Good Morning Everyone! Thank you very much for attending today's Tenchi Kani No Kami Grand Ceremony here at the Konko Church of Toronto. I trust you are all enjoying the best of health & excellent spirits on this beautiful spring day. It is always a pleasure to be in Toronto. It is an even greater pleasure to be asked to speak at this; one of Konko Faiths' two most important celebrations of the year. Before we begin, for those of you who haven't met him, I would like to introduce Mr. Tim Ogawa, president of the believers' association of KC Chicago. We flew together from Chicago to be with you for this ceremony as he & I will attend the KCNA East Regional Seminar following today's celebration.
Spring has finally came to our Toronto & Chicago areas during the second week of April, after a bitterly cold winter. So with the better weather I decided to do some of the outdoor chores I'd been putting off. I began by improving the appearance of the front of our church by trimming the branches of a tree that had grown way too big. I brought out my stepladder & standing on top of it I successfully cut many branches.
But then I had an experience I'll bet you've experienced many times too. I tried to cut a branch that was just a little bit too far. I fell all the way down from the top of it. My right foot landed on the more forgiving grass, but my left one landed full force on the cement walk. A great pain shot through my left foot.
I'm sure we've all heard that the older we become, the weaker our bones are. Well, my wife Kanako drove me to the emergency room & sure enough, the doctor found I'd badly fractured my left ankle. It was my own careless mistake of course, but I immediately accepted it without any regret as Kami's training for me.
When we accept anything as Kami's workings to train ourselves, no matter what happens & no matter how difficult it might be, we can realize we are always lead by Kami to deepen peace & joy in our heart. At the same time we can realize we are protected by Kami & understand we are allowed to live among Kami's benevolence from the bottom of our heart. I am very sorry not to officiate this important ceremony of the year, but I am very happy to be allowed to deliver my speech for it.
One of our founder's well-known & beloved teachings 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."
For me; a very important way I try to follow this teaching every morning after the regular morning prayer service, is to open the Wagakokoro Sacred Book to receive the wisdom of teaching as a guide for the whole day. One morning I received the teaching of our founder that I just read to you. I couldn't help but realize how deeply Kami trusted our founder. Kami said, "Through you, Konko Daijin, Kami has revealed to the world for the first time."
It seems as though even Kami was amazed with the Konko Daijin's depth of faith & was greatly moved to know Konko Daijin's deepening faith which was not only sincere, but constant. From this, we learn Tenchi Kane No Kami finds Divine Favor in those who can trust to live in continuous development of this kind of faith. So what kind of faith of Konko Daijin impressed this most benevolent Kami most?
Konko Daijin said, "The more fervent your faith, the more you will be tested." Kami tested Konko Daijin through revelations or everything that happened in his daily life. Konko Daijin accepted each one of them as faith training with gratitude.
For example, one day Konko Daijin received this revelation from Kami, "Prepare a box lunch & go to the west, I will let you find some money."
He went very far to Kasaoka, but he saw no money. Returning home Kami asked him, "Was there any money that dropped out of the sky? How much did you pick up?"
Then he answered, "I picked a great amount."
Kami wonderingly asked, "What do you mean?"
The Founder said, "The circulation of my blood is not good because I sit at the Mediation Place lot so I don't miss anyone who needs to pray to you for them. But today I walked & walked, a long way. I could feel the circulation of my blood becoming very good. That's I receive as a valuable treasured gift of life."
Whether Konko Daijin received the revelation he expected when he prayed or not, he'd accepted each as Kami's blessing to help him grow in faith. So he learned from Kami in simple, sincere gratitude & his faith never wavered. He received these tests of Kami's many times. Konko Daijin respected each with a receptive mind as his path to a sincere & unbreakable heart.
In turn, Konko Daijin gave this teaching to one of his disciples, "Kami-sama imparted; 'I, Konjin, decided to put people's hearts & minds at ease. But even those who practiced faith evaded Me, & there was no one with a sincere & firm heart. But you, Konko Daijin, though you were tested many times since you began practicing this Way of Faith, you still depend on Me with a firm & faithful heart. I have already noticed your unyielding heart. Lend Me your voice & physical form. I will teach the Way of Tenchi (the Universe) & show people the way to put themselves at ease.'"
Kami was amazed with our founder's brilliant; total acceptance. & Kami finally said, "Konko Daijin, how many times I tested you, you always received each time as good. Therefore, from this day forward, I will not test you any more."
This year the Winter Olympic Games were held in Sochi, Russia during February. Ms. Mao Asada from Japan was favored to win the gold medal in the women's Figure Skating competition. She had won the silver medal in Vancouver, Canada four years before. Like all the Olympic athletes she had practiced very hard to win the higher medal with all heart, mind & physical limits.
Then at the competition she fell down on the first jump her routine. She fell again doing other jumps in the short program & as a result she came in 16th place. Only the longer "free program" was left. But her disappointment was so deep that her emotions were vanished & her souls became cast-off. She couldn't sleep on that night before the event & couldn't put her heart into the next morning's practice.
There she stood bravely on her own two feet. She accepted the realty for what it was & decided there was nothing to lose. So with all the courage & talent she could muster she pledged to do her best. She extended a positive, grateful attitude to those faithful fans who cheered her with total abandon through her entire free program. She jumped & skated as freely as a butterfly; as if the load of the world had been taken off her shoulders. & all audiences all over the world could see the wonder of her impressive, world class, personal best performance. She advanced to 6th place. She didn't take any Figure Skating medals home with her of course. However, this brave young competitor could return with the satisfaction that her brilliant, free program performance will remain forever in the history of Olympic figure skating.
Let us rise to the heights of the best that's in us like Mao Asada. No matter how hard we are knocked down or how low we get, let us respect each & every thing that happens as Kami's challenge to grow in faith. Whatever you do... do it with gratitude filled to the brim. Whatever happens; no matter how difficult it may be; receive it like our founder. This kind of faith training will not only please Kami most, but also it can build a foundation of mutual reliance with Tenchi Kane No Kami, the Divine Parent of the Universe that bestows infinite blessings on anyone and anything without any discriminations about religion, atheism, gender, sex, sex preferences, mentally & physically challenged and so on.
This year the Konkokyo celebrates the 200th year birthday of our Founder, Ikigami Konko Daijin. I hope you all commit yourselves, with Reverends Kishii's guidance, to take up the spirit of great service in every moment of your coming lives; manifesting mutual fulfillment between Kami & humanity right here ... in Toronto!
Thank you very much
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