Words that nurture the mind
We’ve picked some tips from “NEW MORALS” to live better.
We will update it irregularly.
（Quote from『New morals:Words that nurture the mind 366 days』〔Written in Japanese〕）
Rethinking the “vertical relationship”
Touju Nakae(1608-1648) devoted himself to a life of spiritual seeking in poverty in Edo era, and he was called the Saint of Oumi referring to an honorable person. He used to say “Ko” which means to be filial to parents is a protagonist that defeats ‘Shi,’ which represents the self-centered and egoistic mindset”.
There is spirit of “Ko” that defeats the egocentric desire when a person is giving him/herself into such desire. The saying describes that someone can build a self-discipline only after the person reflects on him/herself among the “vertical relationship.” the link with ancestors and descendants.
It is not until becoming conscious about the “vertical relationship” that a person realizes his/her mission to pass on the heritage from ancestors to descendants, no matter in physical or spiritual way.
The self-centered mind is hard to be controlled even the person knows it is not appropriate. The key to discipline such mind could be not only the bonds with people who live in the same society and era, but also in the bonds of “vertical relationship/”
（Update on 2021. Jun. 2）
Throwing a ball that is easy to catch
Communication is often likened to “playing a catch.” Watching the other’s situation and throwing the ball that the other can easily catch are the basics.
However, we are not able to see the other person directly through email, letter or phone call.
In such situation, we need to be warm-hearted and considerate of the other’s situation in order to play a catch successfully. These mindsets will lead to a better communication, making the other feel comfortable and trustful.
When you communicate by email, for instance, it is better to soften the tone, since email normally seems brisker than the handwritten letter. When you write a letter, it would be nice to keep the writings beautiful or choose sophisticated paper and envelope. In the case of phone call, we should first make sure the other person is available and then tell the reason for your call. It is also nice to put the telephone receiver quietly – these small acts of consideration are “the ball which is easy to catch” and will express your consideration and affection for the other person.
（Update on 2021. May 17）
Weaknesses become strengths
Different people have different impression when looking at the flowers at the entrance.
Some people might find it bothering for passing the space, some might not be attracted to it at all, some will feel it is beautiful, some will appreciate it, some might think of the kindness of someone who brought the flower.
There might be also people who do not even notice the flower.
Flower is living as it is. It is people who see it from different angles and judge its value. This would be applied to human too. If we change our mindset, we will not see things as negative points but as beauty. For example, being “persisting” could turn to “passionate,” being “stubborn” could be “strong-minded,” and “meddlesome person” could be “kind person.”
It would be nice to have a peaceful mind every day, making it a habit to find the beautiful side and showing appreciation to things we encounter every day, no matter it is a person or object.
（Update on 2021. Apr. 23）
Be a good listener
We sometimes face unacceptable grief or pain such as accident, disease, loss of their loved ones unexpectedly.
When somebody around you is in such grief, you might think that “I want to comfort and cheer him/her up in someway.” However, you could rather worsen the pain if you talk to the person headedly and impose your one-sided thoughts without understanding enough.
Mr. Alfons Deeken, a professor emeritus at Sofia University says that it is essential in such circumstances to be a good listener to make the other person feel safe and open his/her mind to talk. We would be required to stay beside the other, respect him/her by accepting his/her feelings, and try to empathize with him/her. It is these attitudes which could heal someone’s pain and sorrow.
（Update on 2021. Mar. 12）
Thoughtfulness learned from “Edo etiquette”
In Edo era, people started practicing “Edo etiquette” to make the life more comfortable living with others as the population surpassed one million at its peak in Edo town.
The etiquette included the actions such as avoiding the rain drops falling on the other person by “tilting the umbrella” when passing each other, or offering the seats on boat for those who came later by “raising from the seat and make a space of a fist size.” Ms. Reiko Koshikawa who works on inheriting the “Edo etiquette” says “In the past it was natural to think “Buddha and ancestors are watching and protecting us, so we should help each other with compassion.” I feel that there is a lack of “compassion for others’ in our modern society.”
It is regrettable that people are losing the mindset to be considerate of those around them in the hectic life. Let’s learn “a little compassion” from our ancestors, shall we?
（Update on 2021. Feb. 19）
Parent is the child’s first teacher
“The parent is the child’s first teacher” is the word of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, educator of Switzerland (1746-1827). We will be parents spontaneously when we get married and have a baby. However, do you think you are aware of doing “study for being parents”?
Many people might think that “study for being parents” is the skills which are taught on child-caring books or in parents’ classes such as the way of baby bath and of making milk. This kind of study is necessary for the generation those who have not had a chance for raising children as the number of nuclear family is getting bigger, however, the mindset such as “for what they raise their child” and “what would they expect their child to be in the future” is much more needed for the parents to become more parental. Children would learn parents’ wish from what they see on the back of their parents. This explains that parents are required to think how they live their own lives sincerely.
（Update on 2021. Jan. 30）
Live with support
Our lives are always supported somewhere by someone.
In order to make our lives full with joy, it is essential to deepen our relationships and develop your thoughtful heart of your own will – “a heart to respect other’s personal character and accept it” and “a heart to sympathize with other’s joy and grief.” When you open your own mind, stay considerate of feelings of others, and accept these things unconditionally, you could touch the “real thought” hidden behind their words, don’t you think so?
It would be good to think of the fact again “you are supported by many people” when you face a hardship and feel down. You would surely recover a positive mind if you gain the feelings such as “I want to give back to everyone” and “I want to be able to support someone” from your gratitude to them.
（Update on 2021. Jan. 15）
Practice of the morality
What is morality?
Everybody knows the point that morality is doing something good and can tell some examples when asked what the morality is concretely. For example, to have good manners, to be kind to others, to help people if they are in trouble, not to do something annoyance to other people, not to tell a lie, to keep their words, to have a thoughtful mind, and so on. There are so many things to list.
In general, we think that “practice of morality” is what we practice concretely by behavior and words. It is profoundly important to practice concretely, however, it is more important to consider how to carry out.
We would like to face our own thoughtful mind every single day.
（Update on 2020. Dec. 1）
“Caring mind” draws “Caring mind”
Our heart is truly honest. The feelings to the others are expressed as the expression, words, attitudes, behaviors and so on. When your kindness and caring mind are getting great, they certainly appear in our words and behaviors. There is infinite force in our hearts to enrich our lives.
With what kind of your heart do you treat your family who are the closest persons for you? They say, “Love begets love, hate creates hate.” The kind hearts of your family would be drawn when you show your thoughtful heart to them at first. Each family member should aware, exercise their imagination just a little, and move your hearts towards somebody’s place and situation. From where you can, putting “Thoughtfulness” into practice would be a key for household harmony.
（Update on 2020. Nov. 18）
Encouragement for Communication
When young generation meets elderly people, there are 3 points to keep in mind.
First, to try to interact with them patiently and calmly. It would be good to treat them with your calm heart and attitude since our eyesight, hearing and physical strength are getting weak with age.
Second, to talk to them sincerely. Let’s talk to them nicely and sincerely even for a simple greeting such as “good morning”. Greetings are the first step for building a good relationship. Heart-to-heart connection would be developed when we greet close people sincerely and say a few words.
Third, to put yourself in somebody’s place. You should think how you can make the one happy.
On the other hand, it might be important for elderly people to have open hearts to accept the young generation’s voice, to appreciate, and to live with young mind which is keeping to grow even when old. These attitudes are good examples for young generation.
（Update on 2020. Nov. 2）
Small Kindness Spreads Small Good Deeds
There is a Zen master called Dougen (1200-1253) who is the founder of Eihei-ji Temple. He said “If you wish your own happiness, first thing to do is to make other people happy” and indicated four different ways to realize it.
First: “Fuse”- Offering your own belongings or knowledge to others to make others happy
Second: “Aigo”- Giving a warm and gentle words to others
Third: “Rigyo”- Behaving in a way to benefit many other people and make them happy
Forth: “Douji”- Working with others with cooperation
It is not difficult do these actions. Simply by giving a seat to the elderly on the train, answering kindly when somebody asked the directions or greeting people cheerfully, we will be able to build the basic morality for coexisting in the society. If each of us spreads the kindness and good deed, we shall realize the warm-hearted and comfortable society.
（Update on 2020. Oct. 13）
Appreciating “Life” and Fulfilling the Life of Goods
The word “MOTTAINAI” is defined as “losing a body of something,” according to the dictionary called “KOJIEN” (Publisher: Iwanami Shoten). “MOTTAINAI” seems to express the sense of regret not being able to make the best use of something or maximize the meaning of an existence. It also expresses the sense of waste when something is discarded while it still has some roles, or when “the life” was not fulfilled.
Traditionally, Japanese people have been seeing life in any kind of existence. The mass for the used needle or ink brush are some of the examples of existing custom which is to give the memorial service for the tools that fulfilled the role. We have inherited the mindset to appreciate any kind of things by giving the commemoration to the goods, not discard them once it finished its role.
It would be nice to reflect the spirit of “MOTTAINAI” and appreciate the “life” of any kind of existences, trying our best to maximize the ability of the things and fulfill its life to the fullest.
（Update on 2020. Oct. 5）
Different Places, Different Perspectives
There is a saying, “Rolling stone gathers no moss.” In the United Kingdom, this saying originally meant that “those who move from company to company will be able to gain neither the social status nor the wealth.” The moss requires long period of time for growing, and it was interpreted as “goodness” in this interpretation.
In the United States, on the other hand, there is a totally opposite interpretation such as “those who always move around never get left behind by the society.” This interpretation implies the negative image about the moss such as “dated” or “something that has to be removed.”
This saying represents how one saying could be used with totally different meanings depending on how it was perceived on moss. In the same way, there may be cases that we sometimes judge the event whether good or bad, even when there is no one and only value in itself? If you look at your worries from different angles, you may be able to interpret them in other ways.
（Update on 2020. Sep. 29）
Aging and Life Purpose
Japan has entered into a long-lived society. Longevity is something to be celebrated, but there are also concerns about how we should spend our time after the retirement, as the life in old age is getting longer. In order to sustain a colorful and active life even after the retirement, a social educationalist Mr. Masumi Tanaka suggests us a tip: “Engage in any job you like even in the old age.”
Having a “job” that is connected to our life goal or purpose gives us fulfilling and enriching life.
However, the meaning of job would not be limited to “a job for earning a living.”
By positively engaging in any kind of “job” including volunteering or house choir within your family, we will be able to contribute to the people surrounding us while gaining some joy for yourself.
（Update on 2020. Sep. 11）
Overcoming Difficulties By Changing Your Mindset
Mr. K, a 28-year-old office worker, had encountered a traffic accident and got hospitalized when he was in the third year of high school. It was right before the entrance exam of the university, so he had to give up on the exam that year. However, he turned over a new leaf by thinking “I would rather gain something from this experience to progress.” Next year, he finally gained the admission into the university that he strived for. When the graduation season got closer, he put extraordinary efforts on job hunting especially because he was one year behind his friends who were the same age. Now that he is getting married, he reflects back his life and says “If it were not for the traffic accident, I am not sure if I was able to work for my current company or if I could find my wife. Experiencing the traffic accident built up my current life.” Sometimes people unexpectedly encounter some difficulties throughout the life. It is not possible to put everything back in place once it happened, but it might be possible to transform the experience into “foundation of life” and make it meaningful, depending on your own mindset.
（Update on 2020. Sep. 1）
Cherish “the time with parents”
The old saying, “By the time you wish to be a good son, your parents are long gone” came about when the average life expectancy was much shorter. However, even now, in the era of longevity, there are many people who are tormented by the wish that “I could have taken care of them better” after their parents were gone.
The time a grown-up child spends with his/her parents is surprisingly short. For example, let’s say a child around the age of 40 lives independently at a distant location. If the parents are in their late sixties, their life expectancy will be about twenty years from now according to the current average longevity. If parents and children spend 10 days a year, 9 hours a day, face to face together, there will be 1,800 hours, which are equal to 75 days, in 20 years. Shall we think carefully about how to spend this limited time?
（Update on 2020. Aug. 15）
Don’t you take anger out on objects?
Everyone has the experience of being angry and frustrated in the unfavorable circumstances where things don’t go your way. However, how you handle the emotion varies from person to person. Some people may express his/her emotion in words and attitudes while some people may suppress his/her own emotion without showing it to the outside. There may be some people who take anger out on familiar objects.
No matter how you handle them, no objection comes back from any objects which don’t have emotions. There is no fault on the objects’ side in the first place. It doesn’t make sense to take your arbitrary emotion out on objects.
Shall we say “thank you” to everyday items such as cars, phones, shoes and dishes, like we say it to people who take care of us. It doesn’t make those items happy or cheerful, but it brings out our feeling of appreciation and enriches our heart. By accumulating it every day, rich humanity will be nurtured.
（Update on 2020. July 31）
Beware of “right thing”
Have you ever experienced that you were neglected by others before you knew even though you tried to say the “right thing” and to do the “right thing”?
It is important to follow the rules and etiquette of the “right thing” in order to maintain the social order. On the other hand, you can never build a good human relationship by blaming the people around you for the “right thing” in familiar places such as homes, workplaces, and communities.
We can see other people’s misconducts well, but we hardly notice our own mistakes. We may unknowingly bother others around us. It is important to think what if you are pointed it out. A person who is always considerate of the other person’s position and situation and who can act with a humble heart will be able to become familiar with everyone and build good relationships. It would be nice to have a warm personality like spring breeze.
（Update on 2020. July 4）
Give your mind to a third party
When we take action for someone else, we wonder “how the other person will receive our actions,” but sometimes such “consideration” is not enough. There are cases that you cause unexpected trouble to the people other than those who receive the action directly, or make those people feel uncomfortable.
In order to achieve the favorable results for yourself, the other person, and a third party, it is important to take a breath, no matter what you do, and give your mind to the person who is affected by your actions. You should imagine who will receive what kind of impact, how they are perceived, and think of ways to make it work better and take action. By making the habit of paying attention to the “third party” in this way, we can spread the mind of consideration to more people.
（Update on 2020. June 21）
Don’t forget your first resolution.
It is often said “don’t forget your first resolution.” First resolution is the pure and serious state of mind when you make an aspiration and get things started for the first time. Zeami, who was a master of world’s oldest theatrical art “Noh” during the Muromachi period, wrote the book “Kakyo” and said as follows.
“Don’t forget your first resolution as your inexpertness. Don’t forget your first resolution at any age level. Don’t forget your first resolution even after mellowed.”
We form resolutions of each size according to our own growth since our youth, and have “first resolution.” As long as you have a strong resolution, you will eventually accomplish anything as there is a saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
At the beginning of the year, we would like to renew our resolutions, inspire the original intentions and work toward the goals. It is said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Shall we walk steadily, step by step, with firm guidelines?
（Update on 2020. June 4）