Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service

October 26, 2006  (1)

May I begin by thanking you most sincerely for the efforts you are devoting to the cause of the path in your daily lives. May I also express my heartfelt appreciation for the trouble you have taken to return to Jiba from near and far to attend the Service today in such large numbers.

I am delighted that we have been able to duly perform the Autumn Grand Service, which celebrates the day of origin of the Teaching. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to invite you to join me in giving fresh thought to the purpose for which Oyasama revealed this Teaching and in considering how those of us who have faith in the Teaching ought to live our lives if we are to accomplish that purpose. May I share some of my thoughts on these themes with you?

It goes without saying that it was for the purpose of saving all humankind that Oyasama was settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi and taught the path of single-hearted salvation leading to the Joyous Life. This, one may say, is a huge goal.

Yet She did not merely declare the goal; She went on to teach in great detail how we could accomplish that goal. The greater a goal is, the longer the way to reach the goal tends to be, and the more serious the difficulties involved are likely to be. Oyasama went through a path of tremendous difficulties for fifty years in a joyful and spirited manner, thereby demonstrating the Divine Model for us Yoboku, who are Oyasama's instruments.

It is our duty as Yoboku to work toward the great goal of saving all humankind by following Oyasama's path with a sense of mission and pride and by constantly bearing Her Divine Model in mind, so that we may spread the Joyous Life in wider and wider circles starting right where we are.

Concerning the significance of the founding of the Teaching and that of Oyasama's withdrawal from physical life, a Divine Direction tells us, "[T]he principle of the founding and that of the ending are one in truth." The second Shinbashira repeatedly explained that these two events, though outwardly different, both come from parental love for all human beings, who are Her children.

A Divine Direction that was delivered shortly after Oyasama's withdrawal from physical life in 1887 said, "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." The passage clearly shows that the event commemorated by the anniversaries of Oyasama stems from parental love for us, Oyasama's children.

As for the other event, the day of origin of the Teaching, chapter one of The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, entitled "Oyasama," quotes the first three verses of the Ofudesaki and then states:

We human beings wander about on the mind's dark paths having nothing to depend upon but our own self-centered imaginations. This is because we have not known the Parent of Origin, nor have we understood the divine heart. God the Parent felt pity for us and, through Oyasama as the Shrine, became revealed at that time to teach all of God's intentions to humankind.

Although God became openly revealed in this world because the Promised Time had arrived, it is also true that the world at the time was beset by confusion, suffering, and conflict resulting from the misuse of the freedom of the mind, with which human beings are endowed as the truth of oneself. It is probably because the world was thus far removed from the Joyous Life that God the Parent said, "I have descended here to save all humankind." In this sense, the founding of the Teaching was also motivated by the parental love that took pity on humankind and desired to save all of us and lead us to the Joyous Life.

We are truly fortunate to be endowed with the freedom of the mind, for without this freedom we would not be able to savor the joy of being alive. On the other hand, isn't it possible that many people would feel bewildered at being given total freedom? They could feel at a loss as to what goal to aim for or what to live for. Trying to achieve something blindly would not necessarily enable one to achieve it, either. Also, it is human nature to get caught up in selfish desires or to fall into idleness when there is no clear goal to work toward. One might, consequently, behave in ways that could bring suffering to oneself. I believe that we can only give full expression to the significance of the freedom of the mind when we know our true goal, understand the truth of heaven, and acquire a reliable standard for the mind. In fact, it is precisely these that Oyasama taught.

Because human beings had been unable to free themselves from the dark paths of the mind despite the training they had received in wisdom and letters, Oyasama revealed the true goal of human life by explaining the very origin of human existence and began to lay the path that would lead to the goal of the Joyous Life. Such was the day of origin of the Teaching.

Then after completing all the arrangements for this path of single-hearted salvation, Oyasama urged us to make a decisive commitment to follow the path by pondering, making decisions, and settling our minds in the light of the Divine Model while basing ourselves on Her teachings given over a fifty-year period and allowing ourselves to be guided by Her workings to be provided by virtue of Her eternal life. Such is the day of origin of Oyasama's anniversaries.

Oyasama's endeavor to lay this path had begun at a time when no one even knew the first thing about single-hearted salvation, as is clear from a later Divine Direction that said: "[T]his path came to be from a time when nothing was clear. You did not know north from south, east from west" (Osashizu, June 6, 1899). Although Her fifty-year effort was filled with hardships, She never perceived them as hardships as She continued working on the arrangements for the complete path of universal salvation out of Her single-hearted parental love for us.

Today, I would like all of us to take this opportunity to give fresh thought to the path of the Divine Model and to pledge that we will implement Her teachings in order to respond to Her intention expressed in these words from a Divine Direction, "To all countries, to the whole world, shall I open the path" (Osashizu, March 29, 1904).

Since the founding of the Teaching, 169 years have passed, and the path is now spreading not only in Japan but also in various overseas regions. Yet the vast majority of the world's population still remain unaware of the true Parent of humankind, the true goal of human existence, or the reliable guide that can help them attain that goal. Meanwhile, our civilizations have made tremendous progress, and our societies have changed a great deal. Nonetheless, the miseries of war only seem to have intensified, and indeed the previous century has even been referred to as one of wars. Furthermore, in our relentless pursuit of ever greater material abundance, we have been damaging nature, which embodies God's providence. In view of the way things are going, one cannot help but feel concerned about the future of humankind. In addition, weakening interpersonal relationships such as family ties are giving rise to a range of social problems. At a time like this, we Yoboku, who have been guided to the ultimate teaching a step before others, ought to take to heart the day of origin of this path, which began with Oyasama alone, and convey this path of universal salvation to more and more people so that this world, which is experiencing increasing confusion and disharmony, can be reconstructed as one of the Joyous Life.

In the sermon I delivered on the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, I proposed that, seeing this entire year as the year of the anniversary, we give expression to the results of our pre-anniversary activities throughout the year by ensuring that the Home of the Parent would always have a lively atmosphere with many people returning to Jiba. I am happy to note that, thanks to the efforts you have made, whether you are church head ministers, Yoboku, or followers, the Sanctuary precincts have indeed been lively, especially over weekends and holidays, with pilgrimage groups organized by churches, dioceses, and districts, as well as families and others, returning to Jiba. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the sincere efforts you have been making through your own positions and roles.

Each and every one of those people--whether they came here for the first time in a long time, for the first time ever, or for the umpteenth time--must have received the truth of the Parent before going back to their own parts of the world. In order to ensure that the truth they received blossoms and bears fruit rather than remains dormant forever, I want to ask you to continue providing them with sincere guidance and care.

We only have two more months left before this anniversary year comes to an end. Some of you, to your delight, may already have been blessed with being shown the results of your anniversary-related activities. On the other hand, some of you may have yet to see such results, but I want to encourage you not to give up on your anniversary activities and, instead, to take this opportunity to rededicate yourselves to those activities. Indeed, I hope you will continue your efforts throughout the remaining two months while looking forward to having such results shown. Working on our anniversary activities spiritedly will provide a springboard for a new departure for the next stage of our journey.

As I always say, Oyasama's anniversaries do not represent the finish line; they are milestones along the way toward the great goal of attaining the Joyous Life for all humankind.

Although striving to respond to Oyasama's intention is an effort each of us, as a follower of the path, ought to be making at all times on an individual level, Her anniversaries provide special opportunities for all of us to work together in unity of mind to achieve a new level of spiritual growth by conducting activities aimed at bringing joy to the everliving Oyasama. Such are our anniversary-related activities. In fact, through working on these activities, we have been able to savor the kind of high-spiritedness and elation that would not have been possible through individual efforts alone. Some activities and projects, such as the construction of buildings, have only been accomplished because we joined our efforts in unity of mind.

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