2016-06 Fundamental Way to Salvation

Appearing before you, God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, I, Rev. Wesley Mikuni, head minister of Taiheiyo Church, representing the congregation, pray with reverence.

God the Parent, we believe in the origin that you created human beings to live a joyous live, and have provided us with everything we need to achieve this goal.

Since the time of creation, You have given us constant protection and guided us along the path of maturity. Because you embody the entire universe and everything that exists, we truly live in the embrace of your parental love.

At the preordained time, You descended into the realm of human beings and, through Oyasama, taught us the truth about the creation, and the purpose of our existence.

We rise each morning savoring the joys of life, and we are making daily efforts to express our gratitude through hinokishin, sharing the teachings with others, and helping those in need. In this way we are able to take incremental steps toward the goal of the Joyous Life World, where everyone will come to understand that we are all brothers and sisters; children of the same Parent.

Today is the day we have been granted to conduct the monthly service at this church. In appreciation for your boundless blessings, the service performers will unite their hearts as one, and spiritedly perform the seated service and dance with hand movements, as taught by our Beloved Oyasama.

As we return our minds to the origin; back to the creation and to our original causality, we pray for You to save all mankind, equally. Please accept the sincerity of our prayers, and provide Your marvelous workings to heal those to are suffering from illnesses, conflicts, and troubles, so that they, too, can experience the joy of salvation, and join us in working to save others.

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The Fundamental Way to Salvation

Aloha everyone, and thank you for returning to Taiheiyo Church. I know everyone has busy schedules, and many of us attend other services during the month, so I’m very grateful for your contribution of time to participate in today’s service.

What makes a Tenrikyo service special? It’s held only once a month at each church. For a few short hours, we are able to gather together and make repayment to God by expressing our gratitude for being kept alive each day. Also, we have the chance to “return our minds to the origin,” as I mentioned in my service prayer.

Although we don’t wear the kagura masks and perform the hand-dance around the kanrodai, we can still visualize that we are at the Jiba, because we are receiving the truth of the Jiba. Prior to the start of the service, we open the portals of the shrine of God the Parent, and spiritually open the corridor that connects us directly with Jiba.

Since June is the sixth month of the year, let us take a deeper look at one particular verse from song six of the mikagura-uta: verse four. This has recently become one of my favorite verses.

Yottsu, yokoso tsutome ni tsuite kita; kore ga tasuke no motodate ya.
Fourth, I am pleased that you have followed to join the Service. This Service is the fundamental way for salvation.

In the first line, God is welcoming the followers that have been drawn to the teachings, and drawn to the residence. God is expressing her pleasure at seeing new faces, as well as returning faces gathering to join the Service.

I was speaking to someone recently, and this person has brought a number of people back to Jiba; to experience the closeness with God the Parent and Oyasama; to sit in front of the kanrodai and take in its beauty, its peacefulness, the positive energy, and just its sheer brilliance. So I asked her how she does it – get those people to take off work, pay the airfare, be away from family, to go and visit a part of Japan that most have never heard of.

She said it wasn’t her that convinced anyone to go. She didn’t have to push them to make the pilgrimage. All she did was talk to them about it, about the significance of the Jiba, the original place of conception and the place where God the Parent resides. All she did was present the opportunity, and the rest was up to God.

Last month, Keiko and I attended the gathering for newly installed head ministers and spouses in Jiba. It was a great experience and it was inspiring to see so many other couples in attendance. There were some very young reverends, and some our age, and some senior couples too.

On the second day of the gathering all 250 or so of us were seated inside the Foundress’s Sanctuary to receive a talk by the Shinbashira. In that address, the Shinbashira spoke about our forefathers who established churches throughout Japan and the world. He spoke at length about their single-hearted efforts in spreading the teachings and doing salvation work, to build up the church and gather followers. Nioigake, otasuke; nioigake, otasuke. Day after day, sprinkling the fragrance and saving others. Tireless were their efforts, but it is because of that unwavering spirit that God responded and blessed them with followers who would stay loyal and devote themselves to the Path.

Concerning nioigake, the Shinbashira commented that it wasn’t any easier in those days to spread the teachings compared to the present day. Many people rejected the early missionaries, criticized or ridiculed them, threw salt or water on them, or were otherwise indifferent. Still, they continued their efforts, in large numbers, day after day going out and seeking those who needed help, those who needed salvation.

The only reason we have a church today is because of the efforts of our predecessors and the dedication and perseverance they displayed during their generation. But it’s natural that as time passes, and as generations pass, the faith has a tendency to get watered down; diluted. Yes, I’ve heard the story of how my great grandfather had hot tar spilled on his body and how he suffered with burns all over; and how he was saved from that unfortunate accident. But without going through that experience myself, I can’t really imagine what it was like. Not only the pain, and the fear, but also the joy that came about with a miraculous salvation.

Fortunately for me, I’ve had a lot of parental guidance to help me make a determination to take over the ministry and continue the Truth of a Church Name, for Taiheiyo Church. I firmly believe that through our illnesses and troubles, we are all being drawn to the teachings and to church. And when we embrace the concept that by saving others we are naturally saved, we want to do more for others and thereby forget our own problems.

But everyone has problems. Even the most seemingly blessed individuals and families are dealing worries or difficulties or sicknesses. It’s up to each of us to reach out those people, to provide them prayer and hope, and to give them an opportunity to achieve their own salvation. We must be on the lookout for those opportunities and recognize them as God’s calling when we hear of friends or acquaintances in need of help.

Remember it’s not your responsibility to bring them to church. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. That said, don’t give up too easily either. But ultimately, leave that part up to God and simply offer your sincerity to help the other person and convey some of the teachings. When God does begin to work and slowly draws one person, two people, and so forth to join the Service, the joy will multiply as well.

Back to the second half of verse four, song six: This service is the fundamental way for salvation. This is why God is pleased to see followers joining the Service. Because it is the fundamental way, which means it is the necessary base or core for salvation. It is the primary principle, on which all other teachings are based; so important is this Service. God said that through this Service, all miracles of salvation can be achieved; the world will settle. We can be rescued from a dire situation. We can escape from the chains of our worries, our fears, and our despair. The early followers took these words as absolute – without question, and without doubt.

Some might call this blind faith. Defined as a belief that is not based on any reason or evidence. This type of faith in God is so powerful because it is unshakable, unwavering. And the sincerity that goes along with blind faith is equally as powerful.

How many of us have, in the past, come across a situation that made you question the existence of God the Parent? We might be doing quite well in our lives. We might also be exerting ourselves in hinokishin and going to church on a regular basis. Yet something unexpected happens that makes us wonder why me? Why now? Instead of trying to find the answer and make sense of it, the disciples of Oyasama who were relying on blind faith would simply accept any hardship as a manifestation of their bad causality accumulated from past lives, thank God for the opportunity to dig up the root of their causality, and go through it with the mind of joyous acceptance.

It’s a difficult concept to wrap your head around – it may sound nonsensical – not just grit your teeth and bear through the bad times, but to feel a genuine sense of gratitude for being shown your causality and being given the chance to cut off that root of negative causality. That is what blind faith provides you.

But in this day and age, does blind faith exist anymore? People want proof. If you say that God exists, and they say “show me.” Did you know that 10%-15% of the population is atheist or agnostic, meaning they don’t believe in God or they’re not sure?

They question why, if there is a God, is there so much suffering in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people, and why do the bad guys always seem to get away with it? Some people complain that they’ve prayed so long and hard for either their success, or wealth, or victory, or fame, but it never came; therefore, God must not exist. Either that or God isn’t listening or paying attention. These people are searching for answers and reasons…

Tenrikyo IS completely based on reason! Ten-ri literally means the truth of heaven, or divine reason. We have the answers to these questions that those people are wondering. Our original causality at the time of creation, and our accumulated causality over 8,000 repetitions of rebirth, explains so much of the many “why’s” in life.

Once we can explain the “why”, how do we go about changing that causality? God teaches in verse four and throughout the Ofudesaki, that the performance of the Joyous Service is fundamental basis for salvation. Not only the current difficulties or challenges, but long into the future, and for future generations.

Let us keep this firmly in our hearts and make a strong commitment to continue the purification of our minds through the daily and monthly services.

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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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