Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to you for coming in such large numbers to attend today’s Autumn Grand Service of the 166th year of the Teaching. As we have just finished performing the Service, I wish to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. May I, therefore, ask for your attention for a while?
As you are fully aware, the Autumn Grand Service commemorates October 26, 1838–the day of origin when Oyasama was settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi and began to reveal this ultimate teaching.
That day of origin, which was based on the Promise made during creation, had arrived after the elapse of an unimaginably long period of nine hundred million, ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine years. On that day, God the Parent became openly revealed to humanity for the first time in order to lay the path of single-hearted salvation leading to the Joyous Life.
It goes without saying that, during those many intervening years, God the Parent was not merely biding time until the arrival of the Promised Time. Besides the immense efforts to draw forth all the instruments and create humankind through the complete providence for the purpose of all humanity’s Joyous Life, God the Parent continued to nurture human beings with unceasing parental love, starting when we lived in the water. Later, God the Parent trained us in wisdom and then instructed us in letters. God the Parent also imparted concrete and appropriate form to the world in which we could live. Indeed, the providence manifested throughout the many ages was quite extraordinary. The Ofudesaki tells us:
Then, after holding counsel, God came to the firm decision to begin this world.
Since that time, the providence of God has been by no means an easy matter.
Over the course of human development since creation, God the Parent provided us with learning as well as various religious teachings–which were appropriate for the times and places by way of guidance and care–thus making preparations and arrangements designed to enable us to understand the ultimate teaching.
Having thus taught nine-tenths of the complete teachings, God the Parent finally revealed the remaining one-tenth, telling us about the Parent of Origin and teaching us the truth of origin, thereby laying the path of universal salvation.
By encountering this direct teaching of the Parent of Origin, we were, for the first time, able to access the path that would save us in a fundamental way. In the Ofudesaki we read:
Long have you wandered on your path until now. You must be very tired of it.
Finally this time, a trustworthy place of worship has begun to appear. Be convinced of it!
Indeed, the day of origin of the Teaching marks the day we human beings were able to meet our true Parent for the first time and began our steps toward the Joyous Life guided by that Parent.
One hundred and sixty-six years have passed since then. Many people have come to know the true Parent and been drawn to the path leading to true salvation. Yet, these people represent only a small fraction of humankind. Great numbers of people are still living their lives without any knowledge of this teaching. Because they do not know this teaching, they get caught up in shallow concerns and fall into selfish ways of thinking and living, thereby inviting illnesses and other troubles that bring them sufferings and anxieties.
True, our civilization has made progress in the sense that we now live in a world that is ever so convenient. Nevertheless, there continue to be people suffering from illness or troubled by other things. Though much improvement has certainly been made in many areas, the advances of our civilization have given rise to new, difficult issues affecting both our immediate environments and the world at large. Take diseases, for instance, which appear to be increasing. This situation sometimes makes us wonder if we can say that the human race has actually made progress in the true sense of the word.
God the Parent–who says, “I am in haste to save all of you quickly”–must be feeling extraordinarily impatient to see the present situation in which we live. Indeed, I believe that there is an urgent need for us Yoboku, who ought to convey the intention of the Parent to ever more people, to rouse ourselves and get on with our work.
The teaching revealed to save all humankind can only fulfill its purpose when it is made accessible to all people throughout the world. Although at present we still seem to have a long way to go, we must maintain the determination to spread this teaching to all humankind.
Yet, this goal can only be achieved when each of us Yoboku sows the seeds of the Joyous Life in our communities and spreads the Joyous Life in wider and wider circles through making repeated efforts to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved. I would like us to take this to heart once again on this occasion of today’s Service.
One year has already passed since I announced Instruction Two. The reason I announced it was that, prior to the “three years, one thousand days” leading up to the 120th Anniversary, I wanted to describe what we ought to bear in mind to conduct our pre-anniversary activities in a unity of mind and achieve a level of spiritual growth that would bring joy to Oyasama.
To ensure a thorough understanding of the spirit of that Instruction, we sent Church Headquarters officials to directly supervised churches and thereafter conducted the District Lectures between March and June this year. We carried out these undertakings in order to make certain that all Yoboku would take to heart the significance of Oyasama’s Anniversary and conduct activities befitting the current season in a unity of mind through their own roles and positions.
The core message of Instruction Two is that we must respond to the intention of the Parent, first and foremost, “by cultivating the mind of saving others and by implementing salvation work” and that this endeavor ought to take the form of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping others be saved. By this I mean that the most important thing for us to do as our practice of faith during the current season is sprinkling the fragrance and saving others and that this is what I would like all Yoboku to make a point of implementing.
Nevertheless, there are many who feel that it is very difficult to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings or save others and that these are beyond their capacity. I hope, therefore, that church head ministers and others in leadership roles will continue working sincerely with those less confident people while setting an example to show them that sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and saving others can be done by anyone so long as there is the willingness to do so and that these activities can be conducted in many different ways depending on their experience and circumstances.
In fact, the basis that allows us to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved is true sincerity that desires the salvation of others. God the Parent will work for us and provide splendid blessings in response to our sincere desire and efforts to save others from the sufferings of illness and other problems, to teach them the goal of human existence, namely, the Joyous Life, and to help them live in a way that is free from illness or any other trouble. What is important is not the words and techniques we use in this endeavor but how we handle our own minds and live our own lives each day. It is essential for us to be sure to live each day in a manner based on the teachings and continue making repeated efforts in this regard so that it may become second nature to us to think and behave as befits the followers of this path. This, I think, will naturally serve to bring a settling to our families, whose members are, of course, the closest to us, as well as to impart our faith to all those around us.
If we look around us, we may be surprised at the number of people who have worries and anxieties. We may notice that even those who look perfectly happy on the surface are actually worried about something or other.
It is, indeed, incumbent upon us Yoboku to work for the salvation of those close to us. Moreover, it is important to try to connect with them in the course of daily life rather than waiting till something happens. That is how we can build a relationship of trust, which will lead them to talk to us when they encounter a problem.
Initially, I suppose we need to summon up courage to bring ourselves to go out to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved or even just to mention something about the path to someone. Again, there is no guarantee that the fragrance of the teachings will be sprinkled successfully soon after we start this effort. In fact, those who will listen to us will be much fewer than those who will not. Although admittedly many people will not be ready to listen to us, we ought to remember that there are those who, deep down in their hearts, are waiting for us to reach out to them, for that will give us the courage to try to convey the voice of the Parent to as many people as possible.
Though our success in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings may be very limited, let us keep in mind that what is important is to continue this effort. I think that we will be able to learn a great deal by continuing this effort, with our minds becoming increasingly polished and refined. I sincerely hope that during the current season, when we are working toward a new level of spiritual growth, more and more Yoboku will take their mission to heart and strive to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved.
As I mentioned a while ago, we conducted the District Lectures in the first year of the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. We sponsored those lectures in the hope that all of us Yoboku would bring our minds together as we set out on our journey of spiritual growth in preparation for the anniversary.
With the exception of a few overseas venues where the District Lectures were postponed due to the outbreak of SARS, we were mostly able to conduct these lectures successfully. Though they were completed some time ago, I wish to take this opportunity today to express my gratitude to all those who helped with the District Lectures.
I had the chance to visit several venues, and I am happy to say that, everywhere I went, it seemed to me that the followers were participating enthusiastically.
I feel sure that all of you who attended the program were able, in your own ways, to find nourishment for your minds as well as inspiration to become truly high-spirited. I very much hope that you will draw on the things you gained from the District Lectures to make progress in your spiritual growth as you prepare for the 120th Anniversary.
On the other hand, I am afraid quite a few Yoboku failed to attend the lectures. Perhaps some were unable to attend for one reason or another, much as they wanted to. Perhaps, some did not have the inclination to attend the lectures, though invited to. Still others might have been unaware that these lectures were taking place.
Whatever the case, we should remember that all Yoboku have received the truth of the Sazuke from the everliving Oyasama after returning to Jiba time and again to attend the nine Besseki lectures. I believe that they all became Yoboku because they had the causality to become Yoboku.
It would be inexcusable to leave this situation as it is. I would like to ask you, therefore, to continue working patiently, both at the regional and church levels, to get as many Yoboku as possible involved in the anniversary-related activities.
Following the completion of the District Lectures, we began the construction for the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts and, last month, we commenced the construction of South Right Wing 2 of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex. These construction projects are being undertaken as part of our preparations to welcome the large numbers of people expected to return to Jiba during the year of the 120th Anniversary. To make the material construction truly significant, however, we must be sure that our spiritual construction does not fall behind.
On the occasion of the Spring Grand Service earlier this year, we decisively set out to prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama by committing ourselves to spending “three years, one thousand days” following the path of the Divine Model in the exact manner shown in the Divine Model. We have only two more months left to go in the first year of this season. At present, energetic activities clearly aimed at preparing for the 120th Anniversary are well underway in some churches and dioceses, but not in others. In fact, the situation seems to vary considerably among churches and dioceses.
Nevertheless, now that we have ensured a thorough understanding of the spirit of Instruction Two and started our pre-anniversary activities, I am hoping that we will build up momentum as we proceed with concerted implementation in the second year. I want to conclude my remarks, therefore, by asking all of you to reflect on the efforts you have made over the past year and draw on that reflection to allow for high-spirited activities next year. Thank you for listening.