Good Afternoon, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special "Thanks" for joining today's service. This is the annual Autumn Memorial Service for 2020. With this service, we also have the 100th Day Memorial service for the late Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo. I'll be telling you more about him in today's sermon.
Since the annual Spring Memorial service, we have had six Newly Departed souls related to this church: Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo, Nidai Oyasensei of KC Airaku, Rev. Mitsuko Yasutake, grandmother of Alex Yasutake, Mr. Bo Lalich & Mr. Jake Carter, uncle & grandfather (respectively) to Seth Carter; Mrs. Maria Di Bella, the wife of Massimo Claus's friend, Giancarlo; and Mrs. Sue Hickman, grandmother of Artemis Comfort. When welcoming these Mitama spirits to today's service, I have also asked the Mitama spirit of Rev. Katuhiko Otsubo to lead them to the world of peace & joy in the next world.
Konko Daijin has taught:
"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 why 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.
There's no knowing 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.
[Jinkyu Kyo Goroku 23, 1-3/Voice of Universe 58]
For me the most important person passed away this year. His death has dramatically changed my philosophy on 'Life & Death'. Death is not to be abhorred at all; it's not to be feared; It's nothing to be afraid of. Death is a divine blessing of relief.
I would like to tell you about the life & death of Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo who has had a great impact on me. Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo, Nidai Oyasensei, (2nd head-minister of KC Airaku) passed away on June 5th at 9:13 am Chicago time. He was 76 years old. Since then 100 days have just passed today. I revered him so much that this sudden news of his death gave me a shock and tears flowed endlessly. At the same time, I could not help but extend my deepest appreciation to him.
He was born as the eldest son of Rev. Soichiro Otusob and Mrs. Isoe Otsubo on Jan. 29, 1944 in Beijing, China. After repatriating from China with nothing, his father thought his faith up till then had been in a wrong way. It had only been seeking for blessings. So, then he started to pursue the true way of Konko faith as sincerely & as hard as possible. He personally tried any faith training that the prominent Konko leaders had done. However, difficulties still overwhelmed him.
Then he started training his faith to accept whatever happened, and continued for four & half years and beyond. Whether Kami brought good or bad, his acceptance of everything was truly amazing especially for these years. During those days Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo spent his childhood surrounded by his father's loving & fiery devotion and his mother's deep affection. Then he started to serve at the Mediation seat for an hour everyday at age 11. He entered the Konkokyo Seminary at 19, abandoning his desire for college in response to the wishes of all the believers following his father. From there he sent a letter to his father, saying, "I am in love with Kami-sama right now."
He became a Konko minister at age 20. Since then, he did his best to help his father in all aspects of the church. He led the Morning Prayer service at KC Airaku and listened to his father's Gorikai (teachings) every morning as sincerely as possible for 18 years as a minister. Even so, when he succeeded his father on Oct. 19, 1982, he realized he had not practiced faith at all. On that day, his father, trying to proceed to the waiting room for his 4:00 am silent prayer, fell down and could not move even an inch.
Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo, as Nidai Oyasensei, was astonished to suddenly discover by then that he had not deepened his heart at all. He realized how narrow-minded he was – like a thin crescent moon. Therefore, he eagerly wished to practice true faith to deepen the peace & joy in his heart and become like a full moon. To his great pleasure, his father had clarified & manifested the Way for anyone to practice to become a living kami. It was then he started to do his best as precisely (めごまく) as possible to accept each & every happening as Kami's sacred doing, respecting it so as to renew himself & polish the gem in his heart.
While he practiced such faith, he listened over and over again to his father's teachings as many times as possible: all 8,813 recorded speeches. Nidai Oyasensei then sy-ste-ma-tized the Airaku Philosophy using these speeches, and showed the Way clearly for anyone to follow. He further studied the Founder's life of faith through our Founder's own writings: both the Memoirs of Konko Daijin & Record of Revelations. He said the spirit of the Founder always pointed him to important parts of those books and led him to clearly understand the faith-life of the Founder. He also said that it was done only by having his father's Airaku Philosophy as his base.
He said the Founder's two books were human treasures for the entire religious world. Throughout his life he poured his whole be-ing into manifesting to the world, both the faith of our Founder & his father, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo's faith.
He embraced anyone and was respected by those who got to know him. He wished to raise at least a hundred people with divine virtue to be useful for Konkokyo and save the world. He followed Kami's wish as sincerely as possible and fulfilled his life with Kami. His last words were: "I have nothing to say any more," and entered into the next world smiling.
At his funeral Rev. Ichie Knuppel, his second daughter, gave a touching eulogy addressing her father, Nidai Oyasensei: "Oyasensei, you respected Nariyuki (the process of life or each daily happening) and treasured it more than anyone else. That was why you were loved by Nariyuki, and then became a kami of Nariyuki. From now on, please lead me to deepen my faith through Nariyuki."
Konko Daijin taught, "After Konko Daijin's physical form is gone; he will go wherever asked." These words could never be declared without such conviction going beyond any ordinary human founder. Without testimony that he'd have to be a divine person, these would be unspeakable words. And like Konko Daijin, now Nidai Oyasensei goes wherever asked, anywhere in the world. He appears to anyone who respects Nariyuki and teaches important lessons of faith through Nariyuki.
He gave his last words to the believers of KC Airaku on May 1. The more I read this message, the more I feel it was not only for them, but also for all believers of the Konko Faith. And moreover, it is the very message that all people in the world need to hear. Allow me to translate the complete message into English.
"Given the unprecedented situation of the spread of new coronavirus infections, I think it is time to answer the fundamental questions of what human beings are and what faith is.
In the meantime, Rev. Hiromichi Konko, the successor to the fifth current Konko-sama, gave us the following guidance this year: 'Wagakokoro start – looking forward to 10 years ahead' and 'I myself will practice faith on this very day.' This is the ultimate devotion to this faith. I think our Founder's faith is concentrated here.
Our Founder was ordered by the government to remove the altar fixtures and suspend his mission in the 6th year of Meiji, 1873. We call it, 'Removal of Kami.' The Divine Reminder was born through this great ordeal. Then the Way was unveiled that opened the golden role of human happiness, that is, 'Kami's blessings are within our peaceful & joyful heart.' From there a new Konkokyo has been started.
When I think of it, if we consider this situation of colonavirus as 'Removal of Kami in Konkokyo,' I greatly expect that a new Konkokyo will be born again. In that sense, in order to manifest the Divine Reminder in our daily routine, we must set our heart to 'practicing faith on this very day.' We hope that we will strive to improve the content of the Prayer 'Five Requests & Five Practices' we have learned so far through review & personal enrichment.
Furthermore, each person should take responsibility to please, by all means, pray for the 'Safety of all people and true World Peace.'
The revelation of our Founder which resonates in me all the time was received in the 15th year of Meiji, 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 enable 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.'
Right now, in the midst of an unexpected illness called, colonavirus, we have a great opportunity to have Konko Daijin be born throughout the world in every country without exception. I also feel it as a sign of that necessity and the response.
Our Founder wrote in 1877 the following revelation: 'How is Konko written? It is written with kanji characters for 'golden light.' Any person is inclined to look toward light. Gradually, people will come toward the light.'
He also gave this teaching to his disciple, Rev. Jiroshiro Kataoka: 'Konko' means 'Golden Light shines' as a flash of lightning. Light makes the world bright. Nothing can be seen when the world is dark. Anybody will be inclined to look toward the light. Look forward to the future about everything.'
From now on, things that we can't even think or imagine will happen. In that sense, now is the time for Konkokyo; it is time for the true value of Konkokyo to be tested. In any sense there is no doubt that we are in the midst of a major transformation.
Once again, please ask yourself the fundamental questions I mentioned earlier about human life and faith. The Divine Reminder, which was shown as the base of everything in this Faith must be used as the base of each person's life. In that way, we shall be so useful within the 'Eight Wave Movement' that all 'Eight Waves of Konkokyo' will be brightly illuminated. We so sincerely hope and pray to do just that."
This is the English translation of Nidai Oyasensei's whole message.
Through his life Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo was burning with tremendous passion to reveal to the world the faith of both the Founder & his father. Through the life & death of Nidai Oyasensei I now clearly understand the last revelation that our Founder received from Kami 19 days before he passed away on Oct. 10, 1883: "For the sake of all people and to save those who give Me requests, I shall sacrifice you. This is for the eternal dignity of Konko Daijin's divine virtue."
Nidai's life & death is the bright light for those who pursue the true Way of Konko. He has just put the Airaku Philosophy into practice as an ordinary person with great enthusiasm and became a divine person like our Founder. He clarified both our Founder's & Rev. Soichiro Otsubo's lives of faith and manifested the true Way of Konko. He lives a fulfilled life with Kami; and entered into the next world with 'nothing to say any more.' He was happy with his life, though it seemed he sacrificed his life for us all.
I truly wish to inherit the enormous passion of Nidai Oyasensei, and I am burning with the desire to manifest to the world both our Founder's faith and the Airaku Philosophy. Thank you!
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