2017-06 A Convincing Person

Good morning and thank you for returning to Taiheiyo Church, and for your daily efforts of contribution and dedication to the Path. May I please ask for your attention for a few minutes.

Today is June 11, it is Kamehameha Day. Kamehameha Day was proclaimed by Kamehameha V back in 1871, as a day to honor his grandfather, Kamehameha I. But June 11 is not the birthdate of Kamehameha I; in fact, there are no records of the actual date he was born.

In any case, the significance for the day of celebration lies in the fact that Kamehameha I was the one who established the unified Kingdom of Hawaii comprising of the eight Hawaiian islands. Imagine the leadership, strength, wisdom, and diplomacy needed to unite so many islands and peoples segregated by the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. (I have trouble even uniting the minds of our congregation, let alone a kingdom of people. No wonder he was also known as Kamehameha the Great.

Although we may never aspire to be as Great as Kamehameha I, those of us who are Yoboku carry the responsibility of working as God’s useful timber to convey the brilliance of the teachings to others. Yoboku strive to lead people toward the path of salvation, and to convince them that by following Oyasama they, too, can live joyously in any situation.

How exactly do we go about doing that? By now, most of you have heard the story of what the second Shinbashira told followers when he encouraged them to do missionary work: He said, “We explain to people that the Tenrikyo teachings were revealed by God the Parent to show humankind how to lead the Joyous Life. If someone asks you ‘Well, then, what exactly is the way of living that God expects from us human beings.’ I hope you will be able to say, ‘Look at me!’”

The Japanese term is “Naruhodo no Hito,” or A Convincing Person. One who is able to convince others of the benefits of faith through their daily words and actions.

Who among us can confidently say, “Look at me! I’m a great example of the way of living that God desires in human beings”? I guess Oyasama could. Even from a young age She exemplified the virtues of compassion, thoughtfulness, and selflessness. She left us many instructions and teachings: the hand movements of the Service; the Ofudesaki, which we read and ponder over each morning; the Divine Model of Her life; and there are many anecdotes and stories of her that inspire us to be better people.

But reading about it, hearing about it, learning about it, and even fully grasping the concepts and truly believing in the teachings, will only get you so far. Unless we put the teachings into practice, unless we live out the teachings in our daily lives and experience first hand the truth of being saved by saving others, we may not be able to fully appreciate the value of Oyasama’s exemplary model.

The Kakisage, which I referenced last month too, talks about the mind of sincerity, and says:

“One thing more, if there is the truth of sincerity alone in the mind of each of you, complete harmony will come to your families, the one truth will settle. Now, the world will be convinced. Those of you that convince others will have free and unlimited workings by your unchanging truth of sincerity alone.” Furthermore,

“One thing more, I shall teach you the first truth. First I desire exemplary models in every community. The basis of teaching others is how you carry on each day. Carry on in your occupations each day. This is important.”

To become an exemplary model, we Yoboku must demonstrate the truth of the teachings in the way that we live our daily life, not just by trying to explain it in words. And the Kakisage says this is the first truth; meaning it is of primary importance.

Is this a reason why more missionary work is not being carried out? Are Yoboku are thinking to themselves, “I can’t do missionary work, or talk to people about the teachings, or administer the Sazuke on those who need it because I’m not following the path in my own life?”

But we can and must break this cycle of passiveness, if we desire the path to grow and prosper. So we must take concrete steps to change not only our minds, but also our actions; after all, actions speak louder than words.

Some may feel they don’t want to force the teachings on others, even their own children. But if parents live with the truth of the mind of sincerity, that truth will certainly convince the children to want to continue following the path.

It starts with doing the morning and evening services joyously, every single day. It means engaging in hinokishin, daily. It means practicing tanno, joyous acceptance, each day. It means trying to help others in any way that we are able.

To help us live the joyous life as God intended, by keeping the mind of saving others, we have established the Sunrise Food Pantry. This program gives us opportunities to become exemplary models in our community; Naruhodo no Hito. Through the efforts of volunteers, we have gathered over 1,500 lbs of food so far, for distribution on the last Saturday of this month, 6/24. And once every month, we will offer not only nutrition, but also smiles, friendship, words of encouragement, prayers, and happiness to all of the recipients. Our goal is to make everyone who comes to Taiheiyo to leave feeling joyous and spirited.

What we need now are volunteers to help in the following areas:

  1. Spread the word about the Sunrise Food Pantry – did you see the beautiful banner outside?? This afternoon, the YMA will help pass out flyers in the neighborhood, and simultaneously do nioigake. Please join us for just 30-60 minutes this afternoon from 2pm.
  2. Sort and bag food items. From Wed thru Fri night leading up to the day of the Pantry Service (6/21 – 6/23), we will be assembling the food packages in preparation for our distribution. There is a sign up sheet on the bulletin board downstairs.
  3. Distribution day. This is the most important day. We need volunteers to help greet, register, direct, and interact with the customers. We need help distributing packages and thanking people for coming. We need help to answer questions, administer prayers, and to take photos.

By engaging in hinokishin, nioigake, and otasuke through this program, we can take steps to become Naruhodo no Hito; followers who actively walk the path of single-hearted salvation – helping and saving others. Going beyond attending the service, reading the scriptures, listening to sermons and lectures going yeah, yeah, that makes sense. This is actually walking the talk; practicing what we preach.

So I would like to ask you, please carve out some time for the sake of helping others. Our weekends are very precious, but please make a commitment to join us. You will not only bring joy to the customers, but also bring joy to God the Parent and the ever living Oyasama. Thank you very much 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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