Good morning! I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the September Monthly 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!
TAISHOKUTEN NO MIKOTO
Last month we talked about the doubting mind and the mind that believes. This month we will continue with our series on the ten divine providences. This month is Taishokuten no Mikoto, the seventh providence.
Taishokuten is the providence of cutting off the ties of the child to its mother at birth and also in cutting off the breath of life when one passing for rebirth; in the world the providence of cutting in general.
TAISHOKUTEN NO MIKOTO: SHUSSAN NO TOKI OYA TO KO NO TAIEN WO KIRI DENAOSHI NO TOKI IKI WO HIKI TORU SEWA, SEKAI DEWA KIRU KOTO ISSAI NO SHUGO NO RI.
As you can see the providence of cutting is essential at the time of birth and at the time of passing away for rebirth: cutting the umbilical cord at birth and cutting off the breath of life when passing away.
I am borrowing from a previous sermon given in July of 2004, so please bear with me for the benefit of those who haven’t heard this sermon.
While attending Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration service on April 18th, as Shuyoka instructor, I was honored to sit inside the fenced area and therefore I was able to observe the performance of the Kanrodai Service. As some of you may know, ten performers surround the Kanrodai and each of them does a different movement at the end of each “Ashiki o haro ote.”
For example the performer representing, Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto, the providence of joining goes like this: right hand moving from the abdomen and extending to the right with palms up; Kashikone-no-Mikoto, the providence of wind, goes like this: both hands facing down moving from left to right; and Kumoyomi-no-Mikoto, the providence of the rise and fall of moisture, goes like this: both hands facing up moving from below the abdomen to above the chest.
However, I noticed that Taishokuten-no-Mikoto, the providence of cutting, did not do any special movement. It did the regular movement as we all do for the services held at churches. From my previous experience I was taught that it was supposed to go like this, with two hands stretching a piece of string. Later I was told that they did that motion only on the last three times of “Ashiki o haro ote.”
During one of the instructors’ study sessions, the Shuyoka Director explained that we shouldn’t take the providence of cutting lightly since it also means cutting off the breath of life when one passes away for rebirth. So I took it to mean that “cutting off the breath of life” should be done at the end of a long life that’s why it’s done during the last three times of the “Ashiki o haro ote.” But he didn’t answer the question of why three times, why not just one time?
But later, as I was studying for my next class, I read a sermon given by a Church Headquarters minister Rev. Kiyozo Yamada at America Dendocho who spoke about Taishokuten-no-Mikoto, the providence of cutting and Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto, the providence of joining. He said that the reason for the three times is that the number three signifies the third providence which is the Truth of Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto, which represents the providence of the female organ, of skin and joining; in the world, the providence of money and marriage and joining in general.
Money joins one commodity to another during any transaction. Marriage joins a couple as husband and wife. Joining in general means: a family continuing from one generation to the next, it also means connecting with people in relationships, parent-child, husband and wife, brothers and sisters, etc. Our life continues by joining one day to the next.
The reason for cutting is that there is an anticipation of a subsequent joining. In other words we cut in order to connect.
Let me give an example. The clothing we wear is made by cutting sheets of cloth into pieces and then joining them together by sewing. A wooden house or wooden furniture is built by joining pieces of wood that have been cut and sanded. Gourmet foods we eat are prepared first by cutting vegetables, meats, and other ingredients and mixing or joining them all together.
Therefore cutting is necessary for the purpose of joining. What becomes important then is how it is cut. Cutting cloth the wrong way ruins the clothing; cutting and sanding wood in the wrong places result in no house or no furniture. Likewise cooking can be also ruined.
The way we cut and the conditions resulting from the cut becomes an issue of importance for us. When we fall and cut our skin for example, we normally treat the cut by wiping, cleaning and disinfecting. By so doing we receive the Truth of Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto, the providence of skin and joining and the cut heals.
When we try to glue two parts together we usually clean the surfaces to be joined. By experience we know that it is hard to join surfaces that are dirty. Such is the result of receiving the providence of cutting and the providences of joining, working together.
When we extend this line of reasoning to our life we find we have many breaks or points of severance or cutting in the course of our lives. A break is so-called because conditions before and after the break are totally different. Childbirth is a break. A newborn member is added to a family. That break is the beginning of a series of breaks in the life of this newborn. The baby grows up and attends school. Many new teachers and new friends come into his life and depart upon graduation.
When we grow up and reach adulthood, the social status changes and different laws become applicable. A juvenile in a criminal case will be tried as an adult with a different set of laws. When one marries, a new couple starts a family. Getting new employment, changing a job, and moving to a new place – all these are breaks in the course of one’s life. Retiring and finally passing away for rebirth are also important breaks in our life.
We have many such breaks in our lifetime. Therefore, the question for us is, how can we make each break a clean one? I believe, it means to add a feeling of gratitude at each breaking situation. Grateful and graceful acceptance makes such breaks a clean and pure severance. Handling the break cleanly with a feeling of gratitude invites in turn the providence of joining.
Let me explain:
Rev. Yamada gave this example: In Japan we have many companies going through re-organization and factory closures. A Tenrikyo follower was employed at a factory for many years. Its parent company went bankrupt and was forced to close and employees received severance pay and were dismissed. This follower went to see his head minister to discuss this matter, asking him, what he should do from tomorrow.
His head minister answered: “In this current down time it will be difficult to find another job quickly. So, until you find another job, why don’t you go back to the factory that had supported you for all these years and clean the machines and floors for the time being?”
He thought he received a good suggestion. So he put that idea into practice from the next day. Time to time the president showed up and watching him cleaning and said, “I cannot pay you any more” with a concern. The follower replied, “Don’t worry. I am doing this as my token of appreciation for being supported all these years.” He continued to do the cleaning and maintained the machines.
One day a buyer was found for the machines at the factory. The new buyer came to see the machines and found the machines and premises kept clean and tidy. The surprised buyer asked the president about it. The president explained, “There is an ex-employee who comes everyday to clean.”
Impressed the new buyer said, “I understand. I will buy the machines as promised but would like to attach one condition to my purchase. The condition is to have this person come with the machine to my factory.” In this way, the follower found a new job as a floor chief of the factory.
If the employee complained about the company laying him off, then he would not be able to make his break clean and neat. In other words, he is not making a break at all, but he regrets having to depart from his company and is still trying to hang on. Since the break with his company would not have been clean, he would probably have a hard time making a connection with a new job.
Reorganization and bankruptcy are big breaks in the operations of a factory and effects the lives of many employees. This employee cleaned the place as an expression of gratitude and appreciation for his long employment supporting his livelihood. We know this act as Hinokishin.
Doing Hinokishin made his severance of employment in the course of his life clean and neat. By so doing the truth of Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto came into play and he received blessings of the providence of joining in the form of new employment. This story illustrates clearly the relationship between the providence of cutting and the providence of joining and the importance of making the cut clean and neat.
We face various breaks in the course of our lives. Even the daily waking and going to sleep are breaks in our lives. By doing Hinokishin, the morning and evening services, attending the monthly services to give our thanks, we are in effect making the breaks clean and neat so that we can make good connections for a happy life.
Our life also comes to an end at some point in time. What is important when we are faced with the end of our lives? Again, I believe it is to show gratitude. When we give sincere thanks at the time of our departure we will be blessed with the providence of joining at the time of our next life cycle.
However, we do not know when we will depart. If we depart suddenly as in a car accident, we would not have an opportunity to give our thanks. So, I believe that it’s important to constantly be grateful and constantly give thanks to God the Parent, Oyasama, your parents, and the people around you. Then you will always be assured of the blessings of joining and good connections in this life and also connect with a good next life.
So folks, in cutting anything, please cut it cleanly and carefully.
And these, my friends, are the teachings for your happy and prosperous life, the joyous life.
- I would like to thank all of you who purchased, helped to sell scrips and BBQ chicken tickets and volunteered in the recent annual Tenrikyo Bazaar held last month on August 30th. Proceeds from the bazaar help to fund activities, emergency disaster fund and upkeep the mission headquarters facilities. Although the bazaar raises funds, the main purpose of the bazaar is to provide a service to the community and to bring friends and family of the faith together in unity. I don’t know the exact count, but I estimate about 300 volunteers who work at the bazaar, with about 20 people from Pearl Church. Thank you very much! Thank you for buying and selling scrips, thank you helping to make ohagi which sold out, thank you for helping at the games and toy booth, thank you for helping at the bubble drink booth which was headed by Lewis and thank you for driving the shuttle van. Thank you also to Yuki, Satsuki and Chisato’s church, Saino Nishi Church for donating 330 rolls of sushi!
- I would also like to thank those who participated in the all Tenrikyo Nioigake Day, which was held on Labor Day, September 7 at Stadium Park.
- This month is the autumn memorial service month on the fourth Sunday. Since the mission HQ memorial service is on the same day at 10am, we will move ours up to 7am. Please join us in gratitude and pay our respects to your ancestors, late members and the late first head minister of Pearl Church.
- Taeko would like to express her regrets for not being here. Her dad passed away recently and is presently in Japan. Also Moses and Chieko are presently Japan finishing their church headquarters obligations and will be returning to Pearl Church on September 22.
- Please welcome, the mission headquarters secretary Mr. Kikunobu Takemura and his family Kyoko, their twins: Kumiko and Kimiko and little one Misako!
- Please bid your warm aloha to Satsuki Yamazaki who will be returning to Japan to get married. Thank you Satsuki for your dedicated hinokishin and worship at Pearl Church. I would like to say that she made it a point to delay her departure just so that she could attend today’s monthly service. She will be departing tomorrow.