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The Shinbashira’s Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service 2016

May I express my sincere appreciation to you for attending today’s Autumn Grand Service for the 179th year of the Teaching in such great numbers. Having concluded the performance of the Service, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. May I, therefore, have your attention for a while.

The founding of the Teaching marked the beginning of the path of Oyasama’s Divine Model. We refer to Her fifty-year journey between the Teaching’s founding and Her withdrawal from physical life as the Divine Model because it is a model to be actually emulated and implemented by all followers of the path instead of merely giving us a story to tell. The Divine Model demonstrates how to follow the path of single-hearted salvation in order to save all humankind.

On the occasion of the 16th Doctrinal Seminar, the second Shinbashira said: “What is the Divine Model? It refers to the teachings. What are the teachings? They are not to be memorized but followed. They are to be implemented.” He told us that the teachings of this path have no meaning unless they are actually followed. We can only call ourselves “followers of the path” when we try to emulate the Divine Model and implement the teachings.

As you are aware, Oyasama opened the path of the Divine Model by falling to the depths of poverty. The radical change that occurred in the compassionate housewife of a family that was known as the largest landowner in the village drew ridicule and opposition from those around Her. No one listened to Her teachings. After twenty years or so, however, the Grant of Safe Childbirth served as the path-opener. As instances of wondrous salvation appeared in increasing numbers, Her reputation as a living God spread more and more widely with the result that the number of people who came from neighboring villages to ask Oyasama for help gradually increased.

Many of those people wanted Her to cure illnesses. One of them was Izo Iburi from Ichinomoto Village. After his wife was wondrously blessed with being healed of postpartum complications, he offered to build a shrine. Then Oyasama replied:

There is no need for a shrine. Start building something small.

The Life of Oyasama, chapter 4

These words led to the construction of the Place for the Service. I believe that the way Izo devoted himself to the construction until it was completed is a concrete example of carrying out hinokishin to make repayment for the blessings received. In the Mikagura-uta, we are taught:

There is nothing so trying as illness;

So from now on, I, too, will devote myself to hinokishin.

Mikagura-uta III:8

Anyone blessed with being healed of a serious illness that neither medicine nor prayers at temples or shrines could cure would feel profoundly grateful for the blessing, and the sense of joy experienced would naturally lead the person to try to make repayment for it.

An experience like that would also allow people to become aware of how fortunate it is to live in good health, something that until then they may have taken for granted. Moreover, falling ill often gives people an opportunity to realize for the first time that the body is something that they do not have control over. They can then take to heart the teaching of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed.” This is what is taught in the following passage from the Divine Directions:

You do not know whether the body is something you can use freely or not unless you experience pains or illnesses. I speak of a thing borrowed. If even the body is a thing borrowed, surely any and all things are on loan. You cannot use the body exactly as you please. The fact that you cannot use it freely indicates that it is a thing borrowed.

Osashizu, June 1, 1899

To those who came to the Residence out of a pure desire to be saved or to have their family members saved, Oyasama explained the intention of the Parent. She showed them instances of wondrous salvation and thereby sought to help them understand the divine intention. In this manner, She guided and nurtured them step by step so that they might grow into Yoboku who would work to build the world of the Joyous Life.

Yet, when you think about it, it is much better to live in good health without having to go through pains or illnesses than it is to be blessed with being cured, no matter how wondrous the blessing may be. However, when we are in good health, we tend not to notice the great blessing of health. A Divine Direction tells us:

You are each aware of the thing borrowed. Though you may understand the thing borrowed, it serves no purpose unless you understand freedom, the truth of a thing borrowed.

Osashizu, October 12, 1887

As indicated by this passage, it is not enough to know that the body is a thing we borrow from God the Parent. Just knowing it does not mean anything unless we understand the blessing of the free and unlimited workings that fill our body. Further, in Anecdotes of Oyasama, Oyasama teaches:

You say “God” and wonder where God is. God is within the body.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 164

Indeed, we may say that the ten aspects of God’s complete providence that pervade the world are condensed in our body. It is thanks to the great, exquisite, and daily providence within the body that we are able to use our body as we do.

Since we have been taught the teachings of the path, we are aware of the preciousness of God the Parent’s providence, which we receive constantly each day. We find gratitude and joy in being healthy every day. Hinokishin is not merely a way to make repayment for any particular blessing of healing we have received; rather, it is an act of expressing gratitude and making repayment for the constant and boundless providence that enables us to be alive day after day. Hinokishin is an outpouring of unceasing joy.

In The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, we read:

As our perception of the divine blessings in every event grows keener day by day, our gratitude to God the Parent comes to be expressed in our attitude and in our actions. This is taught by God the Parent as hinokishin.

The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, chapter 8

There is no prescribed way to carry out hinokishin. It can take a variety of forms, such as small acts we can perform right where we are and the kind of activities that may be beneficial to our local communities. All such acts motivated by a sincere wish to bring joy to God the Parent can be said to be hinokishin. The key ingredient of hinokishin is the underlying sense of gratitude we feel toward God the Parent.

Another aspect of hinokishin is indicated by the following verse from the Mikagura-uta:

Forgetting greed we work in hinokishin.

This becomes the first fertilizer.

Mikagura-uta XI:4

The phrase “forgetting greed” may be paraphrased as “seeking no reward.” This verse seems to imply that hinokishin needs to be motivated solely by gratitude if it is to become “fertilizer,” which fosters the growth of seeds of sincerity. I think that the verse also means that, as we focus on performing hinokishin, we become free from greed. It is important to make a point of taking every opportunity to do hinokishin.

It may not be easy to grasp that the body, which constantly accompanies us from birth to passing, is on loan instead of being our own. Yet, if we ponder deeply over the truth of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed,” we will realize how profound and far-reaching this teaching is.

The verb “borrow” means to use something with the intention of returning it. What people call “death” refers to returning the body borrowed from God the Parent. As you are aware, we use the phrase “passing away for rebirth” to refer to death because it involves returning the borrowed body so that one can borrow a new body to come back into the world. We consider death not so much the end of life as a juncture, so to speak, in the process leading to a rebirth. From this perspective, we might speak of the next life as well as the previous life. The previous, present, and next lives are connected by what we call “causality.”

A Divine Direction that we quoted a while ago said: “If even the body is a thing borrowed, surely any and all things are on loan.” The passage means that if even the body is something we borrow, surely nothing belongs to us at all. Everything is on loan. The realization that everything is borrowed from God will, I think, foster an attitude of non-attachment.

One aspect of the teaching that the body is “a thing borrowed” is that we cannot really use it as we please. If we use it in a way that does not accord with the intention of its Lender, we will receive an alert or warning. If we are to use the body without hindrance, our use of the body needs to be in accord with the intention of God the Parent, the Lender. This means that it is important to make an effort to seek God’s intention.

Another basic aspect of the teaching of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed” is that the mind alone is ours, while the body is something we borrow from God the Parent. In the Kakisage, we are taught:

Now, with human beings: the body is a thing lent by God, a thing borrowed. The mind alone is yours.

Also, the Ofudesaki tells us:

I shall make everything in the mind of each of you clearly manifest on your body.

Ofudesaki: XII:171

The verse indicates that the body and mind are connected by the truth that we can receive blessings in a way that reflects our state of mind. All our uses of the mind in our daily lives are accepted by God the Parent and are manifested exactly as they are in our bodies and situations.

The Kakisage also says elsewhere that, among the workings and states of the mind that arise, there is one that allows us to receive the free and unlimited workings and that it comes from maintaining true sincerity alone day by day, moment by moment.

With regard to disorders of the body, the Ofudesaki says:

There is nothing at all which should be called illness. It is only because there are paths of the mistaken mind.

These paths are miserliness, covetousness, self-love, greed, and arrogance. They are the dusts.

Ofudesaki III:95–96

The same Scripture also says:

Indicating no one in the world in particular, I say to you: dust in the mind causes disorders of the body.

Ofudesaki V:9

The verses tell us that our misuses of the mind are the sources of our illness. The Ofudesaki likens them to dust and lists several varieties of dust. If we come down with a disorder of the body, we can accept it as alerting us to the need to correct our use of the mind. We can reflect on the way we have used the mind and lived our lives, work to sweep our heart clean, and change the orientation of the mind to ensure that it is in accord with the intention of God the Parent. This is how we can accept our illness.

There is a Divine Direction that says:

Human beings are such that the body is a thing borrowed. So long as they understand this truth and the truth about the eight dusts, they can understand any and everything.

Osashizu, July 4, 1888, supp. vol.

This passage concisely tells us that the teaching of the eight dusts of the mind is as important and basic a teaching as that of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed.”

Regarding the dust of the mind, God does not merely tell us to reflect on our possible misuses of the mind; rather, God provides concrete pointers to help us sweep the dust away by listing eight varieties of dust, which are: miserliness, covetousness, hatred, self-love, grudge-bearing, anger, greed, and arrogance. This is something for which we are deeply grateful. Moreover, as you are aware, the Besseki lectures among other things explain each of the eight dusts of the mind by giving concrete examples in order to help us sweep away the dusts of the mind in the course of daily life.

At present, people are expected to take the Besseki Pledge before attending their first Besseki lecture. In the old days, however, there used to be what is called the “first examination,” in which those wishing to attend their first lecture were required to recite the workings of the ten aspects of God’s complete providence as well as the standard explanations of the eight dusts. Therefore, even those who were still in the process of attending a series of nine Besseki lectures—not to mention Yoboku—had memorized the explanations of the eight dusts. Today the explanations of the eight dusts and of the workings of the ten aspects of God’s complete providence are published in a convenient format so that, I believe, at churches and other places followers read these teachings aloud after the morning or evening services.

This practice is, of course, a welcome thing, but what is really vital is that these teachings firmly settle in people’s minds and be actually implemented. A Divine Direction says:

Every day I teach the eight kinds of dust, the eight kinds of dust. But just teaching it is like a picture painted on a screen; you often look at it and say it is beautiful. But that is hardly sufficient. Each of you, listen. You must settle the truth in your minds.

Osashizu, July 23, 1899

No matter how earnestly we teach others about the eight dusts of the mind or how deeply our listeners are impressed by our talks, that is not good enough. The passage says that they need to pay close attention to and fully understand the teaching and settle its truth in their minds. This Divine Direction goes on to say:

Regarding this teaching, you must do whatever it takes to settle the truth in the mind. You teach here and you teach there. What can be done if something you sell as being white turns out to be black when the package is opened?

This passage sounds as though it is also intended for those who teach. Besides telling them to make every effort to teach in a way that ensures that the truth settles in the mind, the passage says that it is all the more necessary for those who teach to deeply settle the truth in their own minds so that their words, states of mind, and actions are not contradictory.

The teaching of the eight dusts is concerned with our own use of the mind—something with which we are intimately familiar. Dust is an encouraging metaphor in the sense that dust can be removed easily by sweeping it away; however, dust can also be tricky because, if we neglect to sweep it away in our daily lives, it has a way of accumulating until it becomes impossibly difficult to deal with.

Therefore, it is hardly helpful to recite the eight dusts if we neglect them in our actual life situations, whether at home or at work. Since this teaching concerns the way we use the mind in daily life, we need to actually apply it to the way we live, speak, and act.

At the end of each day, we can, for example, reflect on the things we have said or did over the course of the day and, as we begin another day, we can use this teaching to prepare our mind for the new day. If we make a conscious effort to apply this teaching to our lives in these ways, it will become second-nature.

Having completed the anniversary of Oyasama, we are now at a stage where we need to take a fresh look at where we stand. Also, building on our pre-anniversary activities, we need to strive for further progress in both the growth of the path and our own spiritual development as we continue to work toward the realization of the world of the Joyous Life, the original purpose of creation.

I have focused my remarks today on the basic and handy teachings of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed” and of the eight dusts in order to help renew our understanding of how we ought to live our daily lives as followers of this path. In addition to inviting all of us to savor these teachings once again, I have spoken about hinokishin, which is an expression of joy and gratitude flowing from the realization that we are enabled to be alive by God’s free and unlimited workings that we receive in our bodies.

Our words and actions befitting a follower of this path will not only bring joy to our daily lives but allow us to sprinkle the fragrance of the path on people around us in an effortless manner. Also, such words and actions will help people in our local communities to familiarize themselves with and put their trust in our churches, which are to serve as models of the Joyous Life.

Above all, it is in an atmosphere worthy of the path that true faith is likely to arise and take root in the minds and hearts of the children of not only church head ministers but also Yoboku and followers. A Divine Direction tells us:

In this path, faith must be reflected in the minds of children while they are still young.

Osashizu, November 16, 1900

A joyous and spirited atmosphere created by parents and other adults, as well as the examples set by Yoboku, will help children grow into reliable Yoboku capable of participating in the construction of the Joyous Life World and carrying the path forward in the future.

I hope that you will perceive my intention in making these remarks and will steadily move forward in unity of mind toward the goal that we are all working to accomplish.

Having shared my thoughts today, I would like to conclude my talk. Thank you for listening.

Category: Sermons

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