Great Construction

Be Not Prone to Anger

     A proverb that has been around since antiquity goes, “Anyone can endure; true endurance lies in enduring the unendurable. Also there is the saying, “Always wear a bag of endurance around your neck. If it tears, sew it up. If it rips, sew it back.” Both are very apt. I am often asked, “What kind of training have you undergone? Have you gone into the mountains and stayed under a waterfall? Have you fasted? Have you practiced various kinds of austerities?” I tell them, my two main forms of training have been suffering from debt for many years and learning to control my anger, an answer which left them all flabbergasted. That is the way it was, so I cannot assuage their consternation.
     I am firmly convinced that God made me go through these exercises as a way to polish me. First this, then that, different matters that roused me to anger just came at me one after another. Ordinarily I had a personality that disliked anger, but to a strange degree, I was brought to anger. For example, one time I was the recipient of a huge misunderstanding, and I was insulted in such a way that I could not face most of the people I should meet. I did not know how to express my anger, and it was unbearable. It was just at this period that I was invited to a place I really did not want to go, and as there were circumstances that precluded me from turning down the invitation, I proceeded to the house. My mind was a blank and I could not concentrate. I was in an impossible situation and to conceal my helplessness, I asked for a serving of sakè, which I proceeded to drink down. In those days I did not drink even one drop of alcohol, so it was an extreme thing to do. That is what happened, and in two to three days, I was finally able to regain my equanimity. Later, it turned out that because of this distasteful event, I was able to avoid a rather large misfortune. If I had not become angry at that time, the situation was that I would have received a fatal blow. I was saved by anger, and I could not suppress my excitement at God’s profound blessings. As described above, God polishes in various ways those who have have important missions, and I do believe that of those various ways, the most important training is being able to maintain composure. So, it should be thought that those who are prone to anger have been given important missions. In this sense, individuals have completed one step of training when they are able to remain composed and not be stirred up by any kind of anger. In this regard, I have an interesting account.
     This is an episode from the Meiji era. In those days, the president of the Japan Chamber of Commerce was a man named Buei Nakano. Whatever would happen, Mr Nakano maintained his composure, and someone asked him how he was able to do so. This is what Mr Nakano told his questioner. “I was born with disposition prone to anger. One day I visited the home of the famous and influential businessman Eiichi Shibusawa. While I was waiting, I heard Mr. Shibusawa and his wife quarreling in the next room. When Mr Shibusawa heard there was a visitor, he opened the sliding door, came in, and took his seat. When I saw his face, it looked completely normal, his usual amenable self, with no hint that he had ever been bickering. As I started to think it most peculiar, I also realized something else. That something was his power to control his anger. ‘This power to control his anger is probably why Mr. Shibusawa was able to succeed to where he was considered the doyen of the business world. Well, in that case, I am going to have to get to the point where I can control my anger,’ I thought, and since I have been able to get to that point, everything has proceeded smoothly, and I was able to rise to my present position.”
     So, when you feel you are about to become angry, you should recognize that God is trying to polish you. Such is the self-awareness of and the attitude of preparedness of an individual of faith.
     I forgot to mention debt. According to my experience, the cause of debt is being in a hurry. You are in a hurry so you try to force things. In all affairs and matters, forcing things is never acceptable, it is the worst thing you could do. Something accomplished by forcing, even though it may be successful at first, will lead to more forcing, and an unforeseen impediment will appear. Affairs and matters may seem to have been taken care of expeditiously, but in the end, they will go backwards and have to be done over again. When considered carefully, Japan’s defeat in the war was because every aspect was forced. When you start to be in a hurry, you also begin to force, and then you lose breathing space, leeway, room to maneuver. You lose the capacity for coming up with good ideas. When you cannot get good ideas, you will try to do anything, including forcing, and this is worse. In other words, you should start a project when you have a plan that leaves no room for mistake. Such is what the words deliberative and decisive mean.
     Thus, after you have thoroughly researched your project and studied it from every angle and are absolutely sure in your judgment, it may be unavoidable to borrow money, but borrowed money should be repaid as soon as possible, never drawing payment out. Debts are difficult to repay, and the longer it takes, the more interest piles up, and since the mental torture is great, one loses composure, the ability to have good ideas disappears, and there is no way that work should proceed smoothly. There are positive debts and negative debts. Debts for project development are positive, and debts to make up for losses are negative. Positive debt may be unavoidable, but negative debt should never be incurred. If losses should be incurred, do not put up a brave front, slim down, and wait for the time to turn things around.
     One point that deserves warning is not to be covetous. As in the old proverb, grasp all, lose all, the cause of loss is trying to squeeze the most out of a plan or project. We often come across propositions that are too good to be true, and in this world there is nothing that is too good to be true. One should be vigilant against such projects. Rather, offers that are unremarkable will have a future. In this regard, let speak from my own experience. One time I wanted to repay my debt as soon as possible, but at the same time, I had to start operations as a religion. When I could only think of getting money and nothing else, I could not get a cent. Finally I just gave up, left it in God’s hands, and just as I had begun to forget about money, I started to receive unexpected sums. Indeed matters in our world are not to be understood simply by human logic.

Essays on Faith, page 23, September 5, 1948
    translated by cynndd

        *             *              *

 “Ikaru Nakare,” which appeared originally in the Nihon Kannon Kyōdan publication Shinkō Zatsuwa (Essays on Faith), September 5, 1948, page 23, and later, while Meishu-sama still alive, reprinted in the essays anthology for the general public Tengoku no Fukuinsho (Gospels of Heaven), August 25, 1954, page 78, has appeared in translation. Citation is given below for reference. 

 “Self-Control, Calmness,” Teachings of Meishu-sama, Volume Two, 1968, page 60.

“Self-Control,” Foundation of Paradise, 1984, page 342.

“Self-control, Calmness,” Teachings of Meishu-sama, Volume Two, 1968/2004, page 56.

“Control Your Temper,” Reaching for Faith, 2010, page 78.

“Be Not Angry,” A Hundred Teachings of Meishusama, no date, page 144.