Steps To Opening A Business
I think of the mind as consisting of multilayered concentric circles that are arranged in order from the outside in, as follows:
1. Intellect: the knowledge and logic acquired after birth
2. Sensation: the part of the mind that governs the psychological effects of the five senses, our emotions, and so on
3. Instinct: the desires and urges that maintain our physical bodies
4. Soul: the true self clad in temporal experiences and karma
5. True self: the core, which is located at the very center and is filled with truth, goodness, and beauty
The core of our consciousness is the true self, and it is surrounded in the mind by the soul. At birth, the true self and the soul become wrapped in the layer of instruct. A newborn baby that seeks its mother's milk, for example, does so instinctually, using the outermost part of its mind. As the baby grows, its mind develops a layer of sensation around instinct, which is then followed by the formation of the mind's intellect. In other words, as a person matures, additional aspects of the mind are added layer by layer to the true self at the center.
When we grow old, the layers of our minds are stripped away from the outside in. As senility sets in, the powers of the intellect and reasoning decline until, like a child, our motions become the guiding layer of our minds. Subsequently, our emotions and sensation are dulled and our instinct surfaces and fades as we come closer and closer to death.
The most important layers of our minds are those that form its center: the true self and the soul. The true self is the core of our existence, our true consciousness. In Buddhism, the true self is called chie, or the eternal truth of the universe, and when we reach chie, when we achieve enlightenment, we can understand all the truths that penetrate the universe. Chie, in other words, is a projection of the desire of the Buddha, of God; it is the manifestation of the will of the universe.
Buddhism teaches that the nature of the Buddha resides in all things. A person's true self is the nature of the Buddha, the wisdom of the universe, the essence of all that is, the truth of creation. And because it is the nature of the Buddha, the true self is incomparably beautiful. It overflows with the virtues of love, sincerity, harmony, truth, goodness, and beauty. Because they form the core of the mind, of the true self, these virtues are naturally desirable to human beings, and therefore we can't help longing for them.
When Adversity Strikes, Rejoice, for Your Karma Is Gone
The true self is wrapped in the soul. If we think of the true self as the pure "naked" self, it wears as its garment the soul, which is woven from our desires and deeds, from everything in our consciousness and everything we experience, from all the things we have ever cared about and accomplished in the world. In other words, the soul includes all the good thoughts and bad thoughts, all the good deeds and bad deeds we have accumulated throughout our many lives: our karma. Although the true self is common to all, the constitution of each person's soul is different.
In Kagoshima, where I grew up, the expression "You have a bad soul" often was used to refer to someone that was always complaining or weak-willed, and I remember my mother repeating this expression to me when I was a small child. I'm guessing that my mother told me I had a bad soul because she saw that it was a little crooked or impure as a result of bad karma.
But what is karma, which clings like dust to the soul? Tansetsu Nishikata, the elderly priest who guided my initiation into the Buddhist priesthood, taught me a profound lesson about karma more than 20 years ago. At that time, Kyocera was the target of heavy criticism for manufacturing and selling a fine ceramic artificial knee joint before securing regulatory approval.
The backlash against Kyocera seemed rather unfair. After all, Kyocera had developed the ceramic artificial knee joint using applied technology from an artificial hip joint that had already received regulatory approval. What's more, we had created the new medical product at the ardent request of many doctors. Still, I did not try to defend myself but instead resolved to accept my misfortune. When I visited Tansetsu, I remarked, "This problem is causing me so much stress."
Tansetsu had read about Kyocera's problem in the newspaper, and I was expecting him to say something sympathetic. Instead he said, "It must be hard, but it can't be helped. Living always entails some suffering. When you meet adversity, don't be sad. You should rejoice. Through suffering, the karma that clings to your soul is erased. Mr. Inamori, you should be celebrating. The kind of difficulty you're facing right now is enough to wipe away your karma."
Tansetsu's words were such a relief to me. He gave me exactly what I needed: a lesson that was far more calming than any words of sympathy could ever be. Tansetsu's sage advice taught me about the meaning of life and showed me a great deep-rooted truth about the nature of karma. If you find this post interesting, please share it with your friends. To find out more, you can check out Steps To Opening A Business.