February Monthly Service Sermon 2006

By Honbu-in Masahiko Iburi  (2)

The Story of Tokijiro Saji

In the spring of 1884, a young man who was enlisted in the army stayed at an inn in Nara. It so happened that Oyasama stayed at the same inn. When Oyasama, who was wearing Her red garments, passed near where this man was standing, Oyasama said to him: "Thank you for your work." The instant he saw Oyasama, he was awestruck at Her divine majesty. In later years, this man always told people about his experience, "I decided at that moment to follow the path. The reason why I, who had no personal or physical problems, came to believe in this path was entirely due to the deep impression which I received at that time. This young man was Tokijiro Saji, who later became the first head minister of Koto Grand Church.

The Story of Narazo Hirano

It was around the lunar New Year Day of 1886 when a certain man--who had been so close to death that his family was preparing for his funeral--made a miraculous recovery and returned to Jiba out of his gratitude for the blessings he had been shown. He prayed in front of the Kanrodai, shedding tears of joy.

At the time, Oyasama was being forced to undergo the hardship of detention and interrogation at Ichinomoto Branch Police Station, though it was the coldest winter in thirty years. This man thus went to the police station and worshiped Her from the main street. Upon seeing Oyasama, who willingly underwent the hardship of detention out of Her parental love to save Her children all over the world in spite of Her advanced age, Narazo's heart was flooded with emotion. Overwhelmed with Her graciousness, Narazo bowed and could not bring himself to raise his head for a very long time. Thereupon, this man, Narazo Hirano, who later became the first head minister of Koriyama Grand Church, set out on the path of single-hearted salvation.

Oyasama's intention in falling into the depths of poverty is expressed in the words:

Whoever comes to this house shall never leave without being filled with joy.

The Life of Oyasama, p.19

Moreover, we now understand clearly that She did so out of Her parental love, for She said:

Unless you fall to the depths of poverty, you cannot understand what sufferers feel.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p.2

In Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, we find many anecdotes regarding contests of strength. In Her advanced age, Oyasama held a young man's hands and asked him to put his strength into it. The harder he squeezed, the more painful his hands became, and soon he admitted his defeat. He realized that She was really more than human and became convinced that this must be the workings of God. Depending on the amount of strength or the amount of sincerity we exert, the Parent responds and shows us boundless workings. That is the parental heart, and these anecdotes demonstrate this point.

The fifty-year model demonstrated by our Parent is the foundation of this path. And Her fifty-year model is our source of strength, which enables us to walk this path. On January 26, Oyasama withdrew from physical life out of Her love for Her children, and thereafter this path of single-hearted salvation took a large step forward. Our predecessors became forward-thinking and began to walk this path with firm conviction because of Oyasama's fifty-year Divine Model.

At times when we are being sucked into a whirlwind of human thought and facing many knots in our life, we might allow our spirits to fall. But if we keep Oyasama's fifty-year path of the Divine Model in our mind, we will never lose sight of this path, thus allowing us to correct the course of our path as we continue walking the path of single-hearted salvation. Our worthiness as Yoboku lies in our capacity to feel Oyasama's warmth and parental love and the degree of our seriousness in striving to integrate Oyasama's Divine Model in our mind.

Furthermore, the Oyasama's fifty-year model reveals not just the intention of the Parent. It is the model that leads us toward the Joyous Life and our source of salvation, showing us the way of handling our minds in order to be saved as well as the orientation of our minds toward spiritual growth.

In the Divine Directions, we read:

In any kind of path, all of you must emulate the fifty-year Divine Model of Oyasama.

Osashizu, May, 1887

I speak of nothing difficult. 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

When I ponder over the Divine Model of Oyasama, these two important phrases come straight to my mind:

1)"When we drink water, it tastes of water." [The Life of Oyasama, p. 32]

2)"Through saving others, you will be saved." [Ofudesaki III:47]

"When we drink water, it tastes of water." Oyasama made this remark when She was instructing Her youngest daughter, Kokan, after falling to the depths of poverty. Under any circumstances, we can find joy depending solely on our use of mind. This is the principal theme of our spiritual life. In order to become of such a mind, the matter of critical importance is to what extent we can renounce our attachment to material things and worldly matters. This is what Oyasama demonstrated through Her own example.

All of us human beings want to be saved. We want to be saved at any cost. And we begin to follow this path out of our desire to be saved. On the contrary, there is nothing more troublesome than people who do not want to be saved. Our of our desire to be saved, we are drawn to the path of salvation. However, you will not be saved by only wishing to be saved. If you truly want to be saved, then you must share in the pains, sufferings, and tears of others. When you dedicate your true sincerity for the well-being of others and pray for them, then the path of salvation opens up before you. This is what Oyasama demonstrated for us.

We all know that when we drink water, it tastes of water. We also know that through saving others, you will be saved. However, we cannot transform our minds that easily. Even though we understand the logic behind these words, it is not easy to replace our mind, and that is the nature of human beings. Therefore, the Parent first demonstrated the path of salvation through Her own example, which is taught as the Divine Model. If we could follow the path of the Divine Model, however little, even a step, then at least we would be taking a step toward following Her Divine Model and making a small positive change in our use of mind. That is precisely why Oyasama's fifty-year model is our dependable guide.

In any kind of path, for any kind of person, those who lack a dependable guide become completely disoriented. Such people would speak and behave by simply giving into their greed and desire as suits the occasion. Money, material things, and even people become mere tools to satisfy greed. Eventually, they would start making arrogant comments such as "money can buy people's minds" and thereby give rise to a social climate which approves of such a remark. Now is a time when our society has worsened to the full extent. It is the truth of Heaven that such a conventional way of thinking would surely meet a dead end.

Living in such a world, we Yoboku, who have Oyasama's Divine Model as our dependable guide, should keep--as the guideline for our daily use of mind--single-heartedness with God, which is single-hearted salvation, meaning world salvation.

The original source of our daily actions lies in our gratitude for the blessings we receive from God the Parent and Oyasama. Hinokishin is the manifestation of such gratitude. Our action as Yoboku is always based on the spirit of hinokishin. We Yoboku live for the cause of world salvation and the realization of the Joyous Life World. We live by the spirit of hinokishin during the course of our daily life. Regardless of our occupation, position, or location, these represent the attitude and the guidelines of genuine and real Yoboku.

In the past, the Three Guiding Principles for the practice of faith were announced: the spirit of single-heartedness with God, the attitude of hinokishin, and unity of minds.

In this harsh world which drifts farther away from the Joyous Life, let us Yoboku proceed forward on the path courageously and spiritedly with the Three Guiding Principles in our minds.

The Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service has been duly performed. However, from the perspective of realizing the Joyous Life World, it was merely a passing point. And this passing point is important. It is at this juncture when each one of us must reflect and make certain of our state of mind and the manner in which we have proceeded on the path as followers of this path.

As we agreed before, we are emphasizing the importance of returning to Jiba this year. Let us return to Jiba so that we can come into contact with Oyasama's heart, bathe in Her benevolence both in mind and body, and firmly settle in our minds the divine intention embodied in January 26. That will heighten our preparedness and commitment to set out toward the next milestone on the path of world salvation.

Thank you for listening.

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