Hello, everyone! Happy New Day & Week. Thank you especially for attending today's Autumn Memorial Service. I hope you are all enjoying good health & excellent spirits.
September is the month we set aside to honor Mitama spirits... all departed souls. That is why we hold our annual Autumn Memorial Service in September. As our lives are built on foundations given to us by our ancestors, our memorial service is to respect and extend our appreciation to them in every point.
The Konko Faith emphasizes the importance of living this day, single heartedly in this very moment. The Divine Reminder teaches that is the essence of the Konko Faith when it says, "Divine Parent of the Universe, Divine Mediator, Pray sincerely, with all your heart. Be one with Kami. Kami's blessings begin within Hearts grateful and caring, in harmony and joy. Look to Kami always, now and forever, on this very day, pray."
We humans, as all other living things on this earth, really only exist in this life, one day at a time... one precious moment at a time. We can not live in the past... nor in the future, that's not the nature of time & space, it's not the way the universe works. No-one can return to the past to do, or maybe more importantly, undo an event, choice or action. Nor can we be absolutely sure of even being alive tomorrow. That is why the Konko Faith teaches that the only realistic way to lives we are given fully is to delight & live in the joy of this day, one - very moment.
When we really achieve delight and joy this blessed, single moment from the bottom of our heart, we can honor & value the meaning of our past, no matter how miserable it may have been at the time & look forward hope & delight to our future, no matter how hard our circumstances we might foresee ahead. This miracle moment of life is the accumulation of the past that defines us & gives focus to our future in a single instant.
The world around us is only a continuation of this single moment of our self. Therefore, the Konko Faith does not accept a vision that the end of the world is necessary. Our Founder did not teach of Paradise, Heaven or Hell as the destination of our spirit in the next world. He did not teach of the sorrow of death or punishment after death. He believed that the totality of this Great Universe was & is complete and perfect. As such, he taught that this world is filled with the infinite benevolence of the Divine Parent of the Universe.
One of his worshippers once asked our founder, "They say that after death, one will either go to hell or to heaven. Tell me, where will we actually end up after death?"
Our founder answered, "Since I am still in training, I don't know what is beyond death. But while you are living in this world, be at peace everyday and follow the right Way. Then you needn't worry about what is beyond death."
The late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, the parent minister of my wife & I pursued the very essence of our Founder's faith. He found and proved by the example. His life was a daily demonstration of the belief that there is a "process of life" which is the active working of the Divine Parent in each and everything that happens in our daily life. He developed his faith step by step through constant communication & cooperation with Kami - respecting everything that happened to the fullest. Living that reality of the world sincerely & faithfully, he came to clearly understand the Mitama spirits in the invisible world beyond.
He taught, "The next world is pitch dark. Therefore we should polish the gem of our heart and receive divine light while we are here in this world. Then we can live a happy life in this world and in the bright world in the next." He also said, "Mitama spirits cannot do their direct actions to this world. Until now there have been a lot of phenomena that people think them as the workings of the Mitama sprits. All of them are Kami's productions, tricks of Heaven and Earth by using the figures of the Mitama spirits in order to lead humans to real happiness." He also taught, "When the descendants revere their ancestors, those hearts agree with Kami's heart. As Kami can accept those hearts, both descendants and ancestors will be protected by Kami to become beneficial."
Compared with many other religions this is the epoch-making discovery about the life of spirits beyond which we call in Japanese, Mitama. He made clear the relationships between Kami, Mitama spirits and humans.
Our founder taught us, "Divine Virtue will be with you even after death and passed down to future generations. It can be received by anyone who practices faith. Divine virtue is never exhausted." Divine Virtue can surely be brought into the next world. When we have enough money in this world, we can buy anything to live a happy life. Like that, when we bring Divine Virtue in the next world, we can live active lives in the next world as free, relieved and delightful Mitama spirits in the world of mutual reliance with Kami. However we cannot send our Divine Virtue to the human world. Therefore we should acquire Divine Virtue and bring it into the next world for our own.
On the other hand when the descendants should accumulate Divine Virtue through practicing true faith and take good care of their ancestors, they will be blessed as more relieved and delightful Mitama spirits in the next world.
Therefore through Konko Daijin's Mediation we should offer our sincere prayers as faithfully as possible in order for our Mitama spirits to live happy and prosperous lives in the next blessed world.
Our memorial service today, therefore, is not a list of requests to these Mitama spirits for help. It is to respect & extend our appreciation to them in every point we can recall of their lives & virtue we have received from them. I'm sure that our Mitama spirits will be pleased with those prayers of ours & they, who are the roots of our families, will be filled with joy.
Now, beginning this very moment, I hope you all understand the importance of offering our great appreciation through the memorial service we now hold. Let us pray for all our Mitama spirits to have eternal peace and happiness!
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