Hello, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits. Thank you very much for attending today's service.
As I told at our last monthly service I visited Japan this last month from Oct.7th to the 19th. My entire journey was filled with Kami's awesome workings. I received blessings beyond anything I could ever have expected. Another very meaningful event for me was to see several of my former colleagues of the Yokohama National University tennis club for the first time in nearly 40 years.
They meet together three or four times a year to play tennis and have parties in the evening. One of them e-mailed me after the Dedication Ceremony of the new Konko Church of Chicago last November. It felt like a surprise gift from Kami to celebrate this church dedication. My friend planned to throw a party to welcome me Japan. Eleven of us gathered together at the restaurant near the Yokohama station on the evening of Oct. 8. My heart was filled with delight to see them.
We talked with each other like a fountain to cover 40 years' separation. Then we went to sing songs at the Karaoke shop. All together we, talked, drank and sang to our hearts' content for 6 hours. It was a most joyous occasion, fondly sharing memories with them.
Among them, Mr. Junichi Ishiwata is my closest friend. He came with a special welcome and asked me about the Konko Faith. His primary question was the difference between the Konko Faith and the Christianity since they're both monotheistic religions. I gave him my best general explanation about it, but I could tell they seemed a little vague for the depth of his interest.
My next stop was a visit to our Headquarters in Konko town. I went to the Konko library while I was there and Rev. Hideko Konko, one of the librarians, gave me a small booklet on the subject titled, "Praising the Konko Faith" by Prof. Ikuta Tsurufuji of Risho University & several others. I was most surprised at how clearly those exact differences were covered in that little booklet. Prof. Tsurufuji was a renowned researcher of Shintoism. As an intelligent outside the Konko Faith, Tsurufuji could view religions with an objective mind and thoroughly balanced point of view. Tsurufuji published his conclusions in a 1938 article in "Chugai Nippo," Japan's most famous religious newspaper, after studying religious doctrines for many years. As the title shows, he frankly made his opinion known to the public.
Here are some of Prof. Tsurufuji's words, which I wish I'd had to answer my best friend's questions more completely.
The most important feature of the Konko Faith's teachings is its pure monotheism. Konko Faith is a rarity in its complete commitment to a single and universal spirit. In this regard it compares well with Christianity. Moreover it differs from Christianity's older view of monotheism with three incarnations of the same God though vigorously refuted by its believers. The Konko Faith appears much more to be a form of pantheistic monotheism. Thus the Konko Faith is a more advanced monotheism.
This God is named Tenchi Kane No Kami. Tenchi Kane No Kami is the God of the Universe, that is, the Divine Parent of the Universe, as Teaching # 12 says, "If you want to meet Kami, just step out of your house and look around you. The sky above is Kami and the ground below is Kami."
With this view the whole universe is considered to be God. One of Konko's General Principles says, "There is no place on earth which does not receive the virtue of Tenchi Kane No Kami." Another says, "The Divine Parent protects both pure and impure places. Do not have impurities in your spirit." Teaching # 3 says, "Shrines, temples and houses all stand on Kami's land.
Therefore, as Teaching # 6 proclaims, "...you are constantly walking within and through the midst of Kami, although Kami cannot be directly seen. And the whole world is the mediation place and worship hall of Tenchi Kane No Kami (The Divine Parent of the Universe). Even while fertilizing a field or walking along a path you are surrounded by Tenchi Kane No Kami's hall of mediation and worship.
Teaching # 10 adds, "If the Divine Parent of the Universe were to enter and be confined by a shrine, the world would turn dark." This means that God is universal or truly pantheistic.
As the pantheistic & monotheistic God this God, as the origination of all things, is God and Divine Parent for all humans. So human beings are the children of this God, and brothers & sisters of the same Divine Parent. That's why one of the General Principles teaches, "Kami is the parent of us all. Faith is the same as showing respect to your parents. And Teaching after Teaching of the Konko Faith reaffirms the primacy of this relationship.
Teaching # 93 says, "Since all people are children of the Divine Parent, treat them all with the same regard and consider no one as unworthy."
One of the "Understandings of Faith" says, "There is no one in this world who does not belong."
As the relationship between Kami & all human are as parent & child, its bond is nothing other than gratefulness through love.
Teaching # 74 elaborates, "A heart that feels compassion is a heart of Kami." Teaching # 8 says, "Parents have more concern for children who are disobedient. In the same way, Kami has more concern for those with less faith. Practice faith and receive divine blessings." Teaching #23 says, "Faith is realized when the follower and Kami become close. Faith will fade if you stand in fear of Kami. Stay close to Kami."
These teachings are typical of the Konko Faith that has risen above the low-class, uncivilized religions based on fear and have achieved incomparable advances as religion of love.
Christianity proudly advocates such a teaching as to "love your enemy" and represents the infinite love of God through the parables such as "seeking a lamb that went astray" and "a prodigal son". Even the Christianity as it is, cannot say, "Kami has more concern for those with less faith."
Moreover, as one of the Ten Commandments says, "I, Jehovah, am thy jealous God ---," in a sense Christianity has indeed the sad history of heretical cruelty.
The Konko Faith wishes to perfect everyone from the bottom of their heart, so that all may live in the midst of the blessing of divine virtue.
The following fundamental teachings of the Konko Faith flow from this basic concept:
"A heart filled with gratitude is the beginning of divine blessings. (Understandings of Faith)"
"Always be grateful for whatever you eat or drink. (Understandings of Faith)"
"Those who practice faith should feel grateful even upon rising from a tree stump on which they have sat and rested. (Teaching # 31)"
I think there is probably no other such high-qualified God and Faith than the Konko Faith by the highest knowledge nowadays.
These are just excerpts from Prof. Tsurufuji's booklet. His article, which inspired this little booklet, is now more than 70 years old. In those days, there were not many materials about the Konko Faith. Even so, a scholar had studied the Konko Faith so deeply that he grasped the essence of our Founder's teachings, for which I cannot help but be filled with admiration.
We are the believers of Konko Faith. Let us study our Founder's path of faith more and more to become good and trustworthy examples of it and serve Kami and people in each and every corner of our world.
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