Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special "Thanks" for joining today's service. This is our monthly service for June, 2020.
As you all know, Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo, head-minister of KC Airaku passed away on June 5 at 9:13 am Chicago time. He was 76 years old. I revered him so much that I was moved to tears to hear that news and could not help but extend my deepest appreciation for him.
He became a Konko minister at age 20. Since then he did his best to help his father, Rev. Soichiro Otusbo in all aspects. He lead the morning prayer service at KC Airaku and listened to his father's Gorikai (speeches) as sincerely as possible for 18 years as a minister. Even so he realized that he had not practiced faith at all when he succeeded his father on Oct. 19, 1982. On that day Rev. Soichiro Otsubo fell down and could not move an inch when he proceeded to the waiting room for his silent morning prayer at 3:30 am.
Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo realized he had not deepened his heart at all until then.. Around that time someone said to him, "The heart of your father seems like a full moon, but your heart is so small like a thin moon." He thought his heart was exactly so. Then he started to do his best to accept each & every happening as Kami's sacred doing with respect to deepen his heart.
Through having done it himself, he showed how anyone can practice to become a divine person. He embraced anyone and was respected by those who got to know him. His heart gradually turned out to be a full moon. He followed Kami's wish as sincerely as possible and finally fulfilled his life with Kami.
Believers & ministers in Japan & Brazil saw the real full moon on the day when he passed away. In Chicago I worshiped the full moon one hour before his last service when I stepped out the church entrance to pray to Heaven & Earth just before 4:00 am on June 6.
Thank you very much for offering Tamakushi to his Mitama spirit to pay our deepest respect during this monthly service.
In my sermon last month for our Tenchi Kane No Kami Grand Ceremony, I talked about the importance of praying for Kami's wish to be fulfilled at the outbreak of this Coronavirus and for us to serve Kami & the people around the world.
Let me review some parts of that sermon last month.
"Our Founder received the following revelation on Oct. 14, 1882:
'Those who have faith should not worry about the unexpected. There will be unexpected illnesses not only in summer, but also in winter. No one is aware of the blessings of Heaven & Earth which enables people to live. Kami shall have people become aware of the blessings of Heaven & Earth by having Konko Daijin be born throughout the world where the sun shines, in every country, without exception.'
"Coronavirus brings the unexpected illness. That is why Kami now keenly wishes for Konko Daijn to be born in every country in order to let people become aware of the blessings of Heaven & Earth. Through this revelation of our Founder, I believe, we humans should realize even the unexpected illness is a Divine blessing, or at least we should try to understand Kami's wishes through such unexpected happenings."
Furthermore, I wrote:
"The novel coronavirus is shaking the world. I continue to seek Kami's wish through this coronavirus. This is the work of Kami cleansing the earth & humankind, the pursuit of natural purification by Heaven & Earth. And moreover, Kami wants to cleanse the human soul, which is to say, 'first renew from inside the heart.' I cannot help but consider the outbreak of coronavirus in this way."
I continued writing:
"I really feel, 'Kami wishes us humans to realize that we are powerless in nature, and that if we don't rely on Kami, we will not be able to live. We should overcome the human history of thousands of years where 'everything is being done by our own human power and change it into a Kami-centered world.' Therefore through this outbreak of coronavirus I really feel Kami wishes us humans to manifest a world of mutual fulfillment between Kami & humanity where Divinity & humanity meet together in prayer, rejoice together in gratitude & delight together in mutual satisfaction."
After that sermon I received questions from a young American lady. One of which was most important in clarifying as much as I think is possible. Though I still feel, it is hard for anyone to completely clarify such points, it is something precious to seek & always pursue answers for everyone's faith. So I would like to share our e-mail exchanges with all of you.
She wrote: "Hi, Takeuchi-sensei. I wanted to ask you a question about your sermon. When you say you feel like the Coronavirus is "Kami's cleansing of humankind and earth", what do you mean? I understand wanting to see the positive changes that may happen due to the Coronavirus, but I am not sure about saying it is "cleansing" when so many people are dying. Also, if possible, do you have a version in Japanese? I have a friend that would like to read it in Japanese. If not, how would you say "Kami's cleansing" in Japanese?"
My answer began: "Thank you very much for your good comments. You are right in a way. I felt some hesitation to write about these parts, because it seemed too straight & strong to say. However, I think we can say it from Kami's viewpoint that we believe everything that happens is Kami's sacred doing. We can say it that way when we try to abandon human feelings and live within Kami's feelings. And before getting to that, I had wrote: "I continue to seek Kami's wish through this Coronavirus." So I kept those parts as they were. How do you think of it now after hearing my thoughts?
"However, I continued, Konkokyo teaches the mutual fulfillment between Kami and Humanity. On that point I should add my sincere prayers of sympathy for those who were killed or infected by this virus as well."
And I added three phrases in English & in Japanese.
The work of Kami's cleansing of the earth & humanity –
神様の地球人類 (ちきゆうじんるい) 清め (きよめ) の働き
The pursuit of natural purification of heaven and earth –
天地自然 (てんちしぜん) 浄化 (じようか) の作用(さよう)
To cleanse the human soul –
人の魂 (たましい) の浄化作用
She followed up and asked again: "I think the thing that bothers me is that "cleansing" and "impurity", as the way the words are understood, rely on what is being cleansed or purified having something wrong with it. In that way, to say Coronavirus is cleansing means it is getting rid of something undesirable. That means that for some reason, the people who have died were undesirable. If all people are Kami's children, how can that be true?
My answer was: "As you said, all people are Kami's beloved children. Kami loves humans so much that Kami sent Konko Daijin to help them in difficulties and have mutual fulfillment with them through Mediation.
"Our Founder taught us, 'Everything that happens is Kami's sacred doing.' I think coronavirus also is Kami's sacred doing. Through coronavirus Kami wants us humans to understand our mistakes and improve our way of life, even though many people, Kami's beloved children, were killed or infected by coronavirus.
"When I accept coronavirus with awe & modesty in this way, I really feel Kami's deep sorrow about how deeply we humans live human-centered lives and cause many problems such as global warming, etc., by doing everything through people's own power."
I further added: "Coronavirus kills Kami's beloved children. Kami's sorrow is so deep that Kami cannot help but let people realize their mistakes even through killing Kami's lovable children."
"Our Founder received the following revelation on Nov. 24 in 1880:
'Kami-Sama revealed, 'Right now the world is human-centered. All things are done by people's own power, and many people are going against my teachings. Those who do as I say become a Kami. Long ago, it was a Kami-centered world. Now it is a human-centered world. Because of this, I shall teach people to return to a Kami-centered world.'"
"I really feel Kami wishes us humans to return to a Kami-centered world through every happening and also this outbreak of coronavirus. When I feel Kami's deep sorrow as I've mentioned above, I am burning with desire to fulfill my role for Kami and do my best to return to a Kami-centered world.
"'Undesirable' is not toward those who were killed, but the current situation of the earth & humans. 'Something wrong' is that we humans are doing everything by our own power. Instead, through this outbreak we should renew ourselves to single-heartedly deepen peace & joy in our heart to manifest mutual fulfillment between Kami & humanity. We are also very sorry for the Mitama spirits of those who have been killed by the virus. So we must renew ourselves and do our best to change the undesirable situation into a desirable one."
Understanding her feelings, I suggested changing two words. I wrote:
"Still you feel 'cleanse' & 'purification' bothers you. What are better words to describe it? How about 'improve' instead of 'cleanse?' And 'polish' instead of 'purify?'"
And another person sent a question related to the blessings of Heaven & Earth. So I'll share that here with all of you.
He explains his question: "Dear Sensei, when Konko Sama in his teachings speaks of offenses made in the past, does he mean in this life? In Konkokyo there is no belief in Karma or reincarnation. Why is our life preordained?"
Here is my answer: "Rev. Otsubo taught us, 'There are two kinds of offenses. One is committed by oneself. The other is by one's family, or the accumulated offenses by one's ancestors. However, these offenses are different from Karma or reincarnation. Such offenses are produced by our misunderstandings & misconceptions about Heaven & Earth.
"Therefore we can revise those misunderstandings and misconceptions, and can come to be free from those offenses. That is why Kami wishes Konko Daijin to be born in every country to let people know the real blessings of Heaven & Earth, that is, "Everything that happens is Kami's sacred doing."
"Rev. Otsubo also taught us, 'Any sin and any karma will disappear before Wagakokoro.'
"Therefore our destiny will be changed or improved when we do our best to respect every happening in our daily life as Kami's doing with gratitude, because Kami's works are nothing but helping to make everything better in Heaven & Earth and people happier. Of course, our life is somehow ordained. Our life is somehow destined by such-and-such a place & time of our birth. However, as I mentioned above, we can change or improve it as much as possible by how we live our life. I don't believe our life is preordained, in that sense."
He wrote back: "Thank you Sensei, you made that point very clear. The understanding of Konkokyo gives people a lot of hope. Karma, in the Buddhist doctrine, gives raise to much incomprehension. In Buddhism, it is taught that a mantra can sweep away past offenses. So people chant these mantras and don't bother to analyze their lifestyle. Because of this, they keep going wrong and thus are prevented from growing.
"In Buddhism there is the belief that we are living the age of Mappo, an age without values. Buddha had predicted that in this age his teaching would not have the strength to help people. What are the illuminated people of this time?
"Konkokyo, with its doctrine built on everyday life, has really the strength to make people become an Ikigami. This is Enlightenment. What other religions do you know that give this possibility to people? We should not say this, in order to not offend people following other religions, but this is the truth. It would be necessary to find a way to teach this to the people. When we do this, the Wagakokoro Era will begin."
I answered as follows: "You are right! That is why Kami lead you to the Konko Faith. You & I will have missions to become Konko Daijin to teach this to the people in the world. Without clearly understanding "All is Divine Love," any religion will come along and teach that difficulties are caused by sin, karma or curses from the deceased spirits, etc."
I hope all of you will get something important from today's sermon. I, myself, continue to seek the true blessings of Heaven and Earth through everything that happens in my life. And I feel each person asking me questions seeks to discover fuller meaning in this life, and to understand more clearly the sacred workings of Kami providing us with life.
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