I should like to express my sincere appreciation to all of you for coming from near and far to attend the Spring Grand Service of the 163rd year of the Teaching. As we have just concluded the performance of the Service, I should like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. May I ask for your attention for a short while.
As you are well aware, the Spring Grand Service commemorates the day of origin when Oyasama withdrew from physical life out of the deep parental love that sought to urge the spiritual growth of all humankind. The significance of performing the Grand Service in commemoration of that day of origin, January 26, is not only to make God the Parent spirited through our Service performance but also to bring to mind the circumstances surrounding that day of origin and to ponder over them ever more deeply, thereby enabling us to discover the Parent’s intention and renew our pledge to respond to the parental heart. Consequently, far from being an occasion for mourning or sorrowing over the past, this is a day on which we are to settle the mind to serve as Oyasama’s instruments for the days to come.
The Life of Oyasama‘s final chapter, entitled “The Portals Opened,” describes the tense situation during the days leading up to Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life. Throughout this chapter, from beginning to end, we find Oyasama urging the followers to perform the Service. Realizing that the people around Her were hesitant to perform the Service out of their fear of the authorities and concern over Her physical safety, Oyasama even went to the extent of using Her physical affliction to convince them to perform the Service. Never veering in the slightest from the Truth, She took pains to instruct these confused and worried people until they were finally able to make up their minds to perform the Service. Having at last seen their firm resolve in performing the Service openly in broad daylight, even at the risk of their lives, She withdrew from physical life.
I cannot help but be moved by the description presented in this chapter, especially by the dialogue that took place between Oyasama and the first Shinbashira early on the morning of January 13, when he presented himself at Oyasama’s bedside and confided his anxieties to Her. This dialogue between Parent and child makes me keenly aware of the Parent’s deep intention that is embodied in the Service.
The fifty-year Divine Model of Oyasama, in one sense, represents the process of completing the Service. In the Ofudesaki, Oyasama urges the performance of the Service most strongly in Part XV, where the phrase “forty-three years ago” occurs repeatedly. For example, we read:
This talk is solely about the great test from forty-three years ago.
What do you think this test is about? It is solely about the preparations to hasten the Service.
These verses indicate that the completion of the Service was something that the Parent had been wishing to accomplish ever since the founding of the Teaching in 1838.
Then, in Part III, we read:
On the eleventh, the nine will be gone and hardship forgotten. I await the twenty-sixth of the first month.
By that time, the core will be settled and greed forgotten. Let all performers assemble and prepare for the Service.
Oyasama thus indicated January 26 as the date by which She would make arrangements for the Service- which included identifying the Jiba of Origin, undertaking the construction of the Kanrodai as the focal point for the Service, taking in the Shinbashira as the core of the path, and making preparations to advance spiritual growth and assemble the Service performers. The lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, therefore, may be seen as the time limit She set for completing the Service.
When we consider all these things, it becomes easier for us to understand why Oyasama was so insistent on urging the followers to perform the Service, even going to the extent of guiding them through Her physical affliction, which ultimately led to Her withdrawal from physical life at the end of the path of the Divine Model.
The Service primarily refers to the Kagura Service, which is performed at the Jiba with the Kanrodai as center. However, churches in each district also perform the service each month by receiving the truth of the Kagura Service. When we perform these services in a unity of mind and in high spirits so as to make God the Parent spirited, we are able to receive ever more blessings.
The completion of the Service is not confined to the completion of the Service of the Kanrodai. It includes the thorough performance of the services at all our churches, which are connected with Church Headquarters as a single breath. Churches, which are to receive the truth of the Jiba, ought to be established throughout the world and the service ought to be performed joyously at each of those churches, not only at the Jiba. That is what God the Parent wishes for. Indeed, the primary task of a church is to perform the service.
Even if you cannot perform the service adequately at present, you ought to perform the service spiritedly with a firm resolve to assemble all the necessary performers including those who play the musical instruments, thereby enabling you to perform the service in a true unity of mind. Surely God the Parent will accept your service performance for what it is. Even if your church happens to be replete in terms of form, I should like you to reflect constantly on whether the substance is really there.
A short while ago, I mentioned that chapter ten of The Life of Oyasama is devoted to portraying Oyasama’s efforts to urge the followers to perform the Service. In a sense, this indicates that the final days described in that chapter were characterized by the conflict between the path of single-heartedness with God and human thinking. The difficulties and agonies experienced by the followers at that time are unimaginable for those of us who are presently able to perform the service without having to defer to anyone. And yet, despite the difficult circumstances facing those followers, Oyasama continually pressed them to perform the Service, thereby indicating the basic stance of mind that is appropriate for followers of the path and guiding them towards putting single-heartedness with God into practice. Oyasama taught these followers:
Sah, sah, because Tsukihi exists, the world exists. Because the world exists, things exist. Because things exist, your bodies exist. Because your bodies exist, law exists. Although the law exists, to resolve your minds is primary.
January 13, 1887
This passage clearly shows us the eternally unchanging basis for all our ponderings.
Though we live in fortunate circumstances at present, we may also say that the conflict between our practice of faith and our human thinking manifests itself in various forms in our daily lives. Compared with what the early followers went through, of course, our difficulties must be rather insignificant. Nonetheless, we manage to find an endless number of things that cause us to hesitate in practicing our faith—for example, our work, family needs, social obligations, worries about keeping up appearances, or even self-serving considerations.
In the context of individual churches, we may perhaps say that performing the service is the touchstone of a Yoboku’s spiritual growth. I should like head ministers and other leading members of churches to spare no effort in working with the followers so that as many Yoboku as possible might attend the monthly services as well as perform the dance with hand movements and play the musical instruments. This will naturally lead to spiritedness and unity of mind, which will be accepted by God the Parent.
The day of origin commemorated by the Spring Grand Service is also the day of origin when Oyasama began guiding us in Her role as the everliving Oyasama. Not only did She teach us by Her spoken and written word and demonstrate the fifty-year path of the Divine Model through Her own example, but even after Her withdrawal from physical life She continued guiding us by virtue of Her eternal life. We must say that this level of thorough care for us—for which we are truly grateful—could only be possible because She is indeed the true Parent of all humankind.
The best evidence of the workings of the everliving Oyasama is the Divine Directions delivered through the Honseki’s mouth. Additional evidence is furnished by the truth of the Sazuke, whereby Oyasama enters Yoboku and works through them. A Divine Direction delivered immediately after Oyasama’s withdrawal stated:
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.
Osashizu, February 18, 1887
The phrase “a thing I had intended to give” refers to the truth of the Sazuke. Why didn’t Oyasama bestow the truth of the Sazuke more widely while She was physically present? This is something we ought to ponder deeply. Whatever the reason, She seems to have bestowed the truth of the Sazuke for salvation from illness only on a handful of people during Her physical life, including the four people mentioned in the following words spoken by Oyasama in December 1874:
First, I bestow the Grant of Breath to Nakata. Second, the Grant of Boiled Rice to Matsuo. Third, the Grant of Hand Dance to Tsuji, which is to be performed with an innocent heart like that of a three-year-old child. Fourth, the Grant of the Kanrodai-Teodori to Masui, which is to be performed in one accord, all firmly united.
From around the time Oyasama stopped writing the Ofudesaki, She instructed those around Her to “compile a divine record,” an instruction which resulted in producing those manuscripts that later served as the basis for the Besseki lectures. By giving them that task, Oyasama sought to train Her intermediaries. Then, the final instructions She provided for the followers while physically present were to put the Service into practice and establish the conviction of single-heartedness with God in performing the Service.
These arrangements for the Service She was making step by step, ultimately, led up to the event on January 26, just as indicated by the Ofudesaki verses I quoted a while ago. Being the exact opposite of what they had expected, that event caused the followers, who had adored Oyasama as their true Parent, to fall into a state of utter shock and despair. Oyasama, however, explained the meaning of that event through the mouth of Izo Iburi, later to become the Honseki. In addition, She declared in a reassuring manner that She would “save the world from now” (Osashizu, February 18, 1887) by bestowing the truth of the Sazuke ever more widely. And indeed, just as Her words indicated, the path spread like wildfire following Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life. I can well imagine that, for the followers, this state of affairs served as evidence to further strengthen their conviction in Her eternal life and roused them to become ever more fervent in their salvation work.
Turning to the present time, we are also endowed with the same truth of the Sazuke as in those days. Yet, if the weightiness of the Sazuke appears to differ today, despite the same truth embodied in it, the reason is, as we are taught in the Besseki lectures, that “differences arise naturally according truth of the teachings and how much weight we place on our contribution and dedication to the path.” If we closely follow the truth of the teachings and contribute and dedicate our true sincerity, we can assuredly be shown the wondrous workings, now as ever before.
The same holds true with our salvation work aimed at helping people with personal problems. I believe that so long as one seeks the Parent’s intention, changes one’s orientation of the mind, and prays and serves with sincerity, the path will certainly open and enable one’s direction of life to be changed.
Maintaining the mind to save others, let us turn our attention to those many people around us who need help. Let us take a positive stance in administrating the Sazuke and conveying the truth of the teachings, thereby inviting those people onto the path that leads to true salvation.
Indeed, the Service and the Sazuke-taught as the means of the path of single-hearted salvation are both closely related to the day of origin of the Spring Grand Service.
Last year, we devoted our energies to having all followers thoroughly embrace the intention of Instruction One. On the occasion of last year’s Autumn Grand Service, I stated that the “District Lectures for Yoboku: Action and Progress” were helping us to make a new start and that the results of these lectures would depend on the way you carried out your activities as Yoboku. I also suggested that you take the “District Lectures” as an opportunity to return your thoughts once again to the point of departure for Yoboku and gain a renewed understanding of what it means to be Yoboku in order that you might start taking firm steps forward.
At the beginning of the year, moreover, I requested that those of you serving in positions responsible for providing guidance and care pursue that endeavor in all sorts of ways so that we might make the “District Lectures” truly meaningful by bringing forth the tangible fruits of these lectures, whose aim was to motivate as many Yoboku as possible to do the actual work as Yoboku. It is not sufficient merely to hold lectures. In fact, such events serve no purpose unless they lead to actual implementation of what they propose.
What was heard will be forgotten if left as it is. If you were moved by the “District Lectures,” please do not forget to express that feeling of joy and elation through your actions, rather than merely keeping it to yourselves. I hope that those of you who joined together in listening to the voice of the Jiba will help and encourage one another to deepen your joy of faith and conduct activities in a unity of mind so as to convince your local communities of the truth of the teachings. I should like all of us to continue working with one another from all angles possible in order that the wish and actions to save others might emanate from all of us and keep on growing inasmuch as we are to serve as Yoboku for world salvation, leading our daily lives in a manner based on the teachings.
We still have a long way to go before accomplishing the salvation of all humankind. To start with, we need to increase the number of people who share in our endeavor. We also need more and more Yoboku who actually work as Yoboku.
This path to world salvation will only open up when each of us Yoboku makes repeated efforts to help others be saved each day, beginning with whoever is close at hand. If we sit back and watch, the path will stagnate and, far from attaining any growth or expansion, may even become buried under weeds before we are aware that this is happening. We Yoboku are entrusted with the mission of saving the people of the world, who wander aimlessly, gripped by a sense of insecurity concerning the world’s unsure future, having nothing to depend upon for peace of mind. I want each of us to maintain a keen awareness of our mission and begin our work by sowing seeds of the Joyous Life in our immediate surroundings and in our communities.
I now wish to conclude my remarks today by asking all of you to continue following the path spiritedly this year. Thank you for listening.