Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our 2nd monthly service for February, 2012. I hope you are all enjoying good health and in excellent spirits.
You received a random teaching of the founder's at last month's service. As I told you then I prayed to Kami that each of you would receive the teaching that Kami most wanted you to think about & practice for the rest of this year. This monthly service as the last I would like to explain the plan behind giving you your individual teaching, some of my feelings when each of you took your teaching, what I hope we can achieve through studying these teachings for the balance of the 2012.
It seems to me that believing you picked the correct teaching Kami wants you to practice for the next 11 months is crucial. Today I'd like to offer some suggestions for keeping your teaching in forefront of your mind for the balance of the year. The goal is to master it by making it an integral part of "who you are." This is the way of allowing it to bring you closer & closer to the nature Kami desires for you.
For that to happen, it is most important for you to keep your first impression you received of your teaching when you got it. The next step is to put your teaching into practice in your daily life this year by following that first impression faithfully. Please nurture & refresh it every day like a delicate food-plant your whole body needs every day to survive. Let me give you a practical example.
Today I'm going to begin with the teaching that Mr. Tony Berardi picked. His teaching is "The foundation of faith is to be in harmony with one's family."
The first thing I'd like to know is Tony-san's first impression when he took this teaching. What was your immediate reaction, as far as you can remember? What feelings did this teaching make you instantaneously aware of? You don't have to answer, but please see if you can recall what they were as I give an example of what this teaching's first impression was to me.
My wife Kanako is my closest person in the world. She watches me more carefully & intuitively than anybody else. I accept the fact that I'm not the complete person I could be, even as a Mediator. I do my best to be a genuine Mediator. But I still find I have many, MANY weak points in my faith practice. It may come as no surprise to you that my wife sometimes pointed out those insufficient characters of mine. The fact was it turned out to be a time when Kami wanted me to overcome my weak points and renew myself.
However sometimes I could not accept the comment she said to me & that caused discord in the family. But after a while, I came to accept the need to look very honestly at myself. And what I realized was that it was really Kami's wish for me to deepen my peaceful, joyful heart through humbly accepting the truth of these statements. Finally I accepted that even her most uncomfortable observations were honestly for my benefit. I came to accept them as blessings with genuine gratitude, which not only deepen my heart but also create harmony in our family.
My parent minister Rev. Soichiro Otsubo gave a short interpretation about this teaching this way:
"This is the first thing that Kami wants us to do. It's that we should not have disharmony in the family. But it's not just to be harmonious. No matter what the situation is or what the circumstances are or even how different each family member's faith is, it is first Kami, second Kami and third too, and thus be wholehearted in praying to Kami. In daily life it is necessary to have the family united in faith. This teaching is a great source of blessings."
He also said,
"Just to know the teachings given to us by the founder is not enough. The teachings are worthless unless our way of receiving them leads to blessings. It's also exactly the case with this teaching. Just to be in harmony with one's family, or to get along well, is not what brings blessings. It's that the family is united in worshiping. It's not the structure, nor the words. It's the heart which is always full of appreciation."
This teaching can apply not only with one's family but also to the society as well. That is, we can say that a foundation of faith leads to a harmony with one's friends, associates or society at large. We should listen carefully to those who oppose us not only in our workplace but in society as well. It may just be the view we need in order to deepen a more peaceful and joyful heart.
Tony-san once told me he had a person at his work place that was always bothering him. It makes me wonder if perhaps Kami wishes Tony-san will develop peace and joy in his heart through that person, which could be most important. We human beings are born into this world to polish the gem of our hearts; people like these could be just what we need to make our hearts more brilliant.
Michael Jordan, Chicago's famous professional basketball player, once said, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
Everyone, like Michael Jordan don't be afraid of any failure to put your teaching into practice.
Kami always wants each of us human to practice faith and receive divine blessings. As Konko Daijin said of himself, "Konko Daijin teaches the way for the prosperity of your family and your descendants."
This year let us all do this through our individual teachings, keeping them in mind by practicing them as constantly as possible. Together, let us deepen our hearts in the course of each and every day, through each & every thing that happens to us. I believe in return, we will thus be led to happiness & prosperity that will fulfill the lives Kami intends for us... which is the true gift of each of our lives.
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