Myochikai, of which I am a member, is a lay-Buddhist organization founded in October of 1950, 64 years ago. We are one of the youngest religious organizations. The Lotus Sutra in the Mahayana tradition is the source of our practice. Our founder Rev. Mitsu Miyamoto started Myochikai with the idea that the happiness of the family is based on the happiness of each member of the family. Happiness in the broader society is based on happy families. In turn, world peace can only be achieved based on happy societies.
There are four main teachings in Myochikai: prayer for ancestors, perseverance for the sake of good, confession and repentance, and gratitude for all things. In Myochikai’s teaching about prayer for ancestors, we are taught to relate to the past life with our ancestors, the present life with ourselves, and the future life with our children. It is important to develop a heart with a sense of empathy that allows one to think both of ancestors and future children, which are both the “invisible other.”
To this end, home ought to be an oasis for the family. Respect for the Divine Presence, a heart that is open to feeling the love and affection of parents, and sensitivity to the needs of others are fostered in the home. As I mentioned earlier, we are kept alive by our connections with others, with our communities and with nature. Adults in the family are the ones who can teach the true meaning of the dignity of life and preciousness of living. This is why the parents need to have reverence for life and the importance of living one’s life honorably. Human education originates in education at home.
In reality, however, it is said that education at home in Japan is merely “childcare education” and that children seldom receive the discipline necessary to form a personality and become a full “human being.”
Reflecting on the current situation, there is a movement to enhance ethics education in Japanese society as a whole. Ethics education is an education which nourishes a sense of humanity that is rich in its ability to embrace diverse sentiments. In this context, the emerging issues include a lack of empathy, a trend toward less caring about causing others trouble, a disorder of basic lifestyles, and trends such as a reduced sense of discipline and normative consciousness, as well as a lower ability to build relationship with others have been pointed out.
I sincerely hope that “Strengthening Family Systems,” the project Arigatou International is starting in order to promote ethics education at home, will help creating families that are like an “oasis,” raising children with moral fiber, and become a part of the healthy development of the children in Japan as well.