2015-12 Spreading the Teachings

December 2015 Monthly Service Prayer

Appearing before you, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, settled in this shrine, I, Rev. Wesley Mikuni, head minister of Taiheiyo Church, representing the congregation, pray with utmost devotion.

God the Parent, out of your desire to begin a world that did not exist, you gathered instruments from the muddy seas and through extensive efforts, formed the models of the first couple. Entering their bodies, you taught them the providence for creating new life, and have nurtured our growth through the many stages of our evolution.

You have provided us with a fitting biosphere, which not only sustains our lives, but also provides everything necessary for us to enjoy life to it’s fullest. Despite this, the evils of mankind’s self-centered thinking such as greed, arrogance, and hatred, have resulted in widespread conflicts and suffering throughout the world, and throughout our history.

Out of your deep concern for all your children you entered this world, and through the body of Oyasama, explained the truth of the creation of human beings; taught us about the nature of causes and effects; and showed us through Oyasama’s example how to live spiritedly by helping and saving others.

Today is the day we have been granted to conduct the Monthly Service of this church. We, the service performers and the congregation, pray earnestly to you, to sweep the evils from the minds of all mankind, and to purify their hearts.

Just as the Kanrodai has been recently reinstalled and now stands shining with a new brilliance and purity, let us also stand tall with renewed energy and enthusiasm to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model; and we ask for your help to spread the teachings to more and more people of the world.

Believing in the origin, and with your special prayer to save all mankind, we now pray to you for these blessings.

DECEMBER 2015 SERMON

Thank you all for that festive and unified performance of the Service. Your unselfish prayers for the salvation of others, and your uplifted hearts and spirits have surely reached the heavens, have been accepted by God the Parent, and shall return back to us in the form of worldwide blessings. I would like to ask for your kind attention for a few minutes.

We are now just one month away from celebrating the 130 Anniversary of Oyasama. As the Shinbashira states in Instruction Three, “The significance of observing the anniversaries of Oyasama is to respond to Her boundless parental love with decisiveness.”

Responding with decisiveness. This can mean different things to different people. For some it may mean seeking a higher level of spirituality, and for others it could be breaking bad habits. Maybe it’s planning a trip to Tenri next year, making a vow to administer the Sazuke a certain number of times, learning to dance the Teodori, or making monetary donations to commemorate the significant year.

For myself, it was the decision to succeed our respective churches during this seasonable time. Incidentally, as I mentioned earlier in the service prayer, the new Kanrodai was installed during the time I went to Ojiba in October. I’ll never forget the feeling of performing the seated service just after receiving the Head Minister’s Grant, in front of the brand new Kanrodai. The new wood was very white and pure compared to the brown color I’d been used to seeing. It was very sublime.

But the Shinbashira goes on to instruct that this is the time to enhance awareness of being a Yoboku, and to accomplish genuine work while striving to follow the Divine Model. But what is “genuine work?” Well, for Yoboku, presumably it means spreading the teachings and doing salvation work.

Even for those who are not Yoboku, reading this Instruction might inspire them to make a commitment to take a pilgrimage to Tenri; to perhaps make a pledge to attend a Besseki Lecture; and even to make a vow to eventually become a Yoboku so that they can actively participate in saving others through the Sazuke.

In Tenrikyo, we often make references to “the salvation of all people throughout the world”, or “the world of the Joyous Life.” Of course we understand this to mean the ideal situation where everyone on earth is aware of the Parent of origin; realizes that we are all one family; purifies their minds; puts others before themselves; and lives together spiritedly by helping one another.

Needless to say these are lofty goals.  I’m an accountant, so I like to analyze things by the numbers. There are 7.2 billion people on earth versus about 2 million estimated Tenrikyo followers in the world today. That’s a mere 0.028 percent of the global population. That’s still hard to figure in your head. But what that means is that there is one Tenrikyo follower for every 3,600 people in the world.

In Hawaii, we may be a little more fortunate, thanks to the great efforts of the previous generations of missionaries, including our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. So let’s say it’s about one in every 3,000 people in Hawaii. Just calculating mathematically, in order to get everyone in the State to hear about Tenrikyo, each follower would have to sprinkle the fragrance on someone, and to a different person each day, every single day, for a period of 8 years. But if we take a little more relaxed pace – say we introduce the teachings to one new person every week – then it takes almost 60 years. Of course this is not considering the projected increase in the population.

These are huge, and seemingly impossible numbers. However, because the goal is so out of reach, doesn’t mean we just give up and not do anything. Instead, we need to set our targets even higher. E.g., An archer always aims higher than the target in order to hit the mark.

Let’s challenge ourselves to spread the word of Tenrikyo to as many people as we can in our daily lives. How do we go about doing it?

  1. Our families: In theory the easiest, and yet perhaps the most difficult. Our families know us best, and by performing the daily services they can see and even participate in the services.
  1. Our friends & co-workers: Although we don’t want to over-impose our beliefs onto our colleagues and acquaintances, if we just look around, we see that there are a lot of people close to us that are going through hard times. Many times it’s illnesses, but it could be the loss of a job, damaged relationships, difficulty with children, etc. The Instruction Three teaches “If we find people who are suffering from illness or other problems, let us first pray for a solution, speak proactively to them, and reach out to them.” So we need to break out of our comfort zone and approach them. I simply say that in Tenrikyo we have a healing touch prayer, and that I’d like to offer that prayer to the person who has an illness. Some people decline and others accept, but in most cases, people are curious so even if you don’t get to convey the teachings, there is a good chance that they might Google “Tenrikyo” to find out more.
  1. Door-to-door nioigake & kamina-nagashi. I understand this is not for everyone and, admittedly, I can probably count on my hands the number of times I’ve done it myself.  However, I think there are benefits to engaging in these “traditional” forms of propagation, and it is something that I would like to eventually do as a periodic church activity, but I’d like to have it organized, and with sufficient participation.  We will work on planning activities as we progress through the 130th anniversary year.
  1. We live in an age now where technology and social media dominates the transmission of information. As I mentioned earlier, if we plant a seed then people can take it upon themselves to find information on Tenrikyo on the internet. In this way we can conceivably reach hundreds or maybe even thousands of people without stepping foot outside our doors.  I have been using Facebook to convey daily messages of Thanks for the use of our incredible bodies. I have also created a blog (website) at www.taiheiyochurch.com.  I encourage you to check it out, and to use it as a tool.  If you feel uncomfortable talking about the teachings to others, just direct them to www.taiheiyochurch.com and they can read through the blogs to get an understanding of the teachings.  Some day I’d like to see it hit the 3,000 visitor mark!

When Oyasama said she would open the portals and rush out to level the ground, to save all people throughout the world, what were the followers thinking? How could they comprehend a statement like that? Being all over the world, saving people…at the same time? Maybe they thought that she would become a spirit, or someone once suggested that maybe she turned into light energy, because light can travel long distances very quickly.  In this, the age of technology, the answer might be the internet! Through the worldwide web, Oyasama’s teachings, her life, her stories, and thus, her spirit, can theoretically be accessed by millions of people, simultaneously, and purify the minds of people all over the world. Sounds far fetched but even the word “portal” is the same word used to describe the point of access to the internet…think about it.

So there are many ways to spread the teachings, and I leave it up to you to decide what works best for you, but the important thing is making an effort. Please do not worry about the response you get. It’s up to God if the timing is right for that person to accept the teachings or not. Our job is simply to sprinkle the fragrance on as many people as possible. If all of us continue to do it regularly, people in the community will hear about Tenrikyo more often & eventually they shall be drawn to the church.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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Taiheiyo Church

I am a fourth generation American of Japanese descent. My great-grandfather immigrated to Hawaii in 1907, and founded Taiheiyo Church in 1931. My grandfather became the 2nd head minister in 1956, and my father succeeded him as the 3rd head minister in 1981. On November 7, 2015, I was installed as the 4th head minister.

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