On July 25, in the small city of Kerikeri on the North Island of New Zealand, I made a lot of new friends. It was the opening day of the Earth Citizen Healing Center, an educational and community space for the health and welfare of the citizens of Kerikeri, and it was another joyful day in which I took another step toward the challenge of living a 120-year life.
I first learned of Kerikeri four years ago, and, bewitched by the natural beauty and inspiration of the land and its special energy, I've spent a lot of time here, starting important projects. Thousands of people a year are now taking part in meditation tours, in which they encounter themselves and discover their value surrounded by the sky, earth, water, and wind of Kerikeri. Also underway are hectic efforts to create Earth Village, a place for teaching the philosophy and skills for independent, nature-friendly living in 380 acres of almost unblemished forest, and for developing Earth Citizen leaders.
I had a great time sharing my heart with the citizens of Kerikeri who took part that day in the opening ceremony of the Earth Citizen Healing Center. I'm posting here the message I gave them, which I also want to share with you.
What is meditation? What do you think meditation is? Focusing on the here and now, finding yourself, discovering your problems, communing with yourself and those around you . . . everyone probably has different ideas about meditation.
For me, meditation is "being a friend." Meditation is first befriending yourself. Many people don't really know what befriending yourself is. So many are lonely and sad. They feel empty and anxious unless someone is beside them.
We interact with others as we live our lives. We commune with nature and with other people. To be good at such interactions, first, you have to befriend yourself. Being a good friend to yourself, that is meditation.
Do you want to be a good friend? Do you want to interact with a lot of friends? How can you befriend yourself, befriend other people, and befriend nature? The answer is found in your brain. All you have to do is train your brain. Meditation, by training your brain, turns you into your best friend.
I want to be your friend. I want to be a friend to everyone here today and to the citizens of Kerikeri. I want to create a culture in which we befriend each other through the Earth Citizen Healing Center. I have come to where I am now, inspired by the spirit and inspiration that the natural world in New Zealand has given me. And I think that a heart of love for nature, of love for the earth, is found in everyone's spirit. I think that this spirit is truly our greatest asset. For you to make the most of the great spirit and potential inside you, your body and mind must be healthy, your immunity to disease must improve, and your brain must be healthy and shine brightly. I've created the Earth Citizen Healing Center to help you achieve these things.
I wish for you to be a friend to yourself, a friend to the people beside you, a friend to nature, and a friend to the earth. Let's all be Friends. I suggest a movement for everyone to be friends for each other. Let's carry out a Friends Movement for everyone on Earth to be Friends with each other.
The Friends Movement is about first being a good person, being a good friend to yourself, and being a good friend to your environment and the people around you. For that, you have to turn your brain into a good brain. I hope you can visit the Earth Citizen Healing Center to meet your many friends and make a lot of new friends as well.
Let's make good lives for ourselves so that, when we eventually leave this world, we can boldly and confidently say to ourselves, "Ah, I came to this planet and did something worthwhile! I really lived well, and with passion!"
Thirty-seven years ago, after resolving to dedicate my life to awakening the great spirit inside everyone, I started teaching my mind-body training methods to a stroke patient in a small park in Korea. Five years later, I was running a small center in Seoul, and that center has now grown into over a thousand meditation centers and brain training centers worldwide.
Although I have a lot of projects and big responsibilities, I've now decided to be a lecturer and center manager, teaching classes myself to those who visit the Earth Citizen Healing Center in Kerikeri. I'm doing this to return to a beginner's mind, to provide my body and brain with joyful stimulation and challenges since I should be active and in good health until I'm 120 years old, and to make new friends and neighbors.
If you're reading this post, then you're likely someone who meditates. Does your meditation help you be a good friend to yourself? Does your meditation help you be a good friend to your environment and other people?