Sermon: “You Are Saved by Saving Others”
The Shinbashira led the March Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on the 26th, a day when the Home of the Parent, along with the rest of the Japanese archipelago, was enveloped in crisp, cold weather.
In his Service prayer, which he delivered on behalf of all followers, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for the constant providence of God and went on to pledge firm commitment to single-hearted salvation. “All of us Yoboku, including church head ministers, are committed to doing our utmost to fulfill our mission as ‘useful timber’ for building a joyous world by making the most of our respective roles and by giving one another encouragement and help,” he said.
The Kagura Service then took place, followed by the joyous performance of the Dance with Hand Movements.
The sermon was delivered by Honbu-in Yoshitaro Ueda, who focused his remarks on a teaching that he said goes to the heart of salvation work–a teaching that is expressed in these scriptural words: “Through saving others, you will be saved.”
He began by drawing on the Anecdotes of Oyasama to provide insights into how to ponder over this teaching. He said that it is possible to distinguish two ways in which Oyasama encourages people to “save others.” One refers to cases where She responds to people who have asked Her to save them from illness and tells them that they will be saved if they save others. The other, he said, is found in cases where those who have been saved ask Her how to make repayment for the blessing and are instructed to save others. “The way Oyasama places emphasis on ‘saving others’ indicates that this practice is indeed what brings the greatest joy to and is most acceptable to God the Parent and Oyasama,” Rev. Ueda said. “This emphasis on ‘saving others’ reinforces the fact that Tenrikyo came into being in order to save all humankind.” This, he said, is one of the distinctive characteristics of the salvation envisaged in Oyasama’s teachings.
Then citing two Ofudesaki verses that contain the phrase “save others,” he emphasized that thoughts and actions focused on saving others are indeed the driving force that takes the path of single-hearted salvation forward, adding that they are indispensable elements of the world of the Joyous Life so desired by God.
Rev. Ueda also said: “If we are to attain salvation as envisioned in Tenrikyo, it is vital to go beyond merely praying for divine favors and, instead, to strive to make spiritual growth, thus building the basis for being able to be saved.” He stressed that one can achieve a true salvation of mind by replacing one’s mind and transforming one’s way of living so as to accord with the truth of heaven that governs the entire universe. “We should not be complacent, feeling grateful to have been able to achieve our own salvation,” he said. “God the Parent desires us to become capable of confidently listening to others’ problems and providing advice on how to address them, thus engaging in salvation work.”
He then said that a careful examination of the profound meaning of the teaching “Through saving others, you will be saved” would reveal that salvation work is an endless chain. “The salvation of one person is connected to the salvation of another person,” he said. “That is to say that in order for someone to be saved, it is necessary for that person to save someone else. Yet if this other person is to be saved, he or she will in turn need to save someone else. . . . A person’s progress toward salvation will be enhanced through the act of saving others, an act that will expand the realm of salvation, and this process will ultimately lead to the world of the Joyous Life. . . . Moreover, if we are to bring about the world of the Joyous Life in which all people throughout the world help one another, it is necessary for us not only to continue engaging in salvation work but also to strive, through salvation work, to increase the number of people who aspire to save others.”
Rev. Ueda encouraged his listeners to make a point of doing whatever they can to help save others in the course of daily life, saying: “I think we can begin by paying attention to people around us and thinking about their needs. We can take the first step in our work of saving others by saying a word to them out of a wish for them to become happy and be saved.”
Headquarters Performs Spring Memorial Service
The day after the Monthly Service, Tenrikyo’s headquarters conducted the Spring Memorial Service. The proceedings began in the Main Sanctuary, where the Shinbashira, who presided, offered a prayer, which was followed by the performance of the dance to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs.
The Shinbashira then proceeded to the Memorial Hall and delivered a prayer honoring the memories and achievements of deceased followers. The ceremony was brought to a close after representatives of the congregation offered their prayers.