Hello, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying good health and in excellent spirits. Thank you very much for attending our second monthly service for February 2010. As I told you in our 1st monthly service a couple of weeks ago, today I would like to share the second story among the so-called three classics of Airaku. It is the story of 'Six Jizos.'
A Jizo is a guardian spirit for children. Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, founder of my home church of Airaku, often told this story to emphasize the importance of having unwavering joy in your heart as the way to human fulfillment.
There lived an old couple. It was the day before the New Year and they were so poor they didn't have enough money to make rice cakes for the celebration. The old man went to the town on foot to sell woven hats to get money for cakes. He walked his feet off in a heavy snowstorm but he couldn't sell even one hat. On the way home he passed along a temple. In front of it there stood six stone images of Jizo covered with snow. He thought, "They must feel very cold!"
He swept snow off the Jizos' heads and wanted to put one of the woven hats on each of them. But he had only five hats for sell and there were six Jizos. So he put his old towel on the last one, saying, "Please put up with this substitute for a while."
He went home where his wife eagerly waited his return. "How did it go?" she asked him.
He explained what had happened on his way back home. She answered, "You did a good thing.
"Let us spend the New Year with our good feelings instead of pounded rice cakes." (In Japanese the words 'Pounded rice cakes (Tsuita Mochi)' & 'Feelings (Kokoro Mochi)' have the same sound.)
The couple went to bed enjoying their good feelings. In the middle of the night they were awakened by a familiar sound. It was the pounding of rice coming from the closet. When they opened it they found the Jizos pounding rice to make cakes with all their strength.
What's more, the six Jizos were building a new house and bringing to it great quantities of food and clothing. There was every kind of thing necessary to provide human happiness. The old people were very surprised!
Not only did they have the New Year more wonderful than ever before... from that day on they lived the blessed lives the rest of their lives. Now, what do you think is the most important lesson in this story?
I believe it is importance of having total acceptance, or joy, in your heart, whatever happens. You see, it was not enough for the old man alone to accept this situation with pleasure. Suppose the old lady had told him he had done something stupid by giving all the hats to the Jizos. The six Jizos would never have appeared and the couple' happiness would never have happened.
It was the compassion in the heart of the old man and the old woman in accepting her husband's caring for the Jizos with joy that agreed with divine and amazing heart of Heaven and Earth. As a result, they lived happy lives free from worry.
Our Founder taught us, "This Way opens with joy beyond joy. Therefore, Kami never gives us troubles to find joy."
What this means is that we should choose to have joy in our heart, even though times come when it is most difficult to have a joy filled heart. That also means that my joy does not have to be joy for myself alone. It is best when one person's joy is joyful for the entire family. In order to achieve this kind of joy we must have such heart that is able to accept whatever happens as Kami's wish to strengthen gratitude and as the manifestation of Divine love. My family has recently received this challenging kind of opportunity.
I've recently had pains around in my lower-right abdomen for three weeks. When I went to see the doctor on Feb. 9, he immediately found my right groin swollen & sensitive made an appointment to see a specialist the next day. The diagnosis was a hernia, which would not cure itself naturally and that I would have to have surgery. I made an appointment to have it taken care of on March 1.
When I first got the news I thought, "Kami wants me to direct my heart toward Kami more intensely than ever. This will be the great opportunity for me to develop my peaceful and joyful heart with all my hearts."
I feel very grateful to Kami for giving me this Divine love to deepen my heart. To take maximum advantage of this opportunity I am now always reciting in my heart, "Thank you Kami-sama for giving me this faith training. Thank you Kami-sama for giving me this Divine love." This hernia is definitely a Divine gift of love for me to renew myself.
I believe my wife Kanako feels the same as I do. If she will accept my illness as her opportunity to renew herself as well, both our attitudes toward my hernia can be a blessing that received by the old couple in the story of "Six Jizos." It can resound as an echo of Kami's Divine heart and through Kami's glory our church will be blessed beyond measure.
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