The Tsunami, Why Did God Do This?

TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON ‘ 2005 February

Good morning! I would like to thank you all for your kind support and sincere offerings. I am sure that God the Parent and Oyasama is pleased to see you today to participate in this February Monthly Service 2005.

THE TSUNAMI, WHY DID GOD DO THIS?

On December 26, 2004 an earthquake registering 9.0 magnitude on the Richter scale triggered a massive tsunami killing over 170,000 people with still another 100,000 still missing. The large scale devastation, grief and suffering can only be imagined by most of the people who have not witnessed this type of disaster. Yet it is real and overwhelming for those who live in the affected areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and other countries. Our prayers and our hearts go out to the tsunami victims and survivors.

The scale of devastation and the vast number people who lost their lives have led many to question or doubt God’s intent or even God’s existence: ‘Where have you been God? Dear God, how can you explain this?’ Or, ‘Where is God’s mercy?’ We could go on and on about God’s existence, which I have covered in past sermons and I will explain again in a later sermon, but I want to discuss God’s intent in today’s sermon:

Let us first turn to the verses in the Ofudesaki:

Because you have not observed the words of God even until now,
I could not avoid showing it. I: 26

I am God of Origin, who began the human beings of this world.
Yet there may be no one knows Me. III: 15

I began to teach My providence in the muddy ocean,
and you have come to prosper step by step. III: 16

This time, I teach single-hearted salvation,
beginning once more that which never existed. III: 17

I begin things which have never existed,
because I am God, who made the origin. III: 18

Day after day, the words of God pile up mountainously,
stuck in My throat. I cannot speak them, though I so desire. III: 19

There is nothing that I cannot teach,
but there is no one who listens with a purified mind. III: 20

If you quickly purify your mind and listen,
I shall give you all of My teachings on everything. III: 21

This universe is the body of God.
Ponder this in all matters. III:40

These disorders are from My guidance, admonition, or anger,
Ponder, each of you. V: 20

What are you thoughts on hearing this talk?
I appeal to you repeatedly out of My deep love for you. V: 21

However I may express My admonition or anger,
I shall never say that you will not be saved. V: 22

Think of you humans admonishing your children.
The anger, too, come from love. V: 23

Ponder and come follow Me with firm resolve,
There is a path of hope in the future. V: 24

Only through the exhaustive efforts of Tsukihi,
made step by step, have you become the humans you are. VI: 88

In this world, landslides, thunder, earthquakes,
And great winds are all from the anger of Tsukihi. VI: 91

In whatever things, bear no grudges.
It is all a matter of your self-reproach. VI: 95

Further:

What are you thinking on hearing this talk?
Flames of heaven, rains of fire, and tidal waves in the seas’ VI: 116

Such is the great anxiety in the mind of Tsukihi.
What is the whole world thinking? VI: 117

Though I appeal to you in sorrow over and over,
I shall save you if you become of a sincere mind. VI: 118

Whoever you are, you are all My children.
Awaken to the anxiety in the mind of Tsukihi! VI: 119

Everything in this universe is all by Tsukihi.
All human bodies are things lent by Tsukihi. VI: 120

If only My mind is truly understood,
there will be nothing fearful or dangerous. VI: 122

From this we can understand that the tsunami is due to God’s deep regret and anger. Some might say, ‘Ah, but anger is a mental dust, how can God have mental dust?’ God’s anger is not the same anger as that which is mentioned in the eight mental dusts. The anger mentioned in the eight mental dusts is the anger which comes from selfish thinking. The anger from God comes from God’s deep parental love. It is that love which urgently wishes to see us on the path to the joyous life.

So what is this parental love that takes the lives of innocent children?

As parents we have the responsibility to nurture and bring up our children to become responsible and mature human beings. A few months ago, a father confided in me the problems he had in bringing up his teenage son. His son was constantly staying up late to play video games and then waking up late to go to school. The father said he kept telling his son to cut down on the video games, do more studying and to go to sleep earlier. But his son kept playing video games. Soon the son brought home failing grades on most of his subjects. The father said he loved his son very much but he felt that he had to do something for the sake of his son, so he took off the door to his son’s room while the son was at school. When the son got home, he was very upset and asked his father why the door was taken off. When the father explained about the video games, the son then asked, ‘Why didn’t you talk to me?’ The father explained that he did. Do you see what is happening here? The father is trying to help his son realize his bad ways so that he will correct his behavior, but the son is upset and wonders why his dad did such a thing. The father later said that his son is finally beginning to understand and has cut down on playing video games and is studying more.

God the Parent is the creator of human beings and grants us life. We borrow our bodies from God and are kept alive by God’s grace. God’s purpose in creation is for us to live the joyous life by saving and helping others. So when we continue to live opposite to God’s intent or God’s will, then God’s parental love will be manifest and it may result in illness or in the case of the tsunami, we will ‘start anew,’ as explained in Mikagura-uta Song 6, verse 8

Eighth, After all you must continue to believe.
If you entertain wrong thoughts, you are to start anew.

‘Start anew’ is translated from ‘denaoshi’ which is to pass away for rebirth in Tenrikyo.

The passing of a child is a very sorrowful and devastating event, and this may be a harsh thing to say to parents who have lost their children, however, we are taught that sickness until the age of 15, is due to the parents’ mental dust or causality. So as parents we must constantly reflect on our attitudes and behavior and resolve to correct the way we use our mind, cut our bad causality, and set good examples for our children.

Leaders of other religions have also stated that the tsunami is a warning from God:

The Catholic Bishop of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands of India, Alex Dias, told the media, "I believe that the tsunami is a warning. A warning from God to reflect deeply on the way we lead our lives." The Bishop who is leading the main relief effort in the area continued, "We are too hurried today. We are rushing here, rushing there. Everything is a facade. There are lots of cracks and undulating things in our lives. A disaster like this is a word from God to think about those cracks and smoothen them out. We are filling our lives with so much that there is little place for God." He concluded, "In moments of grave crisis, we remember God and we should also think how to put him back in the primary position in our lives." From Lifesite News webpage:

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jan/05010305.html

The earthquake occurred at 12:58am UTC or 9:58am Japan time, on December 26th, right in the middle of church headquarters’ monthly service which starts at 9am and right at the start of the last year of the three years, one thousand days before Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary. For us in Tenrikyo this should be interpreted to mean urgency in our salvation work. If we haven’t been doing nioigake, let us start doing nioigake. If we haven’t been using our Sazuke, let us start using it. If we haven’t learned how to play the narimono instruments or how to do the otefuri, let us start learning it. And if we are not doing the service everyday, let us start doing it everyday. This is the season, this is the time.

In closing, the Ofudesaki says:

If only My mind is truly understood,
there will be nothing fearful or dangerous. VI: 122


Announcements:

1. The Boy’s and Girl’s Association Leaders Camp and New Year Party was held on January 29 and 30th. The Leaders camp on January 29 & 30th at Dendocho and the New Party on January 30th at Stadium Park. I want to thank you all for your help and for attending the activities. A total of 7 persons attended from Pearl Church. Thank you very much!

2. The Annual BGA Spring Camp will be held on the last weekend in March from the 25th Friday through the 27th Sunday. Please encourage your children to attend and adults may pitch in with Hinokishin.

3. Dendocho has donated $25,000 from their emergency relief fund for the tsunami relief effort and Bishop Hamada has called on all members to participate in the relief effort from our respective churches, so Tenrikyo Pearl Church will be starting a relief fund drive in support of this donation. Please write ‘Tsunami Relief’ on the envelope and checks should be made out to Tenrikyo Hawaii Dendocho.

4. We are in the last year before the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama and I would like to ask all of you to participate by returning to Jiba in 2006. We hope to form a pilgrimage group for the children’s summer pilgrimage and hope that many of you can join us. However, you can return anytime during the year and I or Mrs. Nakao will accompany you. In order to help defray the cost we have started a fund drive from several years ago from our garage sales. We now have $1,664.64. We are continuing our fundraising by offering yard services, so if you know of anyone who needs yard cleaning, please let us know.

5. The weekly service practices every Thursday night is still going on and we would like to invite all of you to attend. It starts at 6pm right after the evening service.

6. The Follow Miss Kokan Seminar for Young Women’s Club members will be held on February 26 and 27th. Mrs. Taeko Nakao will be giving a lecture.

7. Our son Moses will be leaving us on March 9th for two years to work for Church Headquarters in the Overseas Department.

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