Hello, everyone! Happy New Day & Week! I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits. Thank you very much for attending today's first monthly service for August 2011.
There's an old Japanese proverb which says, "Practice makes perfect."
Whatever you do, practice is most important to achieve your goal in any fields. Faith is the same. The third successor of our Founder, Rev. Setsutane Konko often encouraged believers to, "Practice in Faith." In order to improve our faith, everyday practice is the most essential. So, what do you focus on practicing your faith everyday?
I've said several times in recent sermons that I've been focusing on demonstrating the Divine Nature of the Universe in my daily life. Our founder Konko Daijin taught, "It is essential to have a heart like that of the universe and try to be similar to the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe."
In my sermons I've taught that the heavenly nature of the universe is characterized by inexhaustible generosity. It is a natural way of limitless giving. It is the expression of a heart that can not help but pray silently for even those who hate you or speak against you. Type of faith which is broadened by the world praying together, helping each other and directing each other together has no time to hear or speak ill of others. Don't listen to those who blame you or complain of you with your ears. Hear them with your heart. Then you, perhaps to your surprise, can't help but pray for them because you understand them from their perspective. That is the way to practice faith that reflects the heavenly nature of the universe.
The earthly nature of the universe is to be calmly accepting of everything that happens to us. It calls us to remain peaceful & silent like the earth itself. A great example of this earthly nature of acceptance is that no matter how filthy we may think something is, the earth doesn't say, "I hate foul smelling things like this." No matter how repugnantly we may react to animal wastes, the earth never says, "These kinds of foul, dirty things are out". Moreover, the earth isn't just being passively silent either. It receives all these things that we perceive as filthy waste & absorbs them into itself, uses them as nourishment & returns them to us in the blessings of renewed life... food; flowers & the materials we need to live full, healthy lives.
It is the heart we turn to, to feel Kami's view of the true nature behind anyone, even those who disturb you. This is the way to perceive & receive everything that happens in our lives as Kami's doing... & USE this wisdom to deepen the peace and joy in your heart. Believe that Kami let you hear or see even unacceptable things in a way that you can use to learn & grow into the joy-filled life Kami intends for you.
In the orderly nature of the universe - the harder we look, the more we can see - that there is nothing more faithful and perfect. We'd be in REAL trouble for example if the sun were to say, "I'm too tired today. I'll take a break?"
The sun works constantly without a minute, a second or even a mille-second's rest. To a sincere believer, it is like the thought that whatever you have done it is not done enough. I believe this shows the vital importance of practicing faith with the same, constant dedication.
Using these three principles, I have been doing my best to acquire and reflect the Nature of the Universe. That is to say, I have devoutly tried to emulate the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe for ‘faith training' for the past eighteen months. Still I often felt I failed. Then I came across the teaching of my parent minister Rev. Soichiro Otsubo in which he said:
"The Divine Nature of the Universe is the working to give life to each and everything. This morning I received a revelation such as "Those who try to defeat others are defeated." On the other hand when you give life to others, you are absolutely given life. It is not enough that I just don't have an idea to defeat others. When you live your life to let others give life, train yourself for others who do against you, or pray for others, Kami gives life even to your weak points. Husband respects his wife instead of blaming. Wife respects her husband, no matter what. Parent loves child unconditionally. Child looks up to parent. Kami says, ‘Without saying anything pray with calmness.' Then Kami gives life to even weak points of each other. Kami shines it brilliantly no matter how dirty it may be. From there the Way is newly open to spread further and further. This is the Divine Nature of the Universe."
This teaching reminds me of something that often happened while I was a trainee under the guidance of the late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. In those days he had many trainees. Some of them were very socially troublesome. lt seemed that in the end Rev. Otsubo was their final hope. After they became trainees, they still had antisocial behavior from many bad habits. To the other trainees & me it seemed very hard to see anything but their bad side. They appeared to be totally self-centered. But whenever they were in front of Rev. Otsubo they always showed hidden, unique and wonderful habits. I realized I was not matching such good habits as they displayed. That was the wonder of Rev. Otsubo.
I really would like to have such a Divine Nature of the Universe. I want to give my life to being a more & more perfect reflection of this nature to every person I get to know by polishing the gem of my heart by accepting everything that happens like the Heavenly, Earthly, Orderly Nature of the Universe... regardless of the circumstances. I will do my best to focus on looking deep in my heart, constantly renewing myself in order to do so. Please pray for my success in more perfectly shining forth the glory of Kami's blessings in Chicago and to all that is beyond. And I promise I will CONSTANTLY return the favor by praying for you who have chosen this wonderful Way of Faith.
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