Based Upon Gratitude ― ２
By the Rev. To’oru Yoshioka
Konko Church of Iya
(From the September 2017 issue)
A Way of Life Where One Is Pleased with What he/she Could Do
I was with the Outreach-Propagation Department of Konko Administration, where I corresponded through email, to Konko members and non-members. This is a story of my correspondence with someone who was seeking answers. He discovered the Konko Faith through a book about our religion. There was no Konko church near him where he might seek help. He was seeking help in finding Konko faith teachings to help him deal with his problems on human relationships.
He wrote, “I’m acquainted with an individual, whom I just cannot tolerate. It is totally impossible for me to accept this person. In fact, I have hated him for a very long time. I am frustrated with myself because I am obsessed with this negative feeling for him. I hate myself more and more as days pass.”
This person also wrote that it was his nature to take things too seriously. He said he wanted to be able to sit back, relax and live a more easygoing life. He felt frustrated that he wasn’t achieving his ideal life. He wanted to know what to do about this, as well.
I had never encountered such a question in a written form, and I just didn’t know how to respond. At first, I couldn’t write a word. I just thought, and thought. I read his e-mail over and over again. As I was reading his messages, I prayed to Kami for this man so that he could live his life in high spirits. At the same time, I also prayed that I could do goyo, selfless service, for our Divine Parent, to help him recognize Kami’s blessings.
First, I wanted to know the roots of this man’s suffering. The thing I sensed most keenly about him was his obsession with his personal shortcomings and on what he could not do. As a result he was blaming himself way too severely. This was the core of his suffering, I thought.
He seemed to possess a strong desire for people around him to recognize what he did or accomplished and give him credit for it. This led to his over working himself and in spite of that, still not being satisfied by his performance. It frustrated him greatly, and it wore him out at last.
I asked myself, “If I am right about this person so far, then what is missing?” Thinking of the Konko Faith, I thought that what was missing in him was a grateful heart. In my correspondence with him, I wrote that we humans, are allowed to live each day thanks to Kami’s Divine blessings and that we couldn’t live for even a second if it were not for this blessing. In short, I discussed the basic tenets of our faith in the beginning. I also wrote, “To Kami, every one of us is His beloved child, and Kami always hopes that our faith in Him will grow. Recognize that everything that happens to you is Kami’s message to you. You can be thankful for Kami’s workings.”
I continued, “The first thing I would like you to start doing is to be thankful for the workings of Kami. This blessing is the very source of our lives. I would also like you to focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot do. And remember to express your gratitude to Kami for allowing you to do the things you can do.”
A few days later, I received an e-mail from this person. He wrote, “I pondered deeply upon what you told me: To consider everyday events as Kami’s messages; that is, to be happy about what I can do instead of grieving over what I cannot do. I should thank Kami about what I am capable of doing. Often, when I am troubled or distressed, I read these messages from you again and again.”
We exchanged e-mails several times from then on. Finally, he wrote,“It is quite difficult for me to express gratitude for everything that happens to me everyday. I have concluded that each day is a day of spiritual training for me. If possible, I would really love to live my life, being close to Kami all the time.”
Although these are not face-to-face communication but just a series of written correspondences, I feel the workings of Kami led to the emergence of a person beginning to live with a more positive outlook. And I am very grateful and happy that I was allowed to serve Kami in helping this one person in need.
What’s Necessary for Salvation Is…
When I see someone who is deeply troubled, not being able to share his/her problems with anybody, I always wonder how we, with our Konko beliefs, can approach to lift them out of their despair.
I believe we must first rely on our belief of our relationship of people and Kami. But that alone will not relieve the sufferings of people who are in pain. We need to pray to our Divine Parent for the salvation of those people and that people who are suffering have the desire to be saved. And they too, need to pray for the sake of their own salvation.
All of us and especially people in distress can make a lifestyle change by living everyday with gratitude. It takes conscious effort to live day to day with gratitude. Committing ourselves to pursue such a way of life, I’m sure, will lead to our salvation.
This phrase, “basing one’s life on gratitude,” was frequently spoken to visitors to the Okekkai (Mediation Seat) by the Fourth Konko-sama. This expression, in fact can be understood by even non-Konko believers. I realize once again that the Fourth Konko-sama was teaching us the most basic attitude we should take towards our Divine Parent and how we live our lives.
I am grateful to be allowed to realize again, the importance of appreciating Kami’s blessings. My present hope and wish are that I will keep Konko-sama’s teachings in my mind and live that way, everyday. Thank you very much.