Recently, I have had several opportunities to think about doing something for others.
At a dinner party I recently attended, one person asked me, "Where (what) is the turning point that makes you want to do something for others? She expressed her opinion that it is only when there is some benefit to you that you can do something for them.
I was really surprised to hear that opinion.
I had never thought of it that way before. A different dinner guest sitting next to her said to me, "Sugai-san, you are getting older and have experienced many things, so this is why you want to do something for others." I thought at the time, "I wonder if that's true." But then I thought back to my childhood and teenage years and realized it wasn't about age or experience. I remembered that when I was in early elementary school, I talked to an old man who was always alone in the park and told him that if he went to my house, my grandmother would serve him tea. I actually took him home with me and my grandmother was very surprised.
So I explained to my students in a recent practice "We must realize that our lives are made possible by so many people. We know this in our heads, but in reality, we think about this as much as we think about the air around us. The reason I am able to practice happily in our Dojo right now is because there is an owner who rents it to us, there are people who work for the construction company that built it, and people who made all of the materials that went into this building. Many people are responsible for the electricity that powers the lights and fans, the water that runs through the taps, the roads we usually walk on are maintained by many people. The health that we have right now that enables us to practice together is not just due to our own efforts, and also the food and seasonings that support our health are also made by many others.
We learn from the martial arts (Budo) to be aware of such details. So, please recognize and appreciate that your happiness is thanks to so many others, and do something for someone who needs your support while you are still healthy.
Of course, this may be difficult for those who are bedridden and unable to move at all, or those who are under the severe circumstances of war or poverty. Nevertheless, I just watched a television program highlighting a new business initiative here in Japan that allows those who are bedridden or paralyzed to work as checkout clerks in convenience stories using digital avatars.
Those people who are now working in this way are happy because they feel they are making a difference in society. There are even people who live in very difficult circumstances, such as war and poverty, but they still care about others and try their best to help them.
My response to the 2nd dinner guest that evening was , "I guess it depends on your level of self-satisfaction. I believe that when one's own heart is satisfied, one can extend a helping hand to others."
As one of the philosophies of our dojo is "Seiryoku Zenyo Jita Kyoei," we do not wish to improve only ourselves, but to improve and prosper together with others. If we prosper together with others, society will also prosper more. I would be happy if everyone, whether they are martial arts students or not, could become aware of this idea.
I also hope that other martial arts instructors in other dojos around the world will also think that their own happiness will make others happy, but rather that they will use their energies for the best possible outcomes and that their own happiness will be the result of leading others to happiness.