Some 480 teachers, former teachers, and others concerned with education–all sharing faith in the teachings of Tenrikyo–returned to Jiba on August 7 to join in a two-day meeting on “education that nurtures the mind.”
The meeting opened with an address by Japanese Diet member Sanae Takaichi, former chairperson of the Education and Science Committee of the House of Representatives. This was followed by a panel discussion.
On the second day, Honbu-in Iwane Matsui delivered a lecture in the morning and Mr. Satoshi Fukushima, a deafblind associate professor at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology of Tokyo University, gave a lecture entitled “Communication Saves Life” in the afternoon.
Mr. Fukushima lost his sight at the age of nine and his hearing at the age of 18. He recalled the days when he became deafblind and said: “I was still able to speak if I so desired. Yet, I gradually lost that desire to speak to other people because I didn’t know their responses.”
He went on to say: “It is disadvantageous, to be sure, not being able to see or to hear. What gave me the greatest pain was not the loss of sight or hearing but the vanishment of communication with others.”
He continued: “I regained a means to communicate with others through ‘finger braille.’ What was important for me, however, was not the fact that I was given the means to communicate. It was rather that I still had people to communicate with, employing finger braille, and that they communicated to me ‘real information’ such as what was going on with their life. It meant to me none other than the re-establishment of an access to the world that had once been lost. This gave me courage to keep on living.”
He then pointed out that we ought not to focus on how people are handicapped but ask ourselves how they might live with their handicaps. Employing the metaphor of a baseball game, he said that it would be nice to play a baseball game in a well-maintained field. But it is just as precious to enjoy playing sandlot baseball in a not-very-well-maintained field. Life is the same thing. Being handicapped in various ways does not mean that we cannot make nice plays in our life.
He concluded his lecture by saying that faith is what gives us power to make fine plays in our life.