Japan and have the capacity of launching them now. What did Kennedy do in this situation? He ordered a naval “quarantine” to totally block cargo from the Soviet Union to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba. This was the condition for a possible full-scale nuclear war. Kennedy was young, but he did not back down and didn’t allow the Soviet Union to place missiles so close to the United States. He confronted the Soviet Union with the attitude of being willing to commence a full-scale nuclear war. The Soviet Union’s Khrushchev ended up dismantling the missile facilities and withdrew.
Some of my university professors were studying in the United States at the time of this crisis, and they told us in class how nervous they were in this explosive situation which possibly could plunge the world into war.


It Is Important to Meekly Accept the “Shock” That May Change Your Way of Thinking

As I mentioned earlier, it is important to have a view that “humans are created equally by God” and to feel responsible for the world. This may sound different from what President Trump says (at the time of the lecture). Although he proclaimed, “America First” because the economy in America is deteriorating and he wants to rebuild it. Once the American economy recovers and regains strength, then he will be willing to play a role of the “World Police”. That is how the American people are. This is the point that I could not learn when I was in Japan. One of the solutions to cultivate an objective point of view as opposed to a self-centered view is to come in touch with foreign cultures, or cultures that are more heterogeneous. By doing this, you will be shocked, and your way of thinking will be shaken. At that moment, I think it’s very important for you to have an open mind and accept that shock humbly.


To Know That Your Accomplishments Were Due to Support Given by Many People

My disciples are far better at acting “big” than I am. They don’t do that when I am around, but they do when I am not around. I know well that directors of the head temples, ministers, or chief of bureaus are swaggering when they visit other facilities. I don’t do that, but I know my disciples behave like that. I think I told you before that there seems no way to succeed in life for a rural person except for getting into a prestigious university. However, it doesn’t mean that you instantly become an important person only because you got into a good university. It just looks that way when you are living out in the countryside.

I think I mentioned before but when I returned to my home from Tokyo during my freshman year in university, my mother was folding clothes by the kitchen, and I was in the living room. We were talking about something. My mother noticed that I said something cocky or boasting. She said, “To me, you are the same person whether you go to Tokyo University or not. You haven’t changed a bit since last year. You are not a hot shot.” She said it like that. Her remark came home to my heart. I studied really hard, but I couldn’t have accomplished anything without the support and help of many people. You get on in life by receiving the support from many people such as your parents who sent you to university and other family members like grandparents who support you. If you think that you did it all by yourself, you are mistaken. I have heard about families who sold mountains to pay the tuition especially for medical school.

If you think you accomplished all with your efforts only, you’re totally wrong. You didn’t make your way in university because you’re smarter than others. Because the professors who have studied for a long time taught you many things in class and friends who worked hard together with you, you were able to gradually improve yourself. You should not be full of yourself. There are many smart people, but unfortunately, not everyone can make their way in life. You need to humbly accept this fact.

Know Your Limitations of Judgment and Listen Humbly to Others (Part1)
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