February Monthly Service Sermon 2006

By Honbu-in Masahiko Iburi  (1)

Today, we have just performed the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements for the February Monthly Service of the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.

I would now like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. May I have your kind attention.

A month ago, on the day of Oyasama's 120th Anniversary, we, together with other Yoboku and followers of the path, packed the Main Sanctuary and its precincts to attend the Service, which filled our hearts with deep emotion. Attending the Kagura Service while keeping Instruction Two in our minds, we may have reflected on the way we had engaged in the "three years, one thousand days" pre-anniversary activities, or some of us may have turned our thoughts to what might have occupied the minds of the predecessors on January 26, 1887, when they made up their minds to perform the Service, or some of us may have felt a surge of joy after being warmly touched by Oyasama's heart.

This path was begun by Oyasama alone. And we who follow the path laid by Oyasama assembled in great numbers on that day and sang the songs for the Service in unison. We brought our minds closer to Oyasama and renewed our resolution to go forward on this path with our utmost sincerity in the midst of today's harsh social conditions so that we may realize the ideal state of the world taught by Oyasama. Truly, the Service was inspiring and moving.

As we all know, the origin of Her anniversaries is January 26, 1887. At two o'clock on the afternoon that day, Oyasama withdrew from physical life. She was in Her ninetieth year.

This turn of events was nothing short of a complete shock to the followers. They had performed the Service, which God the Parent and Oyasama had hastened, with their minds firmly resolved, trusting and wholeheartedly leaning on God the Parent. They were convinced that, once they had performed the Service, Oyasama would certainly recover and live to be 115. They held meetings and discussions for many days, made inquiries about God's intention, and after much indecisiveness, they made up their minds, willing to risk their lives, and performed the Service as instructed by God.

However, upon hearing the news of Oyasama's wholly unexpected withdrawal, the followers must have felt betrayed for a moment. They must have thought: This cannot be true. It's not possible. There must be some mistake or we must be in a bad dream. But, when they learned that the news was indeed true, what thoughts do you suppose crossed their minds? We have been forsaken by God? It is all over? From now on, how should we go about anything and what should we rely on? The more they thought, the more their energy drained, and they must have become utterly dazed and stupefied.

Why did Oyasama withdraw from physical life?

They heard the answer through Izo Iburi, who was later settled as the Honseki. God's intention was clear.

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.

Osashizu, February 18, 1887

God the Parent said that it was out of love for the children. But if it was out of love for God's children, then, from their human thoughts, our predecessors would have preferred to have Oyasama continue to guide them as ever before through Her physical presence and Her voice.

This goes to show that there is always a large discrepancy between the blessings and salvation intended and given by God the Parent and the blessings and salvation imagined and desired by us human beings. And this applies to all situations we face in our lives. Therefore, we humans find it difficult to understand, to be spiritually awakened, and to settle in our minds the intention of God the Parent. After going through sufferings and hardship, we finally lean on God the Parent wholeheartedly, spend days and months making strides along the path while exerting our utmost efforts, and thus eventually begin to slowly understand the intention of our Parent. I cannot help but think that the path of faith is the repetition of this endeavor. The result of following the path while completely trusting in the blessings of God the Parent is that we are able to grow spiritually.

In the Divine Direction that I mentioned earlier, God the Parent uses the phrase "save the world from now." In other words, starting at this point, Oyasama stepped out onto the path of world salvation. It marked the beginning of the path of salvation. The followers who were at a complete loss listened to the Divine Directions, recalled the many things that Oyasama had taught them while She was physically present, and gradually settled in their minds the true significance of Oyasama's withdrawal and Her intention embodied in it.

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. Were I not God, I would not be able to do such free and unlimited workings. No one will be able to stop Me. God never tells you anything untrue. Listen and understand well. From now on, whatever you hear and whatever you see will fill you with delight. Indeed delightful!

Osashizu, February 24, 1887

Because our predecessors of the path were able to firmly settle in their minds the profound divine intention that is embodied in that day, January 26, this path of single-hearted salvation has made great advancements. When you think about it, the entirety of Oyasama's parental love and everything Oyasama taught us during the fifty-year course of Her life after having been settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi in 1838 is condensed into this one day--January 26. And that is the parental love of Oyasama as exemplified in the words "Because of My love for you, My children. . . ."

Understanding the divine intention in Oyasama's withdrawal on that day is what enables us to commit ourselves to follow the path seriously and decisively.

To put this in a different way, if we fail to understand the divine intention embodied in that particular day, then we will never be able to understand why we should engage in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings, engage in salvation work, or do missionary work. Neither will we understand why we should make contribution and dedication to Jiba. In such a state of mind, we might imagine that faith is only for those suffering from illnesses and troubles, that salvation work should be done only by those with time to spare, and that contributing money and material things can be left to those who are financially well-off or secure.

The phrase "save the world from now" tells us that now is the time. It starts now. From now, the path of salvation opens up. What had been clearly inscribed in the minds of the followers, who regained their senses after listening to this Divine Direction, was, of course, Oyasama's guidance while She was still physically present and Her fifty-year course of life.

A Divine Direction says:

It is not the path formed by a scholar, or the path formed out of human thinking. Out of the law of nature, the real and true God formed the path for fifty years.

Osashizu, July 1887

Listen and understand well the truth of fifty years.

Osashizu, January 8, 1891

These words rekindled memories of Oyasama's guidance and instruction.

Day after day, the concern of the Parent is only about the means to save you.

Ofudesaki, XIV:35

Just as taught in this verse, what came to the minds of the predecessors was the parental heart of God the Parent, the Parent of all humankind. All of us who are here now have never seen Oyasama in person or heard Her voice. However, because of the oral traditions and the teachings handed down to us from our predecessors, Oyasama resides here in our hearts. The impression felt by our predecessors, who were received by Oyasama and heard Her words directly from Her mouth, is described in The Life of Oyasama:

Everyone who saw Oyasama in Her advanced age was awe-stricken and yet felt a heartwarming intimacy at Her incomparable holiness and Her indescribable tenderness, wondrously fused into one. . . . People who came to the Residence intending to ask Her about this or that found their doubts and complaints disappear without a trace at the mere sight of Her, even before She said a single word, and they became filled with joy and brightness in their hearts and immersed in an indescribable peace.

The Life of Oyasama, pp. 122-123

After being received by Oyasama and hearing Her say, "Welcome back" and "Thank you for your efforts," everyone would embrace a resolve to go through any hardship willingly and to follow Oyasama and the path She taught. Such was the attraction they felt at coming into contact with the mind of the true Parent.

People opened their hearts to Oyasama after being shown instances of miraculous salvation from their illnesses and troubles. More importantly, they became filled with Oyasama's warm, bright, and boundless parental heart and pledged to follow Her for their lifetime. I would now like to share the stories of a couple of those followers.

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