Expressing gratitude for God the Parent's blessings

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

December approaches as I write this entry; there are only a few days remaining in the year. As I look back, many things happened this year, both domestically and internationally. Surely, each of you experienced numerous developments in your family and personal life. By any measure, we all were able to spend the year in the loving embrace of God the Parent, whose protection reduces large misfortunes to smaller ones and small misfortunes to no misfortune at all. This is something we should be very thankful for.

The Shinbashira* once gave a message on a New Year's Day that went along the lines of: "When New Year's Day arrives, places of worship throughout Japan are filled with people who make their first visit of the New Year. It is no doubt a good thing that people pay their respects in this manner. It is no doubt a good thing for people to pray for divine protection and good fortune in the coming year. However, when I watch the behavior of the general public, I cannot help but have the impression that a mind-set seeking new divine favors strongly prevails over a mind-set that fully appreciates the protection one has received in the old year. I would like for us to cultivate a mind that is able to savor and express our gratitude for our indebtedness to God the Parent on a deeper level."

The Shinbashira has indicated here the importance of a mind-set that can fully savor our indebtedness for God the Parent's blessings as well as the mind-set that recognizes and rejoices at the many ways in which we are indebted to God the Parent. The Shinbashira taught us that anyone with such a mind-set is a person that has multiple sources of joy, which enable him or her to deepen the joy they experience throughout their life.

The joy of being led through another year with our family, the gratitude for the divine protection we receive each day that enables us to use the body we each borrow from God the Parent--the joy and gratitude that come from deeply savoring our indebtedness to God the Parent naturally give rise to the desire to do something to express our appreciation. Action in response to this desire is called hinokishin (see 5.56), and God the Parent eagerly awaits the joy and sincerity we embody in this action.

There are many potential ways to express our indebtedness to God the Parent. Among the most significant ways we can express this gratitude is to make efforts to help save others. How are we to do so? There are many people who are lost on a dark path, living without any knowledge of God the Parent or of God's parental love. An effort to help as many of these people as possible to awaken to the truth that everyone is kept alive by God the Parent and savor the blessings we receive even a moment sooner is the primary means by which we ought to express our gratitude for God the Parent's blessings.

*This article was originally published in 1977, and "the Shinbashira" here refers to the third Shinbashira, Zenye Nakayama.