The Power of Gratitude

Tenrikyo Pearl Church Monthly Service ‘ 2008 January Grand Service

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the January Grand 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!
This month being January is the grand service month when the ever-living Oyasama withdrew from physical life on January 26, 1887. We are observing the 122nd Anniversary of Oyasama’s withdrawal.
In the Osashizu: March 17, 1890 we read:
Sah, sah, I am still living here. I have not gone anywhere, not gone anywhere. You must look at the path of daily life and ponder. Unquote.
Oyasama, whose parental heart is dedicated solely to the salvation of all Her children, underwent every kind of difficulty and trial in high spirits to open a path of salvation for all humankind, and, in order to hasten their spiritual growth, cut short Her own physical life by twenty-five years. But the heart of Tsukihi remains alive now and forever at the Residence of Origin, providing for the growth of all humankind to spiritual maturity. Indeed, the miracles of salvation which occur daily stand as proof of the continuing life and work of Oyasama.

In the Ofudesaki XVII: 16, we read:
To Tsukihi, all of you in the world are My children.
Love for you fills Me: this is My single heart.

We continue to interrupt our mental dust series temporarily to convey this important message about gratitude.

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE
A few months ago we shared with you the research done with water by Dr. Masaru Emoto who developed a technique for freezing water and observing ice crystals through a microscope and how water is affected by music, words and thoughts. We found that clean and pure water had well formed crystals, while polluted water had deformed crystals or no crystals at all. Further in experimenting with tap water, the words ‘you fool!’ produce deformed crystals and the words ‘love and gratitude’ produced the most brilliant crystals in the same type of tap water. This showed us how our thoughts and words might effect the water in our body as well as the water we drink.

In a recent sermon given at Honolulu Church, Rev. Colin Saito also spoke on the importance of gratitude in our daily life.
In his sermon Rev. Saito said that the important role that gratitude plays in physical and emotional well-being was proven in a study conducted by a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, Robert Emmons, PhD, and another psychology professor at the University of Miami, Michael McCullough.

In the study published in 2003, (quote) they took three groups of volunteers and randomly assigned them to focus on one of three things each week: hassles, things for which they were grateful, and ordinary life events. The first group concentrated on everything that went wrong or was irritating to them, such as ‘the jerk who cut me off on the highway.’ The second group focused in on situations they felt enhanced their lives, as in ‘My boyfriend is so kind and caring’I’m lucky to have him.’ And the third group recalled recent everyday events, as in ‘I went shoe shopping.’ The results: The people who focused on gratitude were just flat-out happier. They saw their lives in favorable terms. They reported fewer negative physical symptoms such as headaches or colds, and they were active in ways that were good for them. They spent almost an hour and a half more per week exercising than those who focused on hassles. Plain and simple, those who were grateful had a higher quality of life.’ (Unquote)

The study was taken one step further and rather than focusing only once a week, they had college students focus on hassles or blessings on a daily basis. The results proved that there was something powerful about a regular gratitude check. They found that those who focused on something to appreciate every day were less materialistic, they were less depressive, envious and anxious, and they were much more likely to reach out and help others. This group was judged by the other participants to be empathetic, helpful and pro-social. The study found that the people who were consciously grateful:
– Felt better about their lives.
– Were more optimistic.
– Were more energetic.
– Were more enthusiastic.
– Were more determined.
– Were more interested.
– Were more joyful.
– Exercised more.
– Had fewer illnesses.
– Got more sleep.
– Were more likely to have helped someone else.
Related studies have found other benefits as well linked to the mind of gratitude such as:
– Clearer thinking
– Better resilience during tough times
– Higher immune response
– Less likelihood of being plagued by stress
– Lived longer lives
– Had closer family ties
– Had greater religiousness

With all this proven results of these studies, which group would you want to be in’the hassles group, the ordinary things group, or the consciously grateful group? Obviously it is pretty much a no brainer, right? Let us all be in the consciously grateful group, doing a regular gratitude check daily and finding something to be grateful for in every moment! This is one way to emulate the Divine Model of Oyasama too!

How do we use this science of gratitude in our lives? Gratitude must be developed. It is a discipline and must be developed through rigorous exercise on a daily basis. Here’s how to do it.

‘HINOKISHIN is an act of expressing our gratitude to God, so do more HINOKISHIN everyone!

Here’s how to develop the discipline of gratitude on a daily basis (according to the Readers digest article):

Record your thanks ‘ Just before sleeping, write down three things that happened today that you were grateful for. After each situation or event, write down why this was good for you. Also remember who, if anyone, played a role and had an impact on your life. This gratitude journal will make you look at life in a positive way and connect you to how much others add to the quality of your life. It will force you to focus on what went right rather than what went wrong.

In Tenrikyo we have a way to develop the discipline of gratitude on a daily basis and that is through the performance of the service. Through the performance of the service on a daily basis we are able develop the discipline to be grateful on a daily basis. This is the true Path to our salvation.

In the Ofudesaki, we read:
Whether you speak good or think evil,
I shall give returns at once as you deserve. V: 54

Announcements

  1. Thank you to everyone who helped at the mochi pounding at Mission HQ on December 30 and for attending the New Year’s Service held on New Year’s Day.
  2. Thank you also to those who came out to participate in the monthly Mission HQ community Hinokishin Day last Tuesday at Ala Moana Beach Park. Twelve people from Pearl Church participated.
  3. This Sunday is Mission HQ monthly service from 9am and the following Monday is Nioigake Day from 9am.
  4. The BGA will be conducting their annual leadership camp and New Year park cleanup and BBQ picnic on January 26 and 27. Please see me after the monthly service for applications for the leadership camp. The New Year park cleanup and BBQ picnic is open to everyone. Please take this opportunity to invite friends and family, but please let me know one week prior who are going so that we may prepare enough food.
  5. We’re planning to conduct another garage sale, so please bring your old items.

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