Hello, Everyone! Thank you very much for attending today's second service for the month July. I hope you are all enjoying your lives in good health and in excellent spirits.
This year's KCNA Conference is near at hand. It will be held in Seattle the next weekend. Our youngest son, Daichi will leave Chicago to join the KCNA Youth Camp for the first time on July 21. He is very excited about it. I hope he has a meaningful and memorable time there. The students of the Youth Camp will all join us in the conference later.
I was asked to be a guest speaker for the Japanese Group at the conference. Since the Konko Faith is celebrating the 150th Anniversary of our founder receiving the Divine Call this year, the title of my speech will be, "The Divine Call and the Divine Reminder." I'd like to share the main idea of my speech with you in today's sermon.
The Divine Call expressed Kami's ardent wishes to our founder: "Regard this event as your death. Give up all other desires and assist Tenchi Kane No Kami, Divine Parent of the Universe."
Kami then requested him to help many people who were troubled by performing Divine Mediation. The Divine Parent of the Universe poured out feelings in revealing an ideal world of mutual fulfillment between Kami and people, "Man exists because of Kami and Kami exists because of man. There will be eternal prosperity through mutual fulfillment."
In this revelation Kami entrusted Konko Daijin with the responsibility of delivering this Divine Principle to the whole world. This is the founding essence of the Konko Faith's beginnings.
Then what kind of faith do we need to have to achieve this world of mutual fulfillment? We need to find out what kind of faith Kami wanted Konko Daijin to have as his core throughout life in this world to be ready for the next.
The Konko Faith has what are called "the treasures" of the religious world. They are two books written by Konko Daijin himself. In them he wrote about his journey of faith from birth to a mere twenty days before he died. In all religious history there have been no founders who wrote their whole lives autobiographically. Individually these works are named: "Memoirs of Konko Daijin" and "Record of Revelations." In them the Founder wrote honestly and very frankly about his life's journey of faith.
He wrote the first half of his life in the "Memoirs". He tells of the many difficulties he came across such as the so-called 'Seven killings of Konjin.' This was a time in which he lost several members of his family as well as a number of oxen, a prized possession to a farmer. Of this period he wrote, "I stood by helpless. I lived with this constant frustration and futility."
Then at the age 42 he himself was stricken with a critical illness. He recovered from it, he writes, through his sincere faith. This was a critical turning point. For in this crisis he encountered the Kami directly helping him for the first time. In the "Memoirs" he described this moment with great awe and gratitude by drawing a circle. He wrote, "As I write these words I am filled with deep emotion, and Kami responded encouragingly, 'Konko Daijin, these deep emotions are not only your own. If I, Tenchi Kane No Kami, were a poet, I would express these emotions through poetry. However, I am incapable of doing so. I am overjoyed, and even overcome with emotion to see how man has been able to be saved and how Kami has been able to be comprehended by human.'"
Konko Daijin realized for the first time that this Divine Being would help people by the way they faced and cooperated with Kami. That's when Konko Daijin started to seek Kami's real wishes for his life with all his heart.
Two years later his younger brother Shigeemon Kandori became out of control. He claimed Konjin had possessed him. Shigeemon asked Konko Daijin to build a new house for Konjin. Konko Daijin agreed, "I will."
Now, when a crazy person asks you to build a new house for them, would you do it; even if they're your brother or sister? Konko Daijin was doing his best to seek Kami's will in everything that happened to him and so he agreed. Later Kami was most pleased with this moment, calling it, "Kami's first request."
From that time on Konko Daijin heard Kami's voices speak to him directly. The following two years many miraculous things happened around him. His relations to Kami grew closer to closer. Then in 1859 he received the Divine Call to quit his farming and mediate people with Kami full time.
But this was not the end of his faith development. Kami continued to test the Founder with many challenges to deepen his faith. In these tests Konko Daijin had to throw away even traditional "common sense" and ideas in order to trust Kami completely. He conscientiously sought to deepen his faith by accepting everything that happened to him as Kami's doing.
The Japanese system of the government changed completely in 1868 with the beginning of the Meiji era. In following six years Konko Daijin faced the most critical period of his faith. He was ordered by the government to remove the altar fixtures and stop mediating between people and Kami. Alone, by himself, he prayed and prayed to Kami. He asked that without him or a place to worship, how there were any ways for people to achieve the mutual fulfillment between themselves and Kami. In reply, he received the revelation of the Divine Reminder.
I have studied Konko Daijin's faith through these two Divine Books for years. I believe they prove how Kami brought Konko Daijin step-by-step directly to the revelation of this Divine Reminder. I am convinced, as are many others, that it is the the Konko Religion's ultimate affirmation of faith. The Divine Reminder (Tenchi Kakitsuke) most clearly declares Kami's intention for our lives in this world we live in.
Here are the words of the Divine Reminder:
Divine Parent of the Universe
With all your heart,
Be one with Kami.
Kami's blessings begin within
Hearts grateful and caring,
In harmony and joy.
Look to Kami always,
Now and forever.
On this very day, pray.
It is the most important to achieve the faith spirit of this Divine Reminder in order to repay Konko Daijin's successors for their tireless efforts to defend this faith to it to us.
From then on Konko Daijin had put this Divine Reminder into practice. He deepened his grateful & caring heart full of harmony & joy, no matter what happened and regardless of how difficult it might be. Before his death in 1883, he ultimately reached a level of faith which prompted him to record in his Sacred Treasures, "Kami revealed, 'If you attach a new candle to one that is becoming shorter, the flame will become brighter and last longer. Within this example I will have you understand your future. Your five children will be prosperous. I will enable them to build pavilions and cathedrals in the future. Set your mind at rest about everything concerning your children.'"
We all come across many difficulties every day of our daily lives. There are a bewildering number different ways of dealing with them.
But the Divine Reminder is a steadfast compass that shows the way to receive divine blessings and attain human fulfillment. Like Konko Daijin we must use it to accept all these problems as Kami's doing. Through them we have a whetstone to polish the gem of grateful and caring hearts.
That is why our Founder taught us, "On this very day pray with a single heart. Divine blessings are within your own grateful and caring heart full of harmony and joy."
"Living out this statement daily in our lives, the glory of Kami will appear and true world peace will be attained."
It is through a demonstration of Kami's glory by our faith and lives that we can attain the complete happiness the world so desperately needs. This can be the foundation on which to bring about true harmony in our homes and genuine peace in the world.
In faith, and to that end; I would like to do my best to deepen peace and joy in my heart awake or asleep to reveal Kami's workings each and every moment. I want to be a living witness to the words, "Opening the Way within my peaceful, joyful heart." This I pray solemnly.
This is what I will tell the 2009 KCNA Conference. Please pray for my success!
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