Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our monthly service for April, 2015. I hope you are all enjoying good health & in excellent spirits.
My mentor, the late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, wrote the teaching,
"The depth of religious experience;
The level of moral character;
The size of influence on those around you,"
I have recently been mentally reciting those teachings in order to become the type of religious person I would like to be. I am doing my best day by day to practice faith to receive divine virtue & acquire human virtue.
The reason I have been doing this is that I really want anyone I come in contact with, & who is interested in the Konko faith to get an accurate insight from me to achieve a fulfilled life with Kami. For example, in January a lady e-mailed me, asking, "I was wondering if you have a service to introduce people to Shintoism or a service in English for non-Japanese speakers."
In my reply e-mail I told her, "Before the WWII the Konkokyo was forced to belong to the Shinto by the government. Nowadays it still belongs to the Shinto Federation. The Konkokyo borrows some of the styles, rituals etc. from the Shinto, however the Konkokyo is not Shintoism, but a new world religion that our founder developed through communicating with the Divine Parent of the Universe." Then she asked me if I had any books recommended for her to buy in order to learn more about Shintoism. I replied as follows: "The Japanese knows about the Shintoism as common sense. I haven't studied particularly the Shintoism. So I don't know any books to recommend you. However when you go on line to research the Shintoism, you can find many, I think."
She was so impressed through our exchange of e-mails that she wanted to meet & talk with me in person. She visited our church on Saturday, Feb. 14. We had great conversation. The reason why she was interested in Shintoism was that it taught there was divine nature in everything. I told her, "The Konko Faith teaches us that there is divine nature not only in everything but also in everything that happens to us in our daily life."
She seemed greatly impressed by what I told her & said she'd like to visit many times to learn more about the Konko faith. She said she'd be back in two weeks, because she would have a job interview the week following this meeting.
I looked forward to her visit when she e-mailed saying she looked forward to our second visit on Sunday March 1st; but she didn't show up. Since then I haven't received another word from her by e-mail or phone, no matter how often I've tried to contact her.
I really felt that I definitely had to gain divine virtue from this experience. I hope that if I have enough divine virtue, anyone who comes in contact with me will sense something of the divine virtue Rev. Otsubo inspired in me.
I was born into the family that was completely focused on the Konko faith. As a child I willingly went on the back of my father's scooter to the church to attend the morning service with him. I still remembered the delicious taste of a plum with tea after the service. But when I was eleven or twelve years old, my world expanded. I wanted to play with my friends instead of attending the church service. At the time, I figured it would be OK for me to go to the church more frequently when I got old.
That attitude changed when I met Rev. Soichiro Otsubo at age 15. My father, the late Mr. Michinori Takeuchi's most fervent goal in faith was to constantly search for the real faith of our Founder Ikigami Konko Daijin; throughout his lifetime. My father believed that somewhere there must exist a minister whose faith, in practice, was mirror to that of our Founder. He was more than willing to go on a pilgrimage anywhere in Japan to try to find such a person.
After searching near & far for this genuine mediator, he finally met Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. The first time I met Rev. Otsubo at age 15, I too felt deeply, there was something about this man that set him apart from others."
I was awestruck by his gentle nature & great dignity. The more I listened to his teachings, the more I felt he was the appropriate guide for my life. I couldn't help but see him frequently at any occasion.
I often visited his church by bicycle as a high schooler. The distance from his church to our house was 85 kilometers or around 50 miles, so it took 5 hours to reach there by bicycle. Even I walked there. What attracted me so much to do so was his divine virtue.
In one of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo's mini-interpretations of our founder's teaching, "Faith begins with a fortunate encounter & a twist of fate," he said, "There are people who miraculously encounter this faith, but quit midway without any feeling of exquisiteness (the joy of faith). They would even be able to get blessings which would sprout into prospering riches. It's pitiful. It's sad."
It is very sad & pitiful that those people who are interested in the Konko faith & get to know me quit on the way to have fulfilled life with Kami because of my lack of divine virtue. So I have a great responsibility to become a genuine Mediator with all my heart to receive divine virtue & so, influence people around me even without saying anything.
Reciting "Thousand-Day Faith Training Prayer" I will do my best to deepen my heart toward unbreakable peace & joy through everything that happens in my daily life. Let me recite the "Thousand-Day Faith Training Prayer" here again:
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