Good morning everyone. Happy Sunday & Happy New Week! Thank you very much for attending this year's Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony of KC Chicago. As always, I sincerely hope you are in great health & in the most excellent of spirits on this wonderful autumn morning.
As I'm sure you've heard me say, I've diligently focused my faith on deepening peaceful, joyful heart to the point it might become unbreakable since I began the missionary work in Chicago 15 years ago. I chose to practice this faith, this way; seeking to be a living witness to the truth of the Divine Reminder. It says, "Divine blessings, that is, opening this way are within our grateful & caring heart in harmony & joy, or our peaceful & joyful heart."
Of course there are unique customs, cultures & ways of thinking around our world that are very different from one another. BUT in between Heaven and Earth themselves are unchanged. They are the same now as they have always been. I've come to think Konko believers most affectively live their faith when they reflect this important fundamental, universal way of nature everywhere, at every moment. And the best way to do this is when we develop our own, internal peace & joy that harmonizes with Heaven and Earth any place in the world, — without exception. That is why I've tried to practice to make this peace and joy unbreakable in my heart ever since we moved to Chicago. I've discovered that can be very easy to commit myself to this... but oh SO HARD to achieve!
I've found it stays hard to admit during this past decade & 1/2 how often I've failed to live up to my intentions. Many many times, I've had to face the reality of just how fragile my heart's really been. So often I've had to struggle to maintain the peace and joy I WANT in my heart. Yet the wonder is, that through it all Kami has brought me tremendous divine blessings for my just TRYING to have peace and joy in my heart! Kami has given me an abundance of blessings in my heart I never even knew I needed.
As a result, I've come to see I cannot stay in the same place where this gift of overwhelming of Divine Blessing is concerned. I've moved on because the time will soon come for me to seek to become the great foundation root nourishing Konko Propagation in the entire USA.
I visited Japan from Oct. 8th to the 20th to attend my Japanese Home church, Airaku's, 45th Anniversary Celebration held on Oct.16. It was an epoch-making event for me. I also attended the Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony at our headquarters.
By receiving Kami's divine working from moment to moment throughout my stay in Japan, I could not help but promise to Kami, our Founder & my late parent minister Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, founding minister of the Konko Church of Airaku this solemn vow, "If I fail to accept any happening in my life with peace & joy from this day forward, for any reason: frustration, weakness or simple cowardice; I want Kami to take the gift of life that's been given me for the past 64 years.
"With this determination I will do my absolute best to perfect & deepen Peace, Love & Joy within my heart!"
When we moved from Airaku to the USA in 1994, Rev. Otsubo came to the entrance of the church in a wheelchair to see us off. It was a great honor that I felt, I didn't deserve. The effort, was so great for him in fact, that he appeared to loose consciousness. I rushed to his side, but he recovered quickly & said, "I just received Kami's revelation of a 'dried, round radish.' Because it is dried, therefore it never becomes rotten."
These were the last words I ever heard from his lips. He died a few months later & these words have become very, VERY precious to me over the years.
Even more the revelation itself has come to have an equally important meaning. "Dried round" means unbreakable peace & joy. In Japanese the word "Radish" is written in the two characters meaning "great" & "root." So I immediately responded to this revelation of his, saying, "Please let me become a great root of the Konko propagation in the North America." Rev. Otsubo nodded with a smile.
What about you? Do you sometimes think of your spouse, children, friends, co-workers, "I'd rather you were like this," or, "I wish she would be more like that?"
When you see someone that's always complaining about something do you ask yourself, "Why do they complain about that so often?"
Or, "Why does that person sabotage their peaceful, joyful heart by always dwelling on their problems?"
AlI too often I CATCH myself thinking that way. When I do, it means that I've failed to focus on developing my own peaceful and joyful heart.
What we need is to just accept other persons' characters as natures Kami has given them for a purpose & pray for them to renew, transform & change themselves for the better.
I confess, I'm not there yet. I still find it difficult to praise & honor other peoples' characters... as they are.
Many people came to train under the guidance of the late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo after he founded ministry of the Konko Church of Airaku. I thank Kami daily I was fortunate to be one of them. Very often they; like me, did not come because they were good-natured people who wished to humbly serve the world.
Too often we came because we were attracted to Rev. Otsubo's dignity & virtue. And also like me, almost all of us were so selfish that it was natural to be attracted to that much more admirable way of the world. Those people found the guiding of their lives in Rev. Otsubo and became the trainees.
So there were some rather disgusting characters in the bunch. I found I couldn't help mentally blaming them that their characters might cause dissension among the trainees or believers. But I was surprised to discover that in front of Rev. Otsubo even these people displayed most admirable characters that I felt far exceed mine. I came to believe that was because Rev. Otsubo had so perfectly acquired unbreakable peace and joy in his heart he naturally improved the nature of all around him. Like the saying we have, "Rising tides lift all boats."
All too often without thinking, we have the judgmental attitudes toward others & think to ourselves, "He did such a stupid thing," or, "She said such a silly thing!"
It's actually a heart which is full to overflowing with blame & very frequently that blame is self-directed.
So let's unite these imperfect hearts & by renewing them together, we work to improve them together; becoming people who can praise any person, as we look to honor potential blessing through any- & every-thing that happens in our lives. This is the true way to acquire peace & joy in our hearts.
We humans must come to live in a mutual reliance between Kami and people instead of merely pursuing convenient, comfortable, disposable lives. Only then, by deepening peace & joy in our hearts by EVERYTHING that happens in our lives, can we possibly change the human condition. Each human being must individually come to live a life filled with gratitude, in harmony with the universe.
While I was in Japan I had the chance to see my mother for a few days. Even though she was confined to a hospital bed in Imari, her face shown with a beautiful, spreading smile, as always. That made me realize, "She's been constantly training herself to deepen her peaceful and joyful heart in that bed. How admirable!"
I guess I come by my most cherished beliefs honestly. Won't you join mom & I as we seek to become part of the great root structure of Konko Faith's brilliant light which shines forth to illuminate the entire world. Let us polish our hearts to reflect the Golden Glory of Kami & serve people in this wonderful, but needy world.
[Return to Sermons]