Good afternoon, welcome & thank you very much for attending our 2018 Spring Memorial Service of the Konko Church of Chicago. I hope you are all in good health and excellent spirits.
March & September are the two months in the Konko Faith when we especially honor the Mitama Spirits. Both ancestors & departed souls are the foundation of the lives we have inherited. If we separate ourselves from these historic roots by neglecting these branches of our personal tree-of-life, our virtues suffer & wither. Therefore it is very important to respect & honor ancestors & departed souls with these Memorial Services.
This morning, just after midnight, I offered prayers honoring the Mitama spirits of the family & friends who are closely associated with this church. During this prayer I suddenly heard a big sound. Kami has sometimes responded my prayers with a sound. This sound was so big that I first thought all Mitama spirits related to our church seemed to gather here. Later I understood the spirit of Mrs. Haruko Ohba had come to me. One of our best friends, Mrs. Haruko Ohba passed away this morning at 7:25 am at age 83. I offered my special prayer for her Mitama spirit during this service.
This year is focused on “the heart of the earth,” here at KC Chicago. We are now doing our best to deepen our hearts by learning all we can while we are part of this earth; each and every moment in each & every day. The heart of the earth is the core of this Konko Faith.
Founding minister of KC Airaku in Japan; Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, taught us, “Coming from earth and returning to earth, thus our life in between should be as the heart of the earth.” THIS is the true Way or Principle of the Universe.
Everyone knows and admires the nature of the earth. I think any religion & any philosophy teaches us, “We humans are born into a universe in which our lives are lived with heaven above us & earth under our feet. Since this universe is all there is, we return to the universe when we die.” The more we know the importance of this truth, the more we achieve the function of our lives on the earth.
As you know, I talked about the heart of the earth in my sermon for our February monthly service. When I emailed it to American believers, one person who will own his farm land with his brother renamed it as “Heart of the Earth Farm.” He wrote, “I renamed my farm project Heart of the Earth Farm. Your sermon was the inspiration. This way we will always be reminded to have the heart of the earth.” I was really moved to hear that.
The most important for us human beings to seek the true way of life is the following part that Rev. Otsubo says, “Thus our life in between should be as the heart of the earth.” While we have life in between, we should be seeking to replicate the heart of the earth. No one or no religious figures have said that before him. When we live our life totally based on the heart of the earth, our life will be in harmony with the universe and a feeling of leaping-for-joy comes to well up in us. Of course we are gradually blessed with all the conditions of human happiness.
15 years will have passed since our Ookusama, Mrs. Isoe Otsubo, wife of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo died on March 15. KC Airaku will have her 15th Anniversary Memorial Celebration on that day this year. Isoe Ookusama was the very person who had lived her life totally based on the heart of the earth.
She was a lady who humbly admitted she had been an unsociable person & very little ability to enjoy speaking in a crowd, and thought she was not much help to her family. The more she came to believe this, the more she accepted everything that happened as Kami’s will, with a calmness like the earth, whatever happened and no matter how difficult it might be. She accepted whatsoever first without aying anything to others but murmured to herself inside. No matter how, she clung to Kami and did her best to deepen her heart of the earth throughout her life. Then finally she came to always say, “I am grateful for everything. That means a lot to me, whatever happens.”
She wrote “Earth” in one Japanese character on fancy paper with an adscript in another character-set, “Delight,” as the same meaning. After all she has read “Earth” as “Delight.” By practicing faith to deepen her heart like the earth itself, she finally came to the point where a feeling of delight & joy always welled up in her.
This year the Takeuchi family in Japan will celebrate the 10th anniversary memorial of my father, Michinori Takeuchi, the 5th anniversary memorial of my mother, Itsuko Takeuchi and the 45th anniversary memorial of my grandmother, Yaeno Takeuchi on March 25.
The Mitama spirits related to this church also realize the importance of the heart of the earth and are doing their best to deepen it in the next world to become the foundation of their descendants in this world.
Mr. Ichihara took good care of my father for a long time while my father was alive. He still did a great job for the Takeuchi family in Imari, fixing everything & cleaning the garden. He had a dream on February 3 about my father.
He said, “Takeuchi Sensei appeared in my dream. He seemed to be healthy like he was before. The place was the back yard of the Takeuchi office. He said, ‘It is better to put more mud in the field on the back. It is low, so we should make it high. There is the place where the mud was piled up. We will bring mud from there.’ Then he led his men and brought mud by using a dump truck to smooth the ground equal. I said to him, ’Mud will flow away if it is as it is. So we need to place something to stop it.’ He was so vigorous and in high spirits.” This was the dream that Mr. Ichihara had.
Through this dream of his I could not help but realize the Mitama spirits were doing their best to develop the heart of the earth in the next world as well. Realizing this, I will do my best to practice faith to perfectly develop my heart of the earth through each and every happening in my daily life. Thus my peace & joy in my heart is deepened and comes to be overflowing. Then it surely begins to shine from me like a full moon. I would like to manifest the importance of the heart of the earth in my daily life and with it save others for Kami’s wish to be fulfilled in the world.
I've found an especially powerful connection with each of our Mitama spirits during this service. This is particularly true with my parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. His life was a wonderful example of faith. He died in 1994, the same year my family came as missionaries to the US. Rev. Otsubo told about a dream he'd had a few days before he died.
He told us he'd dreamed Kami seemed to ask him what words he wanted to leave in this world. He replied, "There are no other words for me to leave to this world than Peaceful & Joyful heart (Wa-Ga Kokoro). I have been seeking Peace & Joy in myself throughout my whole life. I still seek Peace & Joy within, every day, at each & every moment, & wish to continuously seek Peace & Joy in the next world. The first is to pray for peace in the whole world" Then he added, "It is due to Kami's blessings & this Faith that I will be able to enter the next world with this kind of gratitude & delight."
What a blessed heart he achieved in his lifetime! I will do my best to deepen peace & joy in my heart like my master and would really like to reach such a stage of faith development.
I now sincerely pray, “Please develop my peaceful & joyful heart to reverberate through the universe. With such a light of peace & joy in my heart, please give me the blessings to wrap around Chicago, the North America and the world. For that I am determined to devote myself wholly to deepening my heart of the earth.” Thank you!
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