Good afternoon, welcome & thank you very much for attending our 2016 Autumn Memorial Service of the Konko Church of Chicago.
Konko Daijin taught us, "Practice faith. Receive divine blessings by practicing faith. Then, not only you, but also your grandchildren, great-grandchildren; & even generations further on, can receive divine blessings.
"Even the spirits of your ancestors will be able to rest in peace because you receive divine blessings by practicing what you believe faithfully. All the blessings you have received stay with you forever. Therefore, you should build as large a foundation of blessings as possible during your life on earth."
Today, as we honor our forebears & other departed souls, let us invite them to draw close to us; their family members who are living today. May they gather around us & help unite the peace & joy of our hearts with theirs. In this way may we receive Kami's blessings which enrich us all; present & departed, in this present moment & forward into the future.
This morning just after midnight, I offered prayers honoring the Mitama spirits of the ancestors & departed souls who are closely associated with this Church. Today is also the fifteenth year anniversary of September 11, 2001, of the terrorists' attack on the twin-tower buildings in New York City. More than 3000 innocent people were killed in those attacks. I offered special prayers to honor those Mitama spirits as well.
I have extended my appreciation to the dearly beloved newly-departed Mitama spirits who died this year:
Noji Ruby Umashi Mamichitate Ouna no Mitama: January 26th.
Crosswhite Pat no Mitama: March 12th.
Knuppel Douglas no Mitama: April 11th.
I also honored the immortal & dearly beloved Mitama spirits who have annualized memorial anniversaries during the last half of this year:
Quan Jack no Mitama: 40th Memorial - Nov. 24th.
Amano James no Mitama: 10th Memorial – Oct. 5th.
Nakano Mutsuko no Mitama: 10th Memorial – Sept. 29th.
Hayashi Nobuaki no Mitama: 5th Memorial – Sept. 4th.
Nakajima Kazuko no Mitama: 10th Memorial - Aug. 12th.
Lawrence Robert no Mitama: 10th Memorial – July 18th.
I invited them all to attend today's service & I truly believe they heard & are with us, listening now. They must be pleased with being in your company.
Our Founder taught, "When people die, they are reunited with Kami. The physical body dies, but the Mitama spirit keeps on living. The body, which came from Earth, will return to Earth. & the Spirit, which was the energy given by Kami that sustained our life on Earth; returns to Kami. Dying is separating of your body to release your spirit back to its' eternal condition."
Our late; parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, pursued throughout his life, the very essence of our Founder's faith. He proved by the example in his life that true faith is a daily demonstration of the belief that there is a "process of life" which is the active working of the Divine Parent, guiding our path in each & everything that happens in our daily life. Through constant communication & cooperation with Kami he developed his faith step by step - respecting everything that happened in his life to the fullest. Living that reality in this world sincerely & faithfully, he came to understand clearly the Mitama spirits in the invisible world beyond.
He taught, "The next world is pitch dark. Therefore we need to polish the gem of our heart to receive divine light while we are here on this world. Thus we can live a happy life in this world & a bright eternity in the next.
"Mitama spirits do not do direct actions toward this world. There have been a lot of phenomena up to now that people think of as the working of Mitama sprits. Even today a lot of Japanese people believe that phenomena which does not seem able to be explained is the working of Mitama sprits. In fact; NO!... all of these incidents are Kami's doing. Kami uses tricks of illusions of Heaven & Earth by using those appearances of Mitama spirits in order to guide humans to real happiness.
Compared with many other religions this is the epoch-making discovery about the life of spirits beyond which we call in Japanese, Mitama. The Konko Faith makes very clear; the relationships between Kami, Mitama spirits & living humans. Our founder taught us, "Divine Virtue will be with you even after death & passed down to future generations. It can be received by anyone who practices faith. Divine virtue is never exhausted."
Divine Virtue is surely to be brought with us into the next world. In this world we can supposedly buy anything we want to live a happy life when we have enough money. In the same way we can live free, active lives in the next world as relieved & delightful Mitama spirits in the world of mutual reliance with Kami when we bring Divine Virtue in the next world. But we cannot send our Divine Virtue to the human world. Therefore we have to acquire Divine Virtue & bring it into the next world for our own.
On the other hand descendants should accumulate Divine Virtue through practicing true faith & take good care of their ancestors' spirits. Then their ancestors' will be blessed & more delighted in the next world as they are remembered & appreciated in this world.
Through Konko Daijin's Mediation we should offer our sincere prayers as faithfully as possible in order for our Mitama spirits to deepen their peaceful & joyful hearts & live happy & prosperous lives in the next blessed world.
Fifteen years ago I was driving in the morning of 911 to the house of Rev. Harold Lindberg who was a minister of another religion. On my car radio I heard something terrible was happening in New York City. Rev. Lindberg had been interested in the Konko faith & came to talk with me. He couldn't walk easily due to his health condition. So I visited him once a month. Every time we had an interesting conversation with each other. I even conducted the service of blessing with his garden. After several months he told me that I was his prime minister. However, later the headquarters of his religion requested him not to see me anymore. I could not have seen him since then.
As soon as we watched TV together during lunch on that day, we found that terrorists had attacked the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York & the Pentagon in Washington. As soon as I'd driven back home I sat in front of TV. All afternoon I watched, again & again, videos of those two giant aircrafts completely destroying the beautiful buildings unable to move. I prayed for the victims again & again; wondering what Kami thought of these terrible suicides. Then I felt Kami's deep grief.
We humans are born into this world as Kami's beloved children. But those who have had power over others; throughout human history, have willfully & thoughtlessly controlled them. The murderous events of 911 showed us that the human history of power vs. power had never changed. To stop this cycle we, humans have to believe in & practice Kami's wish to create the era of peaceful & joyful hearts in all people in the world.
The Konko Faith's way of acquiring peace & joy seeks to establish the era of peaceful & joyful hearts of people all around this world. We find it is best expressed by our Founder:
"On this very day pray with a single heart. Divine blessings are within your own peaceful & joyful heart." If people lose their belief in this teaching, Konko Daijin taught us, "The world will be in turmoil & the glory of Kami will be gone." In other words, the glory of Kami will appear & true world peace will be attained when people believe every moment in the truth of the statement, "On this very day pray with a single heart. Divine blessings are within your own peaceful & joyful heart."
Kami's arrangement (or 'workings' as we say in Japanese) definitely need to be the foundation in order to accomplish true peace & justice throughout the world. The world is presently the reflection of the collective hearts of self-centered human beings. The more we choose to turn & develop our hearts toward peace & joy, the more the hearts of the entire human family will be deepened toward peace & joy of the whole world & the more our world will be blessed. Then, finally, through Kami's great plan, human happiness will be manifested.
When we continue to develop peace & joy both in this world & in the next, we come to realize we will be blessed & protected by Kami. So, from this moment on, I sincerely hope that all of you too will understand the importance of Kami's greatest wish for us humans to do our best to deepen peace & joy in all our hearts. & then with all our Mitama spirits in the next world let us have hearts ultimately joined to our Divine Parent of the Universe's eternal peace & happiness!
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