May I express my sincere appreciation to all of you for coming from near and far to attend today’s Spring Grand Service for the 167th year of the Teaching? As we have just been able to conclude the Service, I wish to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. May I request your attention while I deliver today’s sermon?
I need hardly tell you that the day of origin of the Spring Grand Service–that is, the day of origin of the anniversaries of Oyasama–is the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, the day when Oyasama withdrew from physical life in order to hasten the spiritual growth of humankind, Her children.
Until that day, Oyasama had consistently demanded those close to Her to perform the Service. Yet the circumstances at the time were so serious that there was a real danger that the performance of the Service would alert the police, who might come promptly to stop the Service and arrest not only the performers but also Oyasama, who by that time was quite advanced in age. This meant that, in order to perform the Service as instructed by Oyasama, the people had to let go of their own thoughts and ideas and their concerns about convenience, make their minds firmly single-hearted with God, and place total reliance upon God the Parent in their performance of the Service.
The stern yet compassionate training Oyasama provided during the final days makes us painfully aware that She strongly desired to make the followers understand that the Service was something that had to be performed at all costs. Perceiving and internalizing the intention of the Parent condensed into Her instruction to implement the Service was not something Oyasama demanded only of those close to Her at the time. The training She provided then is also meant for us today.
The steps to make spiritual growth are the steps to near the intention of the Parent. The intention of the Parent originated as the intent in the creation of humankind and the world–which was undertaken out of a desire to see our Joyous Life and share in our joy. Because of that desire, God the Parent drew forth the instruments, made arrangements for the complete tenfold providence, and conceived humanity at the Jiba of Origin.
Over long ages thereafter, God the Parent nurtured humankind with boundless and warm parental love. When the time promised during creation finally arrived, God the Parent became openly revealed in this world by taking Oyasama as Shrine in order to save all humankind. God the Parent had felt pity for the way human beings, the children of God, were misusing the individual freedom of mind, deluding themselves, burdening themselves with worries and anxieties as well as illnesses, and even fighting among themselves, all because they were ignorant of the origin of any and everything and of their true Parent. God the Parent thus opened this path out of the single-hearted parental love that solely desires to save humanity. Single-hearted salvation is indeed the intention of the Parent embodied in the day of origin of the Teaching.
The Service is what was taught as a fundamental component of the path of single-hearted salvation. If we perform the Service joyously in a unity of mind while melting into the mind of the Parent, God the Parent will become spirited and manifest the original workings that created humankind and the world out of the muddy ocean, thereby reconstructing this world as the world of the Joyous Life and enabling people’s greedy minds like muddy water to become clear and pure as well as high-spirited and joyous.
The Service is thus the fundamental means to lead all humankind to the Joyous Life. It calls forth universal salvation, whereby illnesses will be cured, conflicts will be settled, humankind will be freed from calamities, and abundant crops will be assured. The Service will thus enable us to receive all sorts of blessings covering every facet of our lives.
That is why Oyasama repeatedly and sternly demanded the implementation of the Service all the way until She withdrew from physical life. That is also why, even at local churches in every community, the service is performed every month by receiving the truth of the Kagura Service, performed here at the Jiba.
Yet, while receiving God the Parent’s workings through the Service is the most essential thing in order for our minds to become completely purified, that is not the whole story. We must also notice our mistaken use of the mind and work to purify our minds.
The Ofudesaki is full of references to sweeping the heart. We read, for instance:
What do you think this path is about? It is to cleanse the heart of everyone in the world.
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 we are told that our mistaken use of the mind will be manifested on the body so that we can notice it.
Nonetheless, if one is to understand the significance of one’s bodily disorder, engage in self-reflection, and replace the mind, one has to know that there is an intention of God the Parent behind what is happening to the body. It is, therefore, necessary for us to spread the teachings and convey the intention of the Parent ever more widely.
Oyasama bestows the truth of the Sazuke upon us so that we can even reach out to people who may not be able to understand the teachings merely by hearing them, for the Sazuke will enable them to settle the truth of the teachings in their minds by helping them directly experience God the Parent’s workings, whereby they can be saved from any illness, however serious, depending solely on their state of mind.
All the arrangements Oyasama made for the path of single-hearted salvation–such as teaching the Service, bestowing the Sazuke, and revealing the origin of any and everything–were designed to fulfill the original intention of the Parent in creating humankind. Striving for single-hearted salvation, therefore, is indeed the path of spiritual growth that accords most fully with the intention of the Parent.
It so happens that the Spring Grand Service is performed at the time of year that is the coldest here in the Yamato region. The bracing coldness, it seems to me, is appropriate for helping us return our thoughts to the severe situation involving Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life, which of course was motivated solely by Her parental love for humankind. Indeed, it seems appropriate in this coldness to pledge our commitment to take steps to respond to Her intention.
The coldness of the weather also helps us give thought to Oyasama’s final hardship of imprisonment, which took place a year before Her withdrawal. The majority of Her seventeen or eighteen hardships of detention and imprisonment occurred when She was in Her middle and late 80s, but Her final hardship, in particular, can never be forgotten.
That final hardship resulted from the fact that a group of followers who had returned to Jiba, buoyed by their high spirits, began to perform the Dance with Hand Movements at their lodgings. This soon became known to the police, who promptly came to the Residence, conducted an investigation, and arrested Oyasama, taking Her to Ichinomoto Branch Police Station.
Though it was the coldest winter in thirty years, Oyasama was forced to undergo detention and interrogation for twelve days on a bare wooden floor with no bedding provided. Nonetheless, She conducted Herself just as usual. In fact, even when She was subjected to interrogation all night long, She reportedly conveyed the teachings about the founding of the Teaching, the providence for the human body, the dusts of the mind, and so on. When the sun arose, Oyasama noticed that the lamp on the guard’s desk was still burning uselessly, and so She blew it out. Indeed, She carried on just as usual, naturally and spontaneously, wherever She was.
Also during that detention, She noticed a cake peddler passing by and told Her granddaughter who was attending Her to buy a cake for the guard, who She thought looked very bored. We cannot help but marvel at Her parental love, which knows absolutely no bounds.
She was finally released from detention on the lunar calendar date of January 26, exactly one year prior to Her withdrawal from physical life.
For those close to Her, it must have been unbearable to watch Oyasama, at Her advanced age, being imprisoned or detained in police stations. Though we cannot speak of these hardships of Oyasama without shedding tears, Oyasama Herself joyfully and spiritedly went through those experiences while giving words of encouragement to the followers, who tended to get depressed. She would tell them that it was God the Parent who was taking Her and that, from each knot, buds would spring forth.
She took delight in all situations and circumstances because Her heart was filled only with the boundless parental love that desired to lay the path at any cost to save all humankind, Her children. Indeed, Oyasama’s Divine Model is a model of finding joy in all things. On this occasion last year, I said that “three years, one thousand days” indicated the length of time we should try to follow the path of the Divine Model. The fifty-year Divine Model is an example that She set in order to make it easier for us to follow the path.
Of course, times have changed considerably since then. Yet, no matter how things may change on the surface, the basic fact certainly remains that we all borrow the body from God the Parent and are only able to be alive because we are provided for by the complete providence of God the Parent. In addition, the truth that all blessings are provided according to each person’s state of mind also remains unchanged.
Oyasama’s words and actions are outpourings of Her parental love flowing forth in ways that are appropriate for the time, the circumstances, and the people involved. Although we can no longer see Oyasama physically, She is everliving and is continuing to work as ever before. I believe that, even now, She is watching over Her children, all of us human beings, wishing to help us in any and every way. We may say that it is our mission as Yoboku to ensure that our own actions embody this parental love of the everliving Oyasama. I would like all of us, therefore, to always inquire into the mind of Oyasama as we go through life. That will lead us to follow the path of the Divine Model.
In a Divine Direction, we read:
I do not tell you to do anything difficult or to do something without a model to follow. There is the path of the Divine Model for everything.
Osashizu, November 7, 1889
Every difficult journey has already been taken by Oyasama to show us a model. Indeed, the path She taught is not a path that is impossible to follow.
She also tells us in another Divine Direction:
No parent intends to have her children go through hardships or sufferings.
Osashizu, October 19, 1904, supp. vol.
Even when we find ourselves at our wits’ end, the everliving Oyasama will certainly guide us in a manner that is beneficial to us if only we purify our minds and ask Her what to do. Even when we find ourselves in a situation in which everything seems to be going against us, a close inquiry into the fifty-year path of the Divine Model will assuredly provide us with pointers on how to overcome the situation. Let all of us, therefore, always bear Oyasama’s Divine Model in mind and follow the path high-spiritedly, looking forward to what lies ahead.
This year is an important year, being the second year of the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. During the first year of this season, we sought to ensure a thorough understanding of the purport of Instruction Two as well as actually embark upon the anniversary-related activities. This year is a year in which we ought to accelerate our progress while ensuring that our efforts are implemented in a concerted manner.
I trust that, over the past year, you have been making a determined effort to attain the personal goals you set for spiritual growth in anticipation of the 120th Anniversary. It is no exaggeration to say that your activities this year will determine whether or not you will be able to attain your goals.
Please take this opportunity to reflect on the past year. If you feel that you have fallen behind or that your progress has been below par, you would be well advised to try to gain momentum to catch up. As for those of you who feel that you have done fairly well, please do not slacken your efforts but rather redouble the efforts to perform your tasks. In addition, you should join with people around you in continuing to follow the path so that you can give encouragement to one another.
Last year, I expressed my hope that you would conduct your tasks in such a way that many people would return to Jiba during the year of the 120th Anniversary, thus making Jiba lively each day throughout that year. We can only be blessed with such a lively state at Jiba as a result of spending these “three years, one thousand days” in full accord with the intention of the Parent by making painstaking efforts to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, help others be saved, and provide care and guidance for others. This means that what is important is the way we perform our tasks during this period leading up to the anniversary.
This year marks the 50th year since the beginning of the construction of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex, which was undertaken shortly before the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama. May I, therefore, take this opportunity once again to share my reflections on what our predecessors sought to achieve through this construction?
The plans for the Oyasato-yakata have served as the basis for the subsequent construction projects around the Residence and exerted a significant influence upon the way Tenrikyo has conducted its various activities such as the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba and the Young Men’s Association Hinokishin Corps for the Oyasato Construction.
All followers were extraordinarily enthusiastic about the pre-70th Anniversary activities because they had previously been unable to fully perform the tasks of the path due to a variety of restrictions both during the period of the so-called Adjustment and during the period preceding the 60th Anniversary, which had come almost immediately after the end of the war. It was amid this growing momentum that the plans for the Oyasato-yakata were announced with the aim of giving tangible expression to a level of spiritual growth that would represent the fruit of “restoration.” The Oyasato-yakata plans are based on the following words attributed to Oyasama: “The divine Residence will become eight cho square” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 93).
The second Shinbashira explained what it means to bring forth the fruit of restoration, saying, “Restoration refers to seeking our joy only in the Joyous Life–the Joyous Life so desired by God the Parent” (December 5, 1955, during the ceremony to open the Oyasato-yakata). He then went on to explain the principle underlying the construction of the Oyasato-yakata: “Our determined plan in the construction was to encircle the Jiba, the place of creation and the Residence of God, with the Oyasato-yakata, the Residence of God’s children, so that the Parent and children, God and humankind, would become one and partake of the Joyous Life together. It was our purpose to establish a model of the world at peace.”
Thus, the Oyasato-yakata, which is designed to center on God the Parent, who resides at the Jiba of Origin, aims to manifest a model of the Joyous Life in which God and humankind–that is, the Parent and children–dwell in perfect union. The construction was undertaken in the hope that this exemplary model would help spread the Joyous Life around the world.
The construction of the Oyasato-yakata has made steady progress over the years, with 25 out of the planned total of 68 wings having so far been completed. At present, South Right Wing 2 is under construction.
Fifty years, that is half a century, represent quite a long time. Now that so much time has passed, we run the risk of forgetting the original intention behind undertaking the construction of the Oyasato-yakata and the true significance of constructing this building-complex.
It is true that the number of completed wings has increased as the years have gone by. With the increase of the wings, however, the number of people who use them and, in particular, the number of those who aspire to embody the underlying principle of the Oyasato-yakata ought to increase. I believe that we need to reflect critically and ponder once again on whether or not the fruit of “restoration” has really been achieved in parallel with the progress in material construction and to what extent the intended model of the Joyous Life, in which God and humankind dwell in perfect union, has been produced.
Our material construction is not aimed at merely constructing buildings. What is important is how the construction is handled and, once a building is completed, how it is utilized. Our material construction will only have significance when we ensure that it helps advance people’s spiritual construction and that a completed building is made use of as a place for more and more people to grow spiritually.
If the Oyasato-yakata is intended as a model of the Joyous Life at the Home of the Parent, local churches are to serve as models of the Joyous Life in their communities. It goes without saying that our local churches in each community are mission facilities that are indispensable for advancing world salvation. If these churches are to perform functions appropriate to their role as training centers for salvation and as models of the Joyous Life, it is of paramount importance for their head ministers to take the lead–and for their followers to join them–in the efforts to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, help others be saved, and perform the service.
When we make proactive efforts to reach out to others and convey the voice of the Parent, we can have our own minds be polished and purified. In fact, praying earnestly for those suffering from illnesses and other troubles, inquiring into God’s intention, and working to build the basis for receiving blessings represent the best way of making spiritual growth. I feel sure that enthusiastic church activities such as these will also serve to promote the construction of the Oyasato-yakata as well.
I would now like to end my remarks by asking all of you to perform your tasks high-spiritedly this year again so that you will be able to attain a level of spiritual growth befitting the current season and receive the blessings promised by this season. Thank you for listening.