1. I have faith (shinzuru) in myself. I recognize my own subjectivity and creativity and feel the worth of living in life (ikigai). Subjectivity and creativity can be rephrased as personality, divinity, and Buddha-nature.

Based on Andrew J. Brown’s explanation, faith (shinzuru) is an action I direct towards myself. It means “staying open” as often as I can to myself. This is exactly what Andrew told me:

the most important thing is always to keep listening with an as open-mind and open-heart as possible…to what’s going on in our own head and heart/body.

Listening here is what “true-entrusting” entails. This reminded me of Henry Bugbee who said that wherever one’s thoughts came from should be trusted.

In affirming this, I ought to ask the following questions:

  • How do I trust myself?
  • How do I listen to myself?
  • How do I keep an open heart and mind to that part of me which springs out thoughts and emotions, ever-changes, and sometimes direct my life?

Contemplative practices like seiza, walking, journaling, and tending a Talahardin helps me listen to myself, a feat that could be really difficult sometimes.

Although I may have had some considerable progress in listening to myself, I’m unsure whether I’ve trusted myself enough. What does trusting oneself look like? Does it involve establishing my boundaries and protecting them? Or is witnessing the coming and going of my thoughts and emotions without judgment enough?

Listening to myself may also involve developing intuition and trusting my gut feel. But perhaps even more important is being open to change. I listen to change and trust it when it is persistent.

I am already doing this listening; I just have to strengthen and cultivate it.

In this free religion path, it is wise to retreat to my well first and establish that center, that base, that stronghold before moving out.

On the self

I am partial toward the logical explanation that the self exists, which implies that it has boundaries. This means that I am metaphysically distinct from you by virtue of these boundaries: I know things you don’t know.

But I realize now that this applies only with the mind, which is not necessarily what the self is. What I’m entertaining now is the possibility of fine-tuning my beliefs about the mind and the self.

Both the mind and the self do not emerge independent of others (i.e., matter, perhaps even discourse). My mind could not have been here without a brain. And since action requires matter, action and agency could not occur by mind alone. Agency seems indeed a relationship.

The self as I see it now could not be solely equated with the mind. The self is a relationship (which perhaps means it is abstract?). The self is multi-layered and ever-changing. It includes the mind but also the body. And it could not exist (it perishes) without the outside world. It is indeed a river.

This connects me back to Shinichiro Imaoka’s conception of the self. According to Andrew, his idea of the self was heavily influenced by Buddhist thought and Henri Bergson. For Imaoka, the self is not discrete and permanent. It has been and always will be a part of an eternal, universal, free, creative, and unifying process that involves self, neighbour, and cooperative society (which includes non-humans).

Selves do exist and we must start with them. But we should not remain in the level of the self. Since the nature of the self is to rely on everything around it, eventually, we need to go out and take care of others.