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Greeting

December 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Head Ministers’ Meeting

The key words are: Service, Missionary Work, and Pilgrimage to Jiba.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I served as the homeroom teacher for 3-month Spiritual Development Course and I learned so much.

There were 18 students in my class and out of which, two entered the Course for someone else, instead of for her own.

Of the two, one entered the Course wishing for the blessings of recovery for her 0-year nephew who is battling intractable illness while the other entered the Course to accompany her cousin who was hospitalized for 8 years.

Both students dedicated 3 months for her nephew and her cousin, respectively, and entered the Spiritual Development Course.

Through them, I learned that Jiba is such a precious place and is the place, which is the place of human creation, to return to pray for someone else.

During the pre-anniversary activity period for Oyasama’s Anniversary, let us center our thoughts on Jiba and go through “three years, one thousand days” period.

On January 21, the Mission Visit by Church Headquarters’ official will commence, and we will be receiving Honbu-in, Rev. Zenkichi Tanaka. There he will talk about the spirit of the Instruction Four, and we will receive insights regarding our efforts moving forward.

Oyasama went through hardships approximately 18 times, and until the time She withdrew from Her physical life, She hastened those around Her to perform the service.

This is my own personal opinion, but I feel those around Her loved Oyasama very much, and were consumed at wanting to see Her get better. However, Oyasama was hastening the service for world salvation.

Reflecting on the fifty-year path of the Divine Model of Oyasama, first we must firmly in-bed the service within our hearts, and so to bring joy to Oyasama, I would like you to apply your efforts in aligning yourselves with Her desire for us to perform the service.

Finally, along with the service, for the next three years, I would like you to focus daily on your effort toward spreading the teachings.

Last year on November 22, Rev. Yoichiro Miyamori, the church counselor for Honjima Grand Church, visited Honjima, and he talked to us about what is the meaning of “following the Devine Model of Oyasama.”

Rev. Miyamori stated clearly, “to follow the Divine Model means to help those who do not understand attain understanding and to guide them until they do, and we must be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it. This is the Divine Model.”

During this “three years, one thousand days” period, each Yoboku is to be conscious of pre-anniversary activities, and help those who don’t understand to attain understanding clearly until they do and guide them along. Invite them to the church, bring them to Jiba, and moreover, work diligently for them so that they would attend Besseki lectures and Spiritual Development Course. Work diligently for one person first and then move on for the second and the third persons. I would like us to perform the service praying to be able to accomplish these.

Further, when returning to Jiba, let us not just return but think of a way to return to Jiba and how to spend time in Jiba based on how we can bring satisfaction to our spiritual parents.

I personally think that the major keywords are the “service,” “missionary work,” and “pilgrimage to Jiba.” Also, this may be a small thing, but I would like to say “thank you” more rather than being told.

Following the Mission Visit by the Church Headquarters’ Official on January 21, we will hold the “pep rally” on January 25 at Honjima Followers Dormitory. At this gathering, we would like to have a discussion session on the spiritual resolutions of each church based on the Mission Visit by the Church Headquarters’ Official.

I hope that this pep rally will help us nurture all Yoboku and followers who belong to Honjima so that they all perceive the pre-anniversary activities as their own matter and work diligently for it.

Thank you for all your hard work throughout the past year.

I would like to ask for your continued support in the new year.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

December 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

“Constancy is sincerity”—Let us set the goals for our spiritual maturity towards pre-anniversary activities

Rev. Sawami Ikeda
Board Member: Honjima Grand Church

Rev.IkedaSawami

(Summary)

On October 26th, the “Instruction Four” was announced by the Shinbashira and we read it at the followers dormitory auditorium. I felt that the “Instruction Four” is presented in a way aiming to settle in mind regardless of one’s years in following the faith.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like us to believe in the guidance of God the Parent and everliving Oyasama, who is working at the forefront of world salvation, rely on them, and strive for becoming useful instruments them.

I would like to read, “Constancy is sincerity,” from Rev. Yoshikazu Fukaya’s book “Words of the Path."

Constancy is sincerity (kawaran ga makoto)

In the Divine Directions, God the Parent tells us:

Constancy is sincerity. It will not do to change your resolve.
Osashizu, April 27, 1891

This passage teaches us that once we make a resolve, we are expected to abide by it without giving up in the middle and without bending it to suit our convenience. Only when we show constancy in implementing our resolutions and see them through to completion can we say that the mind is sincere.

The [third] Shinbashira often draws our attention to this by saying such things as: “Whenever an occasion demands setting goals for ourselves, we find it relatively easy to be decisive in making resolutions. What we find rather difficult is the constant effort to remain focused on those resolutions—without forgetting them or changing them—right up until the day we have finally accomplished them. Remember, a resolution is not merely about setting goals for ourselves; it is about attaining a steady resoluteness of mind by tirelessly striving to fulfill the goals we have decided upon.” This advice is entirely consistent with the Divine Direction in question: “Constancy is sincerity. It will not do to change your resolve.”

In another Divine Direction, we read:

Because it continues, it can be called a path. Without continuity, it cannot be called a path.
Osashizu, May 21, 1906

Even the most worthy action only reveals its true value when we persevere in implementing it time and again. An action performed on a single occasion or on a whim cannot really be an expression of true sincerity. Naturally, doing something worthwhile even once is preferable to doing nothing at all, and we should never pass up an opportunity to implement good deeds whenever the urge strikes us. Nonetheless the quality of true sincerity results from a continuous and steady effort to implement actions, however insignificant or inconspicuous they may seem.

I hope that each of us will firmly set our own goals for spiritual maturity and, with an unchanging sincere mind, work with the same spirit as “Instruction Four” during the “three years, one thousand days” period leading up to the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Message

November 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Message at November Monthly Service

Salvation work is guiding others toward the Joyous Life.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to express my appreciation for your daily dedication in your respective roles.

This is about Mr. A, a Japanese speaking guide in London, who was introduced me to by Mr. B, who lives in France.

Whenever Mr. B brings Japanese tourists to London, he always utilizes local guides. However, when he uses Mr. A as a guide especially, he feels as though the value of all things and places are escalated.

Why do you think this is?

I am sure Mr. A loves those unique things and places in London, and feels its goodness from within his heart. Therefore, I feel he can express this with much enthusiasm.

Now when we relay the teachings to others, I wonder how are we relaying this to them?

As I served as Shuyoka instructor for the Spiritual Development Course at Jiba, I felt, although it was in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic, the number of followers returning to Jiba were gradually increasing.

The row of gingko trees along Oyasato-Oji Avenue are exceptionally beautiful, and tourists other than followers are coming in great numbers.

Toward the 140th anniversary of Oyasama, let us all apply our utmost effort in guiding people to Jiba.

On October 26th, during the Autumn Grand Service at church headquarters, the Shinbashira announced the “Instruction Four.”

During the founding of the Teaching, God the Parent spoke through Oyasama saying, “I have descended here to save all humankind.” What is the meaning of the term, “save”?

Generally, to “save” bears the meaning of healing an illness, settling a situation, or ridding oneself of worries.

However, the “save” referred to by Oyasama is a bit more advanced. It means, for people to always feel the ever-living Oyasama, and connecting with others to guide them toward harboring minds that can experience the Joyous Life

Illnesses, other challenging situations, and unpleasant circumstances and worries are just the opening for salvation.

Let us follow the intention of the Shinbashira, as expressed in the “Instruction Four,” and, toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama, let us put the teachings into practice, united in mind.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

November 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

Let us make spiritual resolution to make continuous progress towards Oyasama’s Anniversary

Rev. Shigemi Torizawa
Board Member: Honjima Grand Church

Rev.torizawaShigemi

I believe the November monthly service of Honjima Grand Church was performed smoothly and joyously.

I attend the monthly service each month virtually from my church in America.

As I was appointed to deliver this month’s sermon, I would like to deliver my sermon virtually.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, people in overseas countries were not able to return to Jiba for a long period of time.

Even during such a difficult time, there were 22 people returned from overseas for the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church, after coming up with their high travel expenses and going through pre-travel Covid testing.

I was not able to return for the Grand Church Anniversary in May due to my physical condition, and it has been a long time since the last time I returned. I thank you very much for your concerns.

To tell the truth, when I was on a flight to Japan a while back, I lost consciousness and caused problems for flight attendants.

Even on domestic flights, I passed out twice and since then. I am very worried to get on a plane.

In the middle of the ongoing long-lasting pandemic for 3 years, there are people who are not able to travel to visit their family even though they are in critical conditions or had passed away.

Three years ago in November, my wife’s brother, who was like a parental figure to my wife, was in critical condition and her family asked her to come back, but unfortunately nothing could be done.

When the time has come, my wife’s niece connected my wife via video chat and she was able to see her brother. She was able to see him before he took his last breath. It was indescribably heartbreaking moment.

Presently, the Covid-19 situation appears to have calmed down but in reality, we don’t know what the real situation is.

In addition to the grand church monthly service, I watch the live feed of the Church Headquarters’ Main Sanctuary every day on the Internet. Moreover, on July 31, I found the video of “Fife and Drum Bands’ Dedicatory Performance’” during the “Children’s Hinokishin for Summer Vacation” on YouTube.

First, 10+ members of Honjima Dream Band and its instructors made their appearance after the introduction announcement. With the whistle sign of an adorable drum major, they performed Elementary March in good tune and marched very energetically. I was moved to see their performance.

Next, led by the banner bearers, about 30 members and instructors of Honjima Fife and Drum Corps marched in proudly with their heads high, performing a piece, R.Y.G., and I couldn't help myself from being moved to tears.

It was a pleasant surprise that my wife found Rev. Kanta Katayama in the video, too. When he came to the US in August this year to visit churches including ours for the first time in many years, I expressed my gratitude, and told him that the Tenrikyo news provided through the Internet has been uplifting.

I took part in Honjima Fife and Drum Corps since its founding, and the disciplined leadership of then President Noboru Katayama left a strong impression on me.

During one summer camp, when the band was having an intense marching practice outside during the morning hours, a mother of a member visited the grand church from Marugame area and watched her son practice from the slope on the south side of the sanctuary. However, during a short break, the mother pulled her son out of the band and said to the instructors, “I didn’t know my son was put through such tough practice. I am taking him home!” However, the child shook off his mother’s hand and went back to practice, saying “I want to do this here!”

The mother was in tears of joy to see how her son became strong. We took the mother to where President Noboru was and explained to him what had happened. He talked to the mother for a while. He told her, “Children practice very hard because they feel proud when they receive attention from so many people at their performance for the Children's Pilgrimage at Jiba, so the instructors have been working very hard to teach the children.” The mother was convinced and left happily.

Then, a few days later, the mother sent us snacks enough for the number of people attending the camp (about 200-250 people).

Then, President Noboru called the mother’s son, to the office and told him the following:

“Your mother sent these snacks to us, and we all are very happy to receive them. When you go home after the camp, please tell your mother that the members of the Fife and Drum Corps appreciated it and were very happy.”

He replied with a happy face.

I felt that President Noboru had meticulous attention and detailed care for both the mother and the member.

The Honjima Fife and Drum Corps has been nurtured with the strict discipline and will soon celebrate its 60th anniversary. How many people have been involved in the Honjima Fife and Drum Corps and how many children have been raised in the corps until today?

The Honjima Fife and Drum Corps also had its activity in the US mainland and in Hawaii.

The Honjima Drum and Fife Corps have performed 11 times at the annual Nisei Week Festival in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, where tens of thousands of people gather for a parade at the end of the festival.

Further, they have performed 9 times at Disneyland.

During the negotiations to perform at Disneyland, we were turned down many times because the performers were children. However, with the advice from President Noboru, Rev. Fumio Okazaki, former head minister of Southern Pacific Church, continued to negotiate patiently with photos and videos of the corps’ great achievements in Japan, and we were finally approved to perform there.

President Noboru had a strong belief that “if the children were able to perform at Disneyland, how big of a dream or pride that would give them.”

And, we were able to give a lively and amazing performance in the parade at Disneyland. Especially since the children in America had not previously seen a youth fife and drum corps before, we received a lot of attention.

In 1877, Oyasama told eight year old Tomegiku Tsuji, “Learn to play the koto.”

She then instructed, 12 year old Yoshie Iburi, “Learn to play the shamisen.” Further, She said to Naraito Ueda, who was 15 years old, “Kokyu, kokyu.”

The three of them did not go to a special place to learn, instead, they received instruction directly from Oyasama Herself.

Especially for Yoshie Iburi, she played the shamisen during the Service on January 26, 1887 (Lunar calendar date).

We are taught to firmly press down on the third and fifth string of the koto as we play.

If you don’t press down on the strings, the melody will sound gloomy.

The melody of the service is in a major key and I think Oyasama taught the service to play joyously.

Why did Oyasama teach children to be the first ones to learn the women’s instruments?

Perhaps it is because children learn things faster, or because they are more pure in their learning.

If you read the Anecdotes of Oyasama, there are many stories of how Oyasama showed concern for children. She was always nurturing the children.

I have no doubt that the activities of the Honjima Fife and Drum Corps are an important part of a good program to nurture children. I hope that we continue to carry out the activities of the Fife and Drum Corps and to enrich its activities.

In the Instruction Four issued at this time, it says:

“Our predecessors earnestly followed the path that had begun with Oyasama alone by using Her Divine Model as their dependable guide and maintained the path for us to walk on. The efforts to learn and pass down the faith from parents to children, from children to grandchildren, and so on, will allow this path to continue for endless generations.”

I believe that the Honjima Drum and Fife Corps plays this connecting role.

Lastly, on a personal note, in the past, I have performed the Twelve Songs of the Service for a fixed period of time, such as 10 days or a month, whenever something happened.

Ten years ago, during the pre-anniversary activity period toward the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, I had been performing the Twelve Songs for a limited period of 3 years. However, when I came home after the Anniversary Service was over, my wife said, “Let’s continue performing the Twelve Songs.” Ever since, we have been continuing the performance of the service together after evening service.

I sometimes worry about doing the “Ichiretsu” turn depending on my physical condition.

Fortunately, the floor of the church’s worship hall is tiled, so I wear a special pair of thick socks making it possible for me to turn around when I dance the Twelve Songs.

Still, what makes me nervous is that in Song Eleven, verses eight and nine, there are three “ichiretsu” turns in a short period of time. Fortunately, I have been able to do it.

About five years ago, when I returned to Jiba, as I was performing the seated service alone in front of the boundary of the North Worship Hall, for some reason, I could not stop shedding tears. I realized that it was not because I was sad, but because I was moved when I thought, “I am performing the service in front of the Kanrodai now.”

Looking back, I also realized that since I play the wooden clappers when I perform the service at my own church, the only time I do the hand movements for the seated service is during the monthly service.

Since then, I have been performing the seated service every day with hand movements, separately from the morning service. I am grateful for this because I can pray about various things.

Let us all make spiritual resolutions as we work toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Message

October 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Message at September Monthly Service

Tenrikyo Basics: Always clean the area first

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to thank all of you for returning to Honjima’s Autumn Grand Service from near and far.

Finally, on the 26th of this month, the Instruction Four will be announced.

In his New Year's address earlier this year, the Shinbashira stated, “I believe that in many ways it is important to observe Oyasama’s anniversary in order to develop the path, so it is my intention that we will conduct the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama.”

From these words, I interpret that the purpose of the anniversary activities is to “develop the path,” and the Instruction Four will be announced for the same purpose.

In line with the Shinbashira’s intention, let us once again settle in mind the ultimate goal of founding the Teaching, “to save the whole world,” and let us strive to expand the path by utilizing our talents and roles.

Now, to change the subject, what is our primary duty?

I believe the answer may be “cleaning.”

Whether it be at the Church Headquarters, grand churches, or branch churches, we always clean the sanctuary before performing the service.

The Song of the Service begins with sweeping away “evils.”

Furthermore, when Jiba was identified, people at the time swept clean the area first, as stated in Ofudesaki:

Walk over where you have swept,
and you will come to a standstill. There, the Kanrodai.
Ofudesaki VIII:83

Before any important events, cleaning is done. I believe this is a basic practice of the path. I also believe this is a step every Yoboku takes.

Let us clean our minds through physical cleaning, read the Instruction Four thoroughly, and, toward the development of the path, let us work in unity of minds by helping and encouraging each other.

Thank you very much.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Autumn Grand Service Sermon

October 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Autumn Grand Service Sermon

“My Knots During the Past 50 years of Anniversary Periods”

Rev. Kenneth Hasegawa
Grand Church Board Member

Rev.hasegawaKuniaki

Although our Grand Church Head Minister could not be here today, due to his duties, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to all of you, as we have just completed the Autumn Grand Service of the Honjima Grand Church. This year, the 120th Anniversary of the Honjima Grand Church was held in May, during the Covid-19 pandemic. We performed the anniversary sincerely giving thanks to our first Head Minister, Rev. Yoshizo Katayama, who spread the teachings of Oyasama around the world and our many predecessors. I will be 80 years old next year. Today, I would like to reminisce about the various knots I have received from God the Parent over the past 50 years for during our anniversary periods.

I was born in America during World War II. After the war, my family returned to the burnt ashes of what was once Hiroshima, and our family of six lived in a cowshed. As you know, after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and we had survived by eating the same three things every day: barley rice, and sweet potato and radish porridge.

I lived in Hiroshima for 10 years, but our life was too tough every day and I was able to return to America with my family, when I was still 12 years old. That was in 1955, 67 years ago. I was not able to learn English very well, and I had a hard time making friends. So eventually I enlisted in the United States Air Force. After basic training, I was stationed at Misawa bases in Aomori, Japan because I understood Japanese.

During this time, I met my wife and we got married. After that, I was honorably discharged from the Air Force and entered a university in San Francisco. During this time, I became very sick. I was bleeding profusely from my mouth, nose, and buttocks, and I lost consciousness and nearly died due to my loss of blood.

At that time, a Tenrikyo minister came to pray for me and he counseled me that I should dedicate myself to saving others in order for me to be saved. I thought to myself, even though I had faith in Tenrikyo, I didn’t have the confidence to become a missionary and spread the teachings. However, my wife said, “As long as my husband can be saved, we promise to withstand any hardship and go through even fire, flood or famine.” I was having trouble breathing and half-conscious, but when I heard what she just said, I said to my wife, “Are you serious?! The path of a missionary is not something to do on a whim.”

I was then taken to the hospital by ambulance. At that time, the doctor said, “You lost two-thirds of your blood. Normally, you should be dead by now. It’s a miracle. I didn’t save you. God in heaven saved you!” As I was told by this American doctor that it was God, in fact, that had saved me, I resolved to dedicate my life to this path. I returned to Jiba, and entered the 3-month Spiritual Development Course. After that, we served as live-in staff at the Honjima Grand Church. Eventually, I was instructed by our third Grand Church head minister to go to NC Church in Sacramento, to someday become the head minister there.

When we first moved into NC church, we didn’t know anything about anything, and the followers were very strict on us and they would always complained about what we did, and said things like, “You shouldn’t talk to us about making more donations.” Or “You shouldn’t let this or that person come to the church.” They would tell us to do this or that, and they even yelled at us at times. Doubts crept up on me as to whether God really existed or not, and my faith began to fade. More and more, I avoided coming into contact with people, and I starting to get afraid of people in general.

But even then, I had someone that saved me. That person was my wife. While I was attending the 3-month Spiritual Development Course, my wife went back to her parents’ home in Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan, and when she told her mother that we were going to become Tenrikyo missionaries, her mother did not object, but only asked, “Will you get a house? Will you have enough food to eat?” When my wife replied, “I won’t have such things because we are going to be doing missionary work,” her mother started to cry. My wife came from a very wealthy family that was in charge of a large Buddhist Tendai Sect temple. It must have been heartbreaking enough for her mother to allow her daughter go to the distant and foreign land of America. I think it must have been unbearable for her mother to allow us to become Tenrikyo missionaries.

I was 29 and my wife was 26 when we entered the church together as a couple committed to a life of helping others to be saved. I was worried at night, I couldn’t sleep, and my heart was always racing and I couldn’t do anything. Even though my wife did not understand anything about American culture or English, or living in a church in America, she always had a smile on her face. Her smile was my salvation. I am so grateful to my wife for never even once mentioning divorce to me, and for standing by my side for all these years.

By the way, the year before Oyasama’s 90th Anniversary, in 1975, although my wife was 7 or 8 months pregnant, she attended the 3-month Spiritual Development in Jiba in order to be able to attend together with one of our sick followers. During this time, she gave birth to my eldest son during the time of the Autumn Grand Service in the Tenrikyo Ikoi-noi-ie Hospital, and I recall feeling that this was a great omen for us towards Oyasama’s Anniversary.

However, almost a decade after that, I received an unexpected knot in life during the next anniversary period. Prior to the 100th Anniversary of Oyasama, my brother-in-law committed suicide after going bankrupt running a Japanese restaurant that near our church. Since I was the guarantor, I suddenly had a huge debt of $60,000. In the midst of this great knot, Instruction Three was issued by the Shinbashira.

“The number 100 signifies returning to a clean slate and starting anew from 1.” (Instruction Three by the 3rd Shinbashira / Trial translation)

Then, the year before the 100th Anniversary of Oyasama, there was a seminar for the head of the churches in Jiba, and the former Shinbashira instructed us as follows:

“If there are any here among you that are not in high spirits, please orient your minds to face the Jiba-Kanrodai at the center of our main sanctuary. If the Jiba breathes out, your church should also breathe out, and if the Jiba breathes in, your church should also breathe in.”

His words strongly resonated with me. In order to break away from my self-centered human thinking and to become single-hearted with God, I made the following somewhat trivial spiritual resolutions:

1. To quit smoking

2. To do the dance the Twelve Songs of the Service every day

3. To send a small donation of gratitude to my supervisory church every day

4. To return each year to Jiba for the Spring and Autumn Grand Services and to Oyasama’s Birth Service.

I made the above resolutions and put them into action without fail.

In the midst of doing God’s work towards implementing the above, I was still shown the large knots in life.

One incident occurred when we were taking care of a young man, who was a drug addict and had just been released from prison. One day, in a drug-infused frenzy, he took a baseball bat to my head and broke both of my arms. My wife and son immediately called an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital. When the doctor saw my condition, he said, “You’re lucky to be alive and I’ll do what I can, but I can’t guarantee anything.” I had no medical insurance and this added $50,000 in medical bills on top of my already huge debt from my brother-in-law’s restaurant. Luckily, I only needed ten stitches on my head and I only had headaches for about half a year, but since both of my arms were broken in casts, my wife had to not only feed me the whole time, but she even had to help me every time I went to the bathroom, etc. She never once complained and cared for me the whole time. Because of my condition, I was unable to perform my church service duties, neither could I even administer the Sazuke, and I gradually lost all my motivation. I was in my worst condition, both mentally and physically, beset by daily worries.

The more I tried to sincerely fulfill my spiritual resolutions, the more I was shown knots in life, one after another. My debts piled up more and more, I had no prospects to pay them back, I felt lonely, I felt sad. It felt like I was going thru an endless dark tunnel and I could just not see even a sliver of light. I thought about resigning as head minister because I couldn’t fulfill my duties.

When I was in this state of suffering, I happened to see the former Shinbashira in his service robe coming down in the corridor of Oyasama’s Sanctuary and he shook my hand saying, “Mr. Hasegawa, I understand everything that you are going through.” He saw through the desperate state of my mind, and I hugged the former Shinbashira and then I cried. Before I knew it, I woke up and realized that it was all a dream.

Still, I was so happy, and that morning I expressed my gratitude and apologized to God the Parent and Oyasama for even consider quitting my post. After the morning service, we read the Ofudesaki and the following verses caught my eye:

Whether you speak good or think evil,
I shall give returns at once as you deserve.

If you begin to see this, My purification will reach
any and everyone in the whole world.

Today, though nothing is seen, look toward the eighth month.
Then everything will be seen.
Ofudesaki V:54–56

I was moved to tears by these Ofudesaki verses. It was the 1st of August when I dreamt about the Shinbashira and read these Ofudesaki verses. Then, a strange thing happened that seemed to change everything completely. A year later, the former Shinbashira visited the Mission Headquarters in America and I unexpectedly got to meet him and explained to him my circumstances until that point. He then took hold of my hand and then said to me,

“Oyasama once told us that after 20 or 30 years has passed, a day will come when we will be able to understand. Do your best until then.”

I was in tears of joy. When I raised my head, I could see something sparkle in the former Shinbashira’s eyes as well.

In the Instruction for the 110th Anniversary of Oyasama, it reads,

“Let us strive day after day to bind our minds to the Jiba alone. . . . and with decisive courage, decisive strength, and decisive wisdom. . . . in the hope that our spiritual growth will bear fruit in enriching the substance of our churches, wich are to be models of the Joyous Life, I should like all of us to go through this path.” (Instruction Four by the 3rd Shinbashira)

Further, the former Shinbashira announced that the 110th Anniversary of Oyasama would be celebrated throughout the year. I thus made a big spiritual resolution to return to Jiba each month of that year. I was still in a huge amount of debt, so it was a difficult decision, but I managed to keep my spiritual resolution for a year until December of that year.

I was filled with gratitude for being guided by Oyasama, and I kneeled down in front of Oyasama and expressed my gratitude, saying to Oyasama,

“What should I do going forward? Returning to Jiba this time has been a great sacrifice for my family. I think it's impossible for me to continue this, because the travel expenses alone are adding to our debt and the debt keep piling up.”

At that moment, someone tapped my shoulder and when I turned around, it was Mrs. Masa Nakayama, the former Shinbashira’s wife. With a big smile on her face, she said to me, “Welcome home. It must be so difficult for you to return to Jiba every month. Thank you for your efforts.”

It seemed to me that Oyasama was now kindly speaking to me through her, and I was so happy that my mind turned blank. In front of Oyasama and the Shinbashira’s wife, I was so moved that, without thinking I proclaimed, “I will continue my monthly pilgrimages to Jiba.”

Afterwards, I was so surprised that I even said those words. But when I got back to my church, reality sunk in. We were already tapped out. I was discussing with my wife how to cover the next month’s airfare with such a huge amount of debt. After listening to our conversation, my daughter said, “Don’t worry, I’ll help with daddy’s airfare.” My daughter was hired as a United Airlines flight attendant, as one of only 12 people hired out of over 200 candidates. I was so happy that I jumped for joy at Oyasama’s advance blessings.

Thanks to Mrs. Masa Nakayama’s kind words to me on that day, I was allowed to return to Jiba every month for 12 years, which is 144 consecutive months. It is also thanks to the guidance of God the Parent and Oyasama, as well as the guidance of the former Shinbashira and his wife, that I am here today. Now that I have returned once again, I am filled with nostalgia and I miss them dearly, as they have both since passed away for rebirth. I have learned once,

“Although it is a path that is hard to go through now, in time, there will be a broad path constructed for you.”

After that, I made up my mind to do missionary work. Until then, I was timid and didn’t like to do missionary work, so I could not get myself to go out. My knowledge of the teachings was insufficient. At that same time, my English is far from good. I had a hard time. I not good at speaking. Every day was a struggle. Even if I mustered up the courage to go out to do missionary work, I would be so anxious that I would not even know what I was saying. I was yelled at, rejected, laughed at, slandered, pressured to convert to Christianity, and one time a dog bit my leg, causing me to bleed. I lost more and more confidence. Nobody would listen to me, and when I continued to struggle, I almost fell into depression. At that time, I was encouraged by the following teachings of God that enabled me to continue.

I’ve once heard that “In the dark night, come follow the voice of God, then when the night is over, you will come to see.”

Also in the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service, we are taught:

Fifth, Always ridiculed and slandered, still I will realize remarkable salvation.
Mikagura-uta III:5

Eighth, As this Residence is the field of God, every seed sown here will sprout.
Mikagura-uta VII:8

I thought to myself, “yes, Jiba is the place to sow seeds of sincerity, so I determined my mind to sow the seeds. When I returned to the Jiba, I would go to Oyasama’s grave site and do cold-water ablutions in the middle of the night. After that I would dance the Twelve Songs, then clean the corridors of the Main Sanctuary, clean the toilets and then get back to the Tsumesho dormitory around 2 or 3am. In the daytime, I would pull weeds, and trim the hedge of the Tsumesho, and do other hinokishin.

Then I would go out to do missionary work. No matter how much I walked, no one listened to what I had to say. One day, when I visited some house, the man told me, “If I believe in Tenrikyo, I will lose all your money.” I then told him, “I am a member of Tenrikyo, and thanks to our faith, I am now able to return to Japan from the United States every month.” Eventually, I was able to nurture this person, and he came to be bestowed the Sazuke.

Also, on another day, I knocked on door of the last house for the day and nobody came out, so I decided to go back to the Tsumesho. Just then, the lady of the house came back and asked, “Can I help you?” I said, “I’m a Tenrikyo Missionary,” and she kindly said, “Please come in.” She guided me to a gorgeous room, and brought me tea and sweets. When I asked her, “What do you do?” I was surprised to hear her said, “My husband is the mayor of Tenri.” Then an old woman that looked like she had walking problems came out and I said to her, “Please allow me to administer the Sazuke,” and she happily accepted my offer.

On another occasion, while I was at Church Headquarters’ monthly service, I noticed a blond hair woman who was sitting alone. She said that she was drawn to the worship hall because of the beautiful melody. This woman had come from New York and was teaching English in Nara. She became interested in the path, and she came to listen to the Besseki lectures every month and was even bestowed the Divine Grant of the Sazuke.

While doing missionary work in America, there was a key in the door, so when I rang the bell and said, “There is a key in the door.” The gentleman living there let me in without asking me anything. This gentleman was a long-time Catholic, but for some reason he became interested in Tenrikyo and came to worship at our church. I still don’t know what attracted him, but later, he moved out of his apartment and lived in the church for a few years, and he would repair various things in the church without me ever asking for his help. He was an Italian-American carpenter. Even to this day, he still brings our church various offerings.

At another house, when I pressed the doorbell, a little girl came out, and when I handed her a pamphlet, an angry mother came out and said, “How many times have I told you to not open the door when a stranger comes!” The door was then slammed shut. A moment later, this scary mother came out again and asked, “Hey, are you Rev. Hasegawa?!” I said, “Yes, I am.” Then she said, “I used to be in the Honjima Fife and Drum Corps, and you took me to Jiba!” I looked at her again and said, “Are you Phyllis?” She said, “Yes.” The cute little girl I used to know had become a scary mother! I was shown the miracle of meeting one of our Fife and Drum Corps members from many years ago in a population of over 600,000 people!

On another occasion, my wife had been going pray for a little girl, but unfortunately, she passed away for rebirth. However, the daughter’s mother, Mrs. K, was so touched by my wife’s sincerity, that she returned to Jiba, and received the truth of the Divine Grant of the Sazuke. After coming back from Japan, Mrs. K said: “Aiko-san (my wife) is amazing. During the flight, a female passenger had a nervous breakdown and was shouting loudly. A doctor on the plane was unable to help this person. Aiko-san got up from her seat and asked the flight attendant if she could administer the Sazuke prayer for the hysterical lady. After the prayer, this passenger calmed down and fell asleep until the plane arrived at KIX airport. The head flight attendant came and brought a bottle of wine to Aiko-san as gratitude and asked what kind of doctor she was. Aiko-san replied that she was a Tenrikyo missionary, and this head flight attendant was impressed and profusely thanked her.”

Around that time, a homeless family moved into our church. There were only two rooms in the church, so my three sons came to sleep in the living room. I went to the bank thinking that it would be wonderful if we could somehow get a mobile home, but my credit was bad and my loan application was refused. I didn’t have the money, and was at a loss of what to do. Just then, the previous Mrs. K said, “Why don’t you ask my son?” After asking why, I learned that her son was the branch manager of a bank. When I decided to go to the bank, the branch manager thanked me, saying, “Thank you for always taking care of my mother. I think my sister was happy and went to heaven.” Then, he said, “Reverend, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.” When I told him that I was helping a homeless family at our church and that I wanted buy a mobile home, the branch manager said, “I didn’t know that Tenrikyo helped people in that way.” He didn't even ask for any financial documents or anything. I just signed the paperwork, and the branch manager did everything after that, and a few months later, I received the blessings of a mobile home with three rooms. This branch manager also later returned to Jiba and attended the Besseki lectures.

If you want to do missionary and salvation work, you need to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. As you continue to do salvation work, one day, you, yourself, will be able to become happy, and that will touch people’s hearts. If you go through this path with dedication, wisdom will come to you, but if you go about carelessly, you will find things to complain about and you will make excuses. Therefore, I remind myself to be dedicated such that I will never run away from, avoid, or refuse to carry out my duties I try to focus my thoughts and deeds centered upon God the Parent, Jiba, and the Kanrodai.

Toward the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, in 2001, when the former Head Minister of my Supervisory Church, Portland Church passed away for rebirth, I was nominated by our previous grand church head minister to take over at Portland Church. So in 2002, my wife was appointed as the NC Church head minister, and at the same time, I was appointed as head minister of Portland Church, which was almost 600 miles away. Then in 2014, as you all know, our grand church head minister’s younger brother, Rev. Kazunobu, and his wife, were appointed to care for the Portland Church and they are both working hard there.

After the Spring Grand Service in Jiba, the year before Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary, I returned to NC Church. On the morning of the very next day, fire broke out of the church boiler and the roof and the sanctuary were becoming engulfed in flames. My only thought was that I had to save the shrines of God the Parent and Oyasama, and in the moment and in a frenzy, I ignored the instructions of the firefighters and took the shrines and placed them in our mobile home. It took about an hour and a half to extinguish the fire, and it was completely burned. After that, I could not sleep at night for several days. When I received a phone call from the head of the Grand Church, I broke down with tears for the first time since this incident. As the days passed, I regained my composure, and as a result, I gradually came to realize that the fire in the church was a mysterious blessing from God the Parent. They were able to discover asbestos in this 50-year-old prefabricated church building, and as a result, it had to be completely demolished. Also, if the fire had happened in the middle of the night, my wife and I would have probably perished. The church was newly reconstructed, and the sanctuary altar is now made of fine Cypress wood. This happened just about when I had stepped down as the Portland Head Minister and I was in retirement mode. Hardships in our lives are never for the purpose of us to suffer, but they are the seeds that made me spiritually strong, and gave me the reward of a brand new church before the anniversary of Oyasama, and were the seeds for good things in the future.

Just as we were joyous and spirited in our journey on the path, for the “three-year, one thousand day” activity period leading to Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary, we are able to receive the blessings of seven first time Besseki lecture attendees, four Spiritual Development Course students. For the Autumn Grand Service, we received the blessings of 10 returnees to Jiba.

One of the first-time Besseki lecture attendees, Mr. J, was so moved when he listened to the Besseki lecture, that he entered the Spiritual Development Course. After that, he joined the Young Men’s Association’s International Hinokishin Corps that summer, met a nice Japanese woman, and got married in front of Oyasama. Mr. and Mrs. J returned to the US and she became pregnant with twins. Early in the morning, while he was riding his motorcycle to work, I was hit by and ran over by a truck in a serious accident on the San Francisco Bay bridge. His lungs were compressed, 14 ribs were broken, his hands and feet were run over by a car, but his life was miraculously saved.

Around that time, I had heard from the doctors that one of the twin girl’s head was slow to develop in his pregnant wife’s womb. It took me about two hours to get there by car but went to administer the Sazuke every day. I would tell this couple, “This is divine guidance from God the Parent, so there is no need to worry, and that you just need to lean on God,” and “You may have a mind of doubts because of your circumstances, but never fear, because God is ready to give you blessings.” It was right around this time that the new coronavirus hit. This year now marks the third year since this couple had enshrined God the Parent in their home. The twin babies were born safely, they gradually received blessings for the girl’s brain development. The husband, who had been in the terrible accident, returned to normal work safely. Two months ago, I was able to administer the Sazuke for him, and miraculously, it was only for relatively minor pains in his right knee and lower back. Then, when he returned to our Grand Service at NC Church, he received the blessings of almost being completely free from any pain. I counseled him to help save others in return for the miraculous blessings that he had received from God the Parent.

There was another person, who had been a devout follower of Christianity for the past 30 years. But because she was losing her sight, she came to our church every night for evening service and after about a year, she gradually recieved blessings for her vision. She was so joyous and spirited that she planned to return to Jiba for the Women’s Association Convention. But just then the Covid pandemic started, and she had to give up returning to Jiba. Just last month, she bought a house for her son in San Diego, which takes about 10 hours to drive over 600 miles, so I drove there to install a shrine for God the Parent in their home.

Lastly, as you may know, during this period leading up to Oyasama’s 140th Anniversary and the announcement of Instruction Four, I have received an illness from God the Parent. Last year, during my routine once-in-five-year intestinal checkup, they found 12 cancerous tumors. Since then, I had surgery, chemo-therapy treatments, CT scan, etc.

We are taught that our bodies are on loan from God the Parent, and that our minds alone are our own.

For the past 50 years, up until now, I have accumulated a lot of dusts of the mind such as “distrust of the path, worries, depression, anger, anxiety, anxiety, complaints, and irritability, etc.,” and as a result, I received cancer. Therefore, going forward, I will lean on God the Parent, joyously engage in Hinokishin each and every day, and do God’s work at our church.

Before I returned to Jiba this time, I heard that a monk at Koyasan Buddhist Temple had passed away from the same cancer as me, and his wife also died from cancer a few days later. Strangely enough, this Buddhist monk had the exact same birthday as me, and before I became the Portland Church head minister, I would meet with him about once every year. When I heard about this, I felt the mysterious workings of God the Parent. Thankfully, I have no pain, no tiredness, and I can eat delicious food every day. Instead of losing weight, I have gained about 10 pounds.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in my sickbed, I remembered some words by a pioneer of the faith, “When something comes to your mind, it is God’s mind. Later, we sully it with our human mind,” and also, “This teaching is the teaching of simple words.”

(1) Let’s sweep away ills—let’s say, “Thank you,” and let’s greet others with a bright heart.

(2) Let’s always be spirited and help others—Let’s do hinokishin, and let’s erase negative causality.

(3) Let’s always be happy—Be happy, no matter what we hear or see; and refrain from having a mind that complains.

(4) With a joyous smile—Let’s create a harmonious family. With a Joyous smile, let’s build bond between people.

(5) Let’s serve God the Parent and Oyasama with a mind of sincerity—Let’s be dutiful to our parents; and let’s build a bright family with kindness in the hearts of both husband and wife.

Nowadays, I always try to say, “I'm grateful, I'm fine,” no matter what occurs. In the Divine Directions, we are taught:

“I shall let you work by the truth of your mind. One person can face myriads solely by virtue of the mind. God rides on the mind and works. As long as the mind is firm, God will ride the mind and work freely and unlimitedly.”
Osashizu: October 2, 1898

Also in the Ofudesaki,

Truly, the thought in the mind of Tsukihi
is to receive the shrine of each.
Ofudesaki VI:57

I am trying to get closer to the Oyasama’s heart, saying that I will give my heart to God the Parent. However, I’m trying very hard to make sure that my human thought do not take priority as I continue to walk this path. Knots in life are great opportunities for great buds to sprout in our lives. I pray that all of us will not give up, that we will not be swayed by the trends of society or common wisdom of the world. Let us believe in this path, strive and do whatever needed to get closer to Oyasama’s mind, clear our minds, and become of a generous mind that helps others be saved and follow the Divine Model. I believe that the true joy of faith can be gained when we face each knot in life head-on and through our own efforts and convictions.

Before we receive the announcement of the Instruction Four for the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama, God the Parent has shown us various difficulties such as natural disasters, wars, conflicts, the economy, and the Corona. Let us firmly make spiritual resolutions and whole-heartedly engage in salvation work. For all of us related to our Honjima Grand Church, let’s take action, one step at a time, toward the 140th Anniversary pre-anniversary activities so that we can bring joy to God the Parent and Oyasama.

I thank you for your attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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