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SAY “THANK YOU” TO EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING

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					SAY “THANK YOU” TO EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING Message by Rev. Tetsuo Watanabe, President of SKK, Meishu-sama‟s Birthday Service, December 22 & 23, 2006, Hall of Worship, Atami Sacred Grounds, Japan Good morning, and welcome to today‟s birthday service for Meishu-sama. We just held the service to celebrate his 124th birthday, solemnly, with sincere gratitude. We then received Johrei from Kyoshu-sama, and listened to his deep and inspiring message. Thank you Kyoshu-sama for this. [Introducing those from abroad] [December 22] First, I would like to introduce you to those from outside of Japan who are attending today‟s service. We have a total of 36 ministers and members from 10 countries with us, from Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United States, Angola, Mozambique, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Please welcome them with a big applause. [December 23] Yesterday, we had a total of 37 members from 10 countries outside of Japan attending the service. Today, we have a total of 13 members from 5 countries with us, from the United States, New Zealand, Mongol, England, and Brazil. Please welcome them with a big applause. [Kyoshu-sama‟s message, God is our parent.] This year is going to end soon. How was this past year for you? Did you finish your preparation to greet the New Year? This year, we received many, many written testimonials from you regarding Sonen Jissen, or, the practice of faith through daily reflections. I remember one of them said, “Kyoshu-sama‟s messages are the messages from Meishu-sama.” It has impressed me deeply, and I totally agree with this statement. Next year, we would like to continue reading and studying Kyoshu-sama‟s words, humbly, with an open mind, so that we can understand

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Meishu-sama‟s teachings more deeply. In his message today, Kyoshu-sama said that God is our parent. One of the poems in our prayer book, by Nidai-sama, says, “Each one of us is born with a physical body, and a soul bestowed by God – a part of God‟s own Being.” [page 19] God is a much stricter, and much more loving parent than our own human parents. And sometimes, we forget that God is our parent. For example, when people experience some serious purification, they sometimes feel, “Maybe God does not love me; maybe God has forsaken me.” But it is not true. God wants us to get closer and closer to Him, and God sometimes gives us a purification because He loves us a lot. For any kind of serious purification, God prepares some kind of relief or blessing behind it. God prepares for us joy behind sadness, hope behind desperation. This is God‟s love for us as our parent. Therefore, whatever negative thoughts we may have, we can put them in Meishu-sama‟s hands through this Sonen Jissen practice, and we can just do what pleases God. What is the most important thing that we can do to please God? It is that we have the feeling of gratitude. In the present world, there are too many people who do not realize that they are being blessed by God abundantly, and therefore, cannot be grateful to God. Some time ago, I read an article in a daily newspaper that says, “In most public schools, children say „thank you for this food,‟ before eating the school lunch. But some mothers protested to the schools and demanded that this practice stop, because they are paying for the lunches and children do not need to be thankful.” If some parents think that their children do not have to be thankful for the food they eat, these parents are really in a pitiful state of mind. Some other parents say, “It is forbidden by our Constitution to pray in public schools.” Probably these parents tell the children not to give thanks for the food after finishing meals. If parents think this way, I have a grave concern for the future of these children, and for

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the future of this country, Japan. We receive nourishment from the life of animals and plants, and they in turn receive life from God. We have to be grateful for this life from God. Those who cannot do so naturally cannot respect and treasure their own life, or the lives of other people. The many cases of suicides, or of murders of an individual‟s own parents or children, which are reported frequently recently, must be the signs, the results, of this trend of ungrateful thinking that many people have. As Kyoshu-sama said in his message today, God is trying to nurture us and to complete us as His children. Our lives are being nourished and nurtured by the life of God. The first duty that we need to do as God‟s children is to be grateful to God, and to try to live in accord with God‟s Will. [Expressing Gratitude for everything] The past year, we tried to practice Sonen Jissen, and to become more aware that we are all agents and instruments of God, that we have a divine essence within us, and that we are the sum total of our numerous ancestors. We also tried to recognize our ancestors who may be suffering in the spiritual realm, to talk to them, and to leave them in Meishu-sama‟s hands, to be purified and healed by God. We would like to continue this practice next year. Another important point I would like to emphasize is that many of our ancestors were purified and healed by the light from Meishu-sama, and their happiness and gratitude are reflected in our minds as our own joy and happiness. We need to recognize it, and we can express our gratitude to God and Meishu-sama, together with our ancestors. In his message today, Kyoshu-sama also said that we need to place our feelings of joy and gratitude in the hands of God, with courage, and ask God to accept them. Since I received this message of Kyoshu-sama, I thought a lot by myself on how to offer my joy and gratitude to God, to be accepted by God. After much

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thinking, I came to a certain conclusion or idea, and I shared it with Kyoshu-sama, who said, “That‟s a good idea.” Since Kyoshu-sama said it is O.K., I would like to relate it to you, and I would like to put it into practice, with you. It is called “practicing the thought of gratitude” or “expressing our feelings of gratitude.” Whatever we come into contact with, such as other people, or even the sunshine, water, air, mountains and rivers and trees and plants, even a single flower, God gave life to them and God prepared them so that they can nurture and nourish our lives. Therefore, we can express our gratitude to them with the words, “thank you.” What I am proposing now – to say “thank you” to everything we encounter, is different from our regular phrase of greeting, “thank you,” which we use casually and as a custom. Kyoshu-sama said today, “Words belong to God. We can use words not as empty words, but as really living and powerful words.” If we put our real feelings of gratitude strongly into the phrase “thank you” and say it, then, these will become really living and powerful words. The Japanese word for thank you is “arigato,” which originally comes from the expression “impossible to exist” or “it rarely exists,” or “it is a miracle that such a thing happens.” It implies gratitude to God. There is a gift shop in front of this Hall of Worship, and there is a very interesting book for sale at the store. The title of the book is “Messages from Water.” It is a collection of pictures of frozen crystals of water in many different forms. The pictures show that beautiful and benevolent words create beautiful patterns of water crystals. Human bodies, and bodies of animals and plants, are mostly water, and vibrations of beautiful words have a good effect on water. One farmer I know, who is practicing nature farming, goes into his field in the morning and addresses the crops with loud voice, “Hello, good morning, how are you. Are you all O.K. today?” This farmer must know the power of words on plants.

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If I say, “Let‟s call out to everything around us and say thank you,” then you might think, “Aha, Reverend Watanabe is making another strange proposal.” Sure, if you begin to say out loud, in front of other people, “Thank you, water,” “Thank you, air,” “Thank you, flowers,” then people would naturally think, “Oh, my goodness, this person must be crazy and should go to a mental hospital for a check-up.” If people are around you, you can just whisper, in soft voice. Meishu-sama said that when we say the Amatsu Norito it is better to recite it out loud, not silently. So, if you see people close by, you can just say “thank you” in a very soft voice but with your heart in it. It is important to try to express your gratitude with your words, with your voice. It is to be grateful not only to that particular person or particular object, but to be grateful to God, who gave it to you. [Express gratitude to people around us.] Your family members are staying home, looking after the house, while you are here today attending the service. So, you can thank your family, out loud, when you return home. Even casual contact with other people is caused by some spiritual affinity and spiritual relationship. On your way home today, you can say “thank you” to the bus driver or taxi driver you meet, or a clerk you meet at a convenience store, or a gas station attendant. Consider family members who are having purifications and for whom you need to care, or your mother-in-law or father-in-law with whom you live and who are hard-headed and criticize you constantly. You can think of these people as valuable people whom God sent to you so that you can be trained and strengthened. Then, you can summon your courage and express your gratitude to them and say “thank you.” It might be quite possible that the person to whom you voiced your gratitude today might be healed and find relief, some day and somewhere, because of your simple greeting. The person might

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realize their own value because of your words of gratitude, and might recover from their depression and desperation. Nowadays, many people commit suicide, thinking that nobody needs them, that there is no reason to live. Just one expression of “thank you” from your mouth might give a powerful message to a person: that “this person is a valuable, priceless individual to themselves, to their ancestors and to God.” If we can say “thank you” simply, without hesitation, then we might become a part of “the great harmony” that Kyoshu-sama mentioned today, we might become the hope in the minds of those in desperation. We can say “thank you” with the same frame of mind as when we channel Johrei. When we say “thank you” to a person, we can think of all the ancestors behind that person and speak to these ancestors with our words of gratitude. Then, the ancestors would respond to your words, and will guide and protect the person more. [Gratitude gives birth to gratitude, and ingratitude creates more ingratitude.] Meishu-sama‟s teaching says, “Gratitude gives birth to gratitude, and ingratitude creates more ingratitude.” When strong thought of gratitude, expressed in words, flows and moves back and forth between and among people, between people and their ancestors, between people and nature, and between people and God, it can amplify and enlarge, and generate strong currents of gratitude and joy. And it can powerfully influence even those people who are unhappy and sad. I firmly believe that gratitude from the heart brings about happiness. From my experience of observing people, I realize that there is a type of person who can easily and readily receive blessings from God, and also a type of person who cannot receive blessings so easily. For example, suppose there are two people here, both of them suffering from headache and lower back pain, and suppose both of them find their headache gone after receiving Johrei. One

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of the two people is the type who can readily receive blessings. The person is grateful and expresses gratitude for the headache gone. That person most probably receives a second blessing, this time, the healing of lower back pain. On the other hand, the person who cannot receive blessings easily is not grateful for the cure of headache, and instead, complains that the lower back pain persists. This type of person discovers that not only isn‟t the blessing received for the lower back pain, but the headache comes back. I really believe that being grateful to God, and expressing it, is the path to happiness. Most people have certain issues or problems for which they cannot be grateful. But if a person is filled with complaints and ingratitude all the time, then gradually the feelings of hatred and sadness become stronger and bigger, which brings about more reasons to be unhappy. As Meishu-sama said, ingratitude reaches dark forces. So, we have to be careful of our thoughts and feelings. For many years, I set aside in my mind Meishu-sama‟s birthday as the special day of gratitude. The joy of being connected with Meishu-sama and being able to serve in his work of relieving the suffering of humanity, is the greatest joy for me. With my words of “thank you,” I would like to share this feeling of gratitude with everybody I meet. I believe this is another way to express our gratitude to Meishu-sama. Meishu-sama said that gratitude connects us to God. We would be living in harmony with God‟s Will when we are grateful to other people and to everything that has been given to us to nurture us and nourish us. Gratitude is the way to be in harmony with God‟s Will for this great creation, the way to come closer to Meishu-sama, our model and prototype, and it is the way to come closer to God, who is our parent. At the conclusion of this year, we would like to say, “thank you, thank you very much,” from our heart, to our family, to those who helped us and cared for us, and to everybody. And we would like to say it also to the mountains and rivers and the trees and plants and

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everything in “Mother Nature.” If we can end this year with “thank you,” then we can greet the New Year with gratitude. [Conclusion] At this time, we would like to offer our promise to God and Meishu-sama that we will continue to serve in God‟s work of the construction of Paradise on Earth, and to deepen our faith and express our gratitude always, and to keep practicing Sonen Jissen. [For December 23 only.] Today, at 2:00 o‟clock in the afternoon, we will have an orchestra concert here at this hall of worship to celebrate Meishu-sama‟s birthday. Sandai-sama (third spiritual leader) and Kyoshu-sama (our current spiritual leader) will attend. Let‟s enjoy this wonderful music concert. At this time, I have one request of all of you. A few days ago I visited Sandai-sama and invited her to come to today‟s concert. She said, with some hesitation, “When I appear before our members, many of them take my picture, up front and up close, with their digital cameras and cell-phones. Now that I am older, I hesitate appearing before them and being subjected to so much picture taking.” To this, I replied, “I will request our members not to take so many pictures. Please don‟t worry about that, and please come to the concert.” I understand very well that you would like to take pictures of Sandai-sama with your cameras, in memory of your attending this service and the concert. But please respect Sandai-sama‟s wishes. If you really cannot resist the temptation to take her picture, please do so in a quiet, unobtrusive way, from a distance of 10 yards or 20 yards. That‟s my request to you. [For both December 22 and 23.] I wish all of you a happy New Year, and hope and pray that the next year will again be a wonderful year for you. Thank you very

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