Compass of the Times 210

Compass of the Times 210

Starting from What We Feel

Keiko Takahashi

To Begin Our Life Adjusting to the Way That is Outside of Us

This month, I would like to think about a fundamental attitude that we should place at the foundation of our life.

Life is created by absorbing what exists in the place where we were born. We create our Initial Self by following the conventional wisdom and values of that place. Learning and adjusting ourselves to way of life shown on the outside of us is the first step in life.

When one is born into a family, each person will be greatly influenced by the way of life of their parents. When they are born in a certain country, they will accept the conventional wisdom, values, customs, and unspoken rules that are rooted in that society. They cannot reject them at first because they all learn how to live by absorbing what exists there.

This is the reason why it is said that “the human mind is created by the environment.” For many people, life is first and foremost about unconsciously imitating the way of life that exists there and tracing and repeating the way of life that people of the past have created.

People in Japan, in particular, have a strong tendency to be very conscious of those around them and the way society sees them and have a strong tendency to conform to them. They think that such a way is a safe and desirable way of living. It can be said that such unspoken rules and values are deeply permeated in their society. Those of us born in Japan are naturally inclined to put a lot of energy into reading and responding to the atmosphere and trends of the world around us.

In life, there are models and norms that exist outside of us. Most of us will shape our way of life and live by following such models and norms.

Re-Selecting a Way of Life

Of course, this is not the end of the story. Once we have established ourselves, we can re-select our way of life if we wish to do so. It is not easy to change our way of thinking and living—a way which we have become familiar within our homes, communities, and society, and which contains conventional wisdom and values of society, as well as the way of life that is derived from them. However, we can still break free from the way of life that has been ingrained in us and choose a new way of feeling and thinking, as well as accept new values, all of which will create a new way of life for ourselves.

The beginning of this process is to become aware of our habitual ways of sensing, feeling, thinking, and creating words and actions. We identify and become aware of the habitual way our mind works and begin to live a life that breaks free from it. As we come into contact with a more splendid way of sensing, feeling, and thinking, we empathize with it wholeheartedly and create a new habit from our own wishes. By repeating this process, we will learn a new way of life.

Re-selecting our way of life is also rebuilding our life; this, indeed, is an essential process for us to become our true selves.

Starting from What We Really Feel

The attitude that is absolutely necessary to re-select our way of life and rebuild our life is to start from what we really feel.

If we wish to make the leap from a life begun by tracing the way of life on the outside, we must value above all that which comes from within ourselves.

We cannot deepen the truth about our life by leaving aside what we really feel. We cannot refine our way of life without valuing our feelings, even if they are immature.

We must ask our own mind, what we feel, how we feel about it, and what we really wish for.

We need to draw a line from the way of life that follows what is on the outside, such as the way of life that we choose because we are told that this way is certain and valuable.

Of course, this is not an easy path.

We are presently being flooded with information and cannot help but be affected by it. In such a situation, taking steps based on what we really feel is difficult. Yet, that is the very reason why such steps are precious and bring us so many things.