Know Your Limitations of Judgment and Listen Humbly to Others (Part2)
World Teacher's Message No.297


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:


In the previous issue, I talked about the importance of accepting different cultures without hesitation and knowing humbly that your achievements are due to many people’s supports. For example, there are many practice tests to prepare for university entrance exams in Japan. I don’t exactly remember what the perfect score was, maybe 500. It’s hard to believe but sometimes top scorers on the practice tests do poorly on the actual test and don’t pass the entrance exam, but the person whose score was always two hundred points less than the top scorers on the practice tests do very well on the actual test and get accepted. You would think that two hundred points difference is too big to catch up no matter how many times you try. However, this person passes the actual test and the person who always scores high fails. It is hard to believe but these things actually happen. We need to accept this fact humbly.

As far as I know, Tokyo Gakugei University Senior High School was one of the feeder high schools to Tokyo University. They were sending about 120 students there when I was in high school. The school had a little less than 400 students in one grade and was able to send 120 students to Tokyo University. To my surprise, their top liberal art student did not pass the first round of the test and couldn’t advance to the second round. I took the test at the same with him. I couldn’t believe this had happened. I believe that since he didn’t think that he would fail the first round, he was focusing on the second round, which was essay type test. I had never heard that a top student of Jyonan High school in Tokushima prefecture failed the first round of exam for Tokyo University. The ratio of applicants to places for the first round of exam was 2.5 times. Top students from Kaisei had failed to make the first round as well. I didn’t think it was possible for the top student of Kaisei to be placed 2700th and got an E judgment for the Tokyo University practice test, but it actually happened. This tells me that if the students take the same level of tests three times in a row, only 20 or 30% of them would pass all three times. It changes places. It really does. Of course, you passing the test proves your ability as a result of your daily effort and luck, but you could have failed if it was a different test. People go to different universities because of that. I don’t think that people who go to Waseda or Keioh University are not smart. I don’t think that at all. There are many smart people at Waseda or Keioh University. Some people who studied a bit too hard and with too much detail ended up not getting into Tokyo University. If they were broader minded and focused on the essentials, they could easily pass. People who tried to memorize every detailed fact on the social studies happened to fail the entrance exam.


In Case You Didn’t Get Assigned to the Department You Wished to Work at the Company

The same thing could happen after graduating university. When you start working at the company, sometimes you feel you are out of luck. You might feel lucky or unlucky about the department or job that you are assigned to. As I often tell you, I was assigned to the finance department at the trading company and it had nothing to do with my major in university which was law and politics. Commerce science is probably closest to the finance department. They teach you financial statement accounting, financial statements and foreign exchange at the Commerce Science dept. At the School of Commerce of Hitotsubashi, Waseda or Keioh University, trading is taught as a subject, so the students there are ready to work right away. However, at the company I worked, I was assigned to the finance dept. and the person who studied finance went to the sales dept. In April, just after we had joined the company, he came up to the floor where I worked and said, “How come you’re working here? I should be working here. I was supposed to work here because I studied financial statement accounting specifically so it is my field.” I replied, “Really? I am very sorry to hear that. I don’t understand the words they are speaking here at the finance dept. I just sit here. I am ashamed of myself every day. Is this your specialty? What a shame. What on the earth is this company thinking? They sent a novice like me here.” I continued, “I majored in law. They should’ve put me in the credit department and have me study corporate laws or something. It was my first choice but they sent me here. I don’t know why they do things like this”. He kept saying, “It is absurd that you are working here. Finance dept is an elite course. You can be promoted to at least a vice president even if you’re asleep!” I told him, “I am very sorry. I am not worthy of working here without knowledge of financial affairs.”

Unfortunately, he died in May of that year in a motorcycle accident. I am not sure if it was because of bad karma, but during the holiday he went too fast on a motorcycle and crashed into a car and died. He had only worked for one month at the company. I felt sorry for his misfortune. I assume he picked the finance dept. as his first choice since he had a specialty in finance. There was a so-called draft meeting at the company, where twenty general managers from each department interviewed students and recruited them to their department. It is just like a baseball draft meeting where the directors decide who is their first choice, second choice and so on. I am sure he mentioned that finance is his specialty but he didn’t get a job there. After he complained to me, he died in a motorcycle accident one month later. He was very unlucky. There are many things that happen in life. I encourage you to humbly reflect the experiences you have in life one by one and correct yourself if you think you are too conceited or too jealous of someone.


Have an Attitude to Listen to Others Humbly on the Matters Which Are Unfamiliar to You

Whether you’re smart or not may matter, but it is not always the case that a smart person makes the best judgment. There’s another factor in life: your smartness as a human being. Most of the time, this comes with age. Age can’t be exceeded. When you reach a certain age, you deal with other adults, but when you just grow out of youth, it is natural that you will not have the knowledge and wisdom that regular adults do. In conclusion, I think it is better to listen humbly to other adults about the matters that should be judged by them, for they have ample experiences in the society and are well versed in common sense. Although it’s okay to speak your opinions about the subjects you are familiar with, to a certain extent it’s better to have the capacity to accept and listen to other people’s judgments well.

If you are working at some kind of organization, you need to accept the decision that was made overall or by the top. If you cannot accept the president’s decision imposed to his employees, you might as well quit that company, create your own company and be your own boss. If you can run the same kind of company, what you say may have a point, but if you are just throwing half-baked ideas without any solid knowledge, you are being selfish.

It is hard to perceive one’s ability. It happens quite often that a company fails to hire the person who becomes the president at the rival company. The president at the rival company says that he was so motivated after being rejected by a company and worked so hard at the rival company and became a president at the end. Although a person who can become the president at one company should succeed at other companies in the same trade, personal management officers don’t always have a keen eye for that.

Generally speaking, you can be confident in the matters that you know well and have had many experiences in. However, you need to have an open mind and accept your immaturity in judgment due to a lack of experience and knowledge. Otherwise, your growth will come to a halt.


Can You Succeed Just by Realizing Your Potential? Not Necessarily So

A famous Japanese actress, Sayuri Yoshinaga, has been playing only the leading role in the movies for 60 years. She referred to herself as “not professional yet.” It is important to know you will no longer grow if you think you have mastered your field. Striving to realize your potential isn’t necessarily the only way to success. If you admit you have reached your potential, you might fall off a cliff. When a turn appears in front of you while you are running at full speed ahead, it can be fatal.

It’s common sense that you need to slow down at a turn. You can’t make a turn with full speed.

You might say, “I am genius. I am a genius motorcycle driver so even if I drive at 65 mph on a turn, I can make it.” In reality, this will result in your being thrown off the bike and falling to the ground.

You can be as conceited as you like, but you’d do better to lend an ear when other people are saying, “What you are doing is opposed to a socially accepted idea.” You need to distinguish the situation when you can show your uniqueness and when you shouldn’t.

Know Your Limitations of Judgment and Listen Humbly to Others (Part2)
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