Tenrikyo Boys and Girls Association Headquarters held its Nurturing Course on November 25 in East Right Wing 4 of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex. Attending it were 281 people including leaders of the association’s directly supervised church corps and diocese corps. The course sought to provide participants with an opportunity to ponder what thought or belief is right and trustworthy amid present-day society in which people are exposed to various trends of the times. To serve this purpose, Professor Masahiko Fujiwara of the Faculty of Science at Ochanomizu University was invited to deliver a lecture. The following is a summary of his lecture.
The Authentic Ability
Collapse of Modern Society
When we look out over the world today, we are aware of the decay of morals among people and society, which is characterized by issues of nuclear weapons, environmental destruction, increase in crimes, terrorism, drugs, and disruption of families. Societies based on modern rationalism have come to a dead end, and it has become apparent that humankind is no longer able to cope with these issues based merely on the values of logic or rationality. In the case of capitalism, though capitalism has its own logic, societies based on it have been deteriorating rapidly. If we are intent on pursuing the currently dominant market economy and competition based on capitalism, humankind will perish in the end.
There are reasons that we come to a dead end if we rely solely on logic. First of all, human logic is shallow. Secondly, the most important things in the world cannot be explained by logic. For instance, why should we not kill others? It is unconditional that we should not kill others, so we should not do so. We do not have to explain the reason logically. Why are wild violets beautiful? We also cannot explain this logically. Thirdly, logic always has a serious weak point. Logic is constructed based on an assumption. Based on the assumption, further logic is constructed and, finally, a conclusion is reached. This means that the conclusion reached does not guarantee its righteousness because the assumption as a starting point is merely an assumption.
Emotional Ability against Logic
Then, how is a starting point selected in general? It is selected by emotional ability, which has been developed while one is raised by parents, associates with friends, is in love with someone, experiences a broken heart, and so forth. Let us assume that there is a person who is very smart with clear logical thinking but is poor in emotional ability. If this person mistakenly selects a starting point, due to the person’s logical correctness, the conclusion reached is inevitably wrong. Accordingly, the emotional ability to select a starting point becomes more important for us human beings than logical or rational thinking.
If we are doomed to come to a dead end as long as we rely solely on logic, what should we do? There is an emotional way of thinking in contrast to the rational way of thinking; that is to say, a synthetic way of thinking in contrast to an analytic way of thinking.
Let’s say, for example, that someone has a stomachache. If a doctor relies on the medical science based on the analytical way of thinking, the doctor would diagnose the cause as hyperacidity–if the pain occurs before eating–and prescribe medicine that prevents the stomach from secreting excess stomach acids. If the pain occurs after eating, the doctor would give medicine that stimulates the stomach to secrete stomach acids. On the other hand, if a doctor relies on the medical science based on the synthetic way of thinking, the doctor would try to improve the patient’s constitution that has caused the stomachache. To take such a general view is, I think, indispensable from now.
When I was a little boy, I was told by my father, “If you see someone who is weak being bullied, you should help him/her even if you have to resort to force.” This was subject to five absolute conditions including, “You should not attack someone in numbers.” Regarding these conditions, he said: “There is no reason. It is simply unfair. You, therefore, should not do so.”
In disciplining children, the attitude to say “What should not be done should never be done” is important. It is, at times, necessary for adults to force children to do what they should do. Nowadays teachers and parents try to explain reasons for everything. However, reason is not necessary when reproving children for their wrong deeds. Since what is important for human beings can hardly be explained, what is important, accordingly, has not been conveyed well enough to children.
Further, a humble attitude of going down on one’s knees before something is important in order to attain spiritual growth. This attitude is required even to develop originality. I once examined the conditions that enabled geniuses to appear and found that there were major characteristics among these conditions. The first one is the existence of something beautiful. Where there is no beauty, a genius never appears. The second one is the attitude of respecting spirituality. A country where people respect money and objects alone cannot give birth to geniuses. The third one is a humble attitude of going down on one’s knees before God, nature, or, at times, tradition.
Necessity of Beautiful Sentiment
Human beings need to develop beautiful sentiment. There are several reasons for this. The first one is to pioneer a new academic field. Seeing beautiful pictures or listening to good music is helpful for children to develop their originality. In order to blaze a trail in the field of an academic discipline, aesthetic sensibility that enables one to feel affection even for a single wild violet and be moved by its beauty is required.
The second one is to create universal values. For instance, though Japan has succeeded in achieving economic prosperity, it has failed to earn the respect of the world. However, people in the world listen to what the United Kingdom says. This is because people in the world pay respect to the universal values that the United Kingdom has created, such as parliamentary democracy and Shakespeare.
The third one is to nurture people who are truly effective on the international stage. The twenty-first century is, I think, the age of not globalism that would standardize the whole world but localism. People in the world need to pay respect to various flowers in the world, that is, various cultures of different countries, areas, and races, and nurture them. A tulip is certainly a beautiful flower. However, if all flowers in the world were tulips, such a world would be monotonous and boring. In order for a person to become truly effective on the international stage, the person must make efforts to understand and appreciate the culture, tradition, and sentiment of his/her own country.
The fourth one is to broaden caliber as a human being. The value of a human being is measured not by academic career or intelligence quotient but by the ability of synthetic judgment. This is the ability to select the best starting point from among many that are equally logically correct. I think that people in the world make a judgment based on gains and losses for ninety-nine percent of cases. Though I think this is natural, the remaining one percent should be made based on aesthetic sentiment.
Aiming at the Current Goal for Humankind
The last one is to end wars. From ancient times, wars have ceaselessly broken out throughout the world. Whenever a war ended, humankind reflected on their past conduct with tears. However, they repeated the same thing ten years later. I hope that human beings will become wiser. They, however, cannot hand down their wisdom or emotional ability. What can be handed down is only something like knowledge and technology. I am better at mathematics than Newton and Einstein. This does not mean that I am more clever than they were. I merely have a greater amount of accumulated mathematical knowledge than they had.
Though I do not know the ultimate goal of humankind, the current goal is apparent. That is, we should not bring on a great war again. History has proven that logic and rationality themselves, though these two are very important, cannot prevent wars from breaking out. We need something else. I think it is a beautiful sentiment. People who are able to shed tears thinking of mountains, rivers, and valleys of their hometown as well as of clouds, gentle breeze, light, trees, plants, and earth are able to understand deeply the same feeling of people in other countries. When such beautiful sentiment has been shared with people throughout the world, the ultimate possibility to stop wars opens up for the first time. To make nurturing beautiful sentiment the primary object of education is, I think, what is most urgently required in Japan and the world.