What is a ‘Religious’ Way of Life? – Part 1 of 3

I have summarised and translated one of Masahiro Oki’s articles which was written in his Japanese monthly magazine ‘Yoga’ issued in April 1969. As it is a long article, I post it in three parts. This is the first part. Three native English-speakers, Junko Furugori, Hiroyuki Mori and Michael Cullingworth assisted me by correcting and polishing up my English translation.

Translator’s Notes:

religious: By the word ‘religious’, Masahiro Oki does not mean ‘relating to an established religion or believing in it’. He means ‘with a spirit similar in quality to that of religion beyond name and form’. So, this title means “What is it ‘to live with a spirit like that of religion’?”

religion: Masahiro Oki expressed his philosophy saying that the purpose and value of religion is beyond the name or form of any system, and used the word ‘religion’ to refer to ‘what teaches the most fundamentally important thing in life’.

mind-heart: The Japanese word ‘kokoro 心’ means the integration of intellect, heart, emotion, spirit, consciousness and the subconscious, that is to say, both the source of these functions and the functions themselves. Depending on the context, it can be translated into different English words such as heart, mind, mentality, emotions, feelings and spirit. Each of these English words also has a specific Japanese expression other than kokoro. However, normally, it is not necessary to distinguish between them. Traditionally in Okido Yoga, we adopt the word ‘mind-heart’ as a translation of kokoro. In this text, I follow the same way.

A. We live because we are enabled to live

1– Humans should live a spiritual life. To live a spiritual life means to live with a spirit like that of religion. Many people misunderstand what a religion is. This is a mistake to occur by making religions profession. A religion should be what teaches the most fundamentally important thing in life.

2– The most fundamentally important thing for us is ‘to live’. ‘To live’ is the purpose, mission, value, and meaning in life. So every living creature instinctively seeks to live perfectly. Being alive is the state in which one is fully using one’s potential.

3– In order to live the right way as human beings, we must first realize the fact that we are enabled to live. It means that we can live because we are given everything and protected in all aspects of body, spirit and daily life.

4– If we don’t fully use what we are given, we cannot maintain balance. To consciously do our best in all we face is a natural way of life. It is to fully use the strength of the body, the content of the mind-heart, and the knowledge and skills that we have acquired. A ‘religious’ way of life means to fully use what we are given, for the sake of both ourselves and others. And such a life is called ‘a spiritual life’.

5– A balanced state is a natural state. Therefore, a ‘religious’ way of life is to live the most natural way for a human being.  In order to live like this, what do we need to do? We need to avoid acquiring anything that will interfere with expressing our full potential and also to remove the obstacles that are already within us. We train and practise for this purpose. The state in which there are no obstacles within ourselves like this is called ‘liberation’, or in yoga terms ‘moksha’ (freedom).

B. Improve adaptability

6– The state in which the mind, body and lifestyle are most free is the natural state. To live a balanced life, that is to say, to live according to the law of Nature is to maintain naturalness. A state of health is the state in which this naturalness manifests in the body, and illness is the manifestation of the body’s function trying to eliminate unnaturalness. On the other hand, enlightenment is the state in which this naturalness manifests in the mind-heart, and worries are the manifestation of the function of the mind-heart trying to purify and correct unnaturalness. The right way to search for truth is to perceive illness and worries as teachings for self-modification, utilise these opportunities, seek health for the purpose of fully using our potential, and seek a way to be saved.

7– Because we are enabled to live, we need to be in good harmony with the things that cooperate in our living. This shows a high degree of adaptability, which can only be acquired through training. A high degree of adaptability is the ability to utilise all stimuli for one’s evolution and strengthening. Those who wish for happiness must consciously strive to enhance and expand their adaptability. This is because the law of Nature that governs the universe is ‘survival of the fittest’.

C. Important points about human life

8– Humans must live an evolving way of life. The more our culture advances, the more unnatural our life becomes. So, only those who have the ability to maintain balance will be saved. The basis for this is a strong and high capacity of mind-heart. Humans are created as thinking animals. Only by thinking will our intellect be enhanced. In order to think, we must study constantly. Fortunately, many people from both old and modern times have studied on our behalf and passed on what they have studied. If we had to study these things alone, we would end up without evolving like other animals. In this awareness, we must be grateful for what other people teach us, and also devote our own efforts to others. This is the mind-heart which brings evolution to society.

9– Humans must live in cooperation with other beings. ‘Cooperativeness’ is living oneself while taking care of others. Many people in human society lack altruism. This earth is not just for humans. In order for humans to survive, all things including animals and plants are needed. We must realise as soon as possible that we must not live in a human-centered way. True peace comes about when we think from the perspective of co-existence and co-prosperity with everything that exists on earth.

10– Humans are created as social animals that cannot live alone. Humans can live by relying on others. On the other hand, in the world of animals, only those that are responsible for themselves are allowed to survive. I think that the communal lifestyle of humans has created an attitude of dependency and laziness. Humans should cooperate with each other, on the basis of each person’s independency.

11– In order to have a human mind and body and live a human life, we must be aware of our special ability and cultivate it. This special ability is the ability of self-control*. Self-control means that we enlighten the new layer of the cerebral cortex and develop the ability to control things emerging from the old layers. Only when we can do this, can we call our life ‘spiritual’. (Translator’s Note: regarding self-control*, read another post ‘A Way to Self-control’.)

This continues to Part 2 of 3.

4 thoughts on “What is a ‘Religious’ Way of Life? – Part 1 of 3

  1. Thank you Tomoko (and Junko, Hiroyuki and Michael) for the translation of this precious article. I am happy to read it, because it helps me to understand the pledge “Pledge to embrace a religious mind” of the Pledges of Oki Sensei. This article is a guideline for all times.

    • Thank you, Lucia. I am happy to have good readers like yourself. It take a lot of time to do this work but those people you mentioned help me dedicatedly. I feel that people who are keen on understanding Oki-sensei’s philosophy can come closer by working for and reading the same article, even if we live far apart from each other.

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