Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Greatest Thing Is Love

I gave the following message at our Special Sunday Service on December 5, 2010. First I gave a short message to the congregation including Sunday School students and Junior Youth Group students. Then, Sunday School and JYG students dismissed I shared "The Greatest Thing Is Love" with Sunday Service attendees.

Message of This Month:
December is a good month to give a lot of love to others. We are all children of God. We have to realize this truth; however, learning the truth only by knowledge or meditation is not enough. We rather have to take action. In Seicho-No-Ie we call this a deed of love. First, we need to know that we are all children of God. Then, we bring out our God's nature through deeds of love.
Then, what is love? In the Bible love is described in this way: "Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; (Sunday School students, do you know the meaning of 'conceit'? It means you have too much pride in yourself. Love is not to show off what you've done for your friends.) love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
So, please be kind to others and help them. Be patient to your family members and not blame them. Do not be jealous of others happiness but be joyful for them. Do not be selfish but think of others first. Keep a record of only good things. Have hope and work hard to realize your hope and never give up. Then, we will be able to have a wonderful year 2011. I hope all of you can practice this love throughout the year 2011. Thank you very much.

The Greatest Thing Is Love:
Seicho-No-Ie Founder, Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi, wrote many books and some of them introduced the teachings of Buddhism through his inspiring interpretation. One of these books is Mumonkan Kaishaku (means commentary of gateless gate). In the 8th koan (a paradoxical question for Zen meditation) there is a story of Keichu who produced the very first vehicle in ancient China. Keichu made a vehicle and then broke up it as if he was seeking something. Another person, then, asked Keichu what he was doing. Keichu said he was looking for the vehicle.
This is a paradoxical question of Zen, but we always have a similar question in our lives. For example, I have a paper crane made with an origami paper. When you unfold it, it becomes an original origami paper. Now, where is the crane? There is no crane but only a plain paper. Then, can you make a crane other than with this paper? Yes, you can. As long as you know how to make it, you can make a crane with any paper. Then, where does the crane exist? The crane exists only in a person who makes a crane by paper.
This is another example. Almost 2 months ago, I asked Chris to play the piano for this special Sunday Service and right now you've just listened to the beautiful music. He didn't have a music sheet but played beautifully. Where does this beautiful music exist? Is it in the piano? No. Is it in the music sheet" No, it is in Chris' mind. When he has a piano, he can play this beautiful music.
We see something through physical or material existence; however, the real thing does not exist in the material. The day after Thanksgiving, I threw out my back. I was not able to move at all for two days. I had shiatsu massage and Japanese spa therapy Monday and my pain was relieved, but it came back when I worked on my computer for 2 hours. Then, I tried acupuncture and my pain was relieved, but it came back when I walked around shopping at Target. So, I went to the acupuncturist again and I am better now. But I have to take care of myself until my back heals completely.
In Seicho-No-Ie we learn that matter does not exist and the physical body does not exist. However, I had an unbearable severe pain in my back last week. Where did my pain go and where did my pain exactly exist last week? This is like the paper crane does not exist in the original paper or Chris' beautiful music does not exist in the piano. However, many people tend to think that their physical bodies are themselves and believe their health or bad health exists in their physical bodies because they are strongly attached to their physical bodies. Some people are attached not only to their physical bodies but also to money.
This is a newspaper article from Alameda Times-Star which I keep in my scrap book. Mr. Jack Whittaker was a millionaire. He was a successful businessman and saved $17 million. He was happy and thrived. However, everything changed when he hit the Powerball in December 2002. According to the paper, "It was then the largest single jackpot ever, worth $314.9 million. Whittaker opted for the lump-sum payout of $170 million-$93 million after taxes." He lost many things because of this winning.
Whittaker's home and car were repeatedly burglarized. The paper described, "In all, Whittaker says, he's been involved in 460 legal actions since winning. He recently settled a lawsuit that alleged his bank failed to catch $50,000 in counterfeit checks cashed from his accounts." His friends asked for money to borrow but they never paid back, so he lost all his friends. He not only lost his friends but his wife. His daughter has battled cancer for years, but money cannot heal her disease.
This shows that money itself does not make people happy and thrive because the physical body or money is the master of our lives. Our child of God's nature itself is the true self. We call it the True Image. When we realize this True Image and our life itself is eternal, we will be able to release our attachment from our minds and realize true happiness in our lives. Rev. Seicho Taniguchi quoted a story from Mr. Kenji Suzuki, a famous TV announcer in Japan, about his experience when he was young.

"The Word, 'Thank You'
"I (means Mr. Suzuki) was a high school student, just after the World War II. One day an American minister visited me and explained that many children had lost their parents during the past war. The minister said, 'Could you take care of these children?' I answered that I would cooperate with him. I just thought that I would go somewhere to volunteer. However, 68 children between three years old and thirteen years old suddenly appeared in front of me. All I received was an old shabby barracks which had been used by the Japanese military until the end of war with no beds and supplies. All windows were broken, so I even covered them with old newspaper to keep out the cold. I immediately negotiated with U.S. forces and received 70 beds for free. The situation was very severe because it was just after the war. Food, clothing and other necessities were in short supply. It was difficult to live with 68 children. It took a lot of effort. I got up at 3 o'clock in the morning and prepared breakfast, but I found that the children could not sleep because there was no heat. I did not know what to do, so I got up from my bed and lay down on the floor. All the children snuggled against my body to keep warm.
"At that time I was eighteen years old. If I had to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning, prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the children, hunt for food, teach them and wash all the clothes, I could not have continued for more than three days. However, one of the children, about a twelve year old mentally handicapped girl, came to my rescue. Everyday she voluntarily washed all the laundry. So, I was able to take care of everything else.
"There was no washing machine, but the girl put her hands into a thick sheet of ice which had formed on the water and washed, as hard as she could. I did not even have a piece of candy or a cookie to give her in gratitude.
"All I could do was to say, 'thank you' to her. As I said thank you, she seemed to smile slightly. I wondered whether or not she understood. Other children told her thank you, she also slightly changed her face as if smiling. Saying thank you was the only thing I could do. Otherwise, I had no way to repay her.
"She did not know how to warm her hands. I held her hands to warm them. Her hands and fingers were swollen, bleeding and frostbitten. Her fingernails had peeled off. I picked her hands up and embraced them under my armpits as long as I could, like a bird hatching an egg. I could find no other alternative." (Jiko Kanseino Tameni, pages 200-202)

Can you imagine that this girl put her hands into a thick sheet of ice water and washed even though her fingernails were peeled off and her hands and fingers were swollen, bleeding and frostbitten. Mr. Suzuki picked her hands up and embraced them for warming. That was all he could do, but what a beautiful act of love he did! He gave the girl a great deal of love which was much more valuable than money or cookies. She received his love and maybe was satisfied. Getting back to his story, Mr. Suzuki wrote:

"Soon I found plenty of people to continue my volunteer work, and I could leave this institution. A week after I left, the mentally handicapped girl was hit by a reckless driver and was killed instantly. I still believe that she is in heaven washing clothes. She ended her short life at about 12 years of age. However, she spent her life with 67 other children through performing the only ability she had which was washing clothes. She shared her ability and she died. I believe that her life was very valuable. Reflecting on my life, I have not done anything. I am ashamed to compare my life with hers. i have slumbered away more than 50 years." (Ibid., p. 203)

Rev. Seicho Taniguchi comments about Mr. Suzuki's act of love and the mentally handicapped girl's act of love as follows:

"Mr. Suzuki said that he had slumbered away, but he had not slumbered at all. He gave love to many people and also to this girl. This deed of love was invisible, but he definitely gave true love, beautiful words and action. She was not blessed physically, and graduated from this world by instant death. She must have had no pain because she died instantly. Man is surely born into this world or another world in order to express his eternal life. It does not matter whether the world is here or elsewhere. In her next life, this girl must be born not as a mentally handicapped or an orphaned child but born into a happy family to grow with blessings because she accumulated 'good deeds' without asking for compensation, fame or money. She did whatever she could do without asking for anything. These good deeds or acts must become good fruit in the next life. Life is not lived only one time. You must realize this truth that life is eternal. Keeping good words and actions in your life and expressing them bring out the child of God nature and infinite potential within oneself." (Ibid., p. 204)

I order to realize our True Image, we need to practice Shinsokan and at the same time practice deeds of love. The deed of love given by the mentally handicapped girl in Mr. Suzuki's story is very powerful because love is the power to change everything. During the holiday season, let us practice this love and help others. To conclude my lecture I will again quote the same passages I quoted in the beginning from the Bible.

"Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Thank you very much!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ougu (one who deserves offerings)

This message was given at the Seicho-No-Ie Southern California Missionary Area's Fall Festival held at the SNI United States Missionary Headquarters.

Thank you very much for attending the Seicho-No-Ie Southern California Missionary Area's Fall Festival. Today is the joyous day that our founder, Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi was born.
This world is full of God's life. God's life is also the Law. There are laws which include the providence of God, regulations and codes created by human beings and laws in nature (including the "law of cause and effect"). The Laws created by God permeate the universe; however, laws created by human beings cannot restrict a person if he quits his company or goes out of his country. The laws in nature also cannot affect them if people or things get out of the earth or the solar system.
In order to transcend phenomenon we must get into the "True World." However, that world is not a place of no law but a place in perfect order with the best and highest world "Law." In the section of "God" of the Holy Sutra, Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines God is the "Law that governs the universe," and the manifestation of the "Law" of God is the "law of karma," and that law permeates and exists in three times (worlds) in common in the past, the present and the future. By utilizing that law phenomenal human beings make an effort to become happy without realizing it. A prayer is an example.
By praying people try to solve their problems when they face them. For example, a person who wants to be married prays to find her soul mate and a person who is troubled by poverty prays to be granted money. In other words, those who have already been granted a thing that they need do not pray to be granted that particular thing.
It is natural that a thing which has already existed appears in this world. We do not care about it and do not pray for it. For example, when I went to Denver 3 weeks ago, I was very thirsty and didn't have a chance to buy a bottle of water. As soon as I checked in at the hotel, I couldn't resist but just drank the tap water which I usually don't. To my surprise, the water was delicious. The origin of the water is the Rocky Mountains. Not only do we not buy a bottle of water but also we do not pray to be granted water when we have delicious water from tap water if we have delicious water.
However, we tend to pray or want to pray for something which we need or want but do not have at hand, such as money, a soul mate, or ability. However, we are all children of God and God has already given us everything that we need, but unfortunately many people do not realize it. In the backyard of our home there is a persimmon tree and it bears delicious fruit every year. My children love persimmon fruit and they don't pray to God to be granted a persimmon fruit when they want to eat. All they do is ask me to take a persimmon from the tree and to peel the skin off because they already know that a persimmon tree is there. However, even though there is a persimmon tree on the backyard, it takes time for my children to actually eat a persimmon because it takes time to get a persimmon from the tree and make it ready to eat.
We must know that "although there are many bad things seemingly appearing in this world, they do not truly exist because God never created bad things." Instead, when we visualize that only goodness exists in the world, it will materialize because it already exists.
The infinite abundance or a soul mate which is already given to us needs time to materialize in this world. Even though you plant a flower seed, it won't suddenly bloom the next day. It needs a certain period of time, and the process in appearance of what we want in this phenomenal world does not suddenly realize. Instead, a thing that we want often appears in a different form in the process. This thing also appears in front of us in accordance with the law of karma and the law of the mind. In the process of appearing in this world a form often changes its shape and sometimes appears as despair in order for us to progress. Therefore, by visualizing the True Image we will be able to make an effort to achieve something although it appears as despair in the process. To visualize the True Image is in other words to continue making our effort and this means that we practice Shinsokan meditation everyday.
Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi taught us that difficulties and troubles are the disguise of the environment as a grindstone to improve our destinies. He also taught us that those who do not give up until the end would succeed. Those who can rise from any environment like a phoenix are the masters of their lives and this world is our "life's school" and "life's stage."
In any life's stage a common important thing is to not do bad things but do and accumulate good things. To make an effort to do and accumulate good things and do not do bad things is the most important thing for us. Founder Masaharu Taniguchi was able to start Seicho-No-Ie because he accumulated good deeds. Rev. Seicho Taniguchik the second President of Seicho-No-Ie, and Rev. Masanobu Taniguchi, the third President of Seicho-No-Ie, are the same. They have accumulated good deeds in their past lives repeatedly; therefore, receiving the guidance of the Lord of Seicho-No-Ie they became the leaders of this movement to save people in the world and realize world peace.
However, those who do not pay attention to make effort in their life's stage will cease their improvement like a pianist who tries to perform on the stage without enough practice. Those who have practiced enough will get the result. Almost ten years ago, my friend who was a jass pianist once went to see the recital of Alexis Weissenberg at the Carnegie Hall because he had bought a year's ticket for Carnegie Hall. I was a big fan of Weissenberg when I was young and listened to his records, especially "Pictures at an Exhibition" and "La tombeau de Couperin" repeatedly. I might say that I listened to them over five hundred times. But listening to my friend's story, I was disappointed. My friend said that he could tell that Weissenberg had not seemingly had enough practice before this recital because of his mistakes. I don't know what excuses Weissenberg had, maybe he had been sick, but even such a famous pianist could not play the piano piece beautifully with a lack of practice.
Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi taught in the book, Tohigan no Shinji (means the divine message of reaching paradise) as follows: "In the Ten Epithets of the Tathagata there is a divine virtue called 'ougu' or 'one who deserves offerings'." (p. 15) We must accumulate our virtue to be deserved offerings.
Rev. and Mrs. Masaharu Taniguchi left Japan on March 10, 1964, for their World Lecture Tour and first arrived in Hawaii.
Mrs. Teruko Taniguchi wrote about this world tour in her book, Sekai wo Tabishite (means traveling the world) and on page 39 she wrote about Mr. Takehachi Ezaki and his ordeal when he had moved to Hawaii at the age of 18 (note: I believe it is about 1905 or 1906), but he was saved by the teachings of Seicho-No-Ie.

"When Mr. Ezaki came here to Kauai on a three-year contract to work at a pineapple factory run by an American, his joyful dreams were quickly shattered and a life of near slavery and suffering began. If he was even a little slow, a whip would suddenly come cracking down on him. Since it was forbidden by law to hit a person, he would be grabbed by the scuff of the neck and pushed down. If a Japanese person god sick and went to the doctor, the company and the doctor would conspire and because the doctor would say the person 'isn't sick,' the person would have to go work in the fields reeling with dizziness. Apparently there was no telling how many people died in the fields." (end of quote)

I cannot believe that these things happened unconcernedly in the early 1900s. In this situation the teachings of Seicho-No-Ie saved Mr. Ezaki and his family. The teachings healed diseases of those who read Seicho-No-Ie, restored harmony at home and changed people's minds and consequently they were able to restart at a new life of joy. This is wonderful deeds of love and thanks to Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi who started Seicho-No-Ie. He was indeed a person who deserves offerings. Rev. and Mrs. Taniguchi stayed at the new house which had been built for Mr. and Mrs. Ezaki as their retirement home.
In the Island of Kauai there were only 24 Seicho-No-Ie households; however, at the lecture about 500 people gathered. The next day Rev. and Mrs. Taniguchi were taken to the Kokee Mountain which was called a miniature Grand Canyon. However, deep fog covered everything and they could not see other than fog-like white curtain. However, when they stepped up in front of the handrail; lo and behold, dense fog disappeared as if opening a white curtain. Some said that was very rare. The canyon was very beautiful and Mrs. Taniguchi wanted to stay a little longer, but someone said, "Let's go home." So, Rev. and Mrs. Taniguchi started moving toward their car, but Mrs. Taniguchi wanted to see the magnificent view one more time and turned back. Then, the white curtain was just starting to close from left to right and the sight became a white world again. The view was served for Rev. and Mrs. Taniguchi, which they deserved.
Rev. and Mrs. Taniguchi stayed at a new house as their lodge when they traveled to Los Angeles after leaving Hawaii. It is written on page 69 in the same book as follows:

"The Ambo residence was in a quiet residential area on the outskirts of Los Angeles. In the front, there were azalea bushes in bloom. They had built this house for our use, and no one had used it as yet. I thought it was a little big for the couple, but Mr. and Mrs. Ambo told me that he had built it so that we could use it and therefore it had become bigger than originally planned. It even had a room for my husband to use as a study. We talked with Dr. and Mrs. Hornaday for a while, after which they went home.
"After a delicious dinner of Japanese food, we took a bath and washed the perspiration of Hawaii and the Mainland at once and felt very refreshed. With a soft breeze coming in from the windows, we looked out of the window and the beautiful lights of downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Ambo said, 'The garden isn't finished yet, but when you have finished your travels and come back here, there should be beautiful roses in bloom.'
"It seemed a shame to walk on the new carpet with our slippers--that's how beautiful the room was. We were only staying in Los Angeles for a day and leaving at 6:30 am the next day for New York. In a brand new, pure white bed, we felt like nobility as we lay down for the night. Ah, we had finally arrived on the American continent."

Mr. and Mrs. Ambo did not live in their new house before Rev. and Mrs. Taniguchi stayed. They not only did not live there but also changed the floor plan to increase bedrooms and even a study room for Rev. Taniguchi for their one night stay. Fortunately, they returned and stayed a few nights after their lecture tour in the U. S. This is "ougu" and indeed "one who deserves offerings." In other words, Rev. Taniguchi accumulated his good virtue.
By following Reverends Masaharu Taniguchi, Seicho Taniguchi and Masanobu Taniguchi let us accumulate good virtue in accordance with the laws, perform good deeds and disseminate the teachings to as many people as possible. Furthermore, let us contribute to the movement to protect our nature, accumulate good deeds more and more determine to join the people who deserve offerings.

Thank you for visiting this site and reading my message at the Fall Festival on Nov. 21, 2010. Have a happy Thanksgiving Day!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Express Blessings That You Have Received

The following article was introduced in the October 2010 newsletter.

On October 10, 2010, we observed the second year memorial service for Rev. Seicho Taniguchi since his transition to the angelic world. Seicho-No-Ie was started by the founder, Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi, and Rev. Seicho Taniguchi became the second President of Seicho-No-Ie. Now, Rev. Masanobu Taniguchi is the President of Seicho-No-Ie. Rev. Msaharu Taniguchi, Rev. Seicho Taniguchi and Rev. Masanobu Taniguchi taught us the same truth that we are all children of God and were born in this phenomenal world to express the kingdom of God. We have learned that our lives are eternal, so when our physical bodies die, we still continuously express our divinity in the spiritual world in accordance with the level of our souls. In order to express the divinity we have to arouse God's love within our minds and hearts. It is also important to be grateful to everyone and everything in heaven and earth. In order to do this, first of all we need to recognize the blessings which are given by God. It is explained in the 365 Golden Keys To The Summit Of Fulfillment on page 3 as follows:

"Blessings of Heaven and Earth
Just stop for a few moments and think of the many blessings nature gives us that are essential to our life. Think of how much all that is living provides us without which our existence cannot be sustained. Have we not heretofore been too insensitive to the innumerable gifts accorded us in various forms, both visible and invisible? Indeed, we have taken too little notice of all those blessings. Because we have taken them for granted, we have neglected to be grateful out of ignorance.
Even though they are actually there, nothing comes into existence, so long as you do not recognize them. For example, even if there were a one-million-dollar check in your pocket, unless you are aware of it, it is as if it were not there. So it is with everything. Be it a blessing of nature, love of people, love of parents, or love of country, unless you yourself are perceptive enough to sense and acknowledge it, it is as if it did not exist. To be thus ignorant and unaware of what is actually there is the same as being blind. No matter what, we must never allow ourselves to become blind. It is indeed only when we perceive and recognize all the blessings and gifts provided that they are ours." (end of quote) (p. 3)

As stated in the Words of Wisdom in this book, Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi asked us to think of how many blessings and how much love we have been provided. He also emphasized that we should be awakened to and be grateful to the blessings of nature, to the kindness of others, to the love of parents, and the benefits from your society and country. He said that unless you are perceptive enough to sense and acknowledge them, it is the same as if they did not exist.
Let us recognize our blessings and love that sustain us first even though it's not easily recognized in our daily lives. Then, be grateful to them. Being grateful is not a passive but active action. If you feel gratitude toward something, you should express it. Unless it is expressed, it is the same as if it did not exist. Likewise, we see nature as the expression of God's love, we are grateful to it, and so we should try to protect them as our expression of gratitude.
Seicho-No-Ie United States Missionary Headquarters and the Southern California Missionary Area currently work hard to obtain a certificate of ISO14001. ISO means International Organization for Standardization and 14001 is the Environmental Management System. In other words, it is a global environmental standard. Everything needs a standard. If a product has no standard, it will have trouble. If people don't produce a product by following the standard, a problem will arise. For a very recent example, billions of eggs were recalled because of the threat of salmonella poisoning. So, by receiving an ISO14001 certificate we will be able to prove that SNI USMH and SNI SCMA are approved as organizations that care and protect our environment. The Seicho-No-Ie teachings are to be grateful to our nature and earth as expressions of God's life, and we have to express our gratitude as Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi said. Therefore, Seicho-No-Ie is now trying to express our gratitude through our performance in accordance with ISO14001.
Then, do you know what we are actually doing? We educate members and the public to preserve our nature. We recycle and reuse things as the life of God. To reuse means to reduce our waste; so we weigh our waste every week. We implemented the solar power panels to reduce electric energy consumption which was created by fossil fuel. There are many things that we are trying right now. I would like to explain in detailed information about this in the future again. I ask for your cooperation in order to receive this certificate. We need your cooperation, especially in separating waste in the designated bins. Last time when I checked a recycle paper bin, someone dumped his bento box with a remainder of rice and other food. These papers were not able to be recycled because of the residues from the food and soy source. So, I ask you again for your cooperation.
Although each one's effort may be small, practicing is important. Because in a small thing is indeed where God's love exists. Thus, you have to be careful about a tiny thing, like telling a tiny lie, committing a small evil, and squandering small change, etc. Rev. Seicho Taniguchi taught us that to neglect a tiny thing in one's life is to go against the purpose of one's life. For example, it is of course good to read an entire book, but if you read a line or a paragraph using a short time in a day and continue reading, it sometimes becomes a great inspiration. If every time you go to the bathroom and read the same book, you will finish it before you know it. If you practice a foreign language everyday for ten minutes, you will be able to practice 300 minutes in a a month. Therefore, you would have studied for 5 hours. In a year you would complete 60 hours of study and it will increase your knowledge. Everyone can find 10 minutes in a day. Rev. Seicho Taniguchi said that if someone says, "I don't have time to read such a thick book," it means that the person confesses that he or she does not want to read it. If you separate waste properly and reuse it again, we can preserve our resources.
From April of this year we started a monthly Ancestral Memorial Service in order to memorialize our ancestors as well as our predecessors who devoted themselves to the Humanity Enlightenment Movement in the Southern California Missionary Area. It is impossible for our church to exist without our predecessors' hard work and devotion. Although each donation by one person might be small, the accumulation made it possible to establish this church.
It is the same of our happiness in this phenomenal world. For example, we cannot see the spiritual love and protection from our ancestors, but they are surely there. First we need to recognize them and then be grateful to them. How wonderful it is if everyone can be grateful to their ancestors everyday using 20 minutes or so at home. This is a small effort but the entire family will surely become happy if one continues it. At this present time we have to be considerate to take care of not only our own family's happiness but also nature on earth as our family. It is important to care for every material existence by worshiping the life of God within.
Rev. Seicho Taniguchi taught us as follows:

"In order to efficiently use the resources on earth sooner or later we by no means will end up on cul-de-sacs if we continue using a thing once and then throw it away and increase futile waste. Furthermore, it will cause destruction of the environment by burning resources and realize the phenomenon of a declining birth rate." (Daidowo Ayumu Tameni [means to walk on the broad way], p. 71)
"A camera, a jewel, a watch or a personal computer, etc. is not often recycled. Few people will dump them, but the most precious, detailed machine is a physical body which we are accustomed to use. This physical body is not a real man but a mere tool for our souls. To express greatness as a Child of God Man on the earth by using this tool can be said the purpose of a human life in this world. Therefore, we must use this physical body with great care, never harm or discard it and have to achieve our life's goal." (end of quote)(Ibid., p. 74)

Please take great care of your physical body to express your child of God nature. In order to do this, we have to take care of small details of our daily meals and exercise. Furthermore, expression of the gratitude toward our ancestors or nature using a short time in a day seems to be a small effort, but by continuing and accumulating these small but important efforts, we will become happy. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 7

There are some more exercises, but I would like to conclude this topic by sharing exercise 8.

Ex. 8: Everyone has his/her own problems and sometimes these problems are beyond his/her control. Then, all he/she can do is to try to enjoy the situations and take advantage of these situations. Write down your current problems and write how you can enjoy your situations.

This is an example. One of my friends, Rev. Otsuka, who is a resident minister in Germany, traveled from his hometown, Frankfurt, to Brussels in Belgium in June this year to provide a seminar. He used a train for this trip. While he was in the train, there was an announcement which told him that the train would use a different course due to some reasons. That would cause his arrival to be one hour late. He did not want to be late, but the situation was beyond his control. So, he decided to enjoy the beautiful scenery along with the Rhine River. This photo was taken while he was in the train. (http://yujio1957.cocolog-nifty.com/photos/uncategorized/2010/06/03/p5310111s.jpg)

In our lives we need to enjoy and be cheerful in order to become prosperous. We have to keep a smile on our faces when we awaken because our smile and laughter attracts more smiling and laughing, bright situations.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 6

Exercise 4: This exercise is an extended version of Exercise 3. Our attitude toward material things is important. We take care of things which belong to us, but we sometimes take advantage of things which are the public domain. This is clearly explained in the TOL Vol. 8 on page 149. (Please read that page.) This excercise should be carried out in our daily lives. You can also create your own principles:

1) Pick up trash in public spaces and dump it in an appropriate place. Do not ignore it. If you cannot find a trash can near you, carry a shopping bag and dispose it.

2) While shopping at the supermarket, you often see a thing left at a different place where it doesn't belong such as as a loaf of bread near can food corner or milk near the vegetable stand. Whenever you see it, relocate it to the proper place. Do not think that you will take a job away from the store employees. That is an excuse. Do not also allow yourself to give an excuse that you are already in line to check out. If you cannot do this in the beginning, next time when you go shopping at least you should return an item that you picked up and decided not to buy it.

3) Keeping a smile on your face wherever you go. This ha a positive effect to everyone.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 5

Why do we need an exercise to realize prosperity? It is because we know our minds create our destinies. If we want to become prosperous, we have to properly use our minds. How many people want to become a billionaire? (I believe most of them.) Then, how many people believe that they can actually become a billionaire?

If you don't think you can become a billionaire, you won't be able to become a billionaire because your mind creates your future. For example, there is the Pacific Square Mall on Redondo Beach Boulevard where there is a Japanese supermarket, Marukai. Imagine that you are involved in the restaurant business. Do you want to open a Chinese restaurant in that mall? Some of you may think it is a waste of money because a big Chinese restaurant, Sea Empress, is already there. So, you may think a new Chinese restaurant won't survive. However, is it true? Or, is it just what you think and not true? The truth is that nothing is definite. In the U.S. there are many lawyers, and there are still many people who want to become a lawyer in the U.S. and take the bar exam every year. Why? Because they want to become a lawyer and they think they can become a lawyer. The same thing will be applied here. If you want to become a billionaire, you have to think that you can become a billionaire; otherwise, you won't try to become a billionaire such as those who don't try to oepn a new Chinese restaurant at the Pacific Square Mall or to take a bar exam for a lawyer. Everything will start from our minds.

Exercise 2: Priming water is not just an action to give something to others. You need to help others by utilizing what you have such as material things, ability, etc. What can you do for others? Please write down what you can. Then, you take actions. These are examples:

1) Bookkeeping (Those who are good at accounting help bookkeeping at the church or community volunteer group.)
2) Computer skills (Those who are familiar with a computer can use their knowledge to assist the community, your children's school or church through these abilities.)
3) Cooking/Baking (Those who are good at cooking can prepare refreshment. My wife loves baking. She recently donated her famous onion bread to our daughter's school as an opportunity for the Teachers' Appreication.)

Exercise 3: (Read the 7th day message of TOL March, 1983, reference 5) List up things to which you are grateful such as your current environment/education/ability/opportunity, having good friends and family members, having a neighbor who plays piano well so that you can enjoy free beautiful music, surrounded by the beautiful nature and scenery, wonderful smell of flowers or trees or even the smell of fresh baking bread in front of the bakery. You need to find and write down at least 200 things to be grateful for, or start writing 10 grateful things from today and continue it everyday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 4

I listed these steps by using Truth of Life Vol. 8 to help you to understand the way to Infinite abundance; however, you need to read this volume carefully by yourself. Then you will increase your understanding of the way to infinite abundance. Now, let us practice the first concrete exercise.

Exercise 1: This exercise is to enlarge the size of our "mental cup." In order to enlarge it we have to change our perception. If we think the same way that ordinary people think, it doesn't work. To enlarge our mental cup means to actually think large, believe that we have already received greatly and enjoy what we have received. The following is an example how you should perceive a thing or situatin. My acquaintance and my mother in Japan istalled 2KW and 3KW solar panel system almost 5 years ago. They use photovoltaic electricity in their homes and the extra energy which has been produced by their solar panels is sold every month. They received almost $50 every month. Since November 2009, a new regulation of purchasing electricity of photovoltaic electricity was implemented in Japan, their extra income suddenly increased $100 each month. Imagine that you had installed the solar panel system 5 years ago and now you have an extra $100 income. How do you perceive this in order to enlarge your mental cup?

Answer (an exmaple): This is one of the ways you can perceive this situatin. Because of the new regulation my acquaintance has an extra $100 income every month. To accumulate this for a year, it will become $1,200. In Japan a regular saving account's interest rate is 0.004%. in order for him to receive $1,200 interests a year, he has to have $3,000,000 in his saving account. He decided to think that he has $3,000,000 in his bank so that he is able to receive $100 every month as its interest. In this way he is able to actually think in his mind that he has $3 million in the bank and as a result he enjoys $100 of the interest every month. By thinking this way we are able to enlarge our mental cup. This is only an example, but you can think anything in this way and enlarge your mental cup. Consiquently, you will be able to receive what you visualize in your mind.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 3

How about the following question? "Whenever I hear negative news such as the financial crisis in Greece, I feel that I want to help them to change the situation of that country's negative deficit to the positive. (p. 120)" Greece's financial deficit creates a stir in EU and it affects the U.S. as well. If EU didn't help Greece, the problem would expand to the entire Europe and affect the stability of Euro. Greece was once a communist country. People in Greece are used to be given and they want to keep their salary and benefit as is. So, they strongly protested to their government in order to keep their current situations. They held a mass demonstration which was outrage and some people died. In order for Greece to receive enormous subsidy from IMF and EU to protect their financial crisis the government has to perform a cut back of the salary an reforms. But people don't want to be victims. It is not logical for other EU countires. On the other hand, as the consequence of the unity of the currency into Euro in EU countries, Greece became one of the lowest labor countires and many European countires took advantage of this opportunity. The same things happened in California as well. In California there are many Latino laborers with minimum wages, so we can enjoy life without spending a lot of money. We can have fresh vegetable and fruit as well as different services such as restaurants, markets and many other places.

Recently many people expressed their disagreement of the new law which was authorized by the Governor of Arizona State for police to allow to identify aliens by asking their identifications. It is said that this might increase more discrimination of minorities in this state. Some people are outraged at this law. However, I haven't heard much about sympathy toward Greece. It is because I think many people don't know about the situation of Greece. This means people in the U.S. do not care much about Greece or I may say that we lack love toward Greece. The lack of love means the lack of awareness of the world or universe. The TOL Vol. 8 explains about this:

"Since the universe is a single living entity, it may, for example, be compared to the human body. When an injury occurs on the skin, a change takes place nor just on the skin, but in the entire body system, which senses the disharmony that has taken place, and the material needed for the healing is transported to the necessary spot by the blood supply of the entire body. A similar phenomenon occurs when we as individuals run up a deficit. The material supply of the entire universe goes to work at once in order to fill this deficit. Therefore, there can be absolutely no poverty when we awaken to the Truth that our lives are joined with the grand flow of universal life. The universe is an infinite source of abundance. When we are supported by this infinite abundance, how can there be any poverty?" (p. 120)

The awareness of connecting to the universe is the realization of oneness of all of everyone and everything in the universe. Once we have this awareness, our individual deficit would be filled up automatically. This awareness concludes everything comes from our minds which realize the oneness of all. The Fonder of Seicho-No-Ie, Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi, wrote, " 'When I pray, heaven and earth respond; and when I move, the whole universe moves.' Indeed, it is all my fault that there are still wars being fought on this earth." (TOL magazine July issue, 1983, Tenth day message) Because of such a grand awareness of oneness of all, our founder realized infinite abundance and established churches and temples worldwide.

Now, I would like to explain how to realize infinite abundance in 12 ways with actual exercises using the Truth of Life Vol. 8 as text.

1) Know the Truth (To become wealthy means to be close to God.) (p. 140)
2) Enlarge the size of one's "mental cup." (p. 133) Exercise 1
3) Give and you shall receive. (p. 144) Exercise 2
4) Be grateful to what you have been given. (p. 145) Exercise 3
5) Give love to all things. (p. 149) Exercise 4
6) Use what you have now as effectively as possible. (p. 152) "Elisha said to her, 'What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?' " (2 Kings 4:2) Exercise 5 & 6
7) Obtain wisdom through prayers. (p. 153)
8) Harmony in home is necessary. (p. 156)
9) Unemployment is because you are lacking in desire to serve others; or you have graduated from the previous work. (p.156-160)
10) Visualize clearly in your mind what you want with strong emotion. (p. 164) Exercise 7
11) Self and others are one. (p. 168)
12) Be joyful. (Truth of Life, June 1983, refernce 2) Exercise 8

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 2

The following 8 questions are also answered with a simple "Yes/No."

(1) I am naturally grateful to everyone and everything bfore going to bed instead of recalling bad things, misfortune or failures which happened during the day. (TOL Vol. 8, p. 3)
(2) I cleanse my mind everyday like washing my physical body in the shower. (p. 4)
(3) Gratitude naturally wells up in me because I am good at seeing good points of others and trying to not see bad poins of others. (p. 6)
(4) God's world is infinite abundance, so I am peaceful even being unemployed with lack of saving. (p. 79)
(5) Whenever I hear negative news such as the finacial crisis in Greece, I feel that I want to help them to change the situation of that country's negative deficit to the positive. (p. 120)
(6) Since working for others is pure joy, I work for others to increase my spiritual joy. (p. 128)
(7) I don't think of my sickness and/or poverty or collapsing of my company. I also don't express these negative things verbally. (p. 131)
(8) My spouse and I are harmonious and I don't even have any arguments/fights with my family members. (p. 156)

How many "Nos" do you have? Please add "Yes" in the previous 13 questions and "No" from these 8 questions. Do you have more than 10 points? How about more than 5? These questions will tell you about your attitude which is positive or negative. If you have total point zero, your attitude is always positive and I would say that you completely trust in God. You must be very prousperous, enjoy your life and enjoy beling alive; you are the one that manifests the Seicho-No-Ie way of life.

These questions include pages so that you can refer to the pages of Truth of Life Vol.8 or Truth of Life magazines. For example, there is a question, "(10) It is nice to understand infinite abundane; however, it is better for me to have actual material wealh in this physical world. (p. 79)" It is explained in the TOL Vol. 8 as follows:

"Ways of obtaining temporary health and happiness, partial satisfaction, or some limited freedom may be found almost anywhere. Yet, it is possible to attain a state of health that is perfect and eternal as true existence, and to make ours into a state of freedom that is as universal and unrestrained as Truth itself. The only way to do this is to open the portals to the True-Image of life; that is, we must understand the True Image of existence and keep our thoughts focused continually on the True-Image World......When one grasps the heart of the matter, everything finds freedom. If one relies on some other method without grasping the heart of the matter, there may be some results, but all one gets are 'bits and pieces.'......So long as we look at the world through our five senses, or consciousness does not see true existnce. Instead, our consciousness becomes a victim of phenomena or temporal form. No matter how many seemingly true objects we may see through our five senses, all that we see are still things of the phenomenal world--the world of false, temporary appearances. However, when we turn our attention away from phenomena and quietly meditate on the True Image of existence, that is, the perfect thing-in-itself, which lies at the very heart of all people, things, and circumstances, our consciousness becomes intuitively aware of what is real." (pages 79-81)

Seeking the mateial results which are phenomena instead of grasping the core of the matter, i.e. True Image, is the same as getting only "bits and pieces." In other words we don't grasp the whole picture and everything doesn't go well. Those who answered this question "Yes" means that their minds have tendency to first seek phenomenal benefit or results.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Way to Infinite Abundance Part 1

I would like to discuss the "Way to Infinite Abundance." TheTruth is one, so the way to infinite abundance, health and harmony is the same truth. If we understand and practice this way of life, we will be able to become not only prosperous but also healthy and fulfilling life.

We have to know the truth that we are all children of God. We are already perfect and harmonious as we are. We don't have to add anything in order to become perfect. In other words, we are already healthy and wealthy in the True Image, and the True Image exists within ourselves. However, many people do not realize this truth and are struggling in their lives. Their minds do not have roots in the True-Image World. In the Truth of Life Vol. 8 it is explained:

"True peace of the soul, happiness of the soul, and the highest sense of security are not things which we can attain so long as we seek them externally." (TOL Vol. 8, p.59)
"Ordinary people may think that material possessions, money, physical strength, etc. come to them only after they had strained both body and mind in an attempt to bring them about from the outside. Material possessions, money, physical strength, and the like, obtained in this manner may appear for a while to be real, but they soon disintegrate if they do not have strong roots in the world of the mind. All true abundance, whether of wealth or physical health, must come from unstrained effort originating naturally in the self as well as in its environment after one has been deeply united with God within his soul. That which has been obtained in this manner has its roots in a different world in the infinite supply called God; therefore, it may appear precarious to others, but there is nothing more secure." (Ibid., pages 60-61)

How then can we connect to God? It is Shinsokan Meditation. God isthe source of infinite health, wealth and eternal peace. God gave everythig needed to His children. All we have to do is realize this truth and carry it out. The way to manifest it is Shinsokan Meditation to deepen our faith and deeds of love to carry out our faith. We have to do good for others and help others physically, mentally and spiritually.

Some people understand this interllectually but cannot perform it. Or, they may not exactly know what they should do. It is not difficult but they need to know their state of mind. They don't properly understand their minds. Therefore, I am going to explain this so that we realize infinite abundance in our lives.

Now, we know Shinsokan Meditation is essential for us to realize the infinite abundance, but what and how can we appy it in order to become wealthy. Here are some questions which will tell you in which direction your mind faces, whether your mental attitude is positive or negative, or whethr you actually believe in God or mterial existence. Please answer the following 13 questions. These are simple "Yes/No" questions. All you need to do is to honestly answer "Yes" or "No." You should answer "Yes" or "No" based on how you think but not what you think the proper answer should be.

(1) I sometimes think that being poor is good. (Vol. 8, p. 131)
(2) I have an inferiority complex of health, prosperity or happiness, or have the poverty (sickness, misfortune) syndrome (means that you are attracted to a negative situation. For example, you have used fear to influence a decision that has held you back because it goes beyond your comfort zone.) (p. 140)
(3) When I need $10,000, I wish I had $15,000 because having $15,000 is better than $10,000. (p. 120)
(4) In daily life I often talk about a blood pressure, a blood-sugar level or the rising and falling of the stock market. (p. 90)
(5) I sometimes think that my wish is not easily realized. (TOL magazine April 1983)
(6) I often think that I would be happy or successful if I had this or that. (TOL magzine June 1983)
(7) Sometimes I become angry and upset or suffer from losing money because of my stocks falling down. (TOL magazine October 1983)
(8) I give money when a homeless person asks me to spare money. (p. 53)
(9) I am nervous and worry about how much I improve. (p. 55)
(10) It is nice to understand infinite abundance; however, it is bette for me to have actual material wealth in this physical world. (p. 79)
(11) I would definitely worry if my company was bankrupt or I suffered from an illness. (p. 80)
(12) It is good for us to use more world resources because the more we use them, the more world resources increase in accordance with the law of the mind. (p. 117)
(13) Using a business class seat than economy class seat is fulfilling God's Will. (p. 124)

These questios can tell your state of mind as to how positive or neative you are in accordance with the explanation of the Truth of Life Vol. 8 and Truth of Life magazine from January to December issues of 1983. Now, how many "Yeses" do you have?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

San Diego Sea World

I didn't have time to take summer vacations; but yesterday was my day off and I was able to take my family to San Diego Sea World. There were many shows and we loved most of them, especially Blue Horizons, Shamu Show [Believe] and Sea Lions LIVE. This picture is the Blue Horizons which was a very unique show with dolphins, pilot whales, birds, animal trainers and acrobatic performers. My children wanted to be seated themselves on the soaked zone, but I didn't want to be wet with splash so we moved to the upper seat.

I liked Shamu Show [Believe]. It was entertaining and my family also enjoyed it.

My wife enjoyed Sea Lions LIVE most. This show was like comedy. The performance was great because of the comical moves of sea lions and their trainers. We also didn't have to understand English perfectly to enjoy the show.

After the dinner, we were heading to home. While I was driving, my youngest daughter was deeply slept in the car. (otsukare)

I am very grateful to my family who spent time with me yesterday. We enjoyed San Diego Sea World, but some environment protecting groups say that these shows are animal abuse. I don't know about it, but all I felt throughout these shows was that every trainer loves animals and seems to connect with them emotionally. I am grateful to those who produce, direct and perform the shows. Thank you very much. Thank yo Sea World staff members and their extended family members of animals.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gratitude is the key to happiness 3

In order to be grateful, we have to have time to reflect ourselves everyday. We are taught how to do this. This is Shinsokan (meditation to vizualize God). We also have place to practice our gratitude. That is our spiritual training seminars (STS). I just participated in the 50th International Spiritual Training Seminar in Seattle between August 13 and 15, 2010. The following week we had the 156th Japanese STS in Southern California.

There are different ceremonies and parctices during the seminar. When I presided the Shinsokan for Mutual Prayer at the September 2006 seminar in San Jose, one of the members, Keiko, wanted to receive divine blessings and requested divine healing. She was in a very bad accident and fractured her neck 7 months earlier of this seminar. That was February 2006. When I visited her in the hospital in February, she said she was very grateful that she had not needed to amputate anything nor had she suffered damage to her internal organs. While hearing her words of gratitude, I really thought she would be healed soon. It was because she realized how lucky she was consdering how serious the accident itself had been. To heal her neck, the doctors put in two iron rings around her head and neck which circled her head. These iron rings were connected with 4 vertical metal rods. The top iron rign also had 4 metal rods extended horizontally into her skull. In th beginning, I didn't realize that this equipment was attached directly to her skull. These precautions ensured that she couldn't move her neck. Any neck movement could cause her fractured spinal cord to touch her sensitive nerves and result in paralysis of her arms and legs. This was a serious injury. However, her positive attitude helped improve her situation, and in three months she was able to remove these iron rings and rods.

However, when Keiko came to the STS on Saturday, her face was tired and wan because she still felt pain and was not able to move her neck freely. In addition, she seemed frustrated about her job situation. She had returned to work afer spending several months home recuperating, but it was very difficult for her to catch up with her work, plus her physical condition had not returned to its state before her accident situation. Therefore, she requested divine healing during Shinsokan for Mutual Prayer. She also requested for grand harmony in her job. Before starting the prayer, Keiko spoke up again and said, "Forget about my request for divine healing of my neck injury and harmony of my workplace. Instead, I really want you to pray for my co-worker'shusband. He recently was in a hit-and-run accident. His spinal cord was fractured, an he is still in the hospital. Please pray for his healing." I was moved by her thoughts for her co-worker and her husband. When we finished prayer and finished for the day, Keiko, other members and I moved into the prayer room. While I prayed for Keiko again, other members softly massaged her neck and shoulder. The next morning, Keiko's face was more cheerful.

At noon on Sunday we closed our seminar, and everybody joined hands and sang the Holy Missioner's March. Suddenly at the end of the song, Keiko screamed and ran over to other participants. Then, the people surrounding them began to jump up and down and were crying. I immediately approached them to find out what had happened. Keiko exclaimed to everyone, "I can move my neck, and it doesn't hurt!" When she had first arrived on Saturday, she couldn't move her neck, and instead she had to move her entire body to look in other directions. If she didn't move her shoulder and chest when she moved her head, she felt extreme pain. However, without thinking she had joined her hands together with everyone and sang the song loudly while looking at everyone and smiling to the people on her righ and left. Her overwhelming joy for two days during the seminar healed her. Actually, in the world of her mind she had already been healed the night before when she declared that she only wanted to be granted the healing for her co-worker's husband. In other words, she could have positive attitude in the midst of the negative situation.

Then, why did her healing take time to appear? It was because granting healing in her mind is only the cause. She needed the chance to manifest that cause into this phenomenal world. For example, when the negative cause is combined with negative chance, misfortune, sickness, and disasters appear. However, sickness can be eliminated by eliminating either the cause or chance. In the same vein, even if we create a good cause in the world of the mind, we still need the chance to make it appear in this world. And the best chances to make the cause appear to this world are positive thoughts such as gratitude and joy. Keiko's extreme joy and gratitude made her healing manifest right away. The Divine Message of Grand Harmony states: "Be grateful to the blessings from your country. Be grateful to your parents. Be grateful to your husband or wife. Be grateful to your children. Be grateful to those who serve you. Be grateful to all people. Be grateful to everything in the universe. Within those toughts of gratitude you will find me (God) and receive my salvation." Let us be grateful unconditionally. Thank you very much.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gratitude is the key to happiness 2

In 2004, I invited my mother from Japan because of my family emergency. I told her, "You don't have to worry about anything. Grab your handbag and come." When I picked her up at the San Francisco Airport, I was surprised because she literally accepted my words and came with only a small bag. I believe she was brave woman and kind mother to her children because she didn't know how to write an immigration document and costom declaration form. She didn't understand English, so the officers in immigration and customs who faced her gave up ordering her to fill out forms and started helping her.

While she stayed with my family, my mother taught us a lot of things. Sometimes some of them were not comfortable to hear, but they were valuable suggestions. My family was very happy with her. On the contrary, the longer my mother stayed, the less comfortable she felt. One of the reasons was that she had to often stay at home alone. My mother started saying that she would suffer dementia if she continued the same life style here. However, we could not help. She came here to help our family. Day by day she gradually lost her appetite.

Six weeks later my brother visited me from Japan, and we planned to go to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon with my mother. However, the day we planned to leave, her physical condition suddenly turned very bad. We changed our flights, and I made an appointment for the doctor for her. When I asked my mother to change her clothes to visit the doctor, her condition became worse, and she could not move. I called 911 for the very first time in my life. We all cancelled our trip, and my mother ended up at the hospital for her trip. Her kidney was infected.

In the hospital my mother wanted so much to go back to Japan. I arranged a ticket for her to go back to Japan with my brother. She stayed at the hospital overnight. Then, in two days she went back to Japan. After my brther and my mother left, many debts remained to me such as the cancellation of our trip fees and ambulace and hospital fees. My mother's insurance in Japan doesn't much cover these expenses in America. Although there were some negative happenings, my family was able to learn very valuable and important lessons from my mother. The best thing I learned from her was the spirit and attitude of taking great care of things and matters in my daily life. For example, my mother didn't waste anything. When I finished eating and wiped my mouth with a paper napkin and threw it, she scolded me saying, "Don't waste it! You can still use it." I didn't know how she could use it, but she used it to clean her dishes before washing. She used it to blow her nose as well. Not only napkins but also plastic wrap after using the microwave she kept it and used it in a different way.

This reminded me of a story. When my father passed away, my mother received a very small widow's pension every three months. It was too small to live on; therefore, she asked her children to send some money for help. I send 50,000 yen (about $500) over 5 years. After 5 or 6 years later when we had started sending money, she suddenly told us that we didn't hanve to send money anymore. She said she decided to build a new house. I asked her how she could pay. She said that she had already paid. That was a real surprise for us and her 7 children were so delighted. But, how could she save? She had a small vegetable yard and grew some for hersef. She was grateful to everything what she had and took great care of them. That was the real answer.

My wife and I knew the way of not wasting things in our daily life and followed the way we knew. However, compared with my mother's life, we didn't achieve less than one fifth or one tenth of what my mother did. We were able to learn wholeheartedly from my mother how she could take great care of things and not waste even a napkin or plastic wrap.

I also learned how important it is to communicate with medical staff and firefighters when I called 911 and when in the hospital. My mother, my wife and my brother didn't speak English; therefore, medical staff and firefighters watched to find what they should do. So, they asked my mother to walk. I called the ambulance because she couldn't move. No one helped her; so my wife tried to put mom's shoes on her foot. Still my mother couldn't move. My brother got upset and tried to put her on his back. However, she was too heavy to move, and he stumbled. Suddenly the laughter bubbled up from 911 people who surrounded my mother and brother. That was not so appropriate. I heard this story both from my brother and my wife. I was in the next room to explain to one of the medcal staff to my mother's medical history. I understood that they could not communicate with my wife or brother; therefore, they had to wait until they found how my mother should be treated. At the same time, I sincerely appreciated them because they came to my home within a few minutes. They helped a person who doesn't speak English or who was just a traveler and even doesn't pay tax in the United States.

I don't have to list everything of what I have learned from these experiences; however, because of these incidents which do not have to always have positive aspects give my family members great lessons to turn our minds to the spritual side and to improve ourselves. I am sincerely greateful to these incidents. And I tell you that when my mother arrived at the Narita Airport in Japan, her condition was dramatically improved. Now, she is perfectly alright. I also tell you that the total cost of my mother's expenses was enormous. I had no idea how I or my mother could pay that amount. Fortunately, I discussed this cost with a social worker at the hospital where my mother hospitalized and finally I could settle to pay much less amount of the original cost. I am very grateful to the result that everything turned out best for me and my family. Therefore, whatever happens, gratitude surly leads us to happiness. (to be continued tomorrow)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gratitude is the key to happiness 1

One of the most important things in our lives is gratitude. In Seicho-No-Ie (SNI) we are grateful to everyone and everything in the universe. The Divine Message of Grand Harmony states, "Those who are grateful to God but cannot be grateful to their parents are against the Divine Will. To be reconciled means to be grateful to everything in the universe." So, gratitude is the key to happiness because we need harmony and peace in order to become happy.

There are many levels of gratitude. Being grateful under happy circumstances is easy, but being grateful during challenging life circumstances is difficult. However, always being grateful to everyone and everything in the universe is the secret to happiness and fulfillment. Then, do we have to be gateful to something or someone when our lives feel so bleak that we believe that we cannot muster even an ounce of gratitude? Well, I would say, "We have to find gratitude even in the midst of suffering, misfrtune, sickness or poverty." We tend to complain about negative things around us, rather than being grateful to things that we have been already blessed with in our daily lives. Our words which include our thoughts, spoken words,atttudes and expressions crate our daily lives. Therefore, if we always concentrate our minds on only positive and good things around us and try to be grateful, we will be able to create only good futures.

In order to be always grateful, we should be grateful to every blessing we have received from our parents, friends, society and nature. Then, we will be gradually able to find something that we can be grateful to even when we experience what we percive to be a negative situation. The Seicho-No-Ie Founder, Rev. Masaharu Taniguchi wrote:

"Just stop for a few moments and think of the many blessings nature gives us that are essential to our life. Think of how much all living things provide us, without which our existence cannot be sustained. Have we not heretofore been too insensitive to the innumerable gifts accorded us in various forms, both visible and invisible? Indeed, we have taken too little notice of all those blessings. Because we have taken them for granted, we have neglected to be grateful out of ignorance.

"Even though they are actually there, nothing comes into existence, so long as you do not recognize them. For example, even if there was a one-million-dollar check in your pocket, unless you are aware of it, it is as if it were not there. So it is with everything. Be it a blessing of nature, love of people, love of parents, or love of country, unless you yourself are perceptive enough to sense and acknowledge it, it is as if it did not exist...It is indeed only when we perceive and recognize all the blessings and gifts provided that they are ours." (from "365 Golden Keys To The Summit Of Fulfillment")

To appreciate gifts from nature is a way, and to express your gratitude to this country is also important. We, who currently live n the United States, receive many blessings from the country.
One day I went to one of the middle schools for a prent-teacher conference and waited in the classroom. On the wall of the room I saw a lot of beautiful words of wisdom. For example, "Stand up for what you think is right, even if you're standing alone." "Respect yourself. If you don't, nobody else will." "No one is a failure who keeps trying." These are true.

There are many similar words posted on the wall. Seeing these,I was moved and was grateful to the environment of my children's education. When I was a middle school student in Japan, no teacher taught this kind of truth. There were no words of wisdom on the wall of the classroom. Fortunatel, my parents were SNI members, and I learned these words of truth at SNI youth seminars. In this country, children are able to learn these words of truth naturally at the middle school. I thought I could see the source of the strength of this country at a glance. We have to be grateful to the country that gives our children such a wonderful education. (to be continued tomorrow)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A beautiful poem

Recently I read a Japanese book, "Five Stories That Echo In The Heart" by Hideaki Fujio. They were moving stories and easy to read, so I asked one of my daughters to translate it into English. And she did. I would like to introduce one of the stories. A 15-year old boy, Yasufumi Yamada, with severe cerebral palsy wrote the following poem. It is the only poem he worked his whole life on to leave behind.

"I'm sorry Mom.

I'm sorry Mom.

I'm sorry that I was born.

I say to the thin scruff on the back of your neck

When you carry me.

If I hadn't been born,

You wouldn't have had the gray hairs on your head,

The sadness on your face and carrying a grown-up me on your back,

And the tears you cried at the cold looks on people

When they look at me and say "That is trap child."

Wouldn't have happened if I was never born.

Thank you Mom.

Thank you Mom.

As long as you are there

I will keep living

With my cerebral palsy, I will keep living.

Kindness is significant

And sadness is beautiful.

You taught me how to live my life

Mom, as long as you are there..."

According to Mr. Fujio, Ms. Kono, a teacher from the school for disabled children, was with Yasufumi and listened to his thoughts and wrote it for him. Yasufumi couldn't speak, so it took long time to write it. She hugged him and listened to his words wholeheartedly. Mr. Fujino wrote, "If a word that Ms. Kono said was the word that Yasufumi wanted to say, he would wink at her as a 'yes' and stuck his tongue out as a 'no.' Through all the steps and hard work, this poem was born. And two months later, the boy passed away." (p. 54)

Reading Yasufumi's poem and the explanation by the author of this book, I couldn't stop tearing. The poem was sorrowful but full of gratitude toward his mother. This poem was not only the greatest joyous memory of his mother but also an encouraging poem for everyone to be grateful to one's parents. The ending part was very difficult for my daughter and even for m to translate because Mr. Fujino quoted and explained the sentences from Infinite Life Sutra of Buddhism. I cannot introduce author's thoughts, but if you are learning Japanese in high school, it would be good reading material for you.