Salvation Work in Modern Society
The latest session of the Church Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato, organized by the Education and Nurture Department, took place from June 27 to 29 in the Home of the Parent. Intended for church head ministers who have been in that position for three to five years and their spouses, the event drew 278 participants.
Organized around the theme “the mind for salvation work,” the seminar aims to provide an opportunity for participants to work together to enhance their understanding of the teachings, reaffirm the joy of faith, and think about how to address the deepening complexity of modern society. Through lectures, group discussions, sectional meetings, and a symposium, the participants renewed their commitment to making their churches ever more vibrant. On day three, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Yoshitaro Ueda addressed the participants.
One of the lectures during a sectional meeting on “Salvation Work in Modern Society” was delivered by Dr. Takanobu Imanaka, former deputy director of Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital. What follows is a translation of the summary of his lecture published in the Tenri Jiho newspaper.
It is an indisputable fact that we all age. What is important, I think, is how we conduct our lives so that we can live with a sense of well-being.
These days, TV programs and other media often focus on one thing or another and negatively portray it, saying that it is bad for our health. However, there are cases where illness can be a positive thing when it leads to building up immunity to some life-threatening disease.
What it means to be healthy involves not only physical well-being but also psychological well-being, which may include emotional richness befitting a human being, and social well-being, which addresses fulfilling one’s role in such social settings as the family and workplace. Health involves all these three aspects.
There is something that should be borne in mind as a basic premise on which to talk about health. I refer to the fact that there are limits to what medicine can do. Doctors cannot cure everything, nor are medical technologies necessarily risk-free.
It is often said that illness comes from one’s emotional state of mind. Indeed, there is an intimate relationship between the mind and the body. A good example to illustrate this point is what we call “ketsuatsu byo,” or “blood-pressure disease,” which refers to a condition where people who have had their blood pressure taken develop problems like insomnia—even though they were previously healthy—because they worry so much about the results of their blood-pressure test.
It is not necessary to become overly concerned about one’s blood pressure measurement being a little higher than it should. The reason why high blood pressure is said to be bad is no more than a matter of likelihood. For example, those whose blood pressure is on the high side are more likely than others, over a long period of time, to develop arteriosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. That is all.
Moreover, illnesses are not cured by doctors in the first place. Doctors can prescribe medications to relieve pain or accelerate healing. Yet doctors cannot themselves cure illness. It is the human body—the body created by God—that heals itself.
In cases that require long-term treatment, in particular, how patients accept their diseases can make a significant difference to the healing processes.
An example that is easy to understand is cancer. It is said that it usually takes 10 to 20 years for cancer symptoms to manifest themselves. Even if people have cancer, they may not be aware of it because of their healthy immune system and other factors. Cancer in such a condition may be likened to something that people do not notice because it is below the surface of water.
However, a shocking event, for example, can lower people’s immunity—or lower the water level in this analogy—thereby exposing the cancer. To the patients, it might look as if they suddenly got cancer—a perception that could be followed by a sense of panic.
However, it does not help to rush into any hasty decisions, because hospitalization and undergoing surgery, for example, can be extremely stressful when patients are physically weak.
The most important thing is for patients to accept the fact for what it is and give thought to enhancing and raising the body’s immunity by doing such things as reducing their workload and eating a healthy and nutritious diet. This is one way to raise the water level back to what it was when they were in good health.
Even in cases where cancer is found to be in its final stage, there are things that patients and their family can do. For example, patients can go home, do what they want to do, and try to restore their normal life as much as possible. Then their immune system, which has gone to sleep, as it were, could be awakened once again and perhaps become increasingly strong.
Finally, there is one more thing that should be taken into consideration when we try to help people overcome illness as part of our salvation work. Because of our strong wish to have someone saved, we might sometimes end up lecturing the people we are trying to help, abruptly saying such things as, “Your causality is. . . .” Such an approach, however, is likely to make it difficult for the patients—who may be depressed because of their illness—to accept the teachings. The important thing is to put ourselves into the patients’ position and listen to what is in their heart, because they must be finding it hard to confide in others.
Even if patients do not actually open their heart to us, we should still make an effort to visit them and be with them. The chances are that they will understand how much we care about them.
Perhaps what is expected of us Yoboku can be likened to a pacemaker in a marathon. I, for one, would like to be a partner who maintains the mind of saving others and stays alongside sufferers while always remembering to put myself in their position.