Good Morning everyone. Welcome to a brand new day in this 2nd week of July, 2015. Today I am especially honored to extend "Thanks" for attending this monthly service for July. Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome three guests from Brazil to this service.
They are Mr. Alexandre Akio Sumita, Mrs. Margaret Hitomi Sumita & their 14-year-old son, Kenichi-kun. Hitomi-san is a granddaughter of Rev. Kanao Takahashi, founding minister of KC Sao Paulo. I have had a long-cherished dream that someday ministers & believers of both the North America & the South America will get together to discuss & deepen their faith to manifest Kami's glory to the world. I believe this will be the first step still for a long way to accomplish it.
I am also very grateful to have a new member who was brought up in a Konko family in Japan & has recently moved to Chicago. It is my honor to welcome Mr. Makito Kano to the K. C. - Chicago.
I hope all of you are in good health & excellent spirits.
In the middle of last March, a 20-year-old student who lives in Michigan e-mailed me to learn more about the Konko Faith. Since then we have been exchanging e-mails & mediated with Kami through the internet.
In his recent e-mail he asked me what was 'the Hundred Days' Devotion' in the prayer, titled "In Praise of Konko Daijin."
I felt I knew pretty well what it is, but decided to look up the Founder's exact words about it to be as accurate as possible in answering this young man. I found it in three different parts of the Sacred Book of the Konkokyo.
The first reference is when Tsunezo Karahi sought Mediation from Konko Daijin: "In August 1883, I went to Konko-Sama's Hiromae. After kindly giving many teachings, he said, 'Karahi Tsunezo of Suo Province, if I, Konko Daijin, complete a hundred days of faith training, I will become a kami after passing away. I am depending on you to spread the Faith in the thirteen province in the west.' These words struck my heart, & without realizing what I was saying, I asked, 'Konko-Sama, what will happen to this Faith after you are gone?' He answered, 'You need not worry. Only my physical form will be gone. Having a physical body makes it difficult for me to see people's suffering in the world. When my body is gone, I can go to where I am needed & save people.'"
Konko Daijin said to his son Hagio Konko in a 2nd passage: "'Do religious training for one hundred days,' I was told. 'How do I do?' I asked. 'Do it with your heart,' he answered."
We find the third reference in "Naiden" in Gorika III by Rev. Norio Sato, one of Konko Daijin's prominent disciples. It says, "When Jiroshiro Kataoka went to the Hiromae on July 2nd, 1883; the founder said to him, 'Kami told me, 'Start one hundred day period training beginning today. When it is finished, the training of Konko Daijin will be complete.' The day this training was completed was October 9th on the Gregorian calendar, which was the day before the founder died."
Then I e-mailed him, explaining the Hundred Days' Devotion as mentioned above.
This question of his greatly stimulated me. I deeply realized the importance of the Hundred Days' Devotion for our founder & us. It was significant so that after this one hundred days' devotion our founder completed his faith training in this world to become a kami. One day after the completion of this training our founder passed away as a kami on October 10, 1883 as Kami predicted & on the day when Kami said 'Konko Daijin Day.'
Then what kind of faith training our founder did for one hundred days? He said, "Do religious training with your heart."
My parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo often taught us about the heart of Ikigami, Living Being as follows: "Here is a ball. The peaceful & joyful heart is written all over the surface of it. No matter how many times you roll it, the peaceful & joyful heart is always appeared on the surface of it when it stops. The heart of Ikigami is like that. You always have peace & joy in your heart no matter what the situation & no matter how difficult it may be. This will be achieved by practicing faith to believe that everything that happens is Kami's doing."
I am very determined to fulfill my hundred days' devotion which I began on July 2nd. Like our founder I have tried to look into the depths of my heart each & every moment more thoroughly & honestly than ever before. I have examined my heart to see more clearly how it responds to each & every happening in my daily life. I discovered I'd felt irritated when I'd seen someone complain or express feelings of dissatisfaction. Even before this one hundred days' Faith Training I could accept it with gratitude once or twice... maybe even three times, because I had tried so hard to respond with peace & joy in my heart. But the fourth or fifth time... 'Look out!' Then almost always, I would finally tell someone to stop complaining or to have a grateful heart to accept anything. You can imagine how grateful the person was for that advice... However our conversation had turned very quickly into a quarrel.
Now instead of trying to change someone I am focusing on praying to Kami like: "Please renew myself through these complaints of someone. Please extend my appreciation to Kami that I can deepen my heart through them."
I have tried not to blame others & not to complain anything at all. I now have done my best to renew myself through everything that happens in my life & in the world. I pray to Kami as follows: "As I do polish my heart, please bestow divine blessings to all & the world."
When something terrible happens in the world, whether it's due to human willfulness or violent natural changes, I apologize to Kami saying something like, "I am very sorry for my lack of faith about those happenings,"
I do this because I always pray to Kami for world peace & happiness & prosperity for all human beings. & then I pray to Kami as follows: "As I do polish my heart, please bestow divine blessings to all & the world."
I now feel I come to be close to unbreakable peace & joy in my heart, though it has taken a long time for more than 15 years.
The turning point of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo's faith was when he swore Kami as follows: "From now on I will stop asking Kami for this or that favor. I think it is certain that Kami has expectations even of someone like me. In order to achieve the expectations Kami has for me, I will never complain or feel dissatisfied, no matter what the consequences are. I will accept whatever happens. So from now on, please pray for the will of Kami to be fulfilled." Since then he has accepted every happening with gratitude so that Kami has amazed his acceptance. With this attitude, Rev. Otsubo achieved a reliable 'Way' that anyone can practice faith & become a Living Spirit.
I am now doing my best to rely wholly on Kami & do religious training with my heart for one hundred days. When I can achieve it, I believe & hope any complaint & dissatisfaction will be gone in my heart. Then I will be able to realize Kami's will for me to be fulfilled day by day. Then I am sure a feeling of leaping-for-joy wells up in me. & this Way will naturally be open through Kami's glory. Thank you very much!
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