Tenrikyo Europe Centre

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2014 January Grand Service Sermon

by Hideo Yamaguchi (Head of Dai-Roma Fukyosho)

We have shared together the joy of celebrating solemnly here at TEC the Spring Grand Service of the 177th year of Tenrikyo. As I have been appointed to do so, I take the responsibility to say a few words. Please stay for a few moments.

As you know, our Foundress became the Shrine of God on October 26th, 1838, that is to say 177 years ago. Just before she withdrew from physical life, there were between God through Oyasama and Men heated exchanges that we can not remember without sadness. It was an extremely tense argument between the will of God to hasten the performance of the Service and the will of Men. At that time, if they performed the Service while Tenrikyo was not authorized to do so by the government, Oyasama, then very old, was taken to prison. For the followers of Oyasama such a thing was not acceptable. In this regard, Oyagami, while accepting that they apply for authorization in the future, wanted them to immediately perform the Service. Many of our predecessors, headed by the First Shinbashira, never ceased to hesitate, but at the end of these exchanges they decided to perform the Service.

However, with her face full of contentment in hearing this verse of Song Twelve of the Mikagura-uta, “all the members of carpenters have assembled ”, Oyasama breathed her last breath. Our predecessors, once the service was over, certainly thought Oyasama had recovered. But as Oyasama had withdrawn from physical life, this event had on them the effect of a thunderclap, of a surprise and desolation as if the earth had turned upside down, and they felt a deep sadness.

This is indeed the constant objective of the Divine Model of 50 years to press forward the Salvation of the world through the Service and the Sazuke, to build the world of the Joyous Life, a world of peace and harmony between God and Men.

In 1866, Oyasama teaches the “Ashikiharai” Service, first part of the Service, and then prepares the necessary conditions to complete the “Salvation Service.” From January to August 1867, she composes the Twelve Songs, then devotes three whole years to adapting melodies and dance movements to the songs. The same year, she writes the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and adds them to the beginning of the Twelve Songs.

In 1873, a “model of the Kanrodai” is made.

On June 18th, 1874, as the masks for the Kagura that Oyasama had long asked to be made were completed and kept in the Maegawa’s house, Oyasama went there and received the masks. There, people who came with Oyasama put on the masks for the first time and tried the hand movements. Then, at the Residence, on the twenty-sixth day of each month, the Kagura and Teodori Service was cheerfully performed in its intended form with the masks.

In June 1875 took place the identification to the Jiba so as to determine the original place where humanity was created.

In 1877, Oyasama taught the three stringed instruments for the Service, so the completion of the Salvation Service made steady progress.

In addition, from 1881-1882, she spoke of Kokibanashi, confirmed the significance of the Service and hastened its performance.

Then the year 1887 arrives. The Salvation Service is celebrated, and while the performers felt a momentary relief for having performed it with tranquillity and peace, the withdrawal of Oyasama happened, and they no longer knew what to do.

Through Izo Iburi, they asked for a Divine direction, an Osashizu. Here are the words that came in response:

Sah, Sah, I shall level the ground. Has everyone assembled, has everyone assembled? Listen and understand well. All that I have said until now was put into a container of truth. But now God has opened the portals and stepped out. Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by twenty-five years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well. Observe well what the path has been and what the path will become. When I asked whether I should open the portals or keep them closed to level the ground, you answered, “Please open the portals and level the ground.” I have done as you wished. Sah, there was a thing I had intended to give to My children but I was not able. I shall bestow this truth on you step by step hereafter. Remember this well.(February 18, 1887)

Thus, the Sazuke was granted to everyone as one more pillar of the wold Salvation.

Let’s look a little at this grant of the Sazuke. From the spring of 1864, Oyasama bestows the Sazuke of the Fan on 50 to 60 people. Among them, Chushichi Yamanaka and Saemon Nakata each receive the Sazuke of the Fan, the Sazuke of the Gohei and the Sazuke of Fertilizer.

Then, at the end of 1865, on December 26th, Chusaku Tsuji and several others received the Sazuke: Kisaburo of Senzai Village receives a folding fan of flat ribs, Zensuke of the same village receives a folding fan of black ribs, Koemon of the same village receives the Gohei and Fertilizer, and Chusaku of Toyoda Village also receives the Gohei and Fertilizer.

On December 26th, 1874, it is written that Oyasama bestowed the Sazuke on four followers: first, the Grant of Breath to Nakata; second, the Grant of Boiled Rice to Matsuo; third, the Grant of Hand Dance to Tsuji, and fourth, the Grant of the Kanrodai-Teodori to Masui. This was the beginning of the bestowal of the Sazuke to save those suffering from illness.

In this way, the number of those who received the Sazuke was extremely low. Therefore, as stated above, on February 18th, 1887, the Osashizu says:

“there was a thing I had intended to give to My children but I was not able. I shall bestow this truth on you step by step hereafter.”

What must one do to receive Sazuke? One must strive to build a “sincere mind.” It is said in the Osashizu of December 12th, 1887:

“I shall bestow the Sazuke on those who have a sincere mind.”

To build a sincere mind is a difficult task. The words “sincerity” or “sincere” are used 766 times in all Osashizu. Until 1891, they appear 389 times, more than half of the total. At that time, as many people incited to build a sincere mind, Sazuke was probably bestowed on those who lived every day in the greatest fervor.

To build a sincere mind, it seems that our predecessors used various means. For example, they were looking for sincerity by fasting, or making cold-water ablutions in winter. The pioneers of the Path who showed such an exemplary search of sincerity in suffering, as Tokichi Izumita or Yoshi Nakagawa, are too numerous for me to mention all of them.

I change the subject a little: in August of last year, Syria was condemned internationally for using chemical weapons and killing ordinary citizens, including women and children. The United States and France, among others, threatened to bomb Syria to dissuade it to use chemical weapons. At that time, the Pope, in his sermon at the Angelus of September 1st, called not only Catholics, but people of all religions, non-religious people and atheists, to fast, and to pray for peace in Syria during one day from the following Saturday to Sunday, that is to say, September 7th and 8th. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on fasting.

Fasting consists in abstaining for a given time from food or from a particular type of food. Fasting has become a common religious practice.

In Catholicism, Jesus, before proclaiming the Gospel, fasted for forty days in the desert to be tempted by the devil.

In Islam, there is a one month fasting called Ramadan, which is based on the lunar calendar. Compared to the solar calendar, this calendar is shifting gradually, so it happens that Ramadan takes place in summer. This is a terrible trial not being allowed to eat or drink all day at this time. People have to wait until the sunset. Through this experience, they renew their gratitude to God for the food and for his gifts. There are still some things to say to make know what is the suffering of those who can not feed themselves.

In Buddhism, the Buddha has accomplished so severe a fasting that he was near death. But as he could not get the serenity in his mind, he realized that mortifications were not the Path that leads to the truth. Then, in order to recover the strength his fasting had impaired, he sat meditating under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, and attained enlightenment which made him the Buddha.

Well, what about Oyasama? In 1865, Oyasama fasts for 30 days. To those around her who grow more concerned for her health, she says:

“I grow neither thin nor weak, so long as I drink water,”

then she goes to Harigabessho Village due to an heresy caused by Sukezo, and takes a very ferm attitude in response to this heresy.

Furthermore in 1872, when she was seventy-five, Oyasama fasted for 75 days, on God’s command. Immediately afterwards Oyasama said that “a separate fire and a separate pot” should be used in preparing her meals.

As can be seen, striving to build a sincere mind is very difficult for ordinary people, perhaps because it takes a lot to train.

If we could build a sincere mind, we would see daily life in pink. It would be accepted at once by Oyagami and returned at once by Oyagami.

Let us quote some excerpts from the Osashizu about sincerity:

Sincerity creates the truth of harmony between people.(1888)

Sincerity alone creates the total freedom.(June 1st, 1889)

If you constantly have true sincerity, this is total freedom.(December 25th, 1888)

If only there is sincerity in the mind of each of you, you will not take a wrong step on the path.(December 23, 1897)

The truth of the mind of sincerity is the real truth that convinces others. If you always have the mind of sincerity, it will be accepted as the truth of Heaven at once and returned at once, returned at once.(November 11th, 1888)

Sincerity is the truth of Heaven. God accepts sincerity only.(September 18th, 1888)

The principle of true sincerity of minds allows to save and to be saved.(August 1st, 1889)

In the text of Okakisage, at the time when we receive the Sazuke, the word sincerity is also used.

Daily and always, I say daily and always: sincerity alone. At first glance, people may think that the mind of sincerity is weak, but there is nothing firmer or more enduring than sincerity. Sincerity alone is the truth of heaven.

If there is the truth of sincerity alone in the mind of each of you, complete harmony will come to your families.

Those who are worthy of this admiration will enjoy my total freedom by virtue of their constant sincerity.

Now, if it is not about fasting, nor about doing our cold-water ablutions, nor mortifying our bodies, nor working hard, what should we do to build a sincere mind?

To do this, there is no method but Salvation of others. It is to be actively involved in transmitting Sazuke. To transmit Sazuke, we need not only the resolve of the sick person, but we also need the pure sincerity of the one who transmits it. Accumulating sincerity, we can access a higher level of sincerity. Now is the season for transmitting Sazuke for the 130th Anniversary of the Withdrawal of Oyasama. This is the season in which we can receive outstanding protection. The resolve of the TEC gives us a goal. And we want and must strive to achieve it.

I would like to conclude my speech with one last quote:

... Understanding the truth of single-hearted salvation is the one truth... It depends on the mind alone. Your sincerity is the virtue on which I bestow My providence of Salvation.(August 9, 1888)

Thank you for your kind attention.