My father, Mr. Michinori Takeuchi passed away on March 25, 2008. He served as Mayor of Imari, Japan for 24 years.
My father was always searching for the real faith of our Founder, Konko Daijin, throughout his lifetime. He believed that somewhere there existed a minister whose faith, in practice, was similar to that of our Founder. He was more than willing to go on a pilgrimage throughout Japan in order to try to find this person. After searching near and far for a genuine mediator, he finally met Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, founding minister of the Konko Church of Airaku.
I don’t know any better person than my father who has clearly understood Rev. Ostubo’s faith that pursued the essence of that of our Founder. In February last year I happened to find a book here in this church that was published by the Konko Church of Katsuragi in Wakayama Prefecture. I had forgotten I had it. It contained two of my father’s speeches which he had given around the time he was the mayor of Imari. When I read them, I was amazed by his deep faith.
My father was very thoughtful when he spoke. There speeches were filled with logic and conviction. They were also reasonable and very accessible, even though he used difficult words. Just reading them, I knew I should translate them from Japanese into English. I believed they would be of great value to vast numbers of English-speaking people around the world.
I thought the Takeuchi family in Imari would celebrate the 3rd Annual Memorial Service for my father around March 25 of 2011. Until then I wished to translate one of his speeches into English in his memory. So I asked Mr. Jamal Leki-Albano to translate one of my father’s speeches into English with me. He is 29-year-old sincere gentleman and a bilingual who is talented with linguistics. The title of my father’s speech that we tried to translate was “The essence of the Konko Faith.” Thanks to Jamal’s great efforts, the translation was completed in the middle of February this year.
Soon after, I received a phone call from Rev. Tateo Suenaga, head-minister of the Konko Church of Birigui, Brazil. Through our conversation Rev. Suenaga offered to translate this speech of my father’s into Portuguese, because he had a most intelligent person as a believer who could translate from English into Portuguese. His name is Carlos. And he completed his translation in a short period in time for my father’s 3rd year Memorial Service. Seeing a pile of his speech in Japanese, English and Portuguese in front of the Mitama altar of Imari, my father will be surprised and pleased to know large number of people in the world will understand his message.
(Rev. Masanori Takeuchi, head-minister of the Konko Church of Chicago)
ESSENCE OF THE KONKO FAITH
(Lecture for the Konko Youth Group in the Chikusui area, Sept. 19, 1982)
Mr. Michinori Takeuchi, Konko Church of Airaku, Imari branch
It all started about three months ago. Mr. Takanobu Yasutake, head of the Konko Chikusui Youth Group asked me to give a talk for today’s meeting. Well, the Regular Meetings of the Imari Municipal Assembly are held in September, and during that time, I always have to decline such invitations. This is because, in these meetings, we never know when some unexpected issue might come up. So, even if we try to plan things out, everything doesn’t necessarily go accordingly. Furthermore, the 19th of this month would be right in the middle of the assembly. We are still in session at the moment, so I should really decline, but this is a matter for Kami. After seeking the mediation of my Oyasensei, (my parent minister), and being told to receive this blessing, I promptly responded to accept.
So, I’ve been blessed. As far as these lectures go, it is me that has received the blessing to take part. In the end, if I don’t use the time leading up to a given lecture to try and further a bit my own faith, I feel uncomfortable, so I embrace that opportunity. And, responding to even that small dedication, Kami blesses us.
These Regular Meetings had some problems that almost had me feeling that we’d come to a standstill, but then the resolution deadline was set for the 13th. The 13th is the day of the Fulfillment of Kami’s Wish in Airaku, so just hearing that was a blessing. I felt blessed. And with that blessing, I was able to weather it all without trouble to come here this day.
Blessed with Rain
Moreover, I’ve been blessed with rain [in Imari]. It has truly made it easier to leave town. Of course, today being Sports Day each town has its own Sports Day. I had given notice that I couldn’t attend, but in the end, this fact will not need be known. You know how people would say, “Oh, the Mayor didn’t even attend;” but if it rains and there’s no meet, then there won’t be any of that talk. So I have received this blessing that Kami has given me to freely leave town.
In Service to Kami
Moreover, this morning, I was able to host Morning Prayer. This Morning Prayer is actually praying to and with the Parent Church [in Airaku]. It’s following the Parent Church’s Morning Prayer with everyone who gathers to worship in my home. My house is not a church. But we use the opportunity to pray in this house along with those at the Parent Church Morning Prayer and to receive Oyasensei’s talks which have been tape-recorded.
Today’s teaching is number 54 (Go Yo). It’s about being of service (Goyô) to Kami. That’s just the way Kami has shown it to us. In this talk there is a quote from Reverend Koh Ito of the Abeno Church saying, “No matter the difficulties I’m faced with, I will give thanks to Kami.” That is what the talk was about, and I thought that I would like to speak in that way based on my own experiences and faith. So, really, “All is divine love.” And I thought, “Oh, how I’ve been blessed!”
Just the Way Kami Shows Us
On the way here in the car this morning I was further blessed upon hearing the tape recording of Oyasensei’s talk on the Founder’s 48th teaching. It explains the spirit of total acceptance, and this spirit of total acceptance is just what I wanted to speak of. It’s related to the “Feelings from the Precipice” which you all have printed out before you. It’s that Kami is always there to show us the way forward.
Think no more of Your “Self”
So having expressed my will to be of service, and having received the advice of my Oyasensei to “think no more of my ‘self’,” on this day I would think no more of myself and be blessed.
Being blessed I can be released of my ‘self,’ as the rain has released me from the worry over Imari matters.
Seeking a Truer Place
What religion do you all believe in? I myself believe in Konkokyo. This is because I think that, in this world, Konkokyo is a truer religion.
The expression “a truer religion” is comparative; it’s not superlative. But in the real world there are no absolutes. In real life everything is comparative. It’s either truer or more untrue. Consequently, if, in relation, everything else is lesser, “truer” will always come to be superlative.
I truly know of no greater teachings that those of Konkokyo, and here in Airaku those are the teachings that are practiced, ever seeking a deeper, truer place.
Goshin’en (Finding Kami / Being Found by Kami)
I was blessed with Goshin’en while still in my mother’s belly. Recently, a new prayer book was composed, which will start to be chanted beginning next January 1st.
The “Kami Prayer” in it contains this phrase: “Awed by Goshin’en.” I really believe that this awesome Goshin’en makes this very day possible for all of us. What really brings this home for me is that I was able to receive the faith, and Goshin’en, at a time before memory, while still in the womb of my mother; that this faith was not channeled into another religion but rather went on deepening, step by step, within this one; and that the so rare, so valuable opportunity to become acquainted with the Airaku teachings came to me so early on.
A Truer Religion
In high school, I studied philosophy in addition to attending (extracurricular) lectures on such topics as the Zen Buddhist text, Shôbôganzô. As I learned, I would always find myself coming back to my Konkokyo teachings. I would think, “Oh, that’s what that teaching was about.” So this has come to perform the function of deepening my understanding of Konkokyo.
The Konkokyo teachings, as far a structure and phrasing, are decidedly simple and, inasmuch, easy to understand. However these are teachings that continue to deepen the further you look into them. This is what true teachings do, and in Airaku, we are told, Oyasensei has devoted the last 30 years to the interpretation of the founder’s teachings and yet still cannot fully explain them.
Every time I have learned about another religion or attempted to grasp the true nature of the world through philosophy, I have always not only come back to our teachings, but have come back with renewed assurance that these Konkokyo teachings have something much deeper in them. This is demonstrated to this day by Oyasensei’s pursuits in Airaku.
Kami is without Voice nor Visible
For a long time, I was looking to put some shape or form to Kami. This search just seems to be one of the youthful stages in the faith-formation process. For us, as humans with our own unique physical forms, it’s easiest to believe in something that, too, has its own form, so we tend to yearn for this.
For example, Buddhists pray to images of the Buddha. But whenever I see an image of Buddha, a question comes to me: Why doesn’t Buddha have just one representation instead of appearing in so many various forms? If Buddha is the singular, supreme being capable of bringing salvation and nirvana to all life on earth, I would think he’d be represented in just one way. But instead what we see is a large variety of Buddha imagery.
This is because, in the end, when someone actually tries to make a representation of “singular supreme”, whatever the result, it cannot truly fulfill the desire to have it be just like we would like it. And that’s when we start searching for yet another representation.
When god is given form, we become dissatisfied. Because, in this world, there are no absolutes; the real world is a relativistic world. So we can’t be satisfied with just that one image and we start searching for another one.
And then, conversely, when there are so many representations, you no longer really can call any one of them “absolute” or “singular” or “supreme.”
In Buddhism recently, rather than being the singular supreme being, Buddha is said to have taken on various specializations, like Kwannon, the birthing goddess, or Fudômyô, the pestilence ward. As I will further discuss, seen in this way, rather than representations, these would more appropriately be called functions. And so if you all wanted to propagate a god, a cancer-curing god would probably be most popular.
The Proof of Kami is in the Workings
As you can see from what I’ve stated and as, again, the teaching “Kami is without voice nor visible” states, if there is an absolute god, it cannot be sought through shape or form. It is not possible.
Having said this though, if we limit Kami to only the notion of Kami we have in our minds, Kami comes to be, in reality, no more than a powerless philosophical construct. A religion that discards its interrelatedness with relativist reality cannot be called a religion that will save the world.
So, I believe the necessary question then becomes: How do we find that relation to the real world; between Kami and reality?
Well, the proof of Kami’s existence lies not in a given shape or form, but in the interrelatedness of Kami’s workings within the real world.
The Workings Kami is Made up of
And so what a religion is comes to depend on the way a god’s machinations are perceived.
What kind of workings make up the Tenchi Kane No Kami that you all believe in? When I asked you all at the beginning what kind of religion you believe in, it was because it seems to me that there are a lot of people today who, while Konko believers, have not grasped the workings of Kami as “What Tenchi Kane No Kami really is” and would just as soon worship Buddha or Christ. Konkokyo cannot work in that way.
In Konkokyo, “What Tenchi Kane No Kami really is” is explained in the third teaching. In it, appearance is not discussed, while workings are. In Konkokyo, Kamisama’s workings happen any and every moment. So once you can perceive these workings, appearances are no longer important; they become irrelevant.
Workings that Serve only to Bring Happiness
At Airaku, it is explained quite directly: “Within the many workings of the universe, those which serve only to bring happiness to humankind are the workings of Tenchi Kane No Kami. Belief in Konkokyo is recognizing this and fully accepting those workings.” I, too, am convinced of this.
This is because, our founder knew that for a god to be called as such, its workings would have to serve only to bring happiness. And believing this with his whole-hearted acceptance and conviction, he managed to convert the once feared Konjin, god of wrath and vengeance, into our Tenchi Kane No Kami.
The Faith Evolution of Our Founder
He didn’t reach this point all at once. Rev. Mikio Seto, former director of the Konkokyo Research Institute and head of the Kozan Church, separates the founder’s life into 3 or even 4 different stages.
As the founder went on stretching the bounds of his faith, refining his way of accepting all events as the work of a god who he trusted could only bring out the best in humanity, just such a god began to come into being.
And as new divine names developed through the workings of Kami, the founder’s faith evolved in stages until finally reaching the level of Ikigami Konko Daijin, capable of mediating Tenchi Kane No Kami. He had advanced to the point that he could now convert a god of wrath and vengeance.
Why People Need Kami
So why do humans need Kami anyway? Well, it’s because humans have problems they can’t solve. These problems we can’t solve on our own are called difficulty. They don’t result in difficulty as long as we can solve them ourselves.
As humans we are products of our limited physical form which lends to an awareness of problems (frailty). Problems are inherent in us humans. That is to say, life can’t be lived without problems. If we don’t firmly come to grips with this, we end up just running away from our problems all the time. We have to plant our feet and welcome our problems in.
If problems are unavoidable in life, religion, then, is a necessity of life. There are those, though, who go through their whole lives never finding it.
The Infinite Capacity
With what means do people usually overcome those problems that they can’t handle, that is, difficulties? Using such means available to themselves as money, objects and technology, and then asking for others for help, they attempt to overcome their difficulties in as much as they can amass a power greater than that which produces their difficulties.
So, for example, if you have 5 difficulties, they could be resolved bringing together 5 or more sources of strength. Tokyo University’s Dr. Kishimoto calls this ability of religion to solve problems, “Infinite Capacity?” Wherever the source of one’s strength is greater, their difficulties will be resolved.
But then there are times when troubles arise that human strength just can’t deal with. And some times, when successive troubles arise, one misery after the next, people lose the stamina necessary to overcome them all.
When this happens, people without religion think, in vain, maybe their misery will just go away. Next, when it becomes clear there’s no escape, they think of getting rid of that ‘Finite Corporality’ which was the very origin of their plight all along. That is, they choose death.
Freud says, “The desire for death is present in the subconscious of all humans.” When someone wants to die, that desire becomes conscious and eventually results in actual death.
In this case, such a person winds up worse off than before; their problems far from resolved. What good is it if you can’t solve your problems while living?
There are religions that do entrust the resolution of earthly troubles to the afterlife in this way. This is not true of ours. In our religion, while living our life, we receive resolution to our problems and salvation.
Feelings From The Precipice
Have you all read the famous poem, “Feelings from the Precipice” by Misao Fujimura, student at the former Premier High School (of Japan)? Unable to resolve the emotional turmoil in his life, he left it as a suicide note before throwing himself off the top of the Kegon waterfall in Nikko. (It is carved in stone there to this day.) If you go there, you’ll see it carved in stone.
Feelings from the Precipice Misao Fujimura
How distant the cosmos; How vast the ages.
Can I, a mere 5 ft. tall, attempt to fathom such greatness?
After all, what authority does the philosophy of Horatio claim?
The truth of all creation is contained in a single word, namely, “incomprehensibility.”
With this discontent at heart, after much anguish, I’ve come to settle on death.
Standing now on the precipice, my heart empty of fear, for once I understand: The greatest despair is also the greatest peace.
From Despair To Peace
So he tried to figure out the true nature of all creation, but was unable to do so based on any philosophical authority, and ended up confounded by it all. He decided that death could be the only solution to this incomprehension and so came to be standing on that precipice.
If you all were to describe the true nature of creation with one word, one concept, what would it be? How would you answer as Konkokyo believers? I would say, “Divine Love (Shinai).”
Now, standing on the precipice, the confusion disappears and it seems he has the revelation that great despair is the same as great peace. It would seem that if he had comprehended that great despair is the same as great peace, he could have then spared his life. However, as Misao Fujimura believed he was given this revelation by death itself, he chose to continue down that road. The choice of death, though, is the devaluing of life.
Was Fujimura then really able to go on in peace after choosing death? Something that is not divine here on earth does not become divine in the afterlife. That’s why this life on earth should be treated carefully.
And even you are able to maintain that peace in the afterlife, it doesn’t amount to much as a living person; you no longer are connected to this world.
On the other hand, when you commit to death but hold back and maintain life that same great peace is generated. And as this takes place in the living world it is quite meaningful. Therefore, if you can go on with your life in this way it most likely will be a life of peace.
Absolute Acceptance, even of Death
In life, if we manage to “decide on death,” we find that life from that point on is a completely different thing; like going from despair to peacefulness. That is, our troubles cease.
This point is also explained, very understandably, in the 22nd teaching of our founder: “If you want to receive divine virtue fully, you must have a heart that accepts everything. In other words, you must have a heart that accepts even death.” And again in the interpretations of Oyasensei: “A heart proclaiming absolute acceptance is good; A heart of Kami lies deep within.”
This truly is where faith begins: It’s not telling you to die. This heart of total acceptance is feeling that everything will be fine, no matter what. It’s letting everything up to Kami. Without this you can’t be at peace. Attaining absolute acceptance, even of death, requires letting go of life as your “self”; letting go of self-centered living. Moreover, if this actually generates life, it shows that life, rather than being chosen willfully, actually predates will.
Living the Life Bestowed upon (Afforded/Given to) Us
I believe that inasmuch as this life that remains after “choosing death” is viewed as just something to be expected, or is viewed as the result of divine workings that we receive (are blessed with), the difference between philosophy and religion comes to the fore. One cannot achieve true peace viewing life as a matter of course; that’s nothing more than resignation.
Minister Masao Takahashi said, “Divine workings have come to be such for me, that if I made up my mind not to eat, I would undoubtedly be fed.” If you are practicing the Konko faith, this is something that should, at some point, be experienced.
I talked about coming (how we come) to know the workings of Kami. That is, coming to know the workings that are, in fact, affording us the life we live, is faith. And to this end, it is necessary to let go of life as it has been up to this point. But this letting go is not just diving off and ceasing to exist, but rather a letting go in the sense of, having reached that point, handing control over to those workings that create your very existence; in other words, discarding your ego. To know the workings of Kami, we must first kill our ego(s).
We are living through the grace of Kami. This goes beyond reasoning; parts from relativity. It is becoming aware of the life that has been created for us, and as such it simply must be realized and believed. With doubts at heart we cannot progress from this point.
Starting with Faith, Going on Deepening it
In the thought of the relativist realm, we ask; “how can it be?” and develop from there, but in the absolutist realm, there is only the constant “this is how” which we believe and from there work to deepen this belief.
We do this by constantly finding Kami’s will, Kami’s workings and divine love in our everyday lives. As believers, we must do this. If we question it, we end up back at plain common sense, which will (surely) not result in blessings.
In academic matters, I don’t feel Oyasensei is my superior. But in terms of pure faith, he often says, “Give me your best shot.” So I’ve often tried to take him up on it, trying to catch him when he’s off guard, but I’m just no match for him. But it’s obviously I get trounced. In terms of asking, “How can it be?” and hypothesizing, I might have the upper hand, but as far as believing Kami’s “this is how” and deepening that faith, I’m just a baby compared to Oyasensei.
Oyasensei lives absolute acceptance at all times. This opens a mutual bond with the universe and the wisdom born of this bond can’t be beaten with (just) knowledge.
Simultaneous Existence, Simultaneous Resolution of Contradiction
On a slightly different note, to begin with, there is no connection between life and death. There is, of course, a spirit world, but, upon entry, contact with the living one is lost. That is, the worlds are discontinuous, which leads to complete separation.
However, there is also a way of life which results from choosing “death.” In this case discontinuity is reborn into continuity. This rebirth, however, is not a reincarnation after death, but rather a change in the quality of life after choosing “death.”
We take death to be negation and life affirmation. Actually, living with a heart of absolute acceptance shows there can be affirmation that contains negation, and the simultaneous existence of both.
So all life on earth is limited to a relative existence. Death is absolute, but, in our case, a relative existence containing that absolute is revealed.
Philosophers call this simultaneous existence/simultaneous resolution of contradiction (discontinuity and continuity, relativity and absoluteness), the ultimate principle. But to rally show and prove this, philosophy doesn’t work; only through the realm of religion can it be obtained. This is because, in philosophy, you can end your way of life and it just means you had a life to end, whereas we, on the other hand, believe our life to be, and live it as, a life that is given to us (by Kami).
How Life is Afforded to Us
From ancient times, theologians have dedicated their religious training to the pursuit of this type of life, hoping to solve the problems of humanity. Or rather, it can be said that the result of that training eventually led to that kind of life.
In religion, the perennial question is that of existence. And we begin by asking what is the driving force behind the reality that humans live the lives afforded to us (by Kami).
That brings us back to what I said before: Religions are divided according to the nature of the workings of the God that is believed in. That established, we say peace in this life is attainable if we can accept that our life has been created for us to live. But, moreover, it can be said religions are further divided into more or less true based on the manner in which we accept that creation.
Religions that Leave Out the Life-Giving Power
Up to this point, most religions have forgone the conversion of the present, surface life into the underlying life that is meant for us, and instead believed this surface life the result of the workings of a Supreme Being. However, without qualitative change in life, the troubles of life are bound to remain, and consequently, it has come to be that, pray as they may, their prayers do not materialize.
And so in some religions, since troubles seem to persist no matter what, that these troubles exist at all was taken as the result of mankind’s inherent sinfulness (original sin). While in other religions they believed it to be dependent on the karma of previous incarnations.
But these were not fundamental solutions, as problems, rather than decreasing, actually increased.
13 and 4
As evidence that these types of problems occasioned by religion persist, take for example hotels that have no 13th floor, nor a room # 13. We can say this is because in religions like Christianity the number 13 is associated with crucifixion, but, really, these problems must be dealt with. Can a religion without the strength to do that really be called as such?
And then—who came up with this, I don’t know—the number 4 (shi) possibly because it sounds the same as “death” (shi); [In Japan,] there are no rooms numbered 4 in hotels or hospitals either.
One might think that if they dislike them so much, they might as well just get rid of numbers like 4 and 13 altogether. But numbers came first, and it just happened that some particular person came to dislike some particular number, so they can’t really be eliminated as numerals. Then it wouldn’t be a decimal system. Even without thinking about it in religious terms, it’s rather absurd.
At Airaku, the 13th of every month is Divine Wish Fulfillment Day (Shingan Jōju Day) and 4 (shi) is considered the “shi” of “shi-awase” (happiness), so the more 13 and 4, the merrier. If I see a car in front of mine while driving with 13 and 4 on the license plate, I take it as a sign that my actions are in harmony with Kami’s wish, and even pray on it.
Typhoon # 13
I heard on the news that typhoon #13 would be touching down in Kyushu the 26th and 27th of August during the seminars in Karuizawa. I felt that it being #13 was a blessing. And, in fact, we were blessed when that typhoon passed to the north of the eastern Kyushu Sea.
Actually, inversely picking out 13 and 4 and calling them “good” needs to be explained. Every number is Divine Love. But to exercise this truth, it’s also necessary to practice accepting numbers that people take to be unlucky as the complete opposite, and in that manner, begin to understand that all is Divine Love.
The problem is not numbers, but how we perceive them. Upon my return from Tokyo, I visited the Airaku church and attentively listened to the morning teaching. I was sure Oya-sensei would reveal his feelings on the storm.
Sure enough, that day he had been led by Kami to the 32nd Teaching of our Founder which he interpreted in this way: “If you receive a typhoon with the heart of receiving Kami, it will not harm you.”
This was amazing! So if I could manage to accept it with the profoundness of the Airaku teachings and this type of spirit, in the same way our Founder was blessed instead of harmed by the poison dumplings of the Mountain Priest, even a typhoon could pass me by leaving only blessings, just as I had believed.
Even Typhoons can be made into Divine Winds
For that reason, faith, in today’s world, is the way through which we can make typhoons into Divine Winds (Winds of Divine Love). And moreover, instead of enemy-defeating Divine Winds, like those of the 13th century Mongol invasions (currently subject of investigation through underwater archeological digs at Takashima in Imari Bay), it can be changed into the divine winds that give life to us all.
There are those who might say, “In that case, typhoons should be welcomed.” But faith, being a matter of individual believers and circumstances, cannot be defined with such generalizations.
So there are religions that shun or make taboos certain things in this way, but I think that just in doing that all sense of religion is lost. And then, in extreme cases, there are even religions that cause and exacerbate problems, calling even for war when their views are not accepted. (“Koran in one hand, sword in the other”)
The Logic of Power; The Logic of God
As Professor Takataro Suda has recently written on the subject of “The Logic of Power and God,” it is worth knowing that there are religions that take the logic of power to be that of God. If we accept that for as much as it is said that no good can come of war, it remains a reality, and if we must go on to identify enemies and allies, I believe the religion that teaches salvation for both enemies and allies to be the truer religion.
The Definitive Solution to the Problems of Humanity
Now then, Japan’s preeminent scholar of theology, Doctor Kishimoto, says, “Religion is the definitive solution to the problems of humanity.” And he believes that, in as much as it is definitive, it can be neither relativistic nor limited.
For example, wealth can also solve some human problems but it’s meaningless in the face of death, and therefore amounts to only a relativistic solution; and the field in which medicine can solve human problems is limited to that of human health.
He believes that the solution that surpasses relativity and limitation comes from a firm belief in the existence of the Infinite Capacity. So even here, the power of resolution is outside of the problem.
Shin’aism (The “All is Divine Love” Doctrine)
In Konkokyo, we start with transforming the problem itself. We make of what we have considered to be our problems, ones that have been specially created for us by Kami. We needn’t incessantly put ourselves on the precipice at the Kegon falls. Through Mediation we change the nature of our life up to this point, so it becomes the true path Kami has intended for us.
There are those religions, though, that deem it necessary to stand on that precipice time and time again. In one religion, when someone falls out of harmony with the prophecies, they must spend some days alone in the mountains for supposed spiritual training and not come down until they are full of some kind of productive energy. Oya-sensei has received visions from Kami revealing this type of thing to be an “ephemeral thundercloud.”
Instead of jumping off of Kegon Falls, how can we reframe our lives as we have experienced them, as the life Kami intends for us? How do you actually go about doing that?
This is most easily understood when explained with Airaku Ideology: Accept everything that happens to you as Divine Love.
The Konkokyo Shin’ai Kai (Divine Love Assembly), which was the forerunner of the Airaku Church, was named as such by the third Konko-Sama (三代金光様), but Oya-sensei has taken the concept of Shin’ai (Divine Love) and developed it into a complete discourse of Shin’aism (the “All is Divine Love” doctrine).
An Ideology most Supreme and most Authentic
For real people, there is nothing more certain than what happens to and around them right now. No one can deny this. When some other power outside this is said to exist, it must be verified. There is no way to put a higher value on your destiny than by treating that which is most present, what happens to and around you right now, itself, as the workings of Kami, the supreme being, and Divine Love. And by truly accepting it in this way, this extraordinary value begins to show itself.
Through Airaku Ideology I was able to grasp, for the first time, this most authentically supreme Kami-sama.
All is Divine Love
When I was in high school and I attended those extracurricular lectures on the Shōbōganzō, I wrote a paper entitled, “All is Buddha Principle,” and the teacher, Dr. Akishige, encourage me to continue in that vein. But when I think about it now, I had accepted that “Buddha Principle” to be the workings of some outside force.
In Airaku Ideology, all of life’s events in themselves are Divine Love; it comes from within. I’ve since come to understand a truer religion.
As all is Divine Love, troubles are also Divine Love. They must be reframed as Divine Love by accepting them as exactly what you need at the present moment and Kami provides for you.
You all may think that by having faith your problems will begin to disappear, but, as I mentioned earlier, since humans, being of finite corporality, are for this reason inherently destined for hardships, those hardships will surely not disappear. You can’t try to escape them; You change each hardship that comes your way into Divine Love. You must start with accepting all as Divine Love.
Hardship, too, is Divine Love
Our Way is one in which even troubles so extreme as to be considered the work of a god of wrath and vengeance, Konjin, can be converted into the workings of Tenchi Kane no Kami, which afford us life and exist only to bring us happiness. Put simply, we see problems as such only until they occur, and after they have occurred we take them as Divine Love. From there emerge the workings that convert our despair into peace. And as we develop how we understand Divine Will, how we understand hardship begins to change.
For me, there is no better god to remedy hardship than that of Konkokyo; no god could be more right for resolving troubles. A god that resolves any and all troubles is surely the definite One. And so, as well, that power of infinite capacity that Dr. Kishimoto talks about should not be outside; it must be within. You have to start by understanding the solution to be contained within the problem in order to holistically change the problem itself.
Blessings Are Everywhere
In what way do you all relate to the 53rd Teaching of our Founder? Starting in middle school, I had trouble with my lungs and, including middle and high school, I was held back 3 years altogether. However, all of my friends that had excelled in middle school were drafted and died. So I was saved by my pleurisy; that pleurisy actually gave me this life.
And thanks to the 3 extra years in school, I have 3 times the amount of friends as other people, so when I became mayor, having friends in the government and prefecture bureaus made it a lot easier to get work done.
When I went to university, the well-known civil rights professor, Gentarō Suehiro, told us to make friends. He didn’t tell us to study hard; he said, “Make sure to make some good friends.” It was important that we do that. Thanks to those friends, I’ve been blessed. So really, you never know how you’ll be blessed.
A Turning Point in my Life
When I got pleurisy I was in my second year of middle school and I didn’t want to be held back. The doctor told me, “You should really take a little more time off school to get better.” But, in the end, since I didn’t want to be held back, I forced myself to go. I just kept thinking, “I can’t lose a year,” and forcing myself, and in doing that, I ended up losing 2 years instead. Thinking myself lost, I decided to entrust myself to Kami, and completely stopped going to the doctor. So, 2 years I stayed home. At some point during that time, someone actually paid me a bereavement visit. They had seen all the windows and doors shuttered up, which the Takeuchi household does during a Grand Ceremony. They had thought, “Oh my, the Takeuchi boy just couldn’t make it after all,” and had come to pay their respects for the departed.
When I felt things were getting a little out of hand, I thought, “Well, maybe I should go to the doctor.” I thought that if I ended up dying at home, without a doctor, I wouldn’t get a death certificate that I would need to get cremated. I wasn’t too afraid of death, but I didn’t want my mom to have problems afterwards. So I ended up telling her that’s why I wanted to go to the doctor.
So my mom tells me, “I have never heard of a dead person being refused a cremation. You don’t have to worry about anything like that. Now just be strong in your faith and you’ll be blessed.” That’s what she told me.
That was a turning point in my life. You really do have to show that heart of absolute acceptance to be blessed. From then on, the blessings just rolled in day after day. I had made up my mind, “Now is the time. I’m ready to be blessed!” I then recited the Oharai Prayer 100 times a day. And this is while I was sick!
I had truly received that heart of absolute acceptance, and with that blessing I have lived to this day, happy and healthy.
When Kami Goes by the Name of “Illness”
It’s exactly what Oya-sensei in Airaku calls “when Kami goes by the name of ‘Illness’.” I had thought blessings would be the curing of my illness or the cure itself, but really the blessing was the illness itself.
And flunking, too, was Kami going by the name of ‘Flunking’. It’s just accepting whatever happens to you as Divine Love. And in accepting that you can never know where the will of Kami will appear, you become connected to unimagined blessings.
Within Single-Hearted Acceptance
At Airaku, we put the honorific prefix* on everything. People who like to argue often see that in this way: “Well if we’re honoring sickness, maybe it’s better to be sick. If everything is Divine Will, what’s the point of doing anything?” In the context of faith, this kind of arguing will never result in blessings.
Within a single heart of acceptance
A path extends beyond the clouds
So it is said, and that heart of acceptance means constantly searching and seeking to find out in what and where Divine Will resides. To be blessed we must start with this unargued heart of acceptance. From there we can turn our problems into Divine Will. And in doing this, before we know it, we begin receiving blessings. You have to go forward trusting, not questioning. And if you are going to take whatever happens to you as Divine Will, you can’t just leave it at that; you have to seriously dedicate yourself to devotion.
*A character pronounced go-, o-, on-, or mi-; used as a prefix to honor the owner of the modified word or the word itself
This Path Stands Alone
Some trouble arises. We receive mediation and accept the problem as Divine Love. From here the workings of the Divine Love begin to appear. These, in turn, after a certain amount of time, result in unimagined blessings. When we think about it afterwards, those earlier problems now seem to have been blessings.
This understanding of previous troubles to have been blessings, though, is present in other religions. But Konkokyo proves the truer religion in that we believe blessings to be not just this one thing or that one thing, but rather we see this, that and every single thing that happens to us as a blessing. This is where our faith stands alone. In believing All to be Divine Love, All will be Divine Love. This is how we must believe.
And if we can see something as a blessing afterwards, it must have been a blessing from the start, in which case it is best to treat each and every thing as a blessing.
This kind of self-sufficient faith, however, cannot be reached at once. As humans of flesh and blood, when it comes to making our own problems into blessings, even if we sometimes can make that conversion, other times we cannot. These are the times in which the process of mediation becomes necessary.
Mediation that Reveals ((Relates)) Divine Will
For me, mediation is relating the people’s prayers ((wishes)) to Kami, receiving Divine Will and expressing this back to the people. However, as Rev. Seto, who I mentioned earlier, says, there are very few churches in which Divine Will truly is mediated.
The people’s wishes ((prayers)) are heard. But the Divine Will very often is made out as plain common sense; a simple counseling session; therapy-style mediation. In regards to this, Rev. Seto says, “It is necessary to separate common sense at a good distance from Divine Will.”
We can generalize human problems into three main groups. These are mentioned in the 78th Teaching of our Founder as financial, personal and medical. To solve these kinds of problems common sense tells us that for finances, there are accountants, for personal issues, there are therapists and lawyers, and for health, there are doctors, and they are all far more experienced in their fields than any Konkokyo Minister.
However since there are problems in this world that can’t be resolved with these resources, and we attempt to solve them through Kami’s blessings, there must be great distance placed between that and common knowledge. In as far as we are able, we seek to have all human problems cease being problems. The path towards this is precisely what I have been detailing and without following this path, Konkokyo cannot help you.
That is, receiving the Divine Will through mediation and changing ordinary knowledge into extraordinary knowledge. We must let go of common sense; just give it up to Kami.
A Different Class of Honesty
The 27th Teaching of our Founder tells us, “There is a difference between a good, honest person who does not do wrong and a person who has received divine blessings through faith.” That is, morality alone does not lead to blessings in faith.
During my bid for third term reelection in a heated mayoral race, most people said to me, “You can’t get elected just because you’re a good person.” And sure enough, there are many schemers among the contenders who claim all kinds of fantastical things about me, like that I built a million-dollar home in Kumamoto. As I follow Airaku principles, I accept those attacks without protest.
And I’m surrounded by nothing but good people. But the fact is that election law is full of loopholes and a candidate that can manipulate these to outwit their opponent is just as likely to win as an honest candidate. Some people think this is due course in electoral politics.
However, in my case, my honesty goes hand in hand with my acceptance of Kami’s grace, so it’s a different class of honesty. For this reason, I am bound to be blessed. This is what my opponents fail to take into account. They are so assured of their win, that as soon as the polls open, they have already made catering arrangements for their victory celebration and are just pass the day tidying up for the guests.
Just like with the necessity to distance common sense, through solely moral honesty, and without acceptance and belief in Kami’s grace, we cannot hope to attain that universal ally nor the destiny meant for us.
Public Service; Service to Kami
I served two terms as deputy mayor before running for mayor, when, I had been told, the seat would be ceded to me. However, I was then told to wait another term because the Mayor was planning to run again.
Many people were recommending that I run anyway, so I sought Mediation with Oyasensei. This is what he told me: “I have received a revelation of the public servant’s baton. This is a power vested in you to serve. You should run. The pieces have not come together yet, but in due time what you need to assume that baton will come to you. It’s time to seek election.” Then, just as he had foreseen, the pieces came together for me, the Mayor pulled out of the race, and I won the election uncontested.
Breaking the Jinx
My second term was also uncontested, but the former Mayor, who had since entered the Prefectural Assembly, still had his eye on the mayorship and used this period to ready his campaign for the next term. In Imari, the mayorship had long been known for its “3 term jinx”, but for me, this idea was just foolishness. This is something the human psyche can just do without. Upon asking Oyasensei for guidance, I was told to run and so I did.
My opponent had all but never lost an election and was extremely confident. But one’s own strength alone won’t do it. Exceeding predictions, I won by 4,000 votes.
Letting go of your own strength
Holding tight to that of Kami
A new strength surges through you
This is how I obtained the strength to win. I was blessed to win my fourth term uncontested as well, and may even continue on to a fifth or sixth term.
However, I have no special ambition to this end. For me, the only thing that matters is doing as well as I can the job that Kami has given to me at this time.
It is for Kami to decide whether I continue or not. I would resign at any time if Oyasensei told me to do so. This is as far as I have prepared. I receive blessings always with my heart on the precipice.
Rooted in Heaven and Earth
When I go to outdoor events now, a lot of people have begun to say, “If the Mayor’s coming, I’m sure the weather will be great.” I don’t have any kind of ability like that, but that’s actually how it usually goes, so what can I say.
One afternoon we held the Summer Firefighter Training Event in the midst of the typhoon season. The day before, and the day after had been very stormy. But again that day, from the time the event begun until it ended, there was no rain, it was cloudy and breezy, and really a perfectly cool and mild day for the summer training event. So that day too, there was talk about me and the weather.
I don’t think I am really any more exceptional than any of the other 651 city mayors of Japan. Well, maybe in one aspect: my concern for the universe, my worship of heaven and earth. In that, I’m confident that I go further. For me as a mayor, city politics must be rooted in heaven and earth.
Take just one typhoon. If this typhoon #13 had hit us full on, right at the height of pear season, we would have taken a considerable loss.
And, of course, you can’t run a city on your own. But there’s a huge difference from moving people yourself and Kami moving people. There’s really nothing more useless than your own personal strength. We must discard the faith in our own strength early on.
Imari amidst Kami’s Grace
This March, returning north from Izumi, in Kagoshima, a flock of 21 cranes landed for the first time in Imari, in the reclamation area, Nagahama. I felt this was a sign from heaven and earth of good things to come. And shortly after, the IC (integrated circuit) industry, the industry of cutting-edge technology that is so avidly sought out world-wide, chose Imari for the site of a new plant, on the plateau right next to that same reclamation area. Imari is known as a shipping port of fine china, and I had often said, “We need to bring the prosperity of that Traditional Imari, to the Imari of the Future.” Now the electronics company that is coming tells us that here they will make their biggest factory in the world!
The president of this company was asked in a newspaper interview why Imari had been chosen over the countless other candidates for host city, being, as it is, basically geographically and demographically unremarkable. He responded, “The character of Imari’s Mayor was the deciding factor; we believe him to be most trustworthy.” Wow! What bigger complement could I receive? I have no such power on my own, but I felt keenly aware of being rooted in and supported by heaven and earth.
Worshipping Heaven and Earth
In Imari we hold morning prayer at 5 am, during the same time as Oyasensei’s morning service. We listen to a recording of Oyasensei’s teaching and after holding a spiritual discussion, I go out to the garden and pray to heaven and earth. If there is some kind of event that day, I pray for good weather, but in the end I leave it for Kami to decide; rain or shine, everyday is a blessing.
“This is how.” Not “How can it be?”
As I have been saying, faith is not to be questioned, “How can it be?” But rather believed as, “This is what Kami asks of me,” and further deepened.
For example, you might come to a complete impasse at work. A common sense response is to say, “How can this be happening? What should I do?” And if you’re so inclined, you try to find a solution. Faith, though, is not like that. “This is how Kami develops my faith; This too must be Kami’s Divine Love.” This is how to further deepen your beliefs and this is where the workings of Kami begin.
The truth of this is stated in the 42nd Teaching of our Founder. So, simply put, mediation is how smoothly “how can it be” is changed into “this is how.” And by smoothly, I mean how fully this is transmitted to the believer. So you must start by receiving mediation to understand Divine Will.
Mediating Divine Will
Mediation at Airaku is strictly that of Divine Will. Say, for example, you get into a car accident and come for mediation. Well, whatever the circumstances of the accident, if it is Divine Will, thanks should be given to Kami. Then, resolving to place all responsibility in Kami, you can leave the rest to be settled in due course.
If you hope to get a little extra out of it you’re better off going to see a lawyer skilled in accident settlements. Once you accept that all is Divine Love and resolve to put all responsibility in Kami, it is up to Kami from there on. Whether or not you get something extra is Divine Will. This is where the path of true blessings begins.
“Let us pray for even one extra penny.” With this kind of prayer that change in life to the one meant for us will never come to pass. There’s no way to receive Divine Will like that. With salvation, not only your own must be absolute, but also that of your fellow man. This is different from the world of ethics.
In the world of ethics, fellow humans unselfishly work together towards compromise and resolution of problems for the greatest common good. This means mutually taking into account everyone’s position. Generally these situations call for much reluctant acceptance of the other party’s views, but that’s not what this faith is about.
This faith must be one in which both sides are fully guided to absolute salvation. This is that bi-contradiction I mentioned earlier of mutual existence/mutual resolution. To this end, we must first maintain the absolute position of accepting All as Divine Love.
Unconditionally Accepting Kami
Take the marital relationship: When the husband starts with his own interests and the wife with her own interests, disagreement can result. So in terms of moral solutions, problems are solved settling on the greatest common denominator for each side. Or else they can be solved on the more elevated, household plan. These are the only options.
However, if the couple is one that starts with receiving Kami’s blessings, the husband accepts Kami unconditionally. The wife also accepts Kami unconditionally. Both receive Kami’s help by becoming partners in unconditionality. So, in this way, absolute salvation is possible for both.
This is one truly amazing thing about our faith.
The only way to resolution is not just hoping for the other person’s understanding or self-sacrifice. This may be virtuous. Problems are often suffered through with thoughts like, “well she just has to get over it, just like I sacrifice myself for her.”
That’s not the way. We need only unconditionally accept Kami.
The Way that Rids Humanity of Problems
The quintessence of Airaku Ideology is that All is Divine Love. As any and everything that happens is thankfully accepted as Divine Love, problems as such cannot exist.
In this way Issai Shin’ai (All is Divine Love) again differs from Doctor Kishimoto’s “definitive solution to the problems of humanity.” Dr. Kishimoto believes problems can be resolved through an outside force, and that’s not it.
Issai Shin’ai is the way in which problems themselves cease to be. It is the way through which problems are no longer problems and are converted into Divine Love. It is a path of acceptance and proof that in this world Kami’s workings serve solely to bring happiness to all people.
Accepting All as Divine Love
In closing, the 69th Teaching of our Founder states, “Faith is right before our eyes, but people make it complicated.”
We see this with today’s religions, where people actually end up unable to receive blessings. All kinds of religions seek out philosophical gods. Why, I just don’t know, but they seem to like this kind of philosophical god.
Our Declaration of the Way states, “Developing a way of life rooted in the order of Heaven and Earth, honoring the life-force of nature, we strive for a society in which humans and nature are in harmony.”
Even though striving for this society in which humans and nature are in harmony, if you strive philosophically, you’ll never reach the realization of it. To this end, the means is accepting All as Divine Love.
Practicing this faith means accepting All as Divine Love, viewing everything with humility and gratitude. Accepting all that we receive through Kami’s grace humbly and gratefully. We live our lives making how we realize this acceptance our principle concern. In this way, humans live like humans, and the path to receiving the blessings of heaven and earth appears clearly before our eyes. This is what I believe the Konko faith to be.
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