I believe many individuals have pondered the following questions deep within their hearts: Why do people exist? Do we live solely for money, status, fame, family, loved ones, or children?
People find meaning in life through various purposes and aspirations. However, what if none of these conventional motivations were present? Would life still hold significance?
To shed light on this existential inquiry, we turn to the profound insights of Mr. Inamori. This article serves as a synthesis of Mr. Inamori’s books, namely “The Art of Living,” “Embracing the Heart: A Path to Fulfillment,” “Mastering Thought: A Guide to Clarity,” and “The Entrepreneurial Spirit.” These collective works offer invaluable wisdom and would like to share with you here.
What constitutes life
- The Essence of Life
Life can be defined as the amalgamation of destiny and cause. Personally, I began my journey as a technician, delving into research and development of new ceramics. At the age of 27, I founded Kyocera Corporation, which has flourished for over half a century.
Throughout this period, I contemplated the meaning of life and gradually formulated my own perspective. In fact, I embraced this outlook on life and followed my own unique path.
What, then, is the essence of life? Irrespective of whether we are aware or ignorant of this concept, our attitude and life’s trajectory will diverge significantly.
Therefore, it becomes crucial for us to grasp the true essence of life.
After much contemplation, I arrived at the following conclusion:
Each person’s life is akin to a tapestry interwoven by the warp of destiny and the weft of the law of karma.
Essentially, life is influenced by invisible forces, represented by two significant hands. The first is known as destiny.
Every individual enters this world with their own destiny. While the intricacies of fate remain enigmatic, our lives are guided or influenced by its presence.
Although some may object, I firmly believe that the existence of destiny is an undeniable reality.
We are, indeed, subject to a destiny that surpasses our personal will and desires. It disregards our joys, sorrows, and tribulations, akin to a ceaseless river that wraps around us and flows relentlessly towards the sea.
But are we entirely powerless in the face of fate? This is not the case either. An invisible force also exists within our lives, known as the “law of karma.”
The law of karma posits that good causes and deeds lead to favorable outcomes, while evil causes and deeds result in negative repercussions. In essence, our thoughts generate “causes,” not to mention the resentment, grievances, and fleeting thoughts that manifest. These causes bear fruit.
As Buddha Shakyamuni said, “Cause and effect”—causes never remain stagnant; every cause gives rise to an effect. Reflecting on our careers, karma represents the causal link. If a cause exists, there will be consequences.
In summary, cultivating virtuous thoughts, performing good deeds, and reaping positive outcomes while harboring negative thoughts, engaging in malevolent actions, and facing adverse retribution—this is the essence of the law of karma.
Hence, our lives primarily consist of two fundamental elements: “destiny and the law of karma,” while other factors hold comparatively less significance.
- Understanding the Law of Cause and Effect: Shaping our Lives
Understanding the law of cause and effect empowers us to alter the course of our lives. Destiny serves as the warp, the law of karma as the weft, and together, they weave the fabric of our existence.
Life extends beyond the boundaries set by destiny, owing to the influence of the force of causality. Conversely, good deeds may not always yield immediate positive outcomes due to the interference of destiny.
Here lies a crucial point—the law of karma possesses greater potency than the law of destiny.
Furthermore, a mechanical relationship exists between these two forces that govern our lives. The force of cause and effect somewhat surpasses the force of destiny.
Consequently, we can harness the law of karma and potentially transform our predetermined destiny.
Therefore, nurturing virtuous thoughts has the power to alter our destiny’s trajectory and bring about positive change. Despite being subject to the control of destiny, we possess the ability to shape our fate through virtuous thinking and conduct.
3. Life motto: Don’t worry about the result, because the cause and effect must be reported.
In the law of karma, the correlation between cause and effect does not always manifest immediately, which often makes it difficult for us to fully comprehend this principle.
We may wonder why someone continues to suffer despite having done numerous good deeds. On the other hand, there are individuals with exceptional character who consistently engage in acts of kindness, yet they unfortunately endure illnesses. Similarly, there are people who engage in malicious actions and seem to lead contented lives with harmonious families, which can be puzzling to outsiders. These situations are not uncommon and contribute to our tendency to overlook the law of karma.
The reason behind delayed outcomes in accordance with the law of karma remains unknown, but there is undeniably a time lag. In my personal experience, the fruition of karma can be arduous to discern. However, if we extend our perspective to encompass a span of 20 or 30 years, there are no exceptions.
Thus, while immediate results may be elusive within a three to five-year timeframe, considering an individual’s life and observing the course of 20 or 30 years, the correlation between good thoughts, good deeds, and positive outcomes becomes evident. Likewise, evil thoughts and actions inevitably yield negative consequences. This understanding is apparent to all.
When we extend our viewpoint to a 30-year span, we recognize that the wicked do not perpetually prosper, and the virtuous are not eternally plagued. Ultimately, the virtuous find happiness. In the context of 30 years, everything seems to align favorably.
The connection between cause and effect can be likened to an equal sign—they are so intricately matched that it could be described as “remarkable.” Although this may not be immediately evident in the short term, over the long run, good causes lead to positive outcomes, while evil causes result in negative consequences. Karma proves to be accurate.
Therefore, the principle of cause and effect must be acknowledged, but it requires time for the outcomes to manifest. It is important to remember not to become anxious or impatient due to the lack of immediate visible effects.
Second, what is the meaning of life? Why do people live?
What is the meaning and purpose of life? This fundamental question demands a direct response.
In my perspective, the purpose of life is to enrich the mind and nurture the soul.
As inhabitants of this world, we are often consumed by desires and ensnared by them. It can be seen as an inherent aspect of human nature.
If we allow this nature to take control, we will be endlessly pursuing wealth, status, and fame, while indulging in fleeting pleasures.
Of course, life necessitates the fulfillment of basic needs such as food, clothing, and financial resources for leisure activities. I acknowledge that these requirements cannot be denied.
However, all of these worldly pursuits are confined to the present life, and they hold no significance in the next life. Matters of this world must be settled and completed within its confines. If anything within life is immortal, it is the “soul.”
When death approaches, all the status, reputation, and material possessions that we have accumulated will be relinquished, and we will embark on a new journey solely with our “soul.”
Hence, if someone were to ask me, “Why were you born into this world?”
I would unequivocally respond, “To ensure that my soul is purer in death than in life, or to carry a more beautiful and noble soul to meet death.”
We arrive in this world, experiencing the tumultuous impact of various circumstances, tasting the pains and joys of existence, and enduring moments of happiness and sadness until our final breath. Throughout this journey, we tirelessly and perseveringly strive.
The very process of life itself resembles sandpaper, refining and tempering the soul. Through this tempering, individuals elevate their character, cultivate their spirit, and depart from this world with a soul of higher stature than when they entered it.
I believe this is the purpose of life, and no other objective surpasses it.
Today should surpass yesterday, and tomorrow should surpass today. Each day, we exert sincere efforts, engage in unwavering work, take resolute action, and earnestly cultivate ourselves. It is within this process that the purpose and value of our lives are reflected.
More often than not, life brings us unhappiness. At times, we even resent the deities and divine beings, questioning why we must endure so much suffering. However, it is precisely these tribulations that temper our souls and elevate our character.
We should regard suffering as both a test and an opportunity, and we need to embrace this perspective.
Only individuals who perceive tests as opportunities can illuminate their limited lives.
The so-called “present world” is a period bestowed upon us by a higher power to refine our character, and it serves as a crucible for honing our souls.
The meaning and value of life lie in expanding the mind and fortifying the soul. To put it simply, that is the essence.
3. How should we face the turbulent life?
The life we lead is intricately woven with fate and the law of karma, which Shakyamuni Buddha referred to as “all things impermanent.”
Sakyamuni saw through the interplay of various factors, both positive and negative, in life and taught us that “life is characterized by suffering, and all actions are impermanent.”
Consider the aspect of health, for instance. While one may enjoy good health today, tomorrow could bring illness and confinement. The same holds true for business endeavors. Today may be smooth, but unforeseen challenges may arise tomorrow.
The phenomena we witness in the world around us are not constant or stable, as Sakyamuni described them to be “the impermanence of all things.”
“Lines” refer to all phenomena, which cannot be preserved indefinitely. Life is characterized by turbulence and fickleness.
Everything is impermanent, constantly changing, and new trials will continue to emerge. Hence, Shakyamuni also stated that “life is suffering.”
The concept of “pain due to impermanence” implies that life is a succession of suffering caused by impermanence.
In light of this, how should we approach life? What attitude should we adopt? It is these choices that ultimately determine the course of our lives.
Regardless of the fate we encounter, we must respond with a heart filled with gratitude. Good and bad experiences are intertwined, alternating throughout our lives.
Therefore, whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable, bright or gloomy, we should express gratitude. Not only during moments of good fortune but even in the face of disaster, we should say thank you and demonstrate gratitude.
After all, I am still alive, and I have been granted the opportunity to live well. Hence, I should be grateful for this blessing.
I often remind myself internally that by practicing gratitude, I can improve my mindset and take the initial steps towards happiness.
However, putting this into action is easier said than done. It is challenging for individuals to reach a level where they can express gratitude regardless of whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring.
When faced with adversity, expecting oneself to practice gratitude and express appreciation can feel unrealistic. Instead, the natural response might be, “Why am I so unlucky?” This inclination towards resentment is perhaps inherent to human nature.
So, when things go well and luck is on our side, does gratitude arise spontaneously? Not necessarily.
“Good fortune! I deserve this; it is rightfully mine.” People often tend to think in this manner. “How can this benefit be enough?” The desire for more lingers.
As people collectively succumb to greed and forget gratitude, they inadvertently distance themselves from fortune.
“We should be thankful for whatever happens.” This principle should be firmly ingrained in our minds through rational thinking.
Even if we don’t genuinely feel grateful, we should continuously remind ourselves to say “Thank you!” It is crucial to cultivate such a mindset.
Difficulties that arise serve as opportunities for growth, and for that, I should be grateful. When good fortune arrives, it becomes even more precious, and expressing gratitude becomes imperative. Always be prepared to say “Thank you!” and consciously reserve space in your heart for gratitude.
Approaching life with this mentality is of utmost importance.
Fourth, to live a happy life lies in these six practices
So, how can we train our minds to achieve these goals?
In Buddhism, there is a practice method called the “six paramitas,” also known as the “six ways.” These paramitas include “diligence,” which refers to hard work.
I sincerely hope that everyone can transform their destiny and lead a better life by practicing this concept of diligence in six aspects. The first rule is to “put in as much effort as anyone else.”
This means working diligently towards our goals and objectives. It is the fundamental aspect of diligence.
The second rule is to “remain humble and guard against arrogance.”
Take the example of Kazuo Inamori, who achieved great success as a business operator. However, his success was not an inevitable outcome. It could have been achieved by anyone—A, B, or C. Inamori Kazuo was simply given this talent by chance.
It is important to adopt a mindset of humility and recognize that the world needs individuals with specific talents. God has bestowed upon us certain talents by chance.
Therefore, we should never become arrogant or let success make us indomitable. Thinking that “I have talent and a sharp mind, which is why I established this company,” is absolutely wrong.
Ancient Chinese classics also emphasize similar teachings. Those who will achieve great things in the future shine with the virtue of modesty.
In other words, those who succeed are humble and possess high moral character. Those who continue to grow are individuals who have been humble from a young age, rather than those who seek attention.
I would like to share a famous saying: “Only the humble are blessed.” Those who lack humility are not qualified for happiness because they are unable to grasp it.
To achieve happiness, one must always maintain humility. Those who will excel in their careers in the future are those who remain humble.
The third rule is to “introspect every day.” It means reflecting on our self-centeredness and selfishness, and making a conscious effort to eliminate these qualities. This introspection is crucial, and we must engage in it daily.
Cultivating gratitude every day is of utmost importance. It is essential to have a mindset that allows us to experience happiness at any moment. And what is a mind that can experience happiness at any time? It is a contented heart.
People who can experience happiness are those who are contented. I have already discussed the importance of gratitude, so I won’t elaborate further.
The fifth aspect of diligence is to “accumulate good deeds and embrace altruism.” It means contributing to society and the world. This concept is of utmost importance and has been emphasized throughout.
Lastly, the sixth rule is to “let go of emotional troubles.”
This means not worrying excessively or being troubled by emotions. Although we should consider the impermanence of the world, it is unnecessary to worry or be anxious.
Unpleasant things happen every day, and they happen frequently. There is no need to worry or be troubled by them.
When faced with failure, we must let go of it completely and focus on the future. This point is crucial.
Some people constantly worry about not receiving orders or fear going out of business, thinking, “If this continues, we won’t be able to pay our employees.” I want to tell you that this is not the right mindset.
By harboring such concerns, the company will only deteriorate further. Instead, we should think, “Since we have reached this point, let’s work hard rather than worry about going out of business.”
So, I say, “Don’t worry, don’t be troubled.” When we think in this way, we can remain calm and keep our minds free.
To be precise, practicing these six principles is a rational approach to exploring our true selves, which is also a path towards enlightenment. It is not merely an ascetic practice, a routine, or a daily meditation practice, but rather a practice that can be comprehended through reasoning.
However, it is important to note that casual attempts once or twice will not yield significant results. Consistency is key. By staying committed and practicing these principles every day, your destiny will undergo a dramatic transformation.
By persistently adhering to these six points, everything will gradually align in a harmonious direction, leading to an undeniable improvement in your destiny. Even in the face of various challenges you may be encountering now, they will eventually dissipate.
Nonetheless, the utmost importance lies in practicing the first rule: “Effort as much as anyone else.” Merely considering the latter points without wholehearted dedication and diligence will render your efforts fruitless.
In the vast universe, there exists a law or will that propels everything towards happiness. As long as we consistently practice the six principles with diligence and liberate our true selves within our hearts, everything will progress smoothly.
With unwavering commitment, your true self will be revealed. This true self can be seen as an embodiment of the universal law itself. Once you break free from the confines of your old self, you can embark on a path toward a joyous existence.
Every individual has the potential for a positive destiny and the ability to lead a happy life. However, happiness cannot be achieved without putting in sufficient effort.
Therefore, I urge you to recognize the significance of the “six diligence” and put them into action. By doing so, you will pave the way for a fulfilling and contented life.
Why do people live? — The best Answer From Kazuo Inamori
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Source: Article source public number: Shenghe altruism, https://daydaynews.cc/en/emotion/2097470.html