We have just finished performing this year’s Autumn Grand Service. May I thank you for having attended in large numbers and request your attention while I deliver today’s sermon.
The first words declared by God the Parent were:
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.
In anticipation of today’s Autumn Grand Service, I brought these words to mind and pondered over them once again. I also brought to mind the circumstances of those days as well as the thoughts and feelings of the people involved.
How surprised and confused Zenbei and the other family members must have been upon hearing these words—the first words God the Parent ever spoke to us human beings! After a three-day dialogue with God, Zenbei finally said, “I offer Miki to You,” thus forsaking all self-centered human thoughts and concerns of inconvenience to his family. His feelings at the time can be said to represent the first struggle between human thoughts and single-heartedness with God.
Zenbei pondered over the meaning of God’s words, considered his family’s situation, consulted with relatives, and repeatedly declined God’s request. Yet, faced with God the Parent’s demand, which was so firm that there could be no hope it might be rescinded, and Oyasama’s condition, which looked so severe that he felt he might lose Her, Zenbei finally accepted God’s demand with firm resolve.
I feel that, in this dialogue, we can perceive a deep concern that could be shown only by the Parent of all humankind. Some may think that God could have just imposed the divine will. Yet, while showing no sign of compromising the demand, God made every effort to explain the situation and patiently waited until the children were convinced and had agreed to the demand.
Another dialogue between the Parent and children that I recall is the tense dialogue between Oyasama and the first Shinbashira in 1887, which continued until Oyasama withdrew from physical life. It was again a struggle between single-heartedness with God and human thoughts: namely, the struggle between Oyasama’s demand for the performance of the Service and Her followers’ hesitation due to their concern for Oyasama’s physical condition and their anxiety over the possible interference by the police. Yet, they finally began performing the Service with a resolve that was so firm that they were even willing to risk their lives if this was the cost that had to be paid. I am sure all of you are familiar with this.
Thus at the beginning and the end of the path of the Divine Model, Oyasama trained us through Her own physical disorder to be unconditionally single-hearted with God.
To be single-hearted with God means to live in complete accord with the intention of God the Parent. It is a way of living in which we get rid of all self-centered thoughts or human thoughts so that we have unconditional faith in God the Parent as well as live with absolute reliance on God the Parent.
In order to live in complete accord with God’s intention, we obviously must first know that intention. Then we must ponder over it, understand it, and digest it as our own. Fortunately, today we are able to inquire into God’s intention through the Scriptures: the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush; the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service; and the Osashizu, The Divine Directions. In particular, we ought to make daily efforts to familiarize ourselves with the Ofudesaki and the Mikagura-uta. These were taught in the familiar waka poetry style or in counting songs, which demonstrates God’s special concern to make them easier to understand and remember. Furthermore we can obtain more specific instructions by reading The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, which were written based on the Scriptures.
Yet, our complete compliance with the divine intention requires that we not only know the teachings, but implement them. By this, of course, I mean that we must implement them exactly as intended by God, discarding human thoughts and concerns for our own convenience.
Compared with the anxieties that Zenbei experienced in coming to the decision to comply with the demand of this God he had never heard of before, we are fortunate because we know the teachings and we have seen and heard about people who have received miracles of salvation through relying completely on God the Parent. Above all, we have been provided with the 50-year path of the Divine Model of Oyasama.
Nonetheless, there are a variety of difficulties that we encounter in this day and age in which we live. Yet, even when we run up against difficulties, through trusting completely in God the Parent and Oyasama we are able to savor the miraculous blessings and further deepen our conviction, which will allow elation and the joy of faith to well up within us.
The core of God the Parent’s intention, which we ought to seek and make our own, is the true intention in founding the Teaching, which is to say, as I mentioned at the outset, the intention to save all people without exception. In other words, the path of single-heartedness with God leads to the path of single-hearted salvation.
Single-heartedness with God has to do with the orientation of the mind. It refers to the mind’s stance in solely seeking God’s intention and bringing one’s life into complete accord with God’s intention. What we shall arrive at in seeking the divine intention is the parental heart of single-hearted salvation, which is singly intent on saving all human beings, who are equally the beloved children of God the Parent. Our task as Yoboku, then, is to strive for the salvation of others and work toward world salvation while taking as our own the parental heart of God the Parent and Oyasama, which is the parental heart of single-hearted salvation.
It is important to implement single-hearted salvation always in light of single-heartedness with God so that we shall not be led astray by human thinking or be lacking in upholding the truth. Thus, we ought to keep correcting the orientation of the mind as we go along.
Incidentally, the Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato, which was offered in 19 sessions beginning in April, was duly concluded on September 16. This seminar was organized because, in order for all followers of the path to move forward in a unity of mind, it is important for head ministers, who are in a position to guide and unite Yoboku, to renew their understanding of the basic teachings, to share their experiences and ideas with one another, and to discuss things with one another, so as to heighten their spirit of solidarity and reinforce their high-spiritedness and, thereby, to re-dedicate themselves to tasks of their churches with a fresh mind.
For head ministers to attain a clear understanding of their roles and fulfill their responsibilities is not something that concerns only them. Because all Yoboku and followers belong to one or another of our churches and because head ministers are serving as the core and leader of the churches, the way they serve as head ministers naturally affects the path as a whole.
Our churches are centers for single-hearted salvation in their communities. They are also places where people who come in search of the path and in adoration of Oyasama ought to be able to find a dependable guide and make spiritual growth.
The enrichment of the substance of our churches, which has long been an issue facing us, will not be fulfilled without the spiritual growth of Yoboku belonging to the churches. Consequently, I should like head ministers to set an example and talk things over with Yoboku and followers as well as help everyone to understand one another intimately. I want head ministers to make sincere efforts in that manner so that all followers will support them as the core of the church, thus allowing the church’s activities to bear fruit.
The responsibility of head ministers is truly weighty and noble. I very much hope, therefore, that all head ministers will perform their tasks with a sense of mission and pride.
As for those of you who are Yoboku and followers, I want you to understand that you are also indispensable and your work is absolutely necessary if your churches are to fulfill their mission as churches. I should like you, therefore, to work with your minds in unison.
In the Besseki Lecture, we find a passage that says, in effect, that the role of Yoboku is to convey the truth of the teachings in their communities.
Responding to Oyasama’s instruction to save others and wishing to make repayment for their own salvation, the early followers went out to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and save others. They surely did not entertain any reservations or doubts about spreading the teachings. The reason Oyasama instructed them to go out to save others was that in order to fulfill the divine intention to save all humankind, it would be necessary to make this teaching accessible to people throughout the world.
The teachings of the path aim at constructing the world of the Joyous Life through saving all people in the world. This does not simply refer to a release from tangible sufferings but the salvation of the mind that is behind all that.
In order for the mind to be truly saved, it is necessary to know the teachings, understand them, accept them, and make the effort to replace the mind so as to accord with the intention of God. Consequently, our endeavor to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and save others should not be restricted to simply bringing the teachings to those who have yet to know them. Rather, we need to continue working with those people to the point where they will come into accord with God’s intention.
If we are to reach out to all humankind in this endeavor, we have an enormous task ahead of us. Yet, it is not an impossible task when you consider that this path was begun by Oyasama alone and has become what it is today through the early followers’ devoted and steady efforts to save others.
We can begin with people close at hand. First, we can work on ourselves, and then go on to work at creating the Joyous Life with our spouse, our families, as well as our local communities. I firmly believe that the day will come, through the boundless workings of God the Parent, when we shall be able to bring about the world of the Joyous Life where mutual help is practiced everywhere, so long as we keep our sights set on actualizing the Joyous Life for all humankind even if it takes endless generations and so long as we keep expanding the Joyous Life in ever wider circles.
Exactly three years have passed since I announced Instruction One. At both the levels of directly supervised churches and of districts, we have tried to ensure that the spirit of Instruction One is understood and implemented by all followers.
Instruction One speaks about world salvation, which is the true intention in founding the Teaching, and the mind to save others, which is the attitude that each Yoboku ought to maintain. It goes on to talk about the Service and the Sazuke, which are the means of salvation; the Divine Model of Oyasama, who conveyed God the Parent’s intention; and the truth of the everliving Oyasama. The Instruction then refers to the way Yoboku ought to live each day. The Instruction also touches on the current situation in the world, which is the object toward which we are directing our salvation activities. I called upon all followers to take the initiative to reach out to the world.
These three years have spanned the turn of the century, bringing us into the 21st century. Though it was said that the century of wars had come to an end, we have already witnessed shocking events recently, which cannot help causing us worries about the future. It is very painful indeed to see human beings, who are taught as being brothers and sisters, fight and hurt one another even now, and I am not specifically talking about the recent tragedy alone but what is happening at various places in the world as well. All this must be causing tremendous pain to God the Parent’s heart.
At the same time, I deeply regret that those of us who follow the path that leads to the Joyous Life for all humankind have not been able to fulfill that goal. The Ofudesaki tells us:
If you quickly unite your minds and do the Service correctly, the world will settle.
As taught in this verse, we ought to exert our sincerity in performing our daily and monthly services so that we may receive the blessing of bringing a settling to the world even a day sooner through God the Parent’s workings. At the same time, we need to redouble our efforts to convey God the Parent’s intention throughout the world.
Concerning the various problems that seem to stem from the impoverishment of the human mind which lies concealed beneath our present-day prosperity, I need hardly go into any details, for you must be familiar with these issues.
We have been taught the foundation of interpersonal relationships by none other than Oyasama Herself—the foundation which should serve as the foundation of the Joyous Life World. I refer to the way husbands and wives ought to be, the relationships between parents and children, and the way people ought to interact with one another. It is our urgent duty in our role as Yoboku living in this modern society to convey the voice of the true Parent and reach out to people who are exhausted, confused, and worried because they have no dependable guide and because their family ties have weakened.
To be able to fulfill this duty, however, we followers of the path must begin by living each day in a manner that is based upon the teachings. It is important for us to truly feel the preciousness of having faith and maintain a sense of thankfulness for God the Parent’s providence in the course of our daily lives. That sense of thankfulness finds spontaneous expression in our acts of hinokishin, which will convince our communities of the truth of the teachings.
Beyond that, I want you to experience the workings of God the Parent and the guidance of Oyasama in your salvation work. Therein, I believe, you will be able to savor the joy and elation of saving others, which is even greater than what we feel at receiving blessings for ourselves.
No matter how much society may change, the significance of this ultimate teaching will not decrease. Rather, it will only continue to increase.
Just as our early predecessors faced up to whatever difficulties they encountered in their times and their places while maintaining courage and a sense of mission, let all of us strive for the growth of the path through taking on the issues of our times with unwavering conviction and complete trust in the blessings and guidance of God the Parent and Oyasama.
We are taught that this path leads to universal salvation, and indeed the Ofudesaki teaches us:
If only your mind is truly accepted by Tsukihi, you will be assured of any salvation whatever.
I believe we need to respond to this parental heart, which assures us salvation from any suffering or anxiety. To do that, we ought to lead our lives and perform our tasks in a manner that will be accepted by God the Parent as being truly sincere. On this occasion of today’s Autumn Grand Service, I have shared with you some thoughts that have come to mind. I now want to conclude my remarks by asking all of you to continue working spiritedly for the path in your parts of the world. Thank you for listening.