Good afternoon, welcome & thank you very much for attending our 2018 Autumn Memorial Service of the Konko Church of Chicago.
Konko Daijin taught us:
"Because humans are born through the blessings of Kami, they must also die with the blessings of Kami. Therefore, if a child's birth is a happy event, then death is a much happier event since one becomes a kami. The reason death is so abhorred is because people have not yet developed enough peace in their mind to accept death. Practice faith, so that you will be blessed with peace of mind. No one knows when they will die. It is determined by Kami. Then it is too late to practice faith after a crisis has already arisen. People must always have faith which will be strong enough for crucial times.
This year the most important people for me seemed to have passed away one after another. Their deaths have changed dramatically my philosophy of 'Life & Death'. Death is not abhorred at all. Death is a divine blessing of relief. I would like to tell you about four people whose life & death had this impact on me.
Mrs. Haruko Ohba passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 4; at 83 years old. She was a prominent singer for the Lyric Opera in Chicago. She was one of the sopranos, in the Chicago Opera chorus & was the only Asian soprano in her younger days.
At one point she was encouraged to try to go to Italy & study to be in the famous aria 'On a sunny day' in Madame Butterfly.
She had often joined us in the special events of KC Chicago such as New Year's Day services, the grand ceremonies & the memorial services like this one. We had a lot of enjoyable & memorable times. No matter how deeply we extend our appreciation to her, it is still not enough.
In January she fell on an icy road. She had very severe leg & hip injuries & was bedridden. The day she died, she entered the next world, listening to this aria 'On a sunny day'.
Rev. Mitsuaki Otsubo, my brother-in-law passed peacefully away on Friday, June 8 at age 68.
He was a man of the heart of the earth. He was the second son of my parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo and Mrs. Isoe Otsubo. The more Mitsuaki Sensei listened to his father's teachings, the more he realized the importance of the heart like the earth. He had a soft & gentle character by nature. The nature of the earth completely suited his nature.
Therefore he has done his best to respect each & every happening in his life as Kami's doing with gratitude like the nature of the earth to polish his heart & renew himself throughout his life. He has always prayed & accepted everything with calmness whatever happened & no matter how. He has shown the wonder of total acceptance throughout his life.
It has especially been true and he had devoted himself to accomplishing his heart of the earth through respecting each happening more sensitively than ever to perfectly develop peach & joy in his heart since he was diagnosed with stage 4 of stomach cancer two years ago. Without a bit of fear he respected his stomach cancer as "Gan-sama, honorable cancer" & has done his best to change cancer cells into Wagakokoro cells, peaceful & joyful cells. Through having done so, he could greatly change his lifestyle, his character & his destiny. He could develop his heart so deeply that we all admired this faith training of his & he led our faith to come closer & closer to Kami.
Mitsuaki Sensei became a divine person (ikigami) to enter the next world through his precise faith training for his final two years. Konko Daijn taught us, "After Konko Daijin's physical form is gone, Konko Daijin will go wherever asked." These are words that cannot be declared without conviction beyond our human founder, a divine person. Like Konko Daijin, Mituaki Sensei now goes wherever asked, anywhere in the world.
Then he made clear the following final words Kami gave to our Founder: "For the sake of all people & to save those who give Me requests, I will sacrifice you. This is for the eternal dignity of Konko Daijin's divine virtue."
Here the Japanese word '身代わり、Migawari' is translated as "I will sacrifice you." However 'Migawari' here could also be translated as "changing your status." Mitsuaki Sensei has changed himself from this world to the next world & Kami has released his spirit beyond space-time. So he can go wherever asked now that his physical form is gone. That's why I feel the presence of Mitsuaki Sensei's Mitama spirit more & more everyday. This is absolutely the eternal dignity of Konko Daijin's divine virtue.
My sister Emiko is the wife of Mitsuaki Sensei. They loved each other so profoundly that they worshiped with each other and built a peaceful & joyful home. Even after her precious husband suddenly passed away, she said, "Mitsuaki Sensei's spirit lives vividly in my heart. So I don't feel lonely at all. He respected his cancer for 'Gan-sama' honorable cancer as Kami's doing with gratitude. My pain and suffering became gratitude as he changed the image of cancer completely."
The basis of such total acceptance is his daily life. He did every routine to pray to Kami so exactly & conscientiously that I really respected him. He always kept Kami in mind even when watching TV and prayed at any news. I could not help but follow him without saying anything.
It was true at the final stage of his life in a hospital. He always told that everything was what Kami was doing. His body became swollen & stiff. He uttered nothing but said, 'It is all right!' whenever asked.
Toward his final days, he always had his eyes closed. Then, he suddenly opened his eyes wide 10 minutes before he died & said, "Konko-sama" with all his strength.
I thought it was as if he had accepted his death with gratitude, entered the next world by confirming, "All is Divine Love" & prayed to Konko-sama for the world he had left behind."
Day by day I am increasingly realizing the presence of Mitsuaki Sensei's Mitama spirit with me. I also realize the greatness of his faith, which was total acceptance, like the nature of the earth.
Rev. Kayoko Otsubo passed away peacefully on Monday, July 16 at age 71. She was the wife of Rev. Mikisaburo Otubo, the third son of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo & Mrs. Isoe Otsubo.
Kayoko Sensei started to work in Tokyo after graduating from high school. Her life gradually became wild, as she stayed out late at night and went back to her apartment around 3:30 am everyday.
One day she read one of the speeches of Rev. Otusbo's. Then she found out Rev. Otsubo started to pray to Kami at 3:30 am every morning & he said it was the most grateful time in a day. She first could not believe it, but wanted to meet him. She was knocked down by her everyday life and visited KC Airaku for the first time in August 1974 without any hope for her future. Rev. Otusbo mediated her & gave the following words to her, "You may stay here until your way of viewing things, your way of thinking will be changed."
It was very rare for Rev. Otsubo to request as such & later she became a trainee under the guide of Rev. Otsubo.
He wrote the words of 'Treasuring the morning prayer as life' when the newly-wed couple of Mikisaburo Sensei & Kayoko Sensei requested his words to follow throughout their marriage life.
Mikisaburo Sensei was diagnosed for sarcoma in his high school days. The chances were ninety-nine percent bad even though he had surgery. By receiving miraculous blessings he realized Kami's grace so much that he promised Kami to follow the steps of his father. Since then he woke up before 3:30 am every morning to serve with his father.
He came to make much more of the morning prayer with all his heart after marriage and Kayoko Sensei supported his efforts with all her heart.
She was afflicted with malignant lymphoma 9 years ago. She recovered from it completely in 6 months. Our Principal Mediator, Kyoshu Konko-sama wrote the following words, 'Shining Laurels of Kami & Humanity' when she extended her appreciation of her complete recovery. Then she was diagnosed with interstitial pneumonia a few years ago. She threw up blood in July, this year. While doing so, she told her oldest daughter, Mrs. Haruko Suenaga who came from Brazil & was taking care of her, that she was the happiest. She thundered out to her children who were crying beside her bed at the hospital, "You don't need to cry."
All her children gathered beside her. She started to recite the Divine Reminder in a low voice. Everyone joined in reciting. Then she peacefully entered into the next world. On the day of her Mitama spirit's 10th day memorial service she appeared young beside Mikisaburo Sensei during his prayers and said, "I told you that I would make a comeback after death. I will revive in your recollections. I will revive in the wind of life process."
Rev. Keisuke Sada passed away suddenly on Monday, August 6 at age 56. He was a brother of Mrs. Noriko Takeuchi, my brother Kazunori's wife. His father, the late Mr. Kyozo Sada & his mother, Mrs. Emiko Sada had not had any children for 6 years after marriage even though they did every effort for that. Then finally they visited Rev. Soichiro Otsubo to seek Mediation. Emiko-san soon got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, Noriko-san. One year later she had another baby girl, Fumie-san. When she became pregnant the next time, Emiko-san's mother, Tomie-san was told that it would be another baby girl by those who she asked. That was why she asked Emiko-san to have an abortion. Emiko-san sought Mediation with Rev. Otsubo and was said to take good care of an unborn baby.
Rev. Otsubo received the name of the baby as 'Keisuke' before birth from Kami, which surprised the Sada family. He told them that this new-born baby was in answer to Divine Love.
He grew up sincerely & honestly, joined the club of boys & girls of KC Airaku and started to play music there. He had no ear for music. That was why he did his every effort to play the trombone so hard that he later could help boys & girls as a leader better than anyone else. Then he became a trainee under the guide of Rev. Otsubo. Keisuke Sensei was so serious that he carried all important duties on his shoulders by himself and gradually developed a nervous disorder. He lived through this situation with all his hearts. How severe it was! How painful it was!
I think now it was the terrific faith training of Keisuke Sensei's to accomplish 'All is Divine Love' for the Sada family. Even though Mrs. Emiko Sada lost her precious son, she never wavered at all to confirm his death was also Kami's blessing or Kami's doing. She gave her greetings as the chief mourner as follows: "My son didn't get married, but today I felt some kind of marriage ceremony with Kami." I could not help but pay my respect that the Sada family is accomplishing & manifesting the fact of 'All is Divine Love.'
Those Mitama spirits taught me that it was not so important how long one could live, but that it was the most valuable how one lives one's life every day. Those Mitama spirits have also completely changed my perspective of 'Life & Death.'
We humans are born amid divine blessings, live amid divine blessings and die amid divine blessings. When people die, they are reunited with Kami. The body dies, but the soul keeps on living. Death is like a deep sleep. We don't fear it at all.
We humans are the master of all living things. After one dies, you will be worshipped as a kami. Look forward to becoming a kami. For that let us practice faith to develop peace & joy in our heart to the fullest. With our peaceful & joyful heart, let us pray & serve for true world peace & human fulfillment by burning with desire to fulfill Kami's wish. Thank you!
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