Traditional holiday events at the end of the year are cause for rejoicing and celebration. We look forward to a new calendar bringing new possibilities and also look back to reflect on the year gone by. It is a time for cleaning up and getting one’s house in order – both literally and figuratively.
In an ideal future world, the end of another year might be a joyful reflection of the goodwill, peace and harmony among people and nations, but there is still much work to be done. Therefore, how we end the year and welcome the new, is largely influenced by what we choose to focus on.
The news media outlets usually sum up the year and present reports and opinions based on their agendas and intentions. Positive and negative news circulate and influence the consciousness, with the latter being dominant today. Information that seeks to influence the secondary spirit and the spirit of materialism attracts more viewership, which translates to more material gain and modern technology guarantees instant access to news that is sensational, divisive, confusing and antagonizing.
In his Teaching, The Philosophy of Intuition, Meishu-sama wrote: “As man looks at something, it is not easy for him to see it as it really is, without any distortion; that is, it is exceedingly difficult for him to grasp the true substance of anything. Why is this? Primarily, the reason is that within every individual there are various concepts which have been acquired through education, tradition and custom. These form a kind of collective barrier that lurks within, but few realize that their observation of things tends to be hindered by this barrier...It is this barrier of preconceived ideas which interferes with the correct observation.
People today read newspapers and periodicals and so are constantly influenced through their eyes by the journalists' opinions. Also, through their ears they acquire ideas from radio broadcasts and from common gossip. All these help to make the barrier still bigger and stronger."
In the essay, Meishu-sama was addressing the skepticism of the public had toward Johrei testimonials of healing, but this also illustrated how truth can be distorted on all levels, and how humans allow themselves to be influenced so easily.
It is true that we cannot shut ourselves behind barriers and become ignorant or indifferent to the purifications in the world. Not everything is negative news. Technology provides us with crucial information that can save lives and for the betterment of society. It can provide stories of hope, encouragement, inspiration, joy and enlightening. It can connect us with others and foster positive relationships.
Through his Teachings, Meishu-sama gave us guidance on how we can live in this world and not separated from the purifications that happen around us and on a personal level. During this time of year, we can take the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with Meishu-sama, our commitment to Johrei and how we can better negotiate our way through these uncertain times.
What can often be overlooked is that when Meishu-sama was fully devoted to creating his organization and the prototypes, providing spiritual guidance through his Teachings, presenting insight on different philosophies and religions and sharing reflections on art, cultural advancement, health and nutrition – all of his work was accomplished during a time when Japan was experiencing great suffering, conflict and uncertainty. His life is an example of faith in the Divine and perseverance over adversity.
Joel S. Goldsmith wrote in his book, The Infinite Way: "Only those who have in a measure become centered in God have found safety, security, and peace right in the midst of a war-torn world. Spiritual sense does not remove us from our normal surroundings, nor does it deprive us of the love and companionship so necessary to a full life. It merely places it on a higher level where it is no longer at the mercy of chance or change or loss, and where the spiritual value of the so-called human scene is made manifest."
Though the world is full
Of worries and of hardships,
We can live in it
With perfect peace of mind
If we can lean on love’s staff.
Life on this earth plane.
Almost before I knew it,
Changed from dark to bright
Once I had been awakened
By God’s radiant Light.
The evidence of the salvation of Meishu-sama’s Teachings is reflected in the thousands that experienced the miracles of Johrei and who shared the Light with others. During the greatest of hardships, these members were focused on the positive aspects of their faith practice and the example provided by Meishu-sama in his daily endeavors. Celebrating his birthday this month is an opportunity to move closer to his heart.
The first time that Meishu-sama formally marked his birthday was on December 23rd, 1930 when he fully realized his purpose in the world.
How did it happen
That I came into this world
With the gift of life?
I long wondered about this
Until I was called by God.
Since I was born
48 full years have passed
Until this day
In memory of the event
I am now celebrating!
~ Meishu-sama 12/23/1930
Every year since 1995, a Kyoto-based foundation in Japan has held a competition in which the public votes for a kanji – Japanese text character – to define the ending year. The chief priest of an ancient temple in Kyoto then does the honors and the calligraphy is displayed to the public.
The chosen symbol for 2018 translates to “disaster” or “calamity.” The public voted for this kanji after experiencing several natural disasters such as flooding, typhoons, earthquakes and heatwaves and the effect of these disasters on the economy. It might not be presumptuous to imagine that many people around the world might feel the same about their respective countries.
It was also reported that a symbol for “peace” received the second-highest number of votes. This is noteworthy because while it appears to be a more like a desire than a reality today, this demonstrates that people remain hopeful for a better world.
Meishu-sama’s mission was to eliminate disease, poverty and conflict. This desire exists within each individual - not just Johrei members - and one purpose of Johrei is to help remove the cloak that restricts such aspirations.
With the fraught relationships among nations, peace through talks at the United Nations meetings or between world leaders, is hard to imagine. Meishu-sama described the Age of Night and when leaders are interacting in an environment and consciousness dominated by that prevalent energy, their decisions are governed by the same.
Some years ago, an experiment was done at a university where two groups were given the task of sharing money through a process of negotiation, using computers as a communication medium. One group had to wear dark sunglasses and the other group wore clear lenses. The end results showed that the group wearing the shades leaned toward a higher ratio of dishonesty in the negotiation process. When they were asked to explain their thinking behind their decision-making, the common response was that they felt an impulsive sense of anonymity.
While this may be a simplistic example, the sunshades can be viewed as the clouds that restrict and act as a barrier which separates humankind from the Light.
We learn through regular practice that the divine Light of Johrei can “burn” through these clouds and toxins. Channeling Johrei and reflection and evaluation of faith practice through the Teachings is a constant, never-ending endeavor. One cannot check off this experience on a “to-do” list, like one might check off a completed project at the end of the year. This is a process of seeking, unfolding, learning and discovering, which then extends to choosing what resonates and uplifts and incorporating those to our lives.
There is a collection of talks and essays by Meishu-sama titled Reaching For Faith, published by a Johrei organization in Japan. The process of “reaching” describes an action verb. It is not stationary. The intention is like a compass needle that is always seeking to point toward the top of the earth’s magnetic field, no matter which way the compass is rotated. In times of challenges and uncertainty, this effort to remain connected to the Light through the channeling of Johrei and study of the Teachings becomes essential, acting as a guiding beacon and buffer against the distractions, avarices and negative influences of the world.
Recently, some pictures from the Sacred Grounds in Japan were shared, with the stunning glory of fall foliage colors. This annual display is as if the natural world is seeking our full attention, before the leaves are shed, giving way for new growth when the daylight begins to increase after the fall solstice. This can be a reminder for us to give attention to old habits and attachments that may no longer serve us and which only hold us back, and to shed them and allow for new opportunities and possibilities to emerge.
This time year also provides opportunity to evaluate how we may coexist with our neighbors and with people of other faiths. We observe and celebrate Meishu-sama’s birthday during this month, as other major faiths also observe important events during this time. Besides Christmas and Hanukkah, adherents who observe significant events during this time include Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and members of other spiritual practices. We can remember the importance of coexisting peacefully with others through Meishu-sama’s words:
And our features differ,
In the eyes of God, however,
We are the same,
Residents of the earth.
Changes - big and small - will arrive at our doorsteps for the new year, as they always do. The end of the year is a time to remember and express gratitude to everyone who has continued to support the fellowship in many ways. It is a time to express gratitude for blessings and health, for the struggles that make us stronger and for the opportunity to serve from where we may find ourselves each day.
Happy Meishu-sama’s Birthday, Season’s Greetings and Health and Happiness for the New Year!