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Quite some time ago my secretary was using a machine that was supposed to test psychic power. I do not know how scientific it was, but you would push a button and a needle would move to the right or left on a scale. It was equally possible for the needle to go either way. The direction was ostensibly determined by the concentration of the person who pushed the button. The machine worked like this: you sat facing the machine and concentrated all your might on making the needle move whichever way you wanted, to the right or to the left. Keeping that thought firmly in mind, you pushed the button. It was claimed that the percentage of times the needle moved the way you desired indicated your level of psychic power.

I do believe that a person's concentration can produce a certain kind of power or energy. In our ever-changing world, a person driven by a strong desire to achieve something can have a profound influence on events and people.

In 1979-81 more than fifty employees at the American embassy in Tehran were held hostage for fourteen months. The embassy takeover was initiated by militant students, followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini, in protest against the American refusal to turn over the exiled Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was in an American hospital. President Jimmy Carter was quick to respond by sending the U.S. Navy into the Persian Gulf, but the ayatollah declared the situation a holy war, and an uneasy standoff ensued. A group of U.S. senators then appealed to the World Conference of Religions for Peace to intercede.

I was eager to help and asked the Iranian ambassador in Tokyo to arrange a meeting with the ayatollah. "Whatever the reason," I wanted to say to the ayatollah, "taking over the American embassy violates international law. You should argue your case before the United Nations." I was willing to take the hostages' place if necessary.

Those close to me, however, pleaded with me to mind my own business. Getting involved was too dangerous, they declared.

It was during that impasse that the manager of the Nankai Hawks baseball team, Kazuto Tsuruoka, made a remark that was to leave a deep impression on me. Responding to a television interviewer's question about what would anger him that most as the manager of a baseball team. Tsuruoka said, "You know that a hit now will turn the game in our favor, so you send a pinch hitter. He swings with all his might but misses the ball every time, At least he tried. You figure the pitcher is just that much better. But it makes me furious if the batter just stands there and strikes out without even swinging the bat. I really give that kind of batter what-for when he comes back to the bench."

Thats right, I thought. You cannot just stand there waiting for world peace to happen.

You cannot give up without at least trying to hit every ball that comes, you have to swing with all your might.

Make a hit and you have succeeded; miss and you will have a chance at another ball.

I used this story to make my point with my secretary and the others who were against my meeting the ayatollah. "You're right," they admitted. "Let this opportunity go by and we'll be wringing our hands in regret for the rest of our lives. We've got to at least try." After that, preparations went smoothly and I did eventually meet the ayatollah to plead for peace.

Nikkyo Niwano

Buddhism For Everyday Life

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