Good morning. Happy Sunday in this New Week of Kami's blessings! Thank you very much for taking time to attend our 2018 Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony of KC Chicago. As always, I hope each of you are in good health & excellent spirits on this wonderful autumn morning.
More than 75 years ago, Albert Einstein said, "The fourth World War will be fought by stone & club." By this he meant, the human race would be ruined if the third World War arose. Karl Marx said, "Human history is the class struggle war."
Thousands of years have passed since humans began to walk the earth. And in that time, the wonder of a kami-centered world, has became human-centered. And it became very selfish. Those who have power control those who have less power & that human history has never changed for the better. Our founder wished to embrace the world with this faith and the founding minster of KC Airaku, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, wished to manifest the era of peaceful & joyful hearts of all people. I think both of them wished to stop the cycle of human history of power versus power & create a new era of the heart, returned to a new kami-centered world.
Kami asked me what was the absolute value of my existence when I offered my prayers for true world peace & prosperity of all people during the morning prayer service on August 15 this year, the day of the end of the second World War.
What are we born for? What is the purpose of our life? What should we do for the world? What is Kami's wish for us? When we truly seek this for everyone, the weak & the powerful working together for the common good, we do our every effort to accomplish it & make all of our lives valuable & important.
During my university days, Kami gave me the opportunity to join the radical students' movements to fight for 5 years with those who were suppressed & discriminated against and create a world of peace & equality. When I came back to KC Airaku through Kami's arrangement, I seemed like a sleepwalker for almost a year. That was because the way of revolutionary movement was totally different from practicing true faith. I had to completely reorient my life from a path of one in which people were trying to reform the world, fighting by conflict, to a path toward peace and satisfaction by means of total acceptance. I had to learn to accept that even the severest suppression or isolating condition of people is Kami's doing & that it's necessary for the deepening & polishing of our human heart. My heart was torn in a continuous struggle between these two ways of thinking & living.
This was one reason why I always asked many questions to Rev. Otsubo during those days at the youth meetings at the Airaku church. Questions like, "Are the problems of pollution or racial discrimination the workings of Kami?" "Are people's sufferings & being killed from natural and man-made calamities the will of Kami?" Rev. Otsubo always answered my questions calmly and politely. Even so, I asked my questions to him many many times, so he said that there was another person besides me to have questions. Then finally he told me that he believed that, at some point in time, his faith would grow to the point where he could believe that ‘All is Divine Love.' By witnessing such a strong faith right in front of me, I saw with my own eyes how Kami could work to help people change and deepen their hearts. Particularly in absolute faith like his, everything that happened was Kami's doing.
At last, setting aside all my questioning, I made up my mind to try to find the kind of belief his faith had brought him. To believe that all is divine love and to see whatever occurred as evidence of the infinite workings of Kami. I eagerly wanted to know the proper way to achieve ideal fulfillment of people & the world. In the end I became a trainee under his guidance & spent my precious time with him for nearly twenty years.
Then, I came across the following teaching of our founder's. He said to one of his disciples, Mitsugoro Ichimura, "If people lose their belief in, ‘On this very day pray with a single heart, Divine blessings are within your own peaceful & joyful heart,' (This is the core essence of the Divine Reminder) the world will be in turmoil. The glory of Kami and the glory of parents will be gone."
I was surprised that our founder taught us the Way of Konko to unite the two complete different ways of revolution & true faith about 140 year ago. In other words, if people faithfully follow & deepen this insight in their hearts, Kami's glory will appear & true world peace will be attained. I could not help but feel this would be the Way of Konko to establish true world peace.
Even if we built a peaceful world by human power, it would be temporary because our human history of conflict has proven so. Kami's glory or workings definitely need to be the foundation in order to accomplish peace and 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 and 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 & true world peace will be manifested. In order to reveal Kami's glory we should devote ourselves wholly to deepening the following belief: ‘On this very day pray with a single heart, Divine blessings are within your own peaceful & joyful heart." It is to put our heart & soul into embodying the Divine Reminder and pass it down.
"Opening this Way heart in the USA is within my peaceful & joyful." By practicing & proving this fact I will be of great service for true world peace, which is the absolute value of my existence. As Kami's wish for me is now made clear, I will devote myself to accomplishing this with all my heart. What is the absolute value of your existence? What are you born for? What is Kami's wish for you?
A young couple visited our church for the first time all the way from Virginia on Tuesday, August 28. Mr. Seth Carter and his fiancé, Ms. Diana Bruno, first visited his parents in Indiana. It took 13 hours from Virginia and then four more hours to visit our church. I have exchanged my e-mails with Seth-san several times since this February, answering his questions. He is very sincere & thoughtful and would eagerly like to follow everything through the exact way of Konko. My wife & I were very happy to have their visit all the way from Virginia.
Young terrorists of the Islamic State attacked a theater in Paris in November 2015 and killed dozens of innocent people. At that time I knew for the first time that many young people joined IS from all over the world and more than 500 from the USA. It could not help but grieve me most deeply as a Konko minister. The greatest natural gift of the young is to seek the truth and be able to sacrifice themselves to accomplish it. Those wonderful gifts of young people were snatched by the terrorist groups. Konkokyo has a teaching that leads true world peace and clearly states how humans live a human-like life & reach the true happiness with Kami by realizing Kami near them. I really feel my responsibility is to deliver this way to young people in the world.
At that time Kami revealed the following poem to me: "To you young people! Your true Way to happiness is found in this Faith. Come & learn it faithfully. Become a light of the world!"
Kami has listened to my wishes, small and big. Since then I have happened to receive some e-mails of young Americans from many states who want to know about the Konkokyo. America is the country of Christianity & there are many religions in it. Among them as those young people are somehow interested in the Konko Faith, I think I will do my best to answer their questions as sincerely as possible and convey all of what I have learned & experienced about this Kami.
This was the most joyous moment for me to have such visitors like Seth-san & Diana-san. Diana-san had a sense of inspiration and I felt she had first a kind of hesitation to enter our church. However we soon came to have a heart-to-heart talk with each other. She said she felt calm & peaceful here. They offered a bottle of Japanese Sake and monetary donations. I felt their sincerity in the way of their offerings.
Seth-san sent the following e-mail after returning back to Virginia: "We had a wonderful time speaking with you and really appreciated the delicious soba, tea, and strawberries. Diana and I hope to be able to visit again someday in the future. She was very eager to read the prayer book that you gave her and said that after our visit, she is interested in learning more about the Konko Faith." Seth-san & Diana-san are so sincere that I believe they will soon or have already found the absolute value of their existence.
I am now exchanging e-mails with around 20 Americans and am praying for them by writing their names in my Prayer book every day. Among them, there are 7 people I have not met yet. I am looking forward to how Kami works for me to see them.
My son-in-law Mr. Donghoon Chon & our daughter Hiroko Chon succeeded a Korean restaurant named "To Soc Chon." In order to do so, they first established "Shin Ai Corporation." Hiroko quit her job as an accountant and started to help her husband. It was an adventure, and she was determined to do this even if it meant leaving things behind her. It was the urgent wish of Donghoon but they felt Kami's wish for it more than anything else. I did so as well, because the name of the restaurant has the same name of Donghoon's last name "Chon."
Additionally, I learned something that I keenly felt this restaurant was the very one Kami would wish for them. Our Korean friend taught us the Chinese character of each word of the name of this restaurant and the meaning of the name, that is, how the Korean people would feel when they hear this name. "To" is "土, Earth," "Soc" is "俗, Common," and "Chon" is "村, Village." Its total meaning is "Special Customs & Traditions in the District." The Korean people feel it as "very warm & fondly-remembered." I cannot help but feel Kami wishes Donghoon & Hiroko to deepen their heart like the earth which is the essence of the Konko Faith day by day. Kami wishes them to embody the nature of the earth so deeply that the "To Soc Chon" Korean Restaurant becomes one filled with peace & joy in their hearts that the common people gather together to seek the warmness and kindness to heal their wounded spirits from their daily work. I really feel Kami's wish toward Donghoon & Hiroko in this restaurant right now.
When we feel Kami's wish for us, we can devote ourselves to accomplishing our tasks with all our hearts. When we find the purpose of our life, we can walk the path of it without running astray. Even if we are at a loss on the way, we can go back to this path of Kami's wish for us. What is the absolute value of your existence? What is the purpose of your life? What do you think is Kami's wish for you to do now?
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