Universal’ Oriental Thoughts 
Junichiro Owaki

I lived in America from 1986 to 89 as a graduate student. The followings are m
y intercultural experiences, a brief summary of American education system and
my Field Education experience.

1. When you go abroad, the older you are, the stronger culture shock you get.
They say it will take about three years to adjust yourself to the new culture.
I had to go through quite a hardship before I regained the ability to function
normally in the academic field of theology and philosophy where most of the
terminology was unfamiliar and strange to me. Eventually, I made many mistakes
and misunderstandings. But through these experiences I came to understand
the essence and basic system of Western ways of thinking. The biggest fruit
I picked in America was the viewpoint with which the East could help the West
through comparisons between Western and Eastern ways of thinking.

The Secret of Christianity has been the Holy Trinity simply because it has never
succeeded in overcoming the Greek framework of thinking in which hypostatization
apart from the living environment plays main roles of reasoning. Whereas in the
Orient, we have been familiar to the ideas stemmed from the relations and
we have been trained to understand things in relation with other things.
“Is Jesus Christ God or a man?” “How could he be God and at the sam
e time a man and Holy Spirit?” The concept of relations gives a clear answer
to such questions. (Translator’s note: ‘And’ and ‘or’ are more important t
han the nouns combined by these conjunctions. Cf. Martin Buber’s “I-Thou.”)

If the above mentioned Oriental thoughts had been introduced to the West
earlier, the victims of holy wars and inquisitions should have counted much
less. It was not until the 20th century that the West was exposed to the
idea that “the existence should be recognized in relations” when they
started to talk about material duality and uncertainty. It meant a lot to
me that I was introduced at this time to the universal philosophy of Alfred
North Whitehead which goes beyond the established philosophies of the
East and the West, George C. Lodge’s new business administration, C. G.
Jung’s analytical psychology, etc.

2. In general, school educations in Japan are very standardized, uniform and
given in the closed environment. Whereas in America, they adopt open education
systems based on free competition. Thanks to the latter, I was able to get two
diplomas (Master’s and Doctorate degrees) in justly shortened period of time.
Japanese institutions of higher education which have been resting on their fake
‘laurels’ and unwilling to give degrees would surely go through big changes sooner
or later. Japan should adopt the system to provide higher education to those who
could not go to college when young or those who once dropped out of college.
In other words, opportunities to provide people with degrees/lifelong education
should be guaranteed in Japan.

I think the Oriental thoughts I mentioned above have a great possibility to help
the West break their deadlocks. But I think we should learn a lot from America
concerning the flexibility in coping with the social needs and in education systems.

3. At the university, I took a required course called Field Education. I decided to
work for the Japanese communities as a volunteer. I learned that the Japanese
in America have suffered for many years because they have been alienated by
both Americans in America and Japanese in Japan. They are made easy victims
in America whenever something outrageous happens in Japan. However, they
still hold some kinds of expectations to their ‘mother country.’ Only if we can
make the best use of their experiences and human networks, we will surely be
able to lessen the frictions between our countries.

I worked as a volunteer only on Saturdays and Sundays. But it was a great
pleasure/treasure to get acquainted with the people throughout the United
States who sincerely worry about the present relations between Japan and t
he U.S. On the day of my commencement, though it was a weekday, seven
people came all the way, paying their own transportation expenses, to congratulate
me, including the director in chief of the University of Michigan, a social worker
in the City of New York, a famous journalist of a magazine. I will never forget
their word, “You spent your precious time for us. Now it is our turn to pay you back.”

(Written in 1990 September)

貢献できる東洋的思考                           大脇準一郎


1. 年齢に相応して異文化体験はより厳しいカルチャーショックを伴う。文化

 り、全くそれと土壌の異なる生活習慣― 常に他との因縁と関係において存在
 物を把握する ―に慣れ親しんできた我々東洋人にとって「イエスは神か人か?」

 20世紀に入ってのことである。 東西の既成の枠組みを越えて、真にユニバー

2. 日本の画一的、平均的、閉鎖的教育に対して米国の自由競争に基くオープン
 の資格(修士、博士)を得ることができた。 教育と言う伝統にあぐらを掻き、


3. 学校ではフィールドエデュケーションという必須科目がある。小生は日系人
 社会に奉仕 することを選んだ。在米の日系人は日本と米国の双方から疎外さ

 は大きな収穫であった。 一週間のうちわずか土日を利用しての奉仕であった