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.

Why Do We Have Faith in God?

TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON 2003 FEBRUARY

I would like to thank you all for attending the February Service, here at Tenrikyo Pearl Church in this 166th year of Tenrikyo. I’m sure God the Parent and Oyasama are very happy to see you here today and will bless you accordingly.

WHY DO WE HAVE FAITH IN GOD?

Why do we have faith in God? There are many people who seem to be living happily without having faith in God or going to church. There are also people who think that they should stay at home and take a nap rather than waste their time at church. However, we have faith in God because we believe that we will continue to receive God’s marvelous blessings. If we didn’t receive any blessings, we wouldn’t believe in God. In fact, there are many people who are suffering from all kinds of problems, such as problems in relationships with others, illness, accidents, and other unpleasant incidents.

This past Tuesday, we went to nioigake (missionary work) in the Wahiawa area. I met an elderly lady, whose granddaughter, Kahealani, 11 years old, was murdered last December. Most of you have heard or read about it in the newspaper. The suspect was her 18-year-old sister’s boyfriend who is 20 years old. Because the boyfriend needed money, he robbed Kahealani of her Hawaiian bracelets, which she always wore to school, and subsequently ended her life. After hearing her story, I couldn’t say anything, but to give my sympathies to her grandmother. Why does this kind of thing happen? I thought and thought about for a long time.
We are taught that fruit do not grow without a seed. Consequently, whatever happens in world are the results of seeds that were sown. This is the law of nature. When you throw a ball hard, it rebounds hard, if you throw it soft, it comes back soft. This is the nature of heaven and the providence of God. The path that we are on is the path that we have laid for ourselves. We are reborn from previous lives so we have been accumulating all kinds of dusts from our present life as well as our previous lives. We don’t know it, but we might have committed many misdeeds in our previous lives.

Just because one day we put our hands together and ask God for help, doesn’t mean that we will be instantly cleansed completely of the dusts in our mind. In the same way, having faith in God doesn’t mean that good things will always happen from that day forward. For instance, if we always make people happy, then people will be kind to us. On the other hand, if we accuse people and make people suffer, then we will receive suffering. But if we have faith in God, God will reduce a big misfortune into a smaller misfortune, according to God’s grace. We will never have to face severe misfortunes.

Here is a story of a family who has faith in Tenrikyo. The son, who is a college student wanted to buy a motorcycle and started to work at a part time job. After one month past, he wondered why he didn’t get paid and went to see his boss. The boss said that his mom came and asked that one year of her son’s pay be given to his mom in advance. Later he found out that his mom offered his money to God. His mom told him that he did not have any ‘toku’ or virtue to receive and safely ride the motorcycle. The son then scolded his mom and told her to never do this again. Anyway, he continued to work at the part time job and earned enough money to purchase a motorcycle after the second year. He was so happy to finally be able to ride his motorcycle. But shortly after that he was involved in an accident with a car and but did not suffer from any injury, not even a scratch. As you can see, if you have faith in God, God will protect you, by making a big misfortune, small, and a small misfortune into an inconvenience.

There is another story about Mr. Hiroki Mitsunaga, the late husband of Mrs. Mitsunaga. When he was 80 years old he was still working part time as bookkeeper for a produce company. Against his family’s wish to stop working because of his age, he continued to work. While he was driving to the bank on the company van, he was struck from behind by another vehicle and his van went over a fire hydrant. The fire hydrant went right through the underside of the vehicle and appeared on the side of the driver’s seat. He then opened his door and came out of the van without a scratch and looked fine. The ambulance came and took him to the hospital, which he hesitated to go, but was finally persuaded to go. At the hospital, he took x-rays twice because the doctor wanted to make sure and it was found that nothing was wrong. He was not injured at all. This is due to his faith (the toku or virtue accumulated) and his devotion in attending the monthly service.

Toku is invisible; we cannot see it and we cannot touch it. It is not an object. However, devotion to church worship, connecting with God, and helping people with our kindness will accumulate toku and thereby receive God’s protection and blessings.


Announcements:

1. The Dendocho Spring Grand Service will be held next Sunday at 9am.

2. The monthly Nioigake Day will be held on following day, Monday, 17th at 9am.

3. The weekly service practices are held every Thursday night at 6:00-7:00pm.

4. The Boy’s and Girl’s Association Hinokishin Day at Stadium Park will be held on Saturday, February 22, at 10am, we will meet at Dendocho at 9am.

5. The Boy’s and Girl’s Association Spring Camp will be held on March 22nd to the 24th (Sat thru Mon). On Sunday, at 10am we will be having the General Meeting. Everyone is invited, so please come and enjoy.

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.

6. We regret to announce the passing of the late Daryl Nakai, who was injured in a moped accident on January 4th and passed away three days later on January 7th. Daryl attended our November Service last year. Our hearts go out to his friends and family and pray that he will be reborn and join us once again in a new life.