Sermon at the
Spring Grand Service

January 26, 2007  (2)

At present, there is a growing tendency to think that all is well if the present is well for oneself alone, but we must not lose sight of the fundamental reference point that we, as followers of Oyasama's teachings, should always base ourselves on. That is, we should try to see how Oyasama would think and how She would act and behave. We should ask ourselves these questions at every opportunity.

There are, I am sure, other obstacles that can confront us as we try to follow the path intended for us. Although there must be a plausible-sounding explanation for why each of those obstacles exists, ultimately they all boil down, I believe, to human thinking or the state of mind that gives priority to one's own convenience. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in such human thinking and lose sight of the basic principle that should be guiding us in ordering our priorities, then not only will we deviate from the path, but we may hinder the path itself. I therefore suggest that, no matter what is happening, all of us constantly bear in mind the dependable guide that Oyasama taught us--the guide on which all our decisions and ponderings should be based.

As has already been announced, we will be holding the Seminar for Successors in twenty-five sessions starting in August this year. The two-night, three-day seminar is intended for those between the ages of twenty and forty--including the children of church head ministers--who are expected to carry the path forward in the future. Judging by the age bracket, one might say that this seminar is really intended for people who are already most active rather than future successors. That is all the more reason why I hope that its participants will further deepen their faith so that they will be able to implement the teachings with a stronger conviction. As for those of you who are responsible for sending them to the seminar, may I ask you to bear in mind that it is designed as an opportunity? It is meant to provide younger people with an opportunity to strengthen their connection with their churches and increase their enthusiasm for participating in their churches' activities. Yet the seminar will only bear fruit if you continue making sincere efforts to help guide them. I, therefore, want to ask for your close cooperation in this regard.

Given the path's aim of building the Joyous Life World by saving all humankind, it goes without saying that it is indispensable to carry out the "vertical mission"--that is, handing down the teachings from parents to children--besides spreading the teachings to new people. The effort to pass down the teachings should be directed not only toward the intended participants in the Seminar for Successors but toward all Yoboku's children. We must impart our faith to our children and to our grandchildren under the conviction that our duty is to ensure that the children of every Yoboku grow up into Yoboku.

Moreover, I hope that we can hand down the teachings in such a way that virtue will grow in each succeeding generation. In order for this to occur, however, it is important to teach and guide the younger generation by showing an example of a way of living that befits followers of the path through the way we live our own lives. I believe that there are things that cannot be explained in words, whether spoken or written. I want to ask you to convey those things through your actions, through your own implementation.

In Anecdotes of Oyasama, we can find many exemplary models of how we should lead our daily lives as Yoboku or how we ought to conduct ourselves as befits followers of this path. Whereas The Life of Oyasama is intended to make clear the truth of Oyasama, Anecdotes of Oyasama provides a vivid portrayal of Her as the Parent of the Divine Model through many stories about Her boundless parental love. Some of these stories concisely summarize essential points of our faith, and others teach and explain in an easy-to-understand manner what we should keep in mind if we are to live as followers.

In the Ofudesaki, it is Part XV that urges the implementation of the Service in the strongest terms. This part was written in 1880, the year in which anecdote no. 74, entitled "Following God's Path," takes place. We read in that anecdote:

Oyasama vigorously urged the performance of the Service in the autumn of 1880. When people were hesitating to comply with Her words because it was a period of strict vigilance and interference by the police, Oyasama sternly urged them to comply through this Timely Direction:

Crushing God's path by excessive concern for man's obligations is not the path at all. The true path consists in standing up for the path of God, not for the path of man. Sah, will you crush the principle of God and stand up for the principle of man? Will you not stand up for the principle of God rather than the principle of man? Now answer one of these.

This Timely Direction is worded in a stern manner reminiscent of the Divine Direction delivered on January 26, 1887, which I quoted earlier--the one that preceded the Service performance on that day. The Timely Direction recorded in this anecdote refers to the "principle of man" and "man's obligations" in place of the "law" mentioned in the 1887 Divine Direction. The expressions we have here can convey a much wider range of meanings than the word "law."

The followers who received this Timely Direction in 1880 were still unprepared for the performance of the Service. Taken aback, they held discussions and asked for God's further guidance with regard to an insufficient number of performers of the Service and their lack of practice in performing it, while at the same time doing what they could to prepare for it. As if to respond to their worries, Oyasama is reported to have said:

Sah, sah, musical instruments, musical instruments. For the present, even if you play "two" in the place of "one," or "three" in the place of "two," God will forgive. God will accept the harmony of the hearts of the performers. Understand this well.

The followers, according to this anecdote, were relieved to hear these words and started performing the Service joyously. The anecdote clearly brings out Oyasama's warm parental love for us, as well as Her sternness in demanding our conformity to truth.

Each story recorded in Anecdotes of Oyasama has profound meaning, which becomes increasingly clear and allows us to feel ever closer to Oyasama as we read it over and over. Further, these anecdotes are not at all stories of bygone events with little relevance to us but deal with many topics and issues that we encounter in our own lives. The anecdotes provide us with excellent examples of how to live the teachings. I therefore suggest that you read them repeatedly and ever more deeply and make full use of them in your daily lives.

I trust that many of you have been able to make great strides in your spiritual growth through the pre-120th Anniversary activities, which started upon the announcement of Instruction Two, as well as the activities promoted during the year of the anniversary. I am sure many have been blessed with having wonderful blessings shown. On the other hand, these anniversary-related activities may have brought to the attention of some of you problems and issues that you or your churches have to address. It is when we do our utmost to achieve goals we set that we can develop our strength, come to clearly see where we stand, and identify our strong and weak points.

The year of the 120th Anniversary is over but, rather than sitting back and resting, we would be well advised to continue working to further strengthen our conviction of faith and enhance our capacity to implement the teachings. Also, where issues and problems have emerged, it is necessary to make a conscious effort to address them, taking corrective and supportive action, rather than leaving them as they are. We may say that we have now entered a period when we should be laying the foundation for the future--an effort that may not immediately bear fruit and may be likened to sowing seeds.

As I have said elsewhere, Oyasama's anniversaries are milestones on our long journey toward the Joyous Life of all humankind. These anniversaries are key junctures at which we are to once again ensure we fully understand our ultimate goal and to review the direction in which we are moving, so that we can make further progress by encouraging one another and joining our efforts. Considering how far away our destination may lie, we could feel disheartened at times, wondering how long it might take to complete our journey. Given the present state of the world, it may take a very long time. However, this does not mean that we are utterly unable to savor the Joyous Life until the entire world is reconstructed as the Joyous Life World. As those of us who are aware of God's intention continue implementing Oyasama's teachings and trying to savor the Joyous Life, we will find joyous living gradually emerge and spread in wider and wider circles as intended by God. Those of us who are Yoboku should lead this endeavor, which can unfold from our churches in various countries and areas.

Although the anniversary-related activities have now come to an end, I hope that you will maintain the "mind of saving others," which you have nurtured and cultivated through such activities. I want to ask you to give full expression to the "mind of saving others" by proactively reaching out to those who do not have a dependable guide, sprinkling the fragrance of God's intention on them, administering the Sazuke to those with illness, and listening to any problems that people have. In this way, you can work for the salvation of others. I am hoping that these efforts will lead to the enhancement of your performance of the service and your work to spread the teachings, for these tasks constitute the core of your churches' activities in ordinary times. In terms of building on the anniversary-related activities and further invigorating the Tenrikyo community in the years ahead, how we perform our tasks this year will be truly significant.

I would now like to conclude my remarks by asking all of you to set out anew in high spirits toward making this year truly meaningful.

Thank you for listening.

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