Autumn Grand Service Sermon – Oct. 21, 2018
The Mind to Implement the Joyous Life Daily
Together with all of you, we have just spiritedly performed our Autumn Grand Service and this brings me much joy.
On this fine day, I would like to share with you, some of my thoughts for today’s sermon and I ask for your kind attention.
On the 26th of this month, Church Headquarters will celebrate its Autumn Grand Service. As we all know, the Autumn Grand Service commemorates the day of origin of our faith, and our mission headquarters receives this truth. Our service here today has meaning, because the Kagura Service and the 12 Songs of the Teodori Service Dance are performed at Church Headquarters. In other words, our services here receive the truth of the Jiba.
The day of origin of our faith was October 26, 1838. However, it was a few days before that, when God the Parent spoke directly for the first time, through the mouth of Miki Nakayama, who was later to become Oyasama. It is written in the Doctrine: (quote)
“I am God of Origin, God in Truth. There is causality in this residence. At this time, I have descended to save the entire world. I wish to receive Miki as God’s Shrine.” (unquote)
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 3
God the Parent descended out of parental love that day, for the purpose of saving all human beings throughout the world. In Chapter 3 of the Doctrine, titled “Truth of Origin,” it states: (quote)
“In the beginning, the world was a muddy ocean. Tsukihi, God the Parent, finding this chaos unbearably tasteless, thought of creating human beings in order to see the Joyous Life and thus share in that joy.” (unquote)
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 20
Further, in the Doctrine, it states: (quote)
“God the Parent created human beings to see the Joyous Life of humankind and, thus, to share in that joy. To bring this intent of God the Parent into realization is the significance of human life and the ultimate goal of humankind.” (unquote)
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 73
Therefore, we human beings were created with the full ability to lead the Joyous Life.
However, looking at the present state of the world, I don’t think that we have achieved this yet. I believe that most of you recognize that we still have a ways to go to reach the Joyous Life. In the beginning of Chapter 10 of the Doctrine, titled “The Joyous Life,” it states: (quote)
“When we are making diligent efforts on the path of salvation, our days are bright and cheerful and our lives are filled with happiness. This is because we lead our lives in the warm embrace of God the Parent and our minds are at peace with the assurance that if we save others, we ourselves shall be saved. This is the state of the Joyous Life.” (unquote)
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 74
This state of mind is critical in order for us to lead the Joyous Life.
Further in the Doctrine, it states: (quote)
“When we come to share our joys and pleasures with one another, the Joyous Life will come into being. When the minds of all are spirited, all truths will be seen and all flowers will bloom.
‘Only when your joy brings joy to others, can it be called true joy. If you enjoy yourselves while causing others to suffer, this cannot be called true joy.’ ” (unquote)
Osashizu, December 11, 1897
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 74
We see here that it is not sufficient for ourselves alone, or our generation alone, to lead the Joyous Life. This means that it is a world in which all people, the next generation, and future generations are also able to lead this Joyous Life. Further in the Doctrine, it states: (quote)
“There may come a time when, because of our selfishness, we forget to live in harmony. Far from being a mind-purifying life of joy, this is the dark path which clouds the mind.
‘Selfishness may be well for the individual but it will never be the truth that will bring peace to all.’ ” (unquote) Osashizu, November 20, 1900
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 74
The Doctrine continues by saying: (quote)
“A unity of minds calls forth God’s free and unlimited blessings. On the other hand, if there is no unity of minds, we shall not be acceptable to God the Parent, no matter how numerous we may be. Only when we become united in mind with the One Truth of the Path, each of us respecting and helping one another, shall we be able to live joyously and spiritedly. This is when we shall have reached the goal of the Joyous Life.” (unquote)
Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 74 ~ 75
The Joyous Life is not something that we do as individuals, it is something that we do together with others. It is something that we achieve together with people of the world. Further, we are taught that the true Joyous Life is achieved when we unite our minds and mutually save one another.
In the Doctrine, it describes the image of what the Joyous Life would be like: (quote)
“Thus, when all of the minds in the world have been made pure, the intent of single-hearted salvation will have been fulfilled. The blessings of God the Parent will flow without limit, and the whole world will enjoy unprecedented prosperity. Such a world is indeed a world filled with happiness, a world of bliss for God and humankind, and a world of everlasting peace.” (unquote) Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Pg. 76
This type of world is the Joyous Life, but now I’d like to talk about how I think, we can achieve this Joyous Life.
Oyasama taught us two specific ways for us to realize the Joyous Life world. One is for us to perform the service. The foundation is the Kagura Service, which is performed at Jiba. We pray together and worship at this Service. Also, we perform our monthly services here at Mission Headquarters, as well as our respective morning and evening services, including special prayer services, in which we pray for the settling of this world, and for blessings for those with illnesses and problems.
Further, Oyasama bestowed and taught us to administer the Divine Grant of the Sazuke. Through the truth of the Sazuke, granted for the purpose of physical salvation, this world will be transformed into that of the Joyous Life.
I believe that many of you, over the years, have already heard similar things to what I have just said.
As I mentioned before, the Joyous Life is a world in which all people of the world come to know of God the Parent’s intention, receive God’s blessings, become united in mind, and live a life of mutually saving one another. And it is not just for now. It must be a world in which people in the future, as well, can lead this Joyous Life.
In order to do this, what type of mind do we need to get closer to this Joyous Life? Is leading the Joyous Life on a daily basis even possible?
In Tenrikyo, we often talk about “Making repayment for the blessings received from God.”
One form of “Making repayment” is to express your joy for being kept alive due to God the Parent’s blessings through our words and actions of hinokishin.
Further, during the time of Oyasama’s physical life, when our pioneers were saved by Her, they often asked what they could do to repay their debt of gratitude for having been saved. Oyasama would answer:
“Please go out and save others.”
Saving others is also a form of making repayment. In other words, we save others in gratitude for the blessings we receive from God. Put in another way, saving others in gratitude for the daily blessings of God the Parent, is, in fact, making repayment to God.
Taking such actions will lead to the Joyous Life and it is important to maintain such a mind on a daily and constant basis.
Let me change the subject a bit. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Pay it Forward”? The other day, this phrase came up in the Tenri Jiho newspaper.
For example, let’s say that one day at some coffee shop, a lady had her coffee bill paid for by someone in front of her. She then, in turn, treated someone behind her to coffee, instead of trying to find and pay back the favor to whoever originally treated her. In other words, this is like repaying a debt of gratitude to someone else other than the original giver, and this is called “paying it forward.”
I don’t know when this “pay it forward” all started, but there is an actual coffee shop where the customers will pay for the coffee of the person behind him or her. In the beginning, some person gave $100 to the cashier so that it could be used for customers who came later. So this concept of doing some good deed in advance had spread and this is now called “paying it forward.”
Hinokishin is some action done for others to give tangible expression of one’s joy of being kept alive by God the Parent and to repay this debt of gratitude. However, since God is not the direct recipient of your actions, maybe it is okay to call “hinokishin” a form of “paying it forward.”
For example, I think we could say that an action, such as sweeping the street in front of your neighbors, done with a spirit of hinokishin, is like paying forward to others, your debt of gratitude to God.
Also, let us re-imagine how our predecessors interacted with Oyasama. When our predecessors asked Her, what they could do in return for having been saved, Oyasama consistently said, “Go out to save others.”
Oyasama would not respond by asking for something to be done for Her personally. I think that we can call this, “paying it forward.” In other words, She was saying something like, “repay your debt of gratitude to the people around you—not me.”
This is, in fact, the way that this path has spread to the world. Tenrikyo has grown, because the followers would try to save other people in need. In other words, our faith of Tenrikyo has grown by “paying it forward.”
When we make repayment for a debt of gratitude, or if we “pay it forward,” we must be careful not to do so with a mind of arrogance, that looks downwards to others from a superior position. For if we do this, that would not actually be, making repayment, nor would it be, paying it forward. It would be more like “forwarding” something negative to them. It would be like sprinkling dust of the mind to the people around you, or possibly causing them, to accumulate dust of the mind.
When we do salvation work as a means to “make repayment for our blessings,” it is important for us to be on the same level as the people we are praying for, who have illnesses or problems. In fact, I dare say, that we should be even more humble than those for whom we are praying. In other words, we need to have a humble mind when doing salvation work.
When we do salvation work, we human beings are the ones who take physical action. However, it is, in fact, God the Parent—not us—who is actually saving these people from their illnesses and problems. If you were to think, that you are the one “saving” this person, then you would be viewing things from a superior perspective, at the person for whom you are praying. I believe that this is a form of arrogance. And this is not the attitude we should have, when doing salvation work.
In order to lead the Joyous Life each day, it is important to have our minds be in the right place, as I have just mentioned. That is, our minds should be at the same level as the people we are praying for, rather than looking at them from a superior position. In fact, it would be even better, if we could maintain a humble mind that views them from a more humble perspective. I believe that if we can keep our minds in this good humble place, this will lead us to be able to lead the Joyous Life on a daily basis.
Also, in Tenrikyo, we call this a “unity of mind.” In other words, this means aligning our minds with those around us. In order to do this, we need to place ourselves on the same level as others.
In his sermon for this year’s Spring Grand Service, the Shinbashira said: (quote)
“Unity of mind requires that we work together toward the same, shared goal while fulfilling our respective roles, helping one another.” (unquote)
Michi-no-tomo Magazine, March 2018
When mutually connecting with others, I believe that we must have a common mindset. In other words, the Shinbashira continued by saying: (quote)
“What we are striving to achieve is the salvation of all human beings in the world, thereby realizing the Joyous Life as intended by God the Parent and Oyasama.” (Unquote)
Michi-no-tomo Magazine, March 2018
This means that we all have the common goal that we are going to realize the Joyous Life world. When we do so, our minds will be united as one. Put in another way, it is critical for us to have this same mindset in order to become united in mind.
My talk may have been a bit hard to understand, but to summarize, we must always maintain a mindset that pays it forward to others for the blessings we are receiving daily from God. Further, we must have this common mindset on our path toward the Joyous Life. These two mindsets are very important in our life of faith. In other words, this means that we must have a mind to save others in order to realize the Joyous Life world.
If someone asks you to impart the fragrance of the teachings or to do salvation work, you might think that that hurdle is too high for you. However, if you just think about it as if you were “paying it forward” to those around you, you’ll realize that it’s not that hard.
For the awesome debt of gratitude that we have to God for our daily blessings, paying it forward with random acts of kindness to those around you, to family, relatives, and friends alike, should be doable. I believe that having a humble heart and paying it forward is what will lead to our daily Joyous Life.
I hope you were able to understand my message for today and I hope you keep these thoughts in mind. I look forward to working with you spiritedly each day, as we work together towards achieving this Joyous Life world.
With this, I would like to end my talk for today. I thank you for your kind attention.