Good afternoon, welcome & thank you very much for attending our 2017 Autumn Memorial Service of the Konko Church of Chicago.
Konko Daijin taught us:
"Practice faith. Receive divine blessings by practicing faith. Then, not only you, but also your grandchildren, great-grandchildren; & even generations far into the future can receive divine blessings.
"The spirits of your ancestors will be able to rest in peace because you receive divine blessings by practicing your beliefs faithfully. All the blessings you have ever received will stay with you forever. Therefore, build as solid a foundation of blessings as faithfully as you can during your life here on earth."
Today, as we honor our forebears & other departed souls, let us invite them to draw close to us; their family members who are alive today. May they gather close to us & help bridge the peace & joy of our hearts with theirs. In this way we receive Kami's blessings that enrich us all; present & departed, at this present moment.
This morning; just after midnight, I offered prayers honoring the Mitama spirits of the family & friends who are closely associated with this Church. I also offered special prayers to honor those Mitama spirits who were the victims of tragedies such as wars, terrorist attacks, accidents and natural disasters like recent flood in Northern Kyushu, Japan and the devastating hurricane Harvey in Texas. Let us also pray for the hurricane Irma in Florida at this moment.
I have extended my appreciation to the newly-departed, dearly beloved, Mitama spirits who died this year:
クントングno Mitama: January 10th, Hayley Michael no Mitama: Feb. 15
Sato Asuka no Mitama: Feb. 21st, Akagi Shizu no Mitama: April 16th,
Lambros Louise no Mitama: April 21st, Tominaga Hiroki no Mitama: April,
Joho Fujiko no Mitama: May 10th, Ogata Taneko no Mitama: May 26th,
Furuya Setsuo Ushi no Mitama: June 17th,
Mori Yoshie no Mitama: July 23rd, Takada Yoshihiro no Mitama: Aug. 8th,
Matsunaga Satoe no Mitama: Sept. 7th, Horie Toshiharu no Mitama: Sept. 7th
I also honored the immortal; dearly beloved Mitama spirits who have memorial anniversaries during the latter half of this year:
Arai Fumio no Mitama: 10th Memorial – Aug. 13th
Ohara Takashi no Mitama: 10th Memorial – Aug. 23rd
Leki Neana no Mitama: 3rd Memorial – Sept. 7th,
Morokuma Mitsue no Mitama: 25th Memorial – Sept. 14th,
Knuppel Sharon no Mitama: 1st Memorial – Sept. 18th,
Sugano Akiko no Mitama: 5th Memorial – Oct. 4th,
Nakai Rober no Mitama: 10th Memorial – Oct. 7th,
Vose Ruth no Mitama: 25th Memorial – Nov. 22nd,
Driver Dorothy no Mitama: 1st Memorial – Dec. 9th,
Morokuma Shiro no Mitama: 40th Memorial – Dec. 13th,
Hisamatsu Yaeko no Mitama: 1st Memorial – Dec. 18th,
I invited them all, to attend today's service & I truly believe they heard, & are listening to us now. I'm sure they must be pleased of being in your company.
Our Founder taught, "When people die, they are reunited with Kami. A physical body may die, but the Mitama spirit keeps on living. The body came from the Earth, & will return to the Earth; while the Spirit, which was the energy given by Kami to sustain life on Earth; returns to Kami. Dying is the separating of your body to release your spirit back to its' eternal condition."
The earthly life of our late; parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, sought & portrayed the very essence of our Founder's faith throughout every day of his life,. He proved; by example in his life, that true faith is a daily demonstration of this belief that there is a "process of life" which is the active working of the Divine Parent's wish to, guide our path of life in each & everything that happens to us, easy or difficult. Through constant communication & cooperation with Kami Rev Otsubo developed his faith, step by step — respecting everything that happened in his life to the fullest. Living that kind of reality in this world sincerely & faithfully, he came to understand clearly the Mitama spirits in the invisible world beyond.
He said, "The next world is pitch dark. Therefore we need to polish the gem of our heart to receive divine light while we are here on this world. Thus we can live a happy life in this world & a bright eternity in the next.
"Mitama spirits do not directly manipulate actions in this world. There have been a lot of beliefs from very ancient times, that people believed that whatever happens to us is the working of Mitama spirits. Even today a lot of Japanese people believe that phenomena which can not be explained is the working of Mitama spirits. In fact that is totally wrong; NO!... all of these incidents are Kami's doing. Kami uses tricks of illusion of Heaven & Earth by using appearances of Mitama spirits in order to guide humans to real happiness.
This is the epoch-making discovery about the life of spirits beyond which we call in Japanese, Mitama. The Konko Faith makes very clear; the relationships between Kami, Mitama spirits & living humans.
Our founder taught us, "Divine Virtue will be with you even after death & passed down to future generations. It can be received by anyone who practices faith. Divine virtue is never exhausted."
Divine Virtue is surely meant to be with us to the next world. In this world, we can supposedly buy anything we want to help us live a happy life when we have enough money. In the same way we can live free, active lives in the next world as relieved & delightful Mitama spirits in the world of mutual reliance with Kami when we bring Divine Virtue in the next world. But we cannot send our Divine Virtue to the human world. Therefore we have to acquire Divine Virtue & bring it into the next world for our own.
On the other hand descendants should reveal Divine Virtue that passed down to them & accumulate Divine Virtue through practicing true faith, & thereby, honor their ancestors' spirits. Then their ancestors' will be blessed & more delighted in the next world as they are remembered & appreciated in this world.
Through Konko Daijin's Mediation, we should offer our prayers as faithfully as possible. In order for our Mitama spirits to deepen their peaceful & joyful hearts & live happy & prosperous lives in the next blessed world.
As I said before, "This year we have had more Mitamas related to us than usual, who died this year.
クントング who lived in Thailand was an aunt of Yim-san. Mr. Michael Hayley was the husband of Mr. Ben Vose's sister. Ms. Asuka Sato was the daughter of the believer of KC Airaku, Mr. Nagayoshi Hiyoshi. I met her in June last year when I visited KC Airaku. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I offered sincere prayers for her daily after I'd been told of her illness. The entire time, she did her best to deepen peace & joy in her heart to the end. I believe her Mitama spirit continues to deepen peace & joy in the next world, believing it helps support her two precious children have happy lives in this world.
Mrs. Fujiko Joho was the mother-in-law of Ms. Jeung-Hee Park who was the teacher of Japanese for both Mitsunori & Daichi when they studied in her high school class. Mr. Louise Lambros was the father of Mr. Greg Lambros who has kindly joined us in our ceremonies with Ohba-san & taken our group photos. Mrs. Shizu Akagi was the earnest believer in the KC Portland. She was a role model of Konko believers & very kind to us while our family lived in Portland, Oregon.
Rev. Setsuo Furuya was the father of my wife, Kanako. He served Kami & people as an associate minister of KC Takanabekita for 35 years. Mrs. Yoshie Mori was an earnest believer. She lived in Nagoya & was a seeker of true faith. She read my article in the booklet, titled, "Aiyo Kakeyo or Mutual Reliance," which is the quarterly publication for the Konko believers throughout Japan.
She came to see Rev. Soichiro Otsubo at KC Airaku & was soon captivated by his faith. She rent an apartment near KC Airaku & visited the church every day to learn the essence of our founder's faith from Rev. Otsubo. Always; with smile, she deepened her faith & lived a precious life for 100 years! Today we are having the 50th Day Unification service for her Mitama spirit as well.
Mr. Yoshihiro Takada was the father of Mrs. Sally Takada Burnhardsson who lives in Michigan with her family and sometimes came here to seek Mediation. She and her husband Sibbi-san expertly played very impressive music for our Church's 5th Anniversary Celebration three years ago.
It is clear that sooner or later, all of us surely enter the next world or come to live only our spiritual lives someday. Through praying for these Mitama spirits, I couldn't help but wonder about human life. What is the purpose of life? What should we do in this world during the limited, life-span?
Is it O.K. to work just for food & clothing for 50 or 80 years? Is it O.K. to just pass through this world without accomplishing a single thing? When we think this life which passes like a dream, like a vision, we must be seized more & more by thoughts of loneliness, sadness, mustn't we? Don't you think so?
We should try to clearly see what Kami's will is for us. We should wake up & live Kami's everlasting will. This is what Kami wishes we humans to practice faith & polish the gem of our hearts toward our peace & joy & have our lives full of life with Kami. The peaceful & joyful heart is the essential foundation for human happiness.
I am now practicing faith to deepen peace & joy in my heart 24-7, awake or asleep -- to embody the Divine Reminder. I now come to realize everything that happens in my life, small or big, I can feel, is the very working of Kami to help me reflect Kami's wish to develop peace & joy in my heart to the fullest.
I know for certain that I am born into this world to make it clear that this is the very point. Then a perfect feeling of leaping-for-joy sometimes wells up in me. With that joy I cannot help but pray for true world peace and have an earnest desire to serve Kami & people with all my heart. Thank you!