2014 autumn grand service sanctuary speech by Rev. Nobuhiro Kashihara

I have decided to upload a translation of Rev. Nobuhiro Kashihara’s autumn grand service sermon sanctuary speech delivered at Myodo Grand Church on October 22, 2014. It offers Tenrikyo’s very basic teachings in a unique way that I feel deserves attention outside of Myodo circles.

Note: If you are a member of Myodo and wish to read more translations of sanctuary speeches, please contact me for a link to these files. This translation is based on the transcript version appearing in the November issue of Kuroshio.  (Beginning of translation)

Aligning oneself to the peak season

“I am God of Origin, God in Truth. There is causality in this Residence. At this time I have descended here to save all humankind. I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God.”

These are the first words God the Parent spoke through the lips of our Foundress Miki Nakayama (Oyasama) that which were heard by human beings. These statements happen to sum up the core elements of the Tenrikyo teachings. These are: “God the Parent is God of Origin, who created the world and human beings in addition to being God in Truth, who provides us with the ten aspects of the complete providence.” “The Nakayama Residence (Jiba) is the place of the original causality where human beings were first conceived.” “God the Parent descended on 10/26/1838 to save the entire human race due to the promise God the Parent made at creation.” “Oyasama possesses the soul of the mother of the entire human race.”

However, the members of the Nakayama family did not understand the grand divine intention. Oyasama’s husband Zenbei refused God the Parent’s request “I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God.” Yet over three days God the Parent is finally able to persuade Zenbei to say, “I offer Miki to you.” The time was eight a.m. on 10/26/1838. It is Tenrikyo’s day of origin.

The former Shinbashira, Zenye Nakayama, in his Instruction One wrote:

“Together with the arrival of the Promised Time, we human beings were able to hear the voice of God the Parent and were taught the path of true salvation due to the resolve Zenbei made to offer Oyasama as the Shrine of God. The basis of receiving the truth of salvation lies in making a resolution.”

The teaching of true salvation began only after Zenbei made the resolution that put aside his personal and family interests. In other words, Zenbei made a resolution that was single-hearted with God. We are taught here that the basis to receive God’s blessings is to make a resolution that aligns with the peak season determined by God the Parent. Thus, it is important for us to align our minds during the three-year, one-thousand-day peak season leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama we are now being provided with.

The path that began with refusal

The day of origin of Tenrikyo is also important for one more reason. God the Parent did not unilaterally receive Oyasama as the Shrine of God but respected Zenbei’s will and asked for his consent. At first Zenbei refused. God the Parent received Oyasama as the Shrine of God only after taking three days to persuade him.

The same can be seen in the Truth of Origin. To create human beings, God the Parent summoned creatures that could be used as instruments and received their consent before proceeding any further. Here, too the instruments first refused God the Parent’s request to use them. Even at the Truth of Origin God the Parent was first refused. God the Parent then took the step to persuade the instruments to gain their consent.

It is the same in Oyasama’s Divine Model. It began with refusal and opposition from Her family, relatives, and fellow villagers. Oyasama exhausted Her sincere efforts over 20 years before She gained any followers.

In other words, the major premise of the Truth of Origin, Tenrikyo’s day of origin, and Oyasama’s Divine Model is that they all began with refusal. Even though God the Parent, being all powerful and all knowing, could have immediately received Oyasama as Shrine, God the Parent nevertheless took the step of persuading Zenbei before proceeding any further. Here, we gain insight into the fundamental spirit of how to connect and nurture others on this path.

If we think that it took Oyasama 20 years before She persuaded anyone, even if we are turned away when spreading the fragrance or find difficulty transmitting the faith to followers, their children, and even our own children, we can take comfort that we are following in the steps of Oyasama’s Divine Model.

The path of renouncing attachment

The first step Oyasama took to save the world was to fall to the depths of poverty according to God the Parent’s intention: “Fall to the depths of poverty. Unless you fall to the depths of poverty, you cannot understand what sufferers feel” (Anecdotes of Oyasama 4). Beginning with the possessions She brought with Her to the Nakayama family when She got married, She gave away food, clothes, money, fields, the storehouse, and Her home. In fact, you could say Oyasama spent 25 years of Her 50-year Divine Model in the depths of poverty. Of course, Oyasama Herself did not consider this a path of “hardship.” It was all undertaken to save humanity. This does not mean we simply follow Oyasama and fall to the depths of poverty ourselves. In The Songs for the Service, we sing:

Looking into all minds of the world,

I find greed intermingled.

If you have greed, cast it away!

Because God cannot accept it.

We are taught our mind of greed and attachment stops us from living the Joyous Life. For this reason, it is explained: “She taught that by giving generously to the needy and renouncing attachment to material things, one will surely become brightened in mind and, once the mind has become brightened, the path to the Joyous Life will open up by itself” (The Life of Oyasama, Chapter Three).

We are taught that renouncing our greed of material possessions and money in addition attachment to rank, position in society, honor, and family background, opens the path of the Joyous Life.

The second Shinbashira Shozen Nakayama also explained: “Oyasama began the path from nothing. However, this is not the objective. The objective is the Joyous life. Oyasama started with nothing because to live the Joyous Life we must start with nothing. To give a comparison, when we take a bath, we take off our clothes. Becoming naked is not the objective. The objective is to take a bath and feel good.”

As this explanation tells us, falling to the depths of poverty is not the objective. The objective is to renounce attachment. In other words, we follow Oyasama’s Divine Model of falling to the depths of poverty when we engage in acts that renounce detachment.

For instance, when we make contributions. Money is the root of attachment. Donating this money that is precious to us to God the Parent means to let the money go. That is, it is renouncing attachment. When we donate money or anything that is precious to us, we are following a small part of Oyasama’s Divine Model of falling to the depths of poverty.

Further, all of you today who have come here to worship today are donating your precious time to God the Parent. The same goes when you return to Jiba, engage in hinokishin at your churches, or take part in anything dedicating your time to the path. You are renouncing attachment. This is also amounts to following Oyasama’s Divine Model. The same goes when you exert your mind for others and polishing your mind. Giving priority to others over oneself also amounts to renouncing attachment. These acts amount to following the Divine Model of falling to the depths of poverty.

In other words, we learn that as long as we seriously practice our faith, we are following in the steps of Oyasama’s Divine Model. A person who wants 10,000 yen is not very happy to receive 5,000 yen. Yet a person who wants 1,000 yen will jump for joy at receiving 5,000 yen. We can freely accept anything with joy and gratitude if we can decrease our greed. Oyasama’s exemplary Model of falling to the depths of poverty teaches that renouncing attachment allows our minds to be reborn into minds of the Joyous Life that brim with happiness and gratitude.

With a mind of joyous acceptance

In this present peak season leading up the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, the Shinbashira Zenji Nakayama set forth in Instruction Three:

“Greed is fathomless like muddy water. When your mind is completely purified, Then comes paradise.

Mikagura-uta X:4

If only the mind is purified completely, there will be nothing but delight in everything.

Ofudesaki XIV:50

These verses tell us that the Joyous Life is also a way of living that entails purifying the mind.”

The Shinbashira seeks us to purify the mind. Purifying the mind amounts to sweeping dust from the mind. We accumulate dust by using the eight forms of dust that go against God the Parent’s intention. Accumulating dust clouds our minds and makes our minds less spirited and joyful. That is why God the Parent taught us the path of purifying the mind by urging us to sweep away the dust daily through the performing the Service and engaging in hinokishin and salvation work.

This purified mind is the mind of the Joyous Life that can find joy and gratitude in any situation. This amounts to the teaching of joyous acceptance. The Divine Directions explains joyous acceptance as follows:

Transforming a dissatisfying situation into the object of joyous acceptance—first settling what is hard to settle—is true sincerity, I say. It is also repentance for causality from previous lives, I say.

Osashizu, July 14, 1897

As it says above, joyous acceptance amounts to repentance for our causality from previous lives. The physical and circumstantial knots that befall us are manifestations of the dust we accumulated from present and previous lifetimes. Once we gain the insight that these knots are expressions of God the Parent’s parental love that urges our spiritual maturity, we can be thankful and joyful of any situation and achieve joyous acceptance. There is no error in this teaching, including the teaching that dissatisfaction is the truth that cuts. Also in The Divine Directions:

Accepting your hardship joyously is joyous acceptance. You can accumulate virtue, I say. I accept it, I say. Listen and understand this one thing. There is nothing to be concerned about.

Osashizu, March 6, 1895

Just as it says above, once we awaken that these knots are manifestations of our personal causality and find joy in a joyless situation, God the Parent will regard our efforts as joyous acceptance and allow us to accumulate virtue. This is a teaching that gives us a ray of hope in dissatisfying and disheartening situations. But it precisely because achieving joyous acceptance is difficult that it becomes a source of accumulating much virtue. We can then understand why our predecessors taught things such as “Force yourself to rejoice” and “Rejoice even in situations that make you cry.”

In Anecdotes of Oyasama there is a story about a follower who woke up in the middle of the night to discover a burglar had broken in. His prompt response to the noise prevented the burglar from taking anything. When he went to thank Oyasama that nothing had been stolen, She told him, “Would it not be much better to let the people who need them have them?” (Anecdotes of Oyasama 39). This path teaches us to think about what makes others rejoice. We must gain the insight that having something stolen is to have the burglar take away our bad causality. We are taught to rejoice and be thankful to the burglar for taking away our bad causality instead. In other words, this is the degree to which God the Parent seeks us to change our minds so we can rejoice. When we make efforts not to complain and rejoice in joyless situations with joyous acceptance, we receive precious virtue from God the Parent that reduces large misfortunes into smaller ones and small misfortunes into nothing at all. This is a path that teaches salvation is possible just by the use of our mind alone.

Salvation efforts amount to the best way to accumulate virtue

This three-year, one-thousand-day peak season leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama is a special season that allows us to make further strides toward spiritual growth and receive more blessings than usual. The Shinbashira urges us to make salvation efforts during this season. Oyasama said: “It is neither money nor material things. If you are happy because you have been saved, then with that joy go out to save people who are praying to be saved. That is the best way to repay the favor. Strive courageously for the salvation of others” (Anecdotes of Oyasama 72). Oyasama teaches us here that salvation efforts amount to the best way to repay God for the blessings we receive and the best way to accumulate virtue.

This is why it is vital for us to engage in any salvation efforts we can. Such efforts will allow us to spiritually grow by leaps and bounds and save us. This is what is meant by the teaching “Through saving others, you will be saved.” May we use the time remaining in this three-year, one-thousand-day lead-up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama always striving to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model and make further salvation efforts together with joy and spiritedness.