The Measure of Heaven

TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON ‘ 2004 August


Good morning! I would like to thank you all for your kind support and sincere offerings. I am confident that God the Parent and Oyasama are pleased that you are present here today to participate in this August Monthly Service.

THE MEASURE OF HEAVEN
Serving as Shuyoka instructor for the second time, the experience still provided opportunities to the study the teachings more in depth, to reflect on my faith, and to reestablish an even firmer determination to spread the teachings and do salvation work.

Being blessed with twenty students: 14 from the U.S. 3 from Nepal, 1 from Korea, 1 from Philippines and 1 from Canada, I knew it would be a challenge, but still I felt it shouldn’t be a problem being that it was my second time. Well, I was in for a surprise. Just to explain about the necessity to wear the happi uniform proved to be more difficult than I thought. Here I would like to share with you an incident which provided me an opportunity for self-reflection and spiritual growth.

One afternoon in early June, we gathered for Hinokishin in front of 4th Wing at 1:00pm. One of the students in my class showed up just a tad late: after the sanden reihai (prayer to towards the sanctuaries) and after Class Monitor #4 had turned in the attendance card. As usual, he didn’t have his happi on when he should.

Anyway, while walking toward the cemetery for Hinokishin with everyone, this Shuyoka student put on his happi and asked me if he could take it "off." I replied, "No," in a manner as if I was saying "of course not!" He then said, "Look, I’ve asked you in a polite manner and it’s unbearably hot. It doesn’t make any sense to wear this happi in this hot weather. It makes no sense!"
I felt really distressed to be put into a position of having to explain why we had to wear the happi uniform. I wasn’t sure myself as to why we had to wear the happi coat. Without thinking about it much, I said, "It DOES make sense. It’s a rule of Shuyoka. It’s the set uniform. It promotes unity and a sense of discipline." I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to explain more than that. But he continued, "Give me one reason, why we should wear this happi in this hot weather."

At loss as to what more I could say, I said, "If it makes a difference, I would like to explain, but it seems like my explanation doesn’t make a difference." Then in defiance, he took off his happi and proceeded to the cemetery taking a different route with another Shuyoka student.

At the cemetery, everyone was allowed to remove their happi. But even after the starting prayer, he continued, "This is why I hate Tenrikyo! I’ve been through this and it doesn’t make sense. People of the world will look at this and laugh. You cannot promote Tenrikyo this way. It makes no sense!"

I don’t know where the words came from, but I said, "It does make sense and I don’t think your faith is sincere if this makes you hate Tenrikyo. Shuyoka has made reasonable accommodation.
"What’s "reasonable accommodation? That’s jargon. Explain to me what that is."

"Shuyoka has made reasonable allowances for students when it’s too hot, by allowing them to remove their happi, during Hinokishin. The happi helps to promote discipline and unity; a sense that we are in this together."

Then out of the blue he said, "Oyasama did not wear a happi.’
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. So, I admitted, "That’s correct! I need to think about that for awhile. But I think there’s room for reflection on both sides: the way Shuyoka is run and yourself. I’m not totally against what you’re saying and I want to reflect on this too, but I think it important to foster some discipline."

"But this is not the military!"

"Exactly, and that’s why we are not as strict as the military. We are not marching in straight lines and saluting each other. I believe we have the right amount of discipline that Shuyoka is trying to instill. Yes, it is uncomfortable to wear the happi in this hot weather, uncomfortable but bearable. I think it helps to be a little uncomfortable during this time of training and spiritual development, don’t you think? (no answer). And Shuyoka has made some reasonable accommodations."

He thought for awhile and then he apologized for being upset.
I said, "No, I should apologize, for not being able to explain in a manner that you can understand. This is my job."
Later, though, I was thinking to myself: ‘Do I know what I’m talking about when I say discipline and unity? What if someone were to ask me why do we need discipline and unity? It’s common sense for most people, but for those who attend Shuyoka and need additional guidance, will I be able to explain it sufficiently?’ I had my doubts and I was not satisfied, so I had to think this through and this is what I came up with:


WHY DO WE NEED DISCIPLINE AND UNITY?

Discipline (and eventually self-discipline) fosters a sense of order and progress toward the goal of being able to do things when we need to do it whether we feel like it or not. True faith comes from making sincere efforts to become one with God (or the nature of our True Selves) or living in accord (or align our thinking) with God’s intention even at our inconvenience.

There is a story in the Anecdotes of Oyasama Story #31 called the Measure of Heaven in which Oyasama asks Izo Iburi to cut down and tree and make a straight post. Izo did as he was told and brought it to Oyasama. Oyasama then said, ‘Now take a ruler and place it against the post. There is a gap isn’t there?’ And Izo replied, ‘Yes, there is a gap.’ Oyasama said, ‘Exactly! Even the things that are considered straight by the people of the world, are warped when placed against the measure of heaven.’

I believe that this also means that human beings, left to their own devices will stray from the path of Truth. Conversely, going to church, attending the daily and monthly services, returning to Jiba and attending Shuyoka (or other spiritual development programs) are all opportunities for us to align or realign ourselves with the ‘measure of heaven.’

Unity encourages us to work together with other people. And to recognize that other need each other to live in this world and that we need to work together toward the common goal of spiritual maturity or in other words, the ‘construction of our mind and the construction of the joyous and peaceful world’ where we all live together happily as brothers and sisters. When we perform the service we are basically fostering this discipline and unity of mind. In the service we are singing, dancing and using various instruments. If one or two of us are playing, singing or dancing at a different beat, then the music will not sound good and our performance will not be good. As we practice and perform playing the instruments, singing and dancing the sacred songs, we develop and nurture the unity of mind that will lead us toward the Joyous Life.

And these, my friends, are the teachings for you to follow for your happy and prosperous life, the joyous life.


Announcements:

1. I would like to recognize Mrs. Masumi Yamazaki who audited the Hawaii Shuyokai classes from June 20 through July 17 by commuting everyday from her home in Palolo.

2. Also please welcome special guest: Saburo Mori****a from Tenri University who has just a attended a seminar at the University of Hawaii and please welcome Etsuji and Tamiko Kitada family who are members of our parent church Tengen Branch church in Japan.

3. In regards to the Pearl Church renovations, Phase II finally started on July 30th and as you can see, work is progressing. Phase II is widening, the front stairs, installing a wall in the sanctuary, and installing an activity room downstairs. In regards to Phase I, we are just about finished with the painting and floor work. If you are available to do Hinokishin, please come out to help at any time.

4. The Dendocho August Monthly Service will be held next Sunday at 9am.

5. The Dendocho Nioigake Day will be held on following day, Monday, at 9am.

6. The weekly service practices every Thursday night will be suspended until after the construction is complete.

7. The annual Tenrikyo Bazaar will be held on the last Sunday of this month, August 29th. I hope that all of you can come out to help with the ohagi making and parking. We have bazaar scrips and chicken tickets on sale. Please see me after the service if you want to purchase some.

8. The Dendocho 50th Anniversary is scheduled for Saturday, September 18th and Pearl Church 70th Anniversary and renovation grand opening is scheduled for Sunday, November 14th. Please encourage your friends and family to attend these very important and joyous occasions.

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