Hello, everyone! Happy New Day & Week. Thank you especially for attending today's Autumn Memorial Service. I hope you are all enjoying good health & excellent spirits.
September is the month we set aside to honor Mitama spirits... all departed souls. That is why we hold our annual Autumn Memorial Service in September. As our lives are built on foundations given to us by our ancestors, our memorial service is to respect & extend our appreciation to them in every point.
The Konko Faith emphasizes the importance of living this day, single heartedly in this very moment. The Divine Reminder teaches that is the essence of the Konko Faith when it says, "Divine Parent of the Universe, Divine Mediator, Pray sincerely, with all your heart. Be one with Kami. Kami's blessings begin within Hearts grateful & caring, in harmony & joy. Look to Kami always, now & forever, on this very day, pray."
We humans, as all other living things on this earth, really only exist in this life, one day at a time... one precious moment at a time. We can not live in the past... nor in the future, that's not the nature of time & space, it's not the way the universe works. No-one can return to the past to do, or maybe more importantly, undo an event, choice or action. Nor can we be absolutely sure of even being alive tomorrow. That is why the Konko Faith teaches that the only realistic way to lives we are given fully is to delight & live in the joy of this day, one - very moment.
When we really achieve delight & joy this blessed, single moment from the bottom of our heart, we can honor & value the meaning of our past, no matter how miserable it may have been at the time & look forward hope & delight to our future, no matter how hard our circumstances we might foresee ahead. This miracle moment of life is the accumulation of the past that defines us & gives focus to our future in a single instant.
The world around us is only a continuation of this single moment of our self. Therefore, the Konko Faith does not accept a vision that the end of the world is necessary. Our Founder did not teach of Paradise, Heaven or Hell as the destination of our spirit in the next world. He did not teach of the sorrow of death or punishment after death. He believed that the totality of this Great Universe was & is complete & perfect. As such, he taught that this world is filled with the infinite benevolence of the Divine Parent of the Universe.
One of his worshippers once asked our founder, "They say that after death, one will either go to hell or to heaven. Tell me, where will we actually end up after death?"
Our founder answered, "Since I am still in training, I don't know what is beyond death. But while you are living in this world, be at peace everyday follow the right Way. Then you needn't worry about what is beyond death."
The late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, the parent minister of my wife & I pursued the very essence of our Founder's faith. He found & proved by the example. His life was a daily demonstration of the belief that there is a "process of life" which is the active working of the Divine Parent in each & everything that happens in our daily life. He developed his faith step by step through constant communication & cooperation with Kami - respecting everything that happened to the fullest. Living that reality of the world sincerely & faithfully, he came to clearly understand the Mitama spirits in the invisible world beyond.
He taught, "The next world is pitch dark. Therefore we should polish the gem of our heart & receive divine light while we are here in this world. Then we can live a happy life in this world & in the bright world in the next." He also said, "Mitama spirits do not do direct actions to this world. Up to now there have been a lot of phenomena that people think of as the workings of the Mitama sprits. All of them are Kami's doing, illusions of Heaven & Earth by using the appearance of the Mitama spirits in order to guide humans to real happiness." He also taught, "When descendants revere their ancestors, those hearts agree with Kami's heart. As Kami can accept those hearts, both descendants & ancestors will be protected by Kami to become beneficial."
Compared with many other religions this is the epoch-making discovery about the life of spirits beyond which we call in Japanese, Mitama. The Konko Faith makes very clear; the relationships between Kami, Mitama spirits & living humans. Our founder taught us, "Divine Virtue will be with you even after death & passed down to future generations. It can be received by anyone who practices faith. Divine virtue is never exhausted."
Divine Virtue is surely to be brought with us into the next world. In this world we can supposedly buy anything we want to live a happy life when we have enough money. In the same way we can live free, active lives in the next world as relieved & delightful Mitama spirits in the world of mutual reliance with Kami when we bring Divine Virtue in the next world. But we cannot send our Divine Virtue to the human world. Therefore we have to acquire Divine Virtue & bring it into the next world for our own.
On the other hand descendants should accumulate Divine Virtue through practicing true faith & take good care of their ancestors' spirits. Then their ancestor's will be blessed & more delighted in the next world as they are remembered & appreciated in this world.
Through Konko Daijin's Mediation we should offer our sincere prayers as faithfully as possible in order for our Mitama spirits to live happy & prosperous lives in the next blessed world.
Today's memorial service, therefore; should not a catalog-list of requests for help to the Mitama spirits we've invited to be close to us. It is rather, for us to respect & extend our appreciation to them in every detail we can recall of the lives & virtue we have received from them. I'm sure that our Mitama spirits are pleased with these prayers to those who are the roots of our families. That gratitude will fill them with joy.
This year I realized intensely Kami & the Mitama spirits wished me to step my faith up one rank whenever I offer my special prayer for the Mitama spirits after the regular evening prayer service each day.
Nineteen years have passed since my family & I came to the US on September 5th, 1994, to serve Kami & people. I was greatly surprised when we received an offering from a minister of totally different religion on Sept. 4th this year. This was the first time that minister offered anything to us & the gift was a most valuable offering of rice.
In Japanese the word pronounced, "Mama" means cooked rice. "Mamaninaru" which literally translates, "getting cooked rice," means fulfillment in Japanese. Through this ministers offering I realized Kami was trying to tell me, "Your family has greatly been blessed until now even though you often failed to have enough peace & joy in your heart, which is disappointing. From now on I-Kami, wish you to deepen your faith in order for Kami to be fulfilled."
The next morning on the day, which was the nineteenth anniversary of our arrival in the US, I opened the Sacred Wagakokoro book as usual after the morning prayer service to receive the teaching for that day. It opened our founder's teaching #4 which says, "Through Konko Daijin, Tenchi Kane No Kami's blessings can now be received. Through Konko Daijin, Kami has been revealed to the world. Konko Daijin works for the benefit of Kami & people. Follow the words of Konko Daijin carefully & practice faith. In an emergency, you need not say, "Tenchi Kane No Kami!" Just say, "Konko Daijin, please help me," you will receive divine blessings."
Which means that this is the best way to fulfill Kami's gift of life. Kami will be most fulfilled when by finding a person, through whom Kami can be revealed to everyone they come in contact with in this world. I would like to become such a person... who works for the benefit of Kami & people from moment to moment, each & every day, for the rest of my days on earth.
Beginning this very moment, I hope you too will all understand the importance of fulfilling Kami's greatest wish & pray in this world, with all our Mitama spirits in the next to have hearts joined to our Parent of the Universe's Divine, eternal peace & happiness!
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