The Theory of the “Study of the Soul” (Doctrine)
The Theory of the “Study of the Soul” (Doctrine)
The fundamental thoughts and concepts of activities of GLA is the Study of the Soul that has been unraveled by Shinji Takahashi sensei and Keiko Takahashi sensei.
The Study of the Soul, put simply, is the system based on the perspective of humanity and the world and its practical application, where humans are considered as souls.
Going Beyond a Materialistic Life
We believe one of the basic causes of many of the global problems today is a spreading materialistic world view that emphasizes only what is visible.
A great distortion has arisen because we have cut ourselves off from the world—separated the inner from the outer—to the extent that we have lost sight of the true inner value within ourselves.
During Japan’s era of rapid economic growth in the latter half of the 1960s, when everyone sought only material wealth, our founder Shinji Takahashi rang the bells of warning, insisting that there was an important inner dimension countering the outer wealth that people sought.
He taught that death is not the end, that our souls live on for eternity, and that every person’s life has purpose, mission, and dignity
The Human as Soul
Central to Study of the Soul is the view that what makes us human is our soul, not only our physical bodies.
We are not born by chance and we are not fated to live our lives governed by chance.
The soul is energy, an energy of volition having wisdom that lives beyond our physical life. All people are born of necessity and exist to fulfill the goal and mission of their soul.
We must start by reviving our forgotten sense of soul and make our best efforts to live each and every moment of our lives within the context of eternity.
The Basic Theory of Study of the Soul: The Precepts of Soul, Mind, and Reality
If we are souls, then how should we live in this world? Keiko Takahashi gives us specific guidance on how we should live in the here and now as eternal souls.
She has led the way for many in their practice of their beliefs, at the core of which are the “soul, mind, and reality.”
As shown in the illustration, the three dimensions of “soul, mind, and reality” exist simultaneously within us, and we must endeavor to interpret all things with the context of these three dimensions.
The Precepts of Soul, Mind, and Reality
According to Study of the Soul, the mind is born when the soul meets the body.
Reality is that dimension in which we encounter others and in which events occur. The dimension of the mind is one in which diverse thoughts and feelings arise. The soul is to be found in a deeper dimension that carries the aspiration and objectives that permeate our life, it is, as it were, the blueprint of our life. Here are blended the two energies of soul (the soul’s aspirations) and karma (the soul’s deflections) which together profoundly influence our mind and our reality.
This reality is born of our mind and reflects our soul. At the same time, engaging with the reality before us, with the diverse problems arising out of our various encounters and events, localities and workplaces, and family, means engaging with the themes of our mind and soul.
Fulfilling the Soul’s Aspirations and Achieving Our Life Goals
To live simultaneously within three dimensions is to keep in touch with your inner and outer being throughout your life. It is a process of realizing the blueprint that you have been given through your daily encounters and events. As humans, we strive to fulfill our soul’s aspirations and achieve our life goals even as we live under diverse constraints.
Attaining this objective is by no means easy, and that is because the mind that forms our reality is distorted and warped.
The Mind Creates Reality
The functions of the human mind can be described by the compound term Ju-hatsu-shiki.
Ju refers to how we perceive and absorb things.
Hatsu is our external response to our experiences, through thoughts, words and behavior. And shiki is a Buddhist term referring to reality.
In other words, our minds are constantly repeating a process of ju>hatsu>shiki>ju>hatsu>shiki to absorb reality and then create new reality in an unending cycle. Ju-hatsu-shiki is a process that links our minds to reality.
(As a side note: Study of the Soul uses the three homonyms of chi (blood), chi (place) and chi (era) to explain how the soul is formed after birth and how our lives are created thereafter.)
The Perception of Chaos
In Study of the Soul, the encounters and events that we experience in our lives are viewed from the perspective of Chaos. Chaos is a condition without shape or form, without result or conclusion, in which diverse possibilities and restrictions, light and dark, swirl together in confusion. It could be described as a state surrounding the birth of the Universe in which all is light and darkness, simultaneously empty and yet full of hidden potential.
The moment our mind, Ju-hatsu-shiki, comes into contact with Chaos, this Chaos is instantly crystallized into either a reality of light or a reality of darkness.
Chaos that has crystallized cannot return to its former state. And this is why it is so critically important how we approach Chaos and through what kind of process of Ju-hatsu-shiki we make this approach.
Change the Mind to Change Reality
When there is distortion of the Ju-hatsu-shiki what happens to Chaos, what happens to the reality of our lives? What happens is that Chaos is crystallized as a warped shape that prevents us from actualizing the blueprint of our encounters and events and blocks us from fulfilling the aspirations of our soul and achieving the purpose of our life.
We can, however, change the mind which is the agent by which we create reality out of Chaos. And when our mind changes, our reality, our whole life, will change.
By growing and evolving our mind, we can transform the blueprint of our perceptions and experiences into reality, and as we repeat this process, we will be able to realize our soul’s aspirations and achieve the purpose of our life.
The next question then is, how can we change our mind?
The Path to Changing the Mind
GLA offers two major pathways to transform our minds.
One is to observe our mind with all the distortions and biases that constrain it, and next is to purify our minds and filter out those constraints. In Study of the Soul, we refer to these constrainments of the mind as Bonnō.
The second pathway is to excavate and reveal our own inner potential.
These two pathways are closely intertwined as one, like the front and back of a coin. The more restrictions of the mind that we are able to overcome, the more of our inner potential is revealed. Conversely, the more our inner potential comes to the fore, the more we are relieved of the restrictions on our mind.
Releasing the Mind from the Four Constraints
What then is the pathway to identifying the light and darkness of the mind and releasing the mind from its constraints?
First, we must go through the process mentioned earlier of Ju-hatsu-shiki to identify the four types of constraints or restrictions (Bonnō) so that we can grow and release ourselves from them.
The four types of Bonnō are: Pleasure-Recklessness (the overconfident type who is self-righteous); Pain-Recklessness (the victim type who is strongly resentful); Pain-Lethargy (the self-deprecating type who is bound by a feeling of resignation type); and Pleasure-Lethargy (the complacent type who is self-satisfied).
ain-Recklessness (the victim type who is strongly resentful);
Each of us has a strong tendency towards one of these types which limits the kind of life we lead.
Study of the Soul explains the kinds of distortions of the mind that are evident in each of these four types and guides the reader through specific exercises (gyō) for each type so as to overcome these distortions.
Bodaishin: The Hidden Potential in Each of Us
Now let us examine the second pathway, which is to excavate and reveal our own inner potential or light.
GLA offers several ways to do this under Keiko Takahashi’s guidance, such as meditating on the origins of the soul or entering into dialog with the soul. One method we will describe here is excavating your Bodaishin, a Buddhist term referring to the heart or mind that practices Buddhism as a way to enlightenment. Keiko Takahashi has expanded on this original meaning to encompass the mind or heart that searches for the self, loves others, and seeks to contribute to global harmony.
It is natural for us to want to help someone who appears to be in trouble, to want to open up a way when all routes seem blocked, or to try to help a person who seems worried and in pain. To strive for those around us, to soothe pain, to bring order to a chaotic situation, to revitalize something that is stagnating—these are all a part of the Bodaishin that is within us waiting to be awakened.
The World Needs Bodaishin
Bodaishin is exactly what the world needs today.
As was noted above, contemporary society promotes a materialistic lifestyle, and that has amplified the tendencies towards nihilism and egoism. This situation is not conducive to solving the problems that beset the world or that confront us individually.
Says Keiko Takahashi, “Real solutions to problems like global warming, poverty, and inequality are ultimately impossible without the proper functioning of Bodaishin. Bodaishin is essential if our lives and world are truly to shine. Only Bodaishin can make this possible.” (Adapted from Keiko Takahashi, The Twelve Bodaishin, published by Sampoh Publishing Co., Ltd.)
The 12 Bodaishin
Study of the Soul lays out 12 different aspects of the diverse light radiating from Bodaishin. These aspects are characterized as the mind or heart of the moon, fire, the sky, mountains, ears of rice, spring water, rivers, the earth, the Kannon Bodhisattva, wind, the sea, and the sun. Most of these are familiar aspects of nature that the Japanese have loved and learned from since ancient times.
Says Keiko Takahashi, “As one light of Bodaishin radiates, another is revealed. And as one after another of these lights reach their fullness, we feel free and refreshed, energetic and yet patient, compassionate and tolerant, and imbued with a profound sense of humility. This is the process by which we open up the dimension of the soul, that dimension that is our true essence as human beings. It is the process by which we come to know eternity and by which we draw out the power of the soul.”
GLA offers a number of diverse exercises, called gyō, by which we can excavate the Bodaishin within us.
Recalling the Soul’s Aspirations and the Reason You were Born so that You Can Complete your Life Tasks
As we apply the various tools of learning provided by GLA to practice the precepts found in Study of the Soul, we will gradually come to recall the soul’s aspiration within us, we will remember why we were born, and will be able to set about our life tasks. We will, in other words, live the purpose and mission of our life.
Perceiving Trials as Callings that Help Us Find Solutions for Every Problem
As we awaken to our original aspirations, we will find fundamental solutions to the diverse problems that beset us in the home, at work, in our communities, and society and will become capable of creating new realities.
Likewise, we will find that from the perspective of Study of the Soul, the life trials to which no one is immune are no longer painful episodes that we wish we could avoid but rather a calling to awaken to our soul’s aspirations, to achieve our mission in life.
Study of the Soul gives us the strength to overcome the trials of our lives and convert them into specific realities that will cause our lives and the world to shine.
Many are already on this path and many are constantly being reborn.