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CAUSE OF POVERTY

 

As you know, the goal of our church is to establish a world which is free from disease, poverty and conflict. I have discussed and explained various aspects of disease from every possible angle. I shall continue to clarify the problem of disease from the point of view of the art of spiritual healing revealed to me by God. Let me now write on the subjects of poverty and conflict.

It goes without saying that the major cause of poverty is lack of perfect health. Let me refer to another cause which is also important. Illness not only incapacitates an individual so he cannot work but also necessitates the spending of a large sum of money for medical treatment. The situation may not be too serious if the sickness lasts for a brief time, but if it persists over a long period he might be discharged, which causes financial distress in addition to his suffering from sickness. He will be shrouded in extreme anxiety for the future and driven into a corner. His suffering must be something like the tortures in the lowest part of hell. Indeed, the world is full of unfortunate people who are in similar situations.

There are countless numbers of testimonials which tell of many such distressful individuals who have come to know about our church, have been relieved from their agonies, have recognized bright hopes for the future and have started to live lives full of joy. Thus, we can say that just by regaining and maintaining health most of the problems of poverty can be solved.

There is another element, also, which is a vitally important part of the solution to poverty. Let me write some of my personal experiences in this connection.

While young, I had no specific belief in God, yet I had a burning desire to help realize a better society. I thought that the most effective way to achieve this objective was to own a newspaper publishing company. Upon investigation, I found that it took about one million yen to start such an organization.

I came from a poor family. Later, I began marital life with a scanty sum of money given to me by my family. I started a small notions and accessories store with a frontage of only nine feet. Since business was good, I was able to switch to a wholesale business in little more than a year. I came to be known as a successful businessman in my field in about ten years, and my assets grew to approximately one hundred and fifty thousand yen (this was around 1919). I was so impatient to acquire enough money to start a newspaper that I expanded too far, and finally I failed in the business completely. my overzealous desire for expansion had gone against me. So, I had to abandon the idea of starting a newspaper enterprise and turned to religion, like "the man who turns to God only in trouble," as a Japanese saying goes.

For about twenty years after that I continued to suffer under a heavy debt, while experiencing a life full of ups and downs. When I look back at those days, I realize that everything in my life was a part of the process in my spiritual training. In Japan , training of spiritual leaders generally is thought to consist of ascetic practices such as fasting or bathing under a mountain waterfall. I felt that my worldly experiences, such as those I have mentioned, were in themselves much more severe training for me than these ascetic practices. After all, I fell into the depths of poverty more than once.

Here, I am going to write on "the philosophy of poverty," which I came to understand while in such distressful situations. Another cause of poverty besides disease is being in debt. I reached the conclusion that almost no healthy person ever becomes poor unless he allows himself to fall deeply in debt. The deadline for payment comes without fail when someone owes a great deal of money. A certain amount is due by that deadline, but income is sometimes delayed beyond its expected time of receipt. This creates a discrepancy between the due date of payment and the arrival of the income. Interest on a loan is added daily until the entire sum is repaid, so an individual's profit in most cases is less than he initially calculated because of the extra interests deducted from his revenue. Also, when a person is deep in debt he is always on pins and needles. His peace of mind is so lacking that good ideas never flash across his brain. His thinking power becomes blurred.

So, almost all those who have failed in business or who have become poor owe their bad fortunes to debts. Once I realized this fact, I began to tell people, "If your entire capital is one hundred thousand yen, start your business with one-third of your total capital." If they follow this rule, it may look rather small in the beginning, but as time passes their business will grow and expand without fail.

Suppose they do fail in business by starting with thirty thousand yen. They can try again through a different method with another thirty thousand yen on the basis of the new knowledge they have gained through their failure. This time they will most likely be on their way to success. If they fail again, they will still have thirty thousand yen to use, and surely they will be successful this time.

Most people, unfortunately, start their businesses with their entire capital. Some even add another fifty thousand yen or so to it through a loan. This is extremely risky. If they should fail, it would be fatal to them. They would never e able to start again.

In the way I recommend doing business there is always some surplus money as capital. When there is an opportunity to purchase some merchandise at a very competitive price, or when there is any other unmistakable chance to make more money, a businessman can immediately take advantage of it and earn an extremely good profit.

On the other hand, if the entire capital has been invested, he may find it very difficult to make necessary payments, may have to postpone making them, so his credit drops way down. If he has some surplus money, his payments are made so punctually that his credit can be kept at a very high level. There are numerous benefits to be gained in this manner.

In this regard, let me offer a large-scale example. One of the greatest causes of Japan 's defeat in World War II was her national policy, in which she supplemented her budget with borrowed money. Very few people seem to be aware of this fact, whereas it should be a matter of deepest concern to them.

Until just before World War II , Japan 's annual international trade showed an excess of imports over exports. National liabilities kept on increasing, until the government borrowed a huge sum of money to pay off some of the debts. With a portion of the loaned money, Japan 's military force was increased so that it could expand its territory through one invasion after another. The government not only borrowed money from abroad, but also enlarged its public bond policy as a means of acquiring domestic loans.

The Japanese National Railways, which is now operated at a deficit, is one of the hangovers of such a course. If Japan had not resorted to this loan policy, there might not have been any national leader who had the ambition to invade other countries. Conversely, trade would have shown a yearly excess of exports over imports and Japan would have become a very affluent nation. As a result, peaceful culture would have developed to a great extent, national morals would have been enhanced, and Japan would have become a very happy country—the envy of all the other nations of the world. Such an affluent country would easily have been able to import the necessary amount of food. Also, since it would have impressed other countries that its people were peace-loving, those with vast territories would have welcomed Japanese immigrants. Then, such things as birth control would be unnecessary.

Even a nation incurs a negative experience from its debt policy, so an individual would naturally run into a similar situation by falling into debt. Through the above explanation, I am sure you have come to understand the method of solving the problem of poverty.

 

June 30, 1949

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