Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our 2nd monthly service for November. I hope you are all enjoying good health and in excellent spirits.
Our founder taught us, "While you are young, you will be asked to do work which pays wages, but when you get older, you will not be asked. In practicing faith, the older you get, the more virtuous you become. If you practice faith, your gratitude will increase with each passing year. [Teachings of Konko Daijin #55]
My parent minister Rev. Soichiro Otsubo once interpreted the teaching this way: "As you remove 'self' through faith practice year-by-year you become more grateful. If you're not feeling grateful, notice it is strangeness. Remove that selfish character, then renew & practice your faith. You are certain to receive a grateful heart. You do not receive virtue just because you grow old. The degree of gratefulness you attain is you're measure of virtue. Faith is not an exercise in becoming great or wise; its purpose is in becoming as grateful as you can."
That's why I have been focused on practicing faith to deepen the gratitude in my heart each and everyday; in every passing moment by accepting everything that happens in my life without judgment. Sometimes things happen that it is very hard to accept them with gratitude. "Whatever we encounter," Rev. Otsubo taught us, "Try to say 'Thank you.' Even though it may feel artificial and seems like telling a lie. When you repeatedly say 'Thank you' in these cases; to your surprise, you will finally become genuinely grateful from the bottom of your heart."
Each of us is a plain, ordinary person. So we often fail to easily accept some things that happen to us with gratitude. These are the very incidents in our lives that need the most attention! We need to repeatedly practice faith to deepen our hearts to BE grateful to the point that we can say 'Thank you' from the bottom of our heart with honest, genuine feeling.
The other day I had an appointment with the doctor who had performed my hydrocelle surgery last August. He examined to see how my body had healed from his surgery and asked me to get a blood test. While I was waiting for the assistant to do the blood test, I happened to read a magazine that was in the waiting area. In it I read an article about Ms. Danica Patrick, the American, female racecar driver. There was one question & the answer she gave that interested me a lot. The interviewer asked, "What do you do to handle a tough day?"
Her answer was, "I like to use the expression, 'Fake it until you believe it.' So if someone asks how I'm doing, I just completely lie through my teeth and say, 'I'm doing amazing!' It really works.
As Ms. Patrick said, when at first it seems to be hard to deal with a tough situation say, 'Thank you,' even if it's not completely genuine to begin with, & continue to practice faith repeatedly, with respect & your gratitude is real. It really works.
You'll find you can extend your appreciation into any that happens, whatever it is & no matter how difficult it may be to do so at the time.
Kami is most pleased to see people practice faith & deepen their peaceful and joyful heart through every daily Divine Blessing sent, be it a reward or discipline to lead you to correct attitudes & behavior. Everything that happens in our lives is Kami's doing & Kami wants us to deepen peace and joy in our hearts to reflect the Nature of the Universe.
When we are genuinely committed to peace & joy within ourselves... THEN we can be willing workers in repairing the peaceful and joyful heart of the world. Surely this is the way that Kami's glory will appear, and human happiness & true world peace will become a reality.
Therefore let us practice this faith to develop peace and joy in our heart through everything that happens in our life to become a good example for the entire human family. There's a saying, "It doesn't matter how many times you fail, or are knocked down, Life only counts how many times you get back on your feet & get on with it."
So, no matter how often we fail, let us do our best to continue to say 'Thank you' and deepen the peace and joy in our heart until it becomes an unbreakable... just like the Divine Heart of Kami.
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