Meishu-sama wrote in a poem:
A freedom of choice
Is given to everyone.
We can thus create
Either a heaven or hell,
According to our thinking.
A famous reggae musician sang: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”
A spiritual leader from Japan and a pioneer musician from Jamaica expressing such closely similar thoughts…quite the combination.
Meishu-sama also wrote a short essay called You Are What You Feel. If we view everything that happens in the world—both individually and collectively—through a karmic spiritual lens, one could suggest that all experiences ultimately point back to the self. That one’s fate is determined by actions in present and previous states of existence, and that it is a matter of personal choice. Our thoughts can also influence our daily existence.
These words take special meaning as America prepares for another Independence Day. The world we live in today has become very complex and confusing for many. It has become so technologically advanced and convenient, but this artificial “intelligence” has also become a challenge to manage and control.
In this physical world that we live in, the concept of choice and “freedom” has a different meaning to each individual, depending on one’s circumstances. There is struggle for personal and collective freedom. There is struggle for economic, cultural and racial freedom. There is struggle for freedom of speech, privacy or autonomy over one’s own body. The “pursuit of happiness” isn’t only about a state of mind or consciousness, that can easily transcend the challenges of the material world. Humanity seems to have advanced in numerous ways and yet, we seem to be a long way from the ideal world, that is described as a “paradise on earth.” We may find ourselves sometimes struggling to balance the spiritual guidance given to us by Meishu-sama, with the realities of daily life.
However, these scenarios should not dampen the red, white and blue patriotic mood, festivities and celebration of fireworks. It takes a hard heart not to be stirred when listening to My Country ‘Tis of Thee. If we pay a little more attention to the song, we can also hear these words, “…let mortal tongues awake, let all that breathe partake, let rocks their silence break…” to serve as a reminder of the ideals that these colors represent, and make us more aware and conscious of our individual roles in the big picture.
Our nation’s leaders, public figures and celebrities will have prepared their inspirational words for the occasion – some as a sense of patriotic duly and inclusiveness, while others may use the occasion to uplift themselves.
In our fellowship, our responsibility is to hold up and nurture the ideals that Meishu-sama shared. In that sense, we also have a sort of “patriotic” duty. It comes with a sense of responsibility and observance of the law of order, but it is not a partisan or nationalist mission. Meishu-sama emphasized that one needs to strive to reach a level of awareness where one can apply the law of order in one’s work, while also demonstrating the example of the flexible Kannon, when necessary.
“Look at your own circumstances, think about how you can serve best, and you will know what your mission is. Obey the divine call to serve with honesty, and work with the strengths you have drawn upon. Your life will be better for it.”
~ Meishu-sama (Gosuiji-roku. July 1, 1953)
He also emphasized the virtue of patience, particularly during times of hardship and purification. In such instances, the words in his poem take special meaning.
Rev. Higuchi underscored this message in her messages which hold more significance in this present world of instant gratification. She wrote these words over fifty years ago: “…in our age, a time in which everything is prefaced by the word ‘instant,’ - instant coffee, instant tea, and so on, most people demand instantaneous relief and do not try to understand the true cause of their difficulty. They often become impatient and think, ‘How long must I suffer? Does the divine Light really exist? Does Johrei work in my case? When does heaven on earth come? I cannot stand this any longer.’ Many people who experienced long and difficult stages of purification would sometimes envy those who had quick results and wonder why Johrei did not work in the same way for them. However, as they kept coming to the center for Johrei and prayer, their spiritual understanding advanced, and they acquired a firm faith which never wavers regardless of circumstances. Whether or not Johrei works quickly depends on each individual's spiritual, mental, and physical condition. Johrei works according to the immutable law of God.”
These words are a helpful reminder at a time when the nation is experiencing great challenges and we may feel impatient for change and resolution.
As we observe this holiday, we also remember our pioneer minister Rev. Higuchi, who departed from the physical world on July 7, 1989. She was chosen by Meishu-sama to carry the Light of Johrei to this country almost seven decades ago. This humble minister was able to touch the hearts of many with her simple words of love and faith. As we celebrate this day of independence, her message carries a special reminder not to take our freedom for granted.
Happy 4th of July!
(Photo by Andrew Ruiz)