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Greeting

August 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let’s make hinokishin part of our daily lives.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

On June 27th, the Convention to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps was held at the Yoki Hall.

At the convention, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Rev. Zensuke Nakata read a message from the Shinbashira.

I’d like to read the last part of that message.

“In your daily lives, I’d like you to devote yourselves to proactively implement the practice of Hinokishin and continue to develop the Hinokishin spirit. With this, we can look to the goal of receiving blessings of a world with no disasters.”

Every year, many places suffer from damages done by natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. There is no shortage of disasters.

This year, there has been a lot of rainfall in Japan, however in Brazil, there have been droughts and frost damage that has greatly impacted the production of coffee beans.

It is gratifying if we can receive blessings of fire, water and wind in good balance, but that is not how it always is.

God the Parent, with the Parental heart to save humankind, must be frustrated with the slow spiritual maturity of us children, and with a deep regret, shows us these disasters as guidance for us to “build up your minds and hearts.”

Through this, I feel the Shinbashira is saying to “proactively implement the practice of hinokishin within our daily lives.”

The “implementation of hinokishin" is also “practicing the teachings.” This is also to be carried out “within your daily lives.” This is not hinokishin to be carried out during a special gathering, when on duty or during a disaster relief, much less to say, words alone would not serve its purpose.

I feel we are being taught, that if not carried out with an “attitude of hinokishin,” or the “spirit of hinokishin” on a normal basis, it will not be hinokishin in its true essence.

Prior to implementing hinokishin, it is important to feel gratitude toward the daily blessings received from God the Parent. It is hinokishin to repay the blessings we receive. I want to reflect my gratitude to God the Parent for the blessings received with the manner in which I do hinokishin.

Finally, so that we can receive the blessings of a world without natural disasters, let us always strive to do hinokishin daily.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

August 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

“Let us engage in salvation work spontaneously, giving out all the sincerity we have.”

Rev. Mitsuharu Takagaki
Associate Board Member, Honjima Grand Church

Rev.takagakiMitsuharu

(Summary)

Last year in March, the World Health Organization, WHO, declared that the novel coronavirus infection had reached the level of the pandemic. Since then, its fury has not abated, and our lifestyles have been changed. Today, we have more than 20,000 new cases of coronavirus each day, and a state of emergency has been declared in many places.

Looking back the history, humankind has repeatedly battled with numerous epidemics.

Cholera, which was prevalent during Meiji era, in mid-1800s, infected more than 160,000 people in Japan in 1879, and about 105,000 of them lost their lives (Report from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare).

In the Ofudesaki, we are taught,

The world is saying that it is cholera, but it is
Tsukihi informing you of the regret. (Ofudesaki XIV:22)

The “regret of Tsukihi” is interpreted as the divine will of God that was in connection with the state of the world, and, through the cholera epidemic, God wishes humans to change such state of the world.

I believe, through this knot of the pandemic, we are being urged to ponder over our state of mind and how we should live each day.

In the following Ofudesaki, we are taught:

The reason Tsukihi began human beings
Was the desire to see you lead a joyous life. (Ofudesaki IV: 25)

As you can see, the reason why God the Parent created human beings is so we can live the Joyous Life, and God the Parents wants to see us live the Joyous Life and share in that joy.

This “Joyous Life” would be the ideal life blessed with health, prosperity, and peace all the while forgetting greed.

This novel coronavirus could not be contained in one country’s epidemic prevention, and the infection spread to the world in a blink of an eye. On the other hand, I was surprised and filled with hope when humankind was able to develop a vaccine within one year and vaccination efforts began nationwide.

The world is working together to overcome the woes of coronavirus. The world may be united by the coronavirus crisis. If we think of it that way, we can ponder that the coronavirus crisis is a divine guidance from God the Parent.

In the Ofudesaki, we are also taught:

Illness and pain of whatever kind do not exist.
They are none other than the hastening and guidance of God (Ofudesaki II: 7)

In the face of illnesses and injuries, in general, people say it’s just an illness or pain but it is not. We can interpret as it is the hastening of God, given through God’s profound divine intention.

However, human tend to be self-centered and fall into use the mind in a way, “all is well if the present is well.”

Currently in Japan, the 4th declaration of the state of emergency was announced. However, people are like “I understand the importance of refraining from doing things but...” and use the “pandemic exhaustion” as an excuse to justify themselves, “I deserve a break.”

Such perspective, “even if I refrain from doing things but what if others are not?” is a manifestation of a self-centered thought, which occupies the minds of many.

We are given the freedom in the use of our minds from God the Parent. Although we can use our minds freely, often times we find it easy to be frustrated and find it difficult to be joyful in our minds.

I believe that, in order to have joyful mind, we must take action proactively

One of the religious belief I learned from my father, late Rev. Masuo Takagaki, a grand church board member, that I cherish is “Give it out,” “Give it completely,” and “Give it unconditionally.”

For instance, when you buy something, since you paid for it first, the item becomes yours. If you pocket the item without paying, it is a crime.

Also, if you get a job and work for a month, you will get paid for the month worked. You won’t get paid one month in advance if you haven’t done anything.

In the world, things start from “giving.” We must “give completely.” Giving completely would mean to do things with all of one’s true sincerity. Further, let’s talk about “giving unconditionally.” Giving unconditionally is a mindset that doesn’t think about, or hope for, something in return.

That is to say, during the coronavirus pandemic, or even in normal times, we must constantly make an effort to give our sincerity to salvation work, give fully and not seek anything in return. I believe that that will be an effort to near the intention of our parent, not waiting for something to be given to us, but to take actions ourselves, find joy, and be able to accept all things that come about as “blessings.”

We are celebrating the Grand Church’s 120th anniversary on May 21st next year.

In everything that we do, let us have our mind’s antennae up so that we don’t miss the voice of our parent, and take unmistaken and certain steps one after another, getting closer to our parent’s intentions, so that we can welcome the grand milestone together.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

July 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let us spread the teachings to those close to us, especially in times like this

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to share with you some of the announcements made during a Kaname-kai meeting at the Church Headquarters. It is about the “All Tenrikyo Nioigake Day.”

Last year, the activity was cancelled to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but the head of the Missionary Department has announced that it will be held this year.

The activity plans, such as roadside speech, spreading the name of God, and door-to-door missionary, are to be discussed at each diocese and district.

It is also important that we consciously spread the teachings to those close to us in times like this. Let us develop the mind to convey the teachings to those around us.

By the way, the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics will be held tomorrow (July 23). All participating athletes, who represent their countries, have made strenuous effort to earn the representation. No athletes have won the spot easily. Just like the Olympic athletes, let us also set a big goal, even if it is challenging, and work hard for the path, instead of going an easy way.

On August 21, Honjima Chapter Boys and Girls Association Convention will be held at the grand church. For those children who cannot attend, we will send the message of the Association president to each church prior to the convention. Please have the children gather at your church and listen to the message of the president, which will be their guidelines for the second trimester forward.

Your cooperation will be much appreciated

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

July 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

Let’s make time to seriously come face-to-face with God the Parent

Rev. Motohiro Iwahashi
Grand Church Associate Board Member

Rev.iwahashiMotohiro

(Summary)

There was an article in the Michinotomo that relayed a story about a church head minister who performs the prayer service for someone six times a day.

His words at the end of the article, “I would like to make time to seriously come face-to-face with God the Parent,” really struck a cord with me.

Soon after I read the article, my wife’s aunt collapsed due to a cerebral infarction stroke and at the same time, she was also diagnosed with terminal cancer.

So my wife and I decided to perform the prayer service six times a day.

Usually, we are busy with our church duties or job. Our minds are also busy and we think about this and that.

In our busy schedules, in order to calm our minds, switch our mindset and converse with God the Parent, it is imperative that we consciously focus ourselves.

When I performed the prayer service six times a day, I was able to face God without rushing and I could see clearly that I was usually just performing the service, not fully focused.

Calling out God’s name in earnest is the foundation of the service, but had I really been intending to call God the Parent when I chanted “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto”?

When I sang, “Ashiki harai tasuke tamae (All ills sweep away),” was I really praying, “God, please save me”?

Were my hand movements really dancing the truth?

In his address at the Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year 2021, the Director-in-chief of Religious Affairs said: “I would like the parents, who are also nurturing members of the Boys and Girls Association, to be able to convey the strenuous efforts and joy to perform the ‘service’ to ‘save someone,’ administer the ‘Sazuke,’ bring someone back to ‘Jiba’ to receive the blessings, instead of simply saying ‘we are living joyously,’ and/or ‘our family is happy.’”

In Song Six of the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service, we are taught:

Second, As I work miraculous salvation, I discern any and everything.
Third, The innermost hearts of all in the world, are reflected to Me as in a mirror.
Fourth, I am pleased that you have followed to join the Service. This Service is the fundamental way for salvation.

As written in the Mikagura-uta, God the Parent and Oyasama is always discerning our minds.

We should be conscious of God the Parent and Oyasama’s presence when we perform the service.

As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I had been performing the prayer service for my wife’s aunt, six times a day. Something I read in a faith essay on the Tenrikyo Students’ Association website “Happist,” caught my eye. In the essay, “The path to conviction,” Rev. Nobuya Noguchi described in detail of his missionary experience in Thailand and the “the most sincere way to pray for others” is to perform the seated service and Twelve Songs of the Mikagura-uta three times in the morning and three times in the evening for three days and three nights consecutively.”

After reading this essay, it crossed my mind to perform the Three Day, Three Night prayer service.

If you think about how much time this will take, you may stumble, but I whole-heartedly started doing this, not wanting to feel regret for not doing it at all.

Every morning, we would wake up earlier than usual and perform the Twelve Songs of the Mikagura-uta twice, then after performing the morning service, we would dance the Twelve Songs again. Then, after evening service, we would perform the prayer service three times in a row.

We continued this for 3 days, and on the third day, as I was thinking I would be happy to receive some sort of sign, upon completing the third repetition of the Twelve Songs of the hand dance in the morning, my wife astonishingly exclaimed, “Oh! What happened?” after seeing the back of my head.

What she saw was a bald spot about the size of a quarter. I had contracted what was called, alopecia areata, a form of spot baldness.

Initially I did not understand God’s message. However, I feel perhaps somewhere within me I was arrogantly feeling, “So, I am doing this much.”

However that night, after completing the 3rd repetition of the prayer service, through a conversation with my wife, I learned an immensely valuable lesson.

When my aunt in-law, for whom we were performing the prayer service for, collapsed due to a cerebral infarction stroke in late April and was admitted to the hospital, they found she had terminal cancer. From the time she collapsed she experienced no pain.

The fact she experienced no pain was for her and her family a truly thankful blessing.

However, as I was wondering what truth was allowing her to receive this blessing at which point my wife shared the following recollection.

My wife’s grandmother, her aunt’s mother, was a person that was enthusiastic about salvation work to the point that she would ride a bicycle over mountains to do salvation work even if she received a phone call for help in the middle of the night.

Her grandmother passed away from cancer, but while she was battling cancer, she administered the Sazuke when she was asked by her best friend to do salvation work for her friend who was suffering from terminal brain cancer.

Due to the truth of efficacy of the Sazuke, that person’s pain was alleviated to the point that morphine was not required.

It was only when my wife’s grandmother passed away did that person realize she was doing salvation work while she herself had cancer, and although in serious condition, that person attended my wife’s grandmother’s wake and thanked her by saying “I have received salvation.”

I think that it was because of the virtue of my wife’s grandmother’s spirit and my aunt received a blessing of not having to suffer the pain from cancer.

After finishing the Three Day, Three Night prayer, I felt that it was as if God taught us, “This is what a true missionary,” and I felt very grateful.

Even in the midst of this pandemic, if we use our minds to save others, God the Parent and Oyasama will work in accordance with our sincere minds and help us with the path to grow spiritually.

For the Anniversary, even though the ways of each one of us may be different, let us be united in mind to achieve the Goals for Spiritual Maturity that are equally the same for everyone.

I am looking forward to seeing you all at the Anniversary in May next year.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

June 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

“At the time of knots, ponder the truth contained within and make spiritual resolutions.”

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to share with you some of my thoughts.

Vaccinations are making progress but I honestly don’t know whether the pandemic will end or the next wave of variant virus will ravish the world.

However, considering that this is all done by God the Parent, I feel that we must attain better understanding of such a difficult knot. I don’t think we should conclude this as happy ending when the pandemic is over.

During the past 2 years, various events and activities have been cancelled. In other words, they have been taken away temporarily by God the Parent. At the same time, this knot provided us the opportunity to review the real purpose of having these events and activities.

Rev. Nagashima talked about “pondering of the truth” in today’s sermon.

In Tenrikyo Dictionary, “Pondering” is defined as following:

【Pondering】 Terminology from Scripture. To think over and contemplate. (…) To ponder is not humans thinking arbitrarily on their own just with human thinking (this is called “self-centered thinking”). In order to understand the teachings that God the Parent revealed, one must listen to the teachings, see God’s workings and ponder. It is important to resolve one’s mind and to decide on things after having done that.

The final verse in the Ofudesaki reads:

I earnestly request each and everyone of you to ponder deeply over these teachings. (Ofudesaki XVII:75)

In the final Divine Directions, also, it says:

All of you must ponder quickly. All of you must apply your strength. I convey my will firmly to you. (Divine Directions June 9, 1907)

I would like to accept this knot as an opportunity for us to reassess the foundation of our faith and for us to take a new step toward the Joyous Life. I want to accept it as God’s parental love, and I will ponder and resolve my mind.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

June 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

“Let’s encourage each other as we walk the path towards our anniversary.”

Rev. Muneyuki Nagashima
Associate Board Member, Honjima Grand Church

Rev.nagashimaMuneyuki

(Summary)

Next year, the 120th Anniversary Service of Honjima Grand Church will be held.

How is everyone planning to prepare for the anniversary?

In the Goals for Spiritual Maturity, there is one that says “Let us nurture those who will shoulder the future of the path.”

I have three children. They have all grown up and now work as civil servants.

I want to convey the faith to my children. Through my desire to have my children learn the faith to believe in God and to lean on God, I started to do a monthly prayer service as a part of the “three year, one thousand days” towards the 120th anniversary.

In our twenties, we become conscious of marriage. In life, happiness comes in many shapes and sizes. There is happiness in single life as well as happiness in married life but I presume we all wonder what kind of person we are going to marry or if we will be able to have a family.

Therefore, I consulted with my children.

“The 120th anniversary commemorative service of our grand church will commence in 3 years. During this seasonable time, wouldn’t you like to sow seeds of sincerity and dedicate yourselves toward the future?” “It is not guaranteed that one can get married, and it is not a guarantee that one can have children. Getting married is a miracle, and having children is also a miracle. All is possible according to the fate granted by God the Parent. So that we can receive good fate in the future, during the 3 years toward the 120th commemorative service of our grand church, how about we do prayer services monthly?” As I made this proposal, my children said, “I would like to do that,” and willingly accepted the suggestion.

Further, I proposed, “every time we do a prayer service, let us make a monetary offering. I will also match your offering amount, so let us make this effort toward the 120th commemorative service!” At this, my children willingly accepted and put my suggestion into practice.

As a parent, it is an extreme joy to be able to give the true sincerity of one’s own child as offering.

Thus our family of five, which includes my wife, myself, and my 3 children began the prayer service.

Before performing the prayer service, there are a few things that I always convey to my children.

“First, let us give thanks for being born in this world, and to express appreciation for being kept alive through the blessings of God the Parent. Next is spiritual resolutions. It is important to resolve yourself to be of service to God and to the Truth of God. People have the intentions to make a resolution but it’s actually not easy to carry it out. As days pass, the resolve may become weaker. That is why, every month, it is important to resolve your hearts in serving God for life and by doing so, your spiritual resolution becomes solid. God will surely accept that sincerity. And finally, is the actual prayer to receive a good outcome.”

Then, after the completion of the prayer service, we listen to the sermon given at the monthly service in Jiba and we have a brief discussion afterwards.

In the second year, I asked my children, “I am thinking about doing missionary work as a family to repay for God the Parent’s blessings. What do you think?” They said they wanted to do it. So from the second year, we have started to go out for missionary work after performing the prayer service, listening to the sermon, and having a discussion.

Every month, I look forward to this and I am grateful be able to do all these in high spirits as a family activity.

In Kendo, Japanese fencing, we have a saying, "Shi-tei-dogyo," which means that the master and students train together with a spirit to improve themselves and encouraging each other in training.

We, the head ministers and Yoboku, as the frontrunners of the path, and through our efforts to pursue the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama, would like to demonstrate those who will shoulder the future of the path how we exert efforts and how we walk the path joyfully and in high spirits. We would also like to work together, encouraging one another.

In the Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, there are many anecdotes of “testing one’s strength.”

“If you let go your strength, God will also let go God’s strength. If you exert strength, God will also exert strength. This applies not only now but always.”
(Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo 174: If You Let Go Your Strength)

Towards the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church, let us to do our utmost, to our fullest of our ability, each and every day

The world is still in a challenging time, and there are days that are difficult to lift your spirits. I think it is okay to pretend that you are spirited. It is okay to pretend. I think God the Parent will still be spirited by seeing us making efforts to do our utmost, even when you are not in high spirits.

I would like to conclude today's sermon by expressing my hope to be able to celebrate the 120th anniversary next year in full of joyous hearts together with all of you.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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