Tenrikyo Europe Centre

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2019 August Monthly Service Sermon

by Mariko Hasegawa (Wife of the Head of TEC)

As everyone is most likely aware, next year, 2020, the 110th anniversary of the Tenrikyo Women’s Association will take place.

On April 19th, a convention will be held to commemorate the anniversary in the courtyard of the Church Headquarters at the Jiba.

In view of the commemoration, our Association organised a Pep rally in different parts of the world. In Europe, events took place on June 7th in the Netherlands and on June 8th at the Tenrikyo Europe Center.

Thanks to everyone’s efforts the rally went very well and I thank those who participated with all my heart.

In April of this year, I was fortunate enough to return to Jiba to participate in the General Assembly of the Women’s Association.

As you are aware, the Shimbashira is currently convalescing.

And as a result, was unable to honour us with his presence this year.

I was of course aware of this in advance but on the day of the event I became extremely sad even though the president of our Association as well as other prestigious guests were present.

It was at this time that I realised that the presence of the Shimbashira, who usually spoke at the Assembly, was more precious to me than I had thought.

At this General Assembly, the President preached the following:

“[...]The Joyous life is possible if we regularly sweep our mental dust, and if we save others with the pure sincerity of our hearts”

She then explained how to sweep away our mental dust:

“To purify our hearts, we must sweep away our mental dust through the teachings. It is also important to have a heart that is ready to save others and is capable of moving forward to save them. The service and the Sazuke are therefore the most important of practices [...]”

It is accordingly through the practice of the service and the Sazuke, with the sincere desire to save others, that the mental dust will be swept from our heart. The act of saving is possible even if we have not received the Sazuke and at whatever age and in all circumstances of daily life. When we engage in this act, we think more of others that we do of ourselves and selfishness disappears from our heart. It is this state of mind that will please Oyagami and that allows us to understand the true meaning of the Divine word: “By saving others, you yourself will be saved.”

One evening, when I had just finished cleaning the sanctuary at this Center, i was installing the lamp in front of the altar, checking that it was correctly placed in the center.

In general I only needed 2 or 3 tries before placing it in the right position but on this particular day I found it very difficult to position it correctly. As I tried to find the reason, I looked down at my feet: it was me who was in the wrong position as I was misaligned with the centre of the altar !

Another evening when I was practising the 12 hymns of the sacred dance in this same sanctuary, I did so with my eyes completely closed throughout. At the end when I opened my eyes, I was in a completely different position to when I had started and I was no longer in front of the altar.

I reflected on all this: despite my good will, had my short-sighted ideas disoriented me in my faith ? Rather than following the teachings, was I instead interpreting entirely in my own way, allowing my feelings to take precedence ? It was as if Oyagami had warned me. As my attitude did not conform to the divine will, I needed to correct it.

Here is the lesson that these events taught me: I must always conform to the will of Oyagami, question my actions, and not just behave as I please.

To attain spiritual maturity, the Tenrikyo Women's Association has the following motto:

“Let’s follow the divine model of Oyasama and become the foundation of the Joyous life !”

At the last General Assembly, Mr Yoichirô MIYAMORI, General Director of the cult at the Church Headquarters, spoke about this motto and he explained the activities of our Association.

In the Osashizu dated May 16th 1900, the following phrase is written:

“Kindness is the foundation of the world as it cultivates men's minds.”

If you look at “the world” from all the angles of interpersonal relationships, it can be divided into different worlds with varied dimensions:

The relationship of a couple (which is the smallest human relationship), that of parents & children, between members of the family, that with neighbours, relatives, towns, countries & the entire world.

In all relationships and at all levels, kindness is always fundamental. Let’s say that it is the foundation of the Joyous life. The goal for members of the Women’s Association to strive for consists not only in following the Model of Oyasama until the end but also becoming the foundation of the Joyous life on all levels. This means to become like parents who embrace others through their kindness.

In his speech he also evoked the way in which we should seek to follow the Model of Oyasama, and the fact that certain people, when comparing themselves with her, feel they cannot live up to it. I also sometimes feel this way.

I would like to speak about a personal experience: when I returned to Japan in April this year, I was able to meet with a friend that I have known for many years.

This friend previously suffered from a very serious illness. It was this situation that allowed me to entirely change my heart, through praying for his recovery.

I was born in a religious family, dating back to my grandparents. I held faith in Tenrikyo as it was my parent’s wish. However, when confronted with my friend’s illness, I resolved to follow the Path through my own will.

In other words, I entered into my own faith, whereas up until that moment I had only “inherited” the faith of my parents.

For me, it was birth of my true faith. This year, when I saw this friend again at Jiba, I felt encouraged to return to the point of my departure.

Thanks to his recovery, I felt God was closer to me. I’m therefore convinced that it was my own heart that was saved through my prayers for others.

For you I think there is this time where you have been saved or time when you will resolve to nurture your faith.

“Following the model” could seem too difficult for you in practice. But in my opinion, it’s just a matter of reminding yourself daily of the resolution you’ve made to enter the faith: by making the joy of being saved into the joy of saving others, you will get get there, and this I wish for you with all my heart.

At the monthly service in April at Church Headquarters, the Shimbashira entered in the sanctuary in front of the Kagura.

As he advanced slowly, all those present applauded softly with quiet exclamations of joy. I was deeply moved by his presence, even though I could only see him from a distance.

Facing the test of the “Parent” of all followers, what should we as “children” of the Path now do ?

In view of the commemorative Assembly of the Women’s Association and of the 50th anniversary of the TEC, we must all strive to carry out the monthly service with greater care, with the spirit of saving others. For yoboku, one must never forget to administer the Sazuke.

This allows us to please God, so much so that we will be saved ourselves. I’m entirely convinced of this.

With regards to the commemorative Assembly next year, I would like for as many members as possible to return to Jiba. Finally, not only through the Assembly but also through the 50th anniversary of the TEC, please progress as much as possible to attain spiritual maturity.

I thank you for your attention