Monthly Service in June : June 9, 2019

As long as people can be saved
Konko Church of Chicago, June 9, 2019, by Rev Masanori Takeuchi

Good Morning Everyone! Thank you so very much for attending our monthly service for June 2019. Today we will also have the one year Memorial service for the late Rev. Mitsuaki Otsubo, my sister Emiko's husband with this monthly service. I hope you are all in excellent health & in warm, bright summer-spirits.

Rev. Mitsuaki Otsubo passed away on Friday, June 8 last year at age 68. He had a soft & gentle character by nature. The nature of the earth completely suited his nature. He was a man of the heart of the earth. Therefore he has done his best to respect each & every happening in his life as Kami's sacred doing with gratitude like the nature of the earth to polish his heart & renew himself throughout his life. He has shown the wonder of total acceptance.

Two years before his death, he was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. Without a bit of fear, he respected his stomach cancer as "Gan-sama, honorable cancer" & did his best to change cancer cells into Wagakokoro cells, peaceful joyful cells. Through having done so, he could develop his heart so deeply that we all admired this faith training of his & he led our faith closer & closer to Kami.

I believed he would have completely recovered from it through this faith practice of his. However, he passed away. First, I was shocked to hear it. Then I believed there would be more important reasons Kami had for his death. His final word was 'Konko-sama.' He left everything up to Kami. He entered into the next world with divine virtue.

He is now working vividly in the next world as our founder said, "After Konko Daijin's physical form is gone, Konko Daijin will go wherever asked." Mitsuaki Sensei shows this conviction is not only for our founder. Like Konko Daijin, Mituaki Sensei now goes wherever asked, anywhere in the world.

Mrs. Emiko Otsubo, his wife has realized his presence through daily happenings so precisely that she has never felt lonely since his death, even though she has not been able to physically see him. The workings of his Mitama spirit are beyond the barrier of this world & the next world. She practiced faith to deepen peace & joy in her heart to communicate with him all the more. When she was asked what the process of life meant for her, she answered that it was the connection with Mitsuaki Sensei & his parental heart." How impressive is that!

When Mitsuaki Sensei was hospitalized four years ago, he asked for all the names of the patients & hospital staff there. He had trained himself to deepen his heart through his 'Gon-sama.' By doing so, he prayed for them every morning & evening. He had shown the parental heart of our founder's, that of "as long as people can be saved."

One of the prominent disciples of our founder, Rev. Norio Sato, consulted with a Shinto priest about how to establish the Konko Faith as an independent religion. The disciple, Rev. Sato, then was asked if Konko faith had doctrines (or teachings).

The next day Rev. Sato went to Konko Daijin's Hiromae and told him what had taken place. Konko Daijin said, "It does not matter whether this faith becomes independent or not, as long as people can be saved."

So Rev. Sato continued by saying, "After you die, people will think that this faith is temporal unless we have some written teachings."

Konko Daijin then turned toward the altar to pray about this matter & soon received the revelation, "It is better to write down the teachings of Kami." Konko Daijin was very pleased & said, "Kami has given us permission."

This is how Admonitions (Shinkai) & Instructions of the Faith (Shinkun) were born. I myself cannot help but feel how precious & great it was (and is today) that our founder had shown us such a wonderful attitude, that of "as long as people can be saved." This shows such an unselfish attitude.

When Konko ministers support propagating the faith, we tend to pay exclusive attention to just spreading the faith. However, if this faith is true & if it is worthy, it will be spread naturally. If we are unselfish, it shall spread by itself.

There were some Konko ministers who went to China before WWII to propagate this faith. Without thinking of themselves, they did their best to take good care of the sick Chinese people and to build schools to give both the Chinese & Japanese children a good education. Then, after Japan was defeated in the war, some Chinese made every effort to help those ministers, even though they would be blamed by other Chinese. That was because the Konko ministers disregarded themselves and did their best to help the Chinese people in their distress before & during the war.

When I heard of this story, I felt the spirit of the founder's "as long as people can be saved" was deeply ingrained in those Konko ministers. And I could not help but feel how wonderful & great this Konko Faith was!

As you know, I now exchange emails with around 20 Americans. When I sent them my sermon for our April monthly service, I asked them what impressed them most with our faith. In that sermon I had talked about my thoughts on "What is Konkokyo?"

I have received 6 responses so far. I was much impressed to find each person had grasped the uniqueness of our faith on their own. Among the responses, the most common characteristic was the unselfish attitude of ministers & believers.

Ms. Jasper Lumadue lives in Kansas City. She has become an earnest Konko believer since getting to know the faith in 2016. She attended our grand ceremonies twice, even though it took twelve hours for her to come. She has even changed her major in the university to be of service to the Konko Faith. Today she is in Fukuoka city, Japan. On May 24 she left for Japan to do research with 18 students and will return to the USA on June 12.

To my surprise I heard she was staying at Fukuoka University from May 29 to June 11. That is in Fukuoka Prefecture where KC Airaku is also located. The only free time she had was today, this Sunday, June 9. I believe she will visit KC Hakozaki and I pray she has an enjoyable & memorable time there. The head-minister there, Rev. Hideki Sada, trained himself under the guidance of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo of KC Airaku at around the same time I myself trained there. She is to be picked up at Fukuoka University by Mr. Takanobu Yasutake and Jasper-san shall be joining the Wagakokoro Day service at KC Hakozaki. Mr. Yasutake is a brilliant English speaker. I'm sure she'll feel the great atmosphere there, while talking over lunch & enjoying the great hospitality of the ministers & believers there. Those ministers & believers, too, I believe are showing our founder's spirit of "as long as people can be saved".

I now would like to tell you how some responders described the uniqueness of the Konko Faith. I have chosen two young Americans who have visited our church.

Mr. Seth Carter came from Virginia with his newlywed wife, Diana, last August. He wrote:

"I think my answer is pretty simple. For me, I was attracted to how open the Faith was in regards to other faiths, and how universal it seems to be in its teachings. It's a simple Faith, too. I haven't heard of any big philosophical texts that are needed to explain the Faith; it's a very simple matter of being grateful to the Universe, and living in a way that is best for oneself and others. That's what attracted me at first and what kept my desire to learn more about the Faith.

"Another thing that Konkokyo doesn't have is 'one size fits all' type of answer to questions about faith and life, and it seems to acknowledge that everyone is on their own journey and what may work for one person may not be what someone else needs. It's a simple faith, but does require individual discernment, and that is what appeals to me.

"In Diana's case, she tells me that what attracted her most was that certain elements of the Faith reminded her of Christianity, but she felt that the Konko Faith was more spiritual than the Christianity she grew up with. After we visited you last August, Diana spent the next several days reading the Konkokyo Prayer Book and felt that she learned a lot about the essence of the Faith and it's spirituality through the prayers. Our visit with you was also an experience that led to Diana becoming more open-minded about the Faith, especially after experiencing your kindness, sincerity, and hospitality."

Another young American lady, Artemis-san visited our church from Missouri to join our grand ceremony in May, last year. She wrote:

"As for why the Konko faith appealed to me, I found the fact that I already had similar beliefs about the universe, and the idea of being thankful and that all things are Kami were very appealing.

"Konko has a similar feeling to 'mindfulness' or observing your feelings and your body's experiences in the present moment and letting them go. I feel that we have to train ourselves to notice good things or see the good things in bad times. We are, as humans, more likely to notice and dwell on bad things. So I found the aspect of Konko to focus on gratitude to Kami in even small things very appealing and good for my mental health.

"I was raised with the idea that nature was bad because it was sinful and unclean, but the idea of respecting nature drew me into Shinto to begin with and the idea that all things are Kami and sacred drew me into Konko. The feeling of being surrounded by Kami is something I had felt for a very long time but Konko helped give me words for that feeling."

Through exchanging e-mails with these young Americans I am very happy to know they all seriously think about their lives, and seek the true way of life & a genuine faith in their own way. The more earnest & sincere their pursuit is, the more I believe they are drawn to the Konko Faith.

Here are words of conviction from our founder that have amazed me.

The true way of Konko
Makes the world bright,
Shines through Heaven,
And will last forever.

What a marvelous conviction our founder had to the Konko Faith. He gave this farewell poem to his older son, Hagio Konko in 1883, the final year of his life.

Every day whenever I offer my prayer in front of the Kami altar, here is one of my sincere prayers: "May KC Chicago become the number one church in the world that is filled with the peaceful joyful hearts of all the people acquainted with our church! May KC Chicago become the 'Mecca' for young people in the world who seek a true way of life!"

            To you, young people,
The true Way to happiness
                       Is found in this Faith.
Come & learn it faithfully;
            Become a light to the world

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