Good Morning, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying good health and in the best of spirits. Thank you for attending our monthly service for March 2010. As you know, I had double hernia surgery March 1st and thanks to all of your prayers it was a great success. So now we can, as they say on television, get back to our story.
As I told you when I began this series of sermons in February, today I would like to share with you the last story of my mentor, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, which came to be called the "three classics of Airaku."
The first story of the Airaku classics was "Toyotake Rosho," about a talented young entertainer who left her teacher because he had her practice only one song again and again. Discover her error she returned to find her mentor was ready to quit teaching because he considered her his most talented student.
Like Toyotake Rosho I learned from my mentor, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, that there is only one way to deal with the many problems of life. From this story Rev. Otsubo learned to face any challenge by accepting whatever happened in his life, good or bad, as a gift from Kami. That is why I accepted my double hernia operation with deep gratitude.
To me, it became Kami's challenge to become a more perfect, genuine mediator. The whole time I said repeatedly in my mind, "Thank you Kami-sama for giving me this faith training. Thank you Kami-sama for your Divine Love."
The second story of the trilogy, "Six Jizos," taught of the compassion in the heart of the old man and the old woman in accepting her husband's caring for the Jizos. Rev. Otsubo learned from this story that by caring for the images of these spirits joyfully the old couple was in perfect harmony with divine and amazing heart of Heaven and Earth.
Like this story I was not the only person who respected my surgery with satisfaction as faith training. My wife Kanako also accepted it as the opportunity for her to renew herself, which is the essence of "Six Jizos" story. Now we come to the last of the Airaku classics. It is called, "Choosing a Bridegroom."
It is a very ancient story, which tells of a young lady from a very wealthy family who has reached the age for her to marry. But she will not marry just anyone and her family supports her in this. She sends messengers all over Japan to announce that on a certain date, she will only marry the first, bravest man who passes all of a series of most challenging tests.
Many young men gather on the appointed day. Each one of them was wonderful and would seem to make an ideal husband. They're strong, intelligent and handsome. However, before they begin, they are told they will be tested individually and if they fail, on pain of death, they must leave at once with the same dignity as they arrived, and without uttering a sound. One at a time they went to be tested. And one by one, they fail to return. Actually there was indeed such a test that other men had run away.
At last, there was only one suitor left. Actually, the young lady had chosen this young man to be last, as he was the one she secretly hoped would not fail. But she would not accept him unless he honestly passed all the tests. And there were many difficult and challenging kinds of tests, indeed. At last the young lady took him to a dark, mysterious room, saying, "You must know my hobby to get married with me. I have very unusual tastes."
In the room was a group of witnesses and … to the young man's horror, there lay piles of human bones. He was absolutely shocked. It might have been all right if there had only been bones. But she broke one of them with a loud snap, put the bite-sized end in her mouth and ate it all up. Then she handed the other end to him and said, "Now you..."
Everyone except him failed at this point. However, without taking his eyes from the young woman's gaze he ate it anyhow. To his complete amazement, his mouth filled with sweetness and utter joy transformed the young lady's face! You see... it was made out of crystallized sugar.
So the clever young lady got her ideal husband and this brave young man who completely trusted her, got the young lady he desired. By eating some of bones she offered, even though it seemed like a totally unreasonable request, he proved how completely he trusted her.
We cannot imagine how pleased she was. This was the most important thing she was looking for in a life partner.
It is this is the same kind of trust I relied upon in accepting my surgery with complete gratitude. I left everything up to the loving care of Kami and I believe Kami was pleased. Because it is the behavior Kami longs for from all of us. Received in this light, the hernia surgery definitely became a Divine gift of love and an opportunity for me to renew myself.
All of us can come to understand that by living out the Konko Faith every moment of our lives, we more perfectly know Divine Love by experiencing it. As the Divine Reminder promises, "Divine Blessings depend upon one's own heart."
We can feel through every experience the manifestation of Kami's desire to share with us the Divine Power and Virtue of Divine Love.
Our Founder's words help guide us to accept this great blessing and in faith, to receive even something that is most painful as a blessing also. If we do, this Faith is easy and clear-cut.
The lessons of these three stories can guide and assist us through every problem we encounter also. Understanding this we can apply the messages of each in accepting, with gratitude, whatever occurs in our life as Kami's gift no matter how difficult they might be. When we appreciate that everything is Divine Love through constant practice, we are blessed fully so that every possible human need for happiness comes to us.
The lesson learned from my hernias was, for me, a resounding echo of Kami's Divine heart. And it echoed through me into the lives of my entire family. May this experience continue to show forth Kami's glory throughout our church, our neighborhoods and city, the nation and ultimately to all the world. May it become a blessing beyond all measure.
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