Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our monthly service for February, 2015. I hope you are all enjoying good health & in excellent spirits.
It is necessary to train ourselves in order to accomplish anything. For example baseball players will pray to return soon to Spring Training Camp. They will all train themselves to improve any aspects of their skills needed to become greater baseball players.
KC Airaku; our parent church in Japan, started spiritual training for one thousand days beginning January 20th of this year. They dedicated themselves to deepening their hearts in celebrating the church's 50th Anniversary on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2018. Airaku members all took an oath of dedication. With their devoted enthusiasm this should become an epoch-making event. So... I believe that we, as a satellite church should join them in this faith training here in KC Chicago.
When you think about Kami's will, especially a phrase like 'Kami's everlasting will' what comes to mind? To me, it's a feeling of leaping-for-joy toward Kami that wells up from within.
On Wednesday, Jan., 7th, 12 precious lives were destroyed in an attack on the French satirical newspaper 'Charlie Hebdo' by two terrorists. The gunmen themselves were shot to death by police officers. They were extremists, believing in a violent form of Islam.
When I watched the news story on TV, one of the men was shouting, "God is great" in Arabic as he was shooting. The terrorists believed that it was God's will to attack those in the newspaper's office & kill them because they had blasphemed the prophet Muhammad.
To our great sadness, two Japanese and one Jordanian pilot were heartlessly murdered by Islamic State militants. One of them, Mr. Kenji Goto was a journalist who especially conveyed the plight of children living in conflict zone. Islamic State militants were also Islamic extremists.
In both the "Prayer for One Thousand Days"& the Charlie Hebdo attack it is very surprising to hear two PROFOUNDLY different actions expressed as 'God's will! Therefore I think it is vitally important to clarify our understanding of nature of The Divine Parent of the Universe, whom we call "Kami".
Examining the Chinese characters in "religion" is a good place to begin.
A useful translation might be: "That which teaches what the universe indicates."
In other words, it should explain the laws of the universe to help us understand why we experience life on earth as we do. The object of true religious pursuit, I believe, is grounded in connecting us with the universe, or "Heaven & Earth", as it was historically called. There is no better understanding of the universe than the degree to which everything is arranged in such perfection harmoniously. The universe is naturally giving and accepting. From our perspective here on earth, it gives silently. In silent acceptance, it provides every living thing, each day, with everything required for survival.
Konko Daijin taught his disciple Rev. Tomie Takahashi, "Those who are establishing the Way of Faith mustn't get angry when others speak ill of them. Despite the droppings the sparrows & crows make on the shrines, Kami quietly endures. Have a heart of Kami's. Even when there is heart-breaking grief, be patient. They call you names without knowing about Kami, so be patient."
All human beings are Kami's beloved children. Tenchi Kane No Kami bestows unconditional love to all people. This Kami has even more concern for those with less faith. This Kami has never blamed people, no matter what they've done & no matter how bad it might be. Kami has always desired for people to renew themselves, with a heart of forgiveness. In faith, it is saying, "The heart of parents is the constant wish to forgive & be forgiven by everyone through apologizing."
This Kami is not Kami of conflict, but Kami of total acceptance. One of our Founder's teachings says, "Give in to the people who go against you & leave it up to time."
Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, founding minister of KC Airaku once interpreted this teaching by saying,
With this kind of faith attitude, like the Konko Faith itself, it is impossible to kill people in the name of Kami. Even if our Founder were blasphemed, we Konko believers can accept it. Moreover, we try to find out what Kami wants us to learn so we can renew ourselves through understanding the causes motivating any blasphemy.
I really feel the world is spiraling into deeper & deeper turmoil. Human beings seem to have a deathly attraction to rush into ruin. We must stop this cycle & be of service to achieve world peace. In order to do that though, we must first pledge ourselves to Kami's glory, & then be totally committed to manifesting this behavior in everything we do. In order to succeed, we humans need to realize the priority of developing peace & joy in our hearts. We must do our best to deepen our hearts toward achieving an unbreakable peaceful & joyful hearts as Konko Daijin taught us. Then by uniting these collected hearts of people together for the good of all, I believe Kami's glory will surely appear in the world to fulfill the world-wide transformation of both Kami & people.
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