Hello, everyone! Happy New Day! Thank you very much for attending today's service & I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits. This is the first monthly service in April, 2011.
As you know, the biggest earthquake in Japanese history hit near the eastern shore of the Tohoku region Friday, March 11th. It caused devastating tsunamis that swept away houses, cars and everything in several towns & cities for 100's of miles along the NE coastline. The extent of the devastation is beyond belief. The number of confirmed dead has soared to tens of thousands & the number of people unaccounted for has now more than doubled that projected number.
There was yet a third disaster. Fukushima is also threatened by a nuclear crisis caused by severe damage to six atomic power plants. The magnitude 9-earth quake on the World Wide Scale far exceeded the limits these reactors were designed to withstand.
As if that were not enough, just this past week those in the battered region suffered an after shock almost as large as the original quake. It was a 7.1magnitude quake. Luckily there were no tsunamis this time & there was no additional damage to the damaged reactors in Fukushima, nor the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miagi Prefecture and others. Although they lost power their backup worked this time & all other reactors continued to work correctly. Yet this disaster was large enough to displace more people & I'm sure it brought new terrors to those who have suffered through the past month.
As news reports of this ongoing disaster have added details of this tragedy it pains us greatly to think of the unspeakable suffering that those who survived are undergoing. This is especially true for those many unfortunate children whose parents & family members are still missing. I have prayed and will continue to pray for all these victims every waking moment. I'm sure you all must feel this way too.
But at the same time I have sought to find Kami's purpose in this. Konko Daijin taught us, "Everyone around the world is a child of Tenchi Kane No Kami. Everything that happens is Kami's doing. It includes major upheavals."
In the Konko Religion we believe all victims & survivors in this disaster were children of Kami, regardless of chronological age. Therefore I can hardly believe how much greater the depth of Kami's pain must be. Konko Daijin said in the Record of Revelations in 1872, "An earthquake struck on Feb. 6 at around six in the evening. Kami said, 'I, Tenchi Kane No Kami, am disturbed. The world is chaotic."
So, what disturbs Kami? What kind of human attitude could it be that disturbs Kami most? Konko Daijin also points to a possible answer 6 years later in the Record of Revelations in 1880, "Early in the morning on November 24, Kami-Sama revealed, 'Right now the world is human-centered. All things are done by people's own power, and many people are going against my teachings. Those who do as I say shall become a kami. Long ago, it was a kami-centered world. Now it is a human-centered world. Because of this, I shall teach people to return to a kami-centered world. Difficulty and suffering are caused by people's own hearts. Whether or not they can live in a peaceful world also depends on their own hearts.'"
In this teaching Kami clearly states that it would disturb Kami for people to look to their own power rather than by seeking Kami in everything. Our earthly way of living therefore has to change sooner-or-later from human-centeredness to building Kami-centered lives. Hope for the future of the human race will not open until we do.
Humans must come to live in a mutual reliance between Kami and people. Only then will the human condition change by having a heart like that of the universe; emulating the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of Heaven & Earth. Each human being must come to live a life filled with gratitude, in harmony with the universe.
Even in these latest, devastating situations have I heard many moving stories about the survivors and victims. News stories report that the survivors stood patiently in the line to get only a bottle of water for a long time without cutting the line. When a single rice ball for the day was distributed each survivor, one family of four said three rice balls were enough to share and gave one to others. And that was but one of many similar stories. Each of those survivors showed their unconditional love; that is, a heart like that of Kami all over the affected areas.
People all over the world were amazed with Japanese patient spirit and caring for others. A 25-year-old young woman who had worked in the town's municipal office four years ago became an announcer of radio broadcasting a year ago. Before the tsunami came she made an announcement repeatedly, "The tsunami is coming. Please evacuate to the higher places."
Many people survived because of her courage. But because of it, she herself was swept away. Thanks to many brave people of all ages who had The Heart of Kami when so many needed it most the lists of these stories will never end.
Survivors and even victims showed their unconditional love everywhere in the affected areas. Their examples shout out, "Ganbare Nippon, or Hold out, Japan!" and have spread much good will all over the world.
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra held a charity concert. Many Japanese athletes of many sports, like baseball, soccer and golf etc. have donated quite a lot of money and held many charitable games to raise more motivating people all over the world who cannot help personally but do anything whatever they can and donate billions of dollars to help those survivors.
Konko Headquarters stood up to help those survivors. There are more than thirty churches in the devastated areas. Fortunately all the ministers and family members have been reported to be safe. The only real damage was to the first floor of one church that was swept away. But the five families are living on the second floor all survived. Other churches were damaged to a lesser degree but were blessed by only requiring repairs & cleanup. There's one church that's now housing 70 survivors. Our headquarters accumulated donations to help not only those churches but also other severely damaged regions as well. My wife and I felt we had to donate as much as we possibly could.
Even after giving as much as we could I was anxious to do more. Then I decided to skip one meal and put what that meal would have cost into a collection everyday. I usually eat cereal for my lunch and it probably costs a little less than one dollar. So I decided to skip my lunches and save one-dollar everyday. When the amount is enough I'll give it to KCNA or other charity like the Japan Red Cross.
Recently I went to see the dentist. After fixing my teeth she told me not to eat anything for two hours. I told her that I would not eat anything until dinner anyway. She asked why. So I told my story about skipping my lunch for donation. She was so touched to hear it that she gave a donation of $200.
It's always impossible to know how, where and when such disasters will happen. But when one does happen we humans receive the protection of Kami; regardless of what it is and no matter how difficult it might be to endure. The grandson of our Founder once said, "When people leave everything to Kami, Kami trusts them with everything."
That is so true. There is no other way to live except to trust Kami so completely & faithfully that Kami can come to trust us.
"When, in the face of catastrophe,
Our human knowledge is shown to be useless,
Using the teachings as a mirror,
The path will open up to us,
Putting, each day, sincerely and joyfully,
Everything in the hands of Kami."
For the sake of human race and the world, I do pray without thought of myself to have a heart like that of the universe to change this world into more Kami-fulfilled world and do whatever I can to honor those victims and help those survivors.
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