The Shinbashira’s Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service 2009

May I begin by expressing my deep appreciation to all of you for attending today’s Autumn Grand Service despite the inclement weather. May I also thank you most sincerely for putting your hearts into performing the tasks of the path in various parts of the world. We have been able to duly perform the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements. I would like to take this opportunity to invite us to reflect anew on God the Parent’s intention behind the Teaching’s day of origin and take it to heart once again, so that we can embark on the next steps of single-hearted salvation with a fresh mind. May I have your attention for a while.

In October 1838, God the Parent declared:

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.

The Life of Oyasama

With these words, God the Parent became openly revealed in this world.

Oyasama’s husband, Zenbei, and others who were present were astonished at this totally unforeseen revelation and tried every argument to refuse God’s request. Zenbei explained that his home was a busy one where the children were still very young and begged God to go to someone else’s home, saying that there were other respectable homes. God, however, refused to budge and said: “Whoever may come, God will not retire. It is natural that you are filled with anxieties at present, but after twenty or thirty years have passed, a day is sure to come when all of you will admit the truth of My intention.” God also said: “You shall do as God of Origin wills and comply with My demand. I shall save all humankind if you will listen to Me; but if you should object to it, I shall destroy this house so completely that not a trace of it will remain.” Thus God strongly urged Zenbei to comply.

In those words spoken by God, we can sense God’s firm determination to do whatever it takes to open the Teaching for world salvation by settling Oyasama as the Shrine of God at that moment in that Residence. At the same time, we find God understanding people’s thoughts and feelings, telling them about the delight that lies ahead, explaining the great and indispensable mission, and urging them to make the decision.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the event I have just described was based on the promise God made during the creation of humankind?which is to say that the event took place at the conjunction of the causalities of time, person, and place, namely at the arrival of the Promised Time, through Oyasama as the Shrine because She had the causality of the Soul of the Mother during creation, and at Jiba of Origin, where humanity was conceived. Yet how great Zenbei’s agony must have been since there was no way for him to know any of this!

During the three-day dialogue between God and humans, Oyasama conveyed God the Parent’s intention without any rest or sleep until, eventually, She looked as though Her life was in danger. Thus, on the morning of October 26, Zenbei finally forsook all his concerns for himself and his family and said: “I offer Miki to You.” This marked the beginning of the ultimate teaching for world salvation.

The Teaching’s day of origin is the starting point of this path. It is to mark that day of origin that we perform the Monthly Service on the 26th of every month. Regarding the Spring Grand Service, which is performed on January 26, a passage from the Divine Directions says:

[C]oncerning the twenty-sixth, the principle of the founding and that of the ending are one in truth.

Osashizu, February 29, 1896

This passage, I believe, tells us that the events on October 26, 1838, and January 26, 1887, both came from God’s parental love for the children, or human beings, and that the two events are therefore one in truth.

The Service performed on the 26th represents with hand gestures the workings through which God created humankind in the hope of taking delight in the Joyous Life; it is a Service in which we pray for the reconstruction of the world. If we seek the significance of the day of origin of the Teaching, we arrive at the creation of humanity and, if we inquire into the Parent’s intention behind creation, we can orient ourselves in the direction of humankind’s Joyous Life, which is what our future holds.

With Oyasama being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi on the Teaching’s day of origin, the reason for the creation of humankind was revealed and the goal toward which human beings ought to work was made clear.

Because the origin exists, our faith exists. The origin is eternal and unchanging. Because it is unchanging, it can serve as a secure, dependable guide for us in the face of the rapid and bewildering changes occurring in the world. Although we tend to get caught up in our own immediate concerns in the course of daily life, I believe we must not forget to return our thoughts to the origin and reconfirm our understanding of it at each important juncture and as occasion arises. In this way, we must make sure we are on a secure footing as well as remind ourselves of our ultimate goal.

I quote from the Ofudesaki:

I am God of Origin, who began the human beings of this world. Yet there may be no one who knows Me.

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

Ofudesaki III:15, 17

I shall do marvelous things, the same as My beginning of this world.

I shall begin a Service which has never existed since I began this world, and assuredly settle the world.

Ofudesaki VI:7-8

Further, we read:

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

These verses tell us that God of Origin, who created humankind and the world, has become openly revealed in this world to teach the path of single-hearted salvation and that, through the Kagura Service, which represents with hand gestures God the Parent’s workings during creation, we are able at the present time to receive the same providence that enabled creation to take place–the providence that will settle this world. Just as God created humankind and the world in the muddy ocean for the purpose of the Joyous Life, so the Teaching’s day of origin is a starting point for reconstructing this world that is like the muddy ocean into the world of the Joyous Life.

If we consider the Teaching’s day of origin as the starting point where humankind began to walk the path to true salvation after coming into contact with God the Parent’s intention for the first time, then the starting point for our individual journey of faith can be said to be the day of origin when each of us embraced the faith. The situation on our own day of origin–when we were drawn to this path after suffering from illness or other problems or losing sight of the dependable guide for our mind and being beset by worries or anxieties–can indeed be compared to the chaotic world at the time of the founding of the Teaching, when humankind was wandering in darkness, relying only on the self-centered imagination, as no one knew the true Parent. The mind that is covered in dust–the mind that is likened to muddy water–can gradually be purified and allow us to see the Parent’s intention if we come to understand the truth taught in the teachings and put it into practice, as we are told in the Ofudesaki:

When you calm your mind step by step and ponder, it will change into clear water.

Ofudesaki II:26

Day by day, your innermost heart will be purified and understanding will come. You will come to see the truth as you mature.

Ofudesaki VI:15

In addition, as we grow spiritually, we can move from the mind that only desires our own salvation to the mind that wants to work for the salvation of others.

Further, it is God the Parent’s desire that the teachings gradually spread throughout the world so that this world may be transformed as described in these Ofudesaki verses:

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

Ofudesaki XII:93

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

Ofudesaki VII:109

In other words, God’s desire is for the world to be reconstructed as the true world of the Joyous Life.

Perhaps, it will still take a long time to realize such a world of the Joyous Life for all humankind. Nonetheless, we need to continue our efforts to convey and spread the teachings throughout the world in order to achieve that goal. We also need to work with our own minds to attain a level of spiritual growth that is appropriate for the years we have spent so that we can respond to these words of Oyasama: “[V]irtue is more deeply planted in the second generation than in the first one, and deeper still in the third than in the second” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 90, “Deeper in the Second Generation Than in the First”).

As we move steadily forward in the direction of all humankind’s Joyous Life, our minds can gradually become pure and clear as well as spirited and brightened. At the same time, the Joyous Life characterized by mutual help will emerge and grow in our families and around us, and it will gradually spread in wider and wider circles.

In my sermon at this year’s Spring Grand Service, I touched on a slogan that is jointly promoted by the Women’s Association, the Young Men’s Association, and the Boys and Girls Association. The slogan says, “Let’s visit our churches with our families.” I went on to talk about the joyous atmosphere of family togetherness. In my view, whether or not we can enjoy happy family togetherness depends only on the state of mind of each of us. Yet there are many people in the world who are living in ways far removed from the Joyous Life simply because they are unaware of the appropriate use of mind for it. This, I think, means that we need to redouble our own efforts to build a harmonious family marked by unity of mind and mutual help and to set an example for people around us.

We are taught that the relationship between God and human beings is one between the Parent and the children. Thus, all human beings are equal brothers and sisters. As one might expect from this, the teachings of this path often use the analogy of a family. Such teachings are also intended to tell us how our human families ought to be.

This path was taught by God, our Parent, out of God’s parental love for us human beings because, being unaware of our true Parent or the true intention of the Parent, we were getting lost, beset by problems, and fighting one another. This path is the path of single-hearted salvation that was opened to save us. God the Parent says that God wants to save all of us, God’s children, and lead us to the Joyous Life so that, by seeing us live joyously, God could share in our joy. Such a world in which God and humankind dwell in perfect union can, I think, be called the ultimate family togetherness.

God’s parental love, which is singly intent on saving us, was shown to us through the Divine Model that Oyasama demonstrated through Her own example. It was to make the truth of the Divine Model clear and to convey its true essence that The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo was compiled. Accounts of concrete expressions of Oyasama’s parental love in the context of day-to-day living were collected in a volume called Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Through these books we are able to study the Divine Model of Oyasama.

To achieve a happy family togetherness, the harmony and unity of mind between husband and wife is indispensable. The weighty truth of husband and wife is concisely taught through the song for the Service that starts with the phrase “Choto hanashi,” or “Just a word” (Mikagura-uta, section two), as well as the hand movements that go with it. Husband and wife represent the truth of the embrace of heaven and earth. We are taught that the truth of husband and wife reflects the truth of how the models of man and woman worked in unity of mind to conceive the original number of humans, thereby enabling the first step to be taken toward the Joyous Life World.

These days, concerns are often expressed that the weakening ties of husband and wife are bringing about the collapse of the family, adversely affecting children, and by extension undermining the basic fabric of society. I am sure many of you who are engaging in salvation work and dealing with all kinds of situations in your daily lives are fully aware of how things are. We can say that those of us who are Yoboku have an extremely important role to play in present-day society as we are taught the particular importance of the husband-wife relationship in this regard.

Concerning how all human beings are brothers and sisters, the Ofudesaki says:

All of you throughout the world are brothers and sisters. There should be no one called an outsider.

Ofudesaki XIII:43

More than anything else, what brings joy to God the Parent is for us brothers and sisters to help one another. Conversely, nothing would cause greater pain or sorrow to God than to see us brothers and sisters bickering or quarreling, let alone fighting.

Regarding those of us who are fellow followers of the path in particular, God the Parent tells us that we are “brothers and sisters among brothers and sisters” (Osashizu, May 9, 1898), so mutual help among followers is something that we must make it a priority to implement. Through our own mutual help, I hope we can set an example for people around us so that the circle of mutual help will expand further and further.

As we have seen, the teachings of this path include various pointers on how to address issues involving the family. Not only should we use them to help us settle our own families, but we should also share them with others around us since there are many people who have emotional turmoil and anxieties over issues between husband and wife or parents and children. In this way, I hope we will be able to reach out to such people and help them.

Our civilizations have achieved amazing advances. Yet it seems to me that, far from making any progress on mutual help, the world has become a place of competition and conflict with no sense of security or comfort where people are constantly caught up in their immediate concerns and guided by the thought that all is well so long as things are well for oneself.

I think that the primary reason for this is that people have lost sight of the reliable guide for their minds, so that they are unable to look at things through a long-term perspective or ponder over things from a broad point of view.

Living as we do in this day and age, even those of us who are followers may not entirely be free from worry or insecurity or from feeling trapped with no way out. Even those who have spent many years in the faith and families who have been in the faith for a number of generations may find that difficult knots could make their minds depressed. However, Oyasama teaches:

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

Ofudesaki XIV:50

Oyasama says that, if the mind becomes completely pure and clear, we can take delight in absolutely anything, whatever it is. Moreover, She says in the Mikagura-uta:

Greed is fathomless like muddy water. When your mind is completely purified, Then comes paradise.

Mikagura-uta X:4

This verse tells us that the cause of pain and suffering is greed, which is insatiable.

Oyasama has provided us with the teaching of joyous acceptance, or tanno. The basic meaning of this term is sufficiency and satisfaction. If we are to contentedly and thankfully accept something that would ordinarily never bring us joy, we need to ponder over its meaning based on the teachings.

Whenever we encounter a difficult knot, we should ponder over its meaning; otherwise, it will only be a cause of pain and suffering. If we sweep dust from our minds, purify our minds, and ponder deeply from various perspectives, the truth behind whatever is happening may settle in our minds. If that takes place, we can accept whatever is happening with joy from the depths of our minds and be blessed with having buds sprout from the knot. I believe that the Joyous Life so desired by God the Parent refers to the state of the world in which, even when painful situations arise, people are able to implement joyous acceptance as well as help one another overcome such difficulties.

I hope that those of us Yoboku who have heard the intention of God the Parent always try to find joy in our daily lives through steadily implementing the teachings so that we may savor the Joyous Life. I hope, moreover, that we will be able to impart the joy we have thus acquired to as many people as possible while continuing our steps of single-hearted salvation towards the Joyous Life of all humankind.

I now want to close my remarks today by asking all of you to continue working spiritedly to that end. Thank you very much for listening.

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