Happy New Year!
Thank you for joining us to welcome in the New Year. Thank you also very much as always, for the prayers & support you’ve given for KC_CHI during the year past. May each & every one of you enjoy a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year — 2016!
There is an old Japanese proverb which says, 'Fortune comes to a merry home with laughter.' So I would like to start my first sermon for 2016 to induce your laughter.
There’s a wonderful example of a laugh producing story I’ve heard twice in my life & it cracked me up both times. It tells of a time when Mr. Yoshio Mori, Prime Minster of Japan visited the USA to meet with then president Mr. Bill Clinton. Mr. Mori didn't have a very thorough command of the English language. But for some reason, he wanted to exchange greetings in English to show his respect to Mr. Clinton. So for his important meeting with Mr. Clinton he asked his interpreter what English sentences he could memorize that would be appropriate, & he was taught the following two sentences, 'How are you?' & 'Me two!’
He was told they would easy to remember & be the perfect start for their conversation.
But, when Mr. Mori saw Mr. Clinton in person, Mr. Mori forgot what to say. So he said to Mr. Clinton, 'Who are you?' instead of 'How are you?'
Mr. Clinton was surprised to hear that, because Mr. Mori came to the USA to see him, US president Clinton. He was a man of wittiness. He answered Mr. Mori, “I am Hillary's husband,” to which Mr. Mori replied, “Me too!”
For the past two weeks I’ve been thinking of how I could describe my year of 2015 by one Japanese character. Then I hit upon an idea that it was “凹”（くぼみ）, a deep basin or a depression. Thinking it over & over very carefully I finally decided this was the best description.
This Japanese character reminds me of the revelation our founder received from Kami in 1875. He received the following revelation with such an illustration:
“Like the way water gathers into a deep basin, all the world problems & divine blessings gather into this worship hall.”
Konko Daijin was facing many problems at that time. Not only those caused by his family members & believers but also by the government. After receiving this revelation our founder deeply realized he had no power, no ability & no talent before Kami. It seemed like a state of depression. So leaving everything up to Kami, he focused on developing peace & joy in his heart by facing these problems as deeply as possible. It fascinated people. Which; in turn, attracted more worshippers gathering in the worship hall to seek Mediation from him. That was the way his problems were turned into divine blessings.
The sole of this Faith is not aimed at spreading it, but we do believe it will spread naturally if it is genuine. Therefore a Konko minister just sits at the Mediation seat & focuses on developing his or her peaceful & joyful heart as deeply as possible for this Faith naturally to be spread.
Young people are thought to be treasures of the future all around the world. It is natural to expect youthful days to be the ideal time to most constructively pursue the truth of life which; in turn, welcomes them into the world as grown-ups. Once given a precious view of the world, young people tend to do their best to try & accomplish the potential of their allotted time in their lives naturally. Today however because they are so accepting & the world seems so much more chaotic than we adults faced when we were their age. They may become bogged down in a struggle to find the true meaning of life.
Every day now I sincerely pray that I may be of great service for many young people in today’s world. May they come to know the essence of the Konko Faith which will surely lead to true world peace & live fulfilled lives with Kami. I hope KC Chicago become a Wagakokoro Mecca for many young people in the world to gather together to learn the real fulfillment with Kami & serve the true world peace.
I would like to share my poem with you to describe this feeling of mine:
To you young people!
Your true Way to happiness
Is found in this Faith.
Come & learn it faithfully;
Become a light of the world!
For that what I have to do is to develop peace & joy in my heart as deeply as possible to echo & switch on a reflection of Kami’s Divine heart.
I joined the House of Delegates (HOD) & the Ministry Board of Review (MBR) meetings on Dec. 12 & 13 last year. I flew for San Francisco on Dec. 11 with my son, Mitsunori. Our congregational representative, Mr. Tim Ogawa, was too busy with his job. Mitsunori was his alternate & joined the HOD meeting for the first time. Whenever I attend these meetings, I fly for SF one day before the meetings begin & have a chance to share our faith with some ministers. This time Rev. Masato Kawahatsu, head-minister of the Konko Propagation Hall of South San Francisco gave a copy of his newsletter.
In it was an article written by Rev. Motoo Tanaka, head-minister of KC Osaki, Japan, titled, “Okage wa waga kokoro-ni ari - Divine blessings are within your appreciative heart, or your peaceful & joyful heart – DNA Version.”
He wrote about a recently published book called, “The Miracle of the Gene Switch,” sub-titled “A housewife who was given only one month to live,” by Mrs. Fusami Kudo. In the book Mrs. Kudo writes, “It was 9 years ago that I was diagnosed with cancer. It was terminal uterine cancer with no possibility of surgery. The first thing I did was write a letter to my children. I wrote ‘I want you to have a good life. I’m sorry for getting sick & I love you.’ I wrote each of them a heartfelt letter. The doctors decided they would give me 30 radiation treatments
The treatments would then be followed by 3 rounds of a painful radiation treatment called RALS. The treatment was so painful that my whole body was frozen from pain & terror. It didn’t seem like a treatment…..it felt more like torture. Why did I get cancer? I blamed myself & cried all night long. I felt despair & that my life was at its end.
A few days later, the day before my second RALS treatment, a friend came to visit me & brought me a book called ‘Life’s Code’. The author, Prof. Kazuo Murakami says, ‘The research in life science is extremely advanced. However, the more we study on a cellular level, the more we find that there’s more that we don’t know. Nothing is happenstance & only, what the author calls, ‘something great’ is what makes life possible. There are 23 chromosomes that come from the father, & 23 chromosomes that come from the mother. From that, there are 70 trillion combinations for a child to be born from one set of parents. The probability of a life being created is equivalent to winning a million yen lottery 100,000 times in a row. For a human to be born in & of itself is a great achievement, & to be alive is a miracle within a miracle.’
Then I was blown away by the author’s next statement: ‘Of all the DNAs we have in our body, only about 5% are actually used, the rest are just turned off.’ When I read this, I thought to myself that even if I could turn on 1% of my DNA out of the 95% that are turned off, I could be that much healthier! When this thought came to mind, I yelled out ‘Banzai, Cheers!’ at the top of my voice from my hospital bed at 2 in the morning!
It was then that I felt a ray of hope in my darkest hour. I felt like my body was telling me, ‘I’ve been sustaining you all this time.’ I felt so grateful & happy I told myself to thank my body. I decided to say thank you to all the trillions of DNAs inside my cells, one by one. To my hands & feet that move for me, to my hair, to my heart…..I gave continuous thanks to each & every part of my body.
The time came for my second RALS treatment. The pain that had been unbearable the first time around didn’t even seem exist. I was astounded by the results of my thankfulness. I believe that ‘thankfulness’ has special powers that awaken the sleeping DNAs. My third RALS treatment was also remarkably painless. A month & a half went by, & I had my check-up with my doctor. The doctor looked at the x-rays & laughed out loud – ‘All the cancer is gone!’ We were both engulfed in happiness when some other data came in. The cancer had left the uterus but was now in my lungs & liver. What was going on? My lungs were filled with cancer that looked like polka dots, & there was a fist-sized tumor on the inside of my liver & the outside was scattered with cancer that looked like seeds.
At the suggestion of my doctor I started chemotherapy. If I didn’t do anything, the doctor said I would have less than a month to live. I braced myself to face the reality that my last days of my life would be fighting the side effects of the chemotherapy. Just as I predicted, the therapy was painful & hard. But through the tears of pain, I was thankful. I thought to myself that despite this painful condition, my DNA in my body is working hard to make me better. Even the cancer cells have supported me; supported me by making me realize something. I apologized sincerely to the cancer cells & expressed my appreciation. & for every single strand of hair that fell out, I expressed my thankfulness – every 100,000 strands. Thank you for having been my hair up until now.
I was filled with a feeling of fulfillment in my heart that I had never experienced before. Then my second son surprised me by saying, ‘We should enjoy this special circumstance, huh?’ At first I didn’t understand, but I soon came to realize that within any struggle there is a seed of happiness. I decided to enjoy the journey. This is what turned on the sleeping DNA switches. Six months of being grateful went by, & my body felt lighter. I went for my scheduled check up & again all the cancer had disappeared!”
Mrs. Kudo says that for the sleeping DNAs kick in, we have to live a life that the DNA will appreciate. In order to do that, we have to be thankful for everything & enjoy the struggle. This is the “switched on” way of life. It’s the same as when our Founder said, “Okage wa waga kokoroni ari - Divine blessings are within your appreciative heart, or your peaceful & joyful heart.” The purpose of our life that anyone can have, I believe, is to shine ourselves by expressing “Thank you” always or to deepen peace & joy in our heart toward unbreakable one. With this spirit in mind, I wrote the following poems as a resolution for every moment of the coming New Year; 2016:
Welcoming the New Year,
I want to make every moment,
Full of gratitude;
& be a Living Being,
With a deeply polished heart!
May this life of mine,
Be used with a single heart,
An era of peace & joy
For all people in the world!
Beginning this first day of the brand new year 2016, let us deepen our understanding of the true nature of thankfulness or peaceful, joyful hearts & together let us help each other to develop our faith more & more perfectly in the coming 365 days. May this Konko Church of Chicago be filled with the peaceful & joyful hearts to welcome all who enter here. May this spot on our miraculous earth become a place where Divinity & Humanity will meet together in prayer, rejoice together in gratitude & delight together in mutual satisfaction. Thank you!
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