Good afternoon, welcome & thank you very much for attending our 2016 Spring Memorial Service of the Konko Church of Chicago.
March & September are the months for honoring the Mitama Spirits in the Konko Faith. For the 1st time we honor our newest Mitama spirit, lovable Mrs. Ruby Noji who passed away peacefully at age 88 about midnight on Monday, January 25. The more you've gotten to know her, the more you already know what a really adorable person she was. She and her husband Mr. Harold Noji have been faithful attendees of our church services since they moved to Chicago in 2008. Their presence always encouraged us a lot. She was a great contributor to our church. That's why Kami gave her divine name as Noji Ruby Umashi Mamichitate Ouna no Mitama no Kami. Umashi means pure & beautiful in describing her heart. Mamichitate means, "contributes to our church sincerely." Today we honor her with this Spring Memorial Service.
Departed souls of ancestors & friends are the foundation of the living inheritance we each enjoy every moment of our lives. If we separate ourselves through neglect from these roots, the branches of our personal tree-of-life will suffer & wither. Therefore it is vitally important to respect & honor not only our ancestors; but all departed souls who have proceeded us, with these Memorial Services.
Since February 15, I have offered special prayers to the Mitama spirits after each regular evening service. I then read teachings from the speeches & writings of my spiritual mentor, the late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. This year I have most repeatedly read one speech that Rev. Soichiro Otsubo gave after the morning's prayer service of Feb. 1, 1970.
At Airaku Church we have come to title this speech as, "Advent of The Era of Peaceful & Joyful Heart," which says, "The peaceful & joyful heart, Wagakokoro is the heart that connects the rich repository of limitless blessings of Heaven & Earth. Without Wagakokoro humans cannot acquire real happiness. The present day, 1970 runs into the era when humans should practice Wagakokoro. That's because humans come to realize that even with all of human strength & talent happiness has not yet been attained. As we try to develop such Wagakokoro, we should take up a position not to take the easy course."
During this special prayer time I have always been careful to ask the Mitama spirits to tell us what they most want in this world; from their perspective in the Spirit World. While doing so, this time I have sincerely focused on the reality of "Death. So I repeatedly asked myself, "... what is 'the reality of life' in this world."
Ask yourself for a moment,... What do you think what it means to be alive?
As I began this process, I 1st wondered whether each life exists alone... by itself? The answer to me, is 'No.' Each of us has 2 biological parents. Each of those parents have their own set of 2 parents. When you do the math on just a few generations, it means each life inherits enormous lives... VERY quickly. And remember... This is just one reality of our life. So we should realize how much more important it is to respect & constantly offer our appreciation to our ancestors & departed souls who have proceeded us.
My 2nd question was, "... can we live in another time?," & my answer is a resounding 'No.' Someone may say 'Yes,' referring to reincarnation. Even so, each life will be completely different from what it is now, because the situations will all be another time in, most likely, a different place. We can live a life only one time at one given instant. Again, it is vitally important to treasure this present moment. We should live our fulfilled life each & every moment, looking to Kami always now & forever on this very day pray.
Thirdly, physical life surely comes to an end some time; without exception. Our life can exist today, but may not tomorrow. So we should do our best to find out real purpose of our life. We should repeatedly seek for our purpose each & every moment & do our best to accomplish this goal during the time we are bless-fully allotted.
Finally... "What do you think is the reality of life?" No one knows when they die. Therefore we shouldn't wait to live a fulfilled life until we are getting old. The earlier we realize real purpose of life & cooperate with it, the better.
Katelyn, our 2nd granddaughter goes to St. Mathew kindergarten. Teachers & parents there had their New Year's party on Sat., Feb. 20th. Our daughter Hiroko brought all three her kids to our church that evening for us to baby-sit. My wife & I enjoyed playing with them. Then we had our regular evening prayer service with them. After the service I asked the three children what they thought what it was to be alive.
To my surprise our 6-year-old grandson, Jayden; immediately answered that it was not to die. I was greatly impressed by his answer, because he had made the connection of life-with-death. He might have answered without much thought. But his answer clearly included many, if not all, the most important aspects of the reality of life. Don't you think?
If so, it is vitally important to repeatedly seek for the real purpose of life consciously: "What are we born in this world for? What should we do in this world NOW?"
I realized that the Mitama Spirits wish each one of us to clearly have the real & great purpose of our life. Of course it is great for each one of us to have their own purpose of life, such as becoming a doctor, teacher or astronaut etc. However the greatest purpose of life that anyone can & should have is to polish the gem of our heart while we are alive in this world.
Our founder taught, "Remember, this Universe always has been & will be your home." We humans are born in this universe & return to the universe. Therefore while we are living in this world the most important is to develop our heart that totally agrees with that of the universe, or Kami's heart. The peaceful & joyful heart is that of being one with Kami. In conclusion we human beings are born in this world to train ourselves to have unbreakable peace & joy in our heart.
I believe all the Mitama spirits; even those who must have felt a deep regret over a sudden death in a disaster, feel now the necessity to develop peace & joy in their heart's here on earth more & even more in the next world. That thought stirs my passion to deepen my peaceful & joyful heart as much as possible.
Together: Let us here on Earth, reverently honor these precious Mitama spirits. They are our heritage. As they are now, we someday shall be. May we so live that we too become spirits, worthy of 'being one' with Kami.
Let's begin by caring for all those who live with us between heaven & earth. Then let us add together with them the spirits, past, present & future, in a pledge that beginning now, we shall work to create a new era.
An era in which the Divine Will of the Tenchi Kane No Kami will be fulfilled! May we create an era in which peace & joy will shine forth from the hearts of all people in this world, together with the power & virtue of all the Mitama spirits who have gone from this world into the next! Thank you.
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