The nature of my work allows many people to ask me, "What is the secret of a long life, Rev. Miki?"
There are a number of important points but I'd say the most critical among them is your serious desire to live long. As long as you are mumbling, "I wish God would take me," or, "It's useless to live any longer," you don't feel like taking any advice, no matter how effective it is, regarding living a long life.
We once took care of an old lady named, Mrs. F, just as though she was a member of the family. She was a sewing teacher for my mother and had no relatives so we welcomed her into our home. She had a habit of sometimes being pensive. When we looked into her room worrying where she was, we often found her in bed.
"What's wrong, Mrs. F,?" we asked.
"They're coming down from heaven to take me."
"It can't be, Mrs. F. You are going to live till you're 100 years old. You won't die even if you're killed before then."
"Do you think so, Rev. Miki?"
After my encouragement had finally restored her spirit, she would crawl out from under the blankets.
As a result of many similar conversations she lived to be eighty-six. This experience taught me that we should continuously cheer up 86 years old. However, if possible the aged themselves have to discover a hope in life and fuel their desire to live. In order to achieve this, I recommend that they get involved in something which has meaning for society.
Mr. A is one of my followers who is older than I am, having celebrated his 77th birthday. One day he said to me:"I used to live without any desire whatsoever for a long life. But I have changed since I was put in charge of an important work."
Since he began working hard in his new job he deeply felt that his life was worth living. He began to cherish a serious hope of living long when he found his life to be so valuable and meaningful. Since then he has made tremendous effort to live to the best of his ability and stay young.
He tries to build up his strength by walking, exercising and bowling. He is careful not to be an obstinate old man or strain himself excessively. He also reads to avoid senility. He is really serious about living long.
Mr. A told me, "I walk so slow that everyone passes me by. I closely examined what makes it possible for others to walk so fast and found that they do it by holding their shoulders erect. I was walking with my shoulders down and my chin up and I tired quickly. Now I can walk fast." His earnest effort to stay young proves his wholehearted desire to live long.
The desire for a long life derives from a worthwhile life and this stems from the degree of one's social dedication. Do something useful for your family, something which pleases people (anything is fine as long as it benefits the society at large). I'd like you to play a role in society suitable to your age, physical power, experience and your environment.
It is a shame that elderly men and women end their lives without doing anything; while they have tasted all the sweet and bitter of life. The meaning of their life lies solely in attempting to put their experience to use for the sake of society. They will find a life worth living and this will enhance their desire to live.
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