“The Power of Gratitude” Monthly Sermon December 2012

Thank you to you all for joining your hearts and minds in performing the December Monthly Service here at Tenrikyo Pearl Church. I believe that when we perform the Service spiritedly and in unity, as we have today, God the Parent and Oyasama are truly satisfied with our efforts. And thank you very much for your kind and sincere offerings.

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

A month ago, the day before our November Monthly Service I (Taeko) had a small oval sized redness with itchiness on the right side of my stomach. I went to bed late that night and while trying sleeping, I started to feel a dull pain in my stomach so I couldn’t sleep well. The next morning during the Morning Service, I prayed to God that I will be able to accomplish today’s Monthly service safely.

However, the redness on my skin was getting bigger and I could see small little blisters spreading. Pastor Owen, my husband, he said it might be a “shingles.”

Because it was Sunday I couldn’t visit the doctor. I waited till the next day. Four days have been passed from the time the redness started. The doctor said that the medicine to kill the virus won’t be effective after having the condition for 4 days, so it was too late to take the medication for shingles. He said “you must wait until it heals naturally.”

So for three weeks, I experienced dull pain and fatigue.

In the Mikagura-uta, Song 10, we sing:

Eighth, Though illness is so trying,
No one has ever known its origin.

Finally, This time it has been revealed.
The origin of illness lies in your own mind.

So God is telling us that the origin of illness comes from our mind. Then what kind of mind causes illness and what kind of mind should we have to avoid illness. In the ten aspects of God’s providence, skin is the providence of Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto. In the human body the providence of the female organ; of the skin and joining; in the world, the providence of joining in general.

In the Truth of Origin, Kunisazuchi no Mikoto is represented by the turtle; which means that we should have a mind characteristic of the turtle.

The turtle maintains a low profile, by crawling along on its four short feet which means to maintain a humble mind. When the head, tail and limbs are touched, they pull back into their shell. This means that we shouldn’t argue, brag about our self, or be opinionated.

I’m not sure if this is common throughout the world, but in the Japan wedding culture and tradition, the bride puts on a head ornament made of a tortoise shell. This tortoise shell, I would perceive to mean that the wife should be humble and respectful to her husband and parents in law.

“In the world the providence of joining in general,” means maintaining good relationships with people. Those who forget the characteristic of the turtle lack good communication or relationships with people.

It is difficult for us to see our own weaknesses. So God showed me my weakness through this skin problem called shingles, so that I may reflect upon my use of mind. If there is no self-reflection and no effort to replace my mind and my condition just healed by its self, I’m sure God would feel disappointed and feel, “what was the purpose of my illness?” If there were no self-reflection, God would probably show me another illness.

In addition, I was able to cultivate a mind of gratitude through this illness. A Buddhist monk, named “Hounen Shonin,” said, “Through receiving illness, I intently became joyous.” Also, in Tenrikyo, we are taught that illnesses and problems are “flowers of the path.” Since the origin of illness is in the mind, the cure will also originate from the mind.

“Thank You Power”

When something bad happens, we instinctively think, “Oh, man,” and have a negative attitude. Let’s change our way of thinking and say, “thank you,” no matter what the circumstances are.

For instance, when something bad happens to us or we are diagnosed with a serious illness, we would normally say, “Oh, my goodness!” But instead, we should get into the habit of saying, “Thank you very much,” no matter what the situation.

We might think, “why should I appreciate a negative event?” However, by saying and thinking, “thank you,” there will be no space for negative thoughts. Also, while saying or thinking, “thank you,” all the time, our mind becomes relaxed and we can have peace of mind. Research shows that when we are relaxed and have peace of mind, alpha waves occurs in our brains. The latent and potential abilities, which everyone has, in our brain will flow. I’d like to think that alpha waves is the power of God. Something previously thought as cannot be done, can be done through saying and thinking, “thank you.”

In the book, “The Way of Thanks,” author and psychology counselor, Reiko Nosaka, writes, “Saying ‘thank you,’ serves as a nutrient for our mind and body.”

Usually we say “thank you very much,” only when we are especially satisfied or when a special wish has come true. However, when we experience difficult or painful times, we should also say thank you very much! Because, as we say thank you, we will find things to be thankful about and our minds become calm and reassured.

In the book, Thank You Power, author and TV news magazine anchor, Deborah Norville, shares a story about a writer named David who moved to New York with big dreams, but all he got was a low paying job and he got tired of the hustle and bustle of city life. One Saturday morning, against this backdrop, all he wanted to do was sleep in, and hope that things got better. But this Saturday he had to get up and pick up a photo from the other side of town and deliver it to work. It was cold, gray and damp as David walked out of his friend’s apartment, where he was staying and headed across town. He doesn’t know what came over him, but he decided to count things he passed along the way that made him smile: a mother walking her baby in a stroller, a jet passing over, the smells of the bistros, the displays in the store windows. By the time he delivered the photo, he was feeling pretty good – and thankful that he’d made the move to New York. It’s been more than 20 years since David made that walk and he still does whenever he’s feeling down. It makes him feel better. He’s now a successful entrepreneur in the media business and he still continues his “gratitude stroll” to help him stay focused.

“Thank you very much!”

Everybody knows Lex Brodie Tire Shop, right? Here’s the story I heard on the radio of how he came across his famous line, “Thank you very much!”

One day a young boy asked Lex Brodie if he could have one of those stickers with the caveman chipping the stone wheel, and, of course he gave him one. The boy just stared back at him. “What do you say when somebody gives you something?” Lex asked. His mom elbowed him, but the boy was silent. “Say thank you,” she said. Still, silence. Then Lex said, “no, say thank you very much.” Later, Lex was reflecting on how courtesy seemed to be lacking in Honolulu, so he decided to thank his customers for watching his commercials.

“That’s what we’re thanking you for, for watching the commercial,” he said. The commercials with Little Joe and “thank you very much” were a hit and that’s when his business took off.

Through expressions of gratitude, we can change our life and our destiny.

Thank you very much!

Announcements

  1. Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. The deposit cans and bottles and yard work fundraising is ongoing and very helpful. We are presently building up funds for the stone pavement in the back and hopefully get the downstairs air conditioning unit repaired. Thank you very much.
  2. The Tenrikyo Aloha Band, for which Sadie Nakao is a member, will be participating in next year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba. As a fundraiser, a “mini bazaar” will be conducted after the Mission HQ monthly service starting from this month.
  3. We would like to recognize Elmer Nakao and Yuta Maeda, who just completed the Honolulu Marathon today.
  4. Please welcome Donna Kubara.

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