Thank you very much for attending today's monthly service.
I'm Munenori Takeuchi, nephew of Reverend Masanori Takeuchi, head minister of your Konko Church of Chicago. I have been staying in here in KC Chicago as a half-time visitor since last Feb. and a trainee the other half of the time. I am returning to Japan in two weeks.
This is my first visit to America. I was surprised to discover the great variety of races living here in the USA. It felt quite different from Japan and other Asian countries.
My aunt and uncle have been wonderful hosts. They took me to many places. Chicago has so many professional sports. The other day I enjoyed a Cubs' game and will soon see the White Sox play baseball. I've watched the Bull's games on TV several times. My uncle has taken me to the world famous Jazz and Blues clubs of the city. The Michigan Lake, the John Hancock Center, the Art Institute of Chicago and others are really wonderful places. They've left me feel that I would like to stay in Chicago for years rather than for just a few months.
I would like to express my profound appreciation to Kami for giving me such an incredible chance to visit this time. Of course, I want to extend my sincerest thanks to my aunt and uncle for taking such good care of me. And then today, I'd like to give all of you a special "Thank You." I am very grateful to see all of you as well so I can deliver a personal Thanks to at least a few of the gracious and interesting people who welcomed me to your wonderful city.
Uncle Masanori has asked me to give my talk today about the Konko Faith as I've grown to know it in English to test the progress of my efforts to study English before I head back for Japan.
For me the Konko Faith is what gives me more fruitful ways to experience things in my daily life.
I have been blessed by Tenchi Kane No Kami since my birth because my family has believed in this faith for several generations. I have trained in the boys and girls clubs of KC Airaku from my earliest days until my graduation from high school. I attended these meetings every weekend. It took me two hours just to reach Airaku. Once there, I learned how to develop my heart through the Konko teachings. In another words, for me, Airaku was the place where I learned to understand Kami's workings. I came to realize Kami's workings through things that happened in my life daily no matter how small they might appear to be.
The Importance of Developing one's Heart
We can't see our physical heart. We know it's there when it's working properly. We can feel it, but we can't see it. Which may be why we also use the word "heart" to refer to our feelings. This honest, faithful organ has come to represent the center of us. Everyone has experienced feelings of uneasiness and gloominess when something happens that they dislike or that goes against them. For example they can be problems of human relations, health or home, etc. Even though I'm a young person I've had such experiences.
Everyone wants to live in the peaceful world free of worries. Everyone seeks for a happy life with comfortable, friendly atmosphere. But such a world is impossible to achieve... ALL the time. No matter how hard you try or wherever you go, there is no place you can find where everything goes exactly as you might wish. Even if such places did exist they don't stay that way for a long. But if we can't find peace in the world outside, there is one way to find that world within. It is to find peace in our heart, which is the center of us humans which everyone has. The Konko Faith teaches how to develop our heart through our founder's teachings.
What kind of Heart we wish to Have
Our teachings say, "The world is within our heart. Those who live in the world with a broad, accepting mind can live in a world of abundance."
When I lived in China or now, when I'm in the USA, I realize how vast the world really is. At the same time I discover how small and poor my heart is. It has often caused the reality of just how fixed and immobile our ideas are. Humans take their fixed ideas with them as they grow. These immovable ideas make our hearts grow narrow. For example when we fight with a friend we are easily able to find the faults in him and blame him. That heart limits our ability to see our own shortcomings in the situation.
There are millions of people in the world. There are many different cultures in the world and we now live in the abundant world. If the world is within our heart, I would like to create the wealthy world like the earth in my heart.
How to Develop our Heart
If you agree with what I've just said then what we most need to understand is how to develop this kind of heart. Uncle Masanori put it very well in a previous sermon through the message of a famous priest that said:
"For the radish wishes not the redness of the carrot. For the carrot demands not the whiteness of the radish. For the burdock is praised for its blackness. For the turnip leaf is honored for its greenness. The heart of the nature! How big and broad!"
This message means to not blame others or complain all the time, but rather to acquire a deeper, fuller heart through self-renewal. Kami-sama even sends us problems to give us opportunities in our daily lives to make these renewing choices. When we understand this and tackle these challenges head on, problems are no longer problems. They become the raw materials we need to develop and enrich our heart. From then on we can see that this world IS problem-free, it's just that in this world we are offered constant opportunity.
What does it mean to Have Faith
Having faith is to live your belief in Kami by practicing Kami's teachings ALL the time. That is, to believe in those teachings and to always turn to them in choosing your actions, moment to moment. Even with faith intentions we sometimes fail to do them. There are also times when we doubt Kami. These are examples of when we fall out of faith and fall victim to our fears and negative emotions.
Another teaching of our founder says, "Kami will never break the bond with you. Be sure that you do not break the bond."
The Konko Faith has many teachings filled with love and kindness. There are no compulsory teachings in the Konko Faith. I think it a great joy to get to know such Kami. As one of those who believe in this Kami I wish to always be a faith filled person sharing, by showing, Kami's love in my daily life.
I will soon leave for Japan and you will remain here in Chicago. Wherever we are, no matter the distance, let us deepen our faith together whereever we may be and all the distance in between. Thank You a final time in person for your hospitality, marvelous city and truly wonderful things to see and do. I'm already looking forward to seeing all of you again... SOON!!!
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