They ask me, ‘How much?’ as though I were a taxi driver. I would like to ask in turn: ‘How much is your life worth to you?’
During my stay I cared for hundreds of sick people who had been declared incurable by modern medicine. These people had undergone long years of medication and had spent a great deal of money. This endeavor cost me a thousand hours in time and demanded an infinite responsibility. However, I offered my services with a great deal of pleasure and gratitude.
It is a great honor for a stranger to be asked for a consultation when there is suffering and possibly a life at stake. Many of these peope simpy said “thank you” at the end of the consultation. I would like to have said in my turn, “thank you very much”.
Curiousy enough, a few of them asked: “How much do I owe you?”. This expression was a sad and disagreeable blow to me; I sensed a diplomatic politeness that was mechanical, ephemeral, and very superficial.
As some of you my know, my consultation is completely creative. It begins with a physical, mental, and spiritual diagnosis that I do in the blink of an eye. It is too simple for those who are accustomed to the very complicated Western way of diagnosis. It is so simple that I find I must appear more imposing, so I look at the hands in the manner of a palm reader.
As I have said, this is done in the bink of an eye. In that time I see in the eyes and in the face the present imbalance, the past lives, the future life, and the danger that is approaching. The part that takes the most time is the listening to long stories of suffering, discontent, and egoism. Then I must explain the selection, preparation, and proper eating of balanced food. All of this takes at least an hour.
Thus my consultation is a tailor-made lesson in dialectic philosophy and its pratical application for a person who is a stranger to medicine, nutrition, biochemistry, and Far Eastern philosophy. How difficult and dangerous it is! Why? Because, above all, sick people are egoists. Their judgment being very low, their viewpoint is always exclusive and rebellious. They are simplistic naive, sentimental, and greedy. They are often mean and skeptical. Moreover, many do not have good memories and cannot concentrate. All this stems from a superficial understanding which is the real cause of their unhappiness. I must try very hard to help them understand this root cause.
This is an extremely difficult and delicate performance, especially when one is expressing himself in a foreign language. If this expression is poor it can mean the difference between life and death.
I work with all my heart to save the souls condemned as incurable and abandoned to death, shiwrecked in the depths of suffering. And they ask me, “How much?” as though I were a taxi driver. What impoliteness! What a strange mentality! What incomprehension!
I would like to ask in turn: How much is your life worth to you?»
[G. Ohsawa – Jack and Mitie in the West, 1956]