Sermon at the Spring Grand Service

January 26, 2004  (2)

She took delight in all situations and circumstances because Her heart was filled only with the boundless parental love that desired to lay the path at any cost to save all humankind, Her children. Indeed, Oyasama's Divine Model is a model of finding joy in all things.

On this occasion last year, I said that "three years, one thousand days" indicated the length of time we should try to follow the path of the Divine Model. The fifty-year Divine Model is an example that She set in order to make it easier for us to follow the path.

Of course, times have changed considerably since then. Yet, no matter how things may change on the surface, the basic fact certainly remains that we all borrow the body from God the Parent and are only able to be alive because we are provided for by the complete providence of God the Parent. In addition, the truth that all blessings are provided according to each person's state of mind also remains unchanged.

Oyasama's words and actions are outpourings of Her parental love flowing forth in ways that are appropriate for the time, the circumstances, and the people involved. Although we can no longer see Oyasama physically, She is everliving and is continuing to work as ever before. I believe that, even now, She is watching over Her children, all of us human beings, wishing to help us in any and every way. We may say that it is our mission as Yoboku to ensure that our own actions embody this parental love of the everliving Oyasama. I would like all of us, therefore, to always seek the mind of Oyasama as we go through life. That will lead us to follow the path of the Divine Model.

In a Divine Direction, we read:

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

Every difficult journey has already been taken by Oyasama to show us a model. Indeed, the path She taught is not a path that is impossible to follow.

She also tells us in another Divine Direction:

No parent intends to have her children go through hardships or sufferings.

Osashizu, October 19, 1904, supp. vol.

Even when we find ourselves at our wits' end, the everliving Oyasama will certainly guide us in a manner that is beneficial to us if only we purify our minds and ask Her what to do. Even when we find ourselves in a situation in which everything seems to be going against us, a close look at the fifty-year path of the Divine Model will assuredly provide us with pointers on how to overcome the situation. Let all of us, therefore, always bear Oyasama's Divine Model in mind and follow the path high-spiritedly, looking forward to what lies ahead.

This year is an important year, being the second year of the "three years, one thousand days" season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. During the first year of this season, we sought to ensure a thorough understanding of the purport of Instruction Two as well as actually embark upon the anniversary-related activities. This year is a year in which we ought to accelerate our progress while ensuring that our efforts are implemented in a concerted manner.

I trust that, over the past year, you have been making a determined effort to attain the personal goals you set for spiritual growth in anticipation of the 120th Anniversary. It is no exaggeration to say that your activities this year will determine whether or not you will be able to attain your goals.

Please take this opportunity to reflect on the past year. If you feel that you have fallen behind or that your progress has been below par, you would be well advised to try to gain momentum to catch up. As for those of you who feel that you have done fairly well, please do not slacken your efforts but rather redouble the efforts to perform your tasks. In addition, you should join with people around you in continuing to follow the path so that you can give encouragement to one another.

Last year, I expressed my hope that you would conduct your tasks in such a way that many people would return to Jiba during the year of the 120th Anniversary, thus making Jiba lively each day throughout that year. We can only be blessed with such a lively state at Jiba as a result of spending these "three years, one thousand days" in full accord with the intention of the Parent by making painstaking efforts to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, help others be saved, and provide care and guidance for others. What is important is the way we perform our tasks during this period leading up to the anniversary.

This year marks the fiftieth year since the beginning of the construction of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex, which was undertaken shortly before the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama. May I, therefore, take this opportunity once again to share my reflections on what our predecessors sought to achieve through this construction.

The plans for the Oyasato-yakata have served as the basis for the subsequent construction projects around the Residence and exerted a significant influence upon the way Tenrikyo has conducted its various activities such as the Children's Pilgrimage to Jiba and the Oyasato Construction Young Men's Association Hinokishin Corps.

All followers were extraordinarily enthusiastic about the pre-70th Anniversary activities because they had previously been unable to fully perform the tasks of the path due to a variety of restrictions both during the period of the so-called Adjustment and during the months preceding the 60th Anniversary, which came shortly after the end of the war. It was amid this growing momentum that the plans for the Oyasato-yakata were announced with the aim of giving tangible expression to a level of spiritual growth that would represent the fruit of "Restoration." The Oyasato-yakata plans are based on the following words attributed to Oyasama: "The divine Residence will become eight cho square" (Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 93).

The second Shinbashira explained what it means to bring forth the fruit of Restoration, saying, "Restoration refers to seeking our joy only in the Joyous Life--the Joyous Life so desired by God the Parent" (December 5, 1955, during the ceremony to open the Oyasato-yakata). He then went on to explain the principle underlying the construction of the Oyasato-yakata: "Our determined plan in the construction was to encircle the Jiba, the place of creation and the Residence of God, with the Oyasato-yakata, the Residence of God's children, so that the Parent and children, God and humankind, would become one and partake of the Joyous Life together. It was our purpose to establish a model of the world at peace."

Thus, the Oyasato-yakata, which is designed to center on God the Parent, who resides at the Jiba of Origin, aims to manifest a model of the Joyous Life in which God and humankind--that is, the Parent and children--dwell in perfect union. The construction was undertaken in the hope that this exemplary model would help spread the Joyous Life around the world.

The construction of the Oyasato-yakata has made steady progress over the years, with twenty-five out of the planned total of sixty-eight wings having so far been completed. At present, South Right Wing 2 is under construction.

Fifty years, that is, half a century, represent quite a long time. Now that so much time has passed, we run the risk of forgetting the original intention behind undertaking the construction of the Oyasato-yakata and the true significance of constructing this building-complex.

It is true that the number of completed wings has increased as the years have gone by. With the increase of the wings, however, the number of people who use them and, in particular, the number of those who aspire to embody the underlying principle of the Oyasato-yakata ought to increase. I believe that we need to reflect critically and ponder once again on whether or not the fruit of "Restoration" has really been achieved in parallel with the progress in material construction and to what extent the intended model of the Joyous Life, in which God and humankind dwell in perfect union, has been produced.

Our material construction is not aimed at merely constructing buildings. What is important is how the construction is handled and, once a building is completed, how it is utilized. Our material construction will only have significance when we ensure that it helps advance people's spiritual construction and that a completed building is made use of as a place for more and more people to grow spiritually.

If the Oyasato-yakata is intended as a model of the Joyous Life at the Home of the Parent, local churches are to serve as models of the Joyous Life in their communities. It goes without saying that our local churches in each community are mission facilities that are indispensable for advancing world salvation. If these churches are to perform functions appropriate to their role as training centers for salvation and as models of the Joyous Life, it is of paramount importance for their head ministers to take the lead--and for their followers to join them--in the efforts to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, help others be saved, and perform the service.

When we make proactive efforts to reach out to others and convey the voice of the Parent, we can have our own minds be polished and purified. In fact, praying earnestly for those suffering from illnesses and other troubles, seeking God's intention, and working to build the basis for receiving blessings represent the best way of making spiritual growth. I feel sure that enthusiastic church activities such as these will also serve to promote the construction of the Oyasato-yakata as well.

I would now like to end my remarks by asking all of you to perform your tasks high-spiritedly this year again so that you will be able to attain a level of spiritual growth befitting the current season and receive the blessings promised by this season. Thank you for listening.

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