Friday, September 28, 2001

A Prayer to Praise the March of Light

(Please feel free to make copies of this prayer and share it with those around you.)

Repeated reports on preparations for war in retaliation for the terrorist attacks are shown daily. These reports are, however, not the truth itself. The recent trend in reporting is the rarer the incidents and facts, the more widely they are treated and information is reported repeatedly. Since this is an unprecedented incident, there is all the more reason for the concentrated focus. It's not that the media is to blame. However, there is an undeniable reality that is not being reported. That is, if we are to think of this incident as "darkness", there is a tremendous outpouring of "light" to dispel that darkness, proceeding at a heretofore unheard of scale, with a heretofore unheard of number of people participating. This "light" is, without a doubt, proof that man is a child of God.

This light is being emitted from our country, too, but it is most remarkable in the United States. Many show business celebrities, singers and musicians came together to put on a show and raise money for the victims of the terrorist attacks in a two-hour commercial-free program broadcast in a collaborated effort on four major television channels. This was a very "showy" light, but individual donations, relief efforts for the family of the victims as well as to those injured--simple and inconspicuous acts of love--are being done daily, in innumerable numbers, by "ordinary" people. This movement is similar to the internal physical process our bodies go through when healing a wound. When a part of our body is hurt, our entire immune system is activated, and it fights bacteria and tries to heal the wound. Without asking for any compensation, the individual immune cells rush to the "scene", and, at times, even do not begrudge self-sacrifice for the benefit of the entire body. However, the "entire body" that is suffering now, is not just one country, the United States, but the entire world. The immune system of the entire world must be activated and heal the wound.

There is a true story* shared by Stephen Gould, PhD. Someone set up a depo near ground zero to distribute needed supplies--from face masks to shoe inserts--free of charge, to the relief workers. Many people who heard of these efforts joined in, bringing batteries and even hard hats. Then one night, a cook brought a shopping bag and said, "There's a dozen apple brown bettys, the best dessert in our restaurant, and still warm." A firefighter who received one of them, said, with a smile restored to his weary face, "Thank you. This is the most lovely thing I've seen in four days--and it's still warm!"

Unity and love are expressions of God's "Light." We must not change this into the "darkness" of hatred. Let us not extinguish this light, but spread it rapidly and steadily, to all corners of each and every country. Moreover, let us transcend narrow-minded national interests and spread this light so that it overflow into the entire world. Let the "Light" within us bring forth the "Light" within others. Darkness cannot stop this advancement of light. That is because God's infinite Love is within us and within others as well. I give my heartfelt gratitude to God who has given us all the realization that "Man is a child of God."

* Stephen Jay Gould, "Decency Trumps Depravity at Ground Zero, Too", International Herald Tribune, September 27, 2001

Saturday, September 22, 2001

May God Bless!

I received an e-mail message in response to my September 19th entry, "A Prayer for Love and Forgiveness", from a Japanese iving in the United States saying, "It lacks love and is too harsh a message to the Americans who are suffering so much." For a moment, couldn't believe my ears (eyes). That is because I had no intention of being offensive. But, after re-reading the words in that "prayer" again, I could see why people might misinterpret if they read this one piece only. In that respect, I feel badly for the misunderstanding. However, I would like to offer three explanations: 1. This column is too short to allow me to say all that needs to be said, 2. My personal feelings, albeit only a part, were written immediately following the tragedy, in my September 12th entry, 3. The reference to "We" in "the prayer" was used assuming that people in Japan would also offer this prayer. In other words, "We" does not mean the United States only, but rather refers to all developed nations, including Japan. That is why, my feelings are together with the United States.

Seicho-No-Ie International Headquarters has decided to donate $300,000 which will be disbursed through SNI New York Center to a non-profit organization or two in New York as the relief fund. That is not to say that donating money is everything. However, by donating what is needed at the time needed, we wanted (it was my hope) to show that Seicho-No-Ie is not insensitive nor oblivious to the tremendous suffering and sadness of the American people. I wrote my own personal thoughts and feelings about New York in my February 6th entry*, and one of the reasons I decided a couple of years ago to translate the novel, The Greatest Spiritual Secret of The Century, now running in the SNI magazine The Risosekai, is because it is set in New York. Nevertheless, there shouldn't be a war based solely on the feeling that, "I'm going to get back at and destroy the enemy because they destroyed the city that I love""

Despite the tremendous sadness and grief that people in New York are experiencing now, I understand that there were people who, after President Bush's Congressional Address, participated in "anti-war" demonstrations. I have an even greater respect for the American people than ever before. This "anti war" sentiment is probably because the United States is a country where people of many races and nationalities live, and, through their contacts abroad, know the tragedy that is brought about by war. They know that what is needed now is not retribution, but, rather, building. President Bush also said that New York should "rebuild." In the drawing that accompanied my September 12th article, I, too, wrote "Build More."

Actually, the idea behind my comment was the exchange between the two gods, Izanagi and Izanami, as described in the Japanese classic Kojiki. Izanami, the god of after life, said, "I will kill 10,000 people a day!" To this, Izanagi replied, "Then I will create 20,000 people a day!" This was not using destruction to oppose destruction, but, instead, using something greater than destruction--that is construction or building. And I believe that many New Yorkers are moving forward in that very direction to try and rebuild their lives with that same mindset. God bless New York! God bless America and everybody!

- MT

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

A Prayer for Love and Forgiveness

(Please feel free to make copies of this prayer and share it with those around you.)

The world now stands at the brink of war. Four bombs of hatred were dropped on densely populated areas of a major power, giving way to screams of pain, suffering and destruction. In answer to this, plans of counterattack and revenge are being made. With the major power at the lead, there are plans for a full-scale assault on a small country harboring the group that waged this attack of hatred. This is, however, delusion colliding with delusion. Even if this battle is carried out in the name of God and religion, God, who, "created Man in His own image", does not hate one and love the other. This is, Man, who, because of his tremendous hatred, has lost sight of the light and forgotten the "God's image" of his own true nature and that of others, and is using darkness to battle darkness.

The terrorist attack is a warning to those who, in their own material wealth, have forgotten the suffering of their spiritual brothers and sisters. We grieve for the many friends whose lives were lost. However, we must not forget that our own economic blockades took the lives of other spiritual brothers and sisters in other countries as well. Living our lives concerned only with the abundance and wealth of those immediately around us, and forgetting about the suffering and poverty of those far away brought about this tremendous jealousy and hatred. This "darkness" came from Man's ignorance and delusion and is not God trying to punish nor discriminate. We are, from the onset, spiritual brothers and sisters, and friends, working together cooperatively. It is our minds that divide our spiritual brothers and sisters into "enemy" and "ally" by looking not at the "God's image" within others but only at the darkness in them, and that actually brings enemies and allies to bear.

No matter how we may confront "darkness" with "darkness" it serves only to spread darkness further. Children, wanting their parents' love and attention, sometimes deliberately do things that their parents don't like. Children who do this are prepared for the worst. Although "parents" were born before their "children", they are still human. In this way, there may be countries which are economically and socially more advanced, while there are others that are not, but we cannot say that one exploiting the other, and remaining unconcerned, is in tune with God and a right way of life. Even if we are hurt by our "children", do we banish them to oblivion as "Satan"? Perhaps it is that we lacked the necessary "love" for our "children"? Or, even if we did love them, perhaps it is that we were concerned only with ourselves, and did not have the opportunity to express our love enough?

We are hurt by these rebellious individuals, but we believe in the "God's image" within them and forgive them. That is the only way we can dispel the "darkness", for darkness always disappears when confronted with light. The "God's image" within us makes that possible. May all our hearts be awakened now to the common bond of our humanity. We are so very grateful to God's infinite love and compassion.

- MT

Sunday, September 16, 2001

Omens of War

It appears that the terrorist attacks on the nucleus of U.S. society is leading to a new war in the Middle East. President Bush has not only received promise of cooperation from NATO, but also has "the complete and total cooperation" of Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan. Another neighboring country, Iran, in order to obstruct an influx of refugees, has decided to close its borders. Omens of war are pronounced. This is extremely unfortunate for all mankind, but, with no credible mediator between the United States and the terrorists, the gap in their "world views" can probably only be filled with a "collision of hatred""

On an ABC TV broadcast this morning, children, six years old and older, were invited to the studio, along with their parents, and the newscaster asked their opinions on the recent incidents. One teenage girl asked, "There are people who hate the U.S. this much, so what exactly have we done to them?" To this, a teenage boy, about the same age, said something to the effect of , "Even if we did do something, it probably wasn't done intentionally, so the killing of so many innocent U.S. citizens is unforgivable." I cannot help but think that answering this question accurately holds "the key" to this situation. A tremendous gap in world view that has grown between people living in parts of the Middle East and people in developed nations, including Japan, is probably behind these horrible events.

However, "the first shot" has already been fired by one side. If it had been before this, there may have been hope of mending the relationship. It's difficult, after the massive killing of over 5,000 U.S. citizens, to say, "Don't retaliate." Moreover, considering the fact that "the first shot" ignored all international laws, and the unprecedented fact that it was done, not by a "nation", but a group of people full of hatred, many countries with similar groups must do something now or risk the possibility of facing the same problem of public order in their own countries. Therefore, it is probably impossible to stop military actions of retaliation.

Up until this point, this has been a discussion of "politics." Terrorism and war are clearly "darkness". In the Seicho-No-Ie teachings, it is said, "Dispel darkness with light"" In order to apply this, there may be some who say, "Even though the hijacked plane was crashed into a building, give only words of the Truth in return"" However, we also have studied the law of cause and effect, "Evil brings about evil". "Express words of the Truth because the hijacked plane was crashed" is not enough. It's because "expressing words of the Truth" has not been enough that the hijacked plane was crashed. In order to prevent hatred from spreading any further, it becomes increasingly critical to expedite the dissemination that "Man is a child of God", "We are all spiritual brothers and sisters".

- MT

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Religion and Terrorism

On Tuesday, September 11th, the entire world was thrown into mass chaos after the coordinated acts of terrorism in the United States. According to media reports, "Muslim extremists" are responsible for these crimes. I think that the pairing of the word, "religion" with the word "violence" in this way, and having this association broadcast around the world, is very unfortunate for the people of the world who believe in any God/religion. For those people living under cruel and harsh circumstances, belief in God or Buddha helps make the decision between right and wrong and also gives a reason and hope for living. Religion has also helped their survival and development. On the other hand, for those who are seen as "evil" or "wrong", the religious movement can be a threat and even becomes the object of oppression and obliteration. What happened to Jesus and his followers 2000 years ago is a prime example of this.

Many people living in a complicated real world, look for simple, easy-to-understand principles and answers or solutions. Religions that provide this, at times, increase membership and strengthen their movement and can become great political powers. However, even then, society does not actually become simple and easy to understand. Nevertheless, if religion tries to control society, they must color things in "black" or "white." If not, then the doctrines cannot explain reality. In this way, a forced/strained explanation of reality is born, and, in order to fully support that explanation, manipulation and falsification of facts, unconsciously at first, but eventually consciously, is done. And, when this type of "religious outlook on the world" itself becomes the object of blind faith, reasons to fight and destroy in the name of God or Buddha are created.

So, when it appears that religions employ violence or destruction, the cause lies not in God or Buddha, but in the deficiency and negligence of the people who fail to understand (or don't try to understand) the complexities. Consequently, we should not address this destruction and violence with the same deficiency and negligence. In other words, exhibiting a simplistic "black-and-white" picture of the world and indiscriminately obliterating and destroying that which is branded "evil," simply creates more violence out of violence. Those who blatantly disobeyed the rules of the international community and committed acts of terrorism should be punished according to international rules and regulations, under legitimate means and measures and mutually agreed upon proceedings. Unfortunately, however, in today's international society, there are areas without such legal framework and there is not total agreement on the means and processes. With this unprecedented incident, I fervently hope that the world will come to a stronger agreement--socially, legally, morally and religiously.

Lastly, to all those living in the United States, particularly to the citizens of New York that helped me personally in many ways when I lived there a couple of decades ago, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathy and condolences, and, at the same time, pray that you not, in reacting to the destruction and violence of this horrifying tragedy, use the same destruction and violence to take revenge on innocent spiritual brothers and sisters.

- MT