Tenrikyo Europe Centre

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2018 August Monthly Service Sermon

by Mariko Hasegawa (Wife of the Head of TEC)

After the celebration for the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama successfully ended on 26th January 2016, an emphasis has been made to promote and nurture the spiritual development of the next generation. In August last year, the 25th Seminar for Successors organised by the church headquarters was held and we also held a Seminar for Successors here at the Tenrikyo Europe Centre.

Three lectures were given and attendees were divided into 5 separate groups for group work in 3 different languages, French, English, and Japanese. After the seminar, we received emails from attendees who said they felt the seminar was a good life-changing experience. Although the preparation was challenging, we were able to satisfy the request of church headquarters and in the end, I was glad that we held a successful seminar.

At the seminar, there was a memorable lecture for me that I would like to introduce.

As you may already know, this body of ours is something we are borrowing from God the Parent. The mind alone is ours. Through the free use of the mind, we are able to think and act freely. We may also do good deeds, or the complete opposite.

However, every use of the mind is recorded in our soul. Our present form may be the very result of wrongful thoughts from the past. This is what is referred to as one’s individual Joyous Life. We can understand the state of our soul by looking at our own current situation, environment, and relationship with others. Our soul goes beyond the present into the future, and our present form will be inherited by our future. In a way, we can say that our history is something we can rewrite.

When facing Joyous Life directly, Oyasama will always guide oneself in the present time. Oyasama stays beside each and every one of us and looks over us. When we continue to believe in the everliving Oyasama, we take a step in our lives towards an outlook which is known in the teachings as a mind of sincerity. Sincerity is defined as a mind that wishes to face towards Oyasama. With regards to this aspect of “a mind that faces Oyasama”, when we wonder in what way this nurtures us, I think that it is feeling a sense of familiarity with the teachings and feeling a sense of closeness to God the Parent and Oyasama.

As mentioned in the beginning, we are greatly being urged to progress with the nurturing of the successors of the path in this current season. However, we are faced with the challenging situation of passing down the faith to the next generation. The Tenrikyo teachings are forever unchanged. If there is anything that has changed, I think it is actually the minds of us who follow the faith. Even when looking back on myself, I can see that as a result of the hardship of the first and second generation, I am able to live comfortably without any difficulties.

Conversely, there are occasions when I feel too comfortable and tend to forget to be grateful of such a blessing. I would say that what is currently lacking in myself is the act of keeping a mind of gratitude.

A short while ago, a friend of mine asked me “what do you think is the opposite of gratitude?”. What do you all think about this? My friend’s take on this is that the opposite of gratitude is to take things for granted. If we can convert our tendency to take things for granted into gratitude, our lives will become plentiful. First of all, we can naturally become grateful, and be thankful that our own bodies can move naturally. We are taught that by being grateful for the things that we take for granted the most, the hurdle in our path to happiness becomes lower.

Moving on to the subject of nurturing people, it is important for effort to be made from both the person nurturing and the person being nurtured. First, to focus on the side of nurturing others, a church head minister once asked a student what kind of person would be enchanting for elderly persons who pass on knowledge to other people. The answer he received was “someone who has a belief”. “Belief” is not to simply stand by your own thoughts and opinions all the time, I believe it is to believe in the teachings robustly and to follow it through to the end. People tend to say things like “That is the last person I want to hear that from” and “Don’t you say such a thing”. In this case, I feel that more efforts must be made to help us become more open to such words.

Oyasama spoke the following words: “I can hear the words of a person who has purified his heart. But I cannot hear the words of a person who has not purified his heart.”Excerpt 176 of The Anecdotes of Oyasama: “Person with a Pure Heart (Kokoro no sunda hito)”

During the 100th general assembly of the Women’s Association (Fujinkai) in April, the Shinbashira touched on the subject of The Truth of Origin and talked about the huge effort and parental love of God the Parent at the time when human beings were created in the muddy ocean. From this, the Shinbashira stated that the great hardship that comes with guiding and nurturing people is connected to the delight of following the Divine Model.

The process of nurturing people also acts as a way of being nurtured ourselves, and allows us to gain a little more insight into the thoughts of parents, and the thoughts of God the Parent and Oyasama.

Through the path of Tenrikyo, it is the Joyous Life of each of us that has allowed us to encounter one another. I also feel that it is some kind of seed that is granted to us from God the Parent which has brought us to this path. Don’t you feel that someone has lit a fire which has started the faith for us? As people who have already been introduced to the teachings, I believe we have been assigned roles by God the Parent.

Up until now, I have talked about the perspective of people who nurture others, but I will now talk about the perspective of being nurtured. What I often notice is that when caring too much about the behaviour of people who nurture, it becomes less visible to see what one’s own behaviour should be like. I believe that listening openly is the most important quality in this case. Even when we are not able to do so, we should first think of what kind of person we strive to be, consider what we should do in order to be that person, and translate it into action. Talking about human actions is easy, but when we actually attempt them ourselves it is certainly quite difficult. I myself have also learnt many things by actually experiencing different situations. It is vital to put yourself in other people’s shoes and consider their circumstances so that you can understand the pain that they may be going through. Furthermore, as explained in the teaching of “A thing lent, a thing borrowed”, the people around us and close to us are also being lent their bodies from God the Parent. This is the case even when it concerns people we may dislike; there are things that we can only see through those people, and there are part of ourselves that we can only change through the interaction with them. It is important to firmly place this point in our minds.

As a key element of the Divine Model of Oyasama, the Second Shinbashira outlined the “Three Principles of a Yoboku”: to nurture a firm faith that is single-hearted with God, to maintain the attitude of Hinokishin at all times, and to work together in unity of mind. They are important forms of mental attitude for those who follow the teachings of Oyasama.

In his address of the closing ceremony for the 25th Seminar for Successors this time, the Shinbashira touched on these three principles as follows.

“First, regarding having a firm faith that is single-hearted with God. It means no matter what we do, we should form a practice of maintaining a mind that focusses on the teachings. Even when there are complicated areas of the teachings that we do not understand, when we think and ponder in our daily lives about where the thoughts of God the parent are and what was taught to us by Oyasama, I believe we can gradually learn from the faith that is single-hearted with God. By living with a mind that is single-hearted with God, we can solidify the foundation of the Joyous Life.

Next is the attitude of Hinokishin. Simply put, Hinokishin is the physical expression of our gratitude towards God the Parent for the blessings we receive every day. With our grateful minds towards God the Parent, we can have a sense of happiness towards anything and begin to show a bright and joyous appearance, which can also act as a form of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings to the people around us.

The third is working together in unity of mind. Contributing to the Joyous Life world which we are striving for is not a case of being successful with limited numbers of people, it goes without saying that the cooperation by the vast numbers of people through the generations has always been essential. No matter what land people stand upon, no matter what occupation they undertake, everyone unites their minds with God the Parent’s intention. While each of us work and live in various locations, our minds become united and a great power generates, which results in a sense of happiness that cannot be experienced by just one person.

After being taught something, we shouldn’t come up with a number of reasons to decide that we can or cannot do something, we should decide to do it. Whatever we see or hear we should avoid slipping into a gloomy mind and endeavour to have a bright mind, as this leads to the path that continues to the Joyous Life.

From the Ofudesaki we read:

Ponder and come to me with a firm resolved mind.
There is a path of hope for you.(5-24)

Our ancestors walked through this path that was started by Oyasama during a very difficult period in history without ever losing sight of the Divine Model of Oyasama. Now, by inheriting that faith, we will continue to follow this path. At the same time, we have been handed down the roles of this faith. I would like us to take this opportunity to make efforts in nurturing people and being nurtured by people.

Thank you very much for listening.