April 2016 Monthly Service Prayer
Appearing before You, God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, residing in this shrine, I, Rev. Wesley Mikuni, head minister of Taiheiyo Church, representing the congregation, pray to You with reverence.
God of Origin, You created this world and human beings out of the desire to see our joyous life. We cannot fathom Your unlimited powers to assemble the necessary instruments in order to create the prototypes of man and woman, nor the tremendous effort exerted to ensure life continued and advanced over the countless ages.
Human beings evolved with the mistaken belief that the key to survival and prosperity is to put oneself before others. Consequently, we have further distanced ourselves from the goal of the joyous life with each successive generation.
Fearing our dreadful and dangerous path, You appeared in this world at the promised time, to teach us about our original causality and our purpose for being. We are now living each day in accordance with Your divine intention, and spreading this joy by conveying the teachings and helping one another.
Today we celebrate the month marking the birthdate of our beloved Oyasama. 218 years ago on April 18th, 1798, Oyasama’s soul, which was the same as that of the original mother of humankind, was reborn into this world for the final time. As Your living shrine, Oyasama revealed the truth of our borrowed bodies; the aspects of the divine providence that sustain our lives; the connection between our minds and our bodies; and also the way to achieve salvation through the performance of the Service. Now, through the truth of Her everliving soul, Oyasama continues to guide and nurture us on the path of spiritual maturity.
On this day, we followers of the faith have gathered at Taiheiyo Church to perform the monthly Service and pray for world peace. As we return our minds to the origin and cheerfully conduct the service, we hope that our spirited performance will also bring joy to You and the everliving Oyasama.
On behalf of the congregation, I sincerely pray that You bless our brothers and sisters throughout the world, sweeping away the mental dusts from our minds so that we can quickly put an end to all suffering and live forever in peaceful harmony.
Oyasama’s Birthday (Sermon)
Good morning and thank you all for praying so earnestly during the performance of the service. Each one of you has helped us move one step closer to the joyous life world desired by Tsukihi, and I’m sure you have brought happiness to our Parent and to Oyasama.
Did some of us catch ourselves nodding off any time during the service? Let’s try to get a good night’s rest the night before as we don’t want to come in to service sleepy. The service is not a short one, and the music is soothing, but if we follow the meaning and sing along spiritedly, then we simply lose track of time.
I was watching the Merrie Monarch Festival the other week. My wife loves hula and keeps saying she wants to go the Big Island to experience it one day, but as much as I admire the dancers and their discipline to prepare for such a prestigious event….Incidentally, the Teodori reminds me of hula dancing (the traditional hula Kahiko) because there is a religious aspect, and also because the hands portray the meaning of the melodies and are windows to the dancers’ souls. Oyasama said, “Hands that are limp portray a mind that is undisciplined.” She taught that, “These are songs of truth, so you must not just dance, but dance the truth. Through this service one’s life can be renewed; so important is this service.” When I dance the Teodori, I think of the concentration of those hula dancers and try to focus in the same manner.
But as I was saying, even though I respect the commitment of the hula dancers, I find myself getting a little tired watching after 20 to 30 minutes. The reason, I think, is because I don’t understand the meaning of the songs; therefore, I’m lost, and guessing, but cannot grasp the story or message being conveyed. The same can be said of the Service. If we don’t understand the meaning and the message, then this service may seem very long and monotonous. It’s so important though, because we’re taught that this is the way to settle this world and bring peace to the world. This is why we need to study the scriptures and the Life of Oyasama to really deepen our faith and come closer to the mind of God. I can assure you that once you begin to know the parental heart, revealed through the words of the mikagura-uta or songs for the service, you will not get sleepy during the service.
No sooner than we had observed the 130th anniversary of Oyasama than we are now celebrating Her 219th birthday. By American standards She would have been 218 years old; however, in feudal Japan, a baby was already a year old when they were born, and would become two years old the following January 1st. So in the extreme case, a baby born on December 31 would be considered two years old even though they were really only two days old!
I tried to look up historical events in 1798, the year Oyasama was born, to get a sense of what the world was like at that time. Sadly, many of the “notable” events recorded had to do with wars and battles over territory or power. People fighting to get more land, more power, more of everything than they need really. This is the epitome of arrogance, greed, and self-centeredness. A few examples of what happened in 1798 include the following:
• The French army invades Rome & removes the Pope from power, creating the birth of the Roman Republic.
• The re-formation of the US Department of the Navy & the US Marine Corps.
• The Irish Rebellion against British rule begins. The British kill about 500 Irish insurgents at the Battle of Tara & other battles follow.
• The Quasi-war, fought at sea, between US and France.
• Napoleon’s fleet reaches Egypt and wins the Battle of Pyramids.
• The British defeat the French at the Battle of Nile.
• British Honduras beats Spain in the Battle of St George.
Also a few interesting firsts for the United States:
• The first direct US federal tax on states is levied – on dwellings, land and slaves.
• The first recorded bank robbery occurs in the US: Bank of Pennsylvania robbed of $163,000.
Yes, this was a time of wars and conflicts throughout the world. It was just a few decades prior, in 1776 when the American Revolution took place and the US declared its independence from Great Britain.
Meanwhile, in Japan, this era falls under the Edo period, also known as the Tokugawa period under the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the country’s 300 regional daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order and stability, isolationist foreign policies, and popular enjoyment of arts and culture.
Oyasama’s life prior to becoming the Shrine of Tsukihi, God the Parent, is not documented in a lot of detail. We know that She was very matured, intelligent, and kind-hearted from a young age. We know that She married into the Nakayama family, to husband Zenbei Nakayama, at the age of 13, and that She was a devoted wife and mother. Of course no one, even Miki Nakayama herself, could have foreseen the turn of events that would follow the fateful day of October 26, 1838.
The path to the joyous life originated from Oyasama, as is made clear in the Divine Directions (Osashizu) on January 8, 1888:
“She was not a well-known person. She was just an ordinary person on a farm, a woman who knew nothing. She was no one special. But understand well the truth that it was She who taught the ultimate teaching.” The ultimate teaching is of course this teaching that will provide salvation to everyone in the world.
Fast forward to today. People read the news headlines and think that the world is going downhill. With the advances in technology and media, we know instantly when there is a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, a war breaking out, a plane crash, or an earthquake. Anything bad that happens anywhere in the world is funneled through the Internet and across the globe in a matter of minutes. And most of what makes “news” is bad news. So bombarded with all the bad news, it’s not unnatural for the average person to think that things are getting worse and worse. Some doomsday believers get all riled up and want to convince people that the end of the world is upon us. With the advent of the atomic bomb and nuclear weapons, there is a real possibility of mass annihilations; however, surely common sense will prevent things from escalating out of control.
The point I was trying to get at was that even if things seem to be getting worse because of the instant news we get on our phones each day, the numbers – I did say before I was a numbers guy – the numbers, say the opposite is true. Ever since 1946, which was the peak of worldwide deaths due to the 2nd world war, the number of battle-related deaths has declined very significantly, from 500,000 in 1950 to about 50,000 per year in recent years. Now 50,000 per year is still a lot, but you can see by this statistic that we are living in a much more peaceful world now than we were 70 years ago. Not only that, if you go back 400 years, the numbers have fallen.
I take this to mean that looking at the world, as a whole, the minds of mankind are slowly being purified through the workings of God the Parent and the everliving Oyasama, and so many people working and praying for peace. How much is attributable to the Service being performed throughout the world, we can’t really measure through human means, but that’s our own limitation. The mind of God differs from the mind of human beings. To God, everyone is a child, so on a global scale, we can look at it and say, collectively, that we are heading in the direction of world peace.
And it’s not just battle deaths that are down. Deaths from illnesses are also down dramatically. AIDS, TB, measles, maternal deaths, infant deaths, are all down 25% – 70% just in the last 25 years. Also deaths from violent crimes are down. Deaths from famine and starvation are down. All the statistics point to the fact that the world is getting safer, happier, and as a result people are living longer.
180 years ago when Oyasama first introduced the teachings to the world, average life expectancy was perhaps 40-50. Now, most of us fully expect to live to 80, if not 100. In another few generations, there’s not doubt we’ll be living to 115 as foretold by Oyasama.
But there is a big difference between living to 115, and living happily to 115. I say happy rather than healthy because although each one of us strives and hopes for good health all our lives, we can never tell when our causality might catch up to us. But as Oyasama taught and showed, we can live spiritedly and happily no matter in what situation we find ourselves, if only we keep the mind of gratitude and satisfaction.
That said anyone, would rather be healthy than not, so we should take care of our precious bodies – keep active and don’t over indulge – but also constantly work on sweeping away our mental dusts and strive to keep our minds purified.
How many of us perform morning and evening services consistently? How many do it at least once a day? Once a month? I will admit it is not easy. It’s easier when you live at the church like we do, but otherwise, it can be challenging. That’s why a lot of followers in the past would opt to put a kanzane or object of worship, basically a small altar, in their home. They feel God and Oyasama closer when there is a physical shrine in the home. It’s also a good way to introduce family and children to the faith, as well as to friends who visit your home. I urge all of you to perform the daily services each day, because you are helping to sweep the mental dusts away from the minds of the world each time we do the service. Please let me know if anyone would like a kanzane placed in your home to help you in that endeavor. Thank you.