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 month we conducted the 8th Bishop Installation Service in the presence of the Shinbashira and had the honor of his visit to Pearl Church during his stay in Hawaii. I would like to once again thank all of you for your cooperation and assistance in welcoming the Shinbashira here and for attending the installation service. Thank you very much.
Hinokishin Will Save Us
Recently our son-in-law sent me an article on Time magazine titled, “How Service Can Save Us,” dated July 1, 2013.
The article explained how community service is helping veterans overcome their PTSD or “post traumatic stress disorder.” There are 261,998 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who received a provisional diagnosis of PTSD from 2002 through the first quarter of 2013. The article focused on veteran Ian Smith who felt sure that he wasn’t suffering from PTSD.
He was “O.K.” He was living with his girlfriend in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee working three jobs – moving lawns, delivering pizzas, cleaning a local church. He was carrying a 4.0 grade point average at Volunteer State Community College. Yes, he’d seen some terrible stuff during two tours in Iraq. But others had been through much worse. He’d never been wounded. He was alive.
But it was a strange sort of alive. He lived on his couch, with his pistol. He didn’t sleep much. The only way he could get to sleep was by getting drunk, so he got drunk every night and slept with his gun under the pillow. He had gained 60 lbs. since leaving the Army in February 2009. He drank more and more. His girlfriend left him. He put the gun to his head several times. “He absolutely refused to believe he was suffering from PTSD,” said his buddy, Mike Pereira, a fellow Army intelligence analyst, “But I wasn’t going to let him alone.”
Pereira was working for a veteran’s service organization called the Mission Continues, in St. Louis. He heard Ian’s anguish over the phone and over the headset when they played video games together. Mike had lived through some tough times too after leaving the Army. He too had been living alone, on the couch. He too had put a gun to his head. But he was living with a purpose now. And he kept after Ian to come to St. Louis, Missouri: Come for a weekend, come do a service project. Mike talked nonstop about the Mission Continues and its leader, Eric Greitens, about the peace he’d found. Ian was skeptical—it almost sounded like a cult—but he agreed to visit Mike and work on a service project, cleaning up the Edgewood Children’s Center in St. Louis.
And there, almost without noticing it at first, Ian began to feel better. He was painting a room with a bunch of veterans, trading war stories. “All of them had this real tough, kind of like, exterior, but inside they were just like me, just confused and scared and really angry.” Ian, now 30, recalled. “And I saw these guys doing these very simple things. Nobody can argue with helping to paint a wall for a disabled or homeless kid. That’s just good. There’s no bad in that.”
Ian went back to Mike’s place and really slept that night, for the first time in months. “I was blown away by how much better I felt,” Ian recalled. “And I thought, Man, if I could just capture a little bit of that and hold it close to my heart, I think I could do all right. Things could get better.”
Things got better. Ian moved to St. Louis. He lost the 60 lbs. He stopped drinking so much; he moved the gun from his bad to the night table. He applied for and received a six month public-service fellowship from the Mission Continues, and then joined the staff as a service-project coordinator. He was so successful at this that he was eventually summoned to the White House, to serve as an intern with Joining Forces, Michelle Obama’s effort to help Iraq- and Afghanistan-war veterans. He is now completing a degree in international studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
Ian Smith’s story is unusual, but not unique. We mostly hear the sad stories, about the veterans who don’t get it together. But by the end of 2013, more that 800 veterans, most of them wounded, some severely, will have passed through the Mission Continues fellowship program. An initial study of 52 TMC fellows, conducted by Dr. Monica Matthieu and three Washington University colleagues, showed dramatic improvement in well-being after a six-month fellowship: 86% of the fellows reported a positive life-changing experience, 71% went on to further their education, and 86% said the program helped them transfer their military skills to civilian employment. This is especially impressive, given that 52% of those studied had suffered traumatic brain injuries and 64% had been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress. “These are positive results,” Dr. Matthieu says, “but we just don’t have enough data yet to say with any certainty how often public service succeeds as a therapy for PTSD.”
The Mission Continues, which is based in St. Louis but has fellows serving throughout the country, is at the heart of among this generation of combat veterans. Groups are sprouting spontaneously across the country, building houses, working in health care, teaching, counseling, farming and taking care of their more seriously wounded comrades. Team Rubicon, based in Los Angeles, has roster of about 7,000 veterans ready to do disaster-relief missions around the world; it was co-founded by a Mission Continues fellow, Jake Wood.
This is just another example of how science and research is finally catching up to what Tenrikyo teaches.
We are saved by saving others.
In the Ofudesaki we read
Hereafter, if all of you throughout the world save one another in every matter,
Know that Tsukihi will accept that mind and will provide any salvation whatever.
XII: 93, 94
When we come across people, our friend, family and coworkers, who have worries or are suffering, a desire to help them be saved by any means wells up in our minds, which prompts us to take action, reach out to them, and exert our utmost sincerity to save them. Such a mind is the mind of sincerity.
Because the sincere mind of saving others is the mind that accords with the intention of God the Parent and conforms to the truth of heaven, God the Parent will accept such a mind and assure us of every salvation. (from a sermon given by Rev. Hiroaki Yamazawa at the MHQ June monthly service.)
We read in the Ofudesaki,
If your mind is truly sincere, there will never be a failure in any salvation.
Also, a Divine Direction says, and I quote,
Sincerity alone is the truth of heaven. Because it is the truth of heaven, I accept it at once and give a return at once: this is the one truth.
Osashizu, April 17, 1890
In response to the mind of true sincerity that desires to save others by any means, God the Parent shows us wondrous workings and miraculous salvation.