May I express my sincere appreciation to all of you for returning to Jiba from within the country and overseas for today’s Autumn Grand Service. I also want to express my deepest gratitude for the efforts you are devoting to the work of the path in your daily lives.
We have just been able to duly perform the Autumn Grand Service. Today, I would like us to once again return our thoughts to the day of origin of the Teaching’s founding and take to heart the divine intention embodied therein so that we may set out anew as Oyasama’s instruments with a fresh mind. I now would like to share some of my thoughts with you, so could I have your attention, please.
The first words God the Parent spoke to humankind were as follows:
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.
These words are extremely important, as can be seen from the fact that these words appear at the outset of both The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and The Life of Oyasama.
Those words tell us what kind of God God the Parent is, why and for what purpose the Teaching was founded here at Jiba, and what sort of role Oyasama was to play. God the Parent is God of Origin, who created humankind and the world, as well as God in Truth, who gives us complete providence, which includes the blessings of fire, water, and wind. The Residence is the place of original causality, where God conceived the original number of humans out of a desire to see the Joyous Life and to share in it. We are also taught that, based on the promise made during creation, God became openly revealed after the passage of the years equal to the number of the first humans in order to save all people throughout the world without exception. In addition, we are taught that Oyasama was to serve as the Shrine of God to allow the divine intention to be revealed through Her mouth because She had the soul of the original mother in creation.
Oyasama’s husband, Zenbei, and others who were present to hear the sudden revelation could not possibly fathom its profound meaning. Confounded by God’s words “I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God”—words that Zenbei was totally unprepared for—he simply refused God’s request. Yet God the Parent would not budge and sought to persuade him, sometimes gently and sometimes sternly, to give his consent.
The dialogue between God and Zenbei started on October 24 and, by the morning of the 26th, Oyasama, who had revealed the intention of God of Origin without sleep or rest, looked visibly exhausted to a life-threatening degree. Finally, therefore, forsaking all concerns of inconvenience to himself or his family, Zenbei replied, “I offer Miki to You.” It was eight o’clock on the morning of October 26, 1838, and that day marks the beginning of Tenrikyo.
This path has the huge goal of saving all human beings in the world, as we can see from God the Parent’s first words, and it is Oyasama who showed us how to accomplish that goal. She demonstrated the Divine Model through Her own example, thereby showing us how we followers of the path ought to live our daily lives.
In general usage, the verb “save” can refer to helping people overcome illnesses and poverty and delivering people from difficult situations such as conflict and disasters. Concerning illness, however, Oyasama says:
I shall make everything in the mind of each of you clearly manifest on your body.
Whoever you may be, when this is seen, the cleansing of the heart will be truly accomplished of itself.
Thus Oyasama says that illnesses are signs that are intended to urge us to cleanse our hearts and replace our minds. In fact, the same can be said of other problems, which are designed to alert the attention of the people involved and others who are concerned. This means that, even if illnesses are cured by medicine, we are not saved in the true sense of the word unless our hearts are cleansed and our minds replaced with the mind that accords with God the Parent’s intention. It is necessary to ponder over the divine intention behind illnesses and other problems and reflect critically on our use of the mind and our way of living, thus working to cleanse our hearts and replace our minds with the mind that accords with God’s intention.
In the Ofudesaki, we read:
To My sorrow, no matter how deeply you have pondered, you have no mind to save others.
From now, Tsukihi requests you, everyone in the world, to replace your mind firmly.
God truly wants us to replace our self-centered minds with a mind of saving others. The Ofudesaki also says:
Ponder from your innermost heart to understand. Through saving others, you will be saved.
In addition, the Kakisage tells us:
[T]he mind of saving others is the real truth of sincerity alone and, by this truth of saving others, you are saved.
The passages indicate that saving others leads to one’s own salvation as well. More than anything else, maintaining the mind of saving others and implementing salvation work will accord with God the Parent’s intention and lead to one’s true salvation as well. Rather than merely praying for one’s own salvation or one’s family’s salvation, it is important to make a point of trying to help others be saved.
In order to accomplish world salvation, it is indispensable for those of us who are Yoboku to embody the Parent’s intention and work for the salvation of others throughout the world. In addition, more and more Yoboku are necessary. We Yoboku, who are Oyasama’s instruments, need to reach out to people who do not know the teachings of this path or the meaning of the signs given through illnesses and other problems. We need to convey the meaning embodied therein to those people so that they can change the orientation of their minds. Moreover, we need to continue providing guidance and care for them until they join us in working for the salvation of others. Only then will they truly be saved.
Here, let us use Anecdotes of Oyasama to consider how we Yoboku should engage in salvation work, which is something all Yoboku should always make a point of doing. Let us look at several anecdotes that are concerned with people who were blessed with being cured of illness.
First, let us take up an anecdote entitled “By a Slight Illness.” This story took place in 1861 (Tenrikyo 24) and is about a woman who suffered from a toothache. In order to seek help, she set out to visit an Inari shrine, but an acquaintance she ran into along the way told her that, if she would pay a visit to Shoyashiki, any illness could be cured. So this woman changed her plan and visited the Residence in Shoyashiki. Then Oyasama said to her: “Welcome home. I have been waiting for you.” She also said, “I have given you guidance by a slight illness only.” She then told her the teachings of God and gave her the sacred powder of roasted grain. By the time the woman got home, the toothache had completely disappeared. However, after four or five days of not visiting the Residence, her eyes began to hurt violently. Immediately she visited Oyasama, who said to her, “I have given you guidance through an illness,” and went on to explain the teachings, for which the woman was grateful. Oyasama also prayed for her. The pain was gone by the time she left to go home. Over the next three days, this woman visited Shoyashiki to clean the Residence, and that was how she began to follow the path.
We can see that, although the woman in question was solely interested in getting help with her toothache, the divine intention behind what was happening was to draw her to Jiba. In fact, even now the everliving Oyasama is waiting for the return of those She is working to draw forth through illnesses and other situations. I also think that this anecdote, in which the woman experiences one health disorder after the other, tells us that it is important not to stop after being blessed with a cure but to fully express our gratitude, return to Jiba, and visit our churches, as well as listen to the teachings, settle them in our minds, and actually follow the path.
Besides this anecdote, there are many others in which people are directly saved by Oyasama. Let us look at some of those where She teaches people to save others.
Anecdote no. 24, entitled “I Am Glad You Have Come Home,” focuses on a young man who lost his eyesight and returned to Jiba in 1871 after being told, “There is a new god in Shoyashiki who is able to cure any illness.” Oyasama said to him, “I am glad you have come home.” She went on to say: “This world remains in complete darkness as long as you are blind. But you shall certainly be saved if you do as God tells you.” The young man answered, “I will do anything if God will save me.” Then Oyasama said: “[D]o no worldly work. Go with God, and devote yourself to the salvation of others for the rest of your life.” No sooner had he replied, “I will do so,” than his sight began to improve. Within a few days his sight was completely restored. The great joy he experienced led him to devote himself day and night to sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping save others. We are told that, even at the age of eighty-seven, he needed no glasses for close reading.
Here, Oyasama helps the young man to resolve to “do as God tells” him. Upon confirming his resolve, She then gives him rather concrete instructions, saying, “[D]evote yourself to the salvation of others for the rest of your life.” I cannot help thinking how important it is to resolve to do exactly as God says, whatever it is. I also think that God accepted the fact that the young man kept his resolve throughout his life.
Anecdote no. 72, entitled “Destined to Be Saved,” tells about someone who began to lose the use of his hands and feet due to sciatica. After being blessed with a recovery, he returned to Jiba to express his gratitude. When he asked Oyasama how he could repay Her for the favor, She replied: “It is neither money nor material things. If you are happy because you have been saved, then with that joy go out to save people who are praying to be saved. That is the best way to repay the favor. Strive courageously for the salvation of others.” The phrase “the best way to repay the favor” presumably refers to the act that brings the greatest joy to God the Parent, and this act is to work for the salvation of others.
According to Anecdote no. 100, entitled, “You Are to Save Others,” a man who was diagnosed with incurable consumption was told by Oyasama: “You need not worry. No matter what your illness may be, you can receive divine protection. You must throw away your greed.” He took these words to heart and made a firm resolution, and he offered a prayer, saying the divine name with singleness of mind. Before long he was saved, and he promptly returned to Jiba to thank Oyasama, who said, “Because you became single-hearted, you were saved.” When he asked Oyasama how he could make repayment for this blessing, She said, “Save others.” The man asked Her again, “How can others be saved?” She replied, “Earnestly tell others how you were saved.”
Here, the key to his being saved was to let go of greed, that is, to purify the mind. Presumably greed was the cause of his illness.
Once again, Oyasama says that saving others is the way to make repayment for the blessing that was received. Also, She gives some concrete instructions as to how to engage in salvation work.
Probably there is no better way to do salvation work than to tell people how we ourselves were saved. Yet our salvation does not necessarily have to be miraculous. We can talk about simple things like what sort of blessings we feel in the course of daily life and how grateful we are for our faith.
From anecdotes such as those we have looked at, we can see that Oyasama tells people who seek salvation to help others be saved and instructs those who wish to make repayment for their salvation to work for the salvation of others.
We can also see that when people come to the Residence seeking help—and this is not limited to those examples we have looked at—Oyasama first expresses Her appreciation to them, saying warmly: “Welcome home. I have been waiting for you.”
Having drawn people forth to Jiba through illnesses, Oyasama shows wondrous blessings of salvation and encourages them to embark on the path of faith. She also teaches them the truth of the teachings and urges them to grow spiritually so that they can be used for the work of single-hearted salvation.
Although originally people were clinging to Oyasama to have Her save them or their family members from illnesses, they started to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved in order to fulfill the Parent’s intention to save all people throughout the world. Their experiences represent the process of moving from receiving specific blessings such as a solution to illnesses or other problems and the cancellation of negative causality to following the path that leads to true salvation. Following the path to true salvation entails nearing the Parent’s intention and living in accord with that intention.
I decided to observe the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama in January 2016 (Tenrikyo 179). As I always say, the anniversaries of Oyasama are different from memorial services for human beings, services where family members and other relatives gather to praise the achievements of their forebears and remember their virtues. Rather, the purpose of observing Oyasama’s anniversaries is to show the everliving Oyasama a new level of spiritual growth that we achieve through decisive efforts and the results of the activities we conduct in unity of mind in the lead-up to the anniversaries, so that we may bring joy to Her. Therefore, as we approach the “three years, one thousand days” period preceding the 130th Anniversary, I have decided to announce Instruction Three in the hope that you will use this instruction as guidelines for engaging in your anniversary-related activities. I now want to read Instruction Three to you.
[The Shinbashira reads Instruction Three aloud.]
Oyasama laid the path that would save all people throughout the world and reconstruct the world as the world of the Joyous Life, which is the purpose of the creation of humankind. She taught the Salvation Service as a fundamental component of the path of single-hearted salvation. Before withdrawing from physical life, She repeatedly urged people to grow spiritually and perform the Service.
In order to respond to Oyasama’s intention, all of us Yoboku ought to engage in salvation work with decisiveness. The phrase “with decisiveness” is meant to imply that now is a time to make a point of implementing salvation work more consciously than usual as we move toward the anniversary. I am sure there are Yoboku who are earnestly trying to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help save others in the course of their daily lives. On the other hand, there may be some who find it hard to engage in salvation work for a variety of reasons. During this pre-anniversary season, I would like as many Yoboku as possible to grow to a point where they can implement salvation work. To this end, I want to ask church head ministers and others in leadership roles to provide care and guidance by, for instance, serving as exemplary models themselves.
Regardless of how things are in the world at large, the fact remains that we need to fulfill our mission in order to reconstruct the world as the Joyous Life World. Therefore, I want to ask all of you to continue conducting your activities in unity of mind and in high spirits. With this request, I now conclude my remarks. Thank you very much for listening.