Earth Carring Hinokishin

I would like to thank you all for attending the Pearl Church September Service. I’m sure God the Parent and Oyasama is very happy to see you here today and will bless you accordingly. I would like to take this time to thank you all for your kind offerings. Also, I would like to thank you all for your support for the annual Tenrikyo bazaar held this past August 31st, in the form of the purchasing and selling scrips and doing Hinokishin. Thank you very much!

EARTH-CARRYING HINOKISHIN

Please turn to page 29 in the Mikagura-uta and in Song Eleven, please read with me:

     This past August 22 through 27, due to God the Parent’s blessing I was able to return to Jiba to receive the divine sanction to proceed with our renovations. I was also able attend the monthly service and gave the sermon at our upper church Tengen Bunkyokai, and on the 26th, attend the Church Headquarters August monthly service. The divine sanction ceremony was held that evening at the Foundress’ Sanctuary with people from 55 other churches requesting various divine sanctions. Most of the ministers were accompanied by 6 or more members of their respective church. They sat in rows, one row for each church. My contingent just consisted of: Rev. Motohiro Nakao, who is the Tengen Head Minister, Mr. Deguchi and myself. We had the shortest row so we felt a little out of place. Mr. Deguchi by the way lives in Japan, but he is a staunch supporter and member of Pearl Church. He likes to joke that he is a board member of Pearl Church. Sometimes I think he’s serious. The divine sanction ceremony is similar to receiving the truth of sazuke in that you enter a special room and sit on the tatami floor before the Shinbashira who verbally grants our request. All this time our heads are bowed and my hands are forward on the floor holding a small open fan onto which the official written sanction is placed. We are then quickly ushered out the room. This is how the divine sanction is received. I wanted to see the Shinbashira’s face, but we were instructed look down and not directly at his face. At least I got to hear his voice.

Anyway, during my stay, I participated in the earth-carrying Hinokishin; called ‘tsuchi mochi Hinokishin’ in which dirt is placed in a straw basket and a pole is inserted through the two loops at the top of the basket. Two people carry the ends of the pole with the basket in the middle. The earth-carrying Hinokishin is part of a church headquarters’ construction project to the extend the outside worship area west of the worship hall, by filling in the low area so that the level will be the same as the worship hall ground level. This construction, called the ‘westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts,’ started in June of this year. It is one of two major construction projects planned by Church Headquarters in anticipation of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. I couldn’t help but feel so happy that I was doing this tsuchi mochi Hinokishin, because of the deep meaning it has for me as a Tenrikyo follower: For one thing, I’m able to do Hinokishin, saying thanks to God for our borrowed bodies. Next I was happy because I was doing it at the parental home, the birthplace of human beings. Next, I was doing it to make my parents happy: my parents, as well as, God the Parent and Oyasama. And last, it crystallized the joyous life as expressed in the Mikagura-uta verses we just read.

I saw young people, old people, children, people on wheelchairs, people with walking canes, and even toddlers carrying small sand buckets full of dirt. Each and every one of them making a contribution, however small, toward the construction project. I felt an incredible sense of awe and amazement. And then I became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears started to roll down my eyes and I started to weep uncontrollably. I felt, ‘So this is what the joyous life is.’ I hope that all of you will someday be able to experience this.

I imagine that a person without faith would not be able to understand this scene. I would suppose when they see a mass of people carrying dirt the old fashion way in straw baskets, they would wonder out loud, ‘What in the world are you doing? Just get a bulldozer, a few trucks and fill the damn thing!’ They would fail to see the wonder and deep meaning behind this action called ‘Hinokishin.’ But deep inside, I feel hope that in their wonder and confusion that they will question their lack of faith and search for the real meaning of life.

     When we look at the history of the Anniversaries of Oyasama that right after Oyasama’s 20th anniversary, about 100 years ago, the first worship hall was constructed, which is called the North worship hall. Because the Jiba is surrounded by mountains and is in a valley there is a slope. In order to level the ground for the construction, we needed to bring soil from Toyoda Mountain. There were no trucks in those days. People carried the soil in straw baskets hung with a pole carried by the two persons. Members were not allowed to haul it by the vehicles. So from Toyoda yama (where the present Tenrikyo Cemetery is located) to the construction site, people by the thousands in a long line, carried the soil.

For the 30th Anniversary
The construction of the North Worship Hall was completed.

For the 40th Anniversary
The area around the Worship Hall was expanded and leveled.

For the 50th Anniversary
The South Worship and the Foundress’ Sanctuary were completed.

For the 70th Anniversary
The Oyasato Yakata Complex was started. The Yakata complex is a series of wings built in the shape of a square surrounding the Jiba used to house lecture halls, offices, dormitories, classrooms and now the Sankokan museum.

For the 100th Anniversary
The East and West Worship Halls were completed.

In the Osashizu, it is said that to construct a new building or demolish an old building by Hinokishin by the children of God is considered a spiritual and joyous act of contribution and dedication. It is through this wondrous and endless construction that the children of God can reform their minds and receive blessings.
In the English language, there is a slogan that refers to the strong faith of a person or a group as ‘the faith that moves mountains.’ I believe that in Tenrikyo this applies to both its figurative as well as its literal meaning. As shown by this and other previous construction projects at Jiba, this is the faith that really moves mountains.

Just as a reminder, we are in the midst of the three years, one thousand days before Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary and I ask everyone, to take advantage of this seasonal time, to make your individual resolutions in anticipation toward Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary by doing Hinokishin or doing the service on a daily basis. If you have a pressing personal or family problem or illness, perhaps this is God’s message to you to urge you on toward spiritual maturity. In the Osashizu, Oyasama said, ‘If there is no difficulty you cannot settle your mind.’ Your resolution can take the form of doing more Hinokishin, installing God’s shrine in your home, performing the service on a daily basis, returning to Jiba and attending the Besseki lectures to receive the Truth of Sazuke. Planting seeds of sincerity during this seasonal time will bring about ‘rich harvests and prosperity everywhere.’ Please let us know how we can help you to determine your resolution.

Announcements:
1.     The Dendocho September Service will be held next Sunday at 9am.
2.     The annual All Tenrikyo Nioigake Day will be held on following day, Monday, September 22nd at 9am.
3.     The weekly service practices are held every Thursday night at 6:30-7:30pm.
4.     The Pearl Church Autumn Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, September 28th at 8am.
I would like to encourage all of you to take advantage of these opportunities for further spiritual growth, which is the path of the joyous life.

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