Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our 2nd monthly service for February, 2013. I hope you are all enjoying good health and in excellent spirits.
Rev. Richard Dusek is one of my best American friends. He & his wife, Miyako-san are now ministering to the Konko Fellowship of Tacoma in Washington State. I got to know him while he was teaching English in Japan. There is an interesting and inspiring story about how he became a Konko minister which I'll tell you in detail in another sermon. In this sermon I'd like to tell you about a book "Airaku" published in Japanese & English by our home church; of the same name. Dusek Sensei & I worked together on the Japanese/English translation while we were at Airaku Church.
The more deeply we saw into Rev. Soichiro Otsubo's wisdom, the more deeply he came to adore our mentor. Dusek became more & more eager to translate Rev. Otsubo's teachings into English.
The translation began in January 1983. It took almost two years to publish the Japanese/English edition of the "Airaku." The book consisted of two parts within each language. The first part was one of his more important speeches & the other contained 152 shorter messages Rev. Otsubo delivered.
The larger speech we chose, was one that Rev. Otsubo delivered at the Chikusui conference for young adults on Aug. 14, 1972.
This speech is titled, "Studying Wa-Ga Kokoro." Wa can be translated as 'peace' or 'peaceful.' Ga means 'joy' or 'joyful' & Kokoro is Japanese for 'heart.' After a lot of discussion the English expression "peaceful & joyful heart" was chosen for the translation of the Japanese, "Wa-Ga Kokoro." Together this expression is the essential foundation for human happiness Kami revealed to our Founder. In faith practice it means relying on Kami, no matter what, is the kokoro of Wa. The joy of having Kami to depend on is the kokoro of Ga.
The 152 shorter messages were taken from another of Otsubo's books, "Belief and Relief, 'Shinraku' in Japanese." All the messages in this book were created by Rev. Otsubo over many years while sitting in daily mediation. Some were songs or verses; others came from books or illustrative stories. Still others were feelings, insights or inspired words from Kami. Whatever the origin, they were written with a great depth of meaning. They were "mile-post" notations showing how Rev. Otsubo's faith was guided over years & years, toward true faith.
When translating, each selection was chosen by first praying for Kami's assistance & then opening the resource "at hand," to any passage at random. We believed this was how the will of Kami was reflected. Thus we selected & established process in our efforts too.
When we could finally publish this Japanese/English of "Airaku," I believed it would someday become very useful for English-speaking people to grasp more accurately the meaning of Wa-Ga Kokoro & deepen their faith. Now comes the time for this book to inspire the youth in the Americans step by step which makes me very excited.
One of my long-cherished dreams is coming true. A quote in the preface of this book says, "Any one of these passages will assist you along the path of true faith. We recommend these pages be opened at random to any one of the passages. Ask and you will receive blessings. In like manner, pray for divine guidance and enlightenment for any specific concern or blessing. Then allow Kami to direct you toward a divine response. The message you select is to open your heart to belief and relief." As stated in this preface, there are some young Americans in St. Louis who receive Kami's message everyday from the book "Airaku."
Miss Jennifer Kish became a Konko believer about four years ago by studying the Konko Faith on the Konkokyo website by herself. She now wishes to become a Konko minister & serve Kami & people in the near future. She contacted me three years ago & visited from St. Louis to join us in our KC Chicago grand ceremonies & at other occasions several times with her friends.
She uses the book "Airaku" to receive Kami's advice every morning to deepen her faith. Because she tries to live her faith actively & openly by often sharing her experiences with those around her, many of her friends have asked her about Konko Faith They want to know more about it.
One of her friends has been using the book "Airaku" every day & says that he's becoming changed by the words in the book. Each day, like Jennifer, he reads a teaching in the book & writes it down. Then if there are hardships the day, he asks Kami's for advice too.
He & Jennifer are studying the Konko faith by using both the book "Airaku" & "Voice of the Universe." They study & talk at length about teachings just Dusek & I did so many years ago. They're really having a good experience! And call it "Kami Study."
Jennifer & her friend carry the "Airaku" book with them reading out of them a lot & sharing their favorite ideas. There are also a few others who have expressed interested in reading the book "Airaku" & have said many times they'd really like to have a copy.
I really appreciate Jennifer's faith & dedication which are making one of the long-cherished dreams of my ministerial training days come true.
I recently sent six copies of "Airaku" to Jennifer that she'd requested. I hope they help her & her friends develop their hearts & unite them with the universe & help them add another generation of divine work to the world.
Remember the teaching project I spoke about in my last sermon. The selection I picked for Jennifer at the beginning of our 2013 New Year's Celebration turned out to be, "Even windy, rainy days trust in heaven, cling to earth. Endure - don't snap a joint. You young bamboo."
Jennifer is a fine young adult. She's Kami's exemplification of a vigerous, young bamboo.
We all come across many hardships in the days in our lives. Some big, some small. The details of daily life can be uncomfortable or inconvenient from your own doing or because someone blames you. We live in "the windy city." But the windy, rainy days here refer to individual & personal matters, especially when you are going through hard times in your life. Through Jennifer's teaching I really realize Kami's look, filled with divine love, transforms even those challenging situations. Kami is warmly watching over Jennifer all the time. Wishing for her to acquire true divine virtue. But remember this... the eye of divine love is not just trained on Jennifer & her friends; but on all of us too.
In the confidence of Kami's warm, approving gaze each & every moment, let us practice this faith to live a mutually fulfilled life with Kami and humanity.
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