The Shinbashira’s Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service 2015

May I express my sincere appreciation for the efforts you are devoting in your daily lives to the work of the path in your countries and communities, as well as for the trouble you have taken to attend today’s Service in the middle of the final stage of the pre-anniversary activities with only three months left before the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama. We have just performed the Autumn Grand Service joyously and spiritedly. I feel truly grateful for this. As I now would like to share some of my thoughts on this occasion, may I have your attention for a while.

God the Parent created humankind and the world in the beginnings of origin out of a desire to see our Joyous Life and share in our joy. Since then, God has nurtured and trained us with unchanging parental love for a long span of time. In October 1838, which marked the arrival of the Promised Time, God became openly revealed by taking Oyasama, who had the soul of the original mother in creation, as the Shrine in order to open this path of single-hearted salvation at the Residence of Origin, where humankind was conceived.

In the first words God the Parent spoke to humanity, God said, “I have descended here to save all humankind” (The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, p. 3). These words expressed the divine intention to save human beings, who were lost, suffering, and fighting one another because they did not know the true Parent of humanity. God’s intention is to lead humankind to the Joyous Life, which is the purpose of creation.

The Service, which is the fundamental component of the path of single-hearted salvation, is performed by ten Service performers who surround Jiba of Origin and symbolize by hand-gestures God the Parent’s workings through which creation took place, thereby calling forth those divine workings in the present. The Service is our prayer for universal salvation and for the reconstruction of the world into the Joyous Life.

If we inquire into the origins of the Teaching’s founding as we have just done, we can see that everything is related to the beginnings of origin. In the beginning, God the Parent drew forth instruments from within the muddy ocean to embark on the creation of humankind and the world and, through extraordinary divine providence, nurtured and raised humans, who went through births, passing, and rebirths. Likewise, the founding of the Teaching marked the starting point on the path of single-hearted salvation, which will reconstruct the world, which is chaotic like the muddy ocean, into the Joyous Life World. This is what is referred to in these verses from the Ofudesaki:

This time, I teach single-hearted salvation, beginning once more that which never existed.

Ofudesaki III:17

Even until now, I have told you that now is the beginning of this world, yet no one knows what I mean.

Ofudesaki VII:35

This Service is the beginning of this world. If only this is realized. . .

Ofudesaki XV:29

As you are aware, we conducted the replacement of the Kanrodai the day before yesterday. The previous Kanrodai, which had been installed fifteen years ago, was showing increasingly noticeable damage as the years passed. So I decided to conduct the replacement in order to renew the Kanrodai before we observe the approaching anniversary of Oyasama. Now that the new Kanrodai has been set up, let us take this opportunity to ensure once again that we understand the meaning of the Kanrodai.

The Kanrodai is set up at Jiba of Origin to mark the place where humankind was originally conceived. Jiba is also the place that was given the divine name “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” and the place where God the Parent resides. These are the reasons why the Kagura Service is performed with the Kanrodai as the center. Thus, we are taught in the Ofudesaki:

This place, the place for the Service, is the very place where I began human beings.

Ofudesaki VIII:36

Prepare your minds for the place of the Jiba, the place where the Kanrodai is to be set up.

Ofudesaki IX:19

As proof of My beginning of human beings, I shall put the Kanrodai into place.

Ofudesaki XVII:9

The Kanrodai serves as the core of the Service and as the focal point for worship, but the Kanrodai itself is not the object of worship. In fact, it only has significance because it is set up at Jiba of Origin. It has no meaning apart from Jiba.

This point was made clear before the Fifth Anniversary of Oyasama when a Divine Direction was delivered in response to a request for permission to move the Kanrodai in front of the Resting House of Oyasama to perform the Service there:

Sah, sah, I shall inform you of the truth. The Kanrodai is the one thing which exists at no other place. You must not move it to any other ground.

Osashizu, February 20, 1891

This means that inquiring into the meaning of the Kanrodai takes us back to the truth of Jiba. Regarding the meaning of Jiba, the Mikagura-uta says:

At Shoyashiki in the homeland of the Sun,

The Jiba, the abode of God, is to be identified.

Mikagura-uta XI:1

Also, we read in the Ofudesaki:

Because the Jiba of Origin and the causality of origin exist, Tsukihi works freely and unlimitedly.

Ofudesaki VIII:47

There at the Jiba, I began all the human beings in this world.

The Jiba in Nihon is the native place of all people in the world.

Ofudesaki XVII:7–8

These verses tell us that Jiba is the place where God the Parent resides and the place of origin where humankind and the world were created, which is to say, it is the native place of all human beings.

Because of this causality of origin, God the Parent, who resides at Jiba, provides for the entire world and leads all human beings to spiritual maturity by giving blessings according to their states of mind. Jiba, indeed, is the source of complete divine providence and of free and unlimited salvation.

Here at Jiba we perform the Kagura Service with the Kanrodai as the core and invoke the divine name of God the Parent, who resides at Jiba—namely, “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto”—thereby asking for God’s workings, universal salvation, and the reconstruction of the world as the Joyous Life.

Not only does the Kanrodai mark Jiba and serve as the core of the Kagura Service, but it has another meaning in that it is the Stand to receive kanro, heavenly dew.

The third verse of the Songs for the Kagura contains the phrase “All humankind equally purified, / The Kanrodai,” and, of course, we sing this verse during our daily services. The verse indicates that when the minds of all people throughout the world become completely purified, the elixir of life called “kanro”—which in the Ofudesaki is called “the Food of Heaven”—will be bestowed on the Kanrodai.

This point is explained in the following verses from the Ofudesaki:

As soon as this Stand is completed, the Service will be done. Nothing will remain that cannot be realized.

Ofudesaki IX:52

Watch! Tsukihi will surely bestow the Gift, the Food of Heaven, without fail.

Ofudesaki IX:55

When the pillar is set up in Nihon, you shall no longer fall ill, die, or become weakened.

Ofudesaki X:11

If only this Stand comes to completion, there will be nothing that cannot be realized.

Until then, the heart of everyone throughout the world must be swept clean.

Ofudesaki XVII:10–11

These verses tell us that, when the Kanrodai is fully completed and the Service is performed, any and all prayers will be answered. However, the verses also say that, in order for that to occur, the hearts of all people in the world need to be swept clean.

With regard to sweeping our hearts clean, Oyasama teaches us in the Ofudesaki as follows:

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.

Ofudesaki XII:171–172

These verses say that God will alert us to our uses of the mind through manifesting them on the body. Yet I suspect that those who do not know the teachings of the path will be unaware that illness is a signal for them to correct their uses of the mind.

We are taught that the human body is a thing borrowed from God the Parent and that the mind alone belongs to us. Moreover, the mind and the body are connected in such a way that we can only receive God’s blessings according to our state of mind. Such is the teaching of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed.”

The fact that we are endowed with the freedom of the mind means that even God the Parent cannot directly control our minds. Therefore, God indirectly tells us to correct our use of the mind through illnesses and other occurrences that arise according to the way we use our minds.

So when people come down with an illness for example, they will need the teachings, which provide crucial pointers, to help them ponder over and understand what God is telling them through their physical condition, so that they can change their orientation of the mind. This means that it is necessary for us Yoboku to explain the meaning of illness to those who do not yet know the teachings and thereby guide them. That is to say, what is indispensable here is salvation work in which we sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings of the path, convey the meaning of illness and other difficulties to people, and guide them to the path to salvation.

Thinking along these lines, we can see that the third verse that we sing in daily and monthly services—namely, “Sweeping away evils, hasten to save us. / All humankind equally purified, / The Kanrodai”—should not merely be a repeated chant to express the Parent’s intention to hasten salvation but our pledge to respond to that intention by sweeping our own hearts clean and helping all people in the world to sweep their hearts clean.

If we look at the historical events related to the Kanrodai as well as the Ofudesaki’s references to it, we see that the term “Kanrodai” is first used in the Scripture in the following verse from Part II, which was written in 1869:

Marvelous is the Kanrodai of this world’s beginning. It will be the cause of peace in Nihon.

Ofudesaki II:39

This verse concisely expresses the basic meaning and significance of the Kanrodai, namely that it is to be set up at the place where humankind and the world were created and that it will eventually bring peace to the world as the teachings spread.

In 1873, Oyasama had Izo Iburi make a model of the Kanrodai. It consisted of a wooden pole, measuring six feet (or 1.8 m) in height, and two hexagonal boards, one attached to the top of the pole and the other to the bottom, the boards measuring one foot two inches (or 36 cm) across. It was a simple model. At that time, the location of Jiba, where the Kanrodai was to be set up, was yet to be identified.

Part III of the Ofudesaki, which was written in 1874, uses the term “pillar” and urges the establishment of the pillar. That is to say, Part III encourages those at the Residence to sweep their minds clean to allow the Kanrodai to be set up and the Shinbashira to be installed. Then in December of the same year, shortly after Oyasama returned from the Yamamura Palace, where She had faced the hardship of questioning, She began to wear red clothes and bestowed the Sazuke of Breath, Boiled Rice, Hand Dance, and the Kanrodai-Teodori on four followers, respectively.

On June 29, 1875—or May 26 of that year by the lunar calendar—Jiba was identified. Later, when a prayer service for Kokan’s recovery from illness was performed, the aforementioned model of the Kanrodai, which had until then been stored away, was installed at Jiba for the first time. From that time, it served as the focal point for worship. In the same year, Oyasama taught the verse that said “Ashiki harai tasuke tamae / Ichiretsu sumasu Kanrodai” (Sweep away evils and save us, / The Kanrodai which purifies all humankind equally) as well as the melody and hand movements that accompany the verse. Part IX, which was written in June of the same year, contains detailed teachings concerning the Kanrodai.

In the spring of 1881, the construction of the stone Kanrodai commenced. However, after two layers of the Kanrodai were completed, the construction stalled and, in the following year, 1882, the completed sections were confiscated by the police. After the confiscation of the Kanrodai, there was a pile of pebbles at Jiba.

In the aftermath of this knot of difficulty, the phrase “Ichiretsu sumasu Kanrodai” (The Kanrodai which purifies all humankind equally) in the verse taught several years previously was changed to “Ichiretsu sumashite Kanrodai” (All humankind equally purified, / The Kanrodai).

Part XVII, which is understood to have been written in 1882, explains the meaning of Jiba and the Kanrodai and repeatedly expresses regret over the confiscation of the Kanrodai. For example, verse 58 says:

What do you think My regret is about? The matter of the Kanrodai is My greatest regret.

Ofudesaki XVII:58

As we have seen, concrete arrangements for setting up the Kanrodai were made in the years 1874 to 1875 and 1881 to 1882. In fact, those years also saw a number of other events important in the history of the path take place.

For example, in 1874, the Main Service began to be performed by wearing the kagura masks. Also in that year, the Proof Amulet started to be bestowed. Then in the autumn of the same year, Oyasama had followers go to the Oyamato Shrine to ask about its deities—an event that subsequently led to the hardship of arrest and imprisonment that She was to endure on seventeen or eighteen occasions. In the following year, 1875, Oyasama taught the eleven different Services of Safe Childbirth, Germination, and the others. The same year also saw the completion of the South Gatehouse.

In 1874 and 1875—when Oyasama identified Jiba as well as taught the Service, the Sazuke, and other important things—She also wrote a large number of Ofudesaki verses, namely Part III to the beginning verses of Part XII. We can see that those important elements of the path of the Divine Model are each supported by the verses She wrote Herself. This makes me feel strongly that the Ofudesaki and Her Divine Model are indeed two sides of the same coin.

In 1881, Oyasama distributed the Service performers’ crests. Also, followers who had for some time been urged by Her to “compile a divine record” began to make compilations of the Divine Record (koki). The same year also saw the passing of Shuji, who had stayed with Oyasama through many years of hardships and adversity.

In the following year, namely 1882, the first Shinbashira became the head of the Nakayama family, while Matsue passed away. In October, the Service was performed every day for a period of fifteen days. In the meantime, the police began to intensify repressive measures against the path. Also in the same year, the steam bath and inn businesses were closed down, and the Tenrin-O-Kosha* was dissolved. In addition, the construction of the Resting House of Oyasama commenced. Also in about 1882, Oyasama finished writing the Ofudesaki, and around that time Her Timely Talks began to be given more frequently.

The year after Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life, which is to say, 1888, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was officially recognized, although under the supervision of the Shinto Headquarters. Prior to its opening ceremony, the Place for the Service was expanded so as to enclose Jiba, and at that time a wooden hollow-core model of the bottom two layers of the Kanrodai was placed at Jiba.

The first time Tenrikyo installed a Kanrodai like the present one—which is to say, a Kanrodai that conforms to the measurements given by Oyasama, although made of wood—was eighty-one years ago, in 1934, when the so-called Showa Construction was completed in the run-up to the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama and the 100th Anniversary of Tenrikyo.

When we look back, as we have just done, on the historical events related to the Kanrodai, we are reminded that the arrangements Oyasama was making for setting up the Kanrodai coincided with important junctures in the history of the path.

Currently, the Kanrodai is made of wood, so exposure to rain means that it gets damaged as the years pass by. It is quite natural for it to become discolored, chipped, or twisted.

One of the reasons for replacing the Kanrodai at this time, as I said a while ago, was that the damage to the previous Kanrodai was rather extensive. However, in addition to replacing the Kanrodai because the need arose, the relationship between historical events connected to the Kanrodai and important junctures in the path should encourage us to reflect on our attitude of faith to see if it has not become damaged or twisted. We can take a fresh, critical look at our minds’ orientation in relation to Jiba, God the Parent, and Oyasama. I think that we can impart significance to the replacement of the Kanrodai by working to make progress with a fresh mind informed by such self-reflection as we strive to realize the Joyous Life World, which will see the completion of the Kanrodai in both name and substance. We would do well to take this opportunity to think deeply about the meaning of the Kanrodai and direct our minds straight at Jiba to allow us to work toward spiritual construction that may bring satisfaction to God the Parent and Oyasama, who are one in truth with Jiba.

With three months remaining before the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, I am sure you are all stepping up your pre-anniversary activities to fulfill your resolutions. After the announcement of the observance of the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, we each embarked on our activities with a pledge to decisively achieve a level of spiritual growth that could bring joy to Oyasama and to engage in salvation work starting with anything we could do. Over the past two years and nine months, you must have seen various results as you did your utmost to fulfill your pledge. Whether your results have delighted you or not, you can be sure that every effort you have made has certainly been accepted by Oyasama. Every seed sown will certainly sprout.

I have been urging that we focus our present pre-anniversary activities on implementing salvation work. I have suggested that all Yoboku engage in the kind of salvation work that they can do. Salvation work is directly connected to world salvation, which is the purpose of the Teaching’s founding. This work is indispensable to realizing the world that is referred to by the phrase “All humankind equally purified, / The Kanrodai.” Salvation work is, indeed, our mission. I think that fully concluding our endeavor in the remaining three months is important also from the perspective of the path after the anniversary, for we will need to build on what we have cultivated through our pre-anniversary activities.

Each anniversary of Oyasama provides a springboard for moving further forward and represents a starting line. It is to serve as a milestone on our long journey to realize the Joyous Life World, a goal we are committed to achieving even if it takes endless generations. The path has grown to what it is now because, as each anniversary of Oyasama approached, all people in the Tenrikyo community oriented their minds in the same way and worked together.

I therefore want to conclude with the hope that all of you will continue to perform your tasks with an ever stronger sense of commitment.

Thank you for listening.

– – – – –

* This was a branch of the Jifuku Temple.

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