January 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon (Summary)
Let us root ourselves in the “basics” as we follow the path
Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister
At the Church Headquarters New Year’s Meeting held on January 4th, we received words directly from the Shinbashira for the first time in two years. When the Shinbashira spoke about “our basics,” this resonated with me.
So this year, I would like to think deeply about what our basics are as we follow this path. As you listen to this talk, I would like you to keep these “basics” in the corner of your mind.
First of all, I would like to talk about the basics of salvation work.
We, Yoboku, as instruments of Oyasama, are attendants accompanying Oyasama. Oyasama withdrew from physical life on January 26, 1887, opening the portals and stepping out toward world salvation. No matter where we go, let us constantly be aware that we are accompanying Oyasama as we engage in salvation work.
Oyasama is by our side, so although it seems as though we are the ones conducting salvation work, in reality, I feel that we are actually learning various things from the other person. Rather, sometimes I feel that Oyasama is trying to let us learn something and giving us a chance to grow spiritually through the person who is ill.
Over 20 years ago, it was when my eldest daughter was born at a hospital in Marugame. I went back to Tenri immediately to ask the Shibashira to name my daughter. When I left the entrance of the follower’s dormitory, my grandmother Kozue stopped me and said, “Wait! Where are you going?”
I thought that I had just told her that my daughter was born, and replied to her, “I am going to see the Shnibashira and ask him to name my daughter.” She simply said, “That is wrong.” Then she scolded me by saying, “First of all, go to the Kanrodai and God the Parent to give thanks.”
It is obvious and our basics. However, when we are thinking only about ourselves, we sometimes forget the basics. As I reflect, I think she might have thought that how I could go ask the Shinbashira without offering a short prayer even though I was back to Jiba. I am still grateful and thankful that I did not make a mistake of getting the order wrong.
This was around 1875 or 1876, when Rev. Rin Masui first entered the faith, while in the midst of her fervent effort to return to the Residence. She had somehow reached the Residence, body cold to the bone after having traveled through a big snowstorm. Oyasama said to Rev. Rin,
“Oh, I am so glad to see you have come. God the Parent lent a hand to bring you home. You had a hard time, slipping at many places. However, you were joyful. Sah, sah, God the Parent accepts fully, fully. Whatever you ask, it is accepted. God protects you. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it!”
So saying, Oyasama grasped Rin’s cold hands with both Her own. It was something more than warming them over the brazier. Rin was moved with gratitude and awe at the inexpressible warmth of Oyasama.
To all her children who return home to Jiba, Oyasama is waiting with open arms saying, “God the Parent accepts fully, fully. Whatever you ask, it is accepted. God protects you. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it!”
Therefore, for all those returning to Jiba, I would like you to align your thoughts with these three things:
1.Your dedication to Jiba.
2.Be useful at Jiba.
3.Make Jiba the place you will always return home to.
In the Ofudesaki unnumbered set, it says,
The seeds of your sincere devotion sown day after
day, I have certainly accepted.
The seed which God truly accepts will never decay
through all eternity.
When these seeds sprout in n the course of time, it
will be the talk of all ages to come.
We are taught that the seeds of sincerity you sow will not go bad.
Due to my parents’ education philosophy, I attended an American elementary school in Kobe. There was no school on the weekends, so I often returned to the followers’ dormitory in Tenri from Friday evening to Sunday.
On Saturday mornings, when I was in Tenri, my grandmother Kozue would take me to the South Worship Hall to attend the service. I thought I would be in luck if we can go to Foundress Hall and the Memorial Hall directly from there, but that was not so. Very often, with wiping cloths in hand, we would take part in wiping down the floors of the corridor as we made our way to the Foundress Hall and the Memorial Hall.
Looking back now, to my grandmother, it was a given to give thanks and prayers at the Main Sanctuary, Foundress Hall and to our ancestors at the Memorial Hall, but she was also teaching me, her grandson, that because the Jiba is the original home of human beings, when we return, we should at least clean the place of our Parent. As I think of this now, I am filled with gratitude.
In order to become of the mind to do “the things to do when you return to the Jiba,” I believe it is helpful that you live in Tenri, at Jiba, at least once.
Not everyone can attend schools in Tenri, or work at the Church Headquarters or at the followers’ dormitory in Oyasato, the Home of the Parent.
That is why it is necessary to attend the three-month Spiritual Development Course.
Let’s make efforts to have many people to attend the Spiritual Development Course so that they may be able to feel that Jiba is the place to return.
The Jiba is the place where human beings were first conceived at the time of creation, where God the Parent resides, and where the Service for universal salvation is performed.
Receiving the truth of the Kagura Service, the monthly service is performed at each local church.
In the Divine Directions, we are taught:
Listen well. People come, looking forward to the monthly service, monthly service. Saying it is delightful to attend the monthly services and attend the monthly services with delighted mind at each locale is the foundation of the path, the foundation of the path.
Osashizu: October 16, 1900 [Trial translation]
Needless to say, the monthly service needs to be performed with serious and focused mind, however, at the same time, we are also taught that performing the service joyously is the foundation of this path.
The goal of Oyasama’s 50-year Divine Model was to perform the Service. Thus, let us make our monthly services so joyous that people cannot wait to attend every month. Likewise, we would like to make the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church, which is coming up in two years, the anniversary that people look forward to—the one people can hardly wait to attend. In order to accomplish it, each returnee should take this anniversary as his or her own, and be the “cast” who can make the anniversary the joyous one.
Next, please allow me to talk about the Women’s Association.
The 110th Anniversary Commemorative Annual Convention of Tenrikyo Women’s Association will be held on April 19 this year.
One of the Goals for Spiritual Maturity for Women’s Association is “Let us follow the Divine Model and become the foundation of the Joyous Life world.”
It means to always pursue the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama and to become the foundation of the Joyous Life. Therefore, wherever you are at any time, please strive to become the source of the Joyous Life and be a kind person.
It is nothing more important to listen to the addresses by the Shinbashira and the president of Women’s Association directly at the convention. In order to settle the truth of these addresses in mind, let us strive to develop your mindset so that you may be able to listen to these addresses with a purified mind.
Further, in our Goals for Spiritual Maturity, we have “Let us dedicate ourselves to nurture people to attend the Besseki lectures and have them continue to attend the Besseki lectures until they complete all nine,” and “Let us nurture those who will shoulder the future of the path.”
In the Divine Directions, we are taught:
The path is to take the lead in order and nurture those who follow.
Osashizu: September 19, 1898 (Trial translation)
One must attend the Besseki lectures and listen to the lectures of God nine times in order to develop his/her mind to receive the truth of the Sazuke. In Chapter 9 of the Doctrine of Tenrikyo, we are taught:
A follower thus called forth returns to the Home of the Parent and attends the Besseki lectures. As one progresses through the sessions, one gradually sweeps away the dusts by virtue of the truth of the teachings, corrects one’s conduct and, finally, the mind becomes clear. The desire to be saved becomes a desire for the salvation of others. This is when the truth of the Sazuke is bestowed and the mind is reborn. The truth of the Sazuke is a divine gift bestowed on the mind of sincerity befitting a Yoboku. Only when the truth of the Sazuke is settled in the mind, will its effectiveness be manifest.
In order to receive the truth of the Sazuke, one must attend the Besseki lectures. However, the important things are to sweep the dust of the mind by virtue of the lectures and develop the mind to want to save others from that of wanting to be saved.
It is important to nurture such minds in order to receive the truth of the Sazuke. Therefore, let us exert effort on this as well.
Further, in our Goals for Spiritual Maturity, we have “Let us nurture those who will shoulder the future of the path.” We only have 16 years until the 150th Anniversary of Oyasama as well as 200th Anniversary of the Founding of the Teachings. If we count the “Three Year, One Thousand Day” preparation period, we only have 13 years until then. Considering 13 years, a 10 year old will be 23 and a 20 year old will be 33 respectively. They will be in their prime.
Let us focus on the future and nurture those who are currently in the Boys and Girls Association age group.
Keeping in the words of the Shinbashira, “our basics,” I shared my thoughts with you today.
Let us be conscious of accompanying Oyasama, and let us sow the seeds of sincerity at Jiba, become useful person for Jiba and bring back as many persons as possible to Jiba.
Thank you so much for your kind attention.
(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)