Tokyo Institute of Technology Noriyuki Ueda Vice President (Part 2)

The importance of Knowing Ourselves and the Lifestyle in the Future (Part 2)

東京工業大学 上田紀行副学長 The new COVID-19 variants have entered its third year as a pandemic. The severe effect from COVID-19 is still endless. More people lose their lives due to infection. Many people are suffering from various sequelae even if the symptoms of the infectious disease have subsided. In addition, for the past two years, many people around the world have been living uncertain days with great anxiety about infections to themselves and their families, work and income, and changes in their lives due to self-restraint.
 We spoke with the author of “The Meaning of Living” and cultural anthropologist Noriyuki Ueda, Vice President of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, about how to overcome these global crises and live with COVID-19 today and in the post-COVID-19 era.

(Continued from the first part


Discover the “brilliance of life” by digging up your own life

──In the first part, you mentioned that it is important to discover one’s own irreplaceableness. How can we discover that irreplaceableness?


 Awareness of your own irreplaceableness begins with digging up your own life. What is hidden under me from that of visible me on the surface? I know events and secrets about myself that others do not know. But do I know what that event means in my life? In particular, it is easy to want to pass or forget negative events such as illness as soon as possible. However, this seemingly negative event is a great opportunity to discover the irreplaceableness of myself and those around me. What is important to me as I deal with such problems as getting sick, worrying about my lifestyle and relationships with others, and my child running misconduct or withdrawing and facing the danger of family collapse, etc. As we deal with such issues, we tend to learn the significance of our life. The seemingly negative setbacks and sufferings are the pits that God has dug for us. By falling into that hole and pits, we can see ourselves and our life. In other words, while struggling in the hole, we encounter the treasure of life.


 Even so, it is difficult for one to face himself alone while suffering. The important thing is to have reliable companions. I think it is very important to find a new meaning of life by talking with friends and helping each other.

──Through painful events, it is important to purify one’s heart and discover the treasure of life, which is the meaning of life.


 Another way is to find something that makes you excited and alive. People who feel “I’m glad I’ve lived” through something are very strong even in adverse situations. That something can be enjoying drawing pictures, going to see Kabuki shows, joining a circle and having fun talking with friends over a cup of tea, or volunteering to take care of grandpa and grandma. Anything is fine. People who feel alive through that something are happy people even if that something does not bring in even a penny. Finding something exciting from within you is also a realization of the “brilliance of life” and is very important.


 What’s more, people who are not only happy about themselves but also excited to see the happiness of others are quite stronger. In the words of a religious teacher, “Is it unfortunate for a man who only rejoices in his own joy because his joy is limited. However, if a man sense happiness by seeing others’ happiness, his joy has no limit.” I think it’s a great phrase.


 I talked about self-reliance based on the evaluation from others earlier. Those people who are most pleased with how much money they have made are complaining and jealous when others are making money. After all, it’s a joy in comparison with others, so weaknesses come out. However, those who feel “I’m glad that someone has a bright face with this one word of mine,” can realize that they contributed to something and that they got a big joy from seeing happy people. Their joy springs up internally, and it is very strong because there is no comparison target.


 It’s a kind of one-point luxury. I think it is important to set the point that one is happy if only that one point is satisfied. Even if your shortcomings are pointed out, it is important to disconnect with such suggestion by saying, “I’m not really into doing that,” or “I’m not trying to be number one.”


 After all, your life is your choice, whether you are conscious of it or not. And if you choose one, you can’t choose the other. Of course, in order to make a choice, you must be aware of your personality, characteristics, likes and dislikes, etc. As I mentioned earlier, I think you can confirm this while digging up your life.


 But if you still can’t find it, take a step forward and “beside the exciting person” and “spend more time with someone who is enthusiastic.” People with dreams gather around more people with dreams. In such a place, one talks about his dream and stimulates the dream of others. That is, the “brilliance of life” is transmitted, or it resonates with each other to generate great energy.


 As I wrote in “Sri Lanka’s Devil’s Exorcise,” “the brilliance of life” loses its brilliance when the connection is broken and shines when the connection is regained. The connection is not applying pressure to be connected, but a deeper level connection. In other words, “the brilliance of life” can be said to be “the awakening of the soul.”