Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service

October 26, 2006  (2)

What is also vital, however, is to ensure that the activities we work on together during the special, committed drives lead to the enhancement of our continued and sustained work in ordinary times beyond such special periods. The work we do in ordinary times requires patience and steadiness that are grounded in the basic, core teachings.

Oyasama often used the analogy of farm work to convey Her teachings. The activities we conduct in special periods could be likened to the focused work that needs to be done in the crucial harvest season. The work we do during ordinary times, then, could be compared to the steady efforts required to ensure a good harvest, such as tilling the land, fertilizing the soil, irrigating the fields, protecting the crops from insect pests, and weeding. We can only harvest a good crop if we make such steady, day-to-day efforts. A good harvest will also provide new seeds, which will grow and bear fruit in the future.

In terms of the work of our churches, the activities that should be conducted at all times include performing the services and spreading the teachings. The primary mission of our churches is to perform the services to have God and Oyasama be spirited so that the blessing of universal salvation, which will include the true settling of the world, may be shown. In order to fulfill this mission, it is essential to make every effort to ensure that there are a sufficient number of people to perform the services; it goes without saying that this endeavor includes helping people practice the dance and musical instruments for the service. If we neglect these efforts, our churches may end up with fewer people than are necessary to perform the services properly. In this regard, all Yoboku should not only practice the service so that they can take part in the performance of the services, but they need also to make sincere efforts to help younger members and beginners learn the service.

If we are to save all humankind, we must also strive to spread this ultimate teaching throughout the world. We need to convey the voice of the Parent to those who are experiencing suffering and anxiety, unaware of the existence of their true Parent. We should help and guide them, sincerely working with them so that they may grow spiritually to the point where they will join us Yoboku, who are timber for building the Joyous Life World. Such efforts represent important aspects of the mission of our churches. These efforts will also help improve the way our churches perform the services.

In the lead-up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, I invited all Yoboku to make a special effort to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and help others be saved. I am happy to say that some churches seem to have devised ingenious ways to make it easier for anyone to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and that some seem to have made a committed effort to encourage Yoboku to administer the Sazuke.

What I am hoping for now is that such special, anniversary-related efforts will lead to enhanced activities in ordinary times rather than merely coming to an end with the conclusion of the anniversary season. It is the duty of church head ministers to help ensure that this enhancement does happen by providing leadership, showing an exemplary model to encourage Yoboku to make spiritual growth, and giving them guidance and care as well as joining them on their journey toward spiritual growth.

I very much hope that those of you who are head ministers will feel a sense of pride and joy in performing this important duty. As for the other Yoboku, I hope that they will proactively stay connected to their churches and cooperate and join efforts with their head ministers so that their churches can serve as centers for the practice of single-hearted salvation and as models of the Joyous Life in the local communities.

Lastly, this year marks the fiftieth year since the publication of Kohon Tenrikyo Kyosoden (the Japanese edition of The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo). We cannot practice our faith without following the Divine Model of Oyasama, and The Life of Oyasama provides the crucial reference point that makes it more viable to follow Her Divine Model.

Oyasama's Divine Model is a model of single-hearted salvation and a model of how to live the Joyous Life. It goes without saying that the Divine Model, which embodies single-hearted salvation, comes from Her journey that was motivated solely by Her desire to save all human beings, who to Her are Her own children.

However, after being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi, not only did She fall to the depths of poverty, but She was also subjected to opposition and harassment arising from a lack of understanding on the part of those around Her. Moreover, She was arrested and imprisoned on a number of occasions. Her fifty-year journey along the path was indeed filled with hardships. How, then, can that journey be a model of the Joyous Life?

Her fall into the depths of poverty was in accordance with the intention of God, who said: "Fall to the depths of poverty. Unless you fall to the depths of poverty, you cannot understand what sufferers feel" (Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 4). She kept giving to the needy until there was nothing left to give, saying, "Whoever comes to this house shall never leave without being filled with joy" (The Life of Oyasama, chap. 3). That is how She plunged into the depths of poverty. That is why, even when Her family had no rice to cook, She gave Her children encouragement, saying: "When we drink water, it tastes of water. God the Parent has blessed us with exquisite gifts" (The Life of Oyasama, chap. 3). On one occasion, when about two pounds of rice had been acquired with great difficulty, She did not think twice about giving it away to someone who begged for food at Her gate. Her actions, which were totally free from any concern for Her own needs or those of Her family, embody the boundless parental love of none other than humankind's true Parent, whose sole desire is to save everyone who is suffering.

In another clear expression of this boundless and impartial parental love, She was utterly unconcerned about the appalling conditions of Her imprisonment in January 1886--Her final harship of imprisonment--and, instead, took pity on Her prison guard who appeared to be bored. She expressed a desire to buy a cake for him when a cake peddlar passed by. Indeed, Her parental love sees even those who oppose Her as Her own children dear to Her heart.

Thus, even when subjected to tremendous hardships and difficulties, She remained completely unaffected and found joy in the providence of God, and Her heart was filled solely with parental love for Her children, all human beings. That, I believe, is why Her journey truly models the Joyous Life.

Oyasama's parental love for all human beings does not stop at just loving them. Her love cannot help but seek to save them from their sufferings. That is why She devised concrete methods of salvation, made all arrangements for them, and sought to teach them to more and more people. Furthermore, She Herself demonstrated those methods--which constitute the path of single-hearted salvation--thereby providing us with the Divine Model. Because of the parental love that desires only to save all humankind, She remained totally unaffected by any privations or any hardships of arrest or imprisonment. She was filled with brightness and was always spirited. In other words, Her journey is the Divine Model of the Joyous Life because Her parental love is focused on single-hearted salvation.

As for us, we should not be complacent about just basking in Her parental love. Rather, we should emulate Her parental love by following Her path of single-hearted salvation while remaining joyous and spirited in the face of anything that happens.

The most reliable written sources that can help us follow Her Divine Model are The Life of Oyasama and Anecdotes of Oyasama, which are in fact inseparably linked to each other. The Life of Oyasama represents the culmination of a tremendous endeavor by the first Shinbashira and others to produce an authoritative account of Oyasama's life, an endeavor that started around the time of the 10th Anniversary of Oyasama. We can learn about the true core of the Divine Model by reading The Life of Oyasama and, in addition, we can find a vivid portrayal of Her in Anecdotes of Oyasama. I hope you will savor these books and let them help you implement single-hearted salvation in the course of your daily lives.

With only two months remaining in the current year in which to show the results of our anniversary-related activities, I want to ask you to continue working in a focused manner so as to establish a firm foothold that will allow you to start anew in high spirits toward the next milestone. With this request, I want to conclude my remarks. Thank you very much.

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