Tokyo Reimei Kyokai

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Personal Relationship Improves Through the Study of Art

M.O., Tokyo, Japan

At work I had been troubled by my relationship with a Ms. K., a colleague who joined the company in June 2000. Even though the country where she was born and raised differs from Japan, I was still not able to accept differences in culture and ways of thinking, and then there was one instance when I came to be irritated by Ms. K. my whole day at work. Even though I did try to see her good points, I could not control my emotions. Moreover, I was tormented by my own feelings of self-loathing.
With such matters preying on my mind, I participated in a youth study session on November 8. During a lecture on art, while we were shown an example of a plain Japanese tea bowl and one of a Chinese pale blue celadon plate, we were also taught that each type of art has its good points and that in the same way as with art objects, it is very important to look for the good points in each human being. I reflected upon myself who was only able to look at things in one way, and decided the next day to try to approach Ms. K. with a fresh state of mind. Amazingly, the emotions toward Ms. K. that so far I had not been able to suppress just did not arise, and it happened that we were able to work together while cooperating and respecting each other. It has been a year since those dark days, but now Ms. K. is an irreplaceable colleague with whom I can discuss any topic.

Ms. K. from China Joins the Company

When I attended a youth study session on October 8, 2000, I was facing a problem. It was the problem of a colleague at work, a Ms. K., from China. She had joined the company in June of 2000 and had been posted to the same division where I worked. When she first started at the company, she had had the reputation of being a personable individual who spoke Japanese well. About a month after her joining the company, however, voices of complaint started to be heard about Ms. K. from within the division. Ms. K. had not been directly involved with my own job, but observing the situation from the sidelines, I could imagine what was happening. Differences in culture and approach appeared to be the cause.
When Ms. K.'s superior asked the company to transfer her out of his division, I had a bad feeling. I thought she might be coming to where I was working. I felt this way because I myself was quite busy every day with being in charge of a newly developed project as well as with helping in the tasks involved in systemizing the company. As I had feared, Ms. K. was appointed to assist me.

Not Able to Control Feelings

From that moment on, every day was full of irritation. I woke every morning and went to sleep every night wondering why I had to experience such frustration and irritation. In the midst of this mental state, there were times when I even thought, "The Japanese certainly are superior." When I tried to look at Ms. K.'s good points, I could not keep at it for very long and soon again would fill up with anger. I was consumed with the feeling that I wished Ms. K. would just quit the company. Having such hatred come out so expressly was something that I disliked about myself, and such self-hatred made me suffer even more.
About a month later it got to the point where just hearing Ms. K. speak with a client in Chinese was enough to churn my stomach, make my brain stop working, and prevent me from concentrating on my tasks. The fact that we were getting many complaints from our Chinese customers only bolstered my indignation. Gradually, the smile disappeared from my face. I wanted to know why God had put me in such a situation.

The Anguish of Not Being Understood

There was even an incident when an executive director of the company who had discerned the change in me asked, "I'm worried because things don't seem so well with you lately. Tell me what is wrong." When I didn't reply right away, he added, "I'm leaving tomorrow on a business trip and will be gone for a while, and I'm worried about what will happen with you if things go on like this." Since he was so worried about me, I wanted to tell him everything, but inexplicably, when I started to talk, I just could not form specific words. I was unable to make an understandable explanation and was simply at a loss. I felt myself losing control as all I could think was, "Ms. K. doesn't seem to be suffering at all even though I am suffering so much."

Through Art, Learning to Accept Each Other

In this situation, I attended a youth study session at church. At a lecture on art, we were shown an example of a plain tea bowl made in Japan as well as a pale blue celadon plate from China. To a question by the director of the church, "Which type do you like?" I chose, as if it were only natural, the Japanese type. About the Chinese type, I thought to myself along the lines, "It is very well made and it certainly seems to represent the Chinese way of making things," but I did not make much effort to look at it. However, when the church director asked another member of our class, "Which type do you like?" he thought about the answer for a while and then replied, "I like both types." I thought to myself, "This person is extraordinary." The church director went on to ask several other people the same question, and then after hearing all the answers, continued, "Human beings are the same; it is important to see the good points in each person." I was taken aback by his words. I quickly became ashamed of myself and thought, "My way of thinking has certainly been unbalanced!" I decided to revise my way of approaching Ms. K.

Coming to Have a Relationship Where Everything Can Be Frankly Discussed

On the day following the study session, it was my turn to take the morning meeting at work. I told everyone, "I viewed a Japanese tea bowl and a Chinese celadon plate, and I learned the importance of seeing the good points of each kind of art." And, within myself, something changed. From that morning, I felt the rift between Ms. K. and I closing right before my eyes. Both our facial expressions became more bright, cheerful, and I could feel that we both worked hard to help each other, becoming able to speak about any topic, and being able to advance both our jobs in agreement. Somewhere in my heart, I felt unease that the anger and hatred I had felt might come back again, but even now, after one year, those feelings have not returned. On the contrary, I am able to discuss even difficult topics with Ms. K. Now I can pray that peoples of the world accept each other and that the conflict between those of differing ways of thinking disappear. I am sure that the feelings I had borne for Ms. K. were the seeds of such conflict.
Through this experience, I do believe that God gave me the opportunity to change my attitude. If it had not been for Ms. K., I would still only be able to look at the world with a narrow vision. Meishu-sama, through the study of art, for changing my hopeless attitude that had not been able to accomplish anything, thank you very much.