2017-08 The Central Pillar

Good morning everyone! Thank you so much for returning to Taiheiyo Church for our August monthly service, and for your efforts in hinokishin and salvation work throughout the past month.

If I can have a few minutes of your attention today, I would like to speak about the Central Pillar.  The term “Central Pillar” appears many times in the Ofudesaki, either as Shinbashira, or shin no hashira. In either case, it was originally a Japanese term used in architecture to refer to the main pillar erected in the center of a building to provide stability. The ancient five-tiered pagodas in Japan incorporate this design using the central pillar, which was said to have exceptional resistance to earthquakes. In fact, the Horyu-ji, pagoda in Ikoma City in Nara, which is was constructed around the year 600, and is renown for being one of the oldest standing wooden structures in the world, incorporates this central pillar design. Even the most modern buildings in Japan such as the Skytree Tower, at over 2,000 feet in height, uses the same type of central pillar design (except using reinforced concrete) for stability and earthquake resistance. Such is the importance of the Central Pillar.

The way Oyasama referred to it in the Ofudesaki, the Shinbashira has two meanings:

The first is common to us, and refers to the administrative and spiritual leader of the Tenrikyo faith. The first person to hold this leadership position was Oyasama’s grandson, Shinnosuke Nakayama. But Shinnosuke was not born a Nakayama. He was born into the Kajimoto family, by Oyasama’s daughter, Oharu. Oyasama named him while he was still in his mother’s belly, saying “The child to be called Shinnosuke is destined to be the Shinbashira.” In this way, she not only named him, but also foretold of his future to lead the followers by serving as the Central Pillar of the faith. True to Her words, Shinnosuke Kajimoto came to live at the Residence in 1880 at the age of 15, was registered as a Nakayama family member in 1881 after the passing of Shuji, Oyasama’s only son, and succeeded as head of the Nakayama family in 1882.

When Tenrikyo became a sub-sect of Shinto in 1886, Shinnosuke became its head. Curiously, although the position was referred to as the Shinbashira in the Ofudesaki and the Osashizu, it is likely that Shinnosuke was not formally called by such a title; rather, they probably used the terms Kaicho or Kancho.

Also little known is the fact that when Shinnosuke passed away in 1914, his son Shozen, the second Shinbashira, was only 10 years old. Since Shozen was too young to carry out the official responsibilities of the position, his uncle, Tamezo Yamazawa assumed the Shinbashira’s duites for 11 years until Shozen became of age in 1925.

Some here may remember the 2nd Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama, and most of us remember the 3rd Shinbashira, who served from 1967 – 1998, and know the 4th and current Shinbashira, Zenji Nakayama.

The second meaning of the Central Pillar, as used in the Ofudesaki, refers to the Kanrodai, which is the roughly 8-foot pillar that marks the spot of the Jiba where human beings were first conceived. The Kanrodai is literally, the stand for sweet dew, and has a number of religious significances. 1) The stand is placed at the center around which the Kagura Service is performed – this is the focal point for the fundamental means of universal salvation. 2) When the minds of the world becomes purified, the stand will receive the heavenly dew from God the Parent, and all who partake of this gift shall live to the age of 115 years or beyond, without falling ill or becoming weakened.

As mentioned in the service prayer, there was an incident at church headquarters on July 26th, where someone stormed into the main sanctuary and knocked over the upper sections of the model kanrodai, about 1 hour before the evening service. I say “model” kanrodai because the stand that is erected at the Jiba is not the true kanrodai. What differences are there between the model kanrodai and the true kanrodai? There are 2 main differences: 1) The true kanrodai is to be made of stone. The model kanrodai is made of wood. Cypress wood, the same that is used in the construction of the main sanctuary, and which has a distinct, very soothing aroma. 2) The true kanrodai is supposed to have a flat vessel on the top, to receive the kanro, the sweet dew from heaven. The model kanrodai has no vessel as no dew will fall on the model.

We all know the story of how the original stone kanrodai was being erected in 1881, and after the first to levels were completed in 1882, the police came and confiscated the two sections. After that there was a time when the Jiba was marked by just a pile of pebbles. In 1888, a model kanrodai was erected at the Jiba comprising of just two sections, but it wasn’t until 1934 after the construction of the south worship hall that a version of the model kanrodai comprising of the 13 sections was installed for the first time. Since then, the model kanrodai has been replaced periodically. Coincidentally, I was in Jiba the last time the model kanrodai was replaced. It was when I went to receive the grant to become head minister in 2015, and I remember how white it was when it was first installed. Who would have known that less than 2 years later it would need to be replaced again…

The installation ceremony for the new model kanrodai is scheduled for August 24th. So for a period of almost one month, only the bottom two sections of the previous model, which was not toppled by the intruder, has marked the spot of the Jiba. It was very strange going to sanpai the next morning and seeing only a void where the kanrodai is supposed to be. I feel bad for all the first-time returnees to Jiba, as well as those receiving the Sazuke or Ohakobi, such as Rev. Tad Iwata, who were unable to view the model kanrodai during their pilgrimage.

All Yoboku and followers have been asked to ponder over this incident, and seriously reflect on whether we have been performing our services with sincerity; working diligently as God’s useful timber; and if we have been truly following the path of single-heartedness with God. If the answer is no; if we find deficiencies in our journey along the path, then we are urged to use the opportunity of this knot to reaffirm our faith, and vow to make stronger efforts toward changing this world into the world of the Joyous Life.

Our human thinking might we just be curious to find out who the culprit was and what their motive was for doing such a thing. However, this is not the important thing except maybe for the authorities and keidai security staff.

Some months ago, we had trouble with people sleeping in the garage and sometimes going to the bathroom in the garage. So we added night sensor lights to deter people from loitering. But apparently, someone really wanted to stay there so much so that they decided to break the light bulb so that the lights wouldn’t go on. My first reaction upon hearing of this vandalism was trying to guess who might do that, and then what could be done to prevent them from doing the same thing again.  The same as my reaction to the model kanrodai incident: Was the person a troubled follower, disgruntled Yoboku, or someone who was not Tenrikyo? Why don’t they put a glass barrier around the stand so that people cannot get close enough to touch it?

Then after some self-reflection, I thought that maybe it was also a sign or message from Oyasama, telling us who live at the church, that we need to incorporate and exemplify more harmony and teamwork within the church, and we need to help those in our neighborhood who are in need. I also thought to myself that a large misfortune had turned into a small misfortune. When compared to the knot at Jiba, the toppling of the model kanrodai could be a considered a crime of property damage – it would be like someone entering into our church and smashing the shrine mirrors of the altar, which thankfully has not happened before. In this way, I was able to quickly change my thoughts from one of fear and anger, to one of gratitude. This is the way of the path.

In an expression of our own remorse and repentance for the knot of the model kanrodai, I would like to ask that all followers of Taiheiyo Church and head ministers and followers of each of the bunai churches, make a kokoro-sadame, a firm resolution, to bring at least one new person to church (monthly services, daily service, or to the church for Sazuke) within the next 2 months before the Oct 26 Grand Service. It will take some effort to accomplish this, but by everyone working together toward a common goal, we can show our sincerity to God the Parent, and then realize the buds that will surely sprout from this knot. Thank you very much for joining us today.

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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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