We pray for safety, health and protection for our communities and all people around the world.
Like many other faith-based groups, we have been adjusting to this current global purification known as COVID-19 and our priorities have been focused on keeping in step with the fast-evolving changes in our respective communities.
Our various locations around the United States have been following the guidelines of local authorities and we are working to maintain a support system for our members, friends and supporters.
Our planet is currently facing an invisible uncertainty and crisis. One which is challenging confidence and trust; unity and purpose. The human race has navigated through such challenges and disasters in the past and if we remember that we are all part of a larger community and that we are in this together, nothing can tear down our faith in the Divine and in one another.
Humanity has experienced many dark periods through the timeline of history – global conflicts, natural disasters and similar pandemics. This current outbreak, the nature of the affliction and how this news has been shared by the media with the world, has created an existential crisis for tens of millions. There seems to be no real answers, except to react and respond to immediate crises and this creates conflict – both inside and outside.
As a civilized society which believes that establishing order is the first step to mitigating chaos and confusion, certain decisions have to be made. Churches, businesses, government agencies, financial institutions, schools and universities, mass transportation services, food distribution services and more – all have been severely affected. They have had to make unprecedented adjustments and continue to adapt, as this global purification has yet to reveal its full effect upon society.
Uncertainty and confusion are wreaking havoc on the stock market and the national economies of the most wealthy countries are in jeopardy. There is no telling what this might do to poorer and developing nations. Unfortunately, some companies may never recover from this setback. Others will require an immense infusion of financial and operational support from the government to get them back on their feet.
As we contemplate this crisis, it would be impractical to think only in spiritual and cosmic terms. We must also discern the most effective ways we can be of help in current times – right here and right now. It may require having to temporarily curtail regular activities at the centers, have online services and find other ways to minister to and help the membership.
Throughout history, Christian missionaries and servants of other faiths have placed themselves in harm's way - serving the afflicted and poor, helping rebuild homes and lives after disasters, while in many instances, facing persecution and death from authoritarians of all types.
Today, this compassionate heart is being represented by the innumerable doctors, nurses and medical support staff who are risking their lives to save the lives of others. They may not represent any particular religious order, but they too are being of service to humanity at this time.
The religious book, the Talmud, says: "Whoever saves a life, saves the world." This perspective is also reflected in other religious texts. It is also a reflection of Meishu-sama's irrepressible desire to save humanity and help people in times of need. It is an inspiring and honorable conviction.
How big and beautiful Are the hearts of those Who put first The welfare of others - Yes, even before their own.
(Poem by Meishu-sama)
During this time of self-isolation for many members and our friends, what can we do to keep our spirits high and focus strong?
First, we pray for others in harm's way and for the emergency personnel and medical staff all around the world. We pray for those that are afflicted and their loved ones. We pray for the souls of those that have passed on. We pray for those who currently may be isolated and worried.
When everyone prays In harmony together For world peace and joy, Its misfortunes and disasters Will disappear more quickly.
Even though Illness can be healed Through our prayers, Let us not hold medical science in low esteem.
(Poems by Meishu-sama)
During the mid-1930s, as Japan fell under the influence of a military dictatorship, suppression of religious activities began. Our founder, Meishu-sama, suffered great persecution during this time. He was jailed, restricted and banned from continuing his religious work for a whole year. Nevertheless, he was determined to continue his healing work. Eventually, even that work was forbidden by law.
During those times of suffering and waiting, Meishu-sama instructed the faithful to obey these stringent and unfair laws because he did not want them to suffer. He ceased his activities and waited for the right time. However, he remained strong in his faith. He devoted this time of suppression toward creating great works of art and writing texts. The wonderful Kannon scrolls were created during this time. Finances were tight, but he kept himself and his followers uplifted and focused.
Eventually, when Meishu-sama was presented with the opportunity to heal the family of an influential military officer, this grateful individual petitioned with the Board of Health and police commissioner to lift the decree prohibiting his work.
Today, we are not facing oppressive orders but we still have to follow our community guidelines, monitor and govern ourselves and maintain discipline. We have to make sacrifices for the safety and well-being of others.
Meishu-sama’s experiences can be a source of strength and inspiration during these times of inactivity at our centers. He is our best example.
This purification that the world is facing does not discriminate between ideologies; it does not choose between a wealthy or a homeless person; a religious person or an atheist. Caste, color or creed is not a determining factor either.
While this virus may keep us physically separate for now, we can become closer in heart, by being more caring, thoughtful and compassionate toward others and one and other.
Stay informed and be safe.
Love and Light.
Johrei Fellowship USA