Good morning and thank you all for returning to Taiheiyo Church. Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mothers here today. It seems only last month that we celebrated Mother’s Day, but I guess it’s already been a year. How time flies when you’re getting older. May I please ask for your attention for a few minutes.
As we go through our life of faith, we may come across days when we feel more spirited than others. It’s hard to explain but some days when we do the morning service, we feel really connected to God the Parent and feel the true gratitude of being kept alive. We look forward to the day and the opportunities it may bring for us to do hinokishin, to sprinkle the fragrance on someone, or to administer the sazuke to a person in need.
Other days, we might feel less spirited. We may feel stressed or bothered by a problem at work, or a pain somewhere on the body. Those days it may be difficult to maintain the mind of joyousness.
This is part of being human, the ups and downs that we all experience. It might be a little too predictable and mundane if we didn’t have some variation or change in our daily routine. Going through challenges makes us more resilient; it builds character. People say that you can learn a lot more about yourself by going through failures than successes. But if we are not careful, if we are not conscious of our thoughts and actions, we can end up spending too much time dwelling on the negative, and upset the delicate balance of our ebb and flow. Our self-centeredness can pull us deeper when we start to go down, and hold us there for longer.
In order to help us in our journey along the path of faith, Oyasama taught us many things to remind us of how blessed we are to be protected by, God the Parent. One of the teachings is the concept of “one day, a lifetime.” This saying is often used and referred to, but over the course of many years and generations, it has taken on a meaning different than that originally intended. This is what I would like to touch upon.
If I were to ask all of you in the congregation to explain the teaching of “one day, a lifetime” or “ichinichi-shogai” in Japanese, many might refer to the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed. Because we borrow our bodies from God the Parent, we should maintain the mind of gratitude for our borrowed bodies, and we should treat and live each day as a lifetime. We don’t know what can happen in the course of a day, and there is no guarantee that we will be here tomorrow. We could get into an accident, or get struck by lightning, or we may simply go to sleep and never wake up. Therefore, we should cherish this day as a lifetime so that, at the end of the day, we’ll have no regrets about leaving anything undone for tomorrow.
There is a latin term, Carpe Diem, which is translated as “Seize the Day” and has a similar meaning that says the future is unforeseen and so one should not leave it to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make one’s future better. If we maintain the mind of gratitude for being kept alive, this will naturally lead us to take each day seriously and though it was a lifetime. This is the type of mindset that followers of the path should have…
Those of us who have attended a funeral service officiated by Zenkaicho-san, Rev. Clyde Mikuni, may recall his interpretation of this saying of “one day, a lifetime” that goes: One day, today, is similar to one’s lifetime. If we were to compare a lifetime to a day, rising in the morning is like being born. After rising, we work hard throughout the day with enthusiasm, and by nightfall we become tired and worn. At night we rest our tired bodies, and forgetting about everything, we fall into a deep sleep. This is the beginning of denaoshi (passing away for rebirth). While we are asleep at night, forgetting about ourselves, God the Parent cleans our bodies, and restores it with new energy and we awake feeling strong and refreshed. When compared to one’s lifetime, this is similar to babies being born with healthy, beautiful bodies. This is the culmination of denaoshi.
I really love this interpretation of “ichinichi-shogai” because it explains about the cycle of life and passing away as the truth of oneness-in-two; that nothing ever dies that is not reborn again. However, this interpretation also, takes the words out of the context originally conveyed in the Divine Directions.
As you may know, the term “one day, a lifetime” (ichinichi-shogai) does not appear in the Ofudesaki, nor is it sung in the mikagura-uta. Like many teachings, it was spoken in the Osashizu, the Divine Directions, conveyed through the Honseki, Izo Iburi. Almost all of the Divine Directions containing the expression “one day, a lifetime” were delivered whenever the Sazuke was bestowed.
What state of mind is one likely to have on the day one receives the truth of Sazuke? Probably very grateful for God the Parent’s blessings, and one with resolve to settle the mind of true sincerity that is intent on one thing only: serving for single-hearted salvation. Therefore, the real meaning of the phrase “one day, a lifetime” teaches us to maintain the state of mind that was settled on that special day we received our Sazuke, throughout our entire lifetime.
The Kakisage, which all Yoboku receive after being bestowed the Sazuke, emphasizes this point. It begins: “Sah, sah, step by step the lectures, over and over to the seat of the lectures you have come. Sah, on this day today, by the one truth you must uphold as your mind for a lifetime, I make this the main seat.”
In this opening paragraph, God is telling us that, after listening to the lectures from the Besseki, the “separate seat,” over and over nine times, we have purified our minds and settled God’s intention firmly in our mind. Throughout the course of listening to the lectures 9 times, we recognize that we have been selfishly thinking only about ourselves. For example, we realize that we have been blessed with the bodily instruments for the senses of sight, sound, and taste, for the purpose of living joyously, yet we may use these instruments to find dissatisfaction in what we see, hear or eat. After going through the Besseki, we make a commitment to put our selfishness aside and devote ourselves to helping others be saved so that we can make repayment for the blessings we receive, and thereby bring joy to our Parent. It is upon that mind, reborn with single-heartedness, that the truth of the Sazuke is bestowed as the “truth of effectiveness.” That is the point of time when the Besseki (separate seat) becomes the Main Seat, the seat upon which God is seated and works through the Yoboku to render effectiveness.
Therefore, for those of us who are Yoboku, think back to the time we listened to the Besseki, to the time when we received the Sazuke. It was a once in a lifetime event, and it may have been a while ago, but surely we can recall that feeling of gratitude, hope, spiritedness, and commitment we felt on that day. The mind on that one day is the mind we must uphold for a lifetime: the truth of “one day, a lifetime.” Thank you for your kind attention.