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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)

Message

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

Becoming a Yoboku who is useful to Oyasama

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

Thank you very much for coming to attend our Grand Church’s September Monthly Service.

I am savoring the joy of living in Jiba as a homeroom instructor at the Spiritual Development Course.

At the Spiritual Development Course, the other day, one of my students said to me, “I can discuss matters of illness with a doctor, but I have no one to discuss personal problems.”

In my heart I was thinking, “As we are taught in the Divine Directions, ‘Saving those who are considered hopeless by doctors and are left to die is God’s salvation (Osashizu: May 1, 1896),’ I will listen to any of your consultations of illness or troubles.”

Let us Yoboku keep our hearts and eyes open so that we can be used as instruments of Oyasama to do salvation work of people who have illnesses and troubles.

This month, we have all Tenrikyo Nioigake Day to spread the teachings. Let us proactively go out and walk to do salvation work so that we Oyasama can show us Her workings.

To change the subject, when I was preparing to give a guide of the Main Sanctuary with another homeroom instructor, we started talking about the meaning of the heart mark that we see on the pillars of the Church Headquarters corridor.

A resident minister of the Church Headquarters told us, “that is called an inome.”

An inome is a traditional Japanese pattern and is used in shrines and temples as a talisman against fire.

Nails are used Inome in eastern corridor whereas no nails are used in western corridor.

The one with nails are done by boat carpenters while the one without nails are done by shrine carpenters.

I learned that the skills and virtues, accumulated by those who took part in the sanctuary construction, are fully utilized in the construction of the Church Headquarter sanctuaries

Through this, I was able to ponder the divine principle—parental heart, big heart, utilizing one’s characteristics and virtues.

Next time you return to Jiba, please walk around the corridors and take a closer look at 2 different kinds of Inome.

I will see you in Jiba.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

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

“Spiritual guidance of our 3rd Grand Church Head Minister and the wonder of the Prayer Service performed on the 21st.”

Rev. Michiaki Makino
Board Member: Honjima Grand Church

Rev.MakinoMichiaki

(Summary)

Every month on the 21st, we submit a “Nioigake Register” and “Sazuke Bestowal List” and perform a prayer service. Last month, my wife and live-in person of our church were added in the prayer for their physical recovery.

We are able to receive tremendous blessings from the prayer service performed on the 21st.

This happened about 45 years ago. My father passed away and I became the head minister at the age of 28. It was in August a few years after that.

Every month, I usually leave for the grand church by car with a head minister of one of my subordinate churches on the evening of the 20th. Before we left, I visited one of our church members with some offerings that had been taken down at our church.

Just when I was about to leave after completing my duty, the wife of our church member said, “My husband’s doctor is recommending that he ‘go into the metropolitan hospital to avoid the heat in the middle of summer,’ so he is going into the hospital from tomorrow. But there is nothing wrong, so please don’t worry.”

Since she assured me that there is nothing wrong with him, I was relieved and returned to Honjima.

However, in the afternoon after arriving in Honjima on the 21st, I received a phone call from my church, “His condition took an acute turn and he is now in critical condition. Please return to Tokyo and visit him in the hospital.”

Immediately, I decided to return to Tokyo and reported to Rev. Toshitsugu Katayama, the 3rd head minister of Honjima at the time. I think it was just before the evening service.

Then, Rev. Toshitsugu scolded me: “What are you here for? We have the evening service and you know that we also have a prayer service after that. Are you leaving here without attending them? Attend the services wholeheartedly. Attend the monthly service as well. Then go back to Tokyo.”

Indeed, I truly agreed, for that very reason I have been returning to Honjima every month with my “Nioigake Register” in hand. I gave up returning to Tokyo and wholeheartedly performed the prayer service.

This happened the next morning. During this time, the Head Ministers’ Meeting was held during the morning hours, and the monthly service was conducted in the afternoon. That morning when I saw Rev. Toshitsugu, he told me the exact opposite of what he said the day before. He said, “What are you doing lingering around here! Hurry and return home to Tokyo. Go to the patient and administer the Sazuke.”

It was because of that, I returned to Tokyo right away. At the time I thought, how difficult Tenrikyo was.

I returned to Tokyo by bullet train, and by the time I reached the hospital it was already dusk. In front of the hospital room, the patient’s son was dozing off to sleep. I asked in soft voice, “It’s Makino. I just arrived from the grand church. How is his condition?” As the son woke up he said, “Oh, Rev. Makino? My father has miraculously regained his health.”

Apparently the story was, “certainly the day before, for a time, he was in critical condition, but by evening, the state of his condition changed and gradually began to improve.”

The evening his condition took a sudden turn again was when I was diligently performing the prayer service after I received a stern advise by Rev. Toshitsugu, “what are you here for?”

I was overwhelmed by the truth of the grand church. It has been quite some time but Rev. Toshitsugu’s advice and the miraculous workings by God the Parent and Oyasama are still in my mind vividly to this day.

With regards to my wife and a live-in person at my church, who requested a prayer service, both had successful surgeries and actively doing the physical therapy. They do the rehab, wishing to take active part in the work of the path.

The “Instruction Four” for the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama will be announced by the Shinbashira on October 26. The “three years, one thousand days” pre-anniversary activity is about to begin.

We are having discussions after discussions with Rev. Kanta, our grand church head minister, about the goals and objectives and how we go through the pre-anniversary activity period.

Currently, Honkyo Branch Church is under construction of its sanctuary. Thus, physically, I can proudly say that our primary mission is to complete the sanctuary construction and perform the dedication service.

To accomplish this, there are many resolutions need to be made and put them into action.

Through my wife’s illness, I feel that I need to work together, united in mind, with the members of our subordinate churches, and to make efforts spiritually and physically by, for example, visiting the grand church, our subordinate churches, and their members.

Due to the pandemic, seeing people in-person was restricted at one point, but we can always get connected with each other by writing letters or making phone calls.

We would like to receive the new Instruction and settle the message firmly in our minds, so that each of our subordinate church can set a goal and put it into action to enrich the church substance. We would like to make progress in unity of mind.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Translation by Honjima Translation Team)

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

August 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

The “Instruction Four” will be announced in October and we will receive the Mission Visit by the Church Headquarters in January, 2023.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to thank you for attending the monthly service as well as the head ministers’ meeting despite this hot weather.

As for my thoughts on the forthcoming pre-anniversary activity period for the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama, I would like to align my mind to the Shinbashira and go through “three years, one thousand days” pre-anniversary activity period.

The “Instruction Four” will be announced on October 26th. I would like to prepare myself to settle in mind the per-anniversary activity period as my own matter.

Thankfully, we will receive a mission visit by Church Headquarters official after the “Instruction Four” is announced.

Church Headquarters asked to submit three desired dates and for Honjima, we requested January 21, 22 and 23.

Although it is a cold season, I would like to have returnees from overseas to participate together.

We have received an announcement from Salvation Work Committee of the Church Headquarters to first set the goal and objectives towards Oyasama’s Anniversary and to conduct the mission tour to all local churches with the goal and objectives.

The mission tours to all local churches will be conducted after the mission visit by the Church Headquarters official in January, through the end of May. We will ask each church for their preferred dates later.

Also, after the mission tours for all local churches each church will be asked to set a goal towards the Anniversary.

The overall process is as such. It starts with the Shinbashira’s Instruction Four, and then all Yoboku and followers of each church are to set a goal to go through “three years, one thousand days” pre-anniversary activity period.

Please make a note of it.

Also on a personal note, I will be serving as the homeroom instructor for the Spiritual Development Course of the Church Headquarters from September 1 to November 27. I will not be at Grand Church for a while.

This is a mission that I will be serving in Jiba and it was assigned to me just when the pre-anniversary activity period is about to begin. Therefore, I would like to use these three months to grow more broad-minded while doing my best to help others. Please take care of Honjima during my absence for three months.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

August 22, 2022 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Seminar for Nurturing Students

Let us show that we are happy for being in the faith.

Rev. Yuichi Matsuyama
Church Headquarters Student Advisory Committee Board Member

Rev.yuichiMatsuyama

(Summary)

When it comes to having conversation about faith with young people, it is usually easier if it is done by someone who is close to his/her age group.

However, I would also like their parents’ age group or someone who are little older than the parents’ age group to reach out to the students.

Here is why: From the viewpoint of the young people or students, they have so called vertical relationship with their parents or the head minister of the church they belong to. The words spoken from such people are important, and sometimes certain influences come into play.

On the contrary, the connections with other students or friends are seen as horizontal relationships. A horizontal relationship is easier to connect, but there is an aspect that such relationships tend to get disconnected no matter what.

What I would like to bring up today is not the vertical or horizontal relationship, but diagonal relationship.

For instance, uncles, aunties, ministers of sister church that belongs to the same supervising church, or adults who live in the same neighborhood—these people are not in a vertical relationship with the student. To put it in an extreme way, the vertical relationship is an absolute relationship that is solid and unwavering.

On one hand, with a diagonal relationship, you can preserve a moderate distance between you and other person. It is different, however, with a horizontal relationship. You are not in the same row, in the same generation.

This diagonal relationship supplements and supports the vertical and horizontal relationships. “This may be an unasked for action, but next time, I’ll try to talk to that boy about his grandfather and grandmother.” “Let me see if I can call on that young person as they haven’t made it to church, even if they live nearby.” I would like you to call on others like these.

The other person could be in their teens or twenties. When they are told by their parent or a church minister, they may respond with, “Be quiet” or “Stop bugging me.”

However, perhaps an adult other than their parents or church minister can call upon them. They may think, “Maybe this is something important. Maybe this may be pertinent to me.”

It is not necessary to try to adjust to young people. But try to walk a little in their shoes. It is okay to have this feeling. Even a small word from anyone can change a young person’s life.

A small word coming in from the side (diagonal), can connect to an impactful salvation. I believe in that possibility.

In this year’s New Year’s address from the Shinbashira, he says, “Let us think about how to implement what we have to do in the given conditions and fulfill our respective roles in light of the current season.

Even if we are under the conditions of the Corona virus, we have no choice but to do what we can.

Therefore, I would like to ask the families of each church to apply daily effort to get closer to their young people by reaching out to them.

For example, on occasions like a birthday or advancement to the next grade or level in their education, the church could send the young people and students a letter. There, for example, even if you are not able to meet them at their home monthly services, leave a message of a few words to them.

I feel, even if you are unable to promote large activities, with a little time and planning, you can assure the youth and children, “I am thinking about you,” displaying your effort to connect with them.

We live in a society which promotes feelings of loneliness. Therefore, I feel that each and every small act of care, can become a great foundation for needed support.

In the Divine Directions of October 10, 1896, we read:

If little were done about the seeds sown, someone would be crestfallen there and someone crestfallen here. It would not do if little were done about the seeds sown. I, therefore, do weeding after sowing seeds. You may nourish one person here, and another there, so that you will be tempted to ask where you have actually sown the seeds. From these efforts new sprouts will show. (from An Anthology of Osashizu Translations p.272) When one observes that path, one will see that that one seed will become ten thousandfold. (private translation)

When we put our hearts into our salvation work, there is no knowing where the blessings will manifest. I think these words teach us that speaking to and caring for people never goes to waste.

We are about to embark on pre-anniversary activities toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama. The Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs, however, has even spoken about the 150th Anniversary of Oyasama and the bicentennial anniversary of the Founding of the Teachings.

In 15 years, our present generation of Students Association and Boys and Girls Association members will become of an age when they will be at the core of churches, families and at work. In order to nurture this next generation, let us care for them vertically, horizontally, and further, diagonally; let us talk to these young people, these students, and do our best to nurture them every day.

Let us relay the good fortune of being in the faith, relay the joy of faith to the next generation. Let us, together, feel the joy and relay the teachings to others.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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