Monthly Sermon – August 2017

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the August Monthly Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

The Kanrodai Toppling, a Wakeup Call

On July 26, last month on the day of the monthly service, right before the evening service, an intruder rush toward the Kanrodai which is located in the center of the four-sided sanctuary and toppled the Kanrodai. Just the bottom 2 layers of the 13 layered stand remained. Each layer has a tenon and mortise connecting the layers.

According an article in the Tenri Jiho weekly newspaper, July 30, 2017, the Rev. Hiroaki Yamazawa, the director of Religious Affairs, said that this is a very serious incident and that he feels terribly sorry to God the Parent and the everliving Oyasama for this to happen.

The Kanrodai is placed on the Jiba as proof of creation and is situated in the center of the four worship halls, North, South, East and West.

The Jiba is the place where God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto resides and is the very spot where human beings were created.

The Kanrodai is a sacred stand that marks the exact spot of creation, the center and symbol of worship. Ten persons representing the ten aspects of God’s providence perform the Kagura Service around the Kanrodai.

I heard that the perpetuator was mentally ill. But whatever happens is a message from God. We should all take this seriously and reflect on God’s message.

Rev. Yamazawa wrote that this incident is nothing but a wakeup call for each of us to reflect on whether we are in accord with the Teachings of God the Parent. We may have strayed off the Path according to our own thinking or convenience. Through this “knot,” however, we should once again realign our faith exactly in accord with God’s intention. I would like to reflect on my own faith, on how we should use our mind on a daily basis.

Faith in our daily life

People who have faith are already showing it in their daily life through their use of words and actions. It’s not just going to church and putting your hands together in prayer. It’s through their positive and hopeful attitude expressed in what they say and how they behave. It’s not just a small part of their life, but they show it every day in their daily activities.

To sprinkle a good fragrance to the people is not necessarily stating the teachings, but the real fragrance is conveyed through our words and actions: such as showing kindness, generosity and caring. The people seeing this will receive the good fragrance of the teachings.

The late Rev. Genjiro Kashiwara, who was a honbuin (Church HQ staff), received many brilliant and magnificent blessings through his Sazuke prayer. Someone once asked him, how is it that he can receive such blessings? He answered, “God does not only answer Kashiwara’s prayers. Anyone can receive the power of answered prayers.

However, people tend to offer lies to God the Parent. God does not like falsehood and flattery. People are unknowingly dedicated to offering falsehood to God the Parent. That’s why they cannot receive a blessing.

“I don’t perform false deeds,” he says, “I always try to follow the teachings and follow Oyasama’s words. I do not follow or practice falsehood. If you do exactly as God teaches, and what Oyasama says, then you will receive God’s blessings.”

He said, “You must do what you say and say what you do.

Rev. Kashiwara was not double faced. He was a very straight forward person and you could tell that he did not have a trace of deception or falsehood in his veins. (from Satoshi Satori, p341 by Rev. Sawada, Matataro.)

I believe Rev. Kashiwara is saying that we should be true to the faith by practicing the teachings in our daily life.

What’s the difference between a person of faith and a person without faith? / The person who has faith in God has an appreciation of the blessings of nature, always tries to correct his mistakes and reflects upon himself to become a better person. / However even a persons who do not have faith are also children of God who live together with us in this universe in heaven and earth, the bosom of God. We all drink the water of nature which gushes from the earth and consume the food that is grown from it. The difference is how we appreciate these wonderful blessings. Those who recognize and appreciate the blessings will show it in their daily actions.

In our daily lives, sometimes we tend to criticize other people’s faults without realizing the same faults in ourselves. There’s a saying that says: “A person’s faults, is nothing but your reflection like a mirror.” Oyasama also said that when you notice someone’s fault, you are to reflect and realize that that’s also your fault as well. / So when we see a fault in someone, we should realize that that is a fault in ourselves. All the people we meet in our life are teachers. Therefore faith is not only going to church, but that it’s part of our everyday life. It’s how we use our mind and show it in our behavior.

An old Chinese proverb says:

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words;
watch your words, they become your actions;
watch your actions, they become your habits;
watch your habits, they become your character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Even in small steps, let us practice the teachings of God the Parent and Oyasama in our daily lives aligning and realigning our minds accordingly.

Announcements

  1. The annual Tenrikyo bazaar is coming up on Sunday, August 27. We’d like to thank those who came out for yesterday’s first all bazaar hinokishin and we’d like to ask for everyone’s continued support in selling presale scrips and helping at the bazaar.
  2. The next bazaar preparation hinokishin will be this Saturday, 8/19 at 9am & Sunday 8/20 after the Mission HQ monthly service at 1pm and we would like to call on all available members and friends to help out. You may bring your used item donations from today till August 23, between the hours of 10am-4pm to the TCC Dojo.
  3. Also, next month the Tengen Bunkyokai Ojibagaeri Taikai (or Jiba Pilgrimage Convention) as a continuing activity will be held on September 24th. If anyone is interested in joining this, please see me or Mrs. Taeko. The Autumn Grand Service pilgrimage in October is another activity you can consider if September is inconvenient for you.
  4. The MHQ will be conducting its first Three Day Course on 9/22-24. Please see me or Taeko if interested.
  5. Please welcome: Carol Azama and Ayako Hata who is a former home stay student.

Monthly Sermon – July 2017

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the July Monthly Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

Last Monday on July 4th, we enjoyed the annual Tenrikyo Picnic at Kapiolani Park. Thank you for your hinokishin and participation.

We would like to observe a moment of silence for our departed friend and member of Pearl Church, the Late Mrs. Hilda Kono, who passed away on June 16, 2017. She was very devout in her faith and enjoyed coming to our monthly services. We will miss her support, her faith and her smiling face.

GLOBAL WARMING

Don’t you think the climate has changed over the years?

  • Compared to my childhood days, about 50 years ago, there are now more hot and muggy days than before. In those days, December through March had a lot of rain. There was so much rain that there weren’t many tourists during that time.
  • In Japan, during the days around Oyasama’s birthday on April 18th, the cherry blossoms bloomed at this time about 20 – 30 years ago. But now it’s getting warmer earlier. So now they are blooming in the middle of March. Recently during my Jiba Pilgrimage in April the cherry blossoms are already gone.
  • During this past 2 or 3 years we’ve been getting extremely high record breaking temperatures on the U.S. mainland such as Texas, Arizona and Nevada. In Hawaii also, we’re getting more days with temperatures 90 degrees or more.
  • Most of you have probably heard of “King Tides” inundating our beaches in Honolulu. This has never happened before.
  • In the South Pacific 5 islands have disappeared due to rising sea levels.

CAUSE

Human-caused global warming occurs when human activity introduces too much of certain types of gas into the atmosphere. Human activity is mostly burning fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, oil, coal, deforestation and animal agriculture. After carbon dioxide, methane is the second most common greenhouse gas, but methane has 86 times more impact in trapping radiation. It comes from mining, extracting and leaking of natural gas, animal agriculture such as raising cattle and the use of landfills. Animal agriculture accounts for 51% of global warming. From Cowspiracy documentary video.

The United Nations have recognized these causes and have met to agree on actions to be taken to reduce greenhouse gases in the Kyoto Accord and the Paris Agreement. Recently on June 1st of this year, the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement.

We can look at the basic teachings such as in the Ofudesaki:

This universe is the body of God.
Ponder this in all matters. III: 40

Also in the Ofudesaki, XIII: 43

All of you throughout the world are brother and sisters.
There should be no one called an outsider.

God the Parent created us human beings to see us live a joyous life by helping each other. This is the purpose of creation.

The climate change has been making life difficult for the war refugees and the poor people on the planet. Refugees living in tents are exposed to extreme weather. Poor people living in extremely hot or extremely cold conditions are most likely to suffer or die.

People who live by farming or fishing are experiencing hardships caused by extreme weather and overfishing. Since the advanced nations that are releasing most of the greenhouse gases we among the advance nations should take more responsibility in reducing greenhouse gases. God has provided such a bountiful earth. However, we humans are polluting and damaging the environment which is causing droughts, wild forest fires and extreme abnormal weather. These are causing crisis situations in the world.

Pope Francis of the Catholic Church made a statement in regards to climate change. This is just a summary: “Caring for the environment is a matter of common and universal duty and responsibility especially in light the present ecological crisis. Every creature depends on the earth’s ecology that provides air, food, water and basic resources. These shared resources are easily exploited when we fail to recognize the interconnected nature of God’s creation. Since all beings are interdependent on the resources of the planet, common effort is required to preserve God’s gift to us.”

Due to the irresponsible use of the land, climate change is occurring and we need to take responsibility to reduce global warming.

What can we do to reduce global warming?

  • Use resources wisely, such as water, electricity, gas and cars.
  • Use eco bags instead of receiving the bags provided by the store.
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, soaping in the shower or washing your hands.
  • Recycle cans and bottles
  • Turn off the lights when leaving your room.
  • Combine your car trips whenever possible to conserve fuel. Walk or use the bus when you can.
  • Let’s go green by planting trees in your yard.
  • Pull out the plug or turn off the power strip when not in use.
  • Most importantly since animal agriculture accounts for 51% of global warming we should reduce or eliminate meat from our diet.

These small efforts done individually may not make an impact, but the combined effort of many people will definitely make a difference.

In the Anecdotes of Oyasama,

#138 YOU MUST TREASURE THINGS

While in jail, Oyasama had a scrap of writing paper brought in and She made twisted paper strings out of it. With it, She wove a net basket to carry a sake bottle. It was very strong and beautifully made. When She left the jail to return home, She gave it to Gisaburo Nakata, saying:

“You must treasure things. You must make good use of everything. Everything is a gift from God. Now, keep this as your family treasure.”

As you can see Oyasama believed in recycling and making good use of things. She said, “Everything is a gift from God.” I believe this means that we need to take care of the Earth and protect the Earth. Although some people don’t believe it, global warming is happening and we must take action to stop global warming regardless of what the government is doing. Perhaps what US President did in regards to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is a wakeup call for everyone to pay attention this problem and do what we can to reduce global warming.

Announcements

  1. The annual Tenrikyo Picnic was held last Tuesday at Kapiolani Park. For those who went, thank you for your hinokishin in preparation and clean up!
  2. Marika Higa will be serving as counselor for Kaigai Shohi which is the Overseas B & G Hinokishin Corps in Jiba this summer. We wish her a meaningful, fun and safe trip.
  3. The MHQ monthly service will be held this coming Sunday on July 16.
  4. The annual Tenrikyo bazaar is coming up on Sunday, August 27. And we’d like to ask for everyone’s support in selling presale scrips and prep hinokishin and helping at the bazaar.
  5. Everyone please welcome the three students for the Hawaii One-Month Spiritual Development Course from Mission HQ: Louise Akamine, Yukie Minami and Sean Rodan. Sean is Dan Rodan’s son.

The Twelve Songs Teodori Purifies Our Soul

Tenrikyo Pearl Church February Service – Sermon 2017

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the February Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

We have just completed the seated service and the twelve songs of the Teodori (hand dance), joyously. I was blessed with the opportunity to learn about the deep meaning of God the Parent’s parental heart, through this service. I would like to share with you some of my thoughts.

Continue reading The Twelve Songs Teodori Purifies Our Soul

Reflection of the Divine Model following Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration (May 2016 Sermon)

Good morning.  I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the May Monthly Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings.  I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!  Today we celebrate Mother’s Day and I would like to wish all mothers, especially Oyasama, a Happy Mother’s Day.  Oyasama, as most of you may know, has the soul of the first mother of all humankind.

God the Parent Tenri O no Mikoto was revealed through a rice farmer’s wife, Miki Nakayama, who we refer to as Oyasama (or beloved Parent), as shrine on October 26, 1838.

Continue reading Reflection of the Divine Model following Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration (May 2016 Sermon)

The Significance of the 130th Anniversary

Tenrikyo Pearl Church January Grand Service – Sermon 2015

Happy New Year!  I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the January Grand Service here at Tenrikyo Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings.  I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 130TH ANNIVERSARY

On lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, Oyasama, Miki Nakayama, withdrew from physical life to hasten people’s spiritual growth and their implementation of the Service, which She had been urging. Since then, true to Her words “I shall save the world from now,” She has been taking the lead at the forefront of world salvation while continuing to guide us by virtue of Her eternal life.

Continue reading The Significance of the 130th Anniversary

January Grand Service – Sermon 2015

Tenrikyo Pearl Church January Grand Service – Sermon 2015

Happy New Year!  I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the January Grand Service here at Tenrikyo Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings.  I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 130TH ANNIVERSARY

On lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, Oyasama, Miki Nakayama, withdrew from physical life to hasten people’s spiritual growth and their implementation of the Service, which She had been urging. Since then, true to Her words “I shall save the world from now,” She has been taking the lead at the forefront of world salvation while continuing to guide us by virtue of Her eternal life.

The significance of observing the anniversaries of Oyasama is to respond to Her boundless parental love with decisiveness.  This is what the Anniversary is about.

We all want to live a good and happy life.  When God the Parent created human beings, God put the seed of the Joyous Life in the soul of all human beings.  That is why everyone has a beautiful soul.  However, being given our minds, we have the free use of the mind.  We can use the mind in a positive or negative way.  But because of neglect we have been accumulating dusts of the mind, by using the mind of miserliness, covetousness, hatred, self-love, anger, grudge-bearing, greed and arrogance.  In addition: falsehood and flattery and thereby use the mind in a negative way.  We have been using this type of mind on a daily basis without realizing it.  Dust is easily swept or blown away, but if it is left unattended or neglected, the dust is embedded and it becomes a stain that is difficult to clean.  In the same way our mind becomes stained and this becomes our causality or karma.  It becomes the “path of our mind.”

However, we do not know or don’t realize what kind of mind I have been using in our past lives.  We like to think that we are always helping people, but we wonder why bad things happen to us.  But God knows everything and can see the heart of everyone.  That is why God will show our reality, suitable and appropriate, according our use of our mind.

Oyasama said, through experiencing whatever circumstances that is happening to us now, we can understand our causality.  By understanding our causality we can repent, cancel our bad causality and accumulate virtue by performing good deeds./

I believe that when we endeavor to repent, like polishing a stained gem stone, little by little, we will find a the sparkling diamond of our soul./

When I, Owen Nakao, pass on, Owen Nakao will cease to exist.  But my soul will be kept by God the Parent until it is reborn into a new body.  A transfer of spirit ceremony is conducted to symbolically transfer the spirit from the body to God the Parent. / Those souls having been assigned to new bodies will be reborn starting a new life with another name, but depending on their accumulation of virtue or good and bad seeds, the circumstances of their life will differ./

For example, if in our previous life we sowed 100 good seeds, but also sowed 50 bad seeds, we will have a balance of 50 good seeds.  On the other hand if we had planted 100 bad seeds and 50 good seeds we would have a balance of 50 bad seeds.   The balance of good seeds or bad seeds will determine for better or for worse the circumstances in our present life at birth and that’s how we start our life.

In the Osashizu (or Divine Directions) January 30, 1892, we read:

“…. Although virtue is not visible, the accounting is as dependable as if it were done on paper. Whatever is surplus I return. Whatever is short, I will collect. The balance in each account is very clear.”  There are no errors, since God does not make a mistake.

We might look at our neighbor and complain to God by asking why is it that my neighbor seems to have an easy life, while I have to suffer and toil long hours? Life seems so unfair…  But we don’t know what our neighbor has done in their previous lives.  If we look at only the present situation, we do not see the whole picture!

So the person who has a +50 balance would have an easier life at least in the beginning.  But if this person rested on their laurels, squandered their life and wealth, they will end up losing their property and their virtue.  Conversely, the person who has a -50 balance would have a more challenging life with setback and struggles, but if this person realizes their lack of virtue and poor circumstances and works hard to plant good seeds, they can live a better life!

Alan Wong’s Restaurant

Everyone knows that Alan Wong’s Restaurant as one of the best in Honolulu.  President Obama goes to various restaurants in Honolulu, but the one that he consistently goes to is Alan Wong’s.

Recently Alan Wong opened a restaurant in Shanghai and he was featured in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.  (Dec 30, 2015)  The article is titled: Alan Wong brings menu and aloha to Shanghai. In the article (by Joleen Oshiro) he said that he told his Shanghai crew that the aloha spirit begins with a thought, and when this thought turns into an act, it means sharing, showing kindness, caring. You give without expecting anything in return. For the first few days he asked them, “What did you do to make someone’s day? What gift or act of kindness did you give? How were you nice to someone?”

“Then, the night before we returned to Hawaii, one of crew came out and said, ‘I’ve been searching for something all my life, and you gave it to me.’ Another crew member said he never imagine this existed in another part of the world.”

Alan said, “One of our goals was to leave an imprint, to be able to say the aloha spirit lives in Shanghai, and his crew received the spirit of Aloha extremely well.”

I think this is a perfect example of how similar the definition of Aloha spirit and Hinokishin is.  And this is probably why he is so successful in his restaurant business.

Oyasama said to do something small every day that will make another person happy.  This is how we can take steps in our spiritual maturity to bring joy to God the Parent and Oyasama for the 130th Anniversary.

We have only a few days left before Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary which will be held on January 26, 2016.  Let us all make firm resolutions to grow spiritually, plant the seeds of sincerity and receive blessings during this seasonable time; and return to Jiba for the 130th Anniversary.
Thank you for your attention.
Announcements

Happy New Year! I would like to thank everyone for your support given last year. The major events were the Boys & Girls Association Spring Camp & General Meeting and the annual Tenrikyo Bazaar. Thank you very much!
I would like to thank everyone for your support in helping with the MHQ and Pearl Church spring cleaning, the mochi pounding on December 30 and your generous New Year offerings. Thank you very much!
Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. We are still continuing our fundraising efforts.
The BGA annual New Year Park Cleanup and BBQ Picnic will be held on Sunday, January 31 from 10am, please meet at Mission HQ at 9am for prayer service. This is open to everyone; however, please contact me to let me know who is coming so that we may prepare enough food. Please bring your own cleaning tools such as rakes and dust pans if you have them.  The Leadership Camp will from start from the day before on Saturday, January 30, for kids 12 and above.

Switching “On” the Good Genes – December 2014 Sermon

Pre-Service Talk

There are many people in the world, who are suffering from illness or other problem and I am sure there is someone in your life that is sick, physically or mentally challenged.  Please take today’s service to bring those people to your mind and pray for them.  In addition let us pray for TC who is presently at Straub Hospital for internal bleeding.  Also: LS, LA, JM, LK, CA (names obfuscated for privacy reasons).

Let us put hearts together in fervent prayer for those we know who are suffering from illness or personal problems and those survivors in the Philippines and that our disaster relief donations will reach the people as intended.

Post Service Sermon

Thank you all for joining your hearts and minds in performing the December Monthly Service here at Pearl Church.  I believe that when we perform the Service spiritedly and in unity, as we have today, God the Parent and Oyasama are truly satisfied with our efforts.  In this we are waking up the good genes that will bring about healing, good health and even good fortune. And thank you very much for joining us in prayer with unity of mind.

Switching “On” the Good Genes

In life, there is an abundance of possibilities and great potential depending on whether we make a slight adjustment to the way we use our mind.

Last month we had a great scientist, Dr. Kazuo Murakami who is an enthusiastic Tenrikyo follower.  We received a good lecture by Dr. Murakami about how good and bad genes can be switched on and off.  How can we switch on our good genes? And what happens when the good genes are turned “on.”

For instance, when we make other people happy or caring for other people, your body reacts by keeping healthy.  On the other hand, the cancer cells are very self-centered and egotistic.  Cancer cells are very aggressive and spread to other cells very quickly.  We want to turn “off” the genes in these cells.  We can do this by maintaining a correct lifestyle and positive attitude.

All living things in this world have the same genetic code. There is no such living thing that is living by its own power.  Everything is kept alive by God’s power.  Let us appreciate to God, for our life and this body that we are using. To turn the switch “on” the good genes, we must maintain a mind of gratitude.  This is the key word.  The key word is gratitude.  Moreover, Dr. Murakami said that the children in developed countries have an abundance of material wealth.  He said that when the children get whatever they want, their good genes are turned off.  In other words, it is my understanding that the children will lack in motivation, patience and perseverance.

Next year in April, this DVD movie called “Prayer,” will be released and anyone can go and purchase it.  For those who could not make it to Ala Moana Hotel viewing and attend Dr. Murakami’s lecture, I would like to show some excerpts from the movie and a testimonial by the movie director, Mr. Tetsu Shiratori.  Since we have both English and Japanese versions, we would like the Japanese-speaking attendees to go to the kitchen downstairs to observe it.

If you truly resolve your mind and pray to Me,
I shall grant you My free and unlimited workings at once.   VII: 43

If your mind is sincere, pray to Me quickly about any concerns.
I shall respond at once.             VII: 46

I shall not refuse any prayer,
for I am hastening solely to save you.         VII: 47

Then, in whatever you pray, your salvation will be assured.
Watch closely!                IX: 6

If all of you in the world pray with this thought sincerely held,
you shall receive any blessing, whatever it may be.     XII: 182

Thank you for your attention.

Announcements

  1. For those of you able, please join us in the yearend cleaning, at Mission HQ on Friday, 12/26 beginning with Yohaishiki at 9am and at Pearl Church Saturday, December 27th from 9am.
  2. Also mochi pounding on Thursday, 12/30 from 7am.
  3. New Year’s Service at Pearl Church on New Year’s Day from 7am.
  4. Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive.   Please continue bringing your deposit cans and bottles and any yard work referrals.

Monthly Service Prayer December 2014

Before God the Parent, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, I, Owen Osamu Nakao, Pastor of Tenrikyo Pearl Church, pray with reverence:

God the Parent, we are grateful for Your constant protection and gradual instruction that guides us on the path to spiritual growth.  In this last month of this 177th year of Tenrikyo we give thanks for the many and continuous blessings we have received throughout the year.

Today, for this December monthly service at Pearl Church, the service performers will now unite their hearts to perform the seated service and Teodori joyfully and in high spirits.  Please accept our prayers as we brothers and sisters of this Path have looked forward to this day and have gathered before You to sing the Term: Mikagura-uta.
Through your blessing an average of three persons performed weekly yard work services for the elderly and disabled in the community, including two persons who trimmed trees at a small park where an elderly person takes care of the park which is next to her house.

Eight persons attended Mission HQ commemorative symposium held at Ala Moana Hotel on November 22.  A record 30 persons attended the thanksgiving service and dinner held on November 27 at Pearl Church. Lastly we have passed the first year anniversary since we purchased the back property on November 22nd of last year; and we give thanks again to those instrumental in the purchase.

In the remaining days of this year we vow to work together engaging in hinokishin and salvation work with a unity of mind and we look forward to the New Year, the last year of the three years, one thousand days leading up to Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary in 2016.  We vow to take the words of the Shinbashira as expressed in Instruction Three to heart and respond to Oyasama’s boundless parental love with decisiveness.

We pray that Your guidance will strengthen us into worthy Yoboku, striving with a single heart for the salvation of others.  We hope that our efforts will bring joy to You and peace in this world where all people help one another as brothers and sisters.  With our minds in unity toward the Truth of the Jiba, we would like to spiritedly perform the last monthly service of the 176th Year of Tenrikyo.

In union with the congregation, I pray for these blessings.

Eternal Virtue – February 2014

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the February Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

Eternal Virtue

The Tenrikyo faith in the Nakao family has continued for many generations since 1875. I would be the fifth generation in this faith. Due to this long faith continuing from generation to generation, I am blessed and thankful for the seeds of sincerity planted by my ancestors. One of the biggest blessings I received was being able to become a fulltime minister.

It was about thirteen years ago I was able to quit my regular paying job and do nioigake and salvation work fulltime. We have encountered many people through our salvation work. However, it was not easy as people are not necessarily receptive to the teachings. So we decided to care for a 10-year old boy who had ADHD, as foster parents. This boy needed to take medication to calm down and focus. He had a history of chasing his mother with a knife in his hand. The case manager suggested that we put a lock on the knife drawer as a precaution. We decided to hide the knives under the bed at night.

One-day, I took the foster boy to the barber shop on razor scooters. On the way and I met my classmate on the street. We shall call him Mr. A. We stopped and I asked him how he was and he explained that he had stomach pains for twenty-seven years. His stomach pains are so severe that he has to lie on the floor in a fetal position. When the pain attack comes he would go to emergency, sometimes by ambulance. But the doctors do not know the cause and they don’t know the cure. They just administer some morphine and send him home after which they later send him large hospital bills. We can only imagine how he went through life for twenty-seven years with this condition. I suppose it was like going through a dark alley with demons tormenting him with spears poking him every which way. He later told me that he wanted to take his own life, because he didn’t see any hope and because there was no cure for his condition. I asked him if I could pray for him and went to his house everyday for two weeks to administer the sazuke. He got a little better and started to visit our church everyday. He told me, “My life has really changed. Before I met you, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, now I can see a faint light.

However, two months later, he was involved in a traffic accident when coming to our church on his bicycle. A minivan hit him. It happened very close to our church, a few houses down the street. Neighbors came to his aid and Mr. A asked one of them to call “Owen” at the church there. When I heard a man calling my name I came out. He explained what happened and I rushed out to see Mr. A. He was lying in the middle of the street, with many people coming out to see what was going on. I saw a damaged minivan near him. The windshield was shattered with a crater the size of a human head and there was a big dent in the front corner of the van. I assumed he was seriously injured due to the damage on the van, and at the same time I wondered, “Oh, no, why did this happen when he was on the way to our church?” He was crossing the street towards this church to deliver his extra newspaper to us. I immediately did the sazuke and told him to rely on God. After the sazuke, the ambulance came and took him away. At the hospital, while he was waiting for the doctor, I did the sazuke on him again hoping for the best. He was told he had to stay overnight.

The next morning I visited him and administered the sazuke. He said that he needed to do one more test. And that afternoon, he called me from his home to let me know that there was nothing wrong! What a miracle! I said, “You are so lucky!” And I felt he had received God’s protection.
In the Ofudesaki we read:

Day by day, hasten to begin the Service.
You will escape any danger whatever.

Ofudesaki X: 19

Previously, Mr. A said couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and later he said that he can now see the light. However, after the accident, Mr. A, said, “Now, I have come out of the tunnel into the light and I want to tell everyone, how happy I am.” He said that now everything looks beautiful and pleasant. He said now I can see how beautiful the flowers are, the birds chirping and the beautiful blue sky. He said that previously, he didn’t really believe in God, but now, he says, “God really exists!” He said that through the accident, God gave him a second chance. Needless to say, I was very happy and relieved that he was ok. He was still experiencing stomach pains, but they were not as severe or as often as before. Like everyone, he has his up and downs in his faith, but he’s always very thankful for his blessings.

Thirteen years has passed since then. He now has a regular fulltime job for the past 3 or 4 years. When we asked him how he’s doing, he answered that he is fine and that he no longer experiences those stomach pains.

Next, in our more recent salvation work, we are helping a Japanese man in his fifties, who worked at and owned a computer software firm and also owned a restaurant in Japan. He came to Hawaii about ten years ago with a dream to start a business. However, he couldn’t speak English and his health deteriorated due to a health condition. Soon he was forced to quit his job and became homeless. He was told that in the U.S. there were many social welfare services to help the poor such as housing, food stamps, medical insurance and interpreter services for immigrants. He could live comfortably with these support services. He finally obtained housing and started a normal life. Because of his health condition, he has a hard time seeing and hearing and experienced numbness in his legs. Many people in his condition will eventually need to amputate. However, he was able to improve his health condition through medication and medical care and is able to walk.

A few days ago, he got a notice of violation of the rental agreement which terminated the rental agreement and has to move out. When I asked him the reason for the violation, he answered that it was because he doesn’t understand or speak English. Due to the language barrier, he was found at fault for a recent dispute with a neighbor. It has come to a point where he has to move out and become homeless again.

He takes the government welfare services for granted. He said that it is only natural that the government should help the poor and the sick. I felt that his attitude would not take him to a better place and improve his situation.

I told him that since he has received much assistance and benefits from the government, he should do some volunteer work in the community or church. But he answered that due to his physical condition, he cannot stand for a long time and didn’t display any interest at all. I felt that he didn’t want to do anything that doesn’t pay for his efforts. It is not good for followers of the faith to point out the negative traits of another person. We should look at any negative situations as opportunities for self-reflection and spiritual growth.

In the Ofudesaki, we read:

There are a great number of people living throughout the world,
but their minds are all as if in a haze.

Ofudesaki VI: 14

The population in the world is about 7 billion. I feel that the Ofudesaki is saying that the people of the world cannot see ahead because of this haze or selfish thinking.

Again, in the Ofudesaki:

Day by day, your innermost heart will be purified and understanding
will come. You will come to see the truth as you mature.

Ofudesaki VI: 15

The people’s minds are as if in a haze. However, if you follow the Teachings on a daily basis and have faith in God, the mind becomes clear and can understand the will of God the Parent.

This is the difference between people who have faith in God and those who do not. Those of us without faith in God, cannot see our face in the mirror. Those of us with faith can clearly see our mind and know what we need to do. When the mind is clear, we can see clearly, and can tell whether we are acting in ways that conform to God’s intention or according to our own selfish desires.

By the truth to helping others, our dreams can come true and we can receive necessities when we need it.

In conclusion, by helping others and making other people happy, our life will be lifted up, with good health and we will want to do even more to serve God and the community.

In the Osashizu: January 29, 1889, we read

Faith lasting for one generation is rewarded as such, that for two generations as such; and that lasting from one generation to another is rewarded with an eternal virtue.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Announcements

  1. Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. We are still continuing our fundraising efforts to recoat the roof in preparation of the solar panel installation later this month. Please continue bringing your deposit cans and bottles and any yard work referrals.
  2. Also thank you very much for helping at the BGA Leadership Camp and annual New Year Park Cleanup and BBQ Picnic held last month. One counselor and three adult volunteers from Pearl Church participated and helped to conduct the camp. About 80 persons came for the Moiliili Stadium park cleanup of which 13 were from Pearl Church. Thank you for volunteering your time to do nioigake in the community!
  3. The annual Tenri Cultural Center cleanup is scheduled for President’s day, Monday, February 17 from 9am. Lunch will be served at 11am.
  4. As one of the activities leading up to Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary, the Mission Headquarters will be conducting a Yoboku Gathering on March 15th, 9-11:30. The guest speaker will be Setsumi’s brother, Rev. Toshi Yukimoto of Central Fresno Church in Fresno, California. Please mark your calendar for this important function.
  5. The annual BGA Spring Camp will be held next month on March 21-23, Friday-Sunday. We would like to ask for everyone’s hinokishin.
  6. Please take advantage of these activities accomplish several tasks at one time:
    1. Sweep away your mental dusts and further your spiritual growth.
    2. Do nioigake by inviting friends and family.
    3. Transmit the faith to the next generation.
    4. Plant seeds of sincerity by sharing the joy of faith to the people around you and the community.
  7. Please welcome: Bishop and Mrs. Yamanaka and son Goichi. Also two Tenri Kyoko Gakuen students staying at Setsumi’s place. Also, Minori Hirata who is attending the NICE program at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus.

The Acquisition of the Back Property

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the January Grand Service here at Tenrikyo Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

Significance of Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary

Near the end of Her physical life, Oyasama urged the followers to perform the service despite the strict enforcement by the police not to performed it. After much discussion, the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke, said to the followers, “Only those should perform who are willing to risk their lives no matter what measures the police use to stop the Service.” The service was finally performed on January 26, 1887. Oyasama withdrew from physical life at the same time the Service had ended, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, as if asleep. She was in Her ninetieth year.

We cannot see her physically but we believe that Oyasama is “ever-living” working day and night for world salvation. In the Osashizu, we read:

“Sah, sah, I am still living here. I have not gone anywhere. You must look at the path of daily life and ponder.” Osashizu, March 17, 1890

To commemorate the day of Her withdrawal from physical life, we conduct the January Grand Service. In 2016, two years from now, we will commemorate Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary. Let us all make firm resolutions to grow spiritually and receive blessings during this seasonable time; and return to Jiba for the 130th Anniversary.

Each Tenrikyo church has a shrine for Oyasama on the right side of the sanctuary. Although we cannot see Her, She is ever-living and working day and night for world salvation. Because we cannot see Her, it’s easy to forget that She is always with us. But when I see the shrine with the doors open, it reminds me that She is always here with us. The shrine doors are all open for all the shrines during the monthly service, but only Oyasama’s shrine remains open every day.

The Acquisition of the Back Property

As we announced last month we were able to complete the purchase of the back property in a timely manner with the support and assistance of certain key members, the seeds of sincerity planted by our predecessors, the moral support of the entire congregation and the mysterious guidance and blessing of God the Parent and Oyasama.

The mysterious blessing of God the Parent and Oyasama, was shown through the good timing of how this was accomplished. First was the fact that the sale of the property occurred at a time when we were able to gather people essential to make the purchase. Second, all key members of the church agreed to the purchase and support it with unity of mind. Lastly, we cannot forget the seeds of sincerity planted by our predecessors which made this possible. Also, the fact that we will be commemorating our 80th Anniversary later this year, the purchase gives it greater meaning and significance.

A little over a year ago, my son, Lewis, returned from Japan after serving in Jiba. While both of us were outside near the back property with my father, my father suddenly said to Lewis, “Lewis, buy the back property!” I kind of laughed, silently, because I thought it was a long and far off dream.

Our quest to obtain the back property which is 5,000 square feet and has two small houses, probably started when we first considered rebuilding the church in 1989, about 25 years ago. I remember my dad, the former head minister and I visited the former owner of the back property who lived across the street at that time to ask if he and his wife, wanted to sell the property which they were renting out. But they refused, saying that they were interested in purchasing our property. For that reason we decided to rebuild. As you can see we went ahead with rebuilding this church.

Years passed with many different tenants, some were friendly and some were challenging. Through it all we tried to get along with whoever lived there. The most challenging was the last tenant who played loud music late into the night and often invited friends over for loud conversation, music, playing The Beachboys live music, and drinking parties. Neighbors would tell me to call the police. Although, at times, I wanted to call, I didn’t, saying that we are indebted to him because he signed a letter supporting the church when we applied for the zoning variance. The zoning variance was required because we didn’t have enough space to operate as a church. Also, we make our share of noise as well whether it’s our service or some project I’m doing in the back. In addition, he saved his bottles and cans for our recycling fundraiser. Every couple months or so, I would give him a 12 pack of Kirin beer thanking him for saving the bottles and cans for us. He was really happy, but a neighbor said it didn’t make sense to do that because of his noisy behavior. Although, it wasn’t clear to me, I felt that, somewhere, in the back of my mind that my relationship with the tenants may have a direct influence on us acquiring the property.

In July last year, the tenants of both houses told me that they received notice from the managing company that they had to move out in 45 days, without any reason.

In September, the realtor representing the owners came to inspect the property and told us that the owners want to sell and that she will be listing the property very soon. Without really knowing whether we could afford it or not, I said that we would be very interested in purchasing the property. She then asked that we make an offer as soon as possible.

Later that month we held a church sale and by coincidence, the realtor held an open house for the property on the same weekend. Observing how well our members worked together for the garage sale, she later said to me that she had a good feeling and good impression of our church. She also donated some items for the garage sale.

In pondering over the purchase of this property, I thought that if another person or family purchased the property, it could be decades or another lifetime before we could get another chance. It was a chance we couldn’t miss. From about that time we started to do prayer service consisting of the seated service and 12 Songs teodori every night at 7:30pm.

After discussing the purchase of the property with key members of our church we decided to make an offer matching the asking price which we thought was very high at $680,000. A few days later, the realtor called saying that the owners really want the church to acquire the property and asked that we submit another offer. After discussing with our key members, we made a higher offer and they accepted. Later we found out that the owner, had two other offers that were much higher, but for some reason the owner still wanted to sell to us. For whatever reason, it was a great blessing for us.

Generally speaking, people can buy property, if they have the money and the highest offer. But in this case, the owner sold the back property to this church, even though they had higher offers. This is God’s miraculous working.

Oyasama once said, “If you believe in God, God is here for you, if don’t believe in God, God is not here. Also, “If you believe that whatever you receive as a grateful blessing from God, that held thought is God.”

Whatever miraculous and wondrous things happen, it proves that God is here. We should not forget that this wondrous acquisition of the back property did not happen overnight, but it is due to the seeds of sincerity, the performance of the salvation service and administering the sazuke, from the time of our first head minister, Rev. Tsugi Nagayama till now.

Thank you for your attention.

Announcements

  1. Happy New Year! I would like to thank everyone for your support given last year. The major activities were the BGA Spring Camp & General Meeting, the install of the photovoltaic panels on June 29, the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba and the annual Tenrikyo Bazaar. Thank you very much!
  2. I would like to thank everyone for your support in helping with the MHQ and Pearl Church spring cleaning, the mochi pounding on December 30 and your generous New Year offerings. Thank you very much!
  3. Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. We are still continuing our fundraising efforts to fund our stone pavement project on the side of the church and repair the air conditional units downstairs. Please continue bringing your deposit cans and bottles and any yard work referrals.
  4. The BGA annual New Year Park Cleanup and BBQ Picnic will be held on Sunday, January 27 from 10am, please meet at Mission HQ at 9am for prayer service. This is open to everyone; however, please contact me to let me know who is coming so that we may prepare enough food. Meet at MHQ at 9am or go direct to Moiliili Stadium Park by 10am. If you have them, please bring your own cleaning tools such as rakes and dust pans. The LC will from start from the day before on Saturday, January 26, for kids 12 and above.
  5. The annual Tenri Cultural Center cleanup is scheduled for President’s day February 18th from 9am.
  6. Please welcome new faces: