Spring Grand Service Sermon by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Zensuke Nakata

I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you who have returned to Jiba for the Spring Grand Service today despite the cold weather. I am truly grateful that we have been able to joyfully and spiritedly perform the Service taught by Oyasama together with so many of you here today. Let us take this opportunity to reflect upon the day of origin of the Spring Grand Service so that we may turn our thoughts to Oyasama’s intention and settle it in our hearts as our own matter. May I ask for your attention for a while?

On the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, Oyasama shortened Her term of life, which was to be 115 years, by twenty-five years and withdrew from physical life at the age of ninety in order to hasten the salvation of all people in the world out of Her parental love. During the fifty years after She was settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi on October 26, 1838, until that day, She demonstrated the Divine Model of single-hearted salvation, which leads to the Joyous Life. Moreover, even though She withdrew from physical life, She has continued to work for the spiritual growth of all of us human beings in the world by virtue of Her eternal life and shed Her warm parental love upon us, Her children.

Needless to say, we perform the Spring Grand Service to settle in our hearts this truth behind Oyasama’s withdrawal and Her parental love so that we can live each day taking them as pillars of our life of faith.

It has been more than 130 years since then. How is Oyasama looking at those of us following the path today? What kind of expectation does She have for us today? Have we settled Her intention in our mind without mistake? Like those who were serving at the Residence back in those days, we also need to hold discussions and ponder based on the Divine Model so that we may respond to Her in high spirits.

Not long before the fateful day, on the lunar calendar date of December 8, 1886, as Oyasama came out of Her bath, She staggered momentarily and said, “It is a sign that the world is going to move.” Nothing serious happened that day. Three days later, on the 11th, Her health suddenly took a critical turn, and an inquiry regarding the intention of God was made through Izo Iburi. The followers were told:

Sah, sah, the time is fully ripe and pressing. I have already told you everything but you have not understood at all. No matter how much I explain, there is no one who understands. This is My regret. You must reflect deeply on the life of doubt which you lead. Sah, if the words of God were false, this path would not have continued for forty-nine years until now. What I have told you until now has been shown. With this in mind, reflect. Sah, shall I withdraw? Shall I end it all?

The Life of Oyasama, pp. 220–221

This passage may be paraphrased as follows: Although God has taught them various things, the followers have not understood the true intention of the Parent. Since the founding of the Teaching, the path has continued to exist despite the severe circumstances because it is a true path. God asks whether this truth is settled in their minds thoroughly or they have some doubts about it. If they cannot listen and understand it, God says that God will withdraw now. So severe were the words of God. Then, Oyasama stopped breathing, and Her body suddenly became cold, shocking everyone.

After discussion, the followers began the next day to perform the Service in apology every day—although, in deference to the police, behind locked gates, in secrecy, at night.

Then, the followers held a further discussion, and they arrived at a decision “to put two-parts weight on worldly affairs and eight-parts weight on the affairs of God and to put their hearts into the performance of the Service, thus fulfilling the dictates of the Divine Records.” Her condition improved somewhat for the time being, but soon Her health failed again. So, they made an inquiry and received the following words:

Sah, sah, I have already taught you everything up to now. I shall not tell you to do this or that any longer. The path from forty-nine years ago. . . . Has not every kind of path been passed through? Surely you must have understood. Surely you must have been saved. . . . No longer shall I direct you to do this or that. It will be up to the mind of each person. I shall not direct you any further.

The Life of Oyasama, p. 223

Those present were startled by the severe words and immediately began a meeting. Although some were in favor of performing the Service without reserve, the first Shinbashira replied that he wished to deliberate on the matter further. It was not an easy matter to respond to so soon, considering both Oyasama’s condition and the police oppression being experienced. After discussion, they decided that the first Shinbashira inquire of Oyasama, telling Her that they could not resolve due to their concern for the authorities.

What Oyasama told them was only one thing: The followers should settle their minds firmly and perform the Service in unity of mind. She was strongly urging the performance of the Service. She said, “The path of order, the path of order,” and explained that the path was laid in accordance with order and that the truth of order was of great importance. She told them that they should understand what She was saying because She had gone through the past forty-nine years full of difficulties. She kindly taught them that it was about time for them to bring their minds into unity for the performance of the Service.

It is not that Oyasama began teaching the Service right at the beginning of Her Divine Model. In order to teach the ultimate teachings, which had never existed before, She conveyed the teachings little by little from scratch to Her children, human beings, who knew nothing. Considering that these final instructions came after such a long process, we can understand the weighty importance of those instructions.

Oyasama went on to say, “I say, ‘Now!’ Because I say, ‘Now,’ you must do it now. Time is pressing,” emphasizing that a crucial moment was finally approaching. In terms of the truth of order, it was critically imperative for the followers to resolve to perform the Service. Those instructions were given through Oyasama’s own physical crisis. These words must have sounded extremely stern especially to the first Shinbashira, who directly heard them.

Yet, despite being painfully aware of Her intention, he expressed his deep concern for Oyasama’s physical condition. Then the following words were delivered:

Sah, sah, where there is sincerity, you shall receive sincerity. You may not know what My sincerity is. It is My providence—fire, water, and wind. . . . Sah, sah, you are to purchase My sincerity. Purchase My sincerity with your own sincerity.

The Life of Oyasama, pp. 232–233

Oyasama kindly explained that if there is sincerity in the minds of all followers, God will surely provide the blessings.

The forty-nine years since 1838 were filled with one hardship after another, which cannot be expressed in words. Our early predecessors including Oyasama’s own family members—such as Shuji, Kokan, and the first Shinbashira—went through the path despite the oppression and prejudice, solely relying on the teachings and guidance of Oyasama. The early followers who went through the difficult path with a firm conviction that this path must be a true path must have thought that it was a miracle that the path had lasted and extended to reach that point. It was only possible because they followed the path in accordance with Oyasama’s guidance.

Regarding the resolve that they made to Oyasama, which was “to put two-parts weight on worldly affairs and eight-parts weight on the affairs of God,” those of us living today might hastily think that, if they had resolved to put all weight on God’s affairs rather than putting two-parts weight on worldly affairs, then they might have received the blessing of Oyasama’s full recovery.

But the oppression and interference by the authorities were far severer than we can imagine today. Because those early followers knew how harsh the authorities could be through their own experiences, they were determined to protect Oyasama, then quite aged. The frank expression of their resolve “to put two-parts weight on worldly affairs and eight-parts weight on the affairs of God” shows their extraordinary determination as well as their conviction of faith.

They were sincere in desiring to respond to Her intention. Yet, they were caught up in their human thinking that they were the ones who had to protect Her no matter what. I believe that Oyasama intentionally provided this part of the Divine Model for those of us following the path today.

On the evening of the lunar calendar date of January 25, 1887, Oyasama’s condition worsened. An inquiry was made through Izo Iburi. Then the following words were delivered:

Sah, sah, I shall begin to level the ground completely. Sah, sah, with the portals opened, opened, I shall level the ground all over the world. Sah, I shall step out to level the ground. Sah, sah, shall I open the portals and level the ground? Shall I close the portals and level the ground?

The Life of Oyasama, p. 234

She told the followers that She was going out to level the ground throughout the world and asked them if they wanted the portals to be opened and the ground to be leveled or if they wanted the portals to be closed and the ground to be leveled. Those present all replied, “Please open the portals and level the ground.”

The following day, the 26th, was the day for the monthly Service. A great number of worshipers assembled, and the police officers were keeping strict watch. Out of concern, the followers made an inquiry as to the intention of God the Parent. They received the clear reply: All necessary instructions have already been given. When God says, “Now,” they must begin immediately; they need not be afraid of anything.

Then Oyasama’s condition grew extremely critical. Now their resolve was firm. The first Shinbashira said to them, “Only those should perform who are willing to risk their lives no matter what measures the police use to stop the Service.” Their resolve was already firm. They had nothing to fear at that point. They were convinced that through the performance of the Service, they would receive the blessing for Oyasama’s physical condition. Those who were to perform the Service put on two sets of underclothing and two pairs of tabi. Then at about one o’clock in the afternoon, they boldly began the Service with musical instruments included.

Oyasama, who had been listening to the cheerful sounds of the musical instruments contentedly, quietly withdrew from physical life as the Service came to an end.

Having completed the Service with firm resolve, the followers must have felt relieved, thinking that it was indeed due to a miraculous blessing that there was no interference by the authorities. I can never imagine how saddened and disheartened they were when they heard the sudden news. Although they were dumbfounded and did not know what to do at first, they managed to make an inquiry through Izo Iburi. The following words came:

Sah, sah, I shall level the ground. Has everyone assembled, has everyone assembled? Listen and understand well. All that I have said until now was put into a container of truth. But now God has opened the portals and stepped out. Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by twenty-five years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well. Observe well what the path has been and what the path will become. When I asked whether I should open the portals or keep them closed to level the ground, you answered, “Please open the portals and level the ground.” I have done as you wished. Sah, there was a thing I had intended to give to My children but I was not able. I shall bestow this truth on you step by step hereafter. Remember this well.

The Life of Oyasama, p. 240

Upon hearing this explanation, the followers remembered the question they had been asked by God the day before. Although God says that God has done as they wished, it was not what they expected to happen. Perhaps, they did not understand what God’s intention was behind asking them that question. When they realized what God’s intention was, they might have regretted or felt sorry for themselves. No matter how much they regretted, there was nothing they could do about it. They came to know how far apart their thoughts were from those of Oyasama.

Several days later, the following instruction was given:

Sah, sah, you do not understand, you do not understand. You do not understand anything at all. One hundred and fifteen years old, ninety years old. . . . You do not understand this either. Twenty-five years short: this you do not understand either. I have taught you My will but you did not understand anything at all. Therefore in order to hasten the salvation of the world I shortened Her life by twenty-five years. I opened the portals and stepped out to level the world.

Osashizu, February 24, 1887

God says that those early followers do not understand. Although they may not understand, God has opened the portals and stepped out to level the ground throughout the world. Although they had a hard time settling in their mind the fact that Oyasama withdrew from physical life, God must have fully accepted the unity of their minds.

With Her fifty-year path of the Divine Model, Oyasama encourages us to step out for world salvation in high spirits with confidence. The path that we are following today is the path of single-hearted salvation that brings about the Joyous Life, which was taught to us by the true Parent.

No matter how hard we try to ponder, we may fall short of Oyasama’s intention and there may be a gap between our thoughts and Hers. Although it may seem impossible, we should nevertheless try our best to near Her intention. In one respect, it is because we know there is a gap that we can always try to reflect on Oyasama’s intention and seek a way of living that will bring joy to the true Parent.

After the fateful day, Oyasama taught us that She would continue working by virtue of Her eternal life, although She had physically withdrawn. We now take this point for granted, but the people in those days had never heard of such thing before. It was indeed difficult to switch their way of thinking. Although they were able to receive Divine Directions through the Honseki, they could no longer see Oyasama or hear Her voice. Nevertheless, the fact that they were saved by Oyasama and guided by Her in person remained true. Holding on to the warmth of Her parental love that they had experienced before, they went out to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help save others, just to bring Her peace of mind.

Oyasama continues to guide us, as ever before, by virtue of Her eternal life, now and forever. We are taught:

Sah, sah, I am still living here. I have not gone anywhere, not gone anywhere. You must look at the path of daily life and ponder.

Osashizu, March 17, 1890

One of the most important points in settling the teachings in our minds is that Oyasama is working by virtue of Her eternal life. We can feel the warmth of Her parental love with which She guides us to a reliable path, if we actually try to do so.

By the way, in our everyday lives, we have various wishes and pray for the blessings that meet our wishes. There are many things that turn out to be different from what we originally expected. As followers of the path, we should also take such instances as God’s guidance and settle our mind in joyous acceptance as straightforwardly as possible. It is also important to reflect upon our own efforts. When things do not go as we wish, there is a cause or reason why they do not go that way. We should try to see if our wishes were in accordance with Oyasama’s intention. Even if they were, we should also ask ourselves if our resolve was enough to be accepted by Oyasama. In short, we should reflect upon ourselves to see if our thoughts and resolve are not self-serving.

When we become self-righteous, in many cases we may become over-confident with our own thoughts and end up denying the possibility of other ways of pondering.

Early followers who were concerned about Oyasama’s physical condition went through those days while thoroughly discussing things among themselves and seeking Oyasama’s intention without becoming over-confident. Likewise, we should also humbly ponder on matters always based on the Divine Model, thus seeking Oyasama’s intention. How we will be shown the blessing will solely depend on how God wants to guide us.

Above all, we should follow the path with joy. It is true that we sometimes find ourselves in a difficult situation. Yet, when we try to focus our mind on finding joy, we will understand how God is trying to guide us toward spiritual maturity.

For instance, I hear many athletes making comments like, “I want to enjoy the game,” prior to their games. Up until a few decades ago, people thought it was impermissible to say “enjoy the game.” The players were expected to play resolutely and seriously. Needless to say, enjoying the game is not necessarily incompatible with seriousness, tension, and resoluteness. Moreover, those players can say “enjoy the game” precisely because they are well prepared, having gone through tough training and practice. This mindset to “enjoy the game” will allow them to perform well without being overwhelmed by a big stage.

The same applies to ourselves, too. If we are to follow the path straightforwardly by keeping our focus on the Divine Model, we should expect difficulties and hardships as well and keep on following the path no matter what happens. Because we go through difficulties and hardships, we can savor the joy of faith and the joy of single-hearted salvation.

One important aspect is how we bring our minds into unison and what resolve we come up with. We have the Divine Model for this, as well. We may take Oyasama’s fifty-year Divine Model as a model path for overcoming one hardship after another or as a model path for taking delight in the future. Which way we choose depends entirely upon our own hearts.

We should reflect upon Oyasama’s intention by pondering what She is asking us to do or what we ought to achieve through our respective roles and positions. We should hold discussions among ourselves so that we may move in the same direction. Each of us may well be making earnest efforts. But if we are going in different directions, we will not be able to be in accord with Oyasama’s intention.

Because of my position as Director-in-Chief, I have opportunities to talk with those serving at Church Headquarters. Those living in the Home of the Parent can easily go to the Kanrodai anytime they want. When something happens at the church they belong to, they are the ones who can go to pray at the Kanrodai. I therefore ask them to tell their church head ministers and spiritual parents to inform them about anything that might require prayers. That is something anyone living in the Home of the Parent—young or old—should do. We should not think that the path needs to be followed individually. Rather, we should follow it while helping and encouraging one another.

Compared to the past, the current society has become very convenient. We have different ways of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping save others. We have different ways to bring our minds together in unison, and our unity of mind can take various shapes. Therefore, we should try to make one effort after another by bringing our wisdom and strength together.

I would like all of us to find joy in having encountered the teachings and take pride in working as instruments of the everliving Oyasama so that we can make steady progress. Let us try making as much effort as our early predecessors and go through a path of difficulty in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping save others in our daily life, so that we may “purchase God’s sincerity” with our own sincerity.

The Shinbashira attended the Service today. How grateful we are! Let us take this opportunity to reaffirm our solidarity and achieve further unity of mind as we rededicate ourselves to the work of the path while praying for his full recovery.

Let us take delight in God the Parent’s blessings that will be shown in the future and follow the path straightforwardly and spiritedly.

Thank you very much for listening.

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