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The Shinbashira’s Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service 2017

May I express my deep appreciation to all of you for returning to Jiba to attend today’s Autumn Grand Service for the 180th year of the Teaching. May I also thank you most sincerely for the efforts you are devoting in your daily lives to the work of the path. Having concluded the performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, I would now like to share some of my thoughts with you.

The purpose for which this path was laid was made clear by the first words spoken by God the Parent to humanity, which were: “I am God of Origin, God in Truth. There is causality in this Residence. At this time I have descended here to save all humankind. I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God.” That is to say, the purpose is to save all humankind and reconstruct the world into the Joyous Life World so desired by God the Parent.

Since the beginnings of origin, God the Parent has nurtured us human beings with unchanging parental love. After providing for us while we lived in water for nine hundred million and ninety thousand years, God trained us for six thousand years in wisdom and instructed us for three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine years in letters. Then on October 26, 1838, when the Promised Time arrived, God the Parent opened the ultimate teachings.

Even before the founding of the Teaching, God the Parent provided nine-tenths of the teachings in ways appropriate for the times and places. However, without knowing the Parent of Origin or the true intention of the Parent, we humans were confused, experienced a great deal of suffering, and even fought one another as we wandered about on our minds’ dark paths for long ages. On the day of the Teaching’s founding, Oyasama was settled as the Shrine of God, thereby enabling us to know who created humankind and for what purpose. We began to be taught the path to the Joyous Life, which is the purpose for which we were created.

The Divine Model demonstrated by Oyasama is, above all, a model of single-hearted salvation. Yet, from another point of view, it can also be described as an exemplary model of how to live the Joyous Life.

If we read The Life of Oyasama from an ordinary human perspective, we get the impression that Oyasama’s life was nothing but a series of hardships and difficulties. Yet She always remained high-spirited and joyous while going through all Her experiences, with Her heart filled solely with parental love for us, Her children. Therefore, Her journey of life, I believe, provides many pointers on how we can live joyously.

The word “joyous” in the phrase “the Joyous Life” may make us think that it means feeling happy and joyful in an everyday kind of way. Yet one thing that is crucial here is to follow the teachings so that we can use the mind in accord with God’s intention.

Oyasama lived joyously and high-spiritedly at all times, no matter what difficulties confronted Her. Yet that does not necessarily mean that She happily accepted or condoned everything that was happening. In the Ofudesaki, we see more than a few instances of the words “regret” and “anger.” For example, we read:

They banned the name given by Tsukihi. What do you think of this regret of Mine?

Know that in truth the anger and regret of Tsukihi are not small matters.

Ofudesaki VI:70–71

These verses expressed God the Parent’s deep regret and anger over the rejection in December 1874 of the divine name “Tenri-O” by the Nara Chukyoin. She maintained a firm attitude and expressed stern objections to actions that could hinder the progress of the path of single-hearted salvation.

Even so, She also wrote in the Ofudesaki:

However I may express My admonition or anger, I shall never say that you will not be saved.

Think of you humans admonishing your children. The anger, too, comes from love.

Ofudesaki V:22–23

While sternly admonishing people for their mistaken ideas, She makes it clear that Her admonishment comes from Her desire to save them and Her love for them. She is saying that She is training and teaching them because of Her parental love for them. It was always Her profound parental love that motivated Oyasama to teach the divine truth in a strict manner as well as guide and instruct people in a loving and caring way.

What is necessary to move closer to the Joyous Life is indicated in the Ofudesaki as follows:

If only human beings throughout the world have purified their minds and lead lives joyously. . .

Ofudesaki VII:109

If only the mind is purified completely, there will be nothing but delight in everything.

Ofudesaki XIV:50

We first need to strive to purify our own minds. We are taught that, if we cleanse and purify our minds that are covered in the dust of self-centered or greedy thoughts, we can reach a state of being filled with joy where we can always remain joyous and high-spirited no matter what happens.

We also read in the Divine Directions:

Only when your joy brings joy to others, can it be called true joy. If you enjoy yourselves while causing others to suffer, this cannot be called true joy.

Osashizu, December 11, 1897

As is clear from this passage, another thing we need to do to live the Joyous Life is share our joy with others around us. Furthermore, there is another element to the Joyous Life, which the Ofudesaki explains as follows:

Hereafter, if all of you throughout the world save one another in every matter,

Know that Tsukihi will accept that mind and will provide any salvation whatever.

Ofudesaki XII:93–94

These verses tell us that, more than anything else, God the Parent desires a state of the world in which all human beings help one another in harmony as brothers and sisters.

Everyone wishes for joy and happiness. To fulfill that wish, however, we should not only be thinking about our own well-being; rather, the important things are thoughts and actions that are focused on helping others be joyous and spirited and working to save others. Before we actually reach the goal of the Joyous Life of all humankind, we may need to go through various stages. It may still take a long time. Yet, with our sights set on that goal, let each of us sow the seeds of the Joyous Life in our daily lives and expand the circle of joy further and further.

We read in a Divine Direction:

I speak of nothing difficult. I do not tell you to do anything difficult or to do something without a model to follow. There is the path of the Divine Model for everything. It will not do that you cannot follow the path of the Divine Model.

Osashizu, November 7, 1889

This passage makes it clear that the Divine Model was demonstrated as an exemplary model to be followed by those of us who are following the path. In order to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model, it is necessary to learn about Her fifty-year journey beginning with the Teaching’s founding. The standard writings that help us in this regard are The Life of Oyasama and Anecdotes of Oyasama. Rather than merely imitating Oyasama’s actions, we need to know Her intention and purpose behind Her actions so that we can understand why Oyasama deliberately went through Her difficult journey.

Oyasama wrote the Ofudesaki to record Her parental intention and describe the path of single-hearted salvation. The other writings that contain God the Parent’s direct teachings are the Mikagura-uta (The Songs for the Service) and the Osashizu (The Divine Directions). These are the Three Scriptures, which provide the most reliable basis for our faith, as you are aware.

We live in a fortunate time where anyone who wishes can have access to the Scriptures and study the teachings. However, things were not like this before. If we go back to 1874, we find these Ofudesaki verses:

Despite this, to My regret, they attempted to stop Me and, after that, even to forbid.

Because of this, the Salvation Service cannot be performed. Oh, the regret in the mind of Tsukihi!

Ofudesaki VIII:5–6

The difficulties began when the authorities ordered some followers to abandon their faith and even banned the divine name itself, thereby making it impossible to perform the Salvation Service, which constitutes the fundamental component of the path of single-hearted salvation. Thereafter, there was a long period in which it was impossible to perform the Service or convey the teachings exactly as Oyasama taught them.

The Ofudesaki was written personally by Oyasama between January 1869 (lunar calendar) and 1882 and consists of 1,711 verses. This Scripture has as its main theme the completion and perfection of the Service and presents the entire teachings in the course of giving instructions on making preparations and arrangements for the Service.

In March 1883, a policeman who came to the Residence on his rounds caught a follower copying the Ofudesaki and ordered that it be brought to the police, thus putting this Scripture in danger of being confiscated. Oyasama’s family members managed to prevent that from happening by claiming that they had burned the writings. Yet after that, the Ofudesaki did not officially exist. Therefore, for a very long time it could not be made public, despite being a Scripture written personally by Oyasama.

In fact, it was first published in April 1928—which is to say, forty-some years later. In the foreword to that edition, the second Shinbashira wrote that even when he was a small child it was a puzzle to him that the Ofudesaki had not yet been published, despite the fact that Oyasama had urged everyone to read it and that She had told his mother, “As long as you read the Ofudesaki, there will be no need for schooling.” He went on to say that the publication of the Ofudesaki did not simply represent the fulfillment of his childhood hope but that of a long-cherished hope of all humankind, the children of God all over the world. He also described the profound joy he felt at having the honor of publishing the Scripture that the first Shinbashira had tried to but could not publish despite being fully aware of Oyasama’s intention.

Elsewhere the second Shinbashira often explained the significance of the Three Scriptures as follows: He said that the Ofudesaki clarifies fundamental principles; the Mikagura-uta, which in fact preceded the Ofudesaki chronologically, provides life guidance; and the Osashizu provides instructions related to actual, concrete situations. He stressed that the Ofudesaki, in particular, records and clearly indicates the fundamental teachings and principles of the Tenrikyo faith, making it the most important and fundamental Scripture of Tenrikyo (see Yoki gurashi [The Joyous Life]).

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama, which was observed in 1936, the Ofudesaki and the Osashizu were distributed to all churches. This marked the completion of the publication of the Three Scriptures as the Mikagura-uta had previously been published.

The lead-up to the same anniversary also saw the completion of what we call the Showa Construction, which comprised the remodeling of the Main Sanctuary and the construction of the South Worship Hall and the Foundress’ Sanctuary. As part of this project, the shrine and mirror were removed, and the model Kanrodai was set up. The undertaking marked the beginning of a concrete effort to realize the Four-Fronted Residence. The construction enabled the Kagura Service to be performed by performers who took up standing positions around the Kanrodai and wore their kagura masks. This was a step forward in completing the Service exactly as taught by Oyasama.

Yet the joy over this was short-lived as the Sino-Japanese War became prolonged, resulting in tighter wartime restrictions. In 1938, Tenrikyo was left with no alternative but to make several changes that were collectively referred to as the “Adjustment.” Tenrikyo was no longer to convey the teachings based on the Story of Creation, and the Kagura Service was replaced with the seated service performed on the dais. In the following year, Tenrikyo was forced to publish a censored version of the Mikagura-uta—a version that excluded the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and Songs Three and Five—and to recall and destroy the copies of the Ofudesaki and the Osashizu that had previously been distributed to all churches.

At a time when Japan and the United States were on the brink of war, the Japanese government’s thought control was tightened up further. According to the recollections of Church Headquarters officials who at the time were involved in negotiations with the Ministry of Education, which supervised all religious groups, the military and security authorities were constantly looking for opportunities to suppress Tenrikyo. The situation, apparently, was extremely serious.

The changes that constituted the Adjustment were unacceptable to any follower but especially to the second Shinbashira, who had been working toward implementing the Service and faith entirely based on Oyasama’s teachings. Yet he took the agonizing steps in order to avoid devastating damage to Tenrikyo as a religious group and to the followers. It should be noted that, even in those difficult circumstances, he continued to have a firm intention to restore everything to the way it should be, as is clear from the fact that, when the war ended, he immediately began to take the steps of “restoration.” For example, he lost no time in undertaking the work of compiling a new doctrine of Tenrikyo and, just two months after the end of the war, he restored the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, including the Twelve Songs, to their original form on the occasion of the Autumn Grand Service. Moreover, in January 1946, the complete, unabridged version of the Mikagura-uta was distributed to all churches to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Oyasama.

Subsequently, in the year that marked the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama, the long-awaited Life of Oyasama was published and, for the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama, the Ofudesaki and the Osashizu, which Tenrikyo had previously been forced to recall, were once again distributed—the Osashizu being the present, revised edition.

The second Shinbashira once said that, in the lead-up to the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama, he devoted more energy to publishing the Ofudesaki and the Osashizu than to carrying out the Showa Construction. This just goes to reinforce the fact that he regarded the work of laying the foundation for the Tenrikyo teachings as his most important mission.

The first words spoken by God the Parent—which begin with the phrase “I am God of Origin, God in Truth”—can be said to contain a number of key teachings of Tenrikyo and indeed are quoted at the outset of both The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and The Life of Oyasama. The second Shinbashira put a great deal of effort into compiling these works, as well.

The former doctrine of Tenrikyo that had been compiled in the Meiji Period reflected the wishes of the then government out of necessity as Tenrikyo was seeking to officially gain sectarian independence. That book was very far removed from the actual Tenrikyo faith and, instead, there was a distinctly Shintoistic flavor to it. In that book, for example, even the name “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” was changed to “Tenri O-Kami,” which was supposed to refer to the ten aspects of God’s providence collectively.

As part of the work of “restoration”—which began at the end of the war—the present Doctrine of Tenrikyo, which is closely based on the Three Scriptures, was published in October 1949. At the time, the second Shinbashira urged all followers to make a daily effort to familiarize themselves with this book, which he described as a textbook on how to apply the teachings to our daily lives and as a guide to understanding the Ofudesaki.

As for The Life of Oyasama, which was published in October of the year that marked the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama, it is primarily based on the first Shinbashira’s biography of Oyasama and represents the culmination of Church Headquarters’ sixty-year-long endeavor to compile an official account of the life of Oyasama—an endeavor that began around the time of the 10th Anniversary of Oyasama. This book can be seen as the standard work for helping all of us throughout the world to understand and follow Oyasama’s Divine Model, which indicates the source and goal of our faith.

Whereas The Life of Oyasama seeks primarily to clarify the divine truth and convey the essence of the Divine Model, Anecdotes of Oyasama depicts the ways in which Oyasama personally guided followers individually with parental love. This book—which allows us to feel even closer to the Divine Model—and The Life of Oyasama mutually complement each other.

In the lead-up to the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama, the second Shinbashira announced plans for the Oyasato-yakata building-complex. This undertaking was not intended to commemorate the anniversary. He later explained the intention as follows: “to build the Oyasato-yakata, the Residence of God’s children, which is designed to center on Jiba of Origin, the Abode of God, so that the Parent and children, God and humankind, becoming one in mind, would show a model of world peace and advance the work of bringing the Joyous Life to fruition” (Shinbashira kunwa shu [Sermons and addresses by the Shinbashira], vol. 15).

While the second Shinbashira’s achievements cover a wide range of fields and areas—as is well known even outside the Tenrikyo community—he often said that to him the most important thing was the publication of the Scriptures and other doctrinal works. In other words, his ultimate intention in conducting all the different activities was to help spread Oyasama’s teachings throughout the world, thereby contributing to reconstructing the world into the Joyous Life World.

In the foreword to the Ofudesaki, he wrote: “This Scripture contains the unerring truth intended for all humankind ‘all over the world and through all ages’ and teaches the foundation for the Joyous Life of all humankind. We would not be wrong to view the Ofudesaki as a Scripture for all humankind and to convey its message throughout the world; indeed, it should be spread overseas.”

He went on to say that “in order to spread its message to the world . . . there is a need for translation.” Indeed it was to train and educate young people to help spread the teachings overseas that he established Tenri School of Foreign Languages, the forerunner of Tenri University, as well as Tenri Central Library and Tenri Sankokan Museum, which are both affiliated with the university.

The library’s holdings include the so-called Kirishitan-ban Collection, which comprises books that were collected with the intention of learning from the history of Christianity’s overseas mission. The early-modern Japanese literature section—which is considered one of the finest in Japan and includes significant collections of haiku (epigrammatic Japanese poems)—consists of works that were collected to help with the study of the Ofudesaki.

With regard to Tenri Sankokan Museum, from its very outset the name of this institution included the word “sanko,” meaning “[for] reference purposes,” because its exhibits were collected for the purpose of providing missionaries going overseas with an opportunity to learn about the lifestyles and customs of the regions where they were aspiring to spread the teachings. Therefore, this museum’s collections mainly comprise items commonly used in people’s everyday lives; the museum’s founder never intended to seek rare or precious items. Materials and literary works collected for missionaries’ reference purposes formed the core of the original collection, which has since grown in scope and content.

As for sports, the second Shinbashira did a lot of judo in particular, but he promoted and liked all kinds of sports as means of giving full expression to our bodily functions—which are provided through God’s providence, the bodies themselves being borrowed from God—and of sharing the joys of health and the enjoyment of exercise with one another.

I will not mention the second Shinbashira’s every achievement, but we can say that everything he accomplished was intended to help make preparations and arrangements for spreading Oyasama’s teachings, saving all humankind, and thereby realizing the world of the Joyous Life.

This year marks fifty years since he passed away for rebirth on November 14, 1967, the year after the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama. I think we would do well not only to recall and honor his great achievements but also to pledge that we will familiarize ourselves more and more with the Ofudesaki and other Scriptures, whose publication he prioritized over everything else and which he himself studied deeply. Let us pledge that we will keep in mind the spirit of “restoration” with which to work toward the exact faith taught by Oyasama and that we will make a point of applying The Doctrine of Tenrikyo to our daily lives to help us live our lives and run our churches in accord with the teachings. Let us also pledge that we will use The Life of Oyasama as a basis for following the Divine Model.

At this Autumn Grand Service, which commemorates the Teaching’s founding, I suggest that we once again take to heart God the Parent’s intention to save all humankind and guide the world to the Joyous Life, so that we will together make steady progress toward the Joyous Life while following the Divine Model, which Oyasama demonstrated through personally implementing the path that She laid without any previous model to refer to.

Thank you for listening.

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Category: Sermons

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