一隅を照らす(ichiho wo terasu): Illuminate one corner
2021 has started in the midst of a worldwide pandemic which we have been enduring for almost a year now. We all wish to have a bright start to 2021, yet we cannot help but wonder how we can. If we just sit wondering, nothing will happen. We each should take the initiative to search for something that might make our life brighter.
Ichigu wo terasu, illuminate one corner, is a saying based on the teachings written by Priest Saicho (767-822), who founded the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. (Tendai is a Mahayana Buddhist school established in Japan in 806 by the monk named Saichō, posthumously known as Dengyō Daishi.) He advocated that the one who illuminates a corner is a national treasure and also stated, “It is said that a string of jewels is not the nation’s treasure, but the nation’s treasure is one at the corner of society and whose lives a life that lights up that corner.“
Finding a way to bring light to the world does not have to be a big task. A light can come from small and trivial places. We may not be able to charge ourselves to change the world or stop the pandemic, but if we each light up just a corner—each small light can join the others to grow into a big, strong light and illuminate the world, making the world a better place to live. Let each of us light a corner to brighten our society and to make a world filled with hope and peace.
Written by Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji
Tea students in the Urasenke Urbana-Champaign association