There are 3 months left till the 120th Anniversary of the founding of our grand church.
So today, I would like to talk about one of our goals for spiritual maturity, “Let us devote ourselves to perform the service,” from one of my trivial experiences.
The first time I became conscious about the service was when I went to high school. Soon after I entered the dormitory of Tenri High School, we had a hand dance correction session. I was told by one of the dorm counselor, “Iwahashi, your hand dance is cheerless.”
At first, I was a bit upset and thought, “What’s so cheerless?” But as he explained, “Your back is bent, your gaze is downward, your fingers are curled, your movements are small and your voice is small,” I came to understand why he said that it was cheerless.
I was aware that I did have a quiet personality, but when I was told that even my hand dance was depressing, I felt kind of miserable and decided that I wanted to correct the areas that had been pointed out. I believe this was the beginning of my conscious effort to practice the service.
Later, my attitude changed after I came upon these words from the Life of Oyasama:
“Hands that are limp in the performance of the Service betray a mind that is undisciplined. Also, it will not do to make even a single mistake in the manner of moving your hands. Through this Service, one’s life can be renewed. So important is this Service.” (Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo: Page 71)
This Service is so important that one’s life can be renewed. In order for that to happen, I felt strongly that I must move my hands properly.
I thought, “It’s difficult to discipline my mind, but I can fix my hand movements if I make a conscious effort. I’m going to fix my limp hands first. Then, maybe my undisciplined mind can be fixed as well.” In any case, I started to be conscious about always straightening out my fingers.
I have many bad habits that I can’t seem to fix when it comes to my hand movements for the service.
For example, I can’t “throw” my hands straight. I think my hands are straight, but the directions I throw my left and right hands aren’t quite aligned. I can’t seem to throw them straight down and parallel. Also, if I don’t concentrate on it, my pinky fingers tend to separate from the other fingers.
Now, these are things that I had not noticed by myself. These were brought to my attention by other people.
If you think about it, you can see your own hands, but to see how your whole body moves, you’ll need to see a reflection in the mirror.
For that reason, I’m always grateful when anyone provides feedback to me. They are pointing out things that otherwise I would not have noticed.
This could be a chance for me to replace or modify my disposition and as a result, change my causality.
I’m a short-tempered person, and even though I know that about myself, when others tell me, “You have such a short temper,” I do get angry.
When we reflect and become aware of our own causality and finding gratitude from this acceptance, is when we can grow spiritually and make steps toward the Joyous Life.
In order to change oneself, you need to have self-awareness.
In performing the service as well, it is important to first be aware of your bad habits. With this awareness, you can begin to correct those habits with sincerity and diligence. I believe this is the true workings of the service.
This connects to the Oyasama’s words that teach us, “Through this Service, one’s life can be renewed.”
Also, I tend to get annoyed when the flute and singer are not in alignment. When I was in high school I trained daily to align my sound pitch in the concert band wind ensemble I was a part of, so I cannot help but become affected when the sound is out of alignment.
Upon hearing this, someone told me, “You poor thing.” “To have to perform a joyous service feeling annoyed and having to worship feeling this way is a pitiful thing.”
With this I realized something. Rev. Yoichiro Miyamoto, the church counselor of our grand church, taught us that a “purified mind”, a “unified mind” and a “spirited mind” are three important mental attitudes when performing the service.
Amongst these, I feel I have come to understand a little more about the meaning of what a “purified mind” is.
In Mikagura-Uta, the Songs for the Service, we are taught:
Though there is no one who is free from greed, Before God there is no greed.
If you have greed, cast it away! Because God cannot accept it.
Greed is fathomless like muddy water. When your mind is completely purified, Then comes paradise.
I reflected, it was the manifestation of my personal mind of greed to become annoyed at hearing a misaligned note, expecting people to do things this way or that.
As stated in the Life of Oyasama, on January 26, 1887 (lunar calendar), when Oyasama withdrew from Her physical presence, She felt completely satisfied at hearing the joyous sound of the musical instruments.
Couldn’t it be said, that Oyasama was completely satisfied at the mental attitude of those who performed the service, to do the service no matter what the conditions may arise.
I was simply thinking “No greed” equals “Purified”, but that alone is insufficient.
I wondered what were the thoughts of the people of those times when they performed the service. I felt I wanted to perform the service “no matter what may happen,” keeping in mind the salvation of someone and become even a little closer to having a “purified mind.”
I think the power of voice can be enormous.
In the past, when my mother was struck by a major illness, people at the grand church performed the prayer service. The singing sound that came into my ears was very promising and very warm, which provided me powerful energy.
At the time, there were less than 20 people who were present at the grand church but the sound the singing in the prayer service felt like so much bigger than that. Through the sound, I felt the sincerity of everyone and I could not help to shed tears.
From the bottom of my heart, I felt a church is such a wonderful place and I was truly grateful for the service.
A sincere mind, wishing for someone to be saved and wanting to save someone, can be manifested through voice.
Through the prayer service for my mother, I received huge power to uplift my mind. By recalling such a moving experience and my appreciation for it, I would like to perform the service to uplift my mind as well as the minds of other people.
During the pandemic, I cannot really promote “singing loudly,” however, let us sing together in high spirits on the day of the anniversary service in order to bring delight to God the Parent and Oyasama; so that we may be able to receive blessings; and to be in accord with the parent’s intention.
In conclusion, I would like to quote the following Divine Directions:
“If you bind yourselves together in a unity of minds, I shall provide any blessings for you. (Osashizu: January 19, 1898).”
In order for us to bind ourselves, we must be flexible and workable with one another. For next 3 months toward our anniversary, let us become “humble, gentle, and accepting mind” that Oyasama teaches us.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)