Tenrikyo Europe Centre

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2012 March Monthly Service Sermon

by Yoichiro Miyamori (Head of Tenrikyo Overseas Department)

As I had the opportunity today to participate in the March Monthly Service of the Tenrikyo Europe Centre and in the ceremony of the installation of its seventh head, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts. I therefore ask for your kind attention for a while.

You have gathered today from different regions of Europe, and I suppose that you performed the Service in unison joyously and single-heartedly. I have said “I suppose”, because whether you performed the Service “in unison”, “joyously” and “single-heartedly” are to depend entirely on your state of mind. For me, it is something difficult to sound out because it is invisible. It seems to me that this state of mind is the most important in the performance of the Service. Indeed, isn’t it much more important than what is visible or material such as the movements of dance or the sound of musical instruments?

It is taught to us in the Ofudesaki:

As to the Service to be done,
it is none other than the Service of the Kanrodai.
Ofudesaki, X, 21.

Thus, the Service performed around the Jiba, which represents the work of God the Parent operated in the human creation, aims at universal salvation.
Then, what is the Service you have just performed at the Europe Centre? It is also the Service performed in accordance with the truth of the Jiba. And then, what is the meaning of “in accordance with the truth of the Jiba”? It means “to become the same mind with which the Service is performed at the Jiba”. When God the Parent accepts our mind, then the “truth”, that is, the providence of God, will appear. It is said in the Ofudesaki:

This Service is the path of salvation for the entire world.
I shall enable even a mute to speak.
Ofudesaki, IV, 91.

When God goes forth and works throughout the world,
there will be nothing to fear in doing any Service.
Ofudesaki, XIII, 55.

To receive the divine protection, it is therefore necessary to perform the Service joyously and spiritedly in union with the purified mind of true sincerity, while relying on these divine words. Then, what is the meaning of “the purified mind of true sincerity”? Can somebody answer this question?
On January 26, 1887, the first Shinbashira said to people around him, “Only those should perform who are willing to risk their lives no matter what measures the police use to stop the Service”. Why did the Shinbashira say like this? I believe that those who have completed the Shuyoka or attended the Tenrikyo Seminar in Europe may well explain it. Who can answer it?
Whatever ordeals She went through, Oyasama did not cease performing the Service, whereas the police force of the State forbad her and continued to hold her in prison. For the first Shinbashira and the followers of that time, those were painful days during which they could not follow the word of Oyasama, even if they wanted to. The performance of the Service might lead to the arrest of Oyasama and its performers. But Oyasama asked them to dare perform it. If it were you, what would you do? Between Oyasama and the First Shinbashira, there were sharp discussions on many occasions. When the Shinbashira answered that he would perform the Service with the authorization of the government, Oyasama retorted him that the world exists thanks to the protection of God the Parent, and that the government and the laws exist because the world exists and said that the main thing is the resolution of mind to achieve the Service. And on the day of January 26, whereas the state of health of Oyasama had worsened, the Shinbashira said the words mentioned above. The followers who performed the Service had to resolve not to return home. Indeed, they “put on two sets of underclothing and two pairs of tabi, in preparation for their arrest”.
A historical document gives us even today the list of the performers of the Service performed on that day. The Kagura Service was performed by nine men and one woman, Iso Ueda, whereas Oyasama had taught that there should be five men and five women. My great-grandfather, who was also one of these performers, wore a kimono and a mask for women to attend this Service. The six dancers of the Teodori were all men, while it was taught there should be three men and three women. As for the musical instruments, there were the koto played by Tamae Nakayama, the shamisen by Yoshie Iburi and the kotsuzumi, a small drum, by Kiyoshi Hashimoto. According to this document, there were only the three kinds of instruments out of nine. Kiyoshi Hashimoto, who played the small drum that day, later launched an anti-Tenrikyo movement in Tokyo. It is surprising to read the name of this person in this document as well as in the book of The Life of Oyasama, but not to find the names of the other. Thus, the number of the performers was incomplete.
Oyasama devoted 50 years to teach the Mikagura-uta, the hand movements and the musical instruments, to identify Jiba, the place for the performance of the Service, to prepare the masks of the Kagura, to install the Kanrodai and to determine the performers of the Service. It is said in the Ofudesaki:

I shall do marvelous things,
the same as My beginning of this world.
Ofudesaki, VI, 7.

I shall begin a Service which has never existed since I began this world,
and assuredly settle the world.
Ofudesaki, VI, 8.

All that She did aimed at universal salvation. How much did Oyasama hasten to achieve it! And the Service performed with great difficulty was incomplete. This does not mean that there were not enough people to participate in it, although She devoted 50 years to get this far... Yet, in The Life of Oyasama, it is written that Oyasama “had been listening to the cheerful sounds of the musical instruments contentedly”. Why was Oyasama happy? It seems to me that She was glad to see the followers resolve to perform the Service at any costs. That’s what “the purified mind” is.
This term itself not only means a good person or someone without greed, but symbolizes a mind ready to engage in the divine work regardless of the situation without any conditions. One cannot say “purified” if some conditions are imposed. And “true sincerity” also designates the mind ready to save others. Therefore, the phrase “the purified mind of true sincerity” which I have already suggested you all at the beginning of my sermon means a resolved mind “to be committed to save others at any time”. I thus ask you first to perform the Service with this purified mind, and then to administer the Sazuke, while keeping this mind.
Now, it is written in the Doctrine of Tenrikyo, at pages 74 and 75:

A unity of minds calls forth God's free and unlimited blessings. On the other hand, if there is no unity of minds, we shall not be acceptable to God the Parent, no matter how numerous we may be. Only when we become united in mind with the One Truth of the Path, each of us respecting and helping one another, shall we be able to live joyously and spiritedly.

The expression “a unity of minds” means that each of us strives to comply with the Teaching of God the Parent only, not with a person among us.

Hereafter, I shall teach you the hand movements of the Kagura Service
and wait for all to assemble and perform it.
Ofudesaki, I, 10.

We cannot say that it is the Service if the mind of people who attend the Service is not united as one. It cannot be done by only one person. Even if it is done by many people, it only makes sense if their minds are in harmony. Moreover, when their minds are not united, the Service itself appears muddled. In addition, Service only makes sense if we recognize that God the Parent protects and saves us. The Service thus consists in expressing our joy of being protected and saved by God and to share it with each other.
In the past, a gentleman, Mr. K, who had been at the TEC, lived in my church in Japan. Requested by the former head of the TEC, Rev. Noriaki Nagao, I had committed myself to take care of him at the Jiba, at Church Headquarters. But wherever he went, I was told: “We can’t stand him. You’ve got to tell him something.” Even at the Overseas Department, I was asked to put him elsewhere.
At my wits’ end I resigned myself to put him in my church. And shortly after, I understood why one could not stand him. It is because he lacked gratitude. Even if the followers of my church were nice to him, he complained about them instead of thanking them. For example, when sushi was prepared to him, he criticized after having eaten: “This was too sweet and not good for health”. But even so he stayed in my church, because he had nowhere to go.
One day, during the practice of the musical instruments for the Service, I made him play the flute. I don’t know why, but he played really well, better than any others of my church. He is absolutely impossible (laughs), but he plays well the flute. When I praised him, he practiced even more. Then, as I was proposed his participation in the Service, I assigned him with a role in it. But a few months later, he began to criticize: “Today, the singer was bad. He was to sing in accordance with the flute.” Even if he played the musical instrument well, his words annihilated the value of its participation in the Service.
The union of minds does not mean simply musical and ritual harmony. I wish you to perform the Service by uniting your minds. Here is the second state of mind, which is “a unity of minds”. Do you remember the first one? It seems to me that you have already forgotten it. (Laughs) I tell it once again. The first one is “the purified mind”.
And now, which is the third one? It is “the spirited mind”. It is said in the Ofudesaki:

As the minds of the world are spirited step by step,
the growth of all crops, also, will be spirited.
Ofudesaki, X, 82.

Here it is taught that the source of any divine protection lies in our spirited mind. In addition, it is said in the Osashizu:

Sah, sah, understand it well, understand it well. If you take heart and live cheerfully, you will discover cheerful ways. If you ponder, you will enter the way of pondering. If you try to settle at once, you will discover the truth to be settled.
Osashizu, August 4, 1898.

Yet, even if we are told to be spirited, we cannot do it easily.
There are two ways for us to be spirited. The first one is to be pleased with oneself, in other words, to recognize “I am what I am now”. As the explanation on this point takes time, I keep it for another occasion. The second one is to constantly consider how to make the other be spirited and satisfied. When we manage to please someone, we realize that there is nothing more gratifying than that. Actually, when we make someone happy, we can be even happier than that person. On the other hand, when we reproach somebody, we both get in a bad mood. Don’t we? A person who feels fun to be abusive to others is really a weird guy. I advise you against being friends with such a person! (Laughs)
For the Service, it is important for us to carry it out with our minds in unison by paying attention to the others. If it is performed in harmony, everyone is spirited spontaneously. In this sense, it is not necessarily required that you make the effort to make yourself be spirited, but to make others around you be spirited.
Thus, let us not forget these three states of mind to perform the Service. These three states are, let me tell you once again, “a purified mind,” “a unity of minds,” and “a spirited mind.” I would ask you to keep them in mind not only during the performance of the Service, but also in your daily life.

Today, Rev. Yoshihisa Hasegawa has taken over Rev. Tanaka’s post as the head of the TEC. What I expect of the new head is not to take the initiative of the European followers, but to create a convivial atmosphere suitable for the TEC, so that when Yoboku and followers scattered throughout Europe come to the Centre, they feel that they can be reminded of Oyasama’s Divine Model, allowing them to purify their mind. In other words, I hope that the atmosphere of the TEC will allow them to be spirited in mind, and to unite their minds with others.
The Centre is for you all who live in Europe. I hope that you will make its atmosphere “purified,” “united” and “spirited”. Its atmosphere does not emerge from its soil and its buildings, but from the unity of your minds. That’s why I appointed as the new head of the TEC Rev. Hasegawa, who has resided here for a long time.
Dear followers of Europe, the Yoboku are still few around the world. I hope you who live together in Europe at present, as instruments of Oyasama, unite your minds and open a solid path on this earth. I would like to conclude my sermon by asking you for your continued support and encouragement to the new head of the TEC.