Making Footprints Not Blueprints

S07 #03 - Faith in a universal cooperative society - A thought for the day

September 16, 2023 Andrew James Brown/Caute Season 7 Episode 3
Making Footprints Not Blueprints
S07 #03 - Faith in a universal cooperative society - A thought for the day
Show Notes Transcript

The full text of this podcast can be found in the transcript of this edition or at the following link:

Please feel to post any comments you have about this episode there.

This is part of a series of blog/podcasts looking at the Japanese twentieth-century advocate of a creative, free religion or spirituality, Imaoka Shin’ichiro’s “Creed of Life,”

All four pieces can be found at the following links: 

A gentle call to adopt Imaoka Shin’ichirō’s creative, free spirituality found in his “Creed of Life” 

Statements 1 and 2:
Faith in ourselves, our neighbours, and ourselves as neighbours

Statements 3, 4 and 5:
Faith in a universal cooperative society

Statement 6, 7  and 8
Faith in one's own spiritual community and a creative, free religion or spirituality

The Cambridge Unitarian Church's Sunday Service of Mindful Meditation can be found at this link:
"New Heaven", written by Andrew J. Brown and played by Chris Ingham (piano), Paul Higgs (trumpet), Russ Morgan (drums) and Andrew J. Brown (double bass) 

Thanks for listening. Just to note that all the texts of these podcasts are available on my blog. You'll also find there a brief biography, info about my career as a musician, & some photography. Feel free to drop by & say hello. Email: caute.brown[at]

A short thought for the day” was offered to the Cambridge Unitarian Church as part of the Sunday Service of Mindful Meditation

In my piece today, I’m going to continue to walk through the Japanese twentieth-century advocate of a creative, free religion or spirituality, Imaoka Shin’ichiro’s “Creed of Life,” by taking together statements 3, 4, and 5 about what he later calls a “universal cooperative society” [The previous piece, looking at his 1st and 2nd statements can be found at this link.]

But in order to do this in a fashion that might help his words seem to you at all persuasive and worthy of adopting either as your own individual, or as our own highly plural, creative free spiritual community’s centre of gravity, I need to begin by noting something that, at first sight, probably won’t look like it is connected to them at all.

In Ursula K Le Guin’s (1929–2018) 2014 speech in acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters she memorably said:

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”

Not surprisingly, as an important twentieth and twenty-first century novelist, Le Guin truly knew the power of stories and how the art of words really can radically change not only how we see and understand the world, but also how we comport ourselves in the world.

But key to this creative and transformative power is the ability to make these words form what we can call, borrowing from Plato’s Timaeus, a “likely account” (eikôs logos) or a “likely story” (eikôs muthos) about how the world is and our place in it. In other words, for a story to be powerful and life- and world-changing for we who live in an age where the natural sciences have become so important, our story, for it to be a likely one, must not contradict the empirical, scientific evidence available to us, and it must also strike us as being ethically or morally true in some profound sense.

Now, once-upon-a-time, to the majority of people in the British Isles (and, indeed, in many other places in the world), the divine right of kings seemed to be just such a likely story. But, for all kinds of reasons, at a certain point it began to show up as being extremely unlikely. And now, today, we simply can no longer fully comprehend how on earth the divine right of kings could ever have been for people a likely story. Today, we live in a time when capitalism (especially in its neoliberal form) still appears to many, maybe even perhaps the majority of people in our own European and North American culture, as being a likely story. But as neoliberal capitalism’s sheer destructiveness to individual humans and human community and, of course, to the entire ecosystem of planet earth of which we are an integral part, it’s becoming, for more and more of us, a less and less likely story.

It’s important at this point to note that a key element in the collapse of neoliberal capitalism as a likely story is, of course, the rapidly developing scientific awareness of the creative, intra-active nature of reality. Where are now beginning to understand that, from the largest thing imaginable to the smallest, everything really is connected with, and interdependently related to, everything else. But neoliberal capitalism doesn’t, indeed can’t, understand this because it is driven by an extremely rapacious form of individualism which believes in humanity’s radical independence and autonomy from the rest of the natural world such that everything, but everything other than the self in question, becomes merely a resource to be brutally exploited and monetized.
Now it is in this context of a rapidly collapsing, old form of likely story, that I think Imaoka sensei’s “Creed of Life” or something very similar [such as the Cambridge Unitarian Church’s minister emeritus, Frank Walker’s thoughtful piece in this week’s Inquirer which explicitly weaves itself from Imaoka sensei’s statements of faith — see photo at the end of this piece] begins to look and feel more and more like a new and persuasive likely story. At least for us.

But we are not there yet, because the neoliberal capitalist mind-set, which is still so dominant in our culture, looks at Imaoka sensei’s creed, especially its 3rd, 4th and 5th statements, and laughingly mocks them, proclaiming them to be mere fantasy, a wholly unlikely story. But what happens when, as a culture, we slowly begin to awake to the fact that it’s not Imaoka sensei’s creed which is the unlikely story but neoliberal capitalism? One day — if as a species we do, in fact, wake up to this in time — one day our descendants will look upon neoliberal capitalism and shake their heads in utter disbelief that anyone could have believed in its claims, just as we today look back at the divine right of kings and shake our heads in utter disbelief.

As you know, as far as I’m concerned, Imaoka sensei’s “Creed of Life,” already strikes me as a likely story, it’s the one I now live by as a free religious or free spiritual person. But my wager is that on one day soon this will strike increasing numbers of people as a genuinely likely story, one that we can all live by with both a clean heart and full belief. 

So here, to conclude today, are Imaoka sensei’s third, fourth and fifth statements: 

3. I have faith in a cooperative society ( 共同社会 kyōdō shakai). Both oneself and a neighbour, while each possessing a unique personality, are not things that exist in isolation. Because of this uniqueness, a true interdependence, true solidarity, and true human love are established, and therein a cooperative society is realized.

4.  I have faith in the trinity of self, neighbour, and cooperative society. The self, neighbour, and cooperative society, while each having a unique personality, are entirely one. Therefore, there’s no differentiation of precedence or superiority/inferiority between them, and one always contains the other.

5.  I have faith in the unity of life and nature (自然 shizen). Life, which constitutes the trinity of self, neighbour, and cooperative society, further unites with all things in the universe.