2020 August Monthly Service Sermon
by Michihiro Kiyose (Chief of Europe and Africa Section)
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
My name is Michihiro KIYOSE. At the end of March, I became the Chief of the Europe-Africa Section of the Tenrikyô Overseas department.
Earlier today, we performed the Tenrikyo Europe Center (TEC) Monthly Service for August in unison of hearts and in a very happy atmosphere, which I rejoice in from the bottom of my heart. I take this opportunity to express to you all my sincere thanks for the daily work that you each devote to the Path according to your respective circumstances in life.
As I have been assigned to deliver the speech today, please give me your attention for a moment. I should have been physically present at the TEC to speak directly to you, but we decided to offer the speech today on Zoom. Please excuse me in advance if you have any trouble hearing me.
In my speech, let us focus our attention on an important aspect of human existence. This is the "heart" that we use every day. I will also evoke some teachings or principles of Tenrikyô relating to the human heart.
In everyday life, each of us develops ideas in our minds to adapt to various situations, and then take action. And it is the heart that plays a pivotal role in the unfolding and development of our daily life.
In Tenrikyo, the term "heart" is used in various instances and situations. Of the teachings relating to the heart, the one that is most familiar to me is the principle of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed". It is said in Osashizu, Divine Direction:
The heart of man is a loan from God, but his heart is his alone. Everything that comes out and happens as the days progress comes only from one heart.(Osashizu, February 14, 1889)
For Oyagami, the body is something lent to humans, and for them, it is a loan they receive from Oyagami. The heart is the only thing of their own. As it is by looking at and recognizing their hearts that Oyagami manifests protection, the human heart is the foundation upon which not only all their actions are founded, but also their entire life. Whether the "Joyous life" is accomplished or, on the contrary, prevented or hindered, it depends precisely on this heart.
The principle of "a thing lent, a thing borrowed" is the very foundation of the Tenrikyô religion doctrine. I think it is no exaggeration to say that without understanding this principle, we always remain ignorant of the core of the faith.
It goes without saying that we owe our life to God. And thanks to Oyasama, we know that we can move freely, fully benefiting from the protective functions of God including moods and warmth: breathing through our mouths, looking with our eyes, listening to the Teachings with our ears, smelling with our nose, speaking with our mouth, working with our hands and coming to worship by moving our legs. We believe we understand the principle of "a thing borrowed" in theory, but who among us has a real understanding of this principle in its daily practice? Who is convinced that their life is only possible thanks to God?
It is also taught that "the whole world is the body of God". It means that we human beings are part of this body of God. We lead our existence with a body that belongs to the universe of God and with a heart that is all ours. The rule, so to speak, which applies to bind the body and the heart, translates into the following principle: "the protection of God according to the measure of the heart". This means that the protection of Oyagami manifesting in this world is a reflection of the hearts of men. I think there is no clearer rule than that.
It is said in the Ofudesaki, written with the divine brush:
Everything that is in everyone's heart,
I clearly show it on the body.
Anyone who sees it will be able to see for themselves
to cleanse his heart in truth.(Ofudesaki, XII, 171 and 172)
Here is the explanation. Whether good or bad, God causes a sign to appear on the body according to the disposition of our heart. It is through this sign that he sends to us, that we receive feedback on how we use our heart and how we seek to get rid of the dust or dirt present in it.
You certainly know that the term "dust" refers to the self-centered disposition of the human heart. Since the human body is a loan that each of us receives from God, it is necessary to use it with great care. Now, when men allow the dust to accumulate by deviating in the use of their hearts, a sign, represented by disease, appears on the body, in the image of his words spoken by God: "mental dust is the cause of the damage to the body." (Ofudesaki, V, 9). However, it is never a punishment from God, but a sign that a call is being sent to men to cleanse their hearts. In other words, it is a message or a warning that God sends to humans in his deep desire to save them.
In what way then should we use our heart, a heart which is entirely at our disposal? First of all, it's only natural, isn't it, that the use of something should be in accordance with the will of its owner? But what is the will of the owner of the human body, in this case the God? God lends us a body with the desire to see us lead the Joyous life. Since this is so, it is very important, it seems to me, to use our hearts for this purpose, and more concretely to save others. The heart ready to save others is what God expects the most from us. The ideal is to constantly orient our "antenna" to come in aid of those in need as quickly as possible, to talk to them about the protection of God, and to administer the Sazuke to them if we are yôboku; then the people who have been saved will go and save other people in order to express their joy at having received salvation. Thus, a circle of Salvation will expand around us.
Then, another disposition of the heart that it is important to cultivate in us is the attitude of tannô. But what does this mean? Generally speaking, men tend to darken their hearts and lament when something inconvenient or unwanted happens to them; on the contrary however, they let their joy abound when a desirable event occurs or when a favorable situation appears. However, just as there is nothing good or bad about the rains that fall from the sky, in the sense that all rain is a gift from God, any pleasant and unpleasant situation can be transformed into a source of joy and satisfaction through the strength of faith. It is precisely this attitude which is called tannô and which the faithful of the Path try to adopt. Everything that happens around us is carried out according to the Law of Heaven, in other words, all phenomenon is a reflection of the will of God. It is therefore important to read this divine will, and then to assimilate it. We just have to base our life on the Law of Heaven. Whatever we see and listen to, we accept everything with joy. This is the important attitude to cultivate in us. If the attitude of tannô becomes anchored in us, nothing is the object of our suffering any longer, and there will be only overflowing joy in our heart.
Now I ask you a question. What does the body receive? Is it the heart? That could be. But what does a body receive on each new return to this world is that something eternal that lies deep within man, namely his soul. By borrowing a body, the soul activates and then activates the heart, or if you prefer, mental activity. This lifelong mental activity of man imprints a different mark from the imprints left in his previous lives. I think that if his heart and his way of life conform to the divine will, the soul grows bright and receives more virtues from God.
On the contrary, if one goes against the divine will, the soul will become more and more impoverished by losing virtue. When you give up your body, when you take your last breath, your heart stops working. The soul is then enveloped in Oyagami's womb while it returns to this world with a new body from it. There you have it, the teaching on denaoshi.
What is true Salvation according to the Teaching? What does it consist of ? Salvation is not aimed only at the cure of a disease, but it is, in its end, at the change of the heart. Even if the disease goes away for a while after medical treatment, it lasts as long as one persists with the wrong heart. The “Salvation of the Heart” is completed when the heart regains its clarity by getting rid of the dust. When our heart is saved, everything around us becomes the object of joy.
To change the heart is to cleanse the heart of its dust in order to be in conformity with the divine will and to be ready to save others. It is taught that one saves oneself by saving others. Let us become more attentive to those around us who are suffering from various problems to give them our help and support.
Finally, it is also important to watch the use of our words since they are expressions of our heart. It is said in an anecdote about the life of Oyasama: “Sometimes one word is enough. Sometimes it only takes one controlled breath for peace to reign at home. (Anecdote 137) Words coming out of a pure heart can serve to bind people together, but on the contrary words coming out of a cloudy / defiled heart risk damaging and severing their bonds. Changing our hearts doesn't happen overnight. I therefore suggest that you adjust your words so that they can give joy, reassure and support others. The more you try to use kind and respectful words, the brighter and brighter your heart will become.
As I speak to you and you listen to me now, our hearts continue to beat relentlessly thanks to Oyagami's protection. The same goes for all the other organs and functions in our body. We can move our hands and legs as we please. How gratifying! Let us become more aware of the greatness of the divine protection which makes our body function and witness our feeling of thanks for living each day with a heart overflowing with joy.
Allow me to completely change the subject of my speech.
As I told you, I work at the Tenrikyô Overseas Department. A year ago, at the beginning of March, the department changed its premises. Some of you may be familiar with the old premises, with buildings separated from each other, causing inconvenience not only to visitors but also to the staff themselves. However, after the move, all sections and the TLI language school came together in one building, making our work more functional and comfortable. This has produced another beneficial effect: members of the leadership team have more opportunities to see and talk to each other, and they feel more united. I find it so rewarding.
Currently, due to the coronavirus crisis, various activities and programs have been canceled. However, every day we strive to do everything possible despite these conditions. I cannot help but hope that the situation will clear up as soon as possible and that conditions will improve to once again welcome people from all parts of the world.
Regarding the mission center under the Overseas Department and its role, I invite you to refer to the words of Mr. Shimbashira pronounced during the commemorative celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Tenrikyô Center in Oceania: "The center of mission is not a simple administrative body of the Mother Church or of the Overseas department, but it must serve as a central place where all followers, regardless of the church to which they belong, can to converge their prayers for the development of the Path in each territory. "
I also think that the mission center has the task of becoming a place of support for all followers who are far from Jiba, a place through which they can express their attachment to Jiba and converge their ardent prayers. I would find it wonderful if the mission centers could serve as a shuttle between God and followers, when the situation does not allow them to return to Jiba.
Next month, TEC celebrates the 51st anniversary of its founding. The celebration should have been held last year, but due to the pandemic that has persisted for a year, it has been postponed.
When TEC opened 51 years ago, I was only 7 years old. If I think about it that way, the time that has elapsed seems very, very long to me. But during these 51 years, everyone attached to the TEC has each brought their sincerity and the "stick" has continued to be passed from one generation to another, to continue to this day. What the Shimbashira does not fail to evoke during the commemorative celebration of a Tenrikyo center is the importance of continuing the maturation of the spirit by remembering the feelings experienced by people when the center was founded and keeping in mind the resolve to God on this day of celebration.
The current situation of the health crisis shown to us by God can be compared to a disease that has arisen in the human body. Just as we realize the importance of health when we are sick, this time we realized that the so-called "normal" situation we enjoyed before was not trivial. I think that, from now on, the more widespread the vaccination against Covid is, the more our life will resume its course as before. In the meantime, please continue what you can do under such restrictive conditions, and let's start thinking about how to always work with ardor and passion as soon as we return to normalcy.
With the postponement of the TEC celebration, you have certainly redoubled your efforts in scaling up your goal for the maturation of spirit. Some of you may think the task was well done, while others regret that you did not come to the end of your efforts. However, you still have one month left before the celebration. During this month, please think more of God, and continue your steps to show, on the day of the celebration, your work of spiritual maturation through the performance of Service.
Whether the Tenrikyo Europe Center becomes a joyful place or not depends on your will and your actions. I will end my words by also wishing that the TEC becomes a place where all those who gather there bring their hearts together in harmony so that they can all flourish together.
Thank you very much for your attention.