Significance of Risshun
I have told you about the meaning of Risshun every year for some time, so perhaps it is not necessary to speak of it again. However, this is an exceedingly important time for God's plan and its importance becomes greater each year.
I cannot go into this too deeply, but all members will notice the fact that purification becomes more severe and stronger at this time. This happens both on Risshun and on June 15th, which are the two big turning points of the year. By this, I mean that changes become more noticeable at these turning points.
However, there is a difference between the way the spiritual vibration changes in February and the way it changes in June. The change that comes with the turning point in February is that God's action takes a new major direction.
The change in June is different from that, for it is then that the spiritual realm becomes brighter, that kaso, the spirit of fire, increases.
I may say that the turning in February is God's time of reckoning, the time when we pay off our spiritual debts (the sins and clouds accumulated during the Age of Night), whereas June 15 is the time when the spiritual realm in general becomes brighter and this reflects on our lives.
Meishu-sama, February 5, 1952
In our tradition, the time between Risshun on February 4 and Paradise on Earth Day on June 15 is when we reflect on our thoughts, words, and actions and try to gain greater perspective so that we can be in harmony with the laws of the universe. It is also a time to understand and appreciate how God's Will influences our lives.
Happiness and purification
Many Johrei members use the expression "Happy Risshun!" In reality, being happy or grateful is subjective. Happiness is closely associated with joy. However, not everyone may feel joyful about paying off spiritual debts in the form of purifications. Therefore, we might simply accept the word "happy" as a formal salutation. "Happy Holidays" and "Happy Birthday" are popular forms of greeting. "The Happiest Place On Earth" is a tagline for Disneyland. In this instance, a cheerful persona is part of the job description, and it would be hard to find an employee with a gloomy face in Disneyland.
In reality, it is a tall task to guarantee happiness for everyone. We often hear such expressions and promises made in the world of politics. Laws are debated and passed with politicians promising jobs, healthcare, and security, all hoping to bring about a state of satisfaction and happiness. However, when the citizens feel they have not received what was promised, they might vote out current politicians and replace them with new ones offering even greater promises. Some offer pledges through messages of hope and inspiration, while others may even dispense them through fear and intimidation. History has demonstrated that this process repeats itself because it is impossible to satisfy everyone.
There is this anecdotal story about Benjamin Franklin, who a heckler confronted while he was finishing up a moving speech on the guarantees of the Constitution. The angry man shouted: "Those words don't mean anything. Where is all the happiness you say that the Constitution guarantees us?" Franklin calmly smiled and replied: "My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to seek and catch it yourself."
The Teachings provided the tools and spiritual keys, which are opportunities to transform our environment and consciousness so that we may choose to move away from strife and a state of being that invites purifications. Challenges and adversities that are part of this transformation process are not always easy to overcome, and the desired outcome is only sometimes guaranteed. Or the result may be different than what we may have expected. Nevertheless, through this experience, we may learn lessons that prepare us for life's unexpected events and provide insight into the spiritual meaning of such experiences.
Before Meishu-sama left this physical world on February 10, 1955, he provided us with the tools of the Teachings and Johrei. He taught us to focus and devote our time and energy to become better instruments of change by serving those in need, channeling Johrei, and guiding and inspiring others to channel. Through his guidance, we can seek opportunities to practice natural gardening and consume healthy products. We are also encouraged to practice appreciation of the arts and through flower arranging. These activities help to elevate us both physically and mentally - they help uplift the spirit and consciousness. The elevation of consciousness opens the heart and propels us to respond accordingly.
February 4 is the first day of spring in the traditional Japanese calendar, which welcomes the beginning of the period when daylight increases as we move away from the long dark hours of winter. The spiritual significance of this event is described as a period when Divine Light begins to increase, which accelerates purification on many levels - individually and collectively.
How can one be helpful to others in the face of personal purifications, imperfections, and struggles? The following illustration can be beneficial. There is a Japanese word called kintsugi, which translates as "golden joinery." It is an uncommon word in Japanese but familiar in lacquer work. It relates to a Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery. This delicate process of repairing is performed with lacquer mixed with precious materials like powdered gold, silver, or platinum.
The result is extraordinary. There is no attempt to conceal the imperfections because the cracks and joints are visible. As a process of philosophy, this represents embracing flaws and imperfections. It treats the breakage and repair as part of the history of an object rather than disguising it. Instead of discarding or allowing the purpose of service to end, highlighting the cracks and repairs is simply marking an event in the object's life.
It is similar to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which highlights the acceptance of imperfection and appreciation of any irregularities occurring during construction or natural creation. Most of us have been similarly "repaired" at some time or another in our lifetime. Yet, we may look at our imperfections, cracks, and dents and doubt our usefulness in our community. It may make us hesitant should we be presented with the opportunity to be helpful. We discover that our most significant experiences and life lessons can be distilled through the many personal purifications we experience, even as youthful beauty fades away. We can use these experiences to help others facing similar adversities, perhaps for the first time.
Walking through the fires of purification is not unlike becoming products of kintsugi pottery. Humans are not museum pieces like the Wisteria Tea Jar or Korin's Red and White Plum Blossom Screen. We have more in common with mended pieces of pottery than with national treasures. While our rough and broken edges may not have been patched up and dusted with gold or silver, they are softened and repaired by Johrei, love, and fellowship. Some of us may work more effectively under the bright lights, while others may function like works of lacquer - better appreciated in half-light where the delicate and subtle details are defined.
Whatever our function or purpose, working for the happiness of others is not determined by age, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, personal appearance, or attire. Meishu-sama said that happiness comes from simply seeking to make others happy.
This time of year signifies the passing point of the winter, and all of nature awakens and begins to feel the breath of spring. We welcome the flowering and new growth that we need in our lives. It is a time to celebrate the increase of Divine Light and power, and we embrace this, so there is less room for negativity. The power of one percent is even more critical now as negative forces seek to sow the seeds of confusion and separation.
Meishu-sama always began his important work during this time. He directed attention to his spiritual mission starting on February 4, 1928; on this day, the first publication of his essential Teachings was introduced. On February 4, 1950, a new organizational structure was formed. Also, construction of the main buildings and holy sanctuaries accelerated during this time.
At the start of this spiritual new year, let us pray that all leaders will choose to work in harmony and with respect for one another so that they may eventually manifest these words by Meishu- sama: "In a country where courtesy and civility are observed by people above and below, the wind of peace would blow."