A normal man, when his character and intelligence are rightly and naturally developed, can never get satisfaction unless he attains spiritual conviction. Take as an example, the control of our actions. When small children stand naked, we tell them: ” If you stand naked like that, the Thunderman will come down and steal away your little tummy-button.” Then they snatch up their clothes and put them on. If they want to run out at night, we tell them about the goblins and they get frightened and don’t go out. Though this sort of thing is of course only superstition, it does control the actions of little children. When they go to their first school, such things will not work. There aren’t such things as goblins, and they do not believe in a Thunderman. But when they are scolded by the schoolmaster for something, that has a big effect on them.
Then they come to Middle school and lose their fear of the teacher.
He is only an employee of the school, and if the students go on strike they could perhaps get rid of him, they feel Still, though they are no longer afraid of the teacher, they know that a wrong action is against morality. They know that man’s duty is to act righteously, and they are guided by morality and ethics. Going on, they become high-school or university students, and are dissatisfied until they have examined what we mean by the words good and bad, and the scientific and philosophic reasons why we should follow ethics and be controlled by morality. One more step and they question whether there is any scientific and philosophic reason at all; they cannot find satisfaction in ethics and become sceptical and critical of any ideal. Now they get worried and distressed and can easily lose all peace of mind. What matters is the present: what are we to do? Many people these days, however urgent a question may be, put it aside and think, ” Well, let’s get on with earning our living.”
There is a verse by someone:
When hunger and cold are set against love, I blush to say it, but hunger comes first. True, one cannot set aside the stomach; its cry is keen and worthy of our sympathy. We must practise material benevolence, and mutual help. But the great mistake is to think that by providing bread and jobs all our problems can be cleared up. The basic problem is that our present culture, concentrating solely on the conventional and material side and ignoring the mental and spiritual side, ends in tying ourselves in knots, and even in suicide. As a first step in the matter, let me ask: When you get your food and jobs, what then?
When in this way we have gradually advanced from the instinctive, the superstitious, to the common-sense, the scientific and to the philosophical, we must go on to transcend all these stages and stand finally in reverence before the unseen, in awe before the unheard. But since the Meiji Restoration towards the end of the last century, our culture has become estranged from this vital religious teaching. We feel in it today an inner unrest, and this as it were searching after something is really the religious desire. Clearly there are many defects in our culture. What is essential, whether in universal questions or personal questions, is to understand the spiritual secret of returning to the essence of the soul. We must press the inquiry ” and then what? ” right to the end, penetrate the ultimate, and then for the first time we can get the right answer.
We human beings cannot be satisfied with the instinctive world, with the world of superstition or the world of commonsense, nor can we rest in science or philosophy. We have to reach the world of faith and the world of reality. We must not be caught in the world of so-called name and fame, nor think that the world of learning is all, but must enter directly the world of freedom, the world of things as they really are. We must sport in the world of direct realization of our true nature by turning within. This is the world of truth transcending vain words, where words have been left behind, where as it is said the self-nature is no-nature. This is the ideal world, where all doubts whatsoever are resolved. Where shall we look for it? We must wait in the realization that self-nature is no-nature.